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Recommended Reads for KS2 (Junior)

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Best Books for KS2 Children

Newly Updated – April 2024

We’ve hand-picked a list of 30 recommended books for Junior School children. Update your Key Stage 2 classroom library or home book collections with our list of the best books for children aged 7-11, featuring disappearing grown-ups, a robot best friend, a hero on an elephant and a football-loving dog!

This KS2 booklist includes books to read with children alongside books for them to read themselves. Featuring popular storytime reads like The Wonder Brothers, laugh-out-loud choices like Trixie Picklethrilling adventure stories like The Glorious Race of Magical Beasts and fact-filled favourites like Football Rules, this junior school reading list has something for everyone.

This Key Stage 2 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 KS1 books instead.

best books for ks2 juniors posterbest books for ks2 juniors checklist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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


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

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Storytime Chapter Books for KS2

Radiya Hafiza
 & Kaley McKean
Chapter book

Aya has always loved stars ever since she can remember and is extremely excited when the Perseids meteor shower is supposed to happen right by her house. Aya and her best friend (Naznen) plan to sneak out in the middle of the night to see the meteor shower up close. Their plan is going well but just as they start to enjoy watching the stars, Aya gets struck by a shooting star, and this is where her simple life starts to unravel as she develops special star powers which are beyond her control.

At the yearly royal ball, on a quest to find someone to cure Aya of her powers, Aya and her mother witness the royal family being taken hostage and the evil Abnus takes over the region of Alferra and she is looking for the star’s power with the help of the bhoot monsters. Will Aya be able to defeat the evil and fulfil the prophecy before being consumed by her own powers?

This story takes its origins from Bengali folklore, which shines through in different ways as you read the story. The story is easy to read and very hard to put down as the story starts to unravel and you start to learn the secrets of Alferra and Aya’s family. The story starts to take a dark turn when Aya and Abnus meet up towards the end and the story reaches a dramatic – if a little scary – crescendo that will keep readers hooked.

The book draws on the author’s South Asian cultural heritage, It was enjoyable to read and there are black and white illustrations dotted throughout the pages. Upper Key Stage 2 children will enjoy listening to this as a class reader.

Pari Thomson
 & Elisa Paganelli
Chapter book

Pari Thomson’s debut novel takes the reader into an imaginary world of nature, mystery and magic.

This gripping tale weaves through the many adventures and challenges of Daisy Thistledown, who discovers the spellbinding world of Greenwild, following the strange disappearance of her mother. When entering a hidden doorway, Daisy is faced with a mysterious, yet magical setting, where she is acquainted with milk chocolate trees, zither roots and a rare, but deadly, ghost-moth orchid. Here, while grieving from a terrible loss, she creates precious friendships which go on to change the world she thought she knew to a different place entirely.

While juggling solving the mystery of her mother’s disappearance, Daisy attempts to learn green magic and navigate the land of Greenwild as much larger, darker mysteries begin to unfold. Not all is as it first seems in Greenwild, and the author has seamlessly created a tale brimming with twists and turns.

This book will leave the reader scratching their head with curiosity, on the edge of their seat with shock and sobbing with heartbreak by the end of their journey through ‘The World Behind the Door’. Thomson creates an incredible balance between the luscious, botanical beauty described, and that of deep evil and darkness; her imagination is truly commendable. Readers of Greenwild will not be left disappointed as they experience a journey of friendship, growth and good vs evil. I would highly recommend this for Upper KS2 readers and adults alike, in a book that teaches us that ‘Nature is wilder and stranger than you know, more miraculous than you can imagine’.

Christopher Edge
Chapter book

Adventure in a sci-fi setting ensues with the usual edge-of-your-seat fast pace of a Christopher Edge story. If you liked Escape Room and Maisie Day or Jennifer Killick’s Dreadwood horror series, then you’ll love this.

Five friends find themselves sucked into the screen to become part of the 4D interactive film they were hoping to watch at the Black Hole Cinema club – so-named due to a spelling error.

The friends have to complete a mission to find their way out of the film, but to do that they have to work out what the mission is! Some of the descriptions are thrilling (if a little scary!): ‘… a jet black tidal wave, a tsunami of darkness surging towards us without a sound.‘ and ‘…as the curtains kiss the music stops and the lights go out…

The book is beautifully presented and laid out with some bold text, simple line illustrations for items such as the cinema tickets and feature-framed chapter title pages. The text is well-spaced and easy to read, broadening the appeal to a wider range of readers in KS2.

