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Hi-Lo Books

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Booklist: Recommended Hi-Lo Books (High Interest, Low Difficulty) for KS2

Hi-Lo books are books tailored for children whose reading age is lower than their actual age. The style and content of the books on this Hi-Lo booklist will appeal to the interests matching the child’s actual age, while the vocabulary, syntax and formatting are suited to their lower reading age.

Often older children with a lower reading age struggle to find books that don’t appear ‘babyish’ in style. This selection provides books that match the style and interest level of the books that many of their peers will be reading, but formatted with text that suits a slightly lower reading age and manageable chapter length. There’s something to appeal to all different tastes on this list, from thriller stories like The Invasion of Crooked Oak to adventures like Wings: Spitfire and tales of friends and family like Picture Perfect and All About Ella.

The books in this collection are selected from the Barrington Stoke Hi-Lo range and the Bloomsbury High Low primary fiction selection. Hi-Lo books are particularly helpful for struggling and reluctant readers because they offer accessible texts which match their actual age and interests. The books in this collection have been selected with Upper KS2 children in mind (actual age 9-11), and despite the simpler text, dyslexia-friendly formatting and shorter chapters, the storylines are no less gripping than other books aimed at this age range.

Full packs of the books on this list are available for schools to purchase via Peters.

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Books With a Reading Age of 7 (Interest age Y5/6)

Sally Nicholls
 & Hannah Coulson
Chapter book
Sam is sick, and Ella is sick of Sam. Life seems to revolve around his hospital appointments, his medication and his need for peace and quiet. No one thinks about what Ella wants or needs, no one cares. They don’t even know what day she was born on. In the end, Ella decides she doesn’t care if Sam gets sicker, but when it happens, she finds she cares an awful lot....A touching exploration of family love and the challenges of being a younger sibling, from multi-award-winning author Sally Nicholls.
Ross Collins
Chapter book
Whenever there’s a pong, poo or puddle that can’t be explained, Norman and Ringo are the hounds that take the blame. Determined to exploit their status for profit, Blamehounds Inc. is soon in business and small dogs the world over are admitting responsibility for accidents, eruptions and even the occasional war…A wickedly clever and hilarious doggy tale from superstar author-illustrator Ross Collins, particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers aged 7+
Tanya Landman
 & Sonia Albert
Chapter book
Meg treasures every moment that she gets to spend riding, and she has always longed for a pony of her own.She knows Mum and Dad can’t afford a pony – they can’t even afford her weekly riding lessons any more. But on the morning of her tenth birthday, Meg looks out the window to an unbelievable sight … a pony standing in the front garden. Have all of Meg’s wishes come true?Award-winning author Tanya Landman brings a fresh perspective to horse-riding stories with a heart-warming new series about friendship and dreaming big.
Chris Powling
 & Jim Field
Chapter book
All the kids in school have a pair of Rainbow Boots – well, all of them except Denzil! So he pretends that his are being customised and soon he's trapped in a web of lies. But are the Rainbow Boots really worth all this hassle? A hilarious school comedy from popular writer Chris Powling with illustrations from the brilliant Jim Field.Bloomsbury High Low books encourage and support reading practice by providing gripping, age-appropriate stories for struggling and reluctant readers, those with dyslexia, or those with English as an additional language. Printed on tinted paper with a dyslexia friendly font, Rainbow Boots is aimed at readers aged 9+ and has a manageable length (64 pages) and reading age (7+).Produced in association with reading experts at Catch Up, a charity which aims to address underachievement caused by literacy and numeracy difficulties.
Paul Mason
Chapter book
Monkey and his friends, Zu and Sandy, lived in the Emperor's Cloud Palace. But they played all sorts of tricks on people, so, as a punishment, the Jade Emperor sent them down to Earth. They can only return if they prove that they can use their magical powers for good. Adventure is never far away!In The Cursed Village, something is very wrong in Weston. People are living in fear of the half-zombies, half-vampires that are roaming the streets. Can the friends save the village from the monsters?Bloomsbury High Low books encourage and support reading practice by providing gripping, age-appropriate stories for struggling and reluctant readers, those with dyslexia, or those with English as an additional language. Printed on tinted paper and with a dyslexia friendly font, Skate Monkey is aimed at readers aged 8+ and has a manageable length (72 pages) and reading age (7+). This collection of stories can be read in any order.Produced in association with reading experts at CatchUp, a charity which aims to address underachievement caused by literacy and numeracy difficulties.

