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Year 1: 50 Recommended Reads

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recommended books for year 1 ages 5 to 6

Best Books for Year 1 (Children Aged 5-6)

Our team has selected the 50 best books for 5 and 6 year olds in Year 1. Top up your Year 1 reading collections with our hand-picked list of recommended storytime favourites, laugh-out-loud picture books, animal stories, early chapter books, illustrated poetry collections, non-fiction texts and more.

This list of recommended reads for Year 1 includes fiction and non-fiction books that cover a variety of themes. From classic stories to modern adventures, our collection is curated to cater to the interests and reading levels of children ages 5 and 6. This booklist includes popular Year 1 stories such as The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark, Man on the Moon and Fantastic Mr Fox. as well as some lesser-known storytime delights that we highly recommend, like The Friendship BenchAdventureMice and Matt Carr’s hilarious eight-legged secret agent, Spyder.

At BooksForTopics, we believe that reading is an essential part of a child’s development. Year 1 is a very important stage in a child’s reading journey. That’s why our expert team has put together this list especially for Y1 children, with stories at just the right level. Whether your children are confident readers or just starting out on their reading journey, our selection of books is designed to encourage a love of reading that will last all through primary school and beyond.

As well as the Year 1 booklist, we’ve also got a printable poster and downloadable checklist for you. Schools can purchase full sets of the books via Peters.

Scroll down to find more purchasing options and printable resources.

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Favourite Storytime Books for Year 1

Simon Bartram

This excellent picture book has enough depth to captivate pupils and is an entertaining storytime choice for Year 1 and 2. It follows the story of Bob, an ordinary man with the extra-ordinary job of keeping the moon clean and entertaining moon tourists. Readers will delight in spotting all of the aliens that Bob misses noticing as he goes about his work as the man on the moon. Highly recommended!

Cressida Cowell
 & Neal Layton

This is a highly recommendable award-winning picture book that tells the story of a little girl whose favourite toy rabbit is kidnapped by order of the Queen, who likes the look of the toy for herself. Emily Brown is not willing to let her beloved rabbit go without a fight and goes on to teach the Queen an important lesson about the value of treasured toys.

We absolutely love this story from storytelling maestro Cressida Cowell, and grown-ups who love to read dramatically and ‘do the voices’ will have just as much fun as children listening.

Anthony Browne
Celebrate 30 years of the classic award-winning picture book in this stunning new edition. Hannah loves gorillas but has never seen one. Her father's too busy to take her to the zoo - or for anything else come to that. For her birthday, Hannah asks her father for a gorilla - but is disappointed when she discovers that the gorilla she's got is just a toy one. But then something extraordinary happens ... the toy turns into a real gorilla, who puts on her father's hat and coat and takes her off for a magical visit to the zoo...
Nathan Bryon
 & Dapo Adeola
Meet hilarious, science-mad chatterbox, Rocket - she's going to be the greatest astronaut, star-catcher, space-traveller that has ever lived!But... can she convince her big brother to stop looking down at his phone and start LOOKING UP at the stars?Bursting with energy and passion about science and space, this heart-warming, inspirational picture book will have readers turning off their screens and switching on to the outside world.
David Litchfield
The first book in the best-selling, award-winning ‘Bear and the Piano’ trilogy.Winner of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize, Illustrated Book Category for 2016Over 120,000 copies have been sold of The Bear and the Piano in the UK.One day, a young bear stumbles upon something he has never seen before in the forest. As time passes, he teaches himself how to play the strange instrument, and eventually the beautiful sounds are heard by a father and son who are picnicking in the woods. The bear goes with them on an incredible journey to New York, where his piano playing makes him a huge star. He has fame, fortune and all the music in the world, but he misses the friends and family he has left behind. A moving tale of exploration and belonging from best-selling and critically acclaimed author David Litchfield.

Michael Morpurgo
 & Michael Foreman

A longer illustrated story from Michael Morpurgo and illustrated by Michael Foreman, all about a boy from a cornish fishing village who helps a beached dolphin find its way back into the sea. This heartwarming story tells of the special bond between children and animals, which is characterised by unconditional love and loyalty. Poignant at times and magical at others, we love this beautifully rich story of a friendship between a boy and a dolphin, which never fails to captivate KS1 audiences at storytime.

