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Year 4: 50 Recommended Reads

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recommended y4 reading books

Best Books for Y4 (Children Aged 8-9)

NEWLY updated – April 2024!

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

Our experts have assembled a carefully curated list of the top books for 8-9-year-olds, selected by experienced primary teachers, librarians and children’s book experts. 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 foxes, Viking cats, wish-granting fifty-pence pieces and a mysterious giant rainforest that grows over the city of London…

Our Year 4 booklist covers a range of genres and themes to cater to a range of children’s reading levels and interests. This booklist includes some of the most popular Year 4 stories such as The Land of Roar, The Boy at the Back of the Class and How to Train Your Dragon as well as some lesser-known storytime delights that we recommend for Y4, like David Almond’s AI-inspired Brand New Boy, Elizabeth Laird’s Song of the Dolphin Boy and the super fun choose-your-own-adventure style mystery The Monster Maker.

The experts at BooksForTopics have 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.  If you are looking for a recommended reading list for Year 4 children, our specially selected booklist has been carefully designed to match the age, developmental stage and interest level of children in Year 4.

As well as the Y4 reading list 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 4 recommended reads printable poster 2024

year 4 recommended reads checklist 2024

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Browse the Y4 booklist below or scroll down to find more purchasing options and printable resources.

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Favourite Storytime Books for Year 4

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!

Cressida Cowell
Chapter book

An absolute winner of a story and a brilliant choice for KS2 children in Year 4, 5 or 6. As you might expect from former Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell, who really is a master storyteller, this fantastic series is full of delightful characters, exciting expeditions and sumptuous settings. There’s plenty of action, and a good dollop of humour too.

Hiccup is a small Viking. As part of the initiation process for his tribe, he is required to lead a group of novices in their task of dragon training. Unfortunately, Hiccup’s designated dragon is far from what he’d dreamed of, but despite all odds, it doesn’t take long for Hiccup to prove himself to be a true hero.

We love this exciting action-packed series and thoroughly recommend the series to fantasy and adventure fans.

Nizrana Farook
Chapter book

An exciting new 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.

Loyally, Neel takes the blame for Chaya’s actions and is sentenced to death. Chaya knows that she must act quickly if she is going to save him and a gripping and adventurous escape begins. Along the way, they meet Nour, a young girl from a wealthy background who opts to join their cause.

Before long, everyone they know seems to have come under threat as a result of their actions. The King will stop at nothing to capture them, especially as they have stolen his prize elephant as well. Will these young protagonists be able to save the ones that they love and escape death? Or will it mean the end for all of them?

This is a KS2 must-read with an evocatively drawn setting, perfect for anyone who loves adventure stories.

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.

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


Ben Miller
Chapter book

This is a brilliant book by Ben Miller that will be loved by fans of his previous stories and is sure to get new readers hooked on his books too.

The story tells of siblings, Lana and Harrison (from The Day I Fell into a Fairytale), who go to visit their grandparents and are upset to find that their favourite play spot (an old, hollow tree) is under threat. When Lana speaks to developers and makes a deal she soon regrets, she cannot put it out of her mind. That night, a mysterious golden thread leads her back to the old, hollow tree and Lana and Harrison end up getting pulled (quite literally) into storybook land full of mystery and adventure. Lana finds herself with a very big problem – she needs to rescue her brother before it is too late, but he isn’t the only one who needs her help!

This story is best suited for Lower Key Stage Two children and would make the perfect bedtime story or an enjoyable class novel. At the end of the book, author Ben Miller spends time sharing some of the ideas behind his writing in ‘A Brief Note About Spiders’. When I read this aloud, this part sparked the interest of children in the class and they were fascinated to learn about the real-life animals that inspired the Golden Diving Bell Spiders.

Alex Evelyn
Chapter book

Fern has an unusual childhood living in the rainforest with her botanist parents. They spend their days exploring nature and gathering information about plants and their properties. However, Fern is no good at Latin, hates textbooks and just doesn’t seem to have what it takes to be a plant hunter. To gain a formal education, Fern is sent away from lily pads and humming birds to the city of London. Here she stays with her Uncle where she is bored, restless and pining to be back at one with nature. The only thing keeping her entertained is her unusual plant ‘Special’, which she found (or stole) on her plane to the UK.

Despite keeping it a secret, Fern believes she has the gift of communicating with plants and she begins to develop a special bond with Special, until she finds she is struggling to keep it alive. Despite their initial disagreements, Fern and her quirky neighbour, Woody, strive to find a way to care for Special. However, within the city, strange and dangerous plants are growing, causing chaos to the buildings around them. Where are they coming from and how will they stay safe?

This is an exciting mystery story, with elements of sci-fi, which would be perfect for any plant-loving 7-11 year old. The story covers themes of friendship, kindness and greed, as well as examples of empowering young women woven throughout. I would highly recommend this book due to its fast-paced and unique plot depicting good vs evil.

Natalie Denny
 & Chante Timothy
Chapter book

When Keisha finds out that her Great Aunt Bea was an activist, she sets up The Bee Squad with best friends KD and Paisley with plans to stand up for others and fight against injustice. They find out that female rabbits are being sold in the local pet shop for less than the male rabbits and set out to right this wrong. However, their plans don’t always work in quite the right way.

The book is written in a way that would be easy for children aged 7-9 to read – the text is broken up with lists, email exchanges and illustrations that take away the pressure of pages full of text. A good early chapter book for those moving on from reading schemes.

The characters are a diverse mix and provide good representation for readers. The story has a noble message at its heart – anyone can stand up for what they believe in. However, the tactics that The Bee Squad employ are not always the most sensible and would provide a useful discussion point about the best way to have your views listened to in order to achieve your goals.

Popular Illustrated Favourites for Y4

Liz Pichon
Graphic Novel

The Tom Gates books have been phenomenally popular with readers who enjoy laugh-out-loud illustrated stories exploring themes of school, family life and everything zany. Readers enjoy the notebook-style format and the Tom’s funny take on the ups and downs of family life and school, punctuated by the joys of forming a band and snacking on caramel wafers.

Liz Pichon’s instantly recognisable doodle style makes this a really enjoyable and accessible book that quickly hooks children in, which is extra fantastic because there is an impressively populated series to collect!

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.

Elaine Wickson
 & Chris Judge
Graphic Novel

We highly recommend this fun and accessible story, which is perfect for fans on Tom Gates and Wimpy Kid. The doodle-diary style story charts the ups and downs of Stan’s life. Stan loves to use pie charts and Venn diagrams to show how he feels, which adds a super fun element to the book.

There are heaps of humorous moments to laugh at during Stan’s adventures, and also heartwarming parts where Stan and his brother learn to pool their resources and work as a team.

Children who love a visual element to their reading books will enjoy this easy to read story, which is perfect for independent reading in KS2.

Adam Stower
Chapter book

Murray is a cat that loves his peace and quiet but sadly, living with a rather incompetent wizard means that his life is anything but. On occasion, a happy accidental spell provides something of value and for Murray this arrives in the form of a magic cat-flap and Bun, a bun turned bunny. What Bun lacks in vocabulary, he makes up for in enthusiasm, leading Murray on to adventure, whether he likes it or not.

Adam Stower is best known and loved for his illustrations (most notably for David Walliams), but a smidge of research reveals that he is also a prolific writer and, if this book is anything to go by, this latest series is set to put his writing on a par with his illustration.

The witty dialogue between our unlikely friends leads to a book that will appeal right from Year 2 to Year 6. In fact, my copy was in hot demand with my Year 6 class, accompanied by snorts of laughter and loud exclamations of “Bun!”. Granted it isn’t a text to challenge UKS2 (making it accessible to much younger age groups) but they loved the humour and for more reluctant readers, this could be just the sort of book that they will return to and enjoy time and again.

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.


Jenny McLachlan
Chapter book

An absolutely first-class, laugh-out-loud, cartoon-filled adventure series for 7+ readers.

This book is part of the ‘Stink’ series and features the world’s funniest fairy. The story is packed full of comedy, wit and cartoons on every page!

Danny’s life hasn’t been the same since a real fairy flew out of a fairy door, attached herself to his hair and turned his life upside down. Now, school is chaotic, home is chaotic and life is chaotic!

So Stink tries as hard as she might to get things changed for both herself and Danny. But life, school & fairy adventures don’t always go to plan. Wanting to land himself the next role in the school play is Danny’s dream, but Stink has other ideas! What’s more, thanks to a misadventure in the science cupboard, a giant all-powerful wizard is released into the world.

Jenny has done it again – comedy claims the reader’s attention in this illustrated laugh-out-loud book and another KS2 favourite is born.

Fantasy Adventures for Y4

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.

Lorraine Gregory
 & Jo Lindley
Chapter book

Danny’s grandad has a curious knack for finding list things. Nothing too unusual perhaps, until Danny discovers that Grandad has a very important, top-secret job working in the Interdimensional Lost Property Office (IDLPO). When Grandad falls ill, Danny is given the task of looking after the IDLPO. Entering the Office via a locker, Danny and his side-kick Modge are transported to new worlds and thrown into adventures beyond their imagination.

This is a book full of gags and mildly disgusting humour which children will love. As the boys race through the universe in their quest to return a fascinating array of alien creatures, they realise that they have the enthusiasm, determination and desire to do their best but that they lack the necessary knowledge of the ‘technical bits’. The boys have to resort to asking Danny’s bookish cousin, Inaaya, to join the mission. The trio discover a secret plot designed to bring down the whole universe. Woven into the narrative are engaging characters – Mrs Arbuckle, the lost property office supervisor who also happens to be a purple squid, brother and sister Kaspar and Kaylar and the veterinarian, Dr Triffle Piffle- each with a vivid appearance and quirky cosmic character. The action in the book moves at a fast pace and although there is excitement and peril it is humorous and really engaging.

Lorraine Gregory never fails to please. Children who love narrative-driven action will enjoy this book and will be turning the pages to discover if Danny, Modge and Inaaya can successfully return the lost things to their rightful galactic homes. Readers will, I am sure, await the next book in the series.

Alex Bell
 & Tim McDonagh
Chapter book

The Glorious Race of Magical Beasts is an absolutely spellbinding read for anyone who loves adventure, magic and unlikely friendships.

The story begins with Eli, a book-loving introvert, who works at the Royal Library. As the story unveils, we learn that our hero, the unassuming underdog, has more to the eye than it seems.

There is not one page in this story that isn’t filled with the most spectacular imagination! For a start, you can’t help but fall in love with Eli’s sidekick, a moon turtle called Humphrey, who loves nothing more than a poem and an easy life. Needless to say, they embark on an adventure which couldn’t be further from the ordinary. Before they died, Eli’s parents were famous for entering and winning The Race of Magical Beasts, which is renowned for its danger and cunning contestants. After a recent discovery, Eli is left with no choice but to risk everything to enter the race himself and win the iconic prize. Will he be able to show people that a ‘bookish boy with a briefcase can achieve remarkable things’?

Bell’s imagination and incredible story-telling will leave any reader in awe. From fictional characters who have been transported from the pages of books to ships with pulsating tentacles, there is plenty to keep the reader turning pages. I loved every word on every single page, particularly the heart-warming friendships built throughout! This story is a triumph in every sense.

Thought-Provoking Stories for Year 4

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.

Onjali Q. Rauf
 & Pippa Curnick
Chapter book

This is a truly lovely story with themes of refugees and inclusion, pitched just right to build empathy, promote kindness, and encourage readers to challenge stereotypes and question opinions that may not be based on fact. The story is filled with so much warmth and truth, pitched perfectly for stimulating some really great discussions with youngsters.

Ahmet is a refugee, and is given a previously empty seat at the back of the class when he starts a new school. He is befriended by the narrator of the story. Through the story, we learn about Ahmet’s background and the ups and downs of integrating into a new school. Kindness and friendship triumph, and the story develops empathy and encourages human connection. A good story for KS2 children to read and discuss.

 

 

 

Camilla Chester
Chapter book

Leo wants to talk but he can’t. He has all the words but fear means they won’t come out. When Risha moves in next door, he’s worried that when his new friend finds out his secret he’ll be left alone again. But when he learns her secret, he hopes to help her and make her a permanent friend,

This book sensitively explains selective mutism for young (and older) readers. Told beautifully over a hot summer, we are let into the world of a young KS2 boy who is often treated as though he’s not there. He really wants to participate in school activities and make friends, but anxiety stops him. As the story progresses, we’re taken on a journey as Leo takes steps to achieve his future dream of dancing in The Lion King. However, if his selective mutism stops him from dancing in the summer dance show how can he ever dance on the West End Stage?

As readers, children can develop empathy for others who may find it difficult to speak in front of them, and the end of the book gives tips to support classmates. The story explains some of the frustrations that classmates of those with selective mutism might feel, and how to be supportive. It also gives a voice to those who might feel that, particularly in the classroom, they have none.

As a teacher this was an excellent read, giving an insight into how pupils with selective mutism might navigate the world around them and giving tips on how you might support a child in your class to give them the same opportunities as others. It would be great for use in PSHE lessons exploring empathy.

Holly Webb
Chapter book

An animal-themed timeslip adventure that is a proven hit with Year 4 nature lovers.

The story follows Lara, who travels to Scotland to visit her grandparents.  Lara’s mum is poorly and, once there, her Grandad is eager to show Lara a snowy owl that he has spotted, called Sky. The pair bond over enjoying spotting Sky, but magic sets in and Lara is transported back in time to a century ago, when the owls living in the woods needed somebody to step in and protect them against cruelty. This is a wildlife-rescue story that explores tender family themes and is set against a majestic wintry highland setting.

Holly Webb’s animal stories are popular choices with Key Stage 2, and this one will appeal to fans of Michael Morpurgo and Hannah Gold.

Carlie Sorosiak
Chapter book

Shadow Fox is a surreal and unusual tale from Carlie Sorosiak, who has become known for animal-themed middle-grade stories that explore deeper human themes like grief, mental health or loneliness.

Told through the eyes of a female fox, the story takes the reader on an adventure through place to a mysterious island. Unbeknownst to the fox, she possesses magical powers which the islanders hope to tap into. Set in the  Great Lakes in Minnesota and their islands, there is a strong sense of place in the detail within this story; the harshness of the environment is tangible.

Like the author’s previous stories, the magical animal character at the centre is the star of the show and in this story, the fox teams up with a young girl called Beatrice, whose nan has disappeared. I liked the quirky details of the fox’s personality; their love for their cuddly toy and their obsession with socks as well as the additional surreal details of the fox’s ability to conjure up miniature foxes, bean tins and other random objects.

