Recommended children's booklists sorted by age or topic

Home > Year Group Recommended Reads > Year 5: 50 Recommended Reads

Year 5: 50 Recommended Reads

Icon Award
recommended year 5 books

Best Books for Year 5 (Children Aged 9-10)

NEWLY updated – April 2024!

Looking for the best Year 5 books? Look no further than Our primary school reading experts have selected a list of the top 50 recommended books for children aged 9-10. There are so many books to love on this list, but do keep an eye out for houses that walk, moon miners, boarding schools for criminals and a good old polar bear rescue…

Our Year 5 recommended reading list features a diverse range of books from both classic and contemporary authors, carefully chosen to help develop reading fluency, vocabulary, and critical thinking skills. Our list includes popular Y5 books such as Percy Jackson, The Last Bear and Diary of a Wimpy Kid as well as lesser-known gems that are equally delightful, like Always Clementine and Guy Bass’s robot-themed SCRAP.

Our team of experts at BooksForTopics considers several factors to ensure that our booklist features the most suitable book recommendations for Year 5 children. In addition to evaluating the current popularity of books, we carefully assess each title’s appropriateness for the age group, quality of writing, engaging illustrations, and ability to stimulate imagination and creativity. Our curated booklists are compiled by specialists in children’s literature, and we take pride in presenting a diverse range of voices and catering to different types of readers, ensuring that there is something for everyone.

Our curated reading list is designed to capture the attention of Year 5 children, matching their developmental stages and interests. We have also provided accompanying resources to support parents and teachers, including a printable poster, a downloadable checklist, and the option for schools to purchase full sets of the 50 books through Peters.


year 5 recommended reads printable poster 2024year 5 recommended reads checklist 2024












Browse the Y5 booklist below or scroll down to find more purchasing options and printable resources.

SAVE 20% with Peters

Visit our booklists on Amazon

Support independent bookshops

Favourite Storytime Books for Year 5

Hannah Gold
 & Levi Pinfold
Chapter book

A beautifully heartfelt and moving story with strong environmental themes. This story highlights the topic of global warming but also draws a picture of the wonderful connection that can develop between children and animals.

When April heads to a remote Arctic island with her father, who is there for scientific research, she’s not sure exactly what to expect. The trip to ‘Bear Island’ has the potential to be a very lonely trip – with endless summer Arctic nights, an isolated wilderness and, according to her father, no actual polar bears left on the island for April to spot despite its name.

Surprisingly, April encounters a real polar bear on the island when nobody else is around. Isolated from his family, the bear is starving and alone, with nobody to help him. Over time, a friendship develops and April becomes more determined than ever to save the bear. April knows that she will have to tread carefully to nourish the bear in secret and to navigate the issue of making the adults listen at the right moment. Before long, April realises she is witnessing first-hand the impact of a much bigger global problem. With courage in the face of powerlessness, April embarks upon a quest to get the bear to safety in an adventure that she will never forget.

There’s something magical about this story – from the wonderfully evoked Arctic setting to the glorious friendship that develops between April and the bear. There often seems to be a direct connection and a deep instinct to care that exists between children and the natural world. This connection is highlighted in the story through how April can make a difference in the plight of the bear despite her feeling of powerlessness. Many young readers who do care about climate change will relate to April’s frustration at the inaction of many people, to her sadness at the plight of our precious planet and to her desire to make a difference, even through the smallest of actions.

This is a powerful and important story that will stir the heart through its gently unfolding message that places hope in the hands of the young to make a difference in the planet’s future.

Priscilla Mante
Chapter book

Jaz Santos vs the World is the first in a new series about a girl who gathers an unlikely group of friends together to make their own girls’ football team. This is an inclusive and empowering tale with a real-life feel that will appeal to fans of Cath Howe and Jacqueline Wilson.

Circumstances in Jaz’s life are starting to feel out of control. She has been in trouble at school, kicked out of dance club and is dealing with the growing cracks in her parents’ relationship, culminating in a house fire and her mum eventually moving out. There’s more on her mind too – Jaz loves football and often plays with the boys at lunchtimes, but is excluded from the school team because girls are not allowed to play.

When Jaz finds a leaflet advertising a girls’ football tournament, she seizes the opportunity to take back some control. Thinking carefully about how to sell the idea to her classmates, Jaz pours heart and soul into rallying a team of girls to prepare for the tournament. From fundraising to training, Jaz leaves no stone unturned – with her passionate hopes of proving that girls can be taken seriously in football matched only by her desire to get mum back. Deep down, Jaz wonders whether winning the tournament might magically solve all of the other problems in her life too, but some wise words along the way help Jaz to understand that life’s circumstances do not have to define her, and her own personal successes and failures don’t have to be tied up with the things in life that are simply beyond her control.

With girls’ football growing more popular than ever, this is an empowering book with a dynamic and entertaining main character who shows what can happen when somebody leads the way in a new sporting initiative. The discrimination against Jaz as a girl wanting to be taken seriously in football feels frustrating and unfair, but Jaz is passionate and triumphant to show what can be achieved with a little determination. Some of the other girls have no interest in the sport before Jaz recruits them to the team, but the story shows how beneficial the opportunity to join in is for them in different ways. The author Priscilla Mante says of the book, “Girls’ football and women’s football don’t get the attention they should do and it was really important for me, through Jaz, to challenge the status quo.”

This timely and heart-warming story about teamwork, self-belief and following your passions in the face of life’s ups and downs is likely to score big with readers aged 8-11.

Sophie Anderson
 & Melissa Castrillon & Elisa Paganelli
Chapter book

This is a wildly imaginative and highly unusual story (in the best of ways) brimming with wonder, magic, folklore and compassion. Marinka is a 12-year-old girl who lives with her grandmother, Baba Yaga. Together they live in a house with chicken legs and move around from place to place, fulfilling their role of ‘guardians of the gate’ by guiding the spirits of the deceased through the gateway between life and death. Before the spirits pass through the gate, Baba Yaga listens to their stories and celebrates their life with them. Marinka’s destiny appears to be already decided; she is to train to become a Yaga like her grandmother and this means that she is never allowed to go to school or make friends with the living. Increasingly Marinka realises that she does not want to live the life of a Yaga and begins to take big risks as she experiences a rising desire to make some real friends and sample a ‘normal’ existence. What follows is an emotive coming-of-age story that sees Marinka working to resolve the tensions between her desires and the path she is expected to follow.

Sophie Anderson is a wonderful storyteller and has very skilfully crafted a compelling and believable magical world that is an enchanting amalgamation between traditional and modern. I really enjoyed how, through Marinka’s eyes, I found myself able to explore elements of a Slavic folk story in a fresh and relatable way, and how Anderson’s emotive narrative invites the reader to meet the characters and events with a large amount of compassion.

This is a magical and captivating narrative that dances its way through darkness and light, joy and grief and life and death and it is highly recommended for Years 5 and 6

Joan Aiken
Chapter book

This haunting story has earned its place as a true classic for Year 5.

The story is set in an alternative Victorian England, one where wolves roam freely around the land and are a dangerous threat to humans. Cousins Sylvia and Bonnie are being looked after by a new and highly unpleasant governess called Miss Slighcarp. With dangers at every turn, the girls have to pool their resources and keep their eyes wide open to escape to safety.

Truly exciting with tunnels and old houses and secret places, this classic story book is just as thrilling for today’s children as it was when first published decades ago.

Guy Bass
 & Alessia Trunfio
Chapter book

This is gripping science fiction for a new generation. Guy Bass takes the idea of robots programmed to serve humanity and extrapolates what might happen when some of them revolt. What would be the driving force of a robot society? Would they, could they, ever become indistinguishable from humans?

The action happens on Somewhere 513, a planet prepared for human habitation, but now in the control of robots. Their original Maker is long gone and only her children survive, in hiding, the other humans having fled. So what are Paige and Gnat to do? And how will finding the King of the Robots (K1-NG) help?