Nadia Shireen
Norman is a bear. A bear who LOVES honey. According to Norman, there can never be enough honey; he needs to get his paws on more, more, more ! And who has the most honey? The bees, of course! So, dressed up in his very best bee onesie, he thinks he looks quite convincing as he infiltrates Bee School with his eye on their huge honey supply. But how long will his disguise last? And when the hive is endangered, can he finally discover his true destiny and become. . . The Bumblebear ?
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.

Recommended Funny Books for Year 1

Matt Carr

Created in Matt Carr’s signature comic-book style with a palette of bold primary colours, this entertaining story follows Spyder, a secret agent arachnid whose codename is 008. Spyder is sent on a highly important mission to save one boy’s birthday cake from the destructive intentions of an uninvited Bluebottle.

The text is full of puns but the humour is perfectly pitched for adults and children alike. It was wonderful to see that the secret agent was female (because why wouldn’t she be?). There are oodles of extra details to spot, such as the various images on the screen of the agent’s spy gadget and the spider webpage at the end of the book.
 This delightful, cool and engaging picture book is a favourite at BooksForTopics HQ and is a real winner in the classroom.
Peter Bently
 & John Bond

Both of these author-illustrators have separately created some joyous picture books for children and in this collaboration it sees the two create a humorous rhyming picture book with a canine theme. The premise requires the reader to enjoy the notion that dogs really like dressing up in clothes and do this so they can ‘blend in’ with everyday human life. The idea of dogs in high heels “to make them look big” certainly can’t help but raise a smile! Dogs can sneak into all sorts of places when disguised, whether it’s a fancy café, a gym or a swimming pool. The rhyming is masterful and it would be great to see if dog-loving children can spot which dog must be dressed in the disguise based on the rhyme. It could, after all, only be a Shih-tzu that does jujitsu, and schnauzers that wear trousers!

Michelle Robinson
 & Tom Knight
A laugh-out-loud picture book from master storyteller, Michelle Robinson, and illustrator extraordinaire, Tom Knight.Finally she FLOPS and FLINGS herself down on the floor."I give up!" Ice Cream hollers, "I can't take it any more!"Life inside the ice cream van is full of excitement - the ice creams and lollies can't wait to be picked!But - oh no! - no-one wants a plain ice cream, and that's exactly what our friend Ice Cream is. As she sees friend after friend being picked instead of her...Ice Cream has a MELTDOWN!Will Ice Cream be stuck in the freezer forever, or is her happy ending just around the corner...?
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!

Sean Taylor
 & Fred Benaglia
Monster is HUNGRY. He wants PIZZA. And he's got a PHONE! But uh oh . . . who is he going to call? Hold the line - Monster is in for a wild ride! WARNING: This book may make you laugh your socks off! A hilarious picture book that's perfect for anyone who's ever REALLY wanted PIZZA. With bold, bright illustrations by the talented Fred Benaglia, it's an unmissable treat, and perfect for fans of Oi Frog!
Nick Sharratt
Chapter book

Hip hip hooray! It’s Splash Day today and everyone is ready for a water fight! They’ve got their trunks and wetsuits, wellies and rubber rings. Even the teachers are going to join in. Let’s see what happens when Mrs Thistle blows her whistle!

Animal Stories For Year 1

Catherine Rayner

Many of us can relate to the frustration of a sleepness night – especially after this past week of too hot, too stormy or too rainy bedtimes! Arlo the lion is no exception; he is struggling to sleep and feeling helpless at being all out of ideas for what to try next. Arlo meets Owl, who offers a different perspective. He learns that Owl can sleep through the day – even through the sights and sounds of all the other animals being awake. Fortunately for Arlo, Owl has some sleep-inducing tricks of her own that might just help Arlo too. Owl teaches Arlo a bedtime song, which focuses on thoughts of happy places, a relaxation of the body, a slowing down of breathing patterns and meditation about sinking into the soft ground. The song works a treat, but in his excitement over his new found success, Arlo accidentally wakes other animals up! Happily though, they can use the song too to settle back to sleep.

Clare Helen Welsh
 & Nicola O'Byrne

Slime is so often a winner when it comes to making children laugh. In the absence of make-your-own-slime kits or putty-testing YouTubers, young slime aficionados might be easily persuaded to keep their fingers dry and open the pages of this super-fun text about the animal world.
Lenny the Lemur is taking a trip and decides to track down the source of some mysterious slime. On his quest, he encounters opossums, dolphins, salamanders and sea-lions and finds out about the unique properties of the goo each creature produces.
Plenty of humour coupled with oodles of facts make this a winner with children and offers a fun and unique twist on information books about animals.