The dream-like action and twists and turns make this story suitable for mature readers who can handle a more challenging narrative structure and are able to suspend their disbelief and run with the story. The fox embodies the magical power of the wilderness and the need to protect nature. The environmental messages behind the narrative aim to raise awareness regarding the fragility of natural resources.


Recommended Funny Books for Year 4

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. 

Chris Callaghan
Chapter book

We love this laugh-out-loud funny book and recommend it for Year 4.

The world faces the terrible prospect of running out of chocolate. A chocolate loving girl called Jelly and her clever gran investigate, foiling a Dahl-esque villain called Garibaldi Chocolati.

This illustrated book is a light-hearted, fun read-aloud with chocolate-related hijinks, characters you’ll love and a mystery that keeps you guessing.

 

Marie Basting
Chapter book

With this brilliant mash-up of LARPing (Live Action Role Play) and ancient history, Marie Basting will have children giggling and learning Latin while they do it! Silvia lives with her Dad in a small cottage by Hadrian’s Wall, where he plans on realising his dream of creating a LARP of epic Roman proportions. The only problem is, as Silvia realises, no one is really going to turn up when he’s not done any advertising. However, when Silvia gets sucked back in time and finds out she is actually one of a large and infamous mythical family, it turns out all of Rome will be coming!

Full of Ancient Roman trivia and Latin asides (with a handy glossary to make sense of them at the end of the book), the story of how Silvia discovers her true demigoddess identity won’t fail to hook in enthusiasts of all things Roman. The plot is fast-paced and contains a particular blend of pre-teen contemporary lingo. For children already familiar with and enjoying a topic on Ancient Rome, it’s a fun read, and may well be a hit with reluctant readers.

If you are looking for a quirky, fun (and just a little bit silly!) addition to classroom shelves for a topic on Ancient Rome then look no further!

Andy Stanton
Chapter book

The Mr Gum books have become absolute classics for children who love funny books and appeal to those with a wacky style of humour.

You’re A Bad Man Mr.Gum is a stonkingly funny read from Andy Stanton, full of pure silliness and with a track record of delighting children aged 7-10. Mr Gum is mean, untidy, grumpy and grizzly, but he is very good at keeping his garden neat. When an excitable giant dog called Jake makes a mess in Mr Gum’s garden, Mr Gum’s mean streak comes out in hilarious and, fairly ineffective, ways.

Children enjoy the randomness of the dialogue, the unpredictable plot, the funny character names and the author’s witty asides. Illustrations capture the madcap tone of the book and add to the fun.

Frank Cottrell Boyce
 & Steven Lenton
Chapter book

It’s show time! Meet Blackpool’s very own Nathan and Middy, together they are The Wonder Brothers! Of course they couldn’t perform their acts without a support team comprising of the steadfast Brodie and his giant white rabbit, Queenie (the real star of the show!). Together the children have spent summer holidays in Blackpool, perfecting the art of magic, but when a legendary magician comes to visit and makes Blackpool’s prominent landmark vanish, they go on a mission to get it back. The Blackpool Tower has disappeared, and when Middy is interviewed by the press she promises that they will return it.

Little did she know that they would end up in Las Vegas, building new tricks, performing street magic, befriending some nuns, eating burgers in an exclusive spa and winning 4.9m dollars! But along the way, the children are guided by a magical code of conduct, channelling their energy into positive outcomes and using their somewhat limited resources effectively. Eventually the police do catch up with them and Captain Jimenez provides part of the narration for the story, because quite frankly he does not believe a word of it.

This is Frank Cottrell-Boyce at his very best. Alongside the glorious illustrations by Steven Lenton, the magic and mystery falls off the pages. The story is fast paced and engaging, with a fantastic cast of characters who will leave even the most sceptical reader wondering just how the tricks are done. Great for Year 4 and up.


Shorter Reads for Year 4

Eve Ainsworth
 & Luna Valentine
Chapter book
A shy but talented footballer navigates challenging friendships and anxiety at school in this touching tale from acclaimed author Eve Ainsworth.Lily always feels a little bit left out. Shy and anxious, she finds school really hard, particularly as most of the other girls all seem so confident. Most of the time, Lily wishes that she could just disappear. But during a game of football in PE, Lily’s teacher spots her natural talent and invites Lily to join the local girls’ team, where she starts to make friends with some of the other players. Finally, she thinks she’s found a place where she fits in, but will a vicious argument with one of her teammates put all her progress in jeopardy?
Serena Patel
 & Louise Forshaw
Chapter book Dyslexia-friendly

Like the rest of the Barrington Stoke series, this short dyslexia-friendly chapter book is accessible but well-written and unpatronising, with black and white illustrations that work well with the lighthearted and relatable tone of the writing.

The story will feel relatable to children who sometimes feel anxiety about tests and is a reassuring read that may help children feel equipped to overcome some of their worries. Arun’s teacher sets a Maths test for the following week. Even though Arun doesn’t usually mind maths, he hates tests and especially the pressure of being under a timer. He tries different ways to get out of the test, from protesting (much to the displeasure of the headteacher) to pretending to be ill, but his teacher sees through Arun’s efforts and moves the test, telling him that turning up and starting the test is the hard part and the rest will be fine. With a little help from a friend who feels the same way, Arun shares his worries and finds the courage to take the test and tackle the challenge head-on

We recommended it as a read for pleasure for children in Year 4 and upwards who are developing reading stamina.

