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Best Primary Books for Children

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Best Books for Primary School Children

Browse our reading list of 50 recommended books for Primary Schools. Update your class library or home book collections with our list of the best Primary School books, featuring everything from fashion-conscious flamingoes to hilarious skeletons, greedy monsters to angry pirates, murder and intrigue to super scientists.

This primary reading list includes books to read with children alongside books for them to read themselves. Featuring popular storytime reads like The Highway Ratlaugh-out-loud choices like Funnybones, action-packed chapter books like Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief and top-notch non-fiction like The Rainforest Book, this list really does have something for everyone.

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.

So, if you’re a parent or teacher looking for the best books for Primary School children, look no further than our list. Whether you are looking for classic tales, funny read-alouds, new releases or educational reads, we have something to suit every young reader’s interests. Our Primary School booklist includes both fiction and non-fiction recommendations to offer primary school children a deliciously tempting offering of reading-for-pleasure choices. 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 KS2 books or KS1 books from the list.

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

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Storytime Picturebooks for Primary School Children

Benji Davies
Meet Tad.She's the smallest tadpole in a big pond, and lives there with all her tadbrothers and tadsisters.Although something else lives there too... BIG BLUB! And when everyone else starts to disappear, Tad starts to wonder if Big Blub will get her too...Or is everyone else going somewhere else; somewhere better? And if so, will Tad ever get there too?A big story about a tiny tadpole - about growing up, branching out, and taking a leap into life.Winner of the 2020 Oscar's Book Prize and from the award-winning creator of The Storm Whale and Granddad's Island, Tad is the perfect story for everyone who's ever grown up, or still has a way to go...
Petr Horacek
Delightful and witty, this is a simple story of mistaken identity! Peter and Paul are the best of friends, but when Peter gets lost in a terrible storm he can't find Paul anywhere. With the help of a big blue whale Puffin Peter sets off to find him. They find all kinds of birds that match Peter's description but none of them is quite like Paul.
Julia Donaldson
 & Axel Scheffler
The rollicking adventurous picture book from the number one bestselling author and illustrator of The Gruffalo, Stick Man and Zog. 'Give me your buns and your biscuits!Give me your chocolate eclairs!For I am the Rat of the highway,and the Rat Thief never shares!'Life is not safe for the other animals, as the villainous Highway Rat gallops along the highway, stealing their food. Clover from a rabbit; nuts from a squirrel - he even steals his own horse's hay.Will he finally meet his comeuppance, in the form of a cunning duck?Shiny foil highlights on the cover makes this a special gift for toddlersA fabulous, rollicking rhyme, in the style of the famous Alfred Noyes poem, 'The Highwayman', from the UK's number one picture book author and illustratorPerfect read-aloud rhyming text and stunning pictures on every page with lots of details to spotAdventure, friendship and learning to be kind are at the heart of this story.
Michelle Robinson
 & Tor Freeman
Ten fat sausages sizzling in the pan... decide to escape, if they can! Come on a great escape through the kitchen as we follow each sausage that decides to make a run for it. Will they succeed or will the cat, blender, plug hole or fan prove their downfall? Michelle Robinson's no-holds-barred humour is perfectly matched by Tor Freeman's mad-cap artwork. Hilarious and merciless, this tale will have you hooting out loud.

Illustrated Chapter Books to get Primary Children Reading

Alex Milway
Chapter book

Anna Dupont arrives at the dilapidated Hotel Flamingo after inheriting it from her Great Aunt Mathilda, who left it to her in her will. Shocked at the state of the “sunniest hotel in town”, Anna decides to restore the hotel to its former glory and sets about the enormous task of cleaning it up alongside a team of animal staff. Imaginative, accessible and little bit wild, Hotel Flamingo is a fabulous early chapter book with fun illustrations set in pinks and greys. This is the first title in a growing series that will appeal to readers aged 5-8.

Ben Clanton
Graphic Novel

A laugh-out-loud short graphic novel, bound to get even the least enthusiastic readers engaged.

The three short comic-style stories would be great for introducing a graphic novel to reading sessions for those children moving on from phonics; exploring the characters, the humour and how the illustrations support the storytelling and help the reader make inferences about the characters. It is jam-packed with possibilities for the classroom. There are Narwhal and Jellyfish facts that could lead to information writing and the final text is a reflection on imagination and storytelling the blank pages would be a brilliant prompt for children to unleash their own creativity and design their own comic strip style stories.

A reading-for-pleasure ‘must have’ for the KS1 classroom! I highly recommend it!