Shot through with humour, interspersed with illustrations that could be stills from a film, and brim-full of action, this is a story that zings off the page. I loved the chapter introductions, giving us extracts from ‘Memoir of a Mechanical Major’, or one of the Fargone Corporation’s adverts, or the legally-worded laws (‘suggestions’) governing robot existence. I loved the characterisation too, especially of Mortem the shovel-bot, as well as the way hearts (and cores) are won over, not by force but by kindness and sacrifice. I very much look forward to reading the next instalment and, meantime, will certainly be recommending this to Year 4 upwards.

J.J. Arcanjo
Chapter book
Such a brilliantly clever and unique twist on the boarding school genre, with complex characters and a great plot.

Gabriel has never really felt like he fits in. Abandoned by his parents as a baby, he’s lived with his ‘grandma’ ever since but they have moved house so many times that nowhere really feels like home. Why have they moved house so many times? The answer is that Gabriel has a habit of getting into trouble. Wherever he goes things seem to disappear and he always gets the blame. Until one day, when he picks the pocket of the wrong person (or should that be the right person?) and finds himself enrolled at Crookhaven – a school specifically aimed at honing the skills required of crooks but only so they can use them to put the world right. His lessons include Deception and History of Crookery. He quickly makes friends and throws himself into lessons. But the biggest challenge of the year is the Break-in. The aim? To break into the headteacher’s office and steal something that won’t be missed. Can Gabriel pull it off? And can he do it alone? Also, who are his parents and why did they abandon him?

An exciting start to what promises to be a brilliant series following Gabriel through his years at Crookhaven. The plot is full twists and turns and endearing characters. Just brilliant storytelling – I can’t wait to read the next one.

Popular Illustrated Favourites for Y5

Jeff Kinney
Chapter book

The Wimpy Kid books are well known for turning reluctant readers into book fans, enjoyed for their easy-to-read style, laugh-out-loud humour and integrated cartoon-style illustrations.

​The books follow the ups and downs of middle school life as Greg navigates starting a new school, finding friendships and dealing with bullies.

Neill Cameron
Chapter book

Mega Robot Bros is a long-running comic strip in The Phoenix and the ‘Freddy’ spin-off novels are based on the comic. The format is similar in style to Wimpy Kid and Tom Gates, but with a touch more text, so it’s a nice step forward for children who love the illustrated format and are ready for a slightly more complex story.

You will know a ‘Freddy’ in your class – a boisterous child who hasn’t quite got control of their limbs and personal responsibility yet. A child who always wants to do the right thing, but gets it horribly wrong on a regular basis – and perhaps they’ve got an older sibling who always seems to get it right. Now equip that child with deadly lasers, a jet pack, no sense of danger and some excellent sidekicks and you’d be right in thinking absolute mayhem ensues!

What makes Freddy vs School stand out is that Freddy learns and grows beautifully. He has to work hard to re-establish his friendships after disaster strikes, and to understand other people’s points of view. It’s so deftly done that it doesn’t feel preachy at all. Freddy is a popular choice for children in Years 4, 5 and 6 looking for a hilarious, feel-good read.

Olaf Falafel
Chapter book

Trixie Pickle is an arty ‘sort-of-superhero’ and this is her second adventure (the first being Trixie Pickle, Art Avenger). Trixie and her best friend, Beeks, have a lot going on in their lives. First, there is the latest edition of their comic, Blammo, to work on. Then there are the ‘mean girls’ to avoid or they will cause all sorts of trouble for Trixie and Beeks. There is also a new mystery illness doing the rounds; nicknamed ‘Wormwood fever’, it makes the patient very ill and can be briefly summed up by the words ‘it’s coming out both ends’. Could the mystery illness have anything to do with someone Trixie sees dumping toxic waste in the local reservoir? Who is it and can they be stopped? Trixie has a comic to finish, a mystery to solve and enemies to get revenge on . . . but all in an artistic way of course and with plenty of scope for mishap.

Full of fantastic, detailed fact files of the real artists who inspire Trixie and fully illustrated by the author, it was great to discover some artists I hadn’t been aware of before. This is a fast-paced, funny, fact-filled book which will appeal to art lovers, adventure lovers and humour lovers. It would also lend itself extremely well to a variety of art projects based on the artists featured.

Fantasy Stories for Year 5

Katie Tsang & Kevin Tsang
Chapter book

A dragon-filled adventure and the first book in an exciting new series by Katie and Kevin Tsang, co-authors of the popular Sam Wu books.

12-year-old Billy Chan has been sent from his home in California – where he’d much rather be surfing – to a Chinese Summer Camp deep in the shadows of a mysterious mountain in China. In between learning Mandarin, martial arts and cooking, there are to be team challenges, the first of which takes Billy and his new friends (Charlotte, Ling Fei and Dylan) into an area that is out of bounds. Ling Fei loses her necklace and they are forced to return to the area. When his new friends disappear, Billy bravely enters the mountain to find them, but comes face to face with four dragons! As each of the children forms an unbreakable bond with a dragon, they discover that Ling Fei’s necklace is more than it appears to be and with the power it bestows, along with other magical pearls, the four small humans are tasked to save the whole dragon and human realms!

This was an amazing start to the Dragon Realm series and I was quickly hooked. Filled with legend, magic and, of course, dragons, this would sate any young fantasy lover’s reading appetite. There’s excitement around each corner – from magical objects to out-of-bounds adventuring. I also loved that each of the children was so different, but managed to form a loyal team, exemplifying how you don’t have to be friends with only people who are similar to you.

This is a beguiling start to a promising adventure series, filled with humour, warmth, action and magic.

Radiya Hafiza
 & Kaley McKean
Chapter book

Aya has always loved stars ever since she can remember and is extremely excited when the Perseids meteor shower is supposed to happen right by her house. Aya and her best friend (Naznen) plan to sneak out in the middle of the night to see the meteor shower up close. Their plan is going well but just as they start to enjoy watching the stars, Aya gets struck by a shooting star, and this is where her simple life starts to unravel as she develops special star powers which are beyond her control.

At the yearly royal ball, on a quest to find someone to cure Aya of her powers, Aya and her mother witness the royal family being taken hostage and the evil Abnus takes over the region of Alferra and she is looking for the star’s power with the help of the bhoot monsters. Will Aya be able to defeat the evil and fulfil the prophecy before being consumed by her own powers?

This story takes its origins from Bengali folklore, which shines through in different ways as you read the story. The story is easy to read and very hard to put down as the story starts to unravel and you start to learn the secrets of Alferra and Aya’s family. The story starts to take a dark turn when Aya and Abnus meet up towards the end and the story reaches a dramatic – if a little scary – crescendo that will keep readers hooked.

The book draws on the author’s South Asian cultural heritage, It was enjoyable to read and there are black and white illustrations dotted throughout the pages. Upper Key Stage 2 children will enjoy listening to this as a class reader.

Amy Sparkes & Ben Mantle
Chapter book

A fast-paced, giggle-filled delight, The House at the Edge of Magic is made for sharing.

The story follows the desperate existence of Nine, an Oliver Twist-like character who is orphaned and abandoned. Living in The Nest, Nine must work as a purse-snatcher to please Pockets, the grizzly, revolting, leader of the thieflings. Nine is strong, wilful, resourceful and independent, but above all, she is a child who needs to be loved and deserves to be cared about. The only comfort in Nine’s lonely life is the sanctuary she seeks from the derelict library under of the care of the exasperated librarian, Mr. Downes. Having stolen a mysterious object from a young lady in a scarlet dress, Nine is whisked to a world of quirky houses, frogs’ tongues, relocating toilets and sugar bowls with attitude. It is impossible not to laugh at the crazy antics of the goings-on in the house in which Nine now finds herself.

The characters we meet on this crazy, quirky journey are vivid and surreal. Eric is a troll with a penchant for boiled sweets and who keeps house for Flabberghast – a wizard with a flamboyant dress sense. Only in this house would you think that a kilt-wearing spoon was ‘normal’!

