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Year 2: 50 Recommended Reads

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50 recommended reads for y2

Best Books for Y2 (Children Aged 6-7)

NEWLY updated – April 2024!

Our team has hand-picked 50 recommended books for Year 2 (children aged six and seven). Find the best books to top up your Y2 reading collections with our selection of storytime picturebooks, chapter books, funny stories, illustrated poetry collections, non-fiction texts and more. Keep an eye out for the odd mad-cap babysitter with rainbow hair, aliens in jam factories and texting-obsessed goats along the way…

We understand that finding the perfect book for children can be challenging, so we have carefully curated a list of recommended reads especially suited for Year 2 children. Our selection of books includes themes such as adventure, friendship, animals, mystery, and lots of laugh-out-loud favourites too.

The experts at BooksForTopics have hand-picked each book based on its age-appropriateness, quality content, engaging illustrations and ability to spark children’s imagination and creativity. This booklist includes popular Year 2 stories such as The Proudest BlueFlat Stanley and Traction Man, as well as some lesser-known storytime delights that we recommend for Y2, like The Eyebrows of DoomEinstein the Penguin and Jory John’s hilarious gadget-obsessed spud, The Couch Potato.

So, if you are looking for top recommended books for your Year 2 children, our specially selected reading list has got you covered with books that have all been carefully matched to the age, developmental stage and interest level of children in Year 2.

As well as the Y2 booklist below to browse, we’ve also got a printable poster and downloadable checklist for you, and schools can purchase full sets of the books via Peters.

 

year 2 recommended reads printable poster 2024

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Browse the Y2 booklist below or scroll down to find more purchasing options and printable resources.

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Favourite Stories for Year 2

Jory John
 & Pete Oswald
Picturebook

If you’ve ever made a New Year resolution to improve your fitness or get outside more, you might just relate to the journey of this hilarious spud. With everything he needs within arm’s reach of the sofa, this potato has it all – multiple TV screens, hundreds of video games and even a button that activates a snack-fetching gadget. He can’t see any reason at all to leave the couch… until the electricity cuts out. The potato steps foot outside and embarks upon a new-found appreciation of fresh air, exercise and the sounds and sights of the great outdoors. After some deep introspection, the potato sets himself a resolution to achieve a better balance between screentime and time enjoying the outdoor world.

This is a really funny book and is always a winner with children. As well as guaranteeing giggles, this story can provide an opportunity to reflect on healthy lifestyles, screentime limits and personal resolutions.

Michael Morpurgo
 & Michael Foreman
Picturebook

This longer picturebook is the story of a polar bear who dreams of exchanging his snowy white coat for new fur that is as colourful as the rainbow he sees in the sky one day. The bear’s conspicuous new appearance leads him to be captured and exhibited in a zoo.

This engaging and thought-provoking story by master storyteller Michael Morpurgo is coupled with beautiful illustrations, making it one of our top choices for storytime in Year 2 and the surrounding year groups.

Andrea Beaty
 & David Roberts
Picturebook

This story follows Aaron, a boy who loves stories but struggles with writing due to his difficulty in deciphering letters. But when his turn to write a story for the class comes around, inspiration strikes, and he finds another way to share his tale through the pictures he draws.

This book is part of a larger series that has gained popularity in schools, and for good reason. The other titles, such as “Rosie Revere, Engineer” and “Iggy Peck, Architect” are also engaging and give validity to the talents and strengths of each individual.

We love Aaron Slater, Illustrator as an empowering storytime read that can also lead to discussions about helping individuals find ways to personally thrive as well as touching on themes of dyslexia and the power of art.

David Almond
 & Gill Smith

This fantastic picture book is an uplifting tale of sky-high courage, imagination and the bond between father and son which will warm your heart.

Joe is starstruck, determined to find his way up to the magical lights in the night sky. But when Joe and his dad put their heads and hearts together, there’s no stopping them. Together they climb ladders, construct towers, and launch rockets in a spirited quest to reach something unreachable.

This story is full of magic and will inspire children to work hard to achieve their dreams. The narrative highlights the importance of imagination, perseverance and connection and is beautifully written by internationally acclaimed author David Almond and enhanced with stunning illustrations by Gill Smith.

Lydia Corry
Picturebook
A beautiful book exploring the theme of change and transition and in particular dealing with the anxiety around moving house and changing schools. The book is full of imagination, depicted through the main character, Pearl, who expresses her thoughts and feelings about the changes she is experiencing in a relatable way. This book reminds readers about the importance of not having to face challenges alone and that it’s OK to ask for help.
Moving home is a real emotional rollercoaster for Pearl, supported by her imaginary Mooncat when she needs him most. Mooncat helps Pearl feel safe as she explores her new surroundings with her mum and when she faces the challenge of starting her new school.
The story ends perfectly and although this is a must-read for a child moving house or school, it’s a beautiful story for all as way to explore dealing with the changes and transitions we encounter in different stages of life. I especially loved the details in some of the pictures, especially where they depicted different people – a great opportunity to use imagination and wonder empathically about the stories about the lives of others. The reader might wonder if Mooncat visits them too.

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

Alanna and Austin are at their Aunt Kessie’s art studio and find a magic face painting set that transports them onto a pirate ship and takes them on a grand adventure. As the two see a small ship approaching with two thieving pirates, they take on the task of protecting the New Leaf pirates.

This magical story is so vibrant and full of imagination. It is exactly the kind of story that children with wild imaginations love. This story transports the reader to a whole new  world with something as simple as a magic face-painting set

.This book would make a fantastic independent reading book for those just starting out with chapter books and is also perfect for anyone with a vivid imagination or who loves adventure stories.