David Long
 & Stefano Tambellini
Non-fiction
The Vikings were a terrifying force that changed history across the globe – from Canada all the way to Iraq. But they were merchants as well as marauders, explorers as well as adventurers. The greatest seafarers and shipbuilders of their age, they were also skilled metalworkers and artists, farmers and fishermen, healers and herders. They were even democrats who established the world’s oldest surviving parliament. Award-winning writer David Long’s concise but wide-ranging account brings their fascinating civilisation into focus, explaining what Viking life was actually like as well as considering their lingering influence throughout the world.

Classic Books for Year 4

C. S. Lewis
 & Pauline Baynes
Chapter book

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the second book in C. S. Lewis’s classic fantasy series, which has been drawing readers of all ages into a magical land with unforgettable characters for over sixty years. This is a stand-alone read, but if you would like to explore more of the Narnian realm, pick up the full series.

The idea that undiscovered magic is on your doorstep, or possibly even in your bedroom, is wonderful. This remains a favourite childhood book and a true classic for children in KS2.

Dick King Smith
Chapter book

A classic children’s book from beloved author Dick King Smith.

There’s something magical and original about this story, in which a girl called Harmony comes to own a magical 50-pence piece that will grant seven wishes. An exciting adventure ensues, with highs and lows that will make the reader feel truly invested in the story, as Harmony has to make choices about what to spend her wishes on and some of them have unforeseen consequences that make the phrase ‘Be careful what you wish for’ ring true.

Readers root for Harmony – who is likeable and relatable – as she deals with the frustrations of family life and learns to stand on her own two feet in facing the aftermath of her independent choices. Harmony’s magic coin helps her to think about appreciating the things that are dear to her and slowing down to consider the consequences of her decisions – both good lessons to learn as children grow up.

We love this charming story, which explores themes of family and responsibility with a sprinkling of thrilling magic realism.

Roald Dahl
 & Quentin Blake
Chapter book

Matilda by Roald Dahl has earned its place as a classic of children’s literature, with the character of Matilda being iconic. The story has seen popularity for decades, boosted by two film versions and a hit musical.

Matilda, who is unusually smart and self-sufficient for her age, is ignored and undervalued at home, and mistreated at times. When she starts school, she befriends a kind teacher called Miss Honey – the first person to ever take the time to appreciate and understand book-loving Matilda. Meanwhile, a cruel and villainous headmistress called Miss Trunchball casts a dark shadow over Matilda’s school. Matilda harnesses her inner powers and with a little help from her friends, begins a revolution that will soon see the children empowered and Miss Trunchbull’s dark regime overturned.

Roald Dahl is the master of creating devious villains and Miss Trunchbull is one of his most memorable, here representing the repressive forces in Matilda’s life that threatened to dampen the lamp of childhood joy. There’s something thrilling in seeing Matilda’s mastery of her telekinetic powers and her quiet ways of outsmarting the adults who wrong her. The edge of magical realism provides balance and comic relief against the more serious aspects of Matilda’s mistreatment.

In true Dahl style, the resolution is happy for the protagonist and the villains get their just desserts.

DK
 & Steve Noon
Non-fiction

This wow-factor history book takes the reader on a 12,000-year journey to find out the story of a single UK street, showing the street during a different historical period on each page. I’m incredibly nosy – I think most young readers are too – and so I love any non-fiction books that explore or peep behind closed doors. A Street Through Time does this in the best possible way and over thousands of years. You can see what people’s kitchens and bedrooms (and loos!) looked like from the Romans to the Victorians (Roman toilets I’d avoid….!). I also love how busy this book is so many brilliant details to explore again and again and how it shows the change in a single place over a long time period.

Mystery and Detective Stories 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.

It’s a full-throttle mystery with likeable characters and a well-paced plot that is especially full of treasures for anyone who loves trains. Even those who are not particularly into trains – like myself – will enjoy the feeling of being immersed in the world of locomotions, and the joy of being on board one came across with such a passion that I think I may have gained a new-found appreciation!

Highly recommended.

Sarah Todd Taylor
Chapter book

Alice Eclair, Spy Extraordinaire will whisk you away on a fabulous adventure, full of daring action and delicious cakes! Baker by day, spy by night – Alice Eclair leads an exciting double life!

Alice Eclair, Spy Extraordinaire is a heroine for modern times and a brilliant role model for young girls. She is strong-willed, determined and resourceful. Yet, she is fallible at the same time. This is part of what makes her so endearing.

Alice is just finding her feet in the spy game and is working hard to gain the respect of her fellow spies and prove herself. And somehow, she does all of this without her mum finding out. Very clever indeed!

