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Year 4: 50 Recommended Reads (2022)

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best books for y4

Best Books for Y4 (Ages 8-9)

Looking for book recommendations for Year 4 children? Look no further than

Our website offers a carefully curated list of the top books for 8-9-year-olds, selected by expert primary teachers and librarians. Find the best books to top up your Y4 book collection with our hand-picked list of storytime favourites, thought-provoking tales, funny books, picturebooks, graphic novels, poetry collections, non-fiction texts and more. We hope that there will be something for everyone, but do keep your eyes open for magical cats, crime-busting pigeons, wish-granting fifty-pence pieces and the odd day of the week that mysteriously vanishes from memory…

Our Year 4 booklist covers a range of genres, from fiction to non-fiction, poetry, and picture books, in order to cater to a range of children’s reading levels and interests. The team of experts at BooksForTopics has hand-picked each book based on merit for its age-appropriateness, quality storytelling, engaging illustrations and ability to challenge children to think imaginatively and creatively. Whether you have children who love to read about fantasy worlds and animal adventures, young readers curious about science fiction and real-life hero stories, or reluctant readers looking to be hooked by funny stories or highly illustrated books, our recommended reads offer something for all tastes.

If you are looking for a recommended reading list for Year 4 children, our specially selected ‘best of the best’ booklist has got you covered with favourite books that have all been carefully matched to the age, developmental stage and interest level of children in Year 4.

As well as the Y4 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.

Scroll down to find more purchasing options and printable resources.

Favourite Storytime Books for Year 4

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

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

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

Jenny Pearson
 & David O'Connell
Chapter book

Grandpa Frank’s Great Big Bucket List takes the reader on a journey of excitement, adventure, humour and discovery and leaves them understanding life just a little bit more.

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

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

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

Nizrana Farook
Chapter book

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

Jenny McLachlan
 & Ben Mantle
Chapter book

This story is full of imagination, adventure and excitement and makes for a perfect read-aloud choice for storytime. Land of Roar is an instantly gripping adventure where childhood games become a reality for two twins. I raced my way through it, wondering what dangers twins Rose and Arthur were going to encounter next, whilst simultaneously wanting to visit Roar myself!

Land of Roar makes for a fantastic portal story where you can’t help but be dragged into this magical land of make-believe in a story full of adventure, magic and friendship. I love the idea of childhood games coming to life and the idea appeals well to the imaginations of children aged 8  to 10 – old enough to remember make-believe games from a younger stage but still young enough to allow themselves to be swept away by imagination and magic.

Land of Roar is the kind of fantasy adventure that grips you from the first page to the last and keeps you wanting more…so it’s a good thing there’s a sequel!

Dick King Smith
Chapter book
Harmony's uncle sends her on a treasure trail - which disappointingly ends in her finding a 50p piece. But the coin is a magic one, and when you rub the queen's nose, your wishes will come true! From the number one author for animal magic comes this wonderful new edition of a much-loved classic.

Onjali Q. Rauf
 & Pippa Curnick
Chapter book
Told with heart and humour, The Boy at the Back of the Class is a child's perspective on the refugee crisis, highlighting the importance of friendship and kindness in a world that doesn't always make sense.There used to be an empty chair at the back of my class, but now a new boy called Ahmet is sitting in it.He's nine years old (just like me), but he's very strange. He never talks and never smiles and doesn't like sweets - not even lemon sherbets, which are my favourite!But then I learned the truth: Ahmet really isn't very strange at all. He's a refugee who's run away from a War. A real one. With bombs and fires and bullies that hurt people. And the more I find out about him, the more I want to help.That's where my best friends Josie, Michael and Tom come in. Because you see, together we've come up with a plan. . .
Dominique Valente
 & Sarah Warburton
Chapter book
The first book in a spellbinding children's fantasy series, with beautiful black-and-white inside illustrations by Sarah Warburton.Willow Moss, the youngest and least powerful sister in a family of witches, has a magical ability for finding lost things - like keys, or socks, or spectacles. Useful, but not exactly exciting ...Then the most powerful witch in the world of Starfell turns up at Willow's door and asks for her help. A whole day - last Tuesday to be precise - has gone missing. Completely. And without it the whole universe could unravel.Now Willow holds the fate of Starfell in her rather unremarkable hands... Can she save the day - by finding the lost one?Step into Starfell, a world crackling with warmth, wit and magic, perfect for readers aged 8-12.
Jess Butterworth
Chapter book

When the Mountains Roared is the much-enjoyed second novel from Jess Butterworth, and one that has gone down a storm in Key Stage 2 classrooms. The physical book itself is actually really beautiful both inside and out, with its stunning cover by Rob Biddulph and the leopard-print design of its pages.

The story follows Ruby, a twelve-year-old girl who is grieving the recent death of her mother and has become filled with fear since her mother’s car accident. Ruby is an animal lover and she enjoys photographing wildlife. At the beginning of the story, Ruby faces the devastating news that her Dad is planning to uproot them from their Australian home and relocate to a remote mountain village in India to run a hotel.

Unimpressed when she arrives in her new home, Ruby does manage to find some things to like about the foreign setting. Jess Butterworth’s descriptions of the mountain landscape are beautiful and evocative as nature-lover Ruby takes in the new smells, colours and wildlife of the Himalayan habitat. Although the hotel is quite isolated, Ruby quickly befriends a local shepherd boy called Praveen, who shares Ruby’s admiration of the natural world.

Together, Ruby and Praveen set about to protect the few remaining leopards from the threat of poachers. The story is full of danger and adventure as Ruby undertakes a perilous trek through the mountains and comes face to face with some very hostile poachers, putting aside her own fears in order to save the leopards.

