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 Legend of Kevin or the colour-illustrated Unipiggle. 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 The Smart Cookie or Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs, which are both popular hits with this age group.
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 The Invisible, or books that open discussions into wider social themes like Somebody Swallowed Stanley 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 slapstick fun of How to be Cooler than Cool 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 and invite readers to see what life is like in faraway habitats, taking readers on a trip to the tropics in The Rainforest Book, to the Arctic in Michael Morpurgo’s beautiful story of freedom and captivity The Rainbow Bear, and to the underwater world of The Whale Who Wanted More.
Many of the best Y2 stories help to explore real-life experiences for particular characters – join with creative young Isabel navigating living with family poverty in The Invisible, with Asiya as she eagerly watches her sister’s first day of wearing hijab in The Proudest Blue, or Lubna’s beautiful story of looking for friendship far from home in the refugee-themed picture book Lubna and Pebble. Environmental concerns and themes of protecting the planet are also well represented on the list, like the gentle picturebook introduction to plastic pollution in Somebody Swallowed Stanley, or Isabel Otter and Clara Anganuzzi’s beautifully poignant love letter to our planet in Dear Earth.
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 the list are brand new this year, such as the entertaining and informative A Bear’s Guide to Beekeeping or the action-packed early chapter book Marv the Mega Robot.
How do I move Year 2 children 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 George’s Marvellous Medicine, the Marge in Charge series or the giggle-worthy illustrated adventure The Legend of Kevin.
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 comic-book style 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 nature-packed The Most Important Animal of All, which was voted KS1 winner in our Books of the Year Award.
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. Additionally, you may want to consider browsing our Recommended Reads for Year 3 for more advanced Y2 readers to look ahead.
Can I download a printable version of the Year 2 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 2 Books PDF
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: