Recommended children's booklists sorted by age or topic

Home > Blog

Resource Available: No resources

pari thomson author interview booksfortopics blog

Guest Q&A: Pari Thomson

Author of Greenwild

Hi Pari! Can you tell us a bit about what Greenwild: The City Beyond the Sea is about?

Hello, and thank you so much for hosting me on your blog! The second book in the Greenwild series follows Daisy Thistledown and her friends in the Five O’clock Club as they set out to find Daisy’s kidnapped mother and the other missing Botanists.

When they’re sent spinning off course by an attack on the high seas, Daisy and her friends find themselves sailing for a mysterious maritime kingdom called Iffenwild – which might be their only hope in the fight against the terrible Grim Reapers. Once again, Daisy will have to fight with all her courage – and magic! – to save the Greenwild and find her mother.

What are the main themes of the book?Greenwild The City Beyond the Sea cover (1)

I wrote Greenwild as a love letter to the beauty of nature, and a rallying cry to protect it. The second book is a celebration of our oceans and all their astonishing life – from giant whales to tiny anemones, and from vibrant corals to deep kelp forests. It’s a story rooted in the idea that the sheer magic of the sea is right there, waiting to be discovered – if only we pay close enough attention to it.

In the story, it quickly becomes clear that ocean magic is under threat – something that resonates in our own world today, as sea temperatures rise and coral reefs bleach. Above all, though, Greenwild: The City Beyond the Sea is a story about friendship and adventure, and the courage it takes to protect the people and places we love most. There are also wild horses and sailing ships and a travelling theatre – so I hope that there will be something for every reader!

How do you think the book could be used in schools to inspire children?

I hope that Greenwild: The City Beyond the Sea will inspire readers to find out more about the sea and ocean conservation – without preaching or imposing messages on them. I hope the book tells children: you are brave, and you are important, and you are never too small to make a difference.

I hope it also inspires children to free their imaginations and invent their own hidden kingdoms. If you could dream up a magical world, what would it look like? If you could invent your own magical plant, what would it be? If you had water magic, what would you do with it?

Can you recommend any other books with eco-themes around the sea?

Yes! I love Julia and the Shark by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, with illustrations by Tom de Freston. It’s about the summer Julia spends living on a lighthouse, and her mother’s mission to find an elusive Greenland shark. Filled with a deep sense of the magic of the ocean, it’s also a wonderful adventure with family at its heart.

I also loved The Lost Whale by Hannah Gold, a powerful and uplifting story about a boy called Rio who is sent to live with his grandmother in California – where he forms an amazing bond with a giant whale called White Beak. It’s a book about bravery, wildness and the importance of protecting the sea and all its creatures.

 

Pari Thomson’s new book – Greenwild: The City Beyond the Sea – is the second in the extraordinary Greenwild fantasy series with stunning illustrations by Elisa Paganelli.  It is a gorgeously written fantasy adventure, packed with marine magic and mystery, and featuring a city lost to time.

 


 

Greenwild The City Beyond the Sea Blog Tour Banner Thank you to Pari for visiting our blog this week to tell us more about the newest Greenwild book. Greenwild: The City Beyond the Sea is available from Amazon or Bookshop.

FInd out more about the book by following along with the blog tour.

Read our review of the first Greenwild book here and download a set of teaching notes.

Check out our topic booklists to find more books for children about the environment or children’s books about the ocean.

Greenwild also appears on our Recommended Reads for Year 6 booklist.

 

Where next?
> Visit our Reading for Pleasure Hub
> Browse our Topic Booklists
> View our printable year group booklists.
> See our Books of the Month.

Non-fiction

THE title to have for kids transitioning from primary to secondary school. Moving up from primary to secondary school can be scary. Going from being the bosses of the benches, to the youngest in a massive playground is hard.

The classrooms are bigger, older students look like adults and don’t even start on the piles of homework, stressful exams and complicated friendships.

Whether you’re heading to secondary school next year, or you’ve just started and still adjusting, Moving Up is here to help you on your journey.

