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Recommended Reads for KS1 (Infant)

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Best Books for KS1 Children

Newly Updated – April 2024

We’ve hand-picked a list of 20 recommended books for Infant School children. Update your Key Stage 1 class library or home book collections with our list of the best books for KS1 children, featuring everything from fashion-conscious flamingoes to pesky pirates to sizzling sausages.

Featuring popular KS1 storytime reads like Magic Faces,  laugh-out-loud choices like Pop!, well-loved picturebooks like Coming to England and top-notch non-fiction like Little Brown Nut, this list has something for everyone.

This infant book list has been put together based on a mix of titles taken from our popular individual year group reading lists and with the help of the librarians and booksellers at Peters. The emphasis is on introducing newer books that school libraries may not already have, to help pupils discover brand-new favourites to read for pleasure.

There is also a downloadable checklist and a printable poster, and schools can purchase full packs of these books from Peters or select packs of the Primary books or KS2 books instead.

best books for ks1 infants poster best books for ks1 infants checklist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are looking for more specific recommendations, you may like our Year Group Lists (see below) or Curriculum Topic Booklists.

Browse the infant school reading list below or scroll down to find more purchasing options and printable resources.

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Storytime Picturebooks for KS1

Matt Carr
Picturebook

Pop follows the story of some corn as it falls from its storage bag into a warm pan. As the pan begins to heat up, the corn kernels can feel something happening to them. Happily, they begin to transform into popcorn. Initially, there is just one piece of popcorn but throughout the book, more popcorn is made until all the corn is popped. The pun-filled story ends with all the popcorn watching a ‘corny’ movie.

This bright and fun story provides a great opportunity to practise basic counting as one piece of corn transforms at a time. The book has the numbers displayed clearly to support children with number recognition. The book has a wonderful rhyming verse that makes it a great read-aloud book. The repeated use of the word Pop throughout means younger children can help read the word themselves and get involved with the storyline.

The bright and engaging illustrations bring to life this interesting story and make this book a joy for younger children to look through and a must-read for Early Years story times.

Rachel Bright
 & Nadia Shireen
Picturebook

Gail is determined to get more out of life than the other snails. She’s not content with keeping her foot on the ground, eating greens and growing old; she’s not your average snail, she wants to blaze a different trail. This snail wants to go into space! Accomplishing her ambition will take perseverance and hard work, overcoming last-minute hurdles, but, as Gail shows, if you have a dream anything is possible.

Bold, bright illustrations complement this humorous, rhyming story from two skilled picture book creators, about the power of purpose and persistence, showing that resilience is key to success.

Gail is an endearing snail, standing out from the rest with her leopard print shell. Her character is brought vividly to life with her emotions and thoughts conveyed solely through the illustrations of her eyes, providing a masterclass in how important it is to read the pictures as well as the words. Featuring a sparkling, inviting cover, this is ideal for sharing with Early Years and KS1 children to enjoy and encourage self-belief.

Baroness Floella Benjamin
 & Diane Ewen
Picturebook

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?’.”

Rob Biddulph
Picturebook

Gigantic by Rob Biddulph is a heartwarming tale that casts a vast net, capturing themes of perseverance, friendship, and self-belief in a vibrantly illustrated, marine-filled adventure perfect for the primary classroom.

Biddulph transports the reader into an ocean teeming with life, where we meet our unlikely hero, Gigantic, the smallest blue whale in the stormy Atlantic. Despite his size, Gigantic’s journey is one of might and mettle, where his diminutive stature in the ocean’s vastness doesn’t deter his big-hearted valiance.

The rhythmical prose lends itself beautifully to read-aloud sessions, with the alliterative play and evocative imagery poised to capture children’s imaginations. Biddulph’s illustrations are equally engaging, using a palette that mirrors the stormy yet spirited oceanic setting. Beyond the narrative, the book serves as a springboard for discussions on marine life, ecosystems, and the importance of determination. It illustrates that even the smallest creature has value and strength, a message that resonates with children navigating their place in the world.