The inhabitants of the house must rid their home of a curse cast by a wicked witch and, with the offer of immeasurable riches as a reward, Nine finds herself determined to help. What follows is a whirlwind of hysterical, action-packed occurrences. Something surprising lurks behind every door. There is a cupboard under the stairs of which I am envious – a locked tea cupboard whose handle magically transforms anyone who touches it and only in the garden of this house would you find giant bats with fizzing, sizzling corrosive poo!

Despite the madcap, zany exploits, there is also a gently beating heart at the centre of this tale. Nine emerges wiser and in some ways richer by the end. She learns that, despite Pockets’ cynical view, life can indeed bring you strawberries and that not all treasures are of the material kind.

Jess French
Chapter book

Kayla, Alethea and Rustus could not be more different and, growing up in different parts of the kingdom, they could not be less likely to meet, let alone become friends. But when circumstance throws them together, their individual quests become entwined and they soon realise that the fate of the whole kingdom could lie with them. Can they overcome the evil upon them or will they fail like others expect them to?

Jess French is a vet, zoologist, entomologist, naturalist and TV presenter. Her knowledge of animals has made her a successful children’s author, producing several books that make understanding animals and the importance of protecting them easily accessible and enjoyable to even the youngest readers. This appears to be a new departure into middle school fantasy writing for French, although her knowledge is still interwoven into the fantasy world.

The text neatly flips per chapter to continue the story from each of the lead character’s perspectives, which works really well and she builds up the story behind each character and what leads them to come together, building tension and the desire to read on. The first half of the book evolved naturally and the second half gallops along to the end point – a springboard to the next novel. The story leads to great discussion points about bullying and family expectations, as well as what it looks like to have preconceived ideas about other cultures.

This story is aimed at an audience of UKS2 with a love of fantasy or animals, who will enjoy the quest and look out for the next one in the series.

Katherine Rundell
Chapter book

As a lover of Katherine Rundell, I had high hopes for this, and dare I say, I think it may be her best yet!

Full of adventure, mythical creatures and character growth, it is perfect for a school library. The story follows a boy’s adventures when he discovers a cluster of magical islands on which all sorts of mythical creatures are really alive. He teams up with a local girl on a magical quest to save the islands.

The two main characters have a lot of grit and their adventure would be appealing to a lot of readers. It is an emotional journey, but one I think children would enjoy.

The world-building is exceptional, with detailed descriptions of the different creatures and exciting descriptions of the places along the journey,  allowing you to picture the settings in your mind. This is the kind of book that feeds children’s imaginations with wonderful and exciting ideas in a way that only the best children’s stories can do.


Popular Independent Reads for Year 5

Rick Riordan
Chapter book

This is a multi-million-selling series that has also been televised with Disney and is hugely popular among fans of action and adventure. Percy Jackson’s modern world is turned upside down when he finds out he is descended from Greek gods. What follows is battles with monsters and epic quests in an action-packed series that merges Greek mythology with the modern world. There are also Teachers’ Notes available to download from the publisher.

Anna James
Chapter book

Here’s one for the booklovers! Pages & Co: Tilly and the Bookwanderers is a middle-grade adventure where classic children’s characters wander from the pages of their books out into a bookshop, where they lead 11-year-old Tilly back into their fictional worlds.

Tilly lives with her grandparents in their bookshop, ‘Pages & Co’. Tilly’s mum mysteriously disappeared when she was very small and she knows very little about her dad. Often lonely, Tilly finds solace among the pages of the wonderful books in the bookshop. One day, things take a thrilling turn when Anne of Green Gables appears in the shop, soon after followed by Alice in Wonderland. Tilly’s world is turned upside down when she realises that not only can characters from the books leave their stories and come into her world, but she can wander right into theirs too. Tilly is a bookwanderer!

Along with her best friend Oskar, Tilly embarks upon a bookwandering adventure beyond her wildest imagination. But among the sheer joy of visiting fictional worlds, questions begin to emerge about bookwandering. Is there a network of other bookwanderers like her? Why is the mysterious Enoch Chalk always loitering nearby? Can bookwandering help Tilly solve the mystery of what really happened to her mother all those years ago? Do her grandparents know more than they have let on about the world of bookwandering?

This is a clever story with a high appeal to booklovers. Readers with prior knowledge of the classic book characters will get the most out of this book, but this is by no means a prerequisite for enjoying the story with its convincing characterisation, creative world-building and enjoyable plot twists and turns.  A delightful story set to charm readers young and old.

Cath Howe
Chapter book

Ella on the Outside is a superbly honest debut from Cath Howe, with authentic characters and important themes of friendship, loyalty, self-acceptance and parental responsibility. For me this was a thoroughly enjoyable read and I’m convinced the characters will resonate strongly with lots of readers in upper KS2.

It’s not easy being the new girl at school and Ella tries her best to fit in, wondering who to be friends with, struggling with the eczema that covers her skin and doing her best to not let on the big family secret that she and her mum are trying to put behind them. When very popular classmate Lydia shows an interest in making friends, Ella is flattered and desperate to please Lydia to gain a place in her inner circle. There is also Ella’s mysteriously quiet classmate Molly, who says very little and who, just like Ella, appears to be harbouring family secrets of her own. As the plot unfolds, Ella is left to navigate through the tribulations of friendships, dealing with adults who don’t always do the right thing and figuring out what the best way to handle big secrets might be.

The narrative voice is hugely relatable and the theme of friendship is addressed with due recognition that sometimes there are no easy answers when it comes to human relationships, but that loyalty, integrity and time investment are important foundations on which good friendships are built. I like the way that the reader is never patronised but instead is taken on a journey with Ella as she works through some tricky situations, trying to figure out the best thing to do. Cath Howe has set this story in an honest reflection of a world in which children and adults alike are flawed and struggle deeply with life’s ups and downs.

As well as the themes of friendship and loyalty, the book also addresses issues of parental responsibility, childhood eczema, mental health and the impact of having an absent parent. This is a gripping and emotive read filled with heart and I recommend it for readers in upper KS2.

Sophie Cleverly
 & Hannah Peck
Chapter book

A Victorian murder mystery that has plenty of twists and turns and is difficult to put down.

All Violet Veil has ever wanted is to be taken seriously and to become an apprentice in her family’s business, Veil and Sons’ Undertakers. Unfortunately, she is denied this opportunity simply because she is a girl. When there is a spate of killings, business appears to be good for Mr Veil. That is, until one rainy night when one of the dead bodies comes back to life! In the undertaker’s back room, Violet meets Oliver, a young boy who lives on the streets, and together they embark on an investigation to solve Oliver’s own ‘murder’. They are accompanied by Violet’s loyal greyhound, Bones, who has an affinity for the graveyard that lies next to the Veil’s house and business. In spite of her parents’ disapproval, plucky Violet vows to solve this mystery and Oliver is allowed to stay. When Violet’s father is later accused of these murders, Violet, Oliver and Bones must uncover the truth once and for all in a bid to save Mr Veil’s life.

This book has a strong female lead with a loveable sidekick. Violet’s headstrong nature and sense that justice must be done make her a character that you can’t help but root for. The story takes its readers along on the journey of the investigation and is nail-biting in places.

A must-read for lovers of detective stories, ghostly tales and historical fiction. There is a sense of dark adventure and foreboding throughout and this makes the spooky nature of the story very appealing. 

Esme Higgs, Jo Cotterill
 & Hannah George
Chapter book

Introducing Summer… a horse-mad girl whose best friend is a horse, she sees in a field on her way to school.

Summer leads a lonely life, having moved home and school, she is struggling to find friends. Until she meets Jessie, who just happens to ride at the riding stables where her favourite horse is. Together Summer and Jessie set about the jobs at the stable but something strange is bubbling under the surface of stable life and it’s the Starlight Stables Gang who are determined to solve the mystery of the missing horse…

The perfect book for a horse-mad child who prefers books with a more mature theme.

Recommended Funny Books for Year 5

Jack Meggitt-Phillips
 & Isabelle Follath
Chapter book

This story is full of fantastical treasures to keep a reader enthralled: a villain in need of redemption, a mischievous girl and an insatiable bone-crunching beast.