James Sellick
 & Frann Preston-Gannon
A stunning picture book about one little girl and her orangutan friend, based on the Greenpeace film that became a viral sensation. When a little girl discovers a mischievous orangutan on the loose in her bedroom, she can't understand why it keeps shouting OOO! at her shampoo and her chocolate. But when Rang-tan explains that there are humans running wild in her rainforest, burning down trees so they can grow palm oil to put in products, the little girl knows what she has to do: help save the orangutans! Extra pages at the back include information about orangutans and palm oil plus exciting ideas about how young readers can make a difference.
Neil Clark
Walter is a snail who is really, really bored of leaves. Surely there's more to life than leaves? His fellow snails are happy just slowly munching away... but not Walter! He wants to try something new.Walter's never seen beyond the large, looming leaves and tall towering flowers of his simple, small world. He sets out on an incredible journey full of challenges, unlikely friends and remarkable sights!The brave, curious snail meets heart warming animal characters, like Lottie the squirrel and Kendrick the frog, who inspire him to continue on a big adventure, particularly for such a tiny creature.Comical scenarios, rich artwork and a stunning colour palette makes this a lovable read. Walter the snail will encourage readers to think big and not to be afraid of change!
Linzie Hunter
You're not going to find a more heartwarming and dynamic duo than Pig and Mouse! Join Pig as he learns how to turn his "what if" worries from anxiety to optimism, all with the help of his loving friend Mouse. Mouse has never had a friend quite like Pig. Pig is so incredibly kind, endlessly thoughtful and fabulously fun, but he also has a big secret... he's a tremendous worrier! When Pig gets the brilliant idea to throw a party for Mouse and their friends, he can't help but think of everything that could possibly go wrong. After all, what if a lion eats all the invitations? What if nobody comes? Or worse, what if everyone comes and has an awful time? In this adorable story, Linzie Hunter's charming, bright illustrations pair perfectly with her sweet and funny story about friendship and the endless wonder of "what if" that readers of all ages can relate to. This picture book is a great conversation starter in the home or classroom and a great way to talk to your children about worries or anxieties. Perfect for boys, girls, families and anyone who has ever had a worry or a wobble!

Lynne Reid Banks
 & Tony Ross
Winner of the Smarties Silver medal, and best-selling title, Harry the Poisonous Centipede is the delightfully squirmy story of a little centipede's adventures in the scary world of the dreaded Hoo-Mins! "It's a Hoo-Min!" crackled George. "Walking on its hairy-biter feet!" But now it was Harry who felt brave. "Come on! Let's peep at it!" They crawled the rest of the way up the tunnel towards the light. Harry is a poisonous centipede but he's not very brave. Still, he is the star of this seriously squirmy story. Harry likes to eat things that wriggle and crackle, and things that are juicy and munchy! But there are some things that a poisonous centipede must never try to eat - dangerous things like flying swoopers, belly wrigglers, furry biters and the most dangerous of all... Hoo-Mins! Harry and George's adventures up to the world of Hoo-Mins sparkle with fun and will be a delightfully squirmy experience for all young readers.
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.

Classic Children's Books for Year 1

Ronda Armitage
 & David Armitage

A classic picture book featuring the story of the lighthouse keeper Mr. Grinling and his attempts to receive his lunch before it is eaten by the pesky seagulls. First published forty years ago, The Lighthouse Keeper series is a popular choice to go alongside a seaside topic. This text is rich in vocabulary and a good option for Talk for Writing.