‘Gigantic’ aligns well with lessons focused on resilience and teamwork. It also provides ample opportunity for cross-curricular activities, from exploring oceanography in science to creative writing tasks inspired by Gigantic’s aquatic escapades. ‘Gigantic’ is a tale of little fins and a lesson in big hearts and the power of believing in oneself. It’s a testament to the notion that no one is too small to make a difference, making it a standout addition to any educational setting or library.

Pip Jones
 & Ella Okstad
Picturebook
This Squishy McFluff picture book sees Ava and her invisible cat go camping.Ava is off on her first camping holiday and Squishy will come too. But when Ava repacks Dad's bags with fun camping accessories like her teddy, she forgets to include the tent. Luckily Idris and his puppy Farida are staying at the same campsite and they are expert camp builders. But when Idris explains his puppy is the best and he says he can't see Squishy, Ava decides to introduce him to a giant invisible bear!Pip Jones's joshing humour and pacy rhyme is full of charm, and beautifully reflects those competitive conversations we all know so well. With a happy ending, and a new friendship gained, this story is sure to win hearts and inspire camping holidays!

Smriti Halls
 & Erika Meza
Picturebook

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.

Recommended Picturebooks for Infants

Axel Scheffler
Short story collection

A compendium of well-known fairy tales illustrated with the instantly recognisable style of Axel Scheffler, whose work many young children will know from Julia Donaldson’s books like The Gruffalo.

These short fairytales form the very foundations of our literary cannon and Axel’s new treasury includes traditional stories that preschool children love to learn, like the Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Puss in Boots, as well as a handful of illustrated nursery rhymes.

Subtle details in the illustrations pay homage to the place of storytelling, rhyme and music in our culture. On one page, one of the three little pigs is listening to headphones while another is reading a book.  On another, a Willa Wonka -esque hare appears with his tailcoat and cane, and on another still a woodland scene that will look very family to the author’s fanbase.  Meanwhile, the stories are told through simple language with enough repetition and predictability for young children to feel ownership of the stories after one or two readings.

A must-have for nursery and preschool book collections.

Katie Cottle
Picturebook
From author-illustrator Katie Cottle comes a breath-taking journey about light pollution and saving the birdsWhen Ellie moves from her quiet village to a bustling city, she finds that the many different birds she loves to watch are missing. She stares out of her window, searches the skies on walks, but they are nowhere to be found. Then one night, she's visited by a giant starling which asks for her help. The birds are lost because of the shimmering glow from the city's bright lights.Night Flight is a hopeful, inspiring story about the power of using your voice.
Mary Auld
 & Dawn Cooper
Picturebook

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.

Zeba Talkhani
 & Abeeha Tariq
Picturebook

A colourful and heartwarming picturebook story about celebrating Eid.

Safa is excitedly getting ready for Eid-al-Fitr. The preparations are fun to make and include drawing henna patterns on her hands, putting up decorations and eating delicious foods. She’s also looking forward to her favourite part – the presents. While she celebrates, Safa isn’t keen to share her present of a new bike, but her Mum helps her to learn how Eid is about sharing and to see the wider meaning of celebrating with family and loved ones.

A warm story about Eid that EYFS and KS1 children will love to read all year round.

John Kane
Picturebook
What is black and white? A penguin. What is black and white, and can't fly? Still a penguin.A hilarious, deceptively simple, interactive picture book which plays on a much-loved memory game - brought to life by the award-winning picture book maker John Kane.A master of child-centric humour, John Kane's best-selling series I Say Ooh, You Say Aah won the English Picture Book Awards 4-7 category and was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards Children's Book of the Year.

Linda Newbery
 & Katie Rewse
Picturebook

“Rubbish? Don’t Throw it Away” is a delightful, innovative book for early years education in the 21st century. It is a wonderful resource to introduce concepts of recycling and sustainability to children. It’s a story that invites young readers to think differently about the ‘stuff’ around them, fostering an early respect for the environment and teaching the value of resourcefulness and creativity.

Linda Newbury’s narrative skillfully introduces young readers to the Dragonflies Nursery, a group of industrious children who brilliantly transform what most consider ‘trash’ into treasured items. The book’s lively prose is peppered with imaginative ideas, showcasing how everyday waste items can be repurposed and brought to life again. It’s a testament to the power of creativity and problem-solving, underpinned by a clear, essential message about recycling and reducing waste.

