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Recommended Reads for Year 1: New Additions for 2024

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Recommended Reads: New Additions for Year 1

If you’ve previously purchased our 50 Recommended Reads pack for Year 1, then this list is for you! Update your collection with this special list of books which have been newly added to our 50 Recommended Reads list for Year 1.

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New Additions to our Year 1 List

Catherine Emmett
 & Joe Berger

A fabulous sports-themed picture book with the driving force to follow your dreams no matter what they look like. Beautifully written in rhyme, this is an inclusive book and it is wonderful – but rare – to see girls represented in football in a picture book for younger ages.

Sammy Striker is a girl with a passion for football: she loves it so much she is NEVER without a football. At home, school, come rain or shine and she is always the striker who wins her team the game. But when picked for the county team her skills start to crumble. Her talented strikes miss and her confidence has dipped. When match day comes Sammy is feeling nervous and unsure but she has a challenge to face. Will she turn this game around?

Everyone needs to know that when things get tough, someone will be there for them and put them back on track. Catherine Emmett has done this beautifully representing girls in football and showing them we are all special in our unique way.

Pamela Butchart
 & Monika Filipina
Chapter book

A cat-themed short chapter book from Barrington Stoke’s super-readable ‘Little Gems’ collection.

Liam and Sav can hear a strange sound coming from the flat above Sav’s but it is a bit of a mystery because the flat is empty – so what could be making the noise? As they listen closer, they realise is a meow from a cat and this mystery must be investigated. They presume it is a ghost cat because a cat would not be living in a flat on their own, despite being told to stay away they venture into the empty flat. What they find causes more mayhem and mischief for the children to solve.

The story does have a happy ending where the mysterious cat ends up saving Liam’s life and due to their hard work, they are invited to live with Liam forever.

The bright, engaging and joyous illustrations bring the story to life and support the children with their reading, and all of the text is in a dyslexia-friendly format. This is a great book for any children who are beginning to make the transition from picture books to chapter books. The shorter number of words on the page makes it easy to manage and the short chapters are easy to follow.

Alex T. Smith
Chapter book

This is the first book in the new Early Readers series from Alex T. Smith.

The Space Cadets, Astrid, Zoink, Beryl and Dr. Quackers must complete tasks assigned to them to earn gold stars to be in the running for the grand prize. It is the Space Cadet mission to help at all times, no matter what – so when they get a distress call from the Planet Hortensis while cleaning the Milky Way, they rush to help. Snailiens have invaded the garden of Flora Mulch and are headed for her prize-winning Astro Potatoes. The cadets must figure out how to save the day in their own unique way.

This early chapter book is all about teamwork and helping people, which is a great message for young readers. The series contains easily accessible vocabulary and gorgeous illustrations to add to the appeal for young readers exploring short, illustrated chapter books. There is also a good deal of humour which also adds to the fun factor. I’m looking forward to more adventures from the crew!


Huw Lewis Jones
 & Ben Sanders

Written by a real-life polar explorer, this is not the book you were expecting and is full of dead-pan humour.

Clive simply doesn’t like the cold and is determined to do something about it. Penguins are usually cuddly and cute, and Clive really isn’t that sort of penguin. The story is told with Clive’s ‘voice’ showing his displeasure at his situation. The text is simple but effective and Clive comes across clearly using few words. The illustrations are in a similar vein, using limited colour and a serious-looking penguin, for a very unserious book.

The pictures show the story’s humour perfectly; ultimately concluding that that you may get what you want, but it isn’t always what you need. Clive’s voice is strong and children will love with dry humour in the the story just as much as adults do.

Matty Long

A wonderfully detailed picture book about life in a rockpool. Crab thinks he is the king of the rockpool because of his strength, but Prawn thinks differently and is all for playing safe. So, off the friends go on an adventure to discover who rules the rockpool meeting all sorts of colourful and interesting creatures on the way.

The story is told with great humour full of fishy puns. Parents and children will have great fun sharing this book as every time you look at the illustrations you find new details. There is a great section at the back of the book giving further information on rock pooling and the creatures you may find.