Ebenezer Twitch is five hundred and eleven years old. He has reached this astounding age due to an elixir of youth provided to him by a magical beast, which lives on the top floor of his house. Ebenezer adopted the creature when it was tiny and was thrilled to find that it could magically vomit up any item he desired in exchange for food. As the beast grew larger, so did its demands for unusual dishes, until Ebenezer’s reliance on it to continue living causes him to sacrifice some of the world’s rarest (and subsequently extinct) creatures. Now though, the beast wants to eat a child…

A laugh out loud tale with comic and sinister strands that Roald Dahl and Lemony Snicket fans will love.

Nikesh Shukla
 & Rochelle Falconer
Chapter book
A funny and heart-warming story for readers aged 6-9 from award-winning author Nikesh Shukla.Vinay, Musa, Inua and Nish are best friends. Nothing can separate them… until one day when Vinay’s cousin comes to invade his bunk bed haven (i.e. share his room). When a prank war starts, can the friends remember what really matters?Filled with fun illustrations by Rochelle Falconer, The Council of Good Friends is full of both hilarious mayhem and caring moments of friendship.
Helen Rutter
Chapter book

A hilarious book that will have Upper Key Stage 2 readers gripped.

Reggie Houser finds it hard to make friends, and it doesn’t feel very good to be him – the popular kids think he is strange and he thinks the answer is to change himself to be more like them. He thinks that he has found the answer to all of his problems when he discovers that he is able to influence the minds of others (cue some rather amusing antics!) but in doing so, he forgets the importance of knowing his own mind.

This is a sensitive story about the difficulties of dealing with neurodiversity, the importance of remaining true to yourself and the value of real friendship. There are also a few mind-controlling tricks to try at home thrown in for good measure!

This is a cracker of a book that really is difficult to put down.

Thought-Provoking Stories for Year 5

Dan Freedman
 & Kajsa Hallstroem
Chapter book

Lenny Brown is a beautiful, emotionally uplifting and powerful story. It focuses on Lenny who, due to his mum changing jobs, has to move house and school. In the story, Lenny not only navigates the rollercoaster of change that comes with a new school and new friendships but tackles this as a child who only will speak to his mum and his dog, Rocky.

The book is so sensitively written. The characters draw you in and allow you to consider Lenny’s situation and how he decides to overcome his own challenges. It celebrates friendship and tolerance…and football.

It is a wonderful novel and would be perfect for a lower KS2 class reader. Many children will share a class with a child like Lenny or have to face their time at primary school with selective mutism. I am Lenny Brown recognises this group of children and opens the conversation about this condition.

Carlie Sorosiak
Chapter book

Clementine is a mouse, born in a laboratory with her brothers and sisters, genetically altered to be super intelligent. One day, one of the researchers ‘rescues’ her and one of her brothers, leaving them to be looked after by an elderly man and his visiting grandson. The two humans have to think of a plan to keep the mice safe and prevent the lab from taking them back.

Written as letters Clementine sends in her head to the laboratory chimpanzee Rosie, the story gathers pace as Clementine realises what her fate might be if she is returned to the lab.

This is a wonderful book; I could not put it down. It is both an exciting adventure and a plea not to use animals in experiments. With echoes of Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh (Robert C O’Brien) and even the Queen’s Gambit (Walter Tevis), the reader follows Clementine with bated breath and learns that while some humans are very bad indeed, others can be kind and good. This is a heart-warming story, filled with humour and love.

Jenny Pearson
 & Katie Kear
Chapter book

Told with Jenny Pearson’s care and attention to detail, this new story set in Scotland weaves humour through complex themes of grief, friendship and moving on from things lost to the past.

When Benji and Stanley’s parents go missing at sea, they have to go and live with their Uncle Hamish, whom they have never met. Uncle Hamish lives with his dog, Mr Dog, on the shores of Loch Lochy and Benji soon realises that all is not ok for Uncle Hamish. When he meets local girl Murdy, Benji sets out to prove that the Loch Lochy Monster is real, so that tourists will come back to Loch Lochy once more.

There are lots of laughs in this story, mainly around Benji and Murdy’s attempts to capture an image of the Loch Lochy Monster. Their friendship is a strong focus, particularly Murdy’s support for Benji after what he has been through, along with their relationship with Mr Dog, who also provides the emotional support that pets are sometimes able to do in their own special way.

Sitting alongside the humour there are darker undertones that provide depth and complexity to the narrative. On the surface, Benji is a fun-loving boy who wants to help Uncle Hamish’s business to survive. But underneath, has he really come to terms with the loss of his parents? His brother, Stanley, is facing his own battles – he was on the boat when it capsized and his parents went missing. Uncle Hamish is facing the loss of his business, which has been in the family for years. Murdy is the target of local bullies. Yet this is a story with a lot of heart and, ultimately, with messages of hope.


Adventure Books for Year 5

Vashti Hardy
Chapter book

Brightstorm is a cracking adventure story with flying ships, intrepid explorers, identity quests, sapient animals and the most wonderful cast of characters.

This thrilling steampunk adventure follows siblings Arthur and Maudie Brightstorm as they try to find out what happened to their explorer father. Arthur, who has a prosthetic iron right arm, is a great problem solver and book lover, while his sister is good at fixing things. When they learn about a race to South Polaris, where their father was lost, they win a place onboard the Aurora, a fantastic sky-ship. Maudie’s talent with tools see her appointed as second engineer. Arthur is hired as cook’s assistant.

On board Arthur adapts to draining tasks, although his iron arm is heavy and can cause him pain, while also learning new skills – making marsh cakes and communicating with thought wolves!

Stories about explorers and expeditions are always popular in primary classrooms and this one, with its fresh take on the adventure quest and its convincing world-building, is sure to fire up imaginations and become a firm favourite with budding adventurers across KS2.

Natasha Farrant
Chapter book

Bea and Raffy have lived at Ravenwood almost all their lives and for them, it’s not just a place – it’s like they’re ‘made of’ it. For their new friend, Noa, it’s a welcome refuge from turbulence at home. Between them, they are looking forward to a perfect Ravenwood summer when, without warning, it seems they will lose Ravenwood and all it stands for. Is there anything that children can do to change the ways of the world?

Each child in their own way, makes a choice: to fight for what is precious. Feisty Bea stows away on a train across Europe; gentle Raffy learns to find his inner courage while Noa doggedly works out who started the fire that made everything worse.

This book has the feel of a classic children’s story of friendship, courage and refusing to give up. It captures the idealism and excitement of childhood in an exquisitely crafted story that is a perfect mixture of classic and modern. The plot itself follows an appealingly familiar pattern, but the main characters, their inner thoughts and uncertainties reflect contemporary concerns about environmental protection, homelessness and the problems caused by family breakdown. Subtly the reader is asked to consider deep questions. Is it selfish to fight for your own home when so many in the world are displaced? How hard is it worth fighting for an ash tree, a nuthatch or a newt? (Should you not know your newt from your nuthatch, the lovely endpapers illustrate them for you). How can you find forgiveness for parents who have let you down?

If used as a class read, it could provoke many important discussions and yet it never feels preachy. It’s both full of hope and a joyously immersive read – pure delight, in fact, that is perfect to share with Upper KS2.

Chris Bradford
 & Charlotte Grange
Chapter book Dyslexia-friendly

This book is an action-packed sci-fi survival story where a young reader can step into the shoes of the central character, aptly named Luna.

When events take a turn for the worse, she is the only person left stranded on the moon’s surface. Tension builds as she faces challenges in harsh conditions and with dwindling supplies, it is a race against time to somehow escape before night draws in. The story is told through Luna’s eyes which immediately hooks the reader in; making them feel part of the action as it unfolds. Despite her age, she has many responsibilities while living on the moon with her father (a Moon Miner). She has undertaken intensive training – which comes in handy later in the book! A meteorite warning threatens the safety of the team and in a rush to evacuate, Luna is separated from everyone. In a mission to reach the far side of the moon, she must use her scientific knowledge to solve a range of problems in the hope that she will be reunited with her father.