Sarah Todd Taylor is a splendid writer with a knack for creating stupendous characters that leave a strong impression on the reader. This is Alice’s second adventure as a spy and we can see how she has developed from the first book. All of the main characters are dynamic, each contributing in their own way to the story. This is an easy-to-read series laced with a good potential for collectability and a super introduction to the detective fiction genre, laced with excitement and enough clues to keep you guessing. I do hope that there will be many more adventures for Alice!

Graphic Novels for Year 4

Jamie Smart
Graphic Novel

The Bunny Vs Monkey series by Jamie Smart has become a popular favourite with children. The stories started as part of the Phoenix Comic and have now been made into a book series of their own. Teachers are seeing what a big hit these funny graphic novels have been in the classroom and the books have also seen success in bestseller lists and book award shortlists.

The stories follow the whacky tales of Bunny and his friends Weenie the Squirrel, Pig (the pig), Action Beaver and Skunky the Inventor, who all lived a peaceful life in the forest until Monkey’s rocket crash-landed and he decided to take over. What follows is a riot of chaotic adventures and mayhem that unfolds through a funny comic strip format.

Aron Nels Steinke
Graphic Novel

We love this good natured graphic novel series!

Brand new teacher Mr Wolf starts his first day at Hazelwood school, teaching a Year 5 class. The fun of animal characters in an instantly familiar classroom setting is an instant appeal – with the warmth of the regular routines of the school day coupled with the funny and unexpected surprises that crop up in normal classrooms too. Fans of Pamela Butchart’s Wigglesbottom Primary series will enjoy moving onto these school-based tales next.

These comic style books are warm and humorous, and an enormous hit with children around 7-10. Primary children looking for graphic novels sometimes need to navigate their choices to avoid books originally aimed at older children (because of the publishing history of the format, which was popular with teens before gradually becoming more accessible to a younger audience – much to our delight!).

We highly recommend Mr Wolf’s Class as a really safe, enjoyable and entertaining choice for KS2 children.

 

Guy Bass
 & Pete Williamson
Graphic Novel

Stitch Head is a loveable little character – almost human – who has been created, and then forgotten, by his master the mad Professor Erasmus Erasmus. When Stitch Head inadvertently saves the professor’s latest monstrous creation (who has one eye, two noses and three ears) and calms him down with an anti-werewolf potion, the monster immediately vows to be Stitch Head’s ‘bestest friend’.

Stitch Head, who has never had a friend before and lives to serve his crazy master, is at first overwhelmed with the idea of friendship but the pair work together to save the town of Grubbers Nubbin and its fearful residents including the spunky Arabella Guff, from the arrival of a mysterious travelling carnival as well as from the mad Professor’s creations. Stitch Head recounts to his new friend how he was made out of leftovers by the professor, many years ago, when he was just a boy. But those idyllic early years ended abruptly when Stitch Head, along with all the boy’s toys, was locked away and the boy was instructed to take over his father’s work. Stitch Head now lives in the shadows, helping the Professor from afar and ensuring that his creations don’t escape, ‘for what humans fear…they will destroy.’

This graphic edition of Guy Bass’s novel will be highly popular with KS2 children. Both the style and the storyline are likely to win over previously reluctant readers; Stich Head has just the right mix of strong storyline and action-packed illustrations. The text, although mainly delivered using speech bubbles, builds a fun, fast-paced coherent narrative and Pete Williamson’s rollicking illustrations lend emotion and detail to the characters in this, the first of six Stitch Head graphic novels.

Joe Todd Stanton
Graphic Novel

Perfect for those who adore adventures, history, mythology or a strong lead female character.

Luna grapples with strange forest creatures, exciting and dangerous challenges, along with a young Atzec girl called Atzi. Following their journey, in which Luna had ulterior motives, she learnt the important moral ‘there were more important things than just looking out for yourself’

This graphic novel style book follows in the format of the other Brownstone’s Mythical Collection and is accessible for even the most reluctant reader; each time the book is read, you can spot a new detail. It is a beautiful book to hold, with its detailed illustrations, it makes you want to dive straight in with the promise of treasure and adventure on the cover.

This book is great to share with primary year groups and recommended for any book corner.

Poetry Collections for Year 4

Fiona Waters
 & Frann Preston-Gannon
Poetry

This beautiful poetry anthology that includes a new nature poem for every day of the year is likely to become a primary classroom essential. The collection of 366 poems (to make sure leap years are covered too!) contains a really interesting mix of poems from well-known favourites from Christina Rossetti and Walter de la Mare to more modern offerings by Benjamin Zephaniah and Carol Ann Duffy, with each poem reflecting the seasonal changes associated with that day’s position in the year. The book is structured into monthly sections and the poems accompanied by beautiful illustrations that celebrate the beauty of the natural world and changing seasons.

AF Harrold,Dom Conlon
 & Korky Paul
Poetry

‘Welcome to Wild Town’ is a quirky and unusual poetry book. Each poem is linked by the idea of a ‘Wild Town’ where animals dominate. There are a variety of formats that support and add to the meanings the poet may have wanted to give and certainly, meanings the reader may choose to give. For example, ‘The Caughtoise’ – the poem about the snail who isn’t having much success at fishing, written in two word lines!