Eve Ainsworth
Chapter book

This book (best enjoyed by ages 11+) is about Alfie, who has lost his mother to cancer, and Alice, a mysterious girl who becomes his friend. Alfie is literally lost, as is his father, after the death and neither can speak to each other about how they are feeling. Based on the author’s experience of a child in the same position it explores the feelings around loss and the importance of expressing emotion.​

Baroness Floella Benjamin
 & Diane Ewen

Baroness Floella Benjamin offers her own story of the 6000-mile journey from Trinidad to England, told for the youngest children in a picture book called Coming to England – An Inspiring True Story About the Windrush Generation.

The story explores and celebrates what it means to be a British person with Black Caribbean heritage, as well as opening doors to learning about the impact of Operation Windrush and experiences of racism. Speaking about the background to the book, Baroness Floella says,”Britain has always been a nation that’s evolved due to different races coming in, from as far back as you can go. I hope Coming to England makes people of colour feel worthy, appreciated and that they belong and that it makes white people say, ‘That could be me, what would it be like if I moved somewhere else?’.”

Paige Braddock
Graphic Novel

I love this series and jumped at the chance to get hold of River Rescue for my younger primary pupils! Paige Braddock has really hit the sweet spot for younger readers new to graphic novels. These are just lovely, simple stories of a wise grown-up dog (Crackers), a typical grumpy heart-of-gold cat (Butter) and an irrepressible new puppy (Peanut). They’re very straightforward stories which don’t rely on puns or clever vocabulary to be funny; the humour is all in the characters, making them ideal for children who have maybe struggled but are making progress into independent, confident readers. When you hear “I can’t put it down!” from these readers, you know you’re on to something a bit special.

River Rescue tells the story of a camper van trip into the woods – super-exciting for little Peanut, perhaps not quite so much for home-loving Crackers. All is comfortable until Butter’s feline pride gets the better of him, mysteriously disappearing off for an adventure with Peanut, and the two end up needing calm, steady Crackers (and a helpful beaver!) to pull them out of the river. The illustrations are bright, clean and uncluttered, with larger typeface than usual in the speech bubbles. There’s a short bonus story and a “how to draw the characters” section at the back in the same vein as Dogman and Bunny vs Monkey.

Peanut, Butter and Crackers are great stories in their own right, but they could serve as an introduction to graphic novels and is real fun for Year 1 and Year 2.

Jory John
 & Pete Oswald

If you’ve ever felt like academic success is hard to reach, this sweet picture book about different types of intelligence will resonate with you.

The central character, Cookie, grapples with traditionally academic challenges within the classroom of Ms. Biscotti. However, a transformative moment occurs when an assignment requires a bit more creative originality, leading Cookie to uncover her hidden poetic talent. As her peers also showcase their distinct abilities, ranging from artistic endeavors to inventive creations, Cookie gains a profound understanding of the different types  of intelligence. Through sharing her poem, her self-assurance grows, igniting a belief in her potential to become the “Smart Cookie” she aspires to be.

This is a really funny book and is always a winner with children (we also love the other books in the series – check out The Couch Potato, The Good Egg and The Cool Bean). Enhanced by the vivid illustrations of Pete Oswald, the narrative seamlessly weaves clever wordplay with a universal message of self worth and being willing to grow. The story underscores the significance of valuing different kinds of strengths and fostering self-worth in a classroom, and provides an opportunity for adults and children to reflect on the classroom culture they want to create.

Craig Barr-Green
 & Francis Martin

What a great read! This is a superb book to share with one child or a whole class. The inside cover alone is a delight – crammed with emojis showing an array of emotions which children can share and talk about. The story is written in an informal style and follows a young neuro-diverse girl, Gina, as she journeys through the story of Red Riding Hood, fixing mistakes and recounting the true facts.

Craig Barr-Martin weaves into the narrative the use of charts to show how you feel; the making of lists to keep you organised; and the importance of familiar items when you go on a journey.

The first reading is fun, the second builds further understanding and the third reveals even more about the way we all think and feel.

Find more fun twists on fairy tales on our new Fairy Tales and Traditional Stories booklist.

Clare Helen Welsh
 & Sally Soweol Han

A beautifully illustrated book with just the right amount of words and phrases to help children understand the science behind why there might be sunshine at bedtime.