Benjamin Hulme-Cross
Chapter book
When the only way to get at a target is by using a child, MI5 bring in special agents Tom and Zilla to help. When a billionaire businessman builds a private island which seems to jam government satellites, Tom and Zilla must convince his son to invite them for a visit. Can they figure out what's happening on Island X?Bloomsbury High Low books encourage and support reading practice by providing gripping, age-appropriate stories for struggling and reluctant readers, those with dyslexia, or those with English as an additional language. Printed on tinted paper and with a dyslexia friendly font, Mission Alert is aimed at readers aged 8+ and has a manageable length (72 pages) and reading age (7+). This collection of stories can be read in any order.Produced in association with reading experts at CatchUp, a charity which aims to address underachievement caused by literacy and numeracy difficulties.
Kathryn White
Chapter book
Maya's little brother Ethan is always telling stories about the Sea Wolf, the monster in the sea around Black Rock. Maya doesn't believe Ethan's lies but she does believe the sea is dangerous so, when Ethan tries to prove he can kayak to Black Rock, she knows she has to try to save him. Will either of them make it back from the dark and deadly sea?Bloomsbury High Low books encourage and support reading practice by providing gripping, age-appropriate stories for struggling and reluctant readers, those with dyslexia, or those with English as an additional language. Printed on tinted paper and with a dyslexia friendly font, Sea Wolf is aimed at readers aged 9+ and has a manageable length (64 pages) and reading age (7+).Produced in association with reading experts at Catch Up, a charity which aims to address underachievement caused by literacy and numeracy difficulties.

Books With a Reading Age of 8 (Interest age Y5/6)

Malorie Blackman
 & Matt Robertson
Chapter book

Malorie Blackman’s excellent story entertains with humour, perfectly matched with Matt Robinson’s illustrations which superbly bring Ellie and her animal chums to life. There are themes of friendship, resilience, self-belief, problem solving. The inter-generational relationship between Ellie and her Grandma develops into something quite heart-warming too. Published by Barrington Stoke, on cream paper in a dyslexia friendly font, this is pitched to appeal to KS2 children with a younger reading age. The short engaging chapters and overall compact length (75 pages) make this a brilliant accessible read…

Tony Bradman
 & Tania Rex
Chapter book
Mum won't get out of bed. His best friend has dumped him. And school work is just too difficult. Jayden wants to do the right thing - but how can he when it feels like the world is conspiring against him? Everything is going wrong, and when a supply teacher turns up to take his class, Jayden's sure things will keep on getting worse. But Mrs Wilson is not quite the teacher Jayden expected ... can she help turn his bad day around? A touching and sensitively told story of life as a young carer from beloved author Tony Bradman. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 8+
Tom Palmer
 & David Shephard
Chapter book
Greg is only happy when he's active - on the pitch or on his phone, it doesn't matter. But as soon as training's over or his host parent Steve takes the phone away, he's on edge. Steve suggests that Greg do something quiet with him, like making one of Steve's beloved Airfix kits. And the next thing Greg knows, he's in the cockpit of a Spitfire, being forced out of the sky by a German pilot! Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers aged 8+
Alan Gibbons
 & Chris Chalik
Chapter book
East End United are struggling to make this season work. Cairo is their best shot but as Captain he just can't seem to make the team work together. When Coach Ayo suggests heading to the library for some historical research the boys think he's having a laugh but the secret to a great team might just lie in the past. Fabulous football story featuring facts about the best from past to present. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 8+
Karen McCombie
 & Katie Kear
Chapter book
Being at home is hard for Hannah. With Mum, Dad and Vix always fighting they've got no time for her or her worries, she might as well be invisible. But when she finds an abandoned diary in the park containing snippets and photographs of the colourful life of the mysterious Sami Star, Hannah hopes she's found the real friend she always needed. Little does Hannah know Sami needs her too... A heart-warming story of finding friendship in the most unlikely of places. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 8+.

Terry Deary
 & Stefano Tambellini
Chapter book
Super-readable historical fiction from the creator of Horrible Histories. Terry Dreary explores the infamous highwayman Dick Turpin through the eyes of different people in the crowd at his execution scene. An easy-to-read introduction to Dick Turpin with short chapters and dyslexia-friendly formatting.
Malorie Blackman
 & Mike Lowery
Chapter book
Although Sam has a long-term illness, all he wants is the chance to lead a normal life. So he is thrilled when he finally gets his mum and dad to let him go on the school trip to the Scottish Highlands. Sam's desperate for an adventure and wants to prove to everyone that he's just as strong as his friends. But when some of the boys from his class take a reckless risk in order to win a challenge, the trip turns out to be more dangerous than Sam could have imagined. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 8+.
Dan Smith
 & Chris King
Chapter book

The Invasion of Crooked Oak is a fast-paced adventure that will appeal to older KS2 children. It is the first instalment of the stories set in the town of Crooked Oak. Children who love horror stories like Crater Lake or Goosebumps will be thrilled to discover this quick and accessible read.

Strange things are happening in the town of Crooked Oak. People have started to behave oddly and the zombie-like symptoms seem to be spreading through the town. As Nancy and her friends Pete and Krish get stuck into the mystery, something scary is spreading its tendrils across the town. Can the friends get to the root of the mystery before time runs out?

As ever with Barrington Stoke books, this is an accessible book, printed with clear text on a coloured background that is specially formatted to cater for dyslexic readers. The illustrations by Chris King really add to the atmospheric mood of the book and also draw upon the details contained in the descriptive writing.

The children we read this to absolutely loved the story and moaned at the end of each session when it was time to finish. Each chapter finished on a cliffhanger, so it left them eagerly anticipating the next instalment. This short and spooky read was a definite hit with Year 6!