The gripping moments and dilemmas, including the risk of running out of oxygen, keep the reader on the edge of their seat as they take the journey with her. The quick-witted comments from Luna are a fun aspect and many children, including reluctant Upper KS2 readers, will enjoy this humorous aspect of the book; particularly the mention of nappies and exploding eyeballs! Sci-fi enthusiasts and those interested in Earth and Space will enjoy the scientific details mentioned throughout.

As a short, dyslsexia-friendly chapter book with tinted pages, spaced text and comic book-style illustrations, it is ideal to engage children who may need a little encouragement and support to build fluency.

Marcus Rashford & Alex Falase-Koya
 & Marta Kissi
Chapter book

This story was partially inspired by footballer Marcus Rashford’s own experiences growing up and is written with children’s author Alex Falase-Koya. Marcus remembers the breakfast clubs he attended growing up, and said “Breakfast Club guaranteed I had the best possible start to my day and welcomed me with open arms. It wasn’t just about food. It was about forming friendships, about togetherness, about escape. It was where some of my greatest memories were made.” This fiction book pays homage to the role breakfast club played in his upbringing.

In the story, Marcus attends Breakfast Club along with his football-loving friends. Since he lost his lucky football over the fence, his magic touch is gone and he’s lost his enthusiasm a bit. Everybody knows that he won’t get the football back because the other side of the fence is a no-go zone with a derelict, abandoned building. Before he knows it, Marcus ends up swept up on an adventure with the Breakfast Club Investigators involving a mysterious note, a strange creature and a deep dive into what really lurks beyond the fence.

This fun, pacey adventure full of twists and turns is a big hit with Key Stage 2.

Historical Fiction Books for Year 5

Tom Palmer
Chapter book Dyslexia-friendly

This well-researched and highly readable historical fiction book takes its title from the name of the medal that honours the Arctic Convoys during World War II and in recognition of the particularly harsh conditions they endured.  It was the winner of the BooksForTopics Book of the Year Award for Best Curriculum Support.

Tom Palmer has taken facts gathered from the Imperial War Museum, among other sources, to compose a gripping fictional story about three teenage Royal Navy recruits from Plymouth: Frank, Stephen and Joseph. Their resilience, fortitude and courage shine as brightly as the Arctic (North) Star against the surrounding darkness. Their very survival, both physical and mental, is threatened by constant attacks from German U-boats, submarines, planes and, most terrifying of all, the German battleship known as the Scharnhorst – not to mention freezing conditions, fierce storms, shattered dreams and rocky relationships. How will they pull through? Indeed, will they?

The life-and-death struggle is played out until the very last page, but it was no game for those who lived the adventure back in the 1940s – that much is clear. It is also very clear how much the author respects those who served and how determined he is to portray accurately their service to the nation. He has done so with huge success.

This book, with its concluding Author’s Note together with the accompanying online teaching notes available from Tom Palmer’s website, provides an exciting and informative classroom resource for the teaching of WWII as a curriculum topic, besides being a book many children will choose for the sheer enjoyment of reading. A thoroughly recommended read, just like Tom Palmer’s other well-researched and highly readable novels.

Emma Carroll
Chapter book

When I first heard that Emma Carroll was writing a book about the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, I was excited for several reasons. One was that Emma is so adept at writing historical fiction that is relevant and uncompromisingly interesting to children, with her last book, Letters to a Lighthouse proving to be a resounding hit with readers in KS2. Another reason was that I am often asked for recommendations of books to link with the Egyptians topic and while there are some quality choices for Year 3 and 4, there seems to be much less available that is well suited to upper KS2.

Emma Carroll never disappoints and this story was, in my opinion, her best one yet. Filled with historical intrigue, intelligently drawn characters and Emma’s trademark style of controlled, gripping narrative, this is a story I will be recommending far and wide.

The story is set in 1922 around the time that Howard Carter famously excavated Tutankhamun’s tomb. The First World War was over but many people in Britain still felt the heavy cost; soldiers were returning with incomprehensible physical and emotional wounds and many women were trying to figure out a rebalanced family dynamic after stepping into traditionally male jobs. Thirteen-year-old Lilian Kaye enjoys following the newspaper reports about Howard Carter’s progress and feels especially drawn to the story since her elderly grandfather used to be an Egyptologist. Although Grandad is now unwell, the Egypt news story helps Lilian to feel close to him. When a mystery parcel appears for her grandad, Lilian is excited and unnerved to find it has come from a famous Egyptologist who happened to be found dead the same morning. The parcel generates more questions than Lilian is able to answer, even with her trips to the Egyptian exhibits at the British Museum. When Lilian makes a new friend at the museum, an opportunity soon arises to join a voyage to Egypt. What follows is an exciting adventure that will take Lilian to the very heart of Howard Carter’s fascinating discoveries.

Woven into Lilian’s story are letters from Ancient Egyptian times, detailing the last days of the young sun king and his closest friends. What these accounts demonstrate so powerfully is that behind the tomb’s impressive hoards of gold that caught the eyes of the watching world, there lie true stories of humanity and vulnerability. Much like the tomb’s treasures, there is a strong sense that these stories from the past should only fall into the hands of people willing to treat them responsibly and act with due respect to the original owners.

Rich in historical details and moving at a pleasing pace, this is a gripping story with plenty of mystery to get stuck into. The characters are convincing, each with well-developed complexities that explain their motives and behaviours. Dynamics of race and gender are explored compassionately and this aspect of the book has the potential to lead to some promising discussions in the classroom.

Secrets of a Sun King is a highly recommended addition to primary school libraries and one that is likely to be snapped off the shelves as soon as it arrives!

Richard O'Neill
Chapter book

A thoroughly enjoyable read set in 19th-century Sheffield. This book tells the story of Lijah –  a Romani boy living in a Traveller camp. Lijah enjoys collecting scrap with his dad and brother, travelling on the cart and listening to his dad’s stories by the fire.

One day, visitors from the Sheffield census come around and decree that Lijah has to start going to school. At first, he struggles with reading and writing and faces prejudice when some of the other children call him ‘gypsy’ or ‘tramp’, he soon discovers a fascination for a new game called football and finds a way to join in with the other boys.

Back home, Lijah’s dad is not happy about Lijah playing football, calling it a dinlo (foolish) game. His dad instructs Lijah not to play, but does accept a gift of a football for Lijah in order to make a good connection with a local businessman called Jack Davis. Over time, Jack bonds with Lijah over his passion for football and tells him about a famous Romani player called Rab Howell. Can Lijah follow in his new hero’s footsteps while still staying true to his roots and keeping peace with his dad?

Written by a Romani author, this quick and compelling read deals with big themes of heritage, family, changing times and prejudice in sport. As the author explains in his note to preface the story, “If you come from a marginalised community, you often have a number of challenges to overcome. Or to use a football analogy: you’re starting the game a couple of goals down.”   Near the end of the story, Lijah comes to the realisation that his upbringing has become an asset and instrumental to his talent, despite the prejudice he will no doubt encounter.

The story provides an original new angle into the stream of football storybooks available and it was interesting to consider the time when professional football was first becoming popular and the legacy of Sheffield in football history, as well as to learn about Rab Howell. Many young readers will relate to the difficulty Lijah encounters balancing cultural traditions with modern life, as well as the tensions between family expectations and following one’s own passions.

Ally Sherrick
Chapter book

Utterly compelling, totally immersive, and completely inspired, Ally Sherrick’s latest historical novel is unputdownable. Set in Britain under Roman occupation, the story stars Vita, the daughter of a Roman magistrate. When tragedy strikes her family, she is confronted with a different world to the one she has known, as she experiences what life is like for those who are conquered, rather than the conquerors.

As Vita struggles to solve the mystery of who murdered her father, she must also decide where her allegiances lie. Through her journey, she discovers that people – like Brea, her gladiator friend – are not always what they seem at first and that there is often more that unites us with than divides us from our enemies.

Vita is a very relatable protagonist; honest about her fears and confusion, yet brave and fiery in moments of crisis. Young readers who are aspiring writers will also enjoy the fact that Vita’s passion is for stories – both hearing them and creating them – and that this is a central theme running through the novel.