This is an atmospheric and enticing animal rescue story that explores an important theme about preservation and it will appeal to readers in Years 4-6

C S Lewis
 & Pauline Baynes
Chapter book
All seven tales in The Chronicles of Narnia are bound together, with full-colour illustrations, in one magnificent hardcover volume with a personal introduction by Douglas Gresham, stepson of C. S. Lewis.Talking beasts, heroic deeds and epic battles between good and evil await you in C. S. Lewis's classic fantasy series, which has been enchanting readers for over sixty years.This edition presents the seven books-The Magician's Nephew, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Horse and His Boy, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair, and The Last Battle-unabridged and arranged in C.S. Lewis's preferred order, featuring full-colour artwork by the original illustrator, Pauline Baynes.
Cressida Cowell
Chapter book
An absolute winner of a story and a brilliant choice for KS2 children in Year 4, 5 or 6. Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third is a smallish Viking with a longish name. Hiccup's father is chief of the Hairy Hooligan tribe which means Hiccup is the Hope and the Heir to the Hairy Hooligan throne - but most of the time Hiccup feels like a very ordinary boy, finding it hard to be a Hero.In the first How to Train Your Dragon book, Hiccup must lead ten novices in their initiation into the Hairy Hooligan Tribe. They have to train their dragons or be banished from the tribe FOR EVER!But what if Hiccup's dragon resembles an ickle brown bunny with wings? And has no teeth? The Seadragonus Giganticus Maximus is stirring and wants to devour every Viking on the Isle of Berk . . . Can Hiccup save the tribe - and become a Hero?

Elizabeth Laird
 & Peter Bailey
Chapter book

This story from award-winning author Elizabeth Laird is a great choice for KS2. When young Finn takes a dive in the water near his fishing village, he is delighted to find dolphins to swim with. However, the dolphins face a terrible threat due to the masses of rubbish floating around in their water. It is up to Finn to find a way to save the sea creatures and prevent their natural environment from becoming ruined. This is a topical and thought-provoking novel.

Chris Callaghan
Chapter book
It's the end of chocolate - forever! At least, until Jelly can solve the mystery of the great chocoplot...Jelly and her family live in Chompton-on-de-Lyte, where everyone loves a Chocablocka bar or two - so when the end of chocolate is announced, she can't believe it.Determined to investigate, Jelly and her gran follow a trail of clues to a posh chocolate shop and its owner, the pompous Garibaldi Chocolati. Gari's suspiciously smug, despite his failing business and yucky chocolate.Is it really the chocopocalypse, or is there a chocoplot afoot?An exciting, laugh-out-loud funny adventure featuring a truly ghastly villain - think evil mastermind meets Willy Wonka! - and a down-to-earth heroine with a sidekick grandma.
David Almond
 & Marta Altés
Chapter book

A simple but punch-packing new tale from storytelling master David Almond.

When a brand new boy called George starts at school, Daniel and his best friend Maxie are looking forward to getting a chance to enjoy the company of a new classmate. Daniel agrees to keep an eye on the new boy, although he has to admit there are few unusual things about George. Whether it’s the way that Miss Crystal watches his every step and makes ongoing observations in her notebook or the way that George can answer complicated maths questions without having to think about them, yet doesn’t seem to have an understanding of some of the very basic chatter between Daniel and his friends, something seems amiss.

Daniel’s chance to get to know George better arrives when the adults in school ask Daniel to invite George round for tea. But it comes with a caveat: Miss Crystal must come too, and George must only eat a few drops of olive oil and a small piece of dry bread. Welcoming George with warmth and hospitality, it’s as clear to Daniel’s Mum as it is to Daniel that there’s something unusual about this new boy. Every experience seems new to him, whether it’s meeting Kushko the cat or hanging out to chat in Daniel’s bedroom. A series of questions without answers begins to unravel – like why George is ushered unwillingly into a black van at the end of the play date, or why the teachers seems to have a weird response to George in class, or why there’s a sudden announcement that George will leaving the school. And what exactly is inside that tall box that is wheeled into assembly the following week…?

This is an innovative story that weaves themes of compassion, hope and community as well as what it means to be alive. Martha Altés’ illustrations bring out the characters brilliantly and provide extra hints and clues along the way. The dignity and compassion with which Daniel and his friends treat George is beautiful. I also loved the characterisation of Daniel’s mum, who is full of love, acceptance and a happy dose of Geordie warmth. Her dedication to protecting Daniel’s childhood innocence clearly has an impact that Daniel passes forward in the way he cares for George, recognising the importance of playing out in the wild, enjoying songs and stories together as well as providing a safe space for George to make decisions for himself. The way people have been treated in the family home often naturally affects how they treat strangers, and Daniel is a prime example of this. The dangerous impact of technology on children is touched upon, but so is its potential to enhance human experience when treated sagely, with respect for human experience kept at its heart. Equally, the school system is shown to be able to make children feel like robots or cogs in a machine, but can also be wonderful, life-affirming and experience-bringing, as embodied in the music teacher Mrs Imani, whose positive impact also rubs off on the way the children treat George when they play together.

True to style, David Almond weaves a thought-provoking tale with hints of darkness, plenty of hope and pause for reflection on what it means to be alive.

Burhana Islam
 & Farah Kahndaker
Chapter book

Yusuf lives with his older sister, his mum and his grandma. When his older sister starts to prepare for her wedding, Yusuf realises that he must become ‘the man of the house’. However, when he looks into the responsibilities that this entails, he knows that he is not yet ready for the role. So he sets about trying to prevent his sister from getting married so that she will stay at home and continue to take on responsibilities.

