Booklist: Best books for Reception (4 and 5 year olds)

50 Recommended Reads for...


(ages 4-5)

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We've hand-picked 50 recommended books for 4- and 5-year-olds. Update your Reception class library or home book collections with our list of top reads, covering everything from grumpy unicorns and greedy monsters to dreams of space travel and expeditions into faraway places. Not to mention the odd heroic potato or bear-pretending-to-be-a-bee, too....

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About the Reception Booklist

Sharing books with children in the Early Years provides a gateway into a world of imagination, empathy and delight, as well as being crucial for developing language and literacy skills. Children in Reception will often explore books with their hands and eyes before being able to read the words accurately for themselves, and making available a range of high quality books with a strong visual interest level is key. Storytime is a treasured time of day for children of this age. Positive experiences with books for 4 and 5 year olds can lay the foundations for an enjoyment of reading for years to follow.


With these factors in mind, we’ve selected a balanced list of books recommended for Reception children. Some of our top picks are stories about real life experiences, like the joy of a school trip in Luna Loves Art, the sadness of a lost toy in Shirley Hughes’ classic story Dogger or the pleasure of a favourite item of clothing in A Story About Afiya. Others invite the imagination to venture a little further afield, like the hilarious giant octopus who lands on a house in Octopus Shocktopus or the tale of a blue monster who is consumed with so much greed that he even eats the sun, in Blue Monster Wants It All 


A number of the stories in the collection explore the tricky world of learning to get on with others well, like Fair Shares or Pumpkin SoupOthers still develop an understanding of different emotions, like Anna Llenas’ hugely popular The Colour MonsterIf you are looking for stories from other cultures, try Chitra Soundar's retelling of an Indian flood story in Pattan's Pumpkin. We also have an additional list of diverse and inclusive books for EYFS, if you need an even more extensive selection to diversify your library.


We’ve included a handful of true classics on this Reception booklist, featuring stories that have been entertaining children of this age for generations  - such as Judith Kerr’s much-loved The Tiger Who Came to Tea or the delightful tales about Mrs Pepperpot, an intriguing and adventurous old lady who can shrink down to the size of a pepperpot. Other books have been inspired by very recent events, like Rain Before Rainbows, which is a beautifully illustrated exploration of finding optimism in difficult times. 


For this age group, tales that rhyme not only make for entertaining storytimes but also form a fundamental part of phonetic development. We recommend the Oi Frog  series for a giggle-worthy rhyme time, or James Carter’s out-of-this-world poetry collection Zim Zam Zoom.


We’ve also included a range of age-appropriate non-fiction for curious minds, from books about nature like the award-winning Do You Love Bugs?, to the STEM-themed Marvellous Machines (complete with magic lens for those who love a closer look at things) or the magnificent fold-out concertina book The World Around Me. If you are looking for books themed around a particular topic, be sure to check out our EYFS topic booklists.

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