From choosing your new school and your first day all the way up to your final exams and your leaving party or prom, this handy guide book will be the perfect companion for transitioning to secondary, and get you feeling confident, building strong friendships, achieving great things and generally being the greatest that you can be.

Chapter book

Packed with mystery, adventure and laughs, Noah’s Gold is the exciting novel from the bestselling, multi-award-winning author of Millions and Cosmic, Frank Cottrell-Boyce. Fully illustrated in black and white throughout by Steven Lenton, this is perfect for readers of 9+.

Being the smallest doesn’t stop you having the biggest ideas.

Eleven-year old Noah sneaks along on his big sister’s geography field trip. Everything goes wrong! Six kids are marooned on an uninhabited island. Their teacher has vanished. They’re hungry. Their phones don’t work and Noah has broken the internet. There’s no way of contacting home . . . Disaster!

Until Noah discovers a treasure map and the gang goes in search of gold.

Non-fiction

In this international bestseller from the critically acclaimed Little People, BIG DREAMS series, meet Emmeline Pankhurst, an inspiring women’s rights activist who changed the world for future generations of women.

As a child, Emmeline Pankhurst was inspired by books about heroes who fought for others. She dedicated her life to fighting for women’s voting rights and, with hard work and great bravery, led a remarkable movement that changed the world. This moving book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the activist’s life.

 

Best Verse Novels for Primary School Children

Verse novels offer primary school children a new and exciting reading experience. Appealing to both enthusiastic and reluctant readers, this format blends the melody of poetry with the joy of storytelling.

This booklist highlights the best verse novels for Key Stage 2, featuring captivating narratives told in a lyrical style. The verse novels in this booklist range from historial fiction to reimagined fairy tales, covering universal themes such as friendship and family which are bound to appeal to primary aged readers.

Non-fiction

Stretching across a rocky plateau in America, carved deep into the rocks by the rushing Colorado River, lies the Grand Canyon. Its bands of rock tell us about millions of years of our planet’s history and the indigenous Hopi, Havasupai, and Navajo tribes that have ties to the land. Today at least five million people visit Grand Canyon National Park every year.

This stunning illustrated guide is packed with incredible facts about this natural wonders’ wildlife, people, geography, and history. The Grand Canyon has captured humankind’s imagination since the Ice Age. Now it is your turn to explore!

Short story collection

I bet you think you know this story.
You don’t. The real one’s much more gory.

From Jack in the Beanstalk, Goldilocks and the Three Bears to Little Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs, wicked beasts, brazen crooks and a ghastly giant star in these hilarious nursery rhymes with BITE!

The text in this edition of Revolting Rhymes was updated in 2022 for young independent readers.

Recommended Children’s Books For Children Age 5

Looking for good books for 5-year-olds? Welcome to our handpicked collection of the best books for children aged 5.

We’ve carefully chosen these recommended books for five-year-olds to make it easier for parents, teachers, and anyone searching for quality reading books for young readers. Our reviewed and curated list covers a variety of styles, including picture books, funny books, short illustrated first chapter books and non-fiction suitable for children at the age of five.

Whether you’re on the hunt for gentle stories about kindness and inclusion like Luna Loves Art and The Kindest Red, or rip-roaringly funny books for giggle-worthy story times like Poo in the Zoo, we’ve covered a whole breadth of themes and genres with this recommended reading list. We’ve also selected classic books like Paddington and Dogger, as well as interactive favourites like You Choose and options for children ready to start their first short chapter books, like the colour-illustrated Princess Minna.

For more comprehensive booklists, browse our lists of 50 Best Books for Year 1 or 50 Best Books for Reception.

Explore our recommendations for age 5 children and make this step of your child’s reading journey a truly enjoyable and enriching time.

best recommended curriculum books primary schools

Books for Boosting Curriculum Teaching

Primary teachers know more than most how a high-quality book can unlock a whole new aspect of a topic.