The use repetition and well-known proverbs are all useful starting points and provocations for any budding poet in the class. Some of the poems may catch you by surprise – poems that are steeped in emotion, sandwiched between funny and witty poems that fill the collection. The poem, ‘Wild Garlic’, particularly made me stop and contemplate the unique connection that can be made where there is a shared grief. In contrast, there are other poems that have a wicked sense of fun – the poem ‘To be King’, ending with the tiger becoming King by virtue of eating the other competitors for the job!

AF Harold and Dom Conlon are experts in the unusual with their clever and witty use of language which is sure to engage young readers. This is an interesting addition to any poetry anthology collection.

Recommended Picturebooks Year 4

The Fan Brothers
Picturebook

The Barnabus Project is a unique and beguiling picture book that will intrigue KS2 children, with magical illustrations and an original storyline.

Barnabus lives in a lab for genetically engineered pets, but is left hidden away in a jar as a ‘failed project’. He dreams to escape, and calls on an eclectic group of fellow rejects to put his escape plan into action.

If you are familiar with the work of the incredible Fan brothers, you’ll know to except stunning illustrations with details designed to intrigue, delight and challenge. There’s plenty of peril and suspense in the story, and KS2 children will love getting stuck into this ‘older’ picturebook. Ultimately the messages are of teamwork, acceptance and not giving up on dreams – with scope for some deeper discussions about the ethics of genetic engineering and animal captivity, as well as conversations about celebrating difference.

This stunning book is a Key Stage 2 picturebook must-read.

 

 

Jordan Scott
 & Sydney Smith
Picturebook

Based on the author’s own experiences of having a stutter,  this picturebook story captures the experience of coming to terms with speech disfluency and explores themes of self-acceptance, family support, nature and embracing difference.

It’s a beautiful and empathic book that charts a ‘difficult speech day’, when the narrator feels like his words are stuck. He describes hiding in class, hoping not to be asked a question. Sometimes he chooses not to talk. The boy’s father is beautifully supportive, helping him to find a quiet place and showing him that his speech is like the natural movements of a river – bubbling and churning – but that the river is nothing short of a beautiful display of nature’s power. In the author’s note at the end of the book, the author relates his own experience, writing that ”Stuttering is terrifyingly beautiful”.

The power of the father’s supportive words makes a fantastic impact on the boy, demonstrating the impact of positive support and encouragement for others.

The onomatopoeic free verse depicts the stuttering sensation while the lyrical river descriptions express the freedom of self-acceptance. Meanwhile, the stunning watercolour illustrations swirl with life – with patterns that reflect both the disjointed speech and the powerful, sparkling river.

Recommended Non-Fiction Books for Year 4

Steve Tomecek
 & Marcos Farina
Non-fiction

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.

Each page has simple, eye-catching infographic style illustrations that add to the interest whilst not detracting from the written information. Chunks of boxed up, thematically organised facts and explanations are arranged around the page in an easily navigated format. The writing addresses the reader in the second person ‘Every star that you see with your naked eye’ for example, thus allowing the reader to feel that the author is talking directly to them, which adds a friendly feel to some fairly weighty material.

Aimed at children, Earth is Big makes the mind-blowing scientific study of Earth tangible and relatable. It’s a clever trick to connect new and perhaps complex concepts to experiences and objects that are within children’s knowledge and understanding. Being able to relate and connect abstract to concrete really enhances the accessibility of the information. The vocabulary in Earth is Big does not and cannot shy away from being technical but new language is explained in a friendly style. I particularly liked the Earth is Round page which gave a clear explanation of what it means to be spherical and then provided examples of known and less known objects which are ‘spherical’, ‘almost spherical’ and ‘lumpy and bumpy’!

As a conclusion to the study of Earth, Steve Tomacek adds a poignant message to the reader to remind them that, despite being big, Earth is fragile and in need of our protection.

I 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. A must for classrooms and school libraries.

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.

Hannah Salyer
Non-fiction Picturebook

Ancestory – The mystery and majesty of ancient cave art – is a wonderfully illustrated non-fiction book that brings to life the history of ancient civilisations and cultures through rock art. Not only do the drawings (or time capsules as they are referred to by the author Hannah Salyer) depict how life could have been many, many years ago, Salyer also explores with the reader whether the drawings could have been used for other reasons – for example, to map the stars, tell ancient stories, share important information or show drawings of animals now long extinct.

There are many interesting facts to discover, including the materials that would have been used to create ancient drawings and also the differing locations (for example within caves) these have been found in. In particular, the reference to drawings like these being prominent today in some cultures still or disappearing due to climate change or vandalism are pivotal and tell the ultimate message by the author: we must work together to protect these important pieces of early history and knowledge. To quote the author, “we have roughly only 3% of modern human history recorded in writing.