!This is the first in an exciting new series starring the twins and their magic face paints along with their loveable dog Ozzy. In each book, they have an adventure in a different world, with superheroes and monsters following pirates. With friendly illustrations in colour on every spread plus short chapters, this is a recommended choice for newly confident readers looking for gentle adventure.

Brilliantly Illustrated Books for Year 2

Mini Grey
Picturebook

This is a high quality text full of detailed comic-style illustrations.

It follows the adventures of an Action-Man style hero with an outfit for every occasion. His daily superhero challenges include rescuing lost toys, diving in the sieve-wreck and saving distressed damsels.

Highly recommended for KS1 and filled with humorous details to pore over, this is a winner of a book.

Shinsuke Yoshitake
Picturebook

This is a wonderful picturebook about the nature of individuality, perfect for building a classroom or school culture where the uniqueness of each person is celebrated.

The book invites readers on a whimsical journey that follows a young boy’s desire to create a robot clone of himself. However, before he can bring his cloned self to life, he must embark on a quest to uncover the essence of his individuality. What is it, exactly, that makes him who he is?

Bursting with imaginative illustrations, this thought-provoking book offers an engaging and enjoyable experience that not only sparks discussion but also serves as an ideal catalyst for exploring the concept of each person’s distinct uniqueness. Teachers could use this book as an icebreaker discussion to enable a new class to get to know themselves and others, for thoughtful artwork based on the fun labelled diagrams in the book or for PSHE lessons about expressing and celebrating individuality.

Younger classes will enjoy imagining what a robot close of themselves might look, act and feel like, while older children can get philosophical about the factors that have come together to make them who they are, or even about the potential ethics of cloning oneself (I’m sure overly busy teachers may also be tempted to wish for a clone!).

Either way, this is a really fun focal point for classrooms and one that works best if children are given enlarged or close-up access to the illustrations.

Clotilde Perrin

We just can’t get enough of this oversized interactive picture book that children in Year 2 adore.

This exquisitely produced book is a celebration of three of the most infamous fairytale villains. Filled with dark humour and detail on every page, the book has flaps and fold-outs for readers to open up and reveal the innermost secrets of an ogre, a big bad wolf and a wicked witch. Peek under the flaps to reveal what lies beneath their disguises and to uncover the identity of their last meal, now nestled comfortably in their bellies as well as their hobbies, personal belongings and secret plans.

Inside the Villains is a multi-layered book with the potential to entertain readers for hours. This is a great choice for children who love interactive elements and are ready to dive deeper beneath the surface of their favourite fairytales.

Poonam Mistry
Picturebook

Deep in the forest lives a little black panther.  Surrounded by wonder, his life should be idyllic … except that he’s different from the other cats.  They all seem so confident: Tiger has bold, fearless stripes, Lion’s mane shines like the sun and Leopard’s spots are dazzling.  When their taunts overwhelm him, Panther sets off on a quest to improve himself.  At first, he is intent on imitation, until, at last, the moon helps him to discover his own special beauty.

The reader has been able to see this beauty all along, through the intricately detailed illustrations which are influenced by traditional Indian art and textiles.  There’s no need for lengthy descriptions because these fascinating pictures illuminate the scene but the vivid word choices sparkle nevertheless.  This would make a great read-aloud book.  The ending, with its message of courage and self-acceptance, is uplifting and reassuring.

While the rhythm of the fable may be familiar from folklore, the manner of the telling is original and richly pleasurable.  I can see the book inspiring some wonderful art projects exploring lines, patterns and colour (each spread uses a particular palette), either using different methods of printing or computer programmes.  In maths, there would be possibilities for investigating symmetry and reflection.

With lyrically expressive language, gorgeous illustrations and a simple but empowering message, this is a magical book.

Anthony Browne
Picturebook
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...

Recommended Funny Books for Year 2

Simon Philip & Kate Hindley
Picturebook

We adore this charming story about a young boy who is tasked with finding a hat in order to be allowed into a party. When the boy struggles to find one, a helpful animal friend steps in to save the day. However, when he arrives, a tough doorman and an even tougher series of entry requirements lead to a snowballing of humorous actions and a hilarious climax.

The story is filled with wonderfully illustrated, silly characters and a ridiculous storyline that will have children and adults alike laughing out loud.  This is a picturebook to recommend to anyone looking for a fun and engaging story to share with children. With vibrant illustrations and humorous characters, We Must Bring a Hat is a sure-fire hit in the classroom and a book that children will ask for over and over again. We think this is a perfect choice for entertaining storytimes with Year 2.

Steve Smallman
 & Miguel Ordonez
Picturebook

When a big bear called Dave is least expecting it, the ‘eyebrows of doom’ leap onto his face, making him appear a little bit more grumpy than usual. While Dave is usually friendly, caring and gentle, the eyebrows give him the strong urge to do something extremely unkind. This hilarious picture book then uncovers the many nasty tricks and schemes that unfold as a result of these menacing ‘slug-like’ brows. But the eyebrows don’t stop at Dave the bear. They continue to move between many different suspects, causing multiple acts of mischief!

Expect children to be in hysterics over tricks involving frightening campers, smearing ice cream and covering people in poop (yes, you read it right!). This is an original and slightly anarchic concept that also explores the positives of teamwork and community problem-solving. At the end of the tale, the animals work together to get rid of the eyebrows, so they can get back to their peaceful afternoon. But have the eyebrows really gone forever..?