Alex Bell
 & Tim McDonagh
Chapter book

The Glorious Race of Magical Beasts is an absolutely spellbinding read for anyone who loves adventure, magic and unlikely friendships.

The story begins with Eli, a book-loving introvert, who works at the Royal Library. As the story unveils, we learn that our hero, the unassuming underdog, has more to the eye than it seems.

There is not one page in this story that isn’t filled with the most spectacular imagination! For a start, you can’t help but fall in love with Eli’s sidekick, a moon turtle called Humphrey, who loves nothing more than a poem and an easy life. Needless to say, they embark on an adventure which couldn’t be further from the ordinary. Before they died, Eli’s parents were famous for entering and winning The Race of Magical Beasts, which is renowned for its danger and cunning contestants. After a recent discovery, Eli is left with no choice but to risk everything to enter the race himself and win the iconic prize. Will he be able to show people that a ‘bookish boy with a briefcase can achieve remarkable things’?

Bell’s imagination and incredible story-telling will leave any reader in awe. From fictional characters who have been transported from the pages of books to ships with pulsating tentacles, there is plenty to keep the reader turning pages. I loved every word on every single page, particularly the heart-warming friendships built throughout! This story is a triumph in every sense.

Jess French
Chapter book

Kayla, Alethea and Rustus could not be more different and, growing up in different parts of the kingdom, they could not be less likely to meet, let alone become friends. But when circumstance throws them together, their individual quests become entwined and they soon realise that the fate of the whole kingdom could lie with them. Can they overcome the evil upon them or will they fail like others expect them to?

Jess French is a vet, zoologist, entomologist, naturalist and TV presenter. Her knowledge of animals has made her a successful children’s author, producing several books that make understanding animals and the importance of protecting them easily accessible and enjoyable to even the youngest readers. This appears to be a new departure into middle school fantasy writing for French, although her knowledge is still interwoven into the fantasy world.

The text neatly flips per chapter to continue the story from each of the lead character’s perspectives, which works really well and she builds up the story behind each character and what leads them to come together, building tension and the desire to read on. The first half of the book evolved naturally and the second half gallops along to the end point – a springboard to the next novel. The story leads to great discussion points about bullying and family expectations, as well as what it looks like to have preconceived ideas about other cultures.

This story is aimed at an audience of UKS2 with a love of fantasy or animals, who will enjoy the quest and look out for the next one in the series.


Dan Freedman
 & Kajsa Hallstroem
Chapter book

Lenny Brown is a beautiful, emotionally uplifting and powerful story. It focuses on Lenny who, due to his mum changing jobs, has to move house and school. In the story, Lenny not only navigates the rollercoaster of change that comes with a new school and new friendships but tackles this as a child who only will speak to his mum and his dog, Rocky.

The book is so sensitively written. The characters draw you in and allow you to consider Lenny’s situation and how he decides to overcome his own challenges. It celebrates friendship and tolerance…and football.

It is a wonderful novel and would be perfect for a lower KS2 class reader. Many children will share a class with a child like Lenny or have to face their time at primary school with selective mutism. I am Lenny Brown recognises this group of children and opens the conversation about this condition.

Anne-Marie Conway
Chapter book

Lily loves animals and has a stammer.

Themes of family and friendship are explored throughout the story, which is told from Lily’s point of view. Lily is in Year 6 and her new teacher sets a project about ‘One World’, where the children work together to research an issue and present it to the class – a task that feels challenging for Lily when she has a stammer. This thought-provoking and beautiful story reels the reader in to Lily’s journey from being the victim of cyberbullying to standing up for herself and ‘becoming more hedgehog.’

From friendship changes, cyberbullying and new family additions, this unique story leads to lots of discussion for KS2 classes. The story is inter-woven with animal facts and at the beginning of each chapter is a fact about hedgehogs, as well as an illustration. This book is captivating from the first page and is a must-read for celebrating differences, overcoming adversity, and having hope and courage.

I really enjoyed this story and read it in one day, as I couldn’t put it down. It would make a good class read for children in Year 5 or 6 or for children who love animals and celebrating who we are.

Funny Books for KS2

Olaf Falafel
Chapter book

Trixie Pickle is an arty ‘sort-of-superhero’ and this is her second adventure (the first being Trixie Pickle, Art Avenger). Trixie and her best friend, Beeks, have a lot going on in their lives. First, there is the latest edition of their comic, Blammo, to work on. Then there are the ‘mean girls’ to avoid or they will cause all sorts of trouble for Trixie and Beeks. There is also a new mystery illness doing the rounds; nicknamed ‘Wormwood fever’, it makes the patient very ill and can be briefly summed up by the words ‘it’s coming out both ends’. Could the mystery illness have anything to do with someone Trixie sees dumping toxic waste in the local reservoir? Who is it and can they be stopped? Trixie has a comic to finish, a mystery to solve and enemies to get revenge on . . . but all in an artistic way of course and with plenty of scope for mishap.

Full of fantastic, detailed fact files of the real artists who inspire Trixie and fully illustrated by the author, it was great to discover some artists I hadn’t been aware of before. This is a fast-paced, funny, fact-filled book which will appeal to art lovers, adventure lovers and humour lovers. It would also lend itself extremely well to a variety of art projects based on the artists featured.

Jenny Pearson
 & David O'Connell
Chapter book

A heartwarming and funny story ideal for Upper KS2. Grandpa Frank’s Great Big Bucket List takes the reader on a journey of excitement, adventure, humour and discovery and leaves them understanding life just a little bit more.

Frank sets off to meet his grandpa with high expectations. What he finds is a very sad and lonely old man living in a nursing home who has no interest in establishing any kind of relationship. Not wanting to give up on his chance for happiness (and because Davenport men don’t quit), Frank comes up with the idea of a bucket list of activities to inject some joy back into Grandpa Frank’s life, secretly harbouring hopes of a grand family reunion somewhere along the line. Soon, Grandpa Frank finds himself participating in a whole array of activities most OAPs wouldn’t be expected to do. As they venture together through hot air ballooning, parkour, synchronised swimming and monster truck driving, Grandpa Frank learns that maybe there are more opportunities for joy (and bruises) in life.

Despite the blossoming relationship with his grandfather, it seems that Frank’s dream of a family reunion will never happen. However, after the middle Frank steps a little further over the line than usual, it will take all of Frank Senior Senior and Frank Junior Junior’s newly learned skills to save the day.

Alongside the humour in this story, there are many opportunities for the reader to see through societal stereotypes of older people and also begin to understand the impact of dementia.

Jenny McLachlan
Chapter book

An absolutely first-class, laugh-out-loud, cartoon-filled adventure series for 7+ readers.

This book is part of the ‘Stink’ series and features the world’s funniest fairy. The story is packed full of comedy, wit and cartoons on every page!

Danny’s life hasn’t been the same since a real fairy flew out of a fairy door, attached herself to his hair and turned his life upside down. Now, school is chaotic, home is chaotic and life is chaotic!

So Stink tries as hard as she might to get things changed for both herself and Danny. But life, school & fairy adventures don’t always go to plan. Wanting to land himself the next role in the school play is Danny’s dream, but Stink has other ideas! What’s more, thanks to a misadventure in the science cupboard, a giant all-powerful wizard is released into the world.

Jenny has done it again – comedy claims the reader’s attention in this illustrated laugh-out-loud book and another KS2 favourite is born.

Frank Cottrell Boyce
 & Steven Lenton
Chapter book

It’s show time! Meet Blackpool’s very own Nathan and Middy, together they are The Wonder Brothers! Of course they couldn’t perform their acts without a support team comprising of the steadfast Brodie and his giant white rabbit, Queenie (the real star of the show!). Together the children have spent summer holidays in Blackpool, perfecting the art of magic, but when a legendary magician comes to visit and makes Blackpool’s prominent landmark vanish, they go on a mission to get it back. The Blackpool Tower has disappeared, and when Middy is interviewed by the press she promises that they will return it.

Little did she know that they would end up in Las Vegas, building new tricks, performing street magic, befriending some nuns, eating burgers in an exclusive spa and winning 4.9m dollars! But along the way, the children are guided by a magical code of conduct, channelling their energy into positive outcomes and using their somewhat limited resources effectively. Eventually the police do catch up with them and Captain Jimenez provides part of the narration for the story, because quite frankly he does not believe a word of it.

This is Frank Cottrell-Boyce at his very best. Alongside the glorious illustrations by Steven Lenton, the magic and mystery falls off the pages. The story is fast paced and engaging, with a fantastic cast of characters who will leave even the most sceptical reader wondering just how the tricks are done. Great for Year 4 and up.