‘Vita and the Gladiator’ is a perfect book to complement a study of Roman Britain for stronger readers in KS2, exposing them to a thrilling and gripping taste of what life under occupation might have been like. Pupils will recognize and enjoy the depiction of the gladiator arena, as well as the references to Boudica and her revolt against the empire. All in all, this read is highly recommended.

Graphic Novels for Year 5

Aoife Dooley
Graphic Novel

This graphic novel follows the story of Frankie and offers readers a delightful blend of humour, relatability, and empathy. Drawn from the author’s own life experiences, this is told from the perspective of Frankie, a girl with autism. Frankie tackles bullies, discovers her strengths, and gains a deeper understanding of herself.

Readers will cheer Frankie on in this wonderful graphic novel of growth and self-discovery illustrated in bright oranges and blues.

Cece Bell
Graphic Novel

We adore this moving graphic novel memoir about deafness by Cece Bell.

Cece Bell retells her memories of being a young child, when she experienced hearing loss after being ill with meningitis. In this graphic novel retelling of her life, characters are redrawn as charming anthropomorphic bunnies – although, after a few pages, you forget that they are not just people. Despite the challenges of her condition, Cece approaches life with positivity and bounce.  A throwaway comment by another child called her ‘El Deafo’ sparks the creation of a fun alter-ego, empowering her to think like a superhero would about her hearing aid (which she sees as cool gadgets that give her extra powers). Other themes covered in the story include friendship, moving class and celebrating differences.

Readers will whizz through this thought-provoking and unique graphic novel.  There’s also an author note that gives a little more background about Cece Bell’s life.

Dan Sentat
Graphic Novel

A 245-page graphic novel by Caldecott Medal winner and New York Times bestselling author-illustrator Dan Santat. Sophia’s father, a marine biologist, was lost at sea when his research vessel sank. At the mercy of investors, the ‘Aqualand’ marine reserve he founded to protect sea life and continue their research is getting slowly but surely turned into a money-making theme park. One day, a strange being in an old fashioned diving suit emerges from the ocean searching for ‘Aqualand’. When they meet Sophia there, it is revealed that the suit is piloted by four friends from the ocean who, having found her father’s journal near his shipwrecked vessel, are wowed by the promise of a safe haven where they can be protected from the dangers of the ocean. Sophia becomes firm friends with these brave little creatures, and in their humorous adventures not only do they help Sophia with her science project, but together they save ‘Aqualand’ and make it into the haven it was always supposed to be.

Victoria Jamieson
Graphic Novel

An enjoyable graphic novel recommended for Year 5 and Year 6.

This graphic novel oozes individuality. It’s the story of Astrid, a middle-grade girl on the cusp of adolescence and coping with all the problems that come pre-prescribed. Roller Girl packs much in: friendship, mother/daughter relationships, being yourself and self-belief (also hair-dye), all under the backdrop of roller derby (to say it’s a sport not for the faint-hearted is an understatement)!


Picturebooks for Year 5

Helen Ward

Varmints is an intriguing and mysterious picture book, with an environmental theme, and images that play with concepts of light and dark. This is not a story to enjoy in the traditional storytime sense, but an intriguing picturebook to offer reward to those willing to ponder over, consider and reflect upon the multi-layered offerings on each page. The ideal age of the audience for this book is Upper Key Stage 2 children.

A once peaceful place becomes darker when varmints turn up. They destroy the bees and plants and bring with them grey buildings and too much noise to think. Peace and tranquillity become lost – as does thinking – and the environment gets darker and more ominous with each page turn. Some of the images are stark and haunting – almost cinematic at times. In one tiny moment, a creature restores hope by nurturing a pocket of wildlife and a little bit of wilderness grows once again.

Susan Hood
 & Sally Wern Comport

Every now and then you find a picture book that is so much more than just a book with pictures. This is one of those books, telling the true story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay through words and quite breathtaking illustrations. This book is complex enough for older children and deals with extreme poverty as well as the joy of music while the pictures, showing both light and shade, stay in the mind long after reading. The faces of the children linger; the contrasts of colour making everything vivid and snatching you into the book, giving the reader the tiniest glimpse of what life is like in one of the poorest slums on Earth. The problem is solved with the use of rubbish, turning something that is clearly blighting their lives into something of huge benefit. The reader is left with a sense of the enormous ingenuity that must have gone on to recreate the instruments the children needed to play. The very end of the book takes you into reality as the author explains the true story and there is even a photo of the children with their instruments.

This is a remarkable book because it has the scope to be used as the basis for so much different work in schools. The story alone is unusual, the illustrations show notable use of colour and shade. The topic of the book could be used in music or Geography, or recycling topics. I’d never heard of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay before, but this book has made me glad to learn that such a wonderful organisation exists.

Kate Winter

The Fossil Hunter by Kate Winter is a gem of a book. It is a splendid addition for any child learning about Mary Anning, fossils, dinosaurs and what life was like for a working-class woman 200 years ago. The book is hardback, large and begins with a timeline of Mary Anning’s life with page numbers corresponding to different eras.

This eye-catching book is full of facts and perfect to dip into or read altogether. Topics are highlighted such as the challenge of being a woman, where recognition for scientific discovery did not happen and the unfairness of this, and why her story is important. Text is broken up into sections; there are very few large sections of text and is therefore inclusive for all types of readers. The glossary at the end of the book is accessible and interesting. Every page has watercolour illustrations which can spread across whole pages and there are beautiful panoramic fold-out pages where you find out more facts about fossils, dinosaurs or a look into Mary’s cabinet.

This is a great book to share with children (or any age!) about the inspirational Mary Anning and highly recommendable.

Recommended Poetry for Year 5

Various authors
 & Various illustrators

Many classrooms have poetry book with the classics – which are fabulous – but this collection really celebrates modern, diverse poets and their poetry.

The poems in this book will directly relate to children’s experiences of life and the emotions they will have felt. Some poems tackle more challenging emotions that arise from bullying or sadness and one poem tackles an often unspoken emotion – embarrassment. Some of these poems may need to be introduced sensitively, but the language and range of poetry styles make them accessible to explore as well as providing useful springboards for the discussion of feelings.

Some of the poems lend themselves to being spoken out loud and poems such as ‘Stomp’ and ‘It’s like this’ in the collection almost demand performance. Others are well suited to quiet reflection. The poems are written by a wide and diverse range of poets and this collection makes it a good introduction to some of the great children’s poets of today.

At the back of the book, there are photographs and short biographies of each of the poets. What this makes explicit for children is the diversity of poets as well as their achievements. Many of the poems would work well as models for children’s own poetry writing, with clear patterns that could be followed. For example, the first poem ‘If you could see laughter’ asks us to see laughter as a colour and something we can visualise. Each poem is illustrated in a different style and children could easily identify their favourite illustration. This is a great collection for any classroom.

Joshua Seigal

Popular children’s poet Joshua Seigal brings a brilliant new book of entertaining poems, offering a great selection of poems to make you laugh, make you think or just let you enjoy for the sheer delight of it.

Using challenging vocabulary and a range of poetry styles, these short poems are perfect for children who like a giggle without having to look too hard to find one. Seigal writes about a range of relatable topics from school to friendships, about pets and even their fleas. The collection will fly off the classroom bookshelf in KS2 and is perfect for dipping in and out of during independent reading time or for teachers to read aloud to a class during spare moments of the day.

With such a range of fun poems, there are lots of opportunities to look at different forms of poetry, playing with words and experimenting with rhyme.

Joseph Coelho
 & Freya Hartas
Chapter book Poetry

We love a fairy tale with a twist and so eagerly welcomed the arrival of this new illustrated middle-grade series from poet Joseph Coelho and Freya Hartas, with this first instalment placing a deviously dark twist on the Rumpelstiltskin – told in verse.

Coelho’s treatment of the story – which adds a Frankenstein twist to a traditional tale – is as delightfully amusing as it is deliciously dark. After years of Disneyfication and a ‘softening up’ of well-known fairy tales for a generation who often find their stories served up with a little more happily-ever-after and a little less goriness, Coehlo’s series takes a direct step in the colder and creepier direction that you might expect from Roald Dahl’s fairy tales or the original Grimm stories.