Whether it’s a different perspective on a historical period, or an alternative, humorous take on bodily processes, a book that sheds new light on a subject can enrich primary curriculum learning for your pupils.  The BooksForTopics Curriculum book recommendations are here to give you a steer on new books to bolster curriculum teaching and learning in the primary years, and we love to find books that add new insights into frequently taught primary topics.

We’ve done the curriculum research and book scouting for you, working with a review panel that tests books out in schools and classrooms for us.

Through the work we do with the school-based review panel as well as input from librarians and booksellers via our partners, we really do make it our business to find the best of the best when it comes to curriculum topic book recommendations. Our lists of recommended books and quality texts identify the best quality topics on the primary curriculum, and one of the things we look for when curating our balanced lists is books that offer a new angle or unique perspective on a topic.

In this blog, our team of experts highlight five recent top-quality additions to our Curriculum book lists.

  1. Unlock Prehistory in Ancestory

    ancestory

    Ancestory is one of the latest additions to our Stone Age to Iron Age booklist. Our Review Panel was thoroughly impressed by this illustrated non-fiction book that brings to life the history of ancient civilisations and cultures through rock art.

    Not only does the book demonstrate how ancient drawings (or ‘time capsules’ as they are referred to by the author Hannah Salyer) depict how life could have been many, many years ago, it also explores with the reader whether the drawings could have been used for other reasons – for example, to map the stars, tell ancient stories, share important information or show drawings of animals now long extinct. The reader is invited to think deeply about the question, rather than being presented with any definitive answers about the purposes of cave art.

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

    This book also offers some additional extras that are both informative and enjoyable: a map of rock art sites located around the world; a glossary of key vocabulary to support the reader’s understanding; a timeline; resources for further investigation as well as shares the story of the Lascaux caves in southern France. These pages, amongst others in the book, could be used to inspire some fantastic writing and discussion. Furthermore, the book could be used within art for pupils to replicate their own rock art drawings, and it would work will alongside texts like The First Drawing or Stone Age Boy.

    This book is a must when launching into the theme of prehistory, with links to the Stone Age and Iron Age topic and Ancient Civilisations– or used as the beginning of an experiment linking to rocks in science. The book also made it onto this year’s Recommended Reads for Year 4 booklist.

     

    ancestory book

    Purchase Ancestory from Amazon or BookShop.

  2. Inspiring ecoactivism: Rainforest Warrior

    rainforest warrior

    The Story of Chico Mendes is a story that is perfect for children in KS2 learning about rainforests or about inspirational figures who have changed the world for the better. Many of the recommended children’s books about rainforests focus on the forest ecosystem or the threat of forest destruction, but we love this book’s positive focus on an individual who sets about making a difference to their local environment.

    Chico Mendes is a hero worthy of wider recognition. Chico was a rubber tapper who stood up for his community and the importance of preserving the Amazon rainforest. Being an environmental activist, Chico worked tirelessly to help others and was recognised for his efforts by being awarded for his work towards protecting the rainforests by multiple countries.

    Tragically, Chico was murdered whilst working for this cause due to his efforts to support the rubber tappers, waking up the world to the plight of the rainforest destruction and protesting about the clearing of the forest.

    Each page features beautiful, coloured illustrations to support the text in each section. It is a recommendable book for use in sharing why it is important to protect the rainforests and highlighting the difference one person can make. There are plenty of interesting Amazon rainforest facts and a supporting glossary with technical language.

    This is a special book to be shared with a class and an excellent addition to rainforest topic texts or classroom libraries. Our Review Panel rated this as a Best Picturebook for Lower Ks2  as well as a top Rainforest topic text, a book for the Environmental Sustainability topic and a recommended children’s book about South America.

    rainforest warrior book

    Purchase Rainforest Warrior from Amazon or BookShop.

  3. Operation Banana: A New Angle on World War 2

    operation banana

    With such a huge selection of children’s books about World War 2 available, teachers are spoiled for choice and left asking if they should really make room on their bookshelf for yet more. Sometimes a book breaks through that helps readers see the bigger picture of the war from a new lens, and Operation Banana is one of those books.