After reading this with my own small child who struggled to sleep because of the light, it was a quick snapshot into the scientific reasons behind why light seeps through the curtains at bedtime. Taking you through the lens of a small child, it journeys through the world to explain how the Earth is tilted and spins on its axis which causes our summer and winter alongside other fantastic scientific facts about the topics of Light and Dark, Earth, Seasons, and Space.

This well-crafted book is definitely one to purchase in schools. The gentle, illustrated story with a Scientific basis is a great book to add to a KS1 library.

Kes Gray
 & Jim Field

This fantastic author-illustrator duo always bring laughter into the classroom with their books and this time you get a helping of maths at the same time.

Starting simply, the reader is asked to add different numbers of animal legs. The difficulty level increases as the book progresses and children love comparing their results at the end (with big cheers from those who get it correct).

A brilliant maths-themed picturebook with hilarious animal characters, perfect for KS1.

Mary Auld
 & Dawn Cooper

Little Brown Nut is the newest addition to the series, ‘Start Small, Think Big’ covering growth and life cycles. This non-fiction picture book tells the story of the Brazil nut tree and shows why the rainforest is important to local people and the wider world. The book features full-colour illustrations, a textured cover with a peep-through hole and giant fold-out map, and covers themes of life cycles, tree germination, photosynthesis and habitats,

The reader is instantly transported through the peep-hole cover into the Amazon Rainforest to experience the story of the brazil nut, as told through first-person (or first-nut!) narrative. The journey spans from the nut falling from its tree, to encountering a wide variety of animals on the forest floor and being buried to finally meeting humans, who will use the nuts they gather in the forest in different ways. The non-fiction/story blend explains the life-cycle of the nut with questions for the reader to explore further, such as ‘Can you see…?’ sparking interest and interaction. The interaction continues through to the end pages, with an impressive six-page fold-out section inside the back cover that will go down a treat in the classroom (including a life-cycle diagram and map of South America) and an I-Spy type game to encourage readers to have a second look.

The main text is aimed at emerging readers, with additional information for confident readers and shared reading with an adult. We particularly like learning new vocabulary, eg: agouti (rodent-like guinea pig of the rainforest) and that it’s filled with facts about how something as small as a single brazil nut is so interconnected with both its local habitat and the wider world. Schools will value this as an interactive non-fiction text that immediately captures children’s interests as well as one that aids learning in topics about rainforests, life cycles and habitats.

Simon Philip
 & Nathan Reed
You probably know it’s good manners to always say ‘please’ when asking for something. But when Bill forgets this very simple rule, the consequences are wackier than he could ever have imagined.This is a laugh-out-loud adventure featuring spaceships, jungle tigers, mountain yaks, fairytale castles and a whole host of alien toads. Saying ‘please’ has never been so important!From the bestselling, award-winning author of You Must Bring a Hat and I Really Want the Cake (shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize), and the illustrator of Think Big by Kes Grey.
Smriti Halls
 & Erika Meza

Have you ever read a fairy tale and thought… that’s not my story?

The latest treat from Smriti Halls and Erika Meza is a joyful celebration of stories that invites children to reimagine, rewrite and reinvent traditional tales to mirror themselves – and then to step into their personalised narrative.

The central character accidentally falls into four stories in turn – Goldilocks, Jack and the Beanstalk, Sleeping Beauty and Red Riding Hood, only to reject each one in favour of her own ideas. There’s a simple but sophisticated blend of language. When she is in the old-style story, the tale is narrated in a gently archaic idiom with knights on chargers and girls with locks of gold. Then the style becomes suddenly modern and animated as she tumble-tips down a beanstalk, races through tingle tangle trees or slip slides down a tower.

The expressive illustrations fit perfectly, with a similarly subtle mix of traditional and contemporary. Throughout, the rhymes and sound effects make it ideal for a vibrant read-aloud for Year 1, with lots of opportunity for joining in, as well as for giggling at the horror of being peered at by bears (Eek!) or kissed by a prince (Yuck!).

This absolutely brilliant story is one of my favourite books so far this year. It would be huge fun to share with children and would perfectly complement any work on traditional tales.