Holly Webb
 & Ellie Snowdon
Chapter book
Ruby's dad has arrived home with a wonderful surprise - Coco the sausage dog puppy! And when the family go on holiday to the seaside, of course Coco will be coming too. The beach is a thrilling place for a dog - so many sights, smells and holes to dig! Ruby and Coco can't wait to spend the day splashing in the waves and playing in the sand. But disaster strikes when Coco disappears. Suddenly she's lost and all alone on the huge, busy beach ... Will she ever find her way back to Ruby? Worldwide bestseller Holly Webb makes her Barrington Stoke debut with a truly adorable sausage-dog tale!
Pamela Butchart
 & Thomas Flintham
Chapter book
Hilarious, illustrated school-based antics where everything that happens leads to DRAMA and RUNNING AROUND and even some FAINTING! Izzy and her friends are on a school trip to a big lake. Gary Petrie is excited because the lodges where they're staying have ROBES AND SLIPPERS! The lake is dark and deep and a bit scary. But it's when they open their packed lunches that they know! There's a MONSTER in the lake and it's coming for their CRISPS! Laugh-out-loud fun from Blue Peter Award winners Pamela Butchart and Thomas Flintham.
Jeff Kinney
Graphic Novel
Things aren't going well for Greg Heffley . He's been thrust into a new school where undersize weaklings share the corridors with kids who are taller, meaner and already shaving. Along with his friend Rowley, Greg's desperate to prove his new maturity, which only going up a grade can bring. But when Rowley's star starts to rise, will Greg be able to reach the same heights of popularity as his best friend?

Elaine Wickson
 & Chris Judge
Graphic Novel
Stan loves everything to do with space, along with a calming, ordered environment, pie charts, and Venn diagrams. His dinosaur-loving younger brother Fred is the opposite: chaotic, messy, prone to leaving snails under Stan's bed and ladybirds in his lunchbox. Surely they must have something in common? As Stanley struggles to cope with his high-maintenance brother and his hair-brained schemes, he charts all the ups and downs of his life in a series of hilarious infographics in this highly-illustrated and visually-appealing book.

Storytime Chapter Books for Primary School Children

Cressida Cowell
Chapter book
An absolute winner of a story and a brilliant choice for KS2 children in Year 4, 5 or 6. Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third is a smallish Viking with a longish name. Hiccup's father is chief of the Hairy Hooligan tribe which means Hiccup is the Hope and the Heir to the Hairy Hooligan throne - but most of the time Hiccup feels like a very ordinary boy, finding it hard to be a Hero.In the first How to Train Your Dragon book, Hiccup must lead ten novices in their initiation into the Hairy Hooligan Tribe. They have to train their dragons or be banished from the tribe FOR EVER!But what if Hiccup's dragon resembles an ickle brown bunny with wings? And has no teeth? The Seadragonus Giganticus Maximus is stirring and wants to devour every Viking on the Isle of Berk . . . Can Hiccup save the tribe - and become a Hero?
Tom Fletcher
 & Shane Devries
Chapter book

An adventure story that fans of Roald Dahl will enjoy. The story revolves around the plight of a girl named Lucy, who has been left distraught after her parents suddenly go missing. Lucy soon finds that all of the children on her street seem to be facing the same fate – with their parents disappearing as well. Consequently, the children embark on a rampage, causing havoc in houses and on the street, throwing toilet paper on trees, and creating a mess everywhere.

Lucy is a natural-born leader as well as an instinctive problem solver. Amid the chaos, Lucy takes it upon herself to investigate and locate the missing parents. In her quest for answers, she discovers a mysterious creature called Woleb from the world of Creakers, hidden under her bed. The strange state of the world she discovers leads her to wonder if the Creakers are responsible for the parents’ disappearance.

Lucy teams up with Norman Quirk, a smart and organized boy with multiple scout badges, to formulate a plan to rescue their parents.  Lucy Dungston is a likeable character whose curiosity and determination drive the story forward. Norman Quirk’s sharp wit and intelligence make him an excellent addition to the team. A thrilling adventure follows as the pair try to uncover the truth behind the strange happenings.

Most children have wondered at some time or other if there is another world under their bed, and this story makes a light-hearted fantasy out of a common fear. A brave adventure story coupled with likeable characters and good clean humour makes this a popular choice with Year 3 at storytime.


Andy Shepherd
 & Sara Ogilvie
Chapter book

The first in a series, this hugely entertaining adventure about a small boy and his pet dragon would make a super read-aloud for lower KS2. Tomas is busy in the garden with Grandad, planning which fruits to grow that might be turned into delicious jams or tarts. When Tomas stumbles across a strange tree with curious-looking fruit, he never expects that what might emerge from the fruit is a real live dragon! This is an adventure that is humorous at every turn, but also full of heart. Tomas is a great positive role model for showing how young people can apply curiosity and creativity to the process of growing and nurturing plants and see ‘magic’ in the course.