This is a highly entertaining young children’s book, which can be enjoyed by all members of the family. It is a hoot to read aloud to enjoy over and over again.

Adam Kay
 & Henry Paker
Picturebook

Adam Kay’s ‘Amy Gets Eaten’ is a gruesome yet hilarious book explaining what happens in our bodies when we eat food. Despite getting eaten, Amy (a positive and chirpy piece of sweetcorn), explains in child-friendly language the journey she takes from the mouth, through the stomach and out again into the toilet. Although told in a narrative style, this is really a non-fiction book that teaches children the science behind some of our human anatomy.

Throughout the story, while travelling through the small intestine, a wise old raisin teaches the reader how different food types help to make your body strong, active and healthy. The children get opportunities to interact with the book and recap, through cartoons, where the sweetcorn has travelled. Readers are also invited to make opinions on the strange food combinations the character of Noah has chosen to eat. My children have read this over and over, and every storytime ends in fits of laughter—a highly recommended short picture book for younger primary children.

Ross Montgomery
 & Sarah Warburton
Picturebook

There’s something about penguin-themed stories that always seems to charm both children and adults. This Antarctic story is a delightful and amusing tale about penguins that get stuck in their huddle due to a strong wind and then embark on a journey to find help in separating themselves.

Children will love the funny humour of the penguins’ situation (how much fun would it be to be stuck in a hug?). Along the way, the penguins meet a variety of animals and encounter a number of obstacles and giggle-worthy situations. Only an idea from the very smallest penguin of all seems to work in the end. This entertaining storytime hit with a heartwarming ending is sure to be enjoyed by children and adults alike.

Storytime Chapter Books for Year 2

Pip Bird
 & David O'Connell
Chapter book

The first in a joy-filled series of illustrated chapter books, telling the funny story of Mira’s adventures as she starts unicorn school. Mira wishes to be paired up with the most beautiful, sparkly unicorn of her dreams, but the reality presents a grumpy, untidy, doughnut-eating unicorn named Dave.

This humorous adventure series explores themes of friendship, inclusion and loyalty, with a backdrop of rainbows, glitter and a dose of unicorn toilet humour, too. Children love the idea of the secret unicorn school – a bit like a sparklier version of Hogwarts. Illustrations, age-appropriate humour and a diverse cast of characters make this a super choice of chapter book story for readers aged 6-8.

 

Chrissie Sains
 & Jenny Taylor
Chapter book

This is a highly recommendable early chapter book series, featuring an inclusive and humorous story a with illustrations throughout.

Scooter lives in a jam factory with his parents and has Cerebral Palsy. His head fizzes with brilliant ideas and he’s the one behind all of the fantastic jams produced in the factory. Scooter is also longing for a friend – and his wishes come true when a friendly alien called Fizzbee crash-lands through the jam factory window! The pair pull together to thwart a devious villain who wants to steal Scooter’s jam-making secrets.

This is an original story full of warmth and humour and a lovely choice to read aloud to Year 2 children.

Kes Gray
Chapter book

The Daisy and the Trouble With… books by Kes Gray are a hit with younger readers getting to grips with the independent reading of chapter books. Children enjoy the funny, illustrated adventures recounting the ups and downs of Daisy’s life as she gives her take on visits to the zoo, going on holiday, having a birthday or taking part in sports day. Mishaps seem to follow Daisy wherever she goes and she finds herself in plenty of sticky situations to sort out. Kes Gray’s line illustrations add a familiar warmth and humour to these popular chapter books.

In this story, Daisy visits London with her grandparents, who are keen to see the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and Big Ben. Daisy, on the other hand, is mostly interested in seeking out pigeons.

A super loveable series for Year 2 and beyond.

Iona Rangeley & David Tazzyman
Chapter book

When Mrs Stewart invites a small penguin to visit on a spontaneous visit to London Zoo, no one could have imagined that later that day they would find him on their doorstep, rucksack on his back and an adventure about to begin…

Einstein the Penguin is the debut children’s novel for Iona Rangeley, aptly brought to life with the help of the award-winning illustrator, David Tazzyman. A lovely mix of whodunnit with a slightly preposterous story of a penguin who comes to live with our two heroes, Imogen (age 9) and Arthur (age 6), causing them to put aside their sibling squabbles and come to his rescue. Rangeley manages to pull at your heartstrings as you come to understand each of the characters’ insecurities, bringing together the fear of losing a friend with the loneliness associated with never having had one. The grown-ups are scatty at best and young readers will love it as our heroes come to put one over on them.

Lovely as a class readaloud, children will enjoy the parody of incompetent teachers/zoo-keepers/detectives/parents while also prompting several discussion points about right and wrong. This could be a fun next step for readers who have enjoyed Paddington or Erica’s Elephant.

Isla Fisher
 & Eglantine Ceulemans
Chapter book

We really love this easy-listening and charmingly funny series!

Readers will laugh out loud at well-meaning mischief and misadventure of Marge, the madcap babysitter with rainbow hair. When no grown-ups are around, Marge is in charge and anything can happen!

Highly recommended as a fun read-aloud, each book in this series contains short stories about the funny escapades of seven-year-old Jemima and younger brother Jake when Marge the babysitter is in charge. There is plenty of slapstick and good natured fun to giggle at, and Marge’s outrageous antics make the children feel like she is the one who really needs a babysitter.


Thought-provoking Picturebooks for Year 2

Jeanne Willis
 & Tony Ross
Picturebook

Troll Stinks makes for an excellent choice of book for today’s children and one with the potential to both entertain and spark meaningful discussions with primary children.