There’s plenty to shock and also an enjoyable streak of dark humour and plenty of wit in both the author’s free verse and Freya Hartas’ stylishly expressive black and white illustrations.

Recommended Non-Fiction Books for Year 5

Kate Hale
 & Andy Smith

A fun non-fiction book with a difference.

Choose your own path through this hilarious world of 400 facts, all of which are verified by Encyclopaedia Britannica. Every fact in the book is connected to the next in an ingenious trail of information – making it a kind of ‘choose your own adventure’ of the fact world.

From the attention-grabbing orange cover to the final record-breaking endings, this book is a winner. It has an index, it has sources, it has picture credits, it has information about the author, illustrator and designer, and it has a content page. But more, much more than these useful additions, it has facts, 400+ of them, presented so that readers can choose their own way through the book on the basis of what intrigues them most…

Loads of fun!

Michael Holland
 & Philip Giordano

Flying Eye has built a reputation for publishing high-quality non-fiction for children and I Ate Sunshine For Breakfast is no exception. Its subtitle – A Celebration of Plants Around the World – is fitting, as the whole book bursts with colour, information and adoration.

The book is split into four main parts: All About Plants, World of Plants, From Breakfast Until Bedtime and The Power of Plants. Sections within these parts range from covering large concepts such as plants’ roles in food chains and food webs down to the interesting details about how plants help us look after our teeth. There are various “DIY” investigations and experiments to try such as making invisible ink and creating bottle gardens. The book is visually stunning throughout and playfully illustrated as a flying insect pops up frequently to guide us through it all. I Ate Sunshine For Breakfast strikes a great balance between the everyday uses and marvels of plants and the science within this. Each page serves to remind the reader of the wonder of plants which is all around us.

The page layout is such that each section is presented as a double-page spread and this would be particularly useful in schools. It would be very easy to base some great reading lessons around these spreads and, because plants play such a large role in so many things, teachers could link it to many areas of the curriculum if they wanted. There is, for example, a section on how various world flags use plants as symbols and a different one on their role in musical instruments. All this before the more obvious pages you would expect such as pollination and seed dispersal. Plants play a large role in the primary Science curriculum and so this book really is a gem that could be dipped into again and again in KS2.

Matt Ralphs
 & Dieter Braun

This is an all-encompassing review of aviation history with beautiful illustrations, making it attractive to all ages in primary (and beyond!).

It can be read as a whole, but each double-page spread also stands independently, making it easy to apply the book to various related topics, particularly World War 2. The writing style is detailed but accessible, with a glossary for the more challenging technical vocabulary.

This book is essential for an aviation topic and a brilliant addition to the school library. There’s enough detail to satisfy those who are already interested in the topics covered and the broad range will spark new interests across topics in science, engineering and history. The book includes some references to air disasters, including the Hindenburg and Concorde, and discusses the deaths in crashes of several aviation pioneers, making it more suitable for older KS2 readers.

The balance between science and history is handled particularly well, placing exciting aviation developments in context. This would be ideal for an upper KS2 class and many sections are also accessible to younger readers due to plentiful illustrations and concise explanations.

Alastair Humphreys
 & Pola Mai
Non-fiction Short story collection

This magnificent book is utterly absorbing and jam packed with extraordinary, inspirational figures who have shown courage, self-belief, curiosity, determination and a sense of humour in the face of adversity. The graphic style is both engaging and accessible, with comic strip illustrations, maps, quotes, diary extracts and timelines drawing the eye and leading the storytelling.

Adventurer and author, Alistair Humphreys, not only opens the book with his thoughts on adventure and what success means when facing setbacks, but also comments on each of the 20 figures chosen explaining which of their many qualities have inspired him personally.

We liked the diversity of the adventurers chosen – figures from all around the world, with some well-known figures such as Matthew Henson, to lesser-recognised adventurers such as Juanita Harrison. It shows those who have overcome setbacks whilst on their adventures and those facing adversity even before adventure has begun, due to prejudice and discrimination.

Importantly, Humphreys recognises there are still many voices not heard or omitted from history and reminds the reader to remember these and seek them out where possible for their own inspiration.

Bill Bryson
 & Emma Young

This is a book jam-packed full of scientific fact and fascinating, often amusing detail. It is presented in an appealing way with ‘bubbles’ of information spread across each page so that the reader does not feel overwhelmed with the amount of content squeezed onto every page.

Bill Bryson’s chatty, informal tone enables new concepts to be accessible as he takes the reader on an enthralling journey around the human body. Starting small with information about cells and DNA, we then journey through the body starting at the head, stopping off for a look at the senses and then travelling inside to explore the internal organs. Kids will love the page about poo and wind!

All topics are covered, including puberty and death- in an honest but approachable style. As well as scientific facts, there are nuggets of historical anecdotes which add interest, amusement and amazement. Who knew that Chevalier Jackson collected things that had been swallowed – a collection that included a toy trumpet, a meat skewer and miniature binoculars?

This is a book that covers every aspect of the human body; it uses comparative facts to allow readers to fully appreciate the scale – a pair of lungs would cover a tennis court if they were smoothed out. The illustrations are eye-catching and add interest whilst not being overly technical. It is great to see a diverse representation of scientists .This is the sort of book that kids will dip in and out of; it will inform curious minds, help with homework, provide amusement and add a sense of awe around the fascination topic of the human body. A must for the school library!

Rob Wilsher
 & Sophie Williams

Stones and Bones: Fossils and the Stories They Tell is a captivating non-fiction text, perfect for independent readers in UKS2. Its curriculum links to rocks and soils and the Stone Age makes it a good text for teachers or parents to read aloud to younger readers.

Stones and Bones is like having a friendly guide to show you around Earth’s past. You’ll learn how fossils are made and what life was like during different periods of history. Each page is full of exciting discoveries waiting to be uncovered. It is full of stunning illustrations, accessible language and rich content, making it sure to ignite a spark of curiosity for Natural History.

With amazing pictures that make dinosaurs and ancient worlds come alive, this book is packed with fun facts and cool stories.

Dr Sheila Kanani

Have you ever wondered why frogs are green? Or if the sun is really yellow? Or maybe why the sea is blue? Well, this colourful science compendium suitable for KS2 may hold the answers!

Written by author and astronomer, Dr Sheila Kanani, this fascinating book starts by explaining what colour is and how we see it, before taking us on a journey of big colour questions. Each section is based on a colour of the rainbow (plus some added extras ‘beyond the rainbow’ such as black, white and fluorescent colours) and, after an introduction to that colour, asks five colour-based questions. Red, for example, explores why blood is red, why Mars is known as the red planet, why flamingos are pink, why some monkeys have red bottoms and why hippo’s sweat is red.

Each question is explained clearly, with lots of added information and ‘did you know’ sections to keep the reader engaged. This all leads to the big question of the book: Can you Get Rainbows in Space? As well as being a captivating read, it is the design, layout and illustrations that will get children picking up the book and delving in.

Unsurprisingly, in a book about colour, every spread is full of glorious images that celebrate each colour in turn. A feast for the eyes as well as the mind, I would highly recommend this engaging text for bookshelves in every school library.

SAVE 20% with Peters

Visit our booklists on Amazon

Support independent bookshops

Guidance: About the Year 5 Booklist

Should Year 5 children read for pleasure?

Reading for pleasure is a very important part of children’s academic and personal development in Year 5. Research on children’s reading for pleasure shows that children who choose to read for enjoyment are more likely to achieve higher academic outcomes, have improved mental health and gain economic success later in life. What’s more, when children choose to open a book to read, they discover new worlds beyond their own experiences, learn about different people and develop critical thinking and crucial empathy skills, as well as gain advanced language and vocabulary skills.

Whether it’s illustrated favourites Trixie Pickle or Freddy and the New Kid, or gripping adventure stories like The Rescue of Ravenwood and Brightstorm, reading for pleasure in Y5 generates oodles of benefits for children. Getting this age group into reading is most successfully achieved when a wide range of appealing and age-appropriate books are available.