The series title for this book is ‘My Laugh-Out-Loud Life’ and, as soon as you start reading the book, it is clear why. Yusuf and his cousin Aadam get into all sorts of bother as they try to sabotage everything to do with the wedding, from meal preparation to the wedding outfit. The harder they try to cause problems, the more trouble they get into. And as they go about causing mayhem, they have to contend with the formidable Amma (Yusuf’s mum) and Nanu (Yusuf’s grandma).

This is ultimately a book about family and the bonds that hold them together. Through the story, the reader learns a lot about daily life, cultures and traditions in a British-Bengali family. Yusuf always has a side note to explain Bengali words and phrases that are used throughout the story.

The illustrations by Farah Khandaker really help to bring the story to life and to capture some of the mayhem that Yusuf causes. This is a great book to have in classrooms or a school library. The style would appeal to readers who feel daunted by pages of text, as the side notes and illustrations help to break up the words on the bag and make it feel less daunting. It is also ideal for bringing more diversity into class bookshelves, whether for children to see themselves represented in books or for them to learn more about other cultures.

Rob Biddulph
Chapter book

National treasure Rob Biddulph, whose record-breaking illustration events during lockdown gained an army of fans young and old, publishes his first illustrated chapter book this month. Peanut Jones is a wonderfully imaginative story with likeable characters and plenty of action and adventure.

Pernilla Jones (Peanut to her friends) isn’t having the best time. Her dad suddenly disappeared over a year ago, her mum is moving on and dating someone Peanut can’t stand and she has been made to move schools, leaving her beloved Melody High behind in favour of St Hubert’s School for the Seriously Scientific and Terminally Mathematic. Peanut is paired with Rockwell Riley as part of a study buddy scheme to help new students settle and she couldn’t be more disinterested.

One day, when she finds a magic pencil which has the power to make drawings a reality, Peanut sets out to find out what really happened to her dad. She takes Rockwell and her little sister, Little Bit, along for the ride in this alternate dimension where there is always danger and surprise around the corner. The story follows her journey into a hidden world where she must think quickly and use her drawing powers to save herself, her friends and the people she meets from those who wish to destroy all creativity – all the while, searching for the truth about her dad.

Throughout the book, there are superb, detailed drawings which are in black, white and orange, giving the book a unique style. This is the first in a trilogy about friendship and creativity. The short chapters make it easy to read and I look forward to the next instalment.

A triumphant entry into the chapter book world from Rob Biddulph.

Popular Independent Reads for Year 4

Pooja Puri
 & Allen Fatimaharan
Chapter book
This brilliantly illustrated, laugh-out-loud, wacky adventure through time by Pooja Puri is the perfect blend of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Jurassic Park. Before you start reading, there are a few things you should know: 1. I, Esha Verma, am a genius inventor extraordinaire. 2. There is nothing I cannot invent. This includes words. 3. I did not mean to send my sister back to the Age of the Dinosaurs. That was HER OWN FAULT (Mum and Dad, if you're reading this, please take note). Esha Verma, her snotty apprentice Broccoli and his cunning pet tortoise have a dream. They are going to win the legendary Brain Trophy - the ultimate inventing prize. This year's entry: A TIME MACHINE. But the day before the competition, Esha's IGNORAMUS big sister hijacks the time machine and is lost in the Cretaceous age. With help from a new recruit for The Office of Time, Esha and Broccoli will have to face hungry dinosaurs, mysterious black holes and malfunctioning inventions to get them back in time.
Holly Webb
Chapter book
Staying with her grandparents in the Scottish Highlands, Lara is fascinated by the rare white snowy owl her grandad has spotted flying nearby. And when she follows the beautiful bird into the woods, it leads her on a magical adventure...Transported a century back in time, Lara befriends Amelia, who confides in Lara about her cruel cousin, who she's sure is trying to hurt the baby owls nesting in the woods. When Lara discovers the hatchlings belong to her owl, Sky, she's determined to help. But how can she protect them when she needs to return to her own time? An enchanting and magical time-slip adventure from best-selling animal story author Holly Webb.
Andrew McDonald
 & Ben Wood
Chapter book
The bestselling and highly illustrated children's books series, soon to be hitting screens everywhere as an animated film and TV show with Nickelodeon and produced by James Corden.Ever wonder why pigeons always act so weird? It's because they're out there chasing the bad guys and saving your butts!Did you know your city is protected by a secret squad of crime-fighting pigeons? It's true! With master of disguise Rock Pigeon , bendy Tumbler , strong Frillback and super-finder Homey , the REAL PIGEONS will solve any mystery and fight any bad guy to keep the city safe!In their first adventure, Rock and his mystery-solving friends will tackle their first caseload: Why have all the breadcrumbs disappeared? Who on earth is kidnapping bats? And can the pigeons avert a dinner disaster??Perfect for readers aged 6+ and fans of Pamela Butchart, Dog Man, the Naughtiest Unicorn and Hotel Flamingo.
Matt Brown
 & Paco Sordo
Chapter book

Aliens Invaded My Talent Show! by Matt Brown (who is also well-known for the Compton Valance series of books) is a middle-grade novel that is sure to be a hit with fans of funny children’s books. I found this to be quick and accessible read that had me giggling and guffawing the whole way through. What I enjoyed the most is the way in which there is a delightfully crafted mix of humour types woven through each chapter; visual (who can resist a good slapstick cake-whizzing-through-the-air scene?), satire that will makes OFSTED-weary teachers smile wryly, farce as the ridiculousness of the extinction scenario mounts, and an abundance of wordplay and puns. The written humour is perfectly accompanied by Paco Sordo’s cartoon-style illustrations…

Serena Patel
 & Emma McCann
Chapter book

This is a delightful book celebrating family and friendships and is part of a very popular series. Anisha is a funny and resourceful character, whose love of STEM and eye for detail makes her the perfect detective in this humorous series of mysteries.  Anisha has an extended family that proves to be strong and supportive when things go wrong. There are authentic cultural references exploring Anisha’s Indian heritage, particularly around food and family.