Roald Dahl
 & Quentin Blake
Chapter book
Roald Dahl's much-loved Matilda has become a classic children's story, made popular through film and musical adaptations.Matilda Wormwood's father thinks she's a little scab. Matilda's mother spends all afternoon playing bingo. And Matilda's headmistress Miss Trunchbull? Well, she's the worst of all. She is a big bully, who thinks all her pupils are rotten and locks them in the dreaded Chokey. As for Matilda, she's an extraordinary little girl with a magical mind - and now she's had enough. So all these grown-ups had better watch out, because Matilda is going to teach them a lesson they'll never forget.
Dominique Valente
 & Sarah Warburton
Chapter book
The first book in a spellbinding children's fantasy series, with beautiful black-and-white inside illustrations by Sarah Warburton.Willow Moss, the youngest and least powerful sister in a family of witches, has a magical ability for finding lost things - like keys, or socks, or spectacles. Useful, but not exactly exciting ...Then the most powerful witch in the world of Starfell turns up at Willow's door and asks for her help. A whole day - last Tuesday to be precise - has gone missing. Completely. And without it the whole universe could unravel.Now Willow holds the fate of Starfell in her rather unremarkable hands... Can she save the day - by finding the lost one?Step into Starfell, a world crackling with warmth, wit and magic, perfect for readers aged 8-12.

Nizrana Farook
Chapter book

An exciting middle-grade adventure from Nizrana Farook filled with atmosphere, suspense and adventure with elements of Robin Hood and Arabian Nights.
Set in the dazzling landscapes of Sri Lanka, The Girl Who Stole an Elephant is the story of a girl called Chaya and her friends Neel and Nour. Quick-fingered Chaya is a young version of Robin Hood; she steals from the rich to help the poor in her village. However, when she steals the Queen’s jewels, things begin to go horribly wrong. Not only does she put herself in grave danger, but her actions also bring harm to her best friend Neel and the people of her village…

Hannah Gold
 & Levi Pinfold
Chapter book

A beautifully heartfelt and moving story with strong environmental themes. This story highlights the topic of global warming but also draws a picture of the wonderful connection that can develop between children and animals.

When April heads to a remote Arctic island with her father, who is there for scientific research, she’s not sure exactly what to expect. The trip to ‘Bear Island’ has the potential to be a very lonely trip – with endless summer Arctic nights, an isolated wilderness and, according to her father, no actual polar bears left on the island for April to spot despite its name.

Surprisingly, April encounters a real polar bear on the island when nobody else is around, and realises that the bear is in danger. With courage in the face of powerlessness, April embarks upon a quest to get the bear to safety in an adventure that she will never forget.

There’s something magical about this story – from the wonderfully evoked Arctic setting to the glorious friendship that develops between April and the bear. There often seems to be a direct connection and a deep instinct to care that exists between children and the natural world, a connection which is highlighted in the story through how April can make a difference to the plight of the bear despite her feeling of powerlessness. Many young readers who really do care about climate change will relate to April’s frustration at the inaction of many people, to her sadness at the plight of our precious planet and to her desire to make a difference, even through the smallest of actions.

This is a powerful and important story that will stir the heart through its gently unfolding message that places hope in the hands of the young to make a difference in the planet’s future.

Andy Stanton
Chapter book
Shabba me whiskers! It's a bold new look for Mr Gum, the best-selling cult classic, ready for a new generation of nibbleheads.'It's time for action,' said Mr Gum to nobody in particular. 'Nasty action.'Good evening. Mr Gum is a complete horror who hates children, animals, fun and corn on the cob. This book's all about him. And an angry fairy who lives in his bathtub. And Jake the dog, and a little girl called Polly. And there's heroes and sweets and adventures and EVERYTHING.You're a Bad Man, Mr Gum! is the first book in the internationally best-selling series by Andy Stanton, which has won everything from the Blue Peter Book Award (twice) to the Roald Dahl Funny Prize and the Red House Children's Book Award.

Favourite Picturebooks for Primary Libraries

Leigh Hodgkinson

Martha loves making maps and readers will love exploring them!

Starting in space, zooming down to street level and then inside a home, Martha Maps it Out is a great introduction to finding your way around. In standard picture book story format, it’s also fact-filled and informative. The book certainly suits curious minds who will enjoy exploring the detail to find facts on each double page. We particularly liked the clear labelling and use of colour throughout. The presentation is fun with an illustration style reminiscent of Lauren Child’s collages. There are even interactive mazes in the end-papers!