Chloe Savage

Seeing the elusive and never-before-seen Giant Arctic Jellyfish is Dr Morley’s life ambition. She adores jellyfish and has spent her life studying and researching the ultimate jellyfish: The Giant Arctic Jellyfish. Once her crew are assembled, they embark on their adventure to the cold Arctic on their boat to search the icy waters. They find a whole array of Arctic creatures in their polar habitat including narwhals, polar bears, beluga whales and orcas. They travel around the Arctic taking scientific samples and measurements: trying to find clues of the where abouts of the jellyfish but there is no sign. As time goes on, the team try and stay positive, but this is difficult in the harsh and cold conditions. After months, with still no sign, the team decide to pack up and return home – Dr Morley takes one last look around her – will she ever achieve her dream of the seeing the mysterious jellyfish?

A moving adventure story which shows the importance of perseverance in finding, chasing and achieving one’s dreams. The book is beautifully illustrated and adds to the story and adventure. As you read along, you can spot the Giant Arctic jellyfish on most pages – Where’s Wally? style – which is really engaging for younger readers and makes you urge on Dr Morley and her team.

The story is easy to read and follow and some of the language is suitably challenging for KS2 as well as KS1. I really enjoyed the story and illustrations and read it to my child, who enjoyed it so much that he has now claimed the book for his own.

Emma Carlisle

This is a gorgeous nature book that encourages children to stop and pause at the wonders of the world around them.

Posing the question, ‘What Do You See When You Look at a Tree?’, the book encourages mindfulness and gently challenges readers to notice how a tree’s leaves move and branches bend, or which animals might find in it a home, or what it has been and what it might become.

Narrated in a gently flowing rhyme and beautifully illustrated in watercolour artwork tapping into the colours of nature, What Do You See When You Look At A Tree? is an ode to nature and a wonderful addition to a child’s home or classroom library.

Anthony Browne

This bright picturebook by Anthony Browne is set against the backdrop of a tropical jungle and follows a curious elephant who takes a wander and becomes lost from his Mum.

The jungle plants and animals are beautifully depicted in the illustrations, with clever patterns and hidden motifs injecting a real layer of intrigue and fun surprise into this lost and found story.

The simple story structure and evocative descriptions make this story book a good choice for infant classrooms, with a fun cast of animal characters to appeal to children.


Lou Peacock
 & Matt Hunt

We were over the moon to open this beautiful and engaging poetry anthology.

Whale of a Time contains a funny poem for every day of the year. It’s a real stunner of a book – a gorgeously bound hardback compendium with full-page colour illustrations by Matt Hunt, who is well known for illustrating funny children’s books.

Readers can have fun dipping in and out of the pages and reading funny poems both familiar and new  – flicking through to the entries for today, tomorrow, our birthdays, family and friends’ birthday and other special dates in the calendar, as well as pausing on random pages that catch our attention due to the illustrations or the titles of the poems.

It’s the kind of collection that is perfect for a teacher’s desk or family coffee table to open when there’s a spare few minutes in the day (and makes a fantastic gift for homes or classrooms). This is a book to treasure and one that sings of the joy of poetry and rhyme.

David Litchfield
A giant story of belonging and friendship from David Litchfield, author of The Bear and the Piano. Billy doesn't believe his Grandad when he tells him there's a giant living in his town, doing good deeds for everyone. He knows that a giant is too big to keep himself hidden. And why would he want to keep himself a secret? But as time goes on, Billy learns that some secrets are too big to stay secret for long.This delightful heartfelt story of belonging and friendship teaches the importance of tolerance and acceptance to young children. 

Sufiya Ahmed
 & Hazem Asif

This delightful children’s book offers a vibrant and relatable introduction to the celebration of Eid. Young readers are sure to be captivated by the bright, engaging illustrations that bring the story to life. The author skillfully weaves a narrative that focuses on the experiences of children during Eid. The descriptions of fasting traditions create a sense of connection for young readers who may have similar practices in their own cultures or religions.

Descriptions of delectable sweet treats like jaman and jalebi are irresistibly mouthwatering and the story’s playful treasure hunt adds an extra layer of excitement, keeping children hooked and eager to find out what happens next.

The book’s strength lies in its ability to make Eid celebrations feel accessible and fun. A simple pronunciation guide at the back enhances inclusivity for readers unfamiliar with associated terms. This book is a wonderful way to introduce children to the spirit of Eid. Its lively depictions, relatable themes, and enticing food descriptions make it a sweet treat for any time of the year.