Michael Bond
 & R. W. Alley
The classic story of everyone's favourite bear, Paddington. Now available in board book format - perfect for tiny paws!Paddington Bear first met the Brown family at a railway station - Paddington Station, in fact. He had travelled all the way from Darkest Peru with only a jar of marmalade, a suitcase and a label reading 'Please look after this bear'. Without further ado, Mr and Mrs Brown welcomed the adventurous bear into their family, and in honour of their meeting place they named him Paddington.The Browns soon discover that Paddington is a most unusual bear, for ordinary things - like having a bath - become quite extraordinary when a bear called Paddington is around!
Jill Tomlinson
 & Paul Howard
Chapter book
Plop, the Baby Barn Owl, is like every Barn Owl there ever was, except for one thing - he is afraid of the dark. "Dark is nasty" he says and so he won't go hunting with his parents. Mrs Barn Owl sends him down from his nest-hole to ask about the dark and he meets a little boy waiting for the fireworks to begin, an old lady, a scout out camping, a girl who tells him about Father Christmas, a man with a telescope and a black cat who takes him exploring. Perhaps there is magic in the dark after all . . . Filled with gentle humour and giving comforting reassurance to nightime fears and anxieties, Jill Tomlinson's animal bedtime stories have been enjoyed by children for decades. This edition of The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark is beautifully illustrated by Paul Howard.
Roald Dahl
 & Quentin Blake
Chapter book
Phizzwhizzing new cover look and branding for the World's NUMBER ONE Storyteller! Boggis is an enormously fat chicken farmer who only eats boiled chickens smothered in fat. Bunce is a duck-and-goose farmer whose dinner gives him a beastly temper. Bean is a turkey-and-apple farmer who only drinks gallons of strong cider. Mr Fox is so clever that every evening he creeps down into the valley and helps himself to food from the farms. Now the farmers have hatched a plan to BANG-BANG-BANG shoot Mr Fox dead. But, just when they think Mr Fox can't possibly escape, he makes a fantastic plan of his own...

Stories about Family and Friends

Rashmi Sirdeshpande
 & Ruchi Mhasane

Dadaji’s Paintbrush is a sumptuous story of a young boy’s special relationship with his grandfather, set in a small village in India.
This is a beautiful story that deals with the difficult subject of the loss of a grandparent in a gentle and understanding way.  The beautiful Indian setting that will be unfamiliar to many readers highlights the universal experiences of love and loss, showing that no matter where you are, some human experiences unite us all.
The illustrations are simple and beautiful and we particularly liked how the colours linked with the main character’s emotions. We also loved the evocative and sensory setting descriptions in the story – we could almost taste the mangoes!
As well as gently exploring the topic of grief, the story is ultimately filled with hope and draws out the values of art, community and legacy. There’s so much to unpack in this stunning story.

Wendy Meddour
 & Daniel Egneus

This is a beautiful picturebook that celebrates new beginnings and the power of human connection. Tilly moves to a new home by the sea. She’s sad to learn that her precious dog Shadow is not allowed to go into her new school on her first day. Tilly faces the challenge of a new start alone. At playtime, the teacher notices that Tilly is alone and suggests trying the Friendship Bench. A boy already occupies the bench and the pair form a bond as they work together to transform the old, broken bench into something beautiful.

This is a warm and gentle story. Most children can relate to the feeling of having nobody to play with or having to face a new challenge alone. The story gently encourages readers to seek human connection and reminds us all of the difference that reaching out and making friends can make. The story could be used to encourage children to reflect on how to make new or isolated members of the school community welcome. Could you work together this year to create spaces around the school where lonely children could go, where children can build connections through shared activity or where friendships can blossom?

Joseph Coelho
 & Richard Johnson

Our Tower tells the story of three children living in a tower block. Viewing their environment as “concrete and grey”, they decide to seek out the glimpse of green they can see high up from their window.

Finding the tree they have longed to see reveals a secret world of magic. Tumbling deep inside, they find “a world deeper than anything Our Tower has ever seen.” But the most significant discovery is the tree-grown man living within, who opens their eyes to the true magic. With his words, the children see that magic is everywhere, including in their tower. A tower full of love and community.

This is a beautiful story inspired by author Joseph Coelho’s own experience of growing up in a tower block. The new Children’s Laureate brilliantly illustrates the diversity and the incredible sense of community that living in a tower block provides, showing how they are more magical than the boring, hard and grey high-rise flats that dominate urban skylines. The tale brings a message about urbanisation, where there’s a perceived distinction between countryside and urban spaces, yet this reminds us that nature is all around us, wherever we live, and everyone should have access to it.

Every page is a feast for the eyes with stunning and sumptuous illustrations by Richard Johnson. The colours perfectly reflect the mood of the poetic narrative, changing from dull greys to magical purples to vibrant, magical technicolour.

As always, the talent of Joseph Coelho’s writing expertly combines writing in verse and poetry with inspiring rich vocabulary.