This book would be a great addition to any school library or reading corner and is ideal for children to explore alone, or in small groups as a discussion starter. It could be used to support KS1 topics in geography and maths, such as local area mapping, towns and cities, geographical scale and as a general introduction to map work. A really fun book for young readers.

Joseph Coelho
 & Fiona Lumbers
At the gallery, Luna is transfixed by the famous art, but her classmate Finn doesn't seem to want to be there at all. Finn's family doesn't look like the one in Henry Moore's 'Family Group' sculpture, but then neither does Luna's. Maybe all Finn needs is a friend. Join Luna and Finn at the Art Gallery and step inside famous works of art by Van Gogh, Damien Hirst, Henri Matisse, Andy Warhol and many more! Can you spot all the art? Created by award-winning poet Joseph Coelho, this book follows Luna Loves Library Day as an introduction to different types of family.
David McKee
Elmer is different. Elmer is patchwork. The grey elephants all love him, but he soon starts to wonder what it would be like to be just the same as them... Full of colour, wisdom and pathos, little readers will love this classic tale at bedtime. Deservedly a modern classic, with over ten million copies of his books sold worldwide, Elmer's subtle message, that it is OK to be different, resonates with children across the world. Elmer the colourful patchwork elephant has been a nursery favourite since 1989.
Pippa Goodhart & Anna Doherty
When Bear and Hare try to reach some juicy pears, they realise they need some help. Hare finds three chairs but is it fair that Hare has two chairs and Bear only one? When they have the same, Hare still can't reach the pears! So a little friend teaches them that fair isn't always everyone getting the same thing....with hilarious results! A beautifully simple picture book that considers, what is fair? The answer is not always as simple as you'd think!
Anthony Browne
Anthony Browne is at his most brilliant in a new edition of this profound picture book about sibling relations and one that has become a classic Y2 book to study and pore over in the classroom.Once upon a time there lived a brother and sister who were complete opposites and constantly fought and argued. One day they discovered the tunnel. The boy goes through it at once, dismissing his sister's fears. When he doesn't return his sister has to pluck up the courage to go through the tunnel too. She finds her brother in a mysterious forest where he has been turned to stone...

Ibtihaj Muhammad & S.K Ali
 & Hatem Aly
Asiya's hijab is like the ocean and the sky, no line between them, saying hello with a loud wave. It's Faizah's first day of school, and her older sister Asiya's first day of hijab - made of a beautiful blue fabric. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful. In the face of hurtful, confusing words, will Faizah find new ways to be strong? This is an uplifting, universal story of new experiences, the unbreakable bond shared by siblings and of being proud of who you are, from Olympic medallist Ibtihaj Muhammad.
The Fan Brothers
From the creators of The Night Gardener , comes a stunning new picture book about a young boy who sets sail to find a place his grandfather told him about... the spot where the ocean meets the sky. It's a good day for sailing. Finn lives by the sea and the sea lives by him. Every time he looks out his window it's a constant reminder of the stories his grandfather told him about the place where the ocean meets the sky. Where whales and jellyfish soar and birds and castles float. Finn's grandfather is gone now but Finn knows the perfect way to honor him. He'll build his own ship and sail out to find this magical place himself! And when he arrives, maybe, just maybe, he'll find something he didn't know he was looking for.

Recommended Poetry and Rhymes for Primary School Children

Michael Rosen
 & Kevin Waldron
When I was a boy, I had a favourite treat. It was when my mum made . . . CHOCOLATE CAKE! Ohhh! I LOVED chocolate cake. Fantastically funny and full of silly noises, this is Michael Rosen's love letter to every child's favourite treat, chocolate cake. Brought to life as a picture book for the first time with brilliant and characterful illustrations by Kevin Waldron.
Joseph Coelho
 & Daniel Gray-Barnett
From the fantastic duo behind Poems Aloud and Smile Out Loud comes another compendium of 25 original confidence-building poems to read out loud which will show children that their voice has FANTASTIC power.From multi-award winning poet and Waterstones Children's Laureate Joseph Coelho comes 25 more brilliant, sparkling and truly original poems for children, specially written to help build confidence, develop speaking skills and help foster self-belief.The collection contains mantras to be true to yourself, to help you feel brave, project happiness, conjure a smile, make you laugh or cheer others up. Some are odes, some can be said as personal mantras or just poems that instil confidence and help children realise the power of their voices.Reading these poems aloud will teach children the power of a poem, encouraging them to explore the magic of language and foster a love of verse.
Benjamin Zephaniah
Enter the crazy world of rap poet Benjamin Zephaniah! A reissue of the wonderfully irreverent collection of poetry for young people, touching on anything from vegetables to the Queen and from sewage to the sun. There's plenty of humour as well as poems on racism, pollution and the murder of a cat.
Sharon Creech
A story told entirely through narrative verse. Slowly Jack learns the pleasures of writing poetry as Miss Stretchberry encourages him to tell his own story through verse. What emerges is a moving and memorable verse novel about a boy and his dog and his growing passion for poetry.