Katie Rewse’s vibrant illustrations perfectly complement Newbury’s text, adding depth, character, and life to each page. Each illustration is eye-catching and detailed, offering opportunities to explore and engage with the transformation of pine cones into decorative owls or turning old curtains into amazing costumes.

“Rubbish? Don’t Throw it away” is a must-have addition to any preschool library or classroom. Parents and carers, too, will find the book enjoyable and inspirational. It’s not just about telling children what they can do with their ‘rubbish’ – it’s about sparking their imagination to develop their own ideas. It’s about laying the foundation for a generation that sees not waste but potential, reinforcing that every object, no matter how seemingly trivial, has potential value if approached with creativity and ingenuity.

Chapter Books and Graphic Novels for KS1

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!

 

Esi Merleh
 & Abeeha Tariq
Chapter book
A short, colour- illustrated chapter book series about magic face paints. Austin, Alanna, and sausage dog Ozzy have been transformed into pirates. Their mission is to find a golden treasure chest before their time in this world runs out.When two very suspicious pirates climb aboard the New Leaf ship and start snooping around, Austin and Alanna know they must help their crewmates, can they save the ship and complete their mission on time?
Zanna Davidson
 & Elissa Elwick
Chapter book
Meet Izzy the Inventor in the first of a laugh-out-loud series that brings together science, magic and a very lovable unicorn. Packed full of illustrations and easy-to-read text, this series is perfect for beginner readers and fans of Isadora Moon and The Naughtiest Unicorn.Izzy the Inventor LOVES science and does NOT believe in magic. That is until the day her Fairy Godmother appears and sends her to Fairytale Land to rescue Prince Charming from the Mountain of Doom, with an enthusiastic unicorn as her guide. To succeed, Izzy must use her science skills to outwit trolls, goblins and a bottomless lake of despair. But her quest will also teach her about the power of friendship and that we all need a little magic in our lives...Every book contains ideas for science experiments and a QR code with links for more to try at home. Coming soon: Izzy the Inventor and the Curse of Doom Izzy the Inventor and the Time Travelling Gnome
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.

Recommended Non-Fiction Books for KS1

Nicola Davies
 & Catherine Rayner
Non-fiction

‘Emperor of the ice’ is a beautifully written story based on fact. The book informs the reader about the life of penguins through the year and the struggles they face.

The illustrations are stunning and help to make it clear what time of year each event takes place. The information at the back of the book about climate change and how it is affecting emperor penguins was clear and well-explained.

This is a great book for children in Year 2 and beyond to learn about the topic of polar regions. Highly recommended for the classroom.

Libby Walden
 & Ekaterina Trukhan
Non-fiction

This book is a fantastic resource with something in it for all primary-school-aged children. The topics are varied – from telling the children what a body is and naming parts of the body, to specific chapters on the heart, lungs, five senses etc. The book is aimed at children from 4+ and would suit this age group well.

Many of the pages contain technical vocabulary but are aimed at Reception and KS1. The explanations and text are very clear but there is also a further level of detail to explore for those children who are interested in science or the human body, or for older children who will still get something from the book.

The illustrations in the book are simple and very effective. They are clearly labelled and easy for children to understand. All in all, this book is perfect for a classroom non-fiction collection.

Chitra Soundar
 & Jenny Bloomfield
Non-fiction

We All Celebrate is a brightly coloured non-fiction book about communal festivals and celebrations. The book explores all kinds of celebrations from around the globe, including well known special festivals like Eid-al-Fitr, Diwali and Dia de los Muertos and less well-known traditions, such as Nowruz (the Persian New Year) and Inti Raymi, which is the Winter Solstice festival in Peru.

The author showcases the joyfulness of community celebrations, the comfort of traditions and the excitement of preparing for planned festivities. The last part of the book explains that in many cultures, the way things are celebrated evolves over time, and that there are vast variations in the way people and places acknowledge festivals that to many children may sound familiar (like ‘New Year’).