Joseph Coelho
 & Freya Hartas
Chapter book Poetry

We love a fairy tale with a twist and so eagerly welcomed the arrival of this new illustrated middle-grade series from poet Joseph Coelho and Freya Hartas, with this first instalment placing a deviously dark twist on the Rumpelstiltskin – told in verse.

Coelho’s treatment of the story – which adds a Frankenstein twist to a traditional tale – is as delightfully amusing as it is deliciously dark. After years of Disneyfication and a ‘softening up’ of well-known fairy tales for a generation who often find their stories served up with a little more happily-ever-after and a little less goriness, Coehlo’s series takes a direct step in the colder and creepier direction that you might expect from Roald Dahl’s fairy tales or the original Grimm stories.

There’s plenty to shock and also an enjoyable streak of dark humour and plenty of wit in both the author’s free verse and Freya Hartas’ stylishly expressive black and white illustrations.


Short Books for Juniors

Carol Ann Duffy
 & Jane Ray
Chapter book

This is a unique picturebook by celebrated poet Carol Ann Duffy and illustrated by Jane Ray.

A witch steals a girl’s sack of happy endings, which she has collected to carry through the forest before bedtime. Now, without the happy endings, children all around are sad and distressed because their bedtime stories are ending unhappily. Resourceful Jub finds a golden pen and creates her own happy endings instead.

With fairy tale motifs and an original concept, this fascinating picturebook is well suited for KS2.

Sinead O'Hart
 & Rachel Seago
Chapter book

Lola and Larch Fix a Fairy Forest is an enchanting short chapter book perfect for independent readers aged 7 and up.

When Lola stumbles upon a mysterious rabbit in the middle of a storm, little does she know that it’s the beginning of an extraordinary adventure. With heartwarming moments, the story follows Lola and her new friend, Larch the tree fairy, as they embark on a quest to save the forest from the clutches of the evil fairy, Euphorbia Spurge, and her beetle army.

Filled with captivating illustrations, this book not only sparks the imagination but also teaches valuable lessons about friendship, bravery, and the importance of helping others. From the moment Lola discovers the tiny, grumpy fairy in place of the rabbit, readers are drawn into a magical world.

With its delightful characters and engaging plot, Lola and Larch Fix a Fairy Forest is sure to be a favourite among young readers who love adventure and fantasy. Join Lola and Larch on their journey as they navigate challenges, overcome obstacles, and ultimately, save the day. This book is a must-read for anyone who enjoys tales of courage, teamwork, and the magic of friendship.

Tony Bradman
 & Tania Rex
Chapter book

World War 2 is the setting for this short, dyslexia-friendly chapter book and is a common history topic in schools. Many of the great books for primary-aged children set in this era may be too challenging for some readers and so this book enables children to catch a glimpse of life during the war and also learn about some of the important features of life: rationing; schools; the changing roles of adults; evacuation and the black market (through the unique storyline of a girl trying to get hold of a banana in times when all food was in short supply).

Vocabulary that may be unfamiliar to children is explained as part of the storyline, for example explaining who the ‘yanks’ were. In addition, there are a few ‘notes’ at the end of the book that provide a simple overview of the period in history and also a clear explanation of money before decimalisation.

The focus of the story is a young girl’s concern and care for her mum at a time of great stress and strain on family life, where dad is away fighting in the war and mum has taken on a new job, working long hours in the factory. There are many parallels that the modern reader could draw with their own experiences. The print is clear without too many words on the page. The book is illustrated by Tania Rex and the pictures will support the reluctant readers’ engagement as well as enable a child’s first step into reading a chapter book, to be scaffolded.

Author Tony Bradman also visited our blog recently to talk about why there should always be a gap on the shelf for books that help readers see the bigger picture of the war from a new lens.

