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. Try to collect a good mix of animal tales, fantasy adventures, funny stories, comic-style books and illustrated chapter books, whichare popular at this age. You should also provide non-fiction texts covering topics of interest like science or history, like a deep dive into The Great Barrier Reef 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.
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 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 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 myth collection Greek Heroes. 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 the large format illustrated map book The Big Book of the UK, 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.
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.