What books do 9 and 10 year olds like to read?

Getting the right book into the right child’s hands at the right time is key to sparking a love of reading. At the ages of 9 and 10, most children can usually read longer chapter books and handle stories with increasing complexity of themes, although illustrated formats remain very popular reading choices through Y5.

Popular with keener readers in this age group are thought-provoking books about relevant social issues, like The Last Bear with themes of environmental sustainability or Frankie’s World – a story about neurodiversity and parental separation.

Also popular hits with 9 and 10 year olds are books with highly illustrated elements. Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a well-known favourite, and for more stories with a high image-to-text ratio, we recommend Year 5 children try mayhem-filled The Council of Good Friends, Dan Freedman’s I Am Lenny Brown or Neill Cameron’s comic-inspired Freddy series.

Children in Year 5 are often seen reaching for fantasy stories like Dragon Mountain and Percy Jackson. You’ll also see flying off the Y5 bookshelves laugh-out-loud funny books – the dark humour in The Beast and the Bethany is sure to hook some of your Y5 readers, or try Helen Rutter’s Reggie Houser Has the Power for a more uplifting style of comedy. Also popular with Year 5 are graphic novels, poetry anthologies and non-fiction books on topics of interest, like space or sport.

As well as having a wide range of styles and formats to choose from for independent reading, an essential ingredient in developing a lifelong love of books at this age is when adults protect shared reading experiences and continue to read aloud at storytime well beyond the age that children can read for themselves. We recommend that teachers and parents keep shared storytime alive all through Year 5 and beyond. Some books are extremely well suited for being read aloud – try Brightstorm or The House with Chicken Legs for books with a real storytelling quality.

Which books are recommended for Year 5?

The books on our Y5 booklist feature 50 recommended reads for pleasure in Year 5. Some of the books in the collection are picked especially for readers who appreciate a high image-to-text ratio, like the hugely popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid series or the information-packed Factopia, which features bitesize chunks of fun and interesting facts among illustrations and photographs. Graphic novels are also popular with many children in Year 5, and we recommend trying El Deafo or Roller Girl.

Many children at this age start to enjoy stories that encourage thinking and discussion around social issues. Hannah Gold’s The Last Bear is a beautiful story that highlights the plight of polar bears affected by global warming, and Always Clementine is a gripping and deep read that explores the ethics of using animals in scientific research. 

Historical fiction also becomes popular around this age, with children able to draw on their increasing knowledge of history from their curriculum learning in Key Stage 2. We recommend Ally Sherrick’s Roman-inspired gladiator adventure in Vita & the Gladiator, or Emma Carroll’s Secrets of a Sun King, which is set at the time of Howard Carter’s discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun. Another highly recommendable reading book for Year 5 is A Different Kind of Freedom: A Romani Story, which is a football-themed story set in a Romani community of 19th-century Sheffield.

Many children at this age enjoy fantasy stories to spark their imaginations. Fantasy adventures like Pages & Co and The Breakfast Club Adventures are popular choices, as are stories based on different cultural mythologies like Aya and the Star Chaser, which is inspired by South Asian folklore. Some stories in the collection explore the themes of technology and innovation, like Vashti Hardy’s wonderful skyship adventure Brightstorm or while others accentuate the benefits of sport, like the celebration of girls’ football in Jaz Santos vs the World.

If you are looking for classic stories suitable for 9-10 year olds, try The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. Popular poetry books to browse for pleasure are included in our Year 5 selection too, like Joshua Seigal’s laugh-out-loud anthology Who Let the Words Out? or the emotion-based anthology My Heart is a Poem, which includes the work of some of the very best contemporary children’s poets.

Longer reads are not for everyone, and we’ve included several shorter texts in the selection too. For children looking for shorter chapter books, try Tom Palmer’s Arctic Star or Chris Bradford’s exciting space thriller Lunar, both of which are specially formatted to be accessible to dyslexic readers. For recommended picture books suitable for Year 5, we recommend Helen Ward’s Varmints or Ada’s Violin, which beautifully tells the fascinating true story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay.

What are the best non-fiction books for Year 5?

When choosing information books for Year 5, look for highly illustrated information books well structured into chunks of text, on topics that will pique the interest of young readers.

We’ve included a super selection of non-fiction to appeal to children in Year 5 on our recommended reading list, from the intriguing exploration of the world of plants in I Ate Sunshine for Breakfast and the brightly-coloured science compendium Can You Get Rainbows in Space? to the incredible visual history of aircraft in Aviation which brings science and history together to explore the development of flight.

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

Where can I purchase the books on the BooksForTopics Year 5 booklist?

What other booklists for children in Y5 are available?

Looking for more of the best booklists for 9 and 10-year-olds? BooksForTopics has got you covered. We have compiled a comprehensive selection of books catered to popular Year 5 curriculum topics, including Ancient Greece topic texts, recommended children’s books about the Victorians, science books about Plants and Trees, and books for a KS2 space topic. For children with a special interest, we have tailored lists such as stories about gaming and football books for children. Browse our KS2 topic booklists to explore our extensive collection.

To support a widening of reading for pleasure choices in Y5,  we offer guidance on alternative formats such as a primary school graphic novels booklist, picturebooks for older readers or poetry choices for upper KS2. Our selection of books for reluctant readers aged 9-11, a booklist for dyslexic readers and a Top-Notch non-fiction booklist provide more options to appeal to different types of readers in Year 5.

For diverse and inclusive children’s books showcasing a range of characters, cultures, and experiences, explore our Diverse and Inclusive Books for Upper KS2 collection.

Are your Y5 children avid fans of a particular author or series? Our Branching Out booklists offer a variety of books for fans of the most popular Y5 series, including books for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, books similar to David Walliams, and more books like Harry Potter.  Teachers and parents will also find help selecting storytime read-alouds for this age group on our Storytime Favourites for Ages 9-11 booklist.

To support the emotional and mental well-being of children in Year 5, check out our KS2 PSHE collection. We have booklists for Mental Health Awareness, stories about anti-bullying and children’s books about environmental sustainability.

A great place to start for reading for pleasure choices is our list of Best Books for 10-Year-Olds. Advanced Year 5 readers can look ahead with our list of Recommended Reads for Year 6.

Discover all of these resources and more by browsing the BooksForTopics website.

Can I download a printable version of the Year 5 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 5 Books PDF

year 5 recommended reads printable poster 2024


Printable Checklist – Best Year 5 Books PDF

year 5 recommended reads checklist 2024


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

Discover recommended books for each primary year group at BooksForTopics. Our expert team has carefully curated a collection of top-quality books for every Year Group, with input and evaluation from our school-based Review Panel. Each booklist features 50 recommended books and includes a printable poster and checklist. Plus, schools can purchase full sets of each Year Group list through our trusted partners at Peters.

Don’t miss out on our top reading lists for each year group. Here are the quick links:

Booklists you might also like...

Year 5: 50 Recommended Reads

Related Resources

Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
Read More
[["Printable Y5 Poster","https:\/\/\/wp-content\/uploads\/recreads2024-poster-year-5-768x543.png","https:\/\/\/wp-content\/uploads\/Year-5-Recommended-Reads-Poster-2024.pdf"],["Printable Y5 Checklist","https:\/\/\/wp-content\/uploads\/recreads2024-checklist-year-5-768x543.png","https:\/\/\/wp-content\/uploads\/Year-5-Recommended-Reads-Checklist-2024.pdf"],["Purchase Full Y5 BookPack","https:\/\/\/wp-content\/uploads\/Year-5-Recommended-Reads-Peters-2024.png","https:\/\/\/book-page\/9789990211436"],["Purchase Individual Y5 Books","https:\/\/\/wp-content\/uploads\/y5-books-2024.png","https:\/\/\/lists\/best-books-for-year-5-recommended-reads"]]

Subscribe to our newsletter

Your Review

Stone Girl Bone Girl


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?


Curriculum links (if relevant)

Curriculum links (if relevant)

Any other comments

Any other comments