Polly Ho-Yen
 & Sojung Kim-McCarthy
Chapter book
Ita is afraid of lots of things. She’s afraid of talking to her classmates at her new school. She’s afraid of walking through her new town. But most of all she is afraid of water.When one day she realises the river in her new town turns her into a fish, she is forced to face up to her fears. In doing so, can she bring her family together again?With themes of change, and deftly tackling the topic of fear for younger readers, this is another heart-warming and beautifully-written early reader by Polly Ho-Yen, filled with charming artwork by Sojung Kim-McCarthy.
Serena Patel
 & Louise Forshaw
Chapter book Dyslexia-friendly
Arun is very anxious about a maths test that his class will be taking next week. This is partly because it will be on everything they have learned so far, but mostly because it is timed. He struggles with completing tasks against the clock, even if it is just getting ready for school in the morning, and also finds it impossible to concentrate on one thing at a time. Arun’s family tries to make him feel more positive, but he thinks they don’t take his worries seriously.
So Arun comes up with a plan to avoid taking the test. Unfortunately, his first attempt gets him into trouble with the Headteacher, and then fate gifts him an opportunity where he has to wrestle with his conscience. It takes an unexpected conversation with a neighbour and a friend-in-need to bring clarity to his thoughts.
This has themes of facing your fears and doing the right thing. It highlights the expectations that families have for their children and how young people compare themselves to siblings and classmates. I could see this being a useful class read when assessments are on the horizon, and it also provides children with some useful strategies for dealing with their anxieties.

Laura Ellen Anderson
Chapter book

I’m a really big fan of Rainbow Grey so I was really excited to review this first book in the new series from Laura Ellen Anderson. It certainly didn’t disappoint!

Marnie is a very young moth, who finally having gained her wings, is off to Mini Beast Academy to learn what being a mini beast is all about. She has always dreamed of visiting the moon like her hero Lunora Wingheart, who was lost on a mission to the moon. When she arrives at school, Marnie soon begins having visions and hearing Lunora calling for help. However, whenever she asks about the moon, the adults go quiet. Marnie and her friends Floyd and Star discover that their teacher Mr. Atlas has a devious plot to destroy the moon. Can they stop him in time and save Lunora?

I enjoyed how the characters lived in a world that was just like ours, except hidden from human sight. Marnie, Floyd and Star are brilliant characters. They have completely different personalities, but they become the best of friends. This is a fabulous book for ages 6-9 for teaching friendship, determination and resilience. The world building and descriptive language are exceptional, making it easy to picture the book in your mind; perfect for young readers. I think this is going to be a fantastic series for engaging young readers exploring short, illustrated chapter books.

David Long
 & Stefano Tambellini
Dyslexia-friendly Non-fiction

Nearly everyone has heard of Mount Everest. Towering over the Himalayas, it is probably the most famous mountain in the world. Equally, Edmund Hillary and the Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay, became household names when they became the first climbers to reach the top and descend safely again in May 1953. But what of all the climbers who tried and failed? What are the challenges and obstacles facing a team trying to reach the 8,849 metre-high summit of the ‘Peak of Heaven’?

This fascinating book by the award-winning David Long looks at the history of the race to reach the top. It is packed full of fascinating information about the challenges climbers face on the mountain, about the differences between modern climbing equipment and that used in the past, as well as the personal stories behind some of the attempts (he goes into detail about the failed attempt by Mallory and Irving in 1924, as well as the successful Hillary/Norgay expedition).

The illustrations by Stefano Tambellini not only help to set the scene but also provide extra information. The picture comparing Mount Everest to other well-known mountains, for example, is simple yet effective. The book ends on a thought-provoking note – apparently, Everest is now littered with rubbish. At such a high altitude doing a litter pick is dangerous, yet there are teams of intrepid people trying to safeguard Everest’s natural beauty. Even at these high altitudes, humans are still managing to leave their mark, and not always in a good way.

Graphic Novels for Key Stage 2

Joe Todd Stanton
Graphic Novel

Perfect for those who adore adventures, history, mythology or a strong lead female character.

Luna grapples with strange forest creatures, exciting and dangerous challenges, along with a young Atzec girl called Atzi. Following their journey, in which Luna had ulterior motives, she learnt the important moral ‘there were more important things than just looking out for yourself’

This graphic novel style book follows in the format of the other Brownstone’s Mythical Collection and is accessible for even the most reluctant reader; each time the book is read, you can spot a new detail. It is a beautiful book to hold, with its detailed illustrations, it makes you want to dive straight in with the promise of treasure and adventure on the cover.

This book is great to share with primary year groups and recommended for any book corner.

Steve Webb
Graphic Novel

This graphic novel is based on a very silly story and one that will go down a treat! Firstly, it’s about pizza – always a popular topic with children! Secondly, it stars two likeable, somewhat barmy characters (the good guys) and several creepy, villainous ones.

Its comic strip style is super appealing and colourful and the story is crammed with jokes and high jinks. The storyline is interesting (read fun, surprising, wacky, and inventive) and there’s a drawing tutorial at the end. Readers will be pleased to see the promise of future Peng and Spanners books.

This book will fly off the graphic novel shelf and is perfect for fans of the Investigators, Sparks and Cool Dude in KS1 and KS2.

Guy Bass
 & Pete Williamson
Graphic Novel

Stitch Head is a loveable little character – almost human – who has been created, and then forgotten, by his master the mad Professor Erasmus Erasmus. When Stitch Head inadvertently saves the professor’s latest monstrous creation (who has one eye, two noses and three ears) and calms him down with an anti-werewolf potion, the monster immediately vows to be Stitch Head’s ‘bestest friend’.

Stitch Head, who has never had a friend before and lives to serve his crazy master, is at first overwhelmed with the idea of friendship but the pair work together to save the town of Grubbers Nubbin and its fearful residents including the spunky Arabella Guff, from the arrival of a mysterious travelling carnival as well as from the mad Professor’s creations. Stitch Head recounts to his new friend how he was made out of leftovers by the professor, many years ago, when he was just a boy. But those idyllic early years ended abruptly when Stitch Head, along with all the boy’s toys, was locked away and the boy was instructed to take over his father’s work. Stitch Head now lives in the shadows, helping the Professor from afar and ensuring that his creations don’t escape, ‘for what humans fear…they will destroy.’

This graphic edition of Guy Bass’s novel will be highly popular with KS2 children. Both the style and the storyline are likely to win over previously reluctant readers; Stich Head has just the right mix of strong storyline and action-packed illustrations. The text, although mainly delivered using speech bubbles, builds a fun, fast-paced coherent narrative and Pete Williamson’s rollicking illustrations lend emotion and detail to the characters in this, the first of six Stitch Head graphic novels.

John Patrick Green
 & Pat Lewis
Graphic Novel

We are big fans of the InvestiGators graphic novel series. This pun-filled action series is a hit with younger fans of the graphic novel format and has hooked in lovers of Dog Man and The Bad Guys through its full-colour animal antics, funny cases to solve, and clever wordplay.

Now, a new standalone spin-off story featuring Cilantro the Chameleon has landed. Cilantro is a newly appointed Agent of S.U.I.T (Special Undercover Investigation Team), and as she faces her first big case involving a sheep revolt and an alien cover-up, she learns to step up and prove her place on the team.

We love the good, clean fun of this series, and parents and teachers know that young graphic novel fans are in good hands with these books. Author John Patrick Green said of the series, “Of all the comics I’ve created in my professional career, making InvestiGators has come closest to recapturing that feeling of being 11 years old, drawing comics in my bedroom, with the sole intention of making my friends and classmates laugh.” John’s commitment to child-centred visual humour and puns has clearly paid off and is reflected in the popularity of this series, which teachers and librarians tell us is flying off primary bookshelves at lightning speed. For children, the books are funny from the get-go, and pun-loving grown-ups like us can’t help but smile at the non-stop wordplay woven through the action scenes, too.

This new series of standalone adventures sees appearances from familiar faces from the previous InvestiGators books, while new characters are fleshed out too. The end of the book hints at adventures to be continued with new agents taking centre stage, and we’re already looking forward to the next mission.

Favourite Non-Fiction Books for Primary School Children

Dr Sheila Kanani
Non-fiction

Have you ever wondered why frogs are green? Or if the sun is really yellow? Or maybe why the sea is blue? Well, this colourful science compendium suitable for KS2 may hold the answers!

Written by author and astronomer, Dr Sheila Kanani, this fascinating book starts by explaining what colour is and how we see it, before taking us on a journey of big colour questions. Each section is based on a colour of the rainbow (plus some added extras ‘beyond the rainbow’ such as black, white and fluorescent colours) and, after an introduction to that colour, asks five colour-based questions. Red, for example, explores why blood is red, why Mars is known as the red planet, why flamingos are pink, why some monkeys have red bottoms and why hippo’s sweat is red.

Each question is explained clearly, with lots of added information and ‘did you know’ sections to keep the reader engaged. This all leads to the big question of the book: Can you Get Rainbows in Space? As well as being a captivating read, it is the design, layout and illustrations that will get children picking up the book and delving in.

Unsurprisingly, in a book about colour, every spread is full of glorious images that celebrate each colour in turn. A feast for the eyes as well as the mind, I would highly recommend this engaging text for bookshelves in every school library.