The illustrations by Emma McCann help to reflect the humour in the story and the text is often broken up with lists and diagrams, making the book particularly appealing to children who may be daunted when faced with full pages of text. 

Jennifer Gray & Amanda Swift
 & Richard Watson
Chapter book

Magicat falls from the sky one Haloween night and lands in a treat bucket after being knocked off a witch’s broom by a rogue firework. Friends Jessie and Ali think he’s oodles of fun – although they have to admit he’s not quite as good at magic spells as he’d have them believe. Magic and mishaps aplenty follow is this charming chapter book that caters for newly confident readers in KS2 (8+) – as well as for those who are reluctant or dyslexic readers…

Elaine Wickson
 & Chris Judge
Graphic Novel
Stan loves everything to do with space, along with a calming, ordered environment, pie charts, and Venn diagrams. His dinosaur-loving younger brother Fred is the opposite: chaotic, messy, prone to leaving snails under Stan's bed and ladybirds in his lunchbox. Surely they must have something in common? As Stanley struggles to cope with his high-maintenance brother and his hair-brained schemes, he charts all the ups and downs of his life in a series of hilarious infographics in this highly-illustrated and visually-appealing book.
Liz Pichon
Graphic Novel
The first title in the bestselling series from the brilliantly talented Liz Pichon. Tom Gates is the master of excuses for late homework: dog attacks, spilt water and lightning...Tom's exercise book is full of his doodles, cartoons and thoughts, as well as comments from his long-suffering teacher, Mr Fullerton.After gaining five merits for his camping holiday story, Tom's work starts to go downhill - which is a pity, as he's desperate to impress Amy Porter, who sits next to him...Written in diary form and full of Tom's doodles, this first title in the series was the winner of the Roald Dahl Funny Prize.
Laura Ellen Anderson
Chapter book

Rainbow Grey is a funny, smart and creative tale, sprinkled with weather-related characters and places. The characters are not human, but still remain highly relatable; the main characters had friendship issues to deal with, like any children their age, and it’s important for children to be able to recognise things that they might be going through in their own lives in a book. Likewise, the nod to dyslexia when Ray describes letters as being jumbled on the page and later on, when reading from coloured paper was referred to, would resonate with a lot of children…

Gareth P. Jones
 & Louise Forshaw
Chapter book

How many of us remember the choose-your-own-adventure stories popular a few decades ago and find ourselves wondering why we rarely see new ones published today? Popular author Gareth P. Jones reintroduces the genre with ‘The Monster Maker’ – an imaginative detective story for readers looking for an interactive adventure, with hundreds of paths to choose from.

Haventry is a town where ghosts, zombie clowns, werewolves and vampires (amongst others) reside happily. That is, until Dr Franklefink’s Monster Maker machine is stolen and everyone becomes a suspect. It is then up to you to investigate and solve the mystery. Your detective partner and boss is none other than private investigator Klaus Solstaag, a yeti who is on a mission. Will you find the truth? What motive does your prime suspect have? Can you find the missing Monster Maker?

In this solve your own mystery story, readers will enjoy choosing which aspect of the crime to investigate next and sussing out who the real suspects are. For fans of the extraordinary and of detective mysteries, this is a must-read.

Nadia Shireen
Chapter book

Grimwood is a wacky, anarchic animal story, full of nonsensical mayhem. The story will certainly appeal to KS2 (although possibly not the most sensitive in this age group – as there are incidents of biting off heads, tails or feet!). There’s a dark and whacky humour to the story that will delight fans of Dahl or Mr Gum and plenty of discussion points such as the relationship between the fox cubs, the changes in their personalities and the desire to find refuge. The book could work as a class reader and a fun and quirky independent read for ages 7-11.

Pamela Butchart
 & Thomas Flintham
Chapter book
Hilarious, illustrated school-based antics where everything that happens leads to DRAMA and RUNNING AROUND and even some FAINTING! Izzy and her friends are on a school trip to a big lake. Gary Petrie is excited because the lodges where they're staying have ROBES AND SLIPPERS! The lake is dark and deep and a bit scary. But it's when they open their packed lunches that they know! There's a MONSTER in the lake and it's coming for their CRISPS! Laugh-out-loud fun from Blue Peter Award winners Pamela Butchart and Thomas Flintham.
Dav Pilkey
Graphic Novel
Howl with laughter with the FIRST book in the hilarious full-colour illustrated series, Dog Man, from the creator of Captain Underpants! George and Harold (the co-stars of the enormously popular Captain Underpants series) are in big trouble again!George and Harold have created a new breed of justice -- one that is part dog, part man, and ALL HERO!With the head of a dog and the body of a human, this heroic hound digs into deception, claws after crooks, rolls over robbers, and scampers after squirrels.Will he be able to resist the call of the wild to answer the call of duty?
Joshua Seigal
 & Chris Piascik
Chapter book

A little while back we consulted with teachers and school librarians about the most popular books in their libraries. We were aiming to find out the most enjoyed books for each year group as part of the research for our 50 Recommended Reads lists, and one response that came up again and again was Joshua Seigal’s funny poetry collections – which, they reported, flew off library shelves like hotcakes when readers in KS2 were around. Brilliant to dip into and filled with giggles, these collections are a huge hit in schools and this was confirmed earlier in the month when pupils voted Joshua Seigal’s I Bet I Can Make You Laugh winner of the 9-13 category in the 2020 Laugh Out Loud Book Awards.