Ibtihaj Muhammad, S. K. Ali
 & Hatem Aly

This is an absolutely beautiful book – one that is positive and empowering. In the author-illustrator team’s previous book The Proudest Blue, we saw the beautiful bond between sisters Faizah and Asiya and heard the supportive and uplifting words of their mother. In The Kindest Red we see this again throughout the story as we ponder the question posed by Faizah’s teacher, ‘What kind of world would you like to live in?’ A beautiful world? A strong world? A kind world?

Faizah and her friends spend the day showing acts of kindness and seeing them spread until the whole class is beaming. However, it’s school photo day and when it comes to her turn to step up with Asiya, she needs a small act of kindness herself which her friends gladly give. The central theme of ‘passing things on,’ between family members, and to friends and strangers, is beautifully woven through the story, along with the idea of sharing kindness with others. The author’s note beautifully links the theme to her faith too, causing the reader to think about the impact of our actions and behaviour on others around us.

Swapna Haddow
 & Dapo Adeola

This is a sweet story about one imaginative boy’s special bond with his father, whom he images as a loveable grizzly bear. It’s full of humour, from the exaggerated facial expressions and bear-like attributes captured in Dapo Adeola’s vibrant illustrations, to the humorous asides in the text about Dad’s wild habits.

This is a playful and heartwarming picture book that perfectly captures the way in which young children observe familiar adults with curiosity, wonder and imagination – but also with pure adoration. Filled with giggles and with the theme of family bonds at its heart, this is a bear-illiant choice for storytime.

Tom Percival
Meesha loves making things . . . but there's one thing she finds difficult to make - friends. She doesn't know quite what to do, what to say or when to say it. But one day she discovers that she has a special talent that might just help her navigate social situations - and maybe even make new friends. A warm and affectionate look at the joys and difficulties of making and keeping friends, relating to others, and finding your place in the world.

Popular Short Chapter Books for Year 1

Karl Newson
 & Wazza Pink
Henry's got a secret ... a big one! And he doesn't know what to do with it. Grandpa suggests he should keep it under his hat - and he's got just the hat for the job. But when Henry puts it on he discovers that Grandpa has some secrets of his own! A lyrical and heart-warming story celebrating the magical bond between a child and a grandparent, with full colour illustrations on every page.
Paula Harrison
 & Jenny Løvlie

Paula’s early reader series features a girl called Kitty and her crew of felines as they embark upon brave rooftop adventures in the moonlight. Illustrated in cool blacks and oranges, these fun-filled mystery adventures with talking cats are likely to be a purrrfectly popular independent reading choice among ages 6-8.

Cornelia Funke
 & Kasia Matyjaszek
Chapter book
Captain Firebeard has been destroying beautiful Monkey Skull Island and its inhabitants in his search for lost treasure. Molly Rogers - daughter of the famously fearsome pirate Barbarous Bertha - is not going to stand for Firebeard's antics any longer and soon embarks upon a pirate rescue mission of her own. A fun, swashbuckling adventure with vibrant illustrations.
Harriet Muncaster
Chapter book

This is part of a series responsible for turning many young children into independent readers. Isadora Moon is half fairy, half-vampire and each book in the series follows her adventures with friends and family. In this book, Isadora has reached school age and has an important decision to make. Her mum wants her to attend fairy school and her dad wants to send her to vampire school. Isadora tries out each school, with their very different priorities and curriculums, and in the process answers some important questions about her own heritage and identity. This is a humorous chapter book, with attractive black-and-pink illustrations and a high appeal to modern young readers.

Philip Reeve
 & Sarah McIntyre
Chapter book

Pedro is an endearing main character. His longing to have an adventure, and the obstacles to achieving that, will strike a chord with many KS1 children. They will be cheering him on, through danger and disappointment, to his enrolment as a fully signed-up member of the Adventuremice team.

Teachers will enjoy sharing this gentle tale in a classroom setting and children will miss out if they cannot clearly see the bright and breezy illustrations. For this reason, perhaps it’s best recommended as a library book which children – and their parents – can read at home or even on holiday. It’s a book to inspire (day-)dreams and great ambition. A small book (a little over 100 pages) with a big heart that carries a message about humans looking after the marine environment, and about what courage and kindness look like in practice. Either, or both, could be the starting point for some interesting discussions.

The final pages – a map of The Mouse Islands, ‘How to Draw Pedro’ and ‘About the Authors’ – are a great addition to this latest book from the talented Reeve-McIntyre duo, which reflect their humour and their generosity.