Patrick Kane
 & Sam Rodriguez
Non-fiction

Human 2.0: A Celebration of Human Bionics is an engaging and informative exploration of the fascinating world of human bionics for young readers. Authored by Patrick Kane and Samuel Rodriguez, this children’s non-fiction book seamlessly blends education and entertainment, making it an excellent resource for curious minds.

The book’s narrative is centred around medical engineering presenting complex concepts in a way that is generally accessible and captivating for children for older children in KS2. Kane employs a clear, friendly but formal writing style, ensuring that young readers can easily grasp the concepts of human bionics but still appropriate for an explanation text.

One of the book’s strengths is its use of vibrant illustrations and visuals. The colourful and dynamic images effectively complement the text, helping to explain intricate details about technology that mimics biology. These visuals not only enhance the learning experience but also keep young readers engaged throughout the book. The author does a commendable job of introducing young readers to the history of human bionics, starting with the first prosthesis, almost 3,500 years ago. The book also covers recent advancements in the field, such as neural implants and electronic chips, sparking curiosity and encouraging readers to envision the exciting possibilities of the future.

The organization of the book is well thought out, with sections logically arranged to build upon each other. Furthermore, the book successfully balances scientific information with real-world examples and stories of individuals benefiting from bionic technologies. These personal anecdotes add a human touch to the subject matter, making it relatable for young readers.

Human 2.0 is a great addition to children’s non-fiction literature, offering an accessible and captivating introduction to the world of human bionics. Whether used as a classroom resource or enjoyed at home, this book has the potential to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, and innovators. Recommended for young minds eager to explore the wonders of technology and the human body. A must-have for Year 6 book collections.

Marchella Ward
 & Asia Orlando
Chapter book

‘Beasts of the Ancient World’ is a phenomenal illustrated book, which will appeal to any child who loves to learn about history, animals or mythology. The book contains an array of stories about monsters from all over the ancient world, while including facts and illustrations about them.

From the very beginning of the book, the content page taps into the reader’s interests, by including subheadings for each group of stories. Are you interested in terrifying monsters? Then look at the ‘Our worst fears’ section. Love to hear about epic wars? ‘Battles with monsters’ is for you! A bit of a scaredy cat? There is also a section titled ‘Kind beasts’, which would suit the less brave!

The stories throughout claim to remind us that ‘things are never really as simple as brave human defeats monster’. They have been carefully selected from around the world and allow readers to learn about the creatures within them, as well as the cultures they came from. There are many unique features within it to help gain a breadth in children’s learning about mythology and cultural legends from around the globe. For example, there is a world map with a key, which explains where each of the mythical creatures was created by ancient storytellers. Interwoven through the stories are fact pages with beautiful illustrations of different creatures. There are snippets of non-fiction fact files, which include anything from beasts that fly, great guardians and creatures from under the sea. There is something in this book for everyone!

Rob Wilsher
 & Sophie Williams
Non-fiction

Stones and Bones: Fossils and the Stories They Tell is a captivating non-fiction text, perfect for independent readers in UKS2. Its curriculum links to rocks and soils and the Stone Age makes it a good text for teachers or parents to read aloud to younger readers.

Stones and Bones is like having a friendly guide to show you around Earth’s past. You’ll learn how fossils are made and what life was like during different periods of history. Each page is full of exciting discoveries waiting to be uncovered. It is full of stunning illustrations, accessible language and rich content, making it sure to ignite a spark of curiosity for Natural History.

With amazing pictures that make dinosaurs and ancient worlds come alive, this book is packed with fun facts and cool stories.

Simon Mugford
 & Dan Green
Non-fiction

We love the Football Superstars series, which is responsible for getting a lot of football fans reading!

Simon Mugford’s informative text set alongside Dan Green’s fun and realistic illustrations make for an engaging read that will leave children knowing a lot more about the history of football around the globe.

The text is designed in such a way that it can engage a range of children, including readers embarking on their first chapter books as well as older reluctant readers. Interspersed throughout the book are a range of jokes that children will enjoy. The text is displayed in a range of interesting ways, including speech bubbles, fact boxes and comic style sequences. The variety on layout keeps readers engaged, while the narrative is simple to follow.

This book is a member of a fantastic series of ‘Football Superstars’ books, showcasing the best modern-day footballers around. The books in the series lend themselves well to being collected, swapped and shared like football cards.