We were really pleased when Bloomsbury sent us Joshua’s newest poetry collection, Welcome to My Crazy Life. It’s a playful collection categorised by Seigal’s love of language and humorous insights into all aspects of life (including poems that offer some very useful advice for all situations, like Don’t Forget Your Trousers).

The collection’s poems range from those that are brilliant to read aloud – like the onomatopeia-filled What’s That Noise? – to those whose visual appeal makes them best for experiencing straight off the page – like the super-alliterative shape poem Catastrophic Carnivorous Creature or the poem Homework, which fills the page with one big visual pun. There are silly poems, witty poems, wise advice and even a poem made up entirely of numbers.

One of the reasons that poetry collections like this are so popular in schools is that readers almost always find something that resonates with their perspective on life, and poetry is brilliant at capturing shared experiences and emotions. There’s plenty that teachers will find relatable too. Flicking through the collection, I found mine straight away – The Coffee Monster may just have easily been inspired by my own early morning pre-coffee prowlings.

Reluctant readers and poetry pros alike will find plenty to enjoy in Seigal’s trademark outpouring of wit, wordplay and wackiness.

Colin Thompson
Colin Thompson's books are mystical and complex, they will appeal to children and adults alike and demand to be returned to as there is always a new image to see . . . something more to catch the eye. Peter and his family live among the Quinces in the cookery section of a mystical library, and at night, when the library comes to life, Peter ventures out of his home to find a missing volume: How To Live Forever.

Recommended Picturebooks and Poetry for Year 4

Roger Stevens, Liz Brownlee & Sue Hardy-Dawson
This gorgeous collection of animal poems from Roger Stevens, Liz Brownlee and Sue Hardy-Dawson will entrance and delight in equal measure. Featuring a full alphabet of animals, birds, and insects, with the odd extinct or imaginary creature thrown in, these beautiful shape poems are a perfect way to introduce children to poetry. Some funny, some serious, there is something here for everyone.
The Fan Brothers
Deep underground beneath Perfect Pets , where children can buy genetically engineered "perfect" creatures, there is a secret lab . Barnabus and his friends live in this lab, but none of them are perfect. They are all Failed Projects. Barnabus has never been outside his tiny bell jar, yet he dreams of one day seeing the world above ground that his pal Pip the cockroach has told him about: a world with green hills and trees, and buildings that reach all the way to the sky, lit with their own stars. But Barnabus may have to reach the outside world sooner than he thought, because the Green Rubber Suits are about to recycle all Failed Projects . . . and Barnabus doesn't want to be made into a fluffier pet with bigger eyes. He just wants to be himself. So he decides it's time for he and the others to escape . With his little trunk and a lot of cooperation and courage, Barnabus sets out to find freedom - and a place where he and his friends can finally be accepted for who they are. This suspenseful , poignant and magical story about following your dreams and finding where you truly belong will draw readers into a surreal, lushly detailed world in which perfection really means being true to yourself and your friends.
Brian Moses & Roger Stevens
A brilliant, funny and inspiring collection of poems about sport by Brian Moses and Roger Stevens! These are poems about winning and about taking part; poems about having all the right kit, but no talent; poems that show that coming first in the egg and spoon race really is as important to your mum and dad as being an Olympic athlete; poems about being a team player and poems about being an individual hero. In fact, this book is packed with sporting gems of all kinds. Olympic Poems is perfect for any young poet or aspiring Olympian.
Robert Macfarlane
 & Jackie Morris

The Lost Words is a collaboration between Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris, seeking to ‘summon what has vanished’ and celebrate a host of disappearing words relating to the natural world. This is a poetry book about preservation – of nature, of language and of childhood – and the beautifully illustrated over-sized hardback volume is in itself a book to preserve and treasure. Inside the book, readers will find acrostic ‘poem-spells’, with each one intending to preserve a nature word that has disappeared from the dictionary as well as to evoke the unique sounds, sensations and moods associated with the experiences of encountering wildlife firsthand.

Inspired by the removal of a number of nature words from children’s dictionaries while the same plants and animals are in very real decline, this magnificent book will please children and adults alike. Each word is accompanied by a breathtaking illustration and poem (or ‘spell’ – the authors encourage you to sing them). Children with an interest in the natural world will discover new words along the way.

Jordan Scott
 & Sydney Smith
What if words got stuck in the back of your mouth whenever you tried to speak? After a day of being unable to speak when asked, and of being stared at, a boy and his father go to the river for some quiet time. "It's just a bad speech day," says Dad. But the boy can't stop thinking about all the eyes watching his lips twisting and twirling. When his father points to the river bubbling, churning, whirling and crashing, the boy finds a way to think about how he speaks. Even the river stutters. Like him. "I talk like a river," he says. An incredibly moving picture book that offers understanding rather than a solution, and which will resonate with all readers, young and old. Masterfully illustrated by Sydney Smith, winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal.