Julian Gough
 & Jim Field
Chapter book

This is the first in a series of books that are real gems for children who are ready for a short chapter book but may still feel overwhelmed by too much text on a page. Centred around an unlikely friendship between two animals, the stories are laugh-out-loud adventures with appealing illustrations that perfectly break up the text to suit the reading stamina of this age range. This first adventure begins to focus on small-scale conflict resolution with the perfect dose of silliness (and toilet humour) to keep young readers entertained throughout.

Chitra Soundar
 & Jen Khatun
Chapter book
Sona Sharma combats climate change. When Sona learns about the climate crisis at school and is very worried that no one is doing enough to combat it, she takes up the challenge herself. But Appa isn't amused when Sona throws out her baby sister's nappies and Thatha isn't happy when she tells him to get rid of his colour-coded plastic files. When Sona learns that many of the kolams - the traditional art that people draw in front of their homes to celebrate the winter months and the festival season - are not organic, she sets out to make some big changes by getting everyone involved.

Poems and Rhymes for Y1

Nicola Davies
 & Emily Sutton

Poetry meets science and art in this beautiful picture book anthology of sea-themed poems. Each double page spread explores a different aspect of the sea, from pebbles and sandcastles to whales and puffins to lighthouses and sailors. Each new aspect is drawn out in beautifully poetic language that makes the reader reflect with awe at the natural and man-made wonders of the sea, the pleasure it provides and the unanswered questions it holds.

Benjamin Zephaniah
 & Nila Aye
Picturebook Poetry
A joyous book to share, with charming details to spot on every spread - BookTrustTo walk to To talk to To cry and rely on, People will always need people . . .From the creators of Nature Trail comes an uplifting picture book about the power of people, and the importance of connecting with others. This timely poem reminds us all to be kind to one another.Written by legendary poet, Benjamin Zephaniah, one of The Times' top 50 British post-war writers. Beautifully illustrated by Nila Aye.
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.

Recommended Non-Fiction Books for Year 1

Dr Dominic Walliman
 & Ben Newman

We are huge fans of this series at BooksForTopics HQ. Take a dive through the different layers of the ocean to the deepest trenches below with our favourite feline scientist, Professer Astro Cat. Each double-page spread offers a highly visual array of facts themed around a different stage of the sea voyage. Starting with fun on the seashore (did you know that most of the white sand in Hawaii is actually parrotfish poop?), we then join Professor Astro Cat as he boards a sea vessel and takes a crash course in navigation and ocean weather. The animals don their diving gear and explore the kelp forests and continental shelf of the shallow zone (find out how the torpedo ray can kill small fish with a 200-volt electric shock) before progressing deeper to discover a host of creatures including sharks and cephalopods. Going deeper still, Professor Astro Cat explores how the bigger and smaller creatures are connected via the food web before heading into the very darkest zones and deepest trenches (where you’ll find out how zombie worms got their name). Every page is highly visual down to the tiniest detail and the selected information is at once interesting and informative, allowing readers to delight in their newfound knowledge and quickly feel like an expert. The book is well suited to children in terms of reading level, design style and interest range.

Carly Anne York
 & Chaaya Prabhat
Set over a 24-hour period, meet fighting stallions, cute foals, and nosy donkeys in this kids’ non-fiction book about the coolest wild horses in the world.Race across prairies to follow the lives of horses and ponies as they whinny, neigh, and play their way through their day. Biology professor and horse owner Carly Anne York tells the story of the wild horses in the style of a nature documentary, including gentle science explanations perfect for future biologists. Witness incredible moments including:• A brumby searching for a drink in the Australian outback • Przewalski's horses exploring an abandoned city • Zebras avoiding predators in the African savannahBeautifully illustrated by Chaaya Prabhat and packed with animal facts, Horses (A Day in the Life) is a perfect book for horse-mad kids.
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.
Jane Wilsher
 & Andres Lozano
In this eye-catching book, readers can explore the hidden inner workings of the human body, look inside different organs and body systems and learn about how to look after their own physical and mental health at the same time. Readers use the see-through magic lens to reveal how our bodies function and the different body parts hard at work inside us. Find out how your senses work with your brain to show us the world around us, how doctors and nurses spot diseases and how we turn food into energy... and poo.So pick up the magic lens and take a tour of the marvellous human body!
Tom Lehrer & Chris Smith
 & Elīna Brasliņa

Tom Lehrer’s funny yet educational songs have engaged and enthused children (and adults) for over sixty years. His song, ‘The Elements’ can still be heard on TV shows today!

This book celebrates ‘That’s Mathematics’, another of Tom’s songs, which was handed over for public use in 2020. Author Chris Smith cleverly uses the songs to introduce mathematical puzzles and activities. The song is printed in full on the first page (with a QR code which gives even more content to use!) and then each double-page spread is inspired by a line from the song.

The first set of puzzles is all about counting sheep and has some lovely open-ended problems to enjoy. The book continues with pages on a variety of mathematical topics including division, shape and measure. There are many activities to try and all can be linked to the National Curriculum programme of study. Chris Smith has helpfully added key vocabulary on each page and an appendix which gives parents pointers to help them to unpick the maths within each page (there are also the answers if you really need them!).

The illustrations are delightful, with Elina Braslina’s joyful images of children exploring mathematics dotted throughout the book. It is a pleasure to pick out the little details on each page which are all there to complement the mathematical ideas. There are so many ways in which the book could be used within the KS1 classroom to extend learning following a maths input or to stimulate discussion and problem-solving, linked to topic work.

Claire Saxby
 & Jess Racklyeft
In the final freeze of an Antarctic winter, green tails wave across a star-full sky, as if to farewell endless nights. If this world looks empty, look closer ... Penguins trek across the ice to their winter homes. As the temperature warms, birds fly above on their long migrations. And with the advent of summer, beneath an iceberg, the sea is teeming with life. Ocean, sky, snow and ice - minute greens and giant blues - dance a delicate dance in this evocative portrayal of the life cycle of an iceberg.

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Guidance: About the Year 1 Booklist

What kind of books should children in Year 1 be reading?

Year 1 is a delightful year group with which to share books and at the moment there is a brilliant range of engaging books available for this age. Often at the ages of 5 and 6, children are learning to read short texts independently, while still relying on strong visual elements. Look for books with extra visual details to spot in the illustrations, like the super-entertaining Dogs in Disguise or Simon Bartram’s much-loved space story Man on the Moon, which invites the reader to spot the secret aliens hiding among the pages.

The books on this list are not intended to replace school reading schemes, which are designed specifically for the teaching of phonics and reading. Instead, the books on this list have been selected with reading for pleasure in mind, whether with an adult or independently. Make sure you have to hand a plentiful supply of Y1 picturebooks that are great for reading aloud, like That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown (which lends itself so well to ‘doing the voices’) and Michelle Robinson’s super-fun story When Ice Cream Had a Meltdown.  Some books, like Splash Day and Isadora Moon, make for brilliant first independent reads as confidence begins to blossom with reading through this stage.

Many Y1 children treasure storytimes when adults read aloud, and shared reading experiences remain an essential part of language and literacy development both in the classroom and at home. Don’t rush children into having to read the words independently too soon, but savour the joy of reading whole books together. Children at this age often love handling books, and they make a bee-line for texts that offer engaging illustrations, interactive elements or memorable characters. Share the absolute fun of I Can Only Draw Worms together, with its visual humour aplenty, or enjoy the unforgettable adventures of classic characters like Paddington.

Children in Year 1 are increasingly able to identify themes of interest and empathise with characters in familiar settings. Be sure to introduce Year 1 children to books that will make them think more deeply about the world around them, like The Kindest Red  or Dadaji’s Paintbrush.

Many 5- and 6-year-olds begin to be able to sustain attention for longer stories that take place over a number of sittings, making short, illustrated chapter books an appealing option for storytime. Start with shorter chapter books for Year 1 like Rabbit and Bear, which is popular with children looking for warm humour, or classic storytime favourites like The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark.

Which books are best for 5 and 6 year olds?

For this reading list, we’ve carefully selected a balance of different types of books for reading for pleasure in Year 1. Some of the best stories for Year 1 feature larger-than-life characters that will cause a giggle, like the wide-eyed bear in The Bumblebear or the hairy, grizzly, honey-loving father in My Dad is a Grizzly Bear. Animal characters are popular too, with some given delightful personalities like the cast of the Hotel Flamingo books, while others explore the deep connection between children and animals, like Michael Morpurgo’s Dolphin Boy.