Billy the Goat and his friend Cyril are playing with a phone when they decide to send mean messages to the troll living under the bridge. Soon, the two friends discover that their online actions have had a significant impact on the troll’s feelings and that their messages were not such a fun idea after all.

The book is part of a series that spins traditional tales into the modern age and examines the impact of technology on children’s safety.

With more primary-aged children than ever having access to online messaging, the book is bound to open impactful classroom discussions. Even for children who do yet use their devices in this way, the broader themes of bullying, empathy, recognising the impact of words and stopping mean behaviour in its tracks will resonate with even the youngest children.

This important and entertaining story is a modern must-read.

Ibtihaj Muhammad & S.K Ali
 & Hatem Aly
Picturebook

This is an absolutely beautiful book from former Olympic medallist Ibtihaj Muhammad, exploring themes of heritage, diversity, siblings, acceptance and new beginnings.

The story is positive and empowering, and explores the beautiful bond between sisters Faizah and Asiya as they each begin new phases of growing up.  When the time comes for Faizah’s first day at school, she is excited to share the special day with her older sister Asiya, whose first day of wearing hijab it is. Asiya’s hijab is made of a beautiful blue fabric, like the ocean waves or the endless sky. Sadly, not everyone sees hijab in the same light and in the face of ignorant comments, Faizah learns not to hold on to hurtful comments but to find strength in new ways.

A thought-provoking story with a warm and positive message, illustrated in striking blues.

Catherine Ward
 & Karin Littlewood
Picturebook

‘The Emerald Forest’ is a gorgeous and moving picture book bringing to life the plight of orangutans on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia.

The story, written by Catherine Ward, is written in prose but its language is poetic and has a lovely rhythm to it, making it perfect for reading aloud. Karin Littlewood’s illustrations are stunning, and the size of the pages and the scope of the pictures, bursting with the greenery and light of the Indonesian forest, create an immersive experience. In one illustration, it feels as if the orangutan is looking right at you. Because of this, the experience of the orangutans as their habitat comes under attack is felt on an emotional level too. The plight of the orangutans is unsettling, but the message overall is one of hope, as the orangutans are rescued and rehomed in the story.

The book encourages the reader to look towards a future where the forests of Sumatra might recover if people play a part in protecting them. This stunning picturebook would be invaluable for use in a class topic on the use of palm oil, or more generally in talking about the impact of human activity – for better and for worse – on the environment.

Tom Percival
Picturebook

Tom Percival’s Big Bright Feelings series is a hit in classrooms up and down the country. Children love the personification of big feelings like worry, fear or anger and enjoy seeing how recognising and dealing with big feelings is better than ignoring them or bottling things up. This story is about dealing with jealousy, which aptly appears as a green-eyed monster. The monster keeps popping up with Milo when his best friend is playing with a new neighbour.

Children love the appeal of the big bright monster that gives a visual way of showing an all too familiar emotion. Young readers also love that the story shows a very relatable scenario and will help them to navigate the daily ups and downs of friendships.

A super Year 2 story belonging to a highly recommendable series.

Robin Jacobs
 & Nik Neves
Picturebook

The Mellons are a family of five who live in a small flat and have had enough of not having enough space so decide that they need a bigger family home. They look around some different houses but none of them are quite right so they decide to build their own house. Each family member has a request for something that the new home should have: a study, a big kitchen and even a pool. With the help of architect Masha, they set off creating their dream home, but with a bigger picture in mind – their impact on the environment.

This book follows the journey of designing and building a new house and how this can be done in a more ecological way thinking about each step and its impact on the environment – making it stand out from the array of books about more traditional houses and homes. A range of tradespeople are introduced, who are represented by a range of men and women. At each step, the green way is discussed and how this is better for the environment than the traditional building method – for example using solar panels and a green roof. Every aspect of the building process is examined and made more friendly for the planet.

The book was enjoyable to discover and included interesting facts and lots of technical vocabulary – with enough science to capture older children as well as younger primary pupils who will enjoy the visual information and narrative frame. New topic words are either explained in the text or included in the glossary at the back.


Jackie Morris
 & Cathy Fisher
Picturebook

The Panda’s Child offers a familiar traditional story set in a different culture and context. If readers are familiar with the fable ‘The Lion and the Mouse’, they will hear the resonances in this beautiful picture book.

The illustrations are exquisite and truly draw the reader in. The colours are vibrant in some illustrations and muted in others, to reflect strong changes in mood and atmosphere that enrich the storytelling. Sometimes the illustrations accompany the text and at other times they stand alone, inviting the reader to linger, to immerse themselves into the picture and to ponder on the inferences that can be made that foreshadow the climax of the story to come. There is a perfect arc to this story, which has been crafted into three chapters. This makes the story ideal to share with children either as a read-aloud or as part of a unit of literacy learning. This is a beautifully produced book and one that would be a fabulous addition to any class book library through the primary age range.

The Panda’s Child is the sort of book that requires reading and re-reading and plenty of time to dwell on the pictures and to raise questions about some of the motifs that appear throughout the book – the leaves and the red string, for example. Today, the only natural habitat left for the Panda is in China, but this story is set in the past and children may enjoy investigating where pandas used to live, – Myanmar and Vietnam for example  – and to consider the destruction of their natural environment. The relationship between humans and the Panda in this story mirrors the global environmental issues of today.

A wonderful book.