This book also offers some additional extras that are both informative and enjoyable: a map of rock art sites located around the world; a glossary of key vocabulary to support the reader’s understanding; a timeline; resources for further investigation as well as shares the story of the Lascaux caves in southern France. These pages, amongst others in the book, could be used to inspire some fantastic writing and discussion. This book is a must when launching into the theme of prehistory, with links to the Stone Age and Iron Age topics, or used as the beginning of an experiment linking to rocks in science. Furthermore, it could be used within art for pupils to replicate their own rock art drawings.

Tom Palmer
Non-fiction

The Ultimate Football Heroes books score big with football-loving children in Key Stage 2.  With over 50 books in the collections, these biographies often tell the life story of a famous footballer, covering the journey from each player’s earliest childhood moments to their latest successes on the pitch and beyond.

Some of the books in the series bring together stories from different footballers or teams into one book. This new book by popular children’s author Tom Palmer brings together a hundred key moments from footballing history – from well known moments like the magic of Pele at the World Cup and the more recent Lionesses’ victories to more surprising moments like the significance of the first goal after the end of World War 1.

A winner for football fans!

Brooke Barker
Non-fiction

Have you ever wondered how to pet a yeti crab or whether dogs can tell if you’re smiling? This book answers these questions and so many more that inquisitive minds may be pondering.

‘How do meerkats order pizza? ’is a brilliant book full of funny and fascinating facts about different animals around the world and the scientists who study them. Presented in a fun mix of comic book style images, illustrations, colours and fact boxes, this is a perfect read for any animal fan or science enthusiast. This book provided many giggles and ‘did you know’ conversations after reading.

The colourful map in the opening pages acts as a contents page to help readers navigate their way through the text. With a diverse group of scientists and a multitude of animals covered, this book would complement learning in science lessons. Ideally suited for KS2 children to read independently, the bite-size chunks of text and high ratio of illustrated elements make it an easy read and will appeal to children who don’t enjoy the heavier blocks of text found in many non-fiction books for this age group.

 


Mick Manning,Brita Granstroem
Non-fiction

In ‘Women Who Led the Way’, you are invited into the world of some of the world’s most influential female adventurers. from Iceland to the South Pole, and from the depths of history to outer space, the women of this book have helped to shape the understanding of the universe we have today.

Each double-page spread invites the reader to engage with the explorer through a first-person narrative and, while written in a way which is accessible for younger readers, each is captivating and inspirational. The illustrations give the reader a sense of the intense focus within each of the women depicted, along with contextual clues about the time and place in which the women lived.

On each page is a short paragraph that challenges the reader to learn more about another woman who also led the way in their field or some additional insight into the challenges faced by these phenomenal women.

It is a superb book and would be a perfect addition to a class library, used as part of a topic on famous explorers or famous women in history.

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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 former 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 as boosting language skills, vocabulary and comprehension.

To facilitate the enjoyment of reading, the provision of a wide choice 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 Murray the Viking 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. Try to collect a good mix of animal tales, fantasy adventures, funny stories, comic-style books and illustrated chapter books, which are popular at this age. You should also provide non-fiction texts covering topics of interest like science or history, like a dive into Shackleton’s Journey or the classic favourite A Street Through Time.

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 Y4?

The books on our Y4 booklist feature 50 recommended reads for pleasure for ages 8-9. 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 Bunny Vs Monkey 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 Mr Gum 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 space-themed Interdimensional Explorers 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 Serena Patel’s humorous short chapter book Test Trouble (specially formatted for reluctant and dyslexic readers), Eve Ainsworth’s football-themed Finding Her Feet or get political with the short, illustrated chapter book Keisha Jones Takes on the World. Graphic novels have seen a burst of popularity in Key Stage 2 recently, and we’ve included some suitable Y4 graphic novels like Mr Wolf’s Class and the new graphic novel version of Guy Bass’s popular Stitch Head. For picture books suitable for Year 4, we recommend I Talk Like a River or the thought-provoking The Barnabus Project, which is stunningly illustrated by the Fan Brothers.

If you are looking for classic stories suitable for Year 4 to read, 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 year’s worth of nature poems in I Am the Seed That Grew the Tree or the delightfully imaginative and funny animal-themed poems in Welcome to Wild Town.

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 the large-format inspiring geography book Earth is Big, William Grill’s fascinating illustrated retelling of Shackleton’s Journey or the comic-style How Do Meerkats Order Pizza?, which is packed with animal facts.

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 based on 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 well-being 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 choose 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 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 4 Books PDF

year 4 recommended reads printable poster 2024

 

Printable Checklist – Best Year 4 Books PDF

year 4 recommended reads checklist 2024

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:

Booklists you might also like...

Year 4: 50 Recommended Reads

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Year group(s) the book is most suitable for:

Year group(s) the book is most suitable for:

Does the book contain anything that teachers would wish to know about before recommending in class (strong language, sensitive topics etc.)?

Does the book contain anything that teachers would wish to know about before recommending in class (strong language, sensitive topics etc.)?

Would you recommend the book for use in primary schools?

yes

Curriculum links (if relevant)

Curriculum links (if relevant)

Any other comments

Any other comments