Popular Graphic Novels for Primary School Children

Mark Bradley
Graphic Novel
Best friends Bumble and Snug are Bugbops - little monsters filled with BIG feelings! In this full-colour graphic novel, join them on a funny, imaginative adventure with some VERY angry pirates, learning about the world outside and inside along the way.Bumble and Snug are going on a big adventure to ... have a picnic! But when they accidentally get lost, they're both cross - is their adventure ruined?Working together to find their way home, Bumble and Snug come across a pirate treasure horde. But taking treasure that isn't yours is a good way to get into trouble, and sure enough some VERY angry pirates aren't far behind.Bumble and Snug are certain they can replace the treasure, and fix things to make everybody happy. But there's another monstrous obstacle in store - and this one has TENTACLES.Bumble and Snug and the Angry Pirates is a story about being cross and how to listen, friendship and sandcastles, and one GIANT octopus!
Mike Barfield
 & Jess Bradley

This colourful, cartoon-style reference book brings facts to life with humour and fun illustrations. Following on from the enormous success of its award-winning predecessors, this latest book in the ‘Day in the Life Of..’ series is packed full of information and facts about space, presented in an entertaining comic style that is a joy to read.

Readers will enjoy the variety of scientific information, which felt like a balanced view of different areas including science, technology, astrology and the history of space travel. This would be a great book for children who love a highly visual element to what they read. Readers could dip in and out of the various topics individually, or teachers could choose sections to share as a class when exploring related topics. When added to a classroom library, this series is sure to be in high demand during independent reading time. 

Neill Cameron
Graphic Novel

Mega Robot Bros is a long-running comic strip in The Phoenix, written and illustrated by Neill Cameron. The stories are not available in a series of graphic novels and are huge hits with KS2.

Alex and Freddy are robots and also brothers, doing typical brother things like arguing, going to theme parks and annoying each other at school. The boys band together when a series of robot attacks take place in London and the pair need to work as a team to defeat Evil Robot 23.

An action-packed graphic novel weaving feel-good themes of family and school life with a good scattering of deadly lasers, jet packs, danger and some excellent sidekicks.

Popular Chapter Books for Primary School Children

Rick Riordan
Chapter book

This is a multi-million selling series that has also been televised with Disney and is hugely popular among fans of action and adventure. Percy Jackson’s modern world is turned upside when he finds out he is descended from Greek gods. What follows is battles with monsters and epic quests in an action-packed series that merges Greek mythology with the modern world. There are also Teachers’ Notes available to download from the publisher.

M. G. Leonard & Sam Sedgman
 & Elisa Paganelli
Chapter book

A full-steam-ahead adventure that had me hooked from the get-go. The Highland Falcon Thief is a middle-grade mystery story set on a steam train. With a high spirit of adventuring and a good-and-proper mystery that unfolds with clues and red herrings along the course, this is a brilliantly fun story that is sure to be on track to find itself set among the very best in the children’s mystery genre.

Harrison Beck (Hal) ends up aboard the last-ever journey of a famous royal steam train ‘The Highland Falcon’, unwillingly accompanying his travel-writer uncle while his parents are occupied in hospital having a new baby. Hal doesn’t think much of steam trains – and he is even less impressed when he finds there are no other child passengers on board and no electricity to charge his devices. Before long, Hal finds himself caught up with entertainment of a more old-fashioned kind. A mystery begins to unravel among the passengers – with valuable items disappearing including the princess’s diamond necklace – and Hal begins to record what he notices in his sketchbook. What’s more, Hal befriends a secret stowaway girl called Lenny and the pair set to work to solve the mystery before The Highland Falcon reaches the end of its last-ever journey.

Anna James
Chapter book

Since the disappearance of her mother, Tilly has lived in a bookshop with her grandparents, where she has found comfort amongst the pages of her favourite books. When she discovers her special ability to wander in and out of books alongside her favourite characters, she realises this could hold the key to finding out what really happened to her mother. But she is unnerved by the appearance of the mysterious Enoch Chalk who turns up in the most unexpected of places, taking an unusual interest in Tilly and watching her very closely. Spellbinding and truly magical, the world of Pages & Co is enchanting for readers young and old.