    The focus of the story is a young girl’s concern and care for her mum at a time of great stress and strain on family life, where dad is away fighting on the front line in North Africa and mum has taken on a new job, working long hours in the factory. Due to rationing, everything is in short supply in London, but Susan decides she’s going to cheer her mum up by getting her a treat, and what could be rarer than a sweet, delicious banana? But what lengths will Susan have to go to find one? Let Operation Banana commence!

    Many of the great books for primary-aged children set in this era may be too challenging for some readers. This short and dyslexia-friendly book enables children across Key Stage 2 to catch a glimpse of life during the war and learn about some of the important features of life: rationing; schools; the changing roles of adults; evacuation and the black market (through the unique storyline of a girl trying to get hold of a banana in times when all food was in short supply). There are also many parallels that the modern reader could draw with their own experiences.

    Vocabulary that may be unfamiliar to children is explained as part of the storyline, for example explaining who the ‘yanks’ were. In addition, there are a few notes at the end of the book that provide a simple overview of the period in history and a clear explanation of money before decimalisation.

    As well as the book gaining a heard-earned place on our World War 2 booklist, author Tony Bradman also visited our blog recently to talk about why there should always be a gap on the shelf for books that offer a new angle on key curriculum topics like the Second World War.

    Purchase Operation Banana from Amazon or BookShop.

  4. Exploration awaits in The Atlas of Great Journeys

    the atlas of great journeys the story of discovery in amazing mapsResearch for our new Explorers and Exploration topic booklist enabled this absolute treasure of a non-fiction book to surface. Our Review Panel concluded that The Atlas of Great Journeys is a unique book, highly recommended for those who enjoy learning about exploring the world. It is a large, hardback book with a beautifully illustrated cover and comes with an optional free app to download, which enhances the content by revealing the many explorers’ journeys in 3D. This is a very exciting element for the children and adults to use as it shows the journeys interactively.

    The selected journeys from history covered stop at important points for their chosen explorer, with interesting text popping up for the reader. There are many explorers included, both well-known and less well-known from all around the world and across history.

    Each page is a double spread of beautifully illustrated maps with various explorers and information about their adventures, spanning both history and geography curriculum elements. Timelines are included to support historical understanding and the glossary includes ambitious vocabulary that will enhance curriculum discussion and writing in the classroom.

    This book was a gem of a surprise and we particularly enjoyed sharing the 3D element, which will delight those discovering it for the first time. The interactive aspect is optional, and the book works wonderfully well without it too, but if you really want to see a guided reading or curriculum research lesson come to life, add a set of iPads into the mix and the extra-textual elements will take pupil engagement to the next level.

    atlas of great atventures

    Purchase The Atlas of Great Journeys from Amazon or BookShop.

  5. Digest science facts through Amy Gets Eaten

    amy gets eaten

    Adam Kay’s Amy Gets Eaten is a gruesome yet hilarious book that explains what happens in our bodies when we eat food. Despite getting eaten, Amy (a positive and chirpy piece of sweetcorn) explains in child-friendly language the journey she takes from the mouth, through the stomach and out again into the toilet.

    Although told in the style of a narrative, this is really a non-fiction book that teaches children the science behind some of our human anatomy, and our community of teachers and librarians enjoyed it so much that it scooped up the Best Curriculum Support award in our Books of the Year Awards.

    Throughout the story, while travelling through the small intestine, a wise old raisin teaches the reader how different food types help to make your body strong, active and healthy. The children get opportunities to interact with the book and recap, through cartoons, where the sweetcorn has travelled. Readers are also invited to give opinions on the strange food combinations the character of Noah has chosen to eat.

    Children love a bird’s-eye-view (or in this case – a sweetcorn’s-eye-view) to help understand scientific processes, and this book has the right balance of humour and biological explanations to make it an excellent addition to our Human Bodies topic booklist as well as a recommended book for the food and digestion topic and a Celebrating Science favourite.

     

    amy gets eaten

    Purchase Amy Gets Eaten from Amazon or BookShop.