Recommended Non-Fiction Books for Year 4

Steve Tomecek
 & Marcos Farina

This large-format, colourful tome is packed to the rafters with facts, figures of interest. Each matt double-page spread is focused around one particular view of Earth – Earth is old, for example. The next double page provides a contrasting perspective – Earth is young or hot/dry or fast/slow and so on. This format allows for an unusual compare and contrast array of detail and fact and allows the reader to view the fascinating subject of the Earth around us from a multitude of different viewpoints. think Earth Is Big would appeal to children and adults alike; I loved dipping in and out of it and felt enlightened by what I had discovered. Those children who are fascinated by Earth Science and those who come to the concept with fresh eyes will be informed and entertained…

Lily Dyu
 & Amy Blackwell
A stunning new and fully illustrated colour hardback edition of the timely and inspiring Earth Heroes - the ultimate gift for any aspiring climate activist. When faced with climate change, the biggest threat that our planet has ever confronted, it's easy to feel as if nothing you do can really make a difference... but this book proves that individual people can change the world. With twenty inspirational stories celebrating the pioneering work of a selection of Earth Heroes from all around the globe, from Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough to Yin Yuzhen and Isatou Ceesay, each tale is a beacon of hope in the fight for the future of our planet, proving that one person, no matter how small, can make a difference. Beautifully illustrated by Amy Blackwell, this updated new gift edition features amazing additions Felix Finkbeiner and Charles and Perrine Herve-Gruyer, as well as Amelia Telford, Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski, Bittu Sahgal, Chewang Norphel, David Attenborough, Doug Smith, Greta Thunberg, Isabel Soares, Isatou Ceesay, Marina Silva, Melati and Isabel Wijsen, Mohammed Rezwan, Renee King-Sonnen, Rok Rozman, Sheila Watt-Cloutier, William Kamkwamba, Yin Yuzhen and Yvon Chouinard.
James Brown and Lily Murray

This is a true treasure of a non-fiction text! World of Cities is an almost-A3 sized high quality information book filled with double-page spreads illustrated in a striking print-maker style, with each one containing information about a different world city. The written text is cleverly integrated into the pictures (e.g. on the page about London, facts are placed seated on a bus, around the archways of the bridge and ascending Big Ben’s tower) and you get the feeling that you will discover brand new trinkets of information each time you read. An engaging, original book that makes you want to climb into the pages.

Jack Tite
A hoard of information about the Vikings including aspects of their history, culture, mythology and legacy. Author Jack Tite digs deep into the topic to find the most interesting snippets of information, presented alongside stylised graphic illustrations and fold-out pages that give the pages an extra wow-factor, enabling an impressive tree of life diagram on one page, a lengthy longboat diagram on another and a detailed timeline on another still. Highly recommended.
Imogen Russell Williams
 & Louise Lockhart
Introduce children to the wonders, history, culture and customs of the United Kingdom with The Big Book of the UK. Learn about the sport of "dwile flonking", find out where black diamonds come from, ,eet the supernatural animal that haunts the Scottish Highlands and discover the British sweets that helped Hillary and Tenzing scale Everest. Filled with facts about wildlife, food, sports, geography, language and some very silly place names, this book will help you uncover national secrets and unearth local legends from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Sabrina Weiss
 & Paul Daviz
Discover over 100 of the world's most remarkable creatures in this beautifully illustrated tour of Earth's wildlife. Animals come in all sorts of weird and wonderful shapes and sizes. From the record breaking tongue of a chameleon to the dashing dance of the peacock spider, you'll learn about the most amazing examples from air, land and sea. Discover playful dolphins, sleepy koalas and even a fish that keeps its babies safe in its own mouth, uncovering the secrets of their survival, the incredible habitats they call home as well as the environmental threats putting them in danger. A central gatefold offers a world map which reveals the locations of all the animals included in the book.
Kate Davies
 & Carnovsky

We love interactive non-fiction books and this is one that children can spend hours poring over. Use the different coloured lenses provided to see the different layers of the human body and reveal how the body’s systems work together. Really fun but also hugely informative and well pitched for upper KS2, there is plenty to discover in this information text with a difference.

Isabel Thomas
 & Jessamy Hawke
The biggest scientific breakthroughs in history have something in common: super smart people who kept looking for the answers to some of the world's most interesting questions! The pages of this science book are filled with the stories of famous scientists such as physicists Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Stephen Hawking, biologist Marie Curie, palaeontologist Mary Anning and lesser-known trailblazers such as Chika Kuroda, who became Japan's first female Bachelor of Science.Filled with great detail and following a storytelling format, this is a thrilling book that will capture the imagination of young children and encourage them to explore the world of science. Beautiful descriptions of the scientists' lives are brought to life through stunning watercolour illustrations and fantastic photography highlights the detail of their discoveries.
William Grill
Graphic Novel

This is a brilliantly visual re-telling of Ernest Shackleton’s adventures from pole to pole, published to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Shackleton’s historic expedition. This engaging text is filled with diagrams, maps, infographics and fascinating facts that will both delight readers and transport them through an imaginary exploration of frozen worlds. We recommend Shackleton’s Journey as a good non-fiction text to use for engaging reluctant readers in KS2. There is also an accompanying activity book available from Amazon.

Jess French
DK brings you a beautifully illustrated and engaging book to teach young readers how to protect our planet and change the world! Introducing It's a Wonderful World - a captivating storybook set out to encourage children to look after the world around them, one step at a time. Celebrate your child's curiosity as they navigate through this perfect conservation book to discover all the wonderful ways to protect and preserve the biodiversity of the natural world, whilst learning about the main challenges our planet faces today. An empowering and practical guide o looking after our planet, your child can discover: -An excellent introduction to nature conservation for young readers -A unique guide to studying different ecosystems and the biodiversity within the environment -Graphic illustrations to complement stunning photography featured throughout -An enthralling insight into lesser-known animals that inhabit the natural world Did you know that more than 50% of child psychologists in England are currently seeing patients distressed about the state of the environment? It's time to change that! Invest in this all-encompassing environment book and shape your child's learning for the better. Proving to be an excellent education tool for children aged 7-9, this is a must-have volume for any young reader with a passion for protecting the planet, whether it's researching plastic pollution or studying snow leopards, this nature book for kids really does have it all. At DK, we believe in the power of discovery. So let us quench your thirst for knowledge and teach you a trick or two about balance and biodiversity along the way! One book at a time, we believe you can change the world!