Brooke Barker
Non-fiction

Have you ever wondered how to pet a yeti crab or whether dogs can tell if you’re smiling? This book answers these questions and so many more that inquisitive minds may be pondering.

‘How do meerkats order pizza? ’is a brilliant book full of funny and fascinating facts about different animals around the world and the scientists who study them. Presented in a fun mix of comic book style images, illustrations, colours and fact boxes, this is a perfect read for any animal fan or science enthusiast. This book provided many giggles and ‘did you know’ conversations after reading.

The colourful map in the opening pages acts as a contents page to help readers navigate their way through the text. With a diverse group of scientists and a multitude of animals covered, this book would complement learning in science lessons. Ideally suited for KS2 children to read independently, the bite-size chunks of text and high ratio of illustrated elements make it an easy read and will appeal to children who don’t enjoy the heavier blocks of text found in many non-fiction books for this age group.

 

Mick Manning,Brita Granstroem
Non-fiction

In ‘Women Who Led the Way’, you are invited into the world of some of the world’s most influential female adventurers. from Iceland to the South Pole, and from the depths of history to outer space, the women of this book have helped to shape the understanding of the universe we have today.

Each double-page spread invites the reader to engage with the explorer through a first-person narrative and, while written in a way which is accessible for younger readers, each is captivating and inspirational. The illustrations give the reader a sense of the intense focus within each of the women depicted, along with contextual clues about the time and place in which the women lived.

On each page is a short paragraph that challenges the reader to learn more about another woman who also led the way in their field or some additional insight into the challenges faced by these phenomenal women.

It is a superb book and would be a perfect addition to a class library, used as part of a topic on famous explorers or famous women in history.

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Guidance: About the KS2 Booklist

How should you encourage junior school children to read?

At the core of instilling a passion for reading in primary school is the empowerment of choice. It is crucial to provide children with access to a diverse array of books, encompassing various styles, formats, and genres, allowing them to shape their identity as readers. Through exploring different options, children not only have alternatives if a particular book doesn’t resonate with them but also develop the ability to make well-informed decisions about literature that ignites their reading enthusiasm. This vital process plays a central role in fostering children’s intrinsic motivation to read, establishing the foundation for a lifelong love of books.

Whether it’s popular bestsellers like the Football Rules series or magical realism like Aya and the Star Chaser, ensuring a wide range of appealing and age-appropriate books for primary children to choose from is essential. Many children are drawn to illustrated books – from graphic novels like Agents of S.U.I.T to illustrated chapter books like Fairy vs Wizard and Marnie Midnight.

Every recommended book has been thoughtfully chosen for our individual year group booklists, ensuring a comprehensive and enjoyable reading experience for each child.

How are the Reading for Pleasure booklists selected?

Each of our Recommended Reads lists contains books specially picked out for reading for pleasure in each primary year group, from Preschool to Year 6. These lists are different from our topic booklists, as the books are purely selected to read for pleasure at each age group.

Our team of experts carefully curated this collection of primary books with the help of our Review Panel members, who have tried and tested hundreds of titles in their primary school settings to bring you only the best of the best. In addition, we work with a team of booksellers and professional librarians who check the lists and help to ensure the selected titles are in print and easily available for schools to purchase.

Our goal is to compile lists that accommodate different reading styles, cater to varying interest levels, span different publication dates (featuring both timeless classics and contemporary titles) and include books with diverse characters and settings. This approach allows schools that use our lists to present children with a rich array of high-quality reading options tailored to their age and stage.

Where can I purchase the books on the BooksForTopics KS2 Booklist?

What other book lists for children in Key Stage 2 schools are available?

We have a special area on the BooksForTopics website where you can find more recommended booklists for KS2.

Many of our booklists are based on topics found on the primary school curriculum, from Romans in history and Light and Sound in science to Design Technology and PSHE.

Some of the booklists on the website are themed on children’s special interests – like football or dance – or seasonal and special events such as Christmas or the Olympics.

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, or reluctant readers.

Our Branching Out lists are popular for moving readers on from a particular book or series they love – from books for fans of Wimpy Kid to more books like Harry Potter – 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 Junior Booklist?

All of our Year Group Recommended Reads 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 KS2 Books PDF

best books for ks2 juniors poster

Printable Checklist – Best KS2 Books PDF
best books for ks2 juniors 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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Does the book contain anything that teachers would wish to know about before recommending in class (strong language, sensitive topics etc.)?

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