 

Whether you are looking for Romans books and rivers and coasts topic texts to stories about growing plants and children’s books about the Vikings, we’ve got reading lists of the best children’s books to support pupils learning about curriculum subjects through the primary school years.

For more ideas of books to support the primary curriculum, try these quick links:

Packs of books chosen for our expertly curated curriculum booklists are also available to purchase via Peters.

———————

Where next?

ancient Maya ks2 book David long blog

Guest Post: David Long

Author of What It Was Like to be an Ancient Maya!

The Maya: A Fascinating Ancient Civilisation 

Not long ago I was fascinated to hear that explorers had discovered the hidden remains of several lost cities buried beneath the undergrowth of the rainforest in Central America. These modern-day Indiana-Joneses had found dozens of ruined temples, vast stone pyramids and palaces belonging to an ancient civilisation called the Maya.

I knew immediately that I wanted to write a book about these exciting discoveries and to tell the fascinating story of some of the most mysterious and ingenious people who ever lived.

Origins of the Maya Civilisation

Their story started long before the first European explorer had sailed across the Atlantic to reach America, beginning more than 4,000 years ago when the people of Europe were coming to the end of the period known as the Stone Age. At that time most Mayan families lived in simple mud huts in the steamy rainforests of what are now Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador.

By 200 AD, however, the Maya had built a series of large and spectacular cities. Men, women and children into the cities and eventually more than forty very large settlements formed the basis of an extraordinary and long-lasting civilisation.

The cities contained enormous stone structures including palaces, pyramids and immense temples decorated with rich carvings of animals and the Mayan gods.  The largest were home to more than 100,000 people including many brilliant inventors, architects and engineers.

Inventions and Innovations (including chocolate!)

The Maya never managed to invent their own version of the wheel, possibly because they lived in a part of the world without large animals strong enough to pull a cart. But they invented many other fabulous things, including chocolate. They were the first people in the Americas who could read and write. They had a deep understanding of astronomy and mathematics. They were efficient and skilful farmers, and their artists created beautiful objects of wood, stone, pottery and paint.

Unfortunately, the Maya also had a much darker side. They had some horrible, bloodthirsty traditions, including human sacrifice. They ate dogs, and for hundreds of years they fought long wars against each other in which tens of thousands of people were killed or taken prisoner and enslaved.

Decline of the Mayan Civilisation

Partly because of this, by the 10th century AD, the Mayan civilisation was in steep decline. Slowly their great cities were abandoned and fell into ruins. The reasons for the decline may also have included climate change, but whatever the cause Mayan society never recovered and in the 16th century the entire region was conquered by Spanish soldiers who murdered entire communities.

The invaders had no interest in Mayan art and culture, and for centuries the Maya were forgotten. No-one cared what happened to them and the once mighty cities slowly disappeared as the tropical forest closed over their streets and squares.

A Renewed Interest 

Now, however, interest in the cities is growing, and exciting new discoveries are being made all the time. Archaeologists are busy studying more than 4,000 sites associated with the Maya and – at last – this ancient and strange civilisation is gradually beginning to be understood.

David Long’s new book, What It Was Like to be an Ancient Maya!, publishes with Barrington Stoke on Thursday 9th May 2024 and can be ordered here.

 


 


Thank you to David for visiting our blog this week to tell us more about the theme of his new book. What It Was Like to be an Ancient Maya! is available from Amazon or Bookshop.

Check out our curriculum booklists to find more children’s books about the ancient Maya, recommended children’s books about ancient civilisations and the full range of primary History Booklists for children.

You may also like our booklists featuring children’s books about South America and rainforest books for children.

Where next?
> Visit our Reading for Pleasure Hub
> Browse our Topic Booklists
> View our printable year group booklists.
> See our Books of the Month.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Your Review

Stone Girl Bone Girl

review

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

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

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

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

Would you recommend the book for use in primary schools?

yes

Curriculum links (if relevant)

Curriculum links (if relevant)

Any other comments

Any other comments