Polly Owen
 & Gwen Milward
Picturebook

It is rare to find a book which gives a completely different and exciting perspective on a historical figure, particularly those aimed at younger readers, so ‘Darwin’s Super-Pooping Worm Spectacular’ is a particularly delightful read.

As the title suggests, the book tells the story of Darwin’s investigations into the humble earthworm. It is clear that the author, Polly Owen, has discovered her passion for this topic as it is written with such an enthusiastic tone; by the end of page one the reader is already convinced that earthworms are completely awesome!

The book recounts the range of experiments that Darwin is believed to have tried in order to uncover the mysteries of earthworm senses; from hearing, sight and taste. It is written in a very accessible style, with lots of humour. There is a worm on each double-page spread which gives a little more context and brings the reader back to the historical facts within the story. These small speech bubbles also direct the reader to some of the scientific vocabulary; useful to gather if using the book as a stimulus for writing projects or science discussions.

There are plenty of illustrations throughout the book to enjoy too. GwenMilward has captured the Victorian style perfectly and has drawn Darwin with a real sense of joy and wonder towards the worms; each page shows Darwin with real expression as he ponders these mysterious creatures.

If you are looking to add a book that is charming, insightful and has more than a few poo-based jokes, then this would be a perfect choice! Key Stage Two children will enjoy the book as much as their Key Stage One peers.

Short Independent Chapter Books for Year 2

Alex T. Smith
Chapter book

This is part of an award-winning and hugely popular series about a loveable dog called Claude and his hapless companion Sir Bobblysock. These short, colour-illustrated chapter books are perfect for newly independent readers transitioning to chapter books.

In this story, Claude stumbles across a circus and cannot help but inadvertently become the star of the show. This entertaining series is full of slapstick humour and amusing illustrations that hold a high appeal to new readers aged 6-8 looking for a fun, accessible read.

Highly recommended!

Alex Falase-Koya
 & Paula Bowles
Chapter book

We highly recommend the Marv series, about an ordinary boy who finds that his superhero skills are in very much in need!

The story starts with Marvin as an ordinary school boy. When he finds a superhero suit in the attic, he transforms and is required to put his new superhero powers to the test to stop a super-villain with a giant robot from causing destruction.

The book is packed full of illustrations that accompany the action and the story contains themes of friendship, forgiveness as well as endless determination. It also has humour and a real warmth in the characterisation.

Jeremy Strong
 & Jamie Smith
Chapter book

There is something about Jeremy Strong books, they have a particular appeal, being both entertaining and slightly wacky. This book is in that same mould and in addition, the format is super child friendly, being both small in size but very inviting and looking like a ‘proper chapter book’!

Nellie Choc-Ice is a well-travelled penguin, who also happens to be slightly accident-prone and just wants to find her way home. Nellie is a very endearing and entertaining character and the illustrations should get a special mention here. They capture the essence of the story brilliantly and bring the whole book to life.

For its target age of 5-8 year-olds, it works perfectly as an early chapter book; not taking too long to plough through, but instead giving the text in manageable bites with colour illustrations and an easy-to-read font. This is part of a Barrington Stoke set of Little Gems books, designed specifically for young readers starting out reading independently.

Gavin Puckett
 & Allen Fatimaharan
Chapter book
This is a fabulous short chapter book for all ages. It has superb black and white drawings and has been longlisted for the Alligator’s Mouth Award for highly-illustrated young chapter books. It is written in rhyme and has a lovely sing-song rhythm – perfect for reading aloud to children, plus the well-spaced lines and clear front make this dyslexia-friendly.
It tells us the story of Pete, a busker, singing songs on the street for the sheer joy of the music and making people smile. Whilst busking, he is soon joined by a cat and the two become inseparable, except when Pete goes for ‘a poo or a wee’ – children will love that bit! Pete doesn’t seem to be bothered that crowds pass by with scarcely a glance, always glued to their phones, but the cat is disheartened and devises a plan to encourage people to stop. Blanksy is created (with an obvious nod to Banksy) and life changes forever.
This has some thoughtful messages about the power of the internet and how things can ‘go viral’. There are mentions of TikTok, Instagram and Twitter (now X), so the book feels very current. It could inspire some interesting conversations as to whether fame is worth it too.
There is some lovely humour: I loved to see Marks & Spencer rhymed with money dispenser, and a passer-by giving the two buskers some raw broccoli – the drawing of the cat’s face is brilliant!
Matty Long
Chapter book

A fun and easy-to-read book, and a good addition to the Year 2 book corner for enhancement when looking at fantasy creatures or adventure narratives.

Matty Long – known for Super Happy Magic Forest – has an iconic illustrative style that appeals to younger children. The main character Croaky Hopper is funny and the storyline moves quickly. Croaky is different to other frogs and not content to stay home when his dreams of wild adventures are just a leap away – especially when he signs up for Woggle Scouts and ends up on an expedition to find the legendary Sasquatch.

We love the vibrant character of Croaky and his energetic personality will resonate with readers in the age group of the intended audience – his thirst for adventure, his frustration at not being able to bound away and recklessly follow his dreams and his impulsive spirit that causes him to sometimes leap before he thinks. This story sells the benefit of being part of a club or team, and shows how different personalities can achieve their goals in different ways through working together.

The book feels like a chapter book, but the printed format is familiar to those who like picturebooks or early graphic novels. Children enjoy the full-colour illustrations and ease of reading. The text is large and the sentence structure is easy enough for children to understand and read in a short session.

Boundingly great fun for 5-8 year olds and with the promise of more in the series on the way, this is a winner of an early chapter book for newly independent readers.