Catherine Johnson
 & Katie Hickey
Chapter book

The topic of polar exploration is a popular one in primary schools with teachers and pupils easily being able to reel off a list of famous arctic explorers: Shackleton, Scott, Cook, Peary. But how often do you hear the name Matthew Henson among the list, the man who travelled with Captain Peary and claimed to be the first to reach the North Pole?

In Race to the Frozen North, best-selling author Catherine Johnson offers a fictionalised retelling of Matthew Henson’s story, including how his achievements were unfairly suppressed for decades because of the colour of his skin. Published in Barrington Stoke’s ‘super-readable’ and dyslexia-friendly style, this is an accessible read for children in KS2.

 & Steve Noon
Have you ever wondered what your street was like thousands of years ago? This illustrated history book for children takes you on a 12,000-year journey to find out the story of a single UK street. Think of the street you live on. Now think of how it may have looked in the Stone Age in 10,000 BCE, or in Victorian times during the Industrial Revolution, or how it may look 50 years from now. A Street Through Time takes you on a time-travelling journey that you won't forget. Highly detailed illustrations bring 15 key periods in time un British History to life. You will see magnificent buildings go up and come down, new churches built on the site of ancient temples, wooden bridges destroyed and then remade in stone, and statues demolished then unearthed many years later. You'll find out how people lived long ago - the tools they used, what they wore and what they did all day. Revised and updated for a new generation, A Street Through Time now includes a look at the street 50 years in the future.
Patricia Valdez
 & Felicita Sala
Back in the days of long skirts and afternoon teas, young Joan Procter entertained the most unusual party guests: slithery and scaly ones, who turned over teacups and crawled past the crumpets... While other girls played with dolls, Joan preferred the company of reptiles. She carried her favorite lizard with her everywhere - she even brought a crocodile to school!When Joan grew older, she became the Curator of Reptiles at the Natural History Museum. She went on to design the Reptile House at the London Zoo, including a home for the rumored-to-be-vicious komodo dragons. There, just like when she was a little girl, Joan hosted children's tea parties - with her komodo dragon as the guest of honour.With a lively text and vibrant illustrations, scientist and writer Patricia Valdez and illustrator Felicita Sala bring to life Joan Procter's inspiring story of passion and determination.
Marcia Williams
Graphic Novel
From the heroes familiar to everyone, such as Malala Yousafzai, to the amazing activists you might not have heard of, like Baruani Ndume, the teenager who gave a voice to fellow refugee children in Tanzania, discover the incredible true stories of child activists. An inspirational and moving book from beloved author-illustrator Marcia Williams, providing the perfect introduction to an important subject and marking 30 years since the Convention on the Rights of the Child was signed by the United Nations General Assembly.
Patricia Cleveland-Peck
 & Isabel Greenberg
Graphic Novel

Nominated for the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards, this is a comic style exploration of the story of an Egyptian king, and the 20th century explorer who found him. Discover the troubles Tutankhamun faced as a young king, his untimely death, and his legacy, which lay hidden for centuries. Pore over his treasures, learn the steps of mummification, and see Tutankhamun’s fascinating story bought to life. Travel through history with Howard Carter, on his quest to uncover Tutankhamun’s hidden tomb, his incredible discovery, and our continued hunt to understand and unearth the riches of Ancient Egyptian life.

Guidance: About the Year 4 Booklist

Should children be encouraged to read for pleasure in Year 4?

The growing range of excellent books for this age group makes the task of encouraging reading for pleasure in Year 4 as delightful as it is essential. It is indeed an essential task – as children’s laureate Cressida Cowell puts it, ‘Decades of research show a reader for pleasure is more likely to be happier, healthier, to do better at school, and to vote – all irrespective of background.

When children choose to read, they gain access to a host of exciting ideas and worlds and this helps to flex the muscles of the imagination, develop empathy and better understand the lives of others, as well boosting language skills, vocabulary and comprehension.

In order to facilitate the enjoyment of reading, the provision of books that are age-appropriate, high quality and appealing is key.

What kind of books should Year 4 read?

In Year 4 at the ages of 8 and 9, many children have learned to read short chapter books by themselves and have gained enough experience with books to articulate preferences about styles, themes and formats. Chapter books with fantasy adventures like The Land of Roar and How to Train Your Dragon are perfect choices for keen readers in Year 4. Readers who are reluctant to get stuck into lengthy chunks of text usually find they enjoy books punctuated with illustrated elements, and series like Tom Gates and Rainbow Grey are ever-popular choices for Year 4 children too. Year 4 children should also be encouraged to read stories that help them better understand the lives of others, like The Boy at the Back of the Class or The Girl Who Stole an Elephant.

It’s best to give Year 4 children a wide choice of different styles of stories, as children at this age are still forming their identities as independent readers.  Animal tales, fantasy adventures, funny stories, comic-style books and illustrated chapter books are popular at this age, as are non-fiction texts covering topics of interest like science or history. In addition to a wide choice of independent reads, stories being read aloud by adults continue to be an important – and much-enjoyed – aspect of the reading-for-pleasure journey at this age.

Which are the best books for reading for pleasure in Year 4?

The books on our Y4 booklist feature 50 recommended reads for pleasure in Year 4. Many of the books in the collection are well-known for getting children hooked on reading due to their humorous style and highly illustrated elements, like the comic-style Dog Man books or the pie-chart-filled Planet Stan. Other stories featured in the Y4 collection have been chosen especially for making children laugh out loud, like the gag-filled Alien Invaded My Talent Show or Nadia Shireen’s darkly humoured Grimwood.

Many children at this age have developed the ability to make connections within a story and spot finer details in the text, and this enables them to enjoy a good mystery story. For a cracking mystery adventure, we recommend the Highland Falcon Thief, the Anisha: Accidental Detective series or, for an interactive, head-scratching mystery that puts the reader in control, try Solve Your Own Mystery: The Monster Maker.

Animal rescue stories also remain popular with Year 4, with Jess Butterworth’s exciting Himalayan adventure When the Mountains Roared or Elizabeth Laird’s poignant tale of the dangers of ocean pollution in Song of the Dolphin Boy being excellent choices. Dragons feature heavily in the Y4 collection too, and readers looking for fantasy adventures will be happy to let their imaginations feed on The Land of Roar, the spellbinding Starfell series or Cressida Cowell’s hugely popular How to Train Your Dragon books.

Not all of the stories on the list are longer reads. For readers looking for shorter texts, try Jennifer Gray’s short chapter book Magicat (specially formatted for reluctant and dyslexic readers), Catherine Johnson’s thought-provoking Race to the Frozen North or dip into the graphic novel style information book Children Who Changed the World. For picture books suitable for Year 4, we recommend I Talk Like a River, Colin Thompson’s playful How to Live Forever or the thought-provoking The Barnabus Project, which is stunningly illustrated by the Fan Brothers.

If you are looking for classic stories suitable for 8-9 year olds, you’ll find among the collection some favourites that have been entertaining children for generations, like The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe or Dick King Smith’s The Queen’s Nose. Poetry books that are proven hits with Year 4 are well represented in the collection too, and in particular, we love the alphabet of shape poems in Apes to Zebras, Josh Seigal’s humorous collection Welcome to my Crazy Life and the beautifully illustrated nature poems in The Lost Words.

What are the best non-fiction books for Year 4?

When choosing information books for Year 4, look for highly illustrated information texts well structured into chunks of text, on topics of popular interest. Books about science, history or geography are usually a hit with this age group, and there are some stunning large-format non-fiction books available to wow the crowd. Try printmaker James Brown’s visually appealing global tour in A World of Cities,  William Grill’s fascinating illustrated retelling of Shackleton’s Journey or the wonderfully interactive illumanatomy, which comes with a magic lens to help readers delve deeper into the different systems that make up the human body.

If you are looking for non-fiction books themed around a particular topic, head over to our KS2 topic booklists.

Where can I purchase the books on the BooksForTopics Year 4 booklist?

What other booklists for children in Y4 are available?

For resources and booklists specially catered to 8 and 9-year-olds, we have a thorough selection here are BooksForTopics. Our lists of children’s books centered around popular Year 4 curriculum topics include Ancient Egyptian topic texts, recommended children’s books about the Human Body, and stories about Mountains and Volcanoes. You can also find lists suited to children with a special interest, such as space books for children or stories about football. Browse through the BooksForTopics KS2 topic booklists to explore our extensive collection.

To support the emotional and mental wellbeing of children in Year 4, we have a range of booklists in our KS2 PSHE collection. Visit our Mental Health Awareness booklist, our list of anti-bullying books, our selection of stories to develop Emotional Literacy, or prepare for the next class move with our booklist for class transitions.

For children’s books showcasing a broader range of characters, cultures, and experiences, our collection of Diverse and Inclusive Books for Lower KS2 is recommended for parents and educators seeking diversity and inclusivity.

At this age, children tend to establish a fondness for a particular series or author. Our Branching Out booklists, featuring a variety of books including stories for fans of Roald Dahl, books similar to David Walliams’ stories, and more books like Tom Gates, are the perfect solution to help parents and teachers discover new story characters that children will adore. Teachers and parents will also find more help to chose storytime read-alouds on our Storytime Favourites for Ages 7-9 booklist.

Not everyone is suited to longer chapter book stories at this stage of the primary school reading journey, and some children thrive on alternative formats. Check out our Lower KS2 Graphic Novels booklist or our selection of picturebooks for lower KS2. Children in Year 4 who have not yet caught the reading bug may enjoy our booklist for reluctant readers aged 7-9 or our Top-Notch non-fiction booklist, offering more options to appeal to different types of readers.

Advanced Year 4 readers can look ahead with our list of Recommended Reads for Year 5.

Can I download a printable version of the Year 4 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 4 Books PDF

year 4 recommended books for ages 8 9

Printable Checklist – Best Year 4 Books PDF

reading list for y4 for ages 8 9

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

Discover more reading lists for primary year groups here on the BooksForTopics website. Our expert team has carefully selected high-quality books for each primary year group, with input and evaluation from our school-based Review Panel. Schools and parents know that they can trust BooksForTopics as a reliable source for discovering recommended books appropriate for each year group. Each booklist features 50 top-quality books and comes with a printable poster and checklist. Plus, schools can purchase full sets of each year group list through our partners at Peters.

Don’t miss out on our curated selection of books for primary year groups. Here are the quick links:

Year 4: 50 Recommended Reads (2022)

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