Cath Howe
Chapter book

Ella on the Outside is a superbly honest debut from Cath Howe, with authentic characters and important themes of friendship, loyalty, self-acceptance and parental responsibility. For me this was a thoroughly enjoyable read and I’m convinced the characters will resonate strongly with lots of readers. As well as the themes of friendship and loyalty, the book also addresses issues of parental responsibility, childhood eczema, mental health and the impact of having an absent parent. This is a gripping and emotive read filled with heart and we recommend it for readers in upper KS2…

Sophie Cleverly
 & Hannah Peck
Chapter book

A Victorian murder mystery that has plenty of twists and turns and is difficult to put down.

All Violet Veil has ever wanted is to be taken seriously and to become an apprentice in her family’s business, Veil and Sons’ Undertakers. Unfortunately, she is denied this opportunity simply because she is a girl. When there is a spate of killings, business appears to be good for Mr Veil. That is, until one rainy night when one of the dead bodies comes back to life! In the undertaker’s back room, Violet meets Oliver, a young boy who lives on the streets, and together they embark on an investigation to solve Oliver’s own ‘murder’. They are accompanied by Violet’s loyal greyhound, Bones, who has an affinity for the graveyard that lies next to the Veil’s house and business. In spite of her parents’ disapproval, plucky Violet vows to solve this mystery and Oliver is allowed to stay. When Violet’s father is later accused of these murders, Violet, Oliver and Bones must uncover the truth once and for all in a bid to save Mr Veil’s life.

This book has a strong female lead with a loveable sidekick. Violet’s headstrong nature and sense that justice must be done make her a character that you can’t help but root for. The story takes its readers along on the journey of the investigation and is nail-biting in places.

A must-read for lovers of detective stories, ghostly tales and historical fiction. There is a sense of dark adventure and foreboding throughout and this makes the spooky nature of the story very appealing. 

Phil Earle
 & Elisa Paganelli
Chapter book Dyslexia-friendly

The Dog That Saved the World (Cup) is a thoroughly enjoyable story of a dog and his family. Inspired by events of 1966, Phil Earle brings the legend of the Jules Rimet trophy theft up to date by placing his tale in a contemporary setting with contemporary problems. Being narrated by Pickles the dog, difficult – but real – issues of unemployment, single-parenting, poverty and homelessness are explored with an innocent honesty that makes them accessible and appropriate for younger readers. Despite the underlying struggles and heartaches, this is not a story of sadness, but it is a quick, positive read that is fun and uplifting.

After the ending of the story, there is an author’s note explaining the real-life inspiration behind the book. Fara Williams, England’s most capped women’s footballer, has shown that dreams can come true as she herself was homeless but never without hope because she had football in her life. Elsie is a reflection of Fara – full of hope, determination and undefeated by life’s challenges.

Printed on a dyslexia-friendly font on cream paper, the story is delightfully illustrated by Elisa Paganelli. The drawings are predominantly joyful. showing happy faces and the bond between a family who have lots of love even when they have little else.


A fun, super-readable story of football with much, much more besides.

Eoin Colfer
Chapter book

Artemis Fowl is now an award-winning fantasy series of books and a huge hit with children in the 9-12 age range. The stories mix supernatural action, thrilling adventure and a good sprinkling of humour. The story follows 12-year-old Artemis, a criminal mastermind, as he plans to kidnap a fairy leader for a ransom of fairy gold, only to find the fairies are armed and ready to fight back. Throughout the series, Artemis finds himself involves in kidnappings, heists and dangerous battles with a host of supernatural beings including goblins, pixies, dwarves and trolls, each with their own quirky characteristics. We recommend this entertaining series for children who love fantasy characters, action-charged adventures and the feeling of getting stuck into a gripping series.

Robin Stevens
Chapter book

The Murder Most Unladylike books form a series of children’s murder mystery novels written by Robin Stevens. Popular with children aged 9-12, the stories follow the adventures of two schoolgirls who set up their own detective agency.

Fans of the Murder Most Unladylike series enjoy the stories’ unfolding mysteries told through Hazel’s witty case notes. Readers also love the fast-paced plots with clever twists, the character-centred drama and also the 1930s boarding school setting. The stories deal with important themes like friendship, diversity, loyalty and social class against the backdrop of the murder investigations. Additionally, many children enjoy the collectibility of the series with their rainbow-hued covers and sprayed edges.

Tom Palmer
 & Tom Clohosy Cole
Chapter book Dyslexia-friendly

Best-selling author Tom Palmer has a track record of bringing together his passions for sport and history in popular stories with a high appeal in primary schools. His gripping story, Armistice Runner, brings into the spotlight messenger runners on the front line of World War I. As with all of Tom’s books published by Barrington Stoke, these books are ‘super-readable’ due to their accessible layout including a dyslexia-friendly font and tinted paper. This is a wonderful story to use in KS2 classrooms to explore the history of the World War 1 Armistice.