Zanna Davidson
 & Elissa Elwick
Chapter book
Meet Izzy the Inventor in the first of a laugh-out-loud series that brings together science, magic and a very lovable unicorn. Packed full of illustrations and easy-to-read text, this series is perfect for beginner readers and fans of Isadora Moon and The Naughtiest Unicorn.Izzy the Inventor LOVES science and does NOT believe in magic. That is until the day her Fairy Godmother appears and sends her to Fairytale Land to rescue Prince Charming from the Mountain of Doom, with an enthusiastic unicorn as her guide. To succeed, Izzy must use her science skills to outwit trolls, goblins and a bottomless lake of despair. But her quest will also teach her about the power of friendship and that we all need a little magic in our lives...Every book contains ideas for science experiments and a QR code with links for more to try at home. Coming soon: Izzy the Inventor and the Curse of Doom Izzy the Inventor and the Time Travelling Gnome

Classic Stories for Year 2

Enid Blyton
Chapter book

This chapter book is part of a classic children’s series that has been entertaining readers for generations. The stories follow children Joe, Beth and Frannie as they stumble upon a magical Faraway Tree, where they embark on a series of thrilling adventures. The tree is filled with intriguing characters and a different land awaits at the top of the tree each time they climb up.

Alongside their companions Moonface, Saucepan Man, and Silky the fairy, the trio travels to the top of the Faraway Tree in each new chapter to uncover which new land awaits them – including the Land of Spells, the Land of Birthdays and the Land of Take-What-You-Want. These classic infant books feature top-notch storytelling that still enchants readers today through simple and magical adventures.

Roald Dahl
 & Quentin Blake
Chapter book

A classroom favourite from the popular children’s author Roald Dahl.

This is the laugh-out-loud tale of George Kranky, who plots revenge on his mean and miserable Grandma by concocting a magic medicine for her. Little does he realise that the medicine will have weird and wonderful effects on the old lady’s body.

This is one of the shorter Roald Dahl chapter books, and suits readers who like anarchic humour or stories with a little bit of unexplained magic. Children love the fun of George’s concoction, the transformations of size when Grandma grows so tall that her head bursts through the ceiling and the supersized farmyard animals.

 

Dick King Smith
Chapter book

This animal story is a great choice of story time chapter book for Key Stage 1.

Martin isn’t like the other cats on the farm. Teased by his family for being different, Martin is gentle and caring and does not want to catch and eat mice. When he does catch one, he decides to keep it in an old bath tub as a pet. Martin is determined to care for his captured new friend – named Druscilla – and is surprised to learn of the arrival of a new set of baby mice! When his mice escape, Martin learns a new lesson about freedom, safety, and being true to oneself in the face of opposition.

Readers love rooting for Martin, and Dick King Smith pens the story with just the right ratio of peril, tender moments and funny elements to make this a tale that readers will really feel invested in.

Jeff Brown
 & Rob Biddulph
Chapter book

We recommend this classic children’s books series about a boy who becomes flattened by an incident with a pinboard.

Learning to navigate life with his new flat-as-a-pancake body, Stanley finds himself enjoying the novelty of sliding under doors, being posted in the mailbox and flying in the sky as his brother’s kite. Soon, being flat presents challenges too, and the usually positive and optimistic Stanley begins to long to return back to his old self.

These short chapter books go down a treat with children aged 5-7.

 

Poems and Rhymes for Year 2

James Carter
 & Neal Layton
Poetry

As the title of this poetry collection says, these are ‘zippy poems to read out loud’! Each poem will excite and engage young listeners and these are the sort of poems that children will quickly join in with and learn by heart.

All of the poems are written by James Carter, who has a unique talent for poetry for the young. Each poem is illustrated by Neal Layton and this will provide additional interest when read aloud or when children are browsing the book independently. The poems have clear and wonderful rhyming patterns and this helps to create their ‘read aloud -ability’. Some poems feature repeated patterns such as the title poem, ‘A Ticket to Kalamazoo’ which has a delightful chorus to join in with and ‘Elephant beat’ has an unforgettable repeated question, ‘Fancy a ride on an elephant?’.

The subjects of the poem range from animals to adventures to new versions of traditional stories: ‘Fuss! Fuss! Fuss! or The Goldilocks Rap’ is a favourite! Minibeasts have a high profile in a few of the poems and despite their critical place in our eco-system are rarely celebrated in poetry and these poems make a useful contribution. This is a joyous collection of poetry that would be perfect to read aloud in those spare moments across the school day or in a poetry feast at the end of the day!

The School of Life

This is a beautiful collection of poems, all themed around different emotional states. Working through the alphabet (Anger, Boredom, Curiosity and so on), each feeling is likened to an animal and starts with the line ‘If ….were an animal’, helping children to identify the words we use to describe emotional states and how the feelings might cause people to behave or react.

The bright illustrations help children to make the link between the emotions and their paired animal. Anger is compared to a lion, boredom is a limp jellyfish, obsession to an otter and zeal to busy, working ants. Children will have loads of fun creating their own comparisons. A comprehensive resource pack is also available to download from the publisher.

A lovely book to help develop emotional literacy, we recommend this as a great addition to book collections in schools and homes.

Michael Rosen
 & Shoo Rayner
Poetry

A collection of funny poetry, selected and curated by Michael Rosen purely to entertain and delight.

Clustered into groups that appeal to children’s common interests – food, animals, playground rhymes etc. – this collection will entertain children with a mixture of Michael Rosen’s own poems, verses by a range of famous poets, familiar-sounding traditional playground chants and tongue-twisters, and even poems written by primary children.

The thread that brings together the collection is that the poems are humorous in silly and subversive ways, with twists on old classics and brand new playful rhymes to discover.

 

Short Graphic Novels for Year 2

Mark Bradley
Graphic Novel

A young graphic novel series, about two friendly ‘bugbops’ called Bumble and Snug.

This brightly illustrated story is lovely for Key Stage 1 to read independently. The characters are loveable, the story is fun and easy to follow and the comic strip style makes for a really fun read. There are oodles of fun moments to enjoy, from picnics and pirates to jelly and a giant octopus.

Visual readers new to the graphic novel format will find this a real treat.

 

John Patrick Green
Graphic Novel

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

We love the good, clean fun of this series, and parents and teachers know that young graphic novel fans are in good hands with these books. Author John Patrick Green said of the series, “Of all the comics I’ve created in my professional career, making InvestiGators has come closest to recapturing that feeling of being 11 years old, drawing comics in my bedroom, with the sole intention of making my friends and classmates laugh.”

John’s commitment to child-centred visual humour and puns has clearly paid off and is reflected in the popularity of this series, which teachers and librarians tell us is flying off primary bookshelves at lightning speed. For children, the books are funny from the get-go, and pun-loving grown-ups like us can’t help but smile at the non-stop wordplay woven through the action scenes, too.

Recommended Non-Fiction Books for Year 2

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.

Yuval Zommer
Non-fiction
This large-sized informative compendium is the kind of non-fiction that children like to come back to again and again to pore over its pages. Each double-page spread dives into a different sea-themed question, such as 'Are jellyfish made of jelly?' or 'Why do crabs run sideways?'. There is never too much text on each page, but what you find is accessible chunks of information cleverly interspersed into each ocean scene. The illustrations are stunning and come together to make wonderful spreads that serve as a treasure trove of visual delights for young eyes, as text and pictures work together to build an understanding of underwater habitats and the life they hold.
Helaine Becker
 & Dow Phumiruk
Picturebook

This recommendable narrative non-fiction book celebrates the life of Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who played a crucial role in the smooth running of the Apollo 11 mission to land on the moon.

The story emphasises Katherine’s lifelong passion for mathematics – how she loved to count as a child and how she overcame barriers of inequality and prejudice to reach her dream of using her mathematical talents while working for NASA.

A fantastic biography that celebrates mathematics, space, women in STEM and following dreams.

Chitra Soundar
 & Jenny Bloomfield
Non-fiction

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

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

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

Tom Schamp
Picturebook

This incredibly visual book is partly a history of the development of all things wheels around the world, and partly a guide to all types of vehicles from bikes to emergency vehicles.

It starts with the Stone Age and ends with predictions for future travel and in between, each and every way a human has moved with the aid of a wheel is described. Each double spread focuses on one aspect of travel, for example, ‘taxis’, and is full of drawings, surrounded by short facts, many puns, comments, questions and even instructions. Any reader young or old will revisit pages and discover something new each time such as when the first motorcycle was built or what spoilers do.

This book is certainly fun: there are drawings of animals as users of the vehicles with many different expressions and quotes and jokes, and the author has fun with the visuals – a chicken being chased by a snake which means the chicken tows a cart more quickly, for example! Although this book could be enjoyed independently by any age, it lends itself beautifully as a book to share and dip into and it is likely that plenty of discussion will arise.

There is so much to look at that this transport-themed book will most likely remain on a favourite browsing choice for some time.


Nicola Davies
 & Catherine Rayner
Non-fiction

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

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

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

Charlotte Guillain
 & Jo Empson
Non-fiction Picturebook

The River that Flows Beside Me follows the course of a river from its source, high in the mountains, to its mouth where it meets the sea. It travels across a dam, past meadows and farms and, finally, through a town and a port. As we follow the river we see some of the wildlife which use it as a food source as well as a home. We see how different natural features are formed over time, such as an oxbow lake and a gorge. We also see how humans use the river, from farming to leisure activities such as canoeing as well as for transporting both people and goods.

The book contains a wealth of subject-specific vocabulary, especially if you are studying rivers, and is beautifully illustrated. The illustrations are labelled with points of interest (such as animal names) and the text is broken up into small, manageable chunks.

One of the best features of this book is that the pages fold out, allowing you to follow the whole course of the river as it flows across the pages. The pages themselves are made of a sturdy card which will stand up to many foldings and refoldings.

A gem of a book!

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Guidance: About the Year 2 Booklist

What books do Year 2 children read?

There is a wealth of brilliant books to share with children in Year 2. Now old enough to sit and listen to longer stories, many 6 and 7 year olds start to enjoy short chapter books at this age, like the Trouble With Daisy series or the colour-illustrated Croaky. Some children are ready to read chapter books independently during the course of this year, but it’s perfectly fine if they do not quite have the reading stamina yet. Enjoy reading short chapter books together at storytime, so that children get used to a longer story without the pressure of having to read it themselves. Martin’s Mice and Marge in Charge are both excellent storytime choices for children in Year 2.

Picturebooks remain important at this age too, both for independent reading and for shared storytimes with adults, where the words and pictures can be discussed and enjoyed together. Many Year 2 children love You Must Bring a Hat or The Couch Potato, which are both popular hits with this age group because of their use of tongue-in-cheek humour to engage readers.

Children at this age are often able to handle an increasing complexity of themes, including learning to empathise where characters experience a range of emotions and new experiences. Year 2 teachers often look to introduce stories that explore emotions, like Milo’s Monster, or books that open discussions into wider social themes like The Emerald Forest or The Proudest Blue.

Visually appealing and highly illustrated non-fiction texts covering topics of interest will also be read in Year 2, like Meet the Microbes and Yuval Zommer’s wonderfully illustrated The Big Book of the Blue. These books not only pique children’s curiosity but also develop comprehension skills, build vocabulary and enhance wider curriculum knowledge.

Which stories are best for Year 2?

For this Y2 reading list, our team has carefully selected a balance of different types of books to engage Year 2 children in reading for pleasure – either for reading independently or together with an adult.

Some of the stories in the collection are chosen especially for making children laugh – we love Simon Philip’s joyfully playful You Must Bring a Hat, the hilariously bold and irreverent fun of The Eyebrows of Doom and the rainbow-haired babysitter who gets the children into all kinds of scrapes in the madcap Marge in Charge series. Other stories in this reading list help the imagination to soar, inviting readers to take a trip to the Arctic in Michael Morpurgo’s beautiful story of freedom and captivity The Rainbow Bear, or to explore Indian folklore deep in the forest in The Midnight Panther.

Many of the best Y2 stories help to explore real-life experiences for particular characters – join with creative young Pearl navigating the loneliness of moving to a new house and school in Mooncat and Me, with Asiya as she eagerly watches her sister’s first day of wearing hijab in The Proudest Blue, or Aaron’s inspiring story of unearthing his strengths amid academic struggles in Aaron Slater, Illustrator. Environmental concerns and themes of protecting the planet are also well represented on the list, like the gentle picturebook introduction to rainforest habitat destruction in The Emerald Forest, or the impact of climate change on polar creatures in Emperor of the Ice.

If you are looking for classic stories for Year 2, we’ve included some favourites that have been entertaining children for generations, like the imaginative adventures in The Enchanted Wood or Jeff Brown’s much-loved Flat Stanley. Other books on our Y2 list are much more recently published, such as Night Flight or David Almond’s uplifting father-and-son story A Way to the Stars.

How do Year 2 children move on to chapter books?

Children should be given plenty of opportunities to listen to stories in chapter instalments before reading them for themselves. Classroom storytimes, bedroom stories and audiobooks all provide experiences of chapter-by-chapter stories and it’s often a pleasant surprise for adults to realise just how much children are looking forward to the next chapter. For storytime read-alouds or class novels, try An Alien in the Jam Factory, the Marge in Charge series or one of our very favourites for this age group – Einstein the Penguin.

A number of chapter books suitable for 6 and 7 year olds are included on this list.  For newly independent readers looking for their first chapter books to read to themselves, we recommend starting with something short and highly illustrated, like Marv and the Mega Robot or Nellie Choc-Ice. Once children are used to the very shortest chapter books, move on to illustrated stories with a slight increase in narrative complexity, like Alex T Smith’s colour-illustrated Claude books, The Naughtiest Unicorn or the graphic novel InvestiGators series.

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 2?

We’ve included a stellar selection of visually appealing non-fiction for Year 2 on this list, from Yuval Zommer’s beautifully illustrated The Big Book of the Blue, to the inspirational biography of Katherine Johnson in Counting on Katherine, to the transport-themed Wheels, which is packed with vehicles of all kinds.

We have a separate booklist with more top-notch non-fiction for primary schools. 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 2 booklist?

 

What other booklists for children in Y2 are available?

We have lots of resources and booklists for children in Key Stage 1, which covers the 5-7 age range.

Be sure to check out the BooksForTopics KS1 topic booklists if you are looking for children’s books themed around a popular Year 2 classroom topic – whether it’s stories for a curriculum theme like Oceans and Seas or Growing Plants or a book to match a popular interest like books about animals or science books for children.

At this age, a lot of children tend to become attached to a particular series or favourite character. To provide parents and teachers with some inspiration to discover new story characters that children might adore, our Branching Out booklists could come in handy. These booklists include Books for Fans of Rainbow Magic, Books for Fans of David Walliams, and Books for Fans of Isadora Moon.

If you’re seeking children’s books that showcase a broader range of characters, cultures, and experiences, you might want to check out our collection of Diverse and Inclusive Books for KS1. This compilation has been carefully selected for parents and educators looking for books that reflect diversity and inclusion.

Teachers and parents are well aware of the learning curve involved in managing emotions for children in this age group. To aid primary children in understanding their emotions, we have created a list of picture books to promote emotional literacy. For those who are about to transition to Year 3, we have a Class Transitions booklist that can provide support.

A great place to start for reading for pleasure choices at home is our list of Best Books for 7-Year-Olds. Advanced Year 2 readers can look ahead with our list of recommended Reads for Year 3.

 

Can I download a printable version of the Year 2 Booklist?

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

Printable Poster – Best Year 2 Books PDF

year 2 recommended reads printable poster 2024

 

Printable Checklist – Best Year 2 Books PDF

year 2 recommended reads checklist 2024

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

BooksForTopics is the tried and tested place to find Year Group reading recommendations. Just like the Y2 booklist, we have created lists for other year groups as well. Our team of professionals at BooksForTopics has carefully and thoughtfully curated lists of the best books suitable for each primary year group, with help and feedback from our school-based Review Panel. Each booklist comprises 50 suggested reads and features a printable poster and checklist. Schools have the option to buy complete packs of each Year Group list through our partners at Peters.

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

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Year 2: 50 Recommended Reads

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Stone Girl Bone Girl

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