Jenny Bloomfield’s uplifting illustrations highlight people gathered together and show some of the food, places, musical traditions and clothing associated with each festival.

Peter Arrhenius
 & Ingela P Arrhenius
Non-fiction Picturebook

This is a rhyming non-fiction book with flaps to lift and oodles of details to spot. The concept of the book is about people who work at night time. It could fit well with topics about People Who Help Us or Light and Dark. Children enjoy the peek-inside nature of the flaps, gaining insights into a world that is not normally accessible to us because we are sleeping!

The simple language, gentle rhyme and warm illustrations make this a good choice of non-fiction to share with Nursery, Preschool and Reception aged children.

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Guidance: About the KS1 Booklist

What kinds of books encourage infant school children to read?

Engaging infants in Key Stage 1 with books opens the door to a realm of imagination, empathy and joy, while playing a pivotal role in fostering language and literacy skills. Exploring books with hands, eyes and ears is common among children in the younger years of primary school, and providing a diverse collection of high-quality books with captivating visuals remains crucial.

In Key Stage 1, the delight of storytimes, with adults reading aloud, is a cherished experience. Shared reading plays a vital role in the continual development of language and literacy, both within the classroom and in the home setting. Children at this stage often find joy in handling books, gravitating towards texts that boast engaging illustrations, interactive features, or memorable characters. Revel in the sheer fun of exploring Pop! filled with visual humour, or immerse yourselves in the unforgettable adventures of endearing characters such as Squishy McFluff. Introduce non-fiction with highly visual elements too, like Wise About My Body.

Some children in KS1 begin to be able to sustain attention for longer stories that take place over a number of sittings, making short, illustrated chapter books an appealing option for storytime and Tiny, The Secret Adventurer is a great place to start.

How are the Reading for Pleasure booklists selected?

Within each of our Recommended Reads compilations, you’ll find a carefully curated selection of books tailored for the enjoyment of reading across every primary year group, from Preschool to Year 6. Unlike our primary topic booklists, these recommendations are exclusively chosen for pleasure reading within each age range.

Our team of experts work in collaboration with our Review Panel members, who review hundreds of titles in primary school settings to craft each collection. The result is a selection of the best children’s books that are tried and tested in schools. Additionally, we work with a team of booksellers and professional librarians who check our lists to ensure the titles are in print and readily available for schools to purchase.

Where can I purchase the books on the BooksForTopics Primary Booklist?

What other book lists for children in Key Stage 1 are available?

We have a special area on the BooksForTopics website where you can find more recommended booklists for KS1.

Many of our booklists are based on topics found on the primary school curriculum, from the Fire of London in history and growing plants in science to Design Technology and PSHE.

Some of the booklists on the website are themed on children’s special interests – like superheroes or ballet – or seasonal and special events such as Christmas or Chinese New Year.

Our most popular booklists are the Recommended Reads lists for each year group from EYFS to Year 6. In addition, we have a number of targeted Reading for Pleasure booklists, such as graphic novels, storytime favourites, reluctant readers or first chapter books.

Our Branching Out lists are popular for moving readers on from a particular book or series they love – from books for fans of Rainbow Magic to more books like Supertato – and also come with printable posters.

We also have a diversity hub in which we feature diverse and inclusive booklists for different age groups.

If you are looking for lists of brand-new recommended children’s books, you may also like our Books of the Month or Ones to Watch lists.

Can I download a printable version of the Key Stage 1 Booklist?

All of our Year Group Recommended Read lists come with a printable poster and checklist. Schools are very welcome to display the posters or to share the printable resources with their community.

Printable Poster – Best KS1 Books PDF

best books for ks1 infants poster

Printable Checklist – Best KS1 Books PDF
best books for ks1 infants checklist

Where can I find recommended reading lists for other primary key stages?

Discover recommended books for primary school key stages at BooksForTopics. Our expert team has curated a top-quality collection of books for each stage, reviewed by our school-based Review Panel. Each booklist includes recommended titles, a printable poster, and checklist. Schools can buy full sets of each Year Group’s list through our trusted partner, Peters.

Don’t miss these recommended reading lists for other key stages – find them using our quick links:

 

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Stone Girl Bone Girl

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