Kirsty Applebaum
Chapter book

A thoroughly modern narrative about the ethics of artificial intelligence with relatable domestic themes of friendship, family and identity.

With busy working parents, Sarah longs for a pet for company. Her parents agree that some company would be good for Sarah and it soon arrives, but not quite in the form that Sarah was hoping for. Instead, Sarah receives a Jenson & Jenson TrooFriend 560 Mark IV – a robot marketed as an artificially intelligent ‘better choice’ of playmate who is like a human child but does not bully, harm, lie or envy.

It takes Sarah a while to warm up to her new friend, which she names Ivy. At first, Sarah interacts with Ivy only to please Mum, but is quick to flick the off-switch as soon as possible. But slowly, Sarah and Ivy start to become true friends, bonding over hairstyles, clothing and art. Ivy tries to help Sarah with friendship problems at school, and soon Sarah finds herself wondering whether her human-like friend might have feelings of her own. When a fault in Ivy’s model is announced and all TrooFriend 560 Mark IVs are recalled to the factory for destruction, Sarah finds herself embroiled in a battle of android rights that centres around the very essence of what it means to be human.

In the current times, the offer of a robotic companion to entertain the children of busy, working parents would be an easy sell. But when it comes to real relationships and emotions, things are rarely straightforward, and the potential issues of replacing humans with androids emerge early in the plot. The narrative is told from the first-person perspective of TrooFriend robot Ivy, which gives the story a unique edge and immediately plunges the reader into considering the book’s key questions around what gives androids (or anyone) rights, identity and worth. Ivy’s voice develops gradually through the book, from a series of repeated, pre-programmed platitudes to an independent flow of consciousness affected by human connections. The evolution of Ivy’s voice occurs in increments so small – and is so skillfully written – that you hardly notice it happening, as she moves away from her programming and develops a real personality of her own. Ivy’s self-liberation emerges in parallel with Sarah beginning to treat her as an equal rather than an object; this makes a really interesting thread of the plot that could develop into much thought and discussion around wider issues of oppression and human rights.

There’s plenty of humour to be found too in Ivy’s sharp observations about human behaviour and despite the ambitious nature of its themes the story never feels too heavy. It’s a relatively quick read with a gripping storyline, but the questions it raises about human nature, the ethics of artificial intelligence and the complications of android rights will stay in your musings for quite some time after finishing.

Favourite Non-Fiction Books for Primary School Children

A charming children's encyclopedia bursting with facts about the animals of the world!The world is so much bigger than young minds can fathom and there is always more to learn. My Encyclopedia of Very Important Animals is a vibrant encyclopedia for curious 5-9 year olds with a unique approach to the subject of animals that takes curious kids on an enjoyable, educational journey of discovery.Mixing beautiful photography with charming illustrations, it's the perfect visual language for young readers, and is packed with light-hearted fun, and fascinating facts. Featuring everything from legends and folklore, world history, and creatures from the land, sea, and skies, this series is bursting with all sorts of subjects that early readers will love!
Kate Pankhurst
Non-fiction Picturebook
From bestselling author and illustrator Kate Pankhurst, descendent of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, comes another 'smart, informative, inclusive and accessible' book about trail-blazing women.Discover the untold stories of women who have helped protect our natural world, all the way through history.Bursting full of colourful illustrations and fascinating facts, Fantastically Great Women Who Saved the Planet is an inspiring introduction to just a few of the incredible women who show that all actions, big and small, can be powerful in the fight against climate breakdown.
Charlotte Milner
Step inside the fascinating world of tropical rainforests where you'll encounter an enormous variety of flora and fauna! This gorgeously illustrated picture book is a wonderful way to introduce children to the world of nature and conservation. In this colour non-fiction text, you'll discover amazing rainforest animals, learn about the diverse range of life-giving plants, and find out why the Amazon rainforest is known as the "lungs" of our Earth.
Dr Emily Grossman
 & Maggie Li
Non-fiction Picturebook

Meet the Microbes is a captivating insight into the tiny creatures that live under our noses and have a massive impact on our lives despite only being visible through a powerful microscope. Through the colourful and lively pages, children will meet a succession of cartoon microbes and learn all about them. They will learn about where they can be found and how they multiply; how they survive in the most extreme of conditions; the jobs that they do and how they might be beneficial to our future.

