Booklist: Picture books for Year 3 and Year 4 (ages 7-9)
Picturebooks are wonderful for all ages in primary schools and are not to be limited to the younger classrooms alone. As children's author Kate Cunningham says, "Telling a child that they are too old for a picture book is like telling them that they are too old for chocolate ice cream or computer games". In Lower KS2, picturebooks offer a unique opportunity to enjoy the interplay between images and words, as well as being brilliant for opening discussions on important issues, for exploring new ideas, for boosting empathy and for developing critical thinking. Sometimes they simply provide a fun reading experience that caters for a visual appetite that begins to be increasingly excluded from chapterbooks for the age group.
Some of the picturebooks most enjoyed in Year 3 and Year 4 classrooms are the ones that provide space for children to engage with important topics, from environmental concerns in The Great Kapok Tree and One Plastic Bag, to mental health issues in The Invisible and slavery and racial discrimination in Henry's Freedom Box. Others are unique in their ability to boost empathy, like the story of the boy with a speech disorder in I Talk Like a River or the insights into life and values in the traveller community in The Lost Homework.
We love the range of inspirational books for this age group, telling the stories of real life heroes and heroines. Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor and Manfish both explore stories of triumphant individuals in the field of science and discovery, to while Wilma Unlimited and Fearless tell the stories of those who have shown incredible determination to reach their goals in the face of great adversity. There are also some wonderfully playful picturebooks that go down a treat in Year 3 and Year 4 classrooms. Try Oliver Jeffers' humorous and endearing The Incredible Book Eating Boy, or the fantastically fun How to Live Forever by master-of-playful-picture-books Colin Thompson - both of which put the power of enjoying books at centre stage. For fantastical adventures full of magic and marvels, we recommend Leon and the Place Between, or the beautifully illustrated Ocean Meets Sky by the Fan Brothers. We also love David Wiesner’s wordless underwater explorations in Flotsam - and be sure to check out this blog post to find creative ideas for using this book in the classroom.
For further Year 3 and Year 4 recommendations, have a browse around our Reading for Pleasure booklists.