Julia Donaldson
 & Lydia Monks

A sparkling rhyming story from the fantastic storytelling dream team of Julia Donaldson and illustrator Lydia Monks (also known for What the Ladybird Heard).

The book is about a singing mermaid who is sneakily lured by Sam Sly’s big promises of fame in his circus. The mermaid sadly discovers that the reality doesn’t match the promises and wishes to go back to her beloved home. Unable to leave, she calls upon the help of new friends to make her escape back to freedom.

At its heart this is a simple story that values team work and friendship as the route to happiness and shows that all that glitters is not necessarily gold.  Many children love mermaid characters, and others will simply enjoy the defeat of the sly baddy and the triumph of the unlikely heroes. Julia Donaldson’s excellent rhyming verses make this really fun to read aloud, and children really enjoy the bright, textured illustrations.

Aisha Bushby
 & Kubra Teber
Chapter book

This is a sweet short chapter book, but it manages not to be saccharin-sweet.  I am sure it will have wide appeal.  A little person, Tiny, is born in the sunflower patch of Oakwood Primary School’s garden, human in every respect but her size.  That’s why the garden’s animal residents are are so hostile towards her, at least initially.  They suspect she will be like the other human children who, apart from kindly Nour, are all rather clumsy.  When frog’s habitat is destroyed, Tiny has a chance to show she is friend not foe and, when she risks all to help him, all opposition melts away and the garden community is united as never before.

For the discerning reader there is a message here: about cooperation, friendship, and perhaps even prejudice, making it suitable for sharing in class.  Equally, it will give much pleasure to the child who reads it at home, and to the parent or librarian eager for alternatives (or follow-on) to the Daisy Meadows series.

Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara
 & Camila Rosa

Pelé by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara is one of the books in the best-selling series, Little People, BIG DREAMS. These books explore the lives of people who achieved great things, but focus on when they started out as children with a dream.

This book looks at one of the greatest footballers of all time, Pelé – Brazil’s all-time King of Football. It is perhaps different from other books about him as it highlights not only his incredible football skills, but his work off the pitch helping those who needed it most. The book traces his early life from growing up on the poverty-stricken streets of Rio’s suburbs, to becoming a UNESCO goodwill ambassador and scoring over 1000 goals as a professional footballer. Readers will enjoy reading about Pelé’s childhood memories of playing football with a ball made from a sock stuffed with newspapers and tied with string. They will learn how at sixteen he was selected to play for his national team in the World Cup and that his early dream of leading his country to victory was realised as that year Brazil won the World Cup for the first time ever.

The book goes on to show that Pelé was an inspirational hero off the pitch too, working to unite people through the game and to give his voice to the underprivileged. The stylish illustrations will appeal to children through their use of bold lines and strong colours. At the back of the book there is a photographic timeline and a detailed biography of the man who has been described as the greatest footballer who has ever lived. Inherent in the book is the inspiring message about dreaming big and using given talents and skills for the benefit of others.


Isabelle Marinov
 & Olga Shtonda

This simple picture book tackles one of the most complicated questions: What’s the point of art?

A little boy called Henri (Matisse? Rousseau, perhaps?) has been taken on a school trip to a modern art gallery and he’s not happy about it. He’d much rather be on a beach or swimming. He is also baffled by the supposed ‘art’, questioning the odd colours, faces and soup cans! He eventually finds a piece he likes before entering a room with just a chair and a strange-looking contraption. But is it art?

I won’t spoil the answer, but do feel that Henri speaks for both children and adults alike when encountering modern art: “I just don’t get it,” is a phrase I’ve heard many a time – and who amongst us hasn’t looked at a light feature or a rubbish bin at an art gallery and wondered if this was actually an inspiring piece trying to depict the tragedy of war?

This is a delightful story, with lovely illustrations. Eagle-eyed art lovers will recognise works by Magritte, Picasso, Dali, Mondrian, Warhol and Klein, as well as hints towards chairs in art and Ceci n’est pas une pipe. The story would make a brilliant start to an assembly, a ‘Big Thinking’ question or an art lesson, where it could ‘unleash an explosion of creativity.

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