By the end of the book, they will have reached an understanding that microbes can be both good and bad for our bodies and how we can avoid spreading the less desirable ones. They will be fascinated to find out that mould is formed from microbes and that some of their favourite foods such as yoghurt, fluffy bread and cheese would not exist without them. The language is accessible to younger readers and concepts are explained clearly.

This book would be an excellent accompaniment to science topics or just a great addition to the non-fiction, reading for pleasure offer in the school library.

Eryl Nash
 & Ana Albero
Taking you to the heart of the heroes who help us, experience a day in the life of Cecilia the nurse, David-Lawrence the paramedic, Leonie the firefighter and Tamika the veterinarian.This uplifting picture book showcases the amazing work our frontline staff do, the incredible skills they have and the important equipment they need to save a life, in a unique graphic novel-inspired non-fiction format.

A vibrant encyclopedia that combines facts and figures with the inspiring stories of sporting legends and icons.This exciting book for children is packed with fun facts about a range of popular sports such as football, karate, badminton, and skiing, as well as ones you might never have heard of like biathlon or cheese rolling. Whether you're a fan of team sports, winter sports, water sports, extreme sports, and even board games such as chess and go, this reference book has it all!My Encyclopedia of Very Important Sport also celebrates the unique talents, lives, and careers of sporting heroes such as Usain Bolt, Serena Williams, Yuna Kim, Lin Dan, and Donald Bradman, and chronicles the most celebrated stories in sporting history, such as breaking the Four-minute mile, Nadia Comaneci's Perfect 10, and Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics. Featuring everything from obscure rules and strange equipment, to moments of triumph and sporting events like The World Cup, Superbowl, Olympics, Paralympics, and more - this is the perfect compendium for budding superstars everywhere.
Kate Pankhurst
Prepare to be inspired with this fantastically great new series for young readers from bestselling author Kate Pankhurst, a descendent of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst. In this first book, read the true stories of amazing scientists and discover things that are out of this world!Women have been responsible for many of the world's most groundbreaking scientific discoveries. These are the stories of incredible female scientists whose hard work and persistence changed our understanding of science, and transformed people's ideas of what women can do.Including comic strips, family trees, maps and more, Fantastically Great Women Scientists and Their Stories is a celebration of women who made some of the world's most important scientific breakthroughs.

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Guidance: About the Primary Booklist

How should you encourage primary school children to read?

The heart of fostering a love for reading in primary school lies in the power of choice. Making available for children a range of different books is key, including a variety of styles, formats, and genres to enable them to shape their identity as readers. By exploring various options, children have alternatives if a particular book doesn’t resonate with them but also gain the ability to make informed decisions about the literature that sparks their reading enthusiasm. This essential process plays a pivotal role in nurturing children’s intrinsic motivation to read, laying the groundwork for a lifelong passion for books.

Whether it’s popular bestsellers like the Percy Jackson series or magical realism like Tilly and the Bookwanderers, it is best to make sure that a wide range of appealing and age-appropriate books are available for primary children to choose from. Many children gravitate towards picturebooks, from the classic stories for children like Elmer and Funnybones to picturebooks that keep older readers intrigued too, like Ocean Meets Sky and The Tunnel. Also popular with primary children are illustrated chapter books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and graphic novels like Mega Robot Bros.

Our list also includes poetry books like Benjamin Zephaniah’s Funky Chickens, as well as a good selection of non-fiction including Fantastically Great Women Who Saved the Planet and Meet the Microbes.

All of the books on this primary school reading list have been selected for our individual year group booklists.

How are the Reading for Pleasure booklists selected?

Each of our Year Group Recommended Reads lists contains 50 books specially picked out for reading for pleasure in each primary year group, from Preschool to Year 6. The lists are designed to provide recommendations of age-appropriate and accessible books across a range of genres and styles. These lists differ from our topic booklists, as the books are purely selected for the purpose of reading for pleasure at each age group.

In curating each primary booklist, we strive for diversity across various genres and styles. Recognising that children have unique preferences, some gravitating towards non-fiction while others favour graphic novels or poetry, we ensure that each list provides a well-rounded selection. Our curated lists encompass age-appropriate fiction, picture books, non-fiction, poetry, and graphic novels, complemented by a sprinkling of novelty or tactile books. 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 using our lists to present children with a rich array of high-quality reading options tailored to their individual enjoyment.

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

What other booklists for children in primary schools are available?

The booklists on the BooksForTopics website mostly feature books suitable for the primary school age range (4-11).
Many of our booklists are based on topics found on the primary school curriculum, like the Romans in history or growing plants in science.

Some of the booklists on the website are themed on children’s special interests – like football or superheroes – or seasonal 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, 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 Primary 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 Primary Books PDF


Printable Checklist – Best Primary Books PDF

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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