Many of the best stories at this age explore true-to-life experiences, like the arrival of a new sibling in Sona Sharma: Very Best Big Sister, life in an urban tower block community in Our Tower or the tricky world of navigating new experiences alone in The Friendship Bench. Others help to develop an understanding of feelings, like the relatable experience of worrying in What If, Pig? or Catherine Rayner’s Arlo the Lion Who Couldn’t Sleep, which explores nighttime anxiety and mindfulness.

Picked out specially for enjoyable storytimes with 5-6 year olds, some of the books on this Year 1 reading list lend themselves especially well to being read out loudRhyming books like The Highway Rat or There’s a Rang-Tan in My Bedroom  are great choices. Others offer a quick win for a super-fun storytime full of zany laughter, like Sean Taylor’s whacky picturebook Monster! Hungry! Phone! or the witty humour of Simon Bartram’s Man on the Moon, which is always a big hit in the classroom. We’ve also included some classic stories for Year 1 on the list, such as Anthony’s Browne’s Gorilla and the much-loved skeleton-themed FunnyBones.

Should children in Year 1 be reading chapter books?

In Year 1, some children are ready to read short chapter books. Others take a little longer to have the stamina required for chapter books and will not start reading longer books just yet, and this is perfectly normal within the 5-6 age range too.

Starting with adult-read chapter books at story time is a great way to introduce chapter books to younger children.  For storytime read-alouds or class novels, try AdventuremiceHarry the Poisonous Centipede or Fantastic Mr Fox.

Some more advanced readers in Year 1 will be keen to take on the challenge of reading early chapter books for themselves. To cater for your Year 1 readers of chapter books, look out for books with illustrated pages, a readable font and a relatively short page count. For newly independent readers looking for their first longer read, we recommend Isadora MoonThe Hat Full of Secrets or Molly Rogers to the Rescue.

For more chapter book ideas, be sure to check out our separate booklists listing recommended KS1 Storytime Chapter Books or First Chapter Books for Independent Reading.

What are the best non-fiction books for Year 1?

You’ll also find on this list a range of age-appropriate non-fiction for Year 1, from the ocean-themed Professor Astro Cat’s Deep-Sea Voyage, to the inspirational biographies of Great Women Who Saved the Planet, to the beautifully illustrated exploration of frozen worlds in Iceberg.

If you are looking for books themed around a particular topic, head over to our KS1 topic booklists.

Where can I purchase the books on the BooksForTopics Year 1 booklist?

What other booklists for children in Y1 are available?

We have lots of resources and booklists for children in Key stage 1.

For those looking for more diverse children’s books, try browsing our list of Diverse and Inclusive Books for KS1, which has been specially curated for teachers and parents looking to select children’s books that represent a diverse range of characters, cultures and experiences.

In Key Stage 1, some children are ready before others for their very first chapter books. We think you’ll find our list of Early Chapter Books useful for more advanced readers in Year 1, or for shared reading you might like our list of younger chapter books to read at storytime.

We know how challenging managing emotions can be for this age group, and to help children to get to grips with big feelings, we have put together a list of picturebooks to support emotional literacy.  Children thinking about the step up into Year 2 can be supported by our Class Transitions booklist, and you might also want to look ahead to our Recommended Reads for Year 2.

Many young children at this age start to get hooked on a particular series or favourite character, and to help with inspiration to find even more story characters to love, parents and teachers might find our Branching Out booklists useful with Books for Fans of Rainbow Magic, Books For Fans of Supertato and Books for Fans of Isadora Moon.

Be sure to check out the BooksForTopics KS1 topic booklists if you are looking for children’s books themed around a particular Year 1 class topic – whether it’s stories for a curriculum theme like Houses & Homes or The Great Fire of London topic or a book to match a popular interest like books about football or animal books for children.


Can I download a printable version of the Year 1 Booklist?

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

Printable Poster – Best Year 1 Books PDF

y1 recommended reading list poster


Printable Checklist – Best Year 1 Books PDF

y1 recommended reading list checklist

Where can I find recommended reading lists for other primary school year groups?

BooksForTopics is the best place for trusted recommended reading lists! Just like the Y1 booklist, we have lists for other year groups, too. Our team of experts at BooksForTopics has poured hours of careful work into curating lists of the best books for each primary year group. Each booklist contains 50 recommended reads and includes a printable poster and checklist. Schools can purchase full packs of each Year Group list from our partners at Peters.

Here are the quick links to our other primary school booklists:


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Year 1: 50 Recommended Reads

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