David Long
 & Stefano Tambellini
April 1970: Apollo 13 was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It should have been the third manned Apollo mission to land on the moon. But when an explosion on board damaged the spacecraft, it became a perilous and near-impossible fight for survival. The crew on board travelled further into space than any other humans before them ... In this gripping retelling of the astonishing Apollo 13 mission, David Long shows how courage, determination and teamwork succeeded in beating all odds to bring the spacecraft home. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 8+.
Steve Cole
 & Oriol Vidal
Chapter book
Carlos's mother works for IBAMA, Brazil's Environmental Authority. As head of a specially trained task force, her role is to protect the Amazon from the farmers, loggers and miners who are illegally destroying the precious rainforest. It's a dangerous role and when she upsets some of these land-grabbers, they decide to teach her a lesson by kidnapping her son, Carlos. Taken deep into the Amazon, Carlos manages to escape his captors only to find himself trapped by the fast-moving fires. Will he be able to outrun the flames as the world around him burns to the ground? The terrifying reality of illegal deforestation and the destruction of the rainforest is revealed in this powerful and gripping Amazonian adventure from bestselling author Steve Cole. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers aged 8+

Chris Priestly
Chapter book
Award-winning master of scary stories Chris Priestley returns with a spine-tingling collection of ghostly tales to chill you to the bone ...When Maya and her classmates are asked to write a creepy story with a winter theme, they come up with some brilliant ideas. Rising floodwaters uncover long-buried bodies and ghostly children take to the ice on a frozen canal. But as each of the stories is read out in class, Maya grows more and more uncomfortable. She features in each of her friends’ creepy tales and they start to feel a little too real. Finally, when a mysterious new girl stands up to read the last story of the day, the light outside dims and it starts to snow. The classroom starts to freeze but everyone is trapped. Can Maya stop the story before the nightmare comes true?
Tom McLaughlin
Chapter book
A case of mistaken identity leads to unintentional criminal activity when a dream family holiday goes terribly wrong in this punny comedy caper from author-illustrator Tom McLaughlin.The Goodfellows are the perfect family. From helping the local community to scooping up prizes in school, there’s nothing they can’t do. And they’ve just won the holiday of a lifetime to the Big Apple!When the family touchdown in New York and overhear a gentleman looking for the goodfellas, they can only assume he’s there to pick them up. But soon they’re involved in a diamond robbery and a gangster named Big Tony is thanking them for their impeccable work. It looks like everything for the Goodfellows is about to go very, very wrong ...
Serena Patel
 & Louise Forshaw
Chapter book

Sonal has chosen ‘family’ as the topic for her school photography project. She thought it would be easy but she’s already regretting it. She can’t get everyone to focus so that she can take a group photo and even the individual snaps feature different members of her family looking at screens of various kinds. Sitting with her grandfather and sadly comparing her photos and family albums from the past shows just how much the digital world has taken over their lives. Egged on by her wise and long-suffering grandpa (who we suspect has thought for a while that a digital detox was in order), Sonal devises a plan for a family camping weekend without any devices at all.

 

From there, the warmly engaging story follows the innocently well-meaning but accident-prone heroine, whose exploits provide amusement while inviting empathy. Serena Patel captures the rhythms and cadences of modern family life brilliantly, wryly presenting an antidote to the perfect families often seen on social media. I thoroughly enjoyed the realistic perspective on parental and sibling relationships where squabbles and disagreements are normal.

Like the rest of the Barrington Stoke series, it is accessible but well-written and unpatronising, with black and white illustrations that work well with the lighthearted tone of the writing. It would make a great start to discussions of the mismatch between reality and social media profiles within the context of families. The more we expose this in schools the better, and this book does so in a gently unthreatening way.

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

 

Benjamin Hulme-Cross
 & Alessia Trunfio
Chapter book
Odysseus is a hero but all he really wants to do is defeat the Trojans and go home. The trouble is both those tasks will take a bit longer than he hoped, and he'll need all his cunning to get there. What's more, once he does, there will be more challenges in store! Bloomsbury High Low books encourage and support reading practice by providing gripping, age-appropriate and illustrated stories for struggling and reluctant readers, those with dyslexia, or those with English as an additional language (EAL). With bonus bits at the back of the book, including reading notes and exciting facts, these are perfect for sparking discussion and engaging young readers. Printed on tinted paper with a dyslexia-friendly font, Odysseus is aimed at readers aged 10+ and has a manageable length (96 pages) and reading age (8+).Produced in association with reading experts at Catch Up, a charity which aims to address underachievement caused by literacy and numeracy difficulties. Catch Up offers intervention programmes proven to significantly improve the achievement of learners who find literacy or numeracy difficult.Book Band: Brown Ideal for ages 10+ with a reading age of 8+

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More Booklists to Help KS2 Readers 

Reluctant Readers KS2 (9-11)

Reluctant Readers KS2 (7-9)

Dyslexia-Friendly Books

Graphic Novels KS2

Funny Books

Branching Out Booklists

 

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