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NEWS: Updated Year Group Booklists LAUNCHED TODAY!

Each year at around this time, we release our updated ’50 Recommended Reads’ Year Group lists. Together with our friends at Peters Books, we’ve been super busy in recent weeks putting together the new lists for you – selecting books, packing up pre-orders and making downloadable posters.

We’re delighted to be able to share the booklists with you today. In this blog post, we’ve answered five questions about the booklists and outlined the changes made to the updated versions of the lists.

NEW Year Group Booklists: FAQs

  1. What are the Year Group booklists?
  2. How are the booklists matched to different year groups?
  3. How are the books selected?
  4. ,What’s new in the updated lists launched today?
  5. How do I buy the books from the packs?

1. What are the Year Group booklists?
Each one of our Year Group Recommended Reads lists contains 50 books specially picked out for reading for pleasure in each primary year group, from Preschool to Year 6. The lists are designed to provide recommendations of age-appropriate and accessible books across a range of genres and styles. These lists differ from our topic booklists, as the books are purely selected for the purpose of reading for pleasure at each age group.

Here at BooksForTopics, we strongly believe in the power of reading for pleasure in the primary years and in the unique position of schools to cultivate the joy of reading. Reading for pleasure can provide entertainment and delight as well as opening up a host of new worlds to children. Books provide children with opportunities to stretch their imagination as well as to consider what life might be like in a myriad of different settings and situations. Stories about the lives of others can help children to develop empathy and understand emotions, while at the same time increasing children’s language skills and vocabulary. What’s more, research has shown that reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success – more than their family circumstances, their parents’ educational background or their income (Source: OECD).

When we put together each list, we look for a balance across different genres and styles. Some children naturally navigate towards non-fiction, while others find graphic novels or poetry the most enjoyable forms to pick up and read. Each list contains a balance of age-appropriate fiction, picturebooks, non-fiction, poetry and graphic novels, with a handful of novelty or tactile books added in too. We’ve also aimed to collate lists that cater for different reading styles, interest levels, publication dates (you’ll find some true golden oldies as well as brand new titles on each list) and also books that contain a diversity of characters and settings. This way, schools using our lists can offer children access to a wealth of quality reading choices to enjoy.

2. How are the booklists matched to different year groups?
In the youngest year groups, a higher number of the books are selected with the idea of ‘shared reading for pleasure’ in mind – that is, when an adult reads the books to (or with) children. Other books on the youngest lists are designed for browsing independently, and you’ll notice books with appealing visual elements and a higher image-to-text ratio feature heavily for these year groups. On the Pre-school Booklist, for example, favourite read-alouds like The Hugasaurus and Aliens Love Underpants sit among popular choices for child-led browsing, like Which Food Will You Choose and tactile board books to amuse little fingers, like Zoom Building Site Adventure.

As children’s independent reading levels progress through KS1, you’ll find the book balance evolves to include an increased proportion of early readers and short chapter books that cater for both shared and independent reading for pleasure. Picture books remain important at this age too, where the words and pictures can be discussed and enjoyed together. Funny books are popular with KS1, as are visually appealing and highly illustrated non-fiction texts covering topics of interest. On the Year 2 list, for example, you’ll find popular early chapter books like Claude and Unipiggle nestled among high-interest non-fiction like Yuval Zommer’s The Big Book of the Blue and real-life hero compendium Life Savers. There’s plenty to entice emerging readers here, and this year you’ll also notice an increased presence of early graphic novels too, like Mark Bradley’s Bumble & Snug.

We’ve matched the stamina of children in older primary years by including a higher proportion of middle-grade (8-12) fiction in the upper KS2 booklists. Some schools like to print off our accompanying posters and checklists and give pupils in KS2 the freedom to select from the 50 titles – or even aim to read the full set. Children who like a more complex fictional world, thought-provoking themes or a depth of emotion in their stories are well catered for with more challenging reads – like The Shark Caller and Front Desk on the Y6 list. Reluctant readers in upper years may find appealing the inclusion of humorous stories like David Baddiel’s Head Kid, empowering personal development books like Dr Ranj’s Brain Power or Marcus Rashford’s You Are a Champion or the handful of Barrington Stoke’s inclusive short chapter books with dyslexia-friendly formatting, like The Invasion of Crooked Oak and David Long’s Survival in Space.

In short, we’ve aimed for a tasting menu to offer readers a variety of books that will allow even more children to share in the delights and joys of reading for pleasure.

3. How are the books selected?

This is one of the parts we love the most! As there are no sponsored positions or paid-for partnerships on our Year Group booklists, the books are entirely selected by our team of experts for quality and classroom suitability. This means that out of the thousands of books available, the titles that make it onto the 50 Recommended Reads lists deserve their place purely based on our assessment of the books as a genuinely good ‘read for pleasure’ option for the relevant year group.

The books that we receive from our publishing partners for consideration on our lists are first reviewed by our panel of reviewers. With a panel of 50 reviewers from across the primary education community, we are able to try out new books in a variety of school settings before we recommend them on the website, making sure that we are only recommending the most suitable books for your classrooms. Our review panel has been feeding back to us information about which books are most popular in their school libraries and classrooms, as well as writing detailed reviews for some of the books that we feature too. In addition to our Review Panel feedback, the team at BooksForTopics work with the booksellers at Peters Books to make sure that the books on our Year Group lists are readily available from publishers in order to supply them to schools and classrooms. Last week, we blogged about the processes behind the booklist and you can read the full blog post here.

The 50 spaces on each list are hotly contended, and consequently, some of our most highly reviewed titles may not make it onto these lists. Instead, we assign them to other more relevant places on the website, like our topic booklists, our blog or more specific reading for pleasure collections.

To browse the new Year Group lists and see which books made the cut, click here.

4. What’s new in the updated lists launched today?

Each year when we refresh the Year Group lists, we retain some of the same titles as the previous year and we switch around some of the others to make space for new additions. This means that if your school has already invested in the 2021-2022 bookpacks, there’s no need to buy a whole new set each year and many of the titles on the list will remain the same. We also keep previous year’s posters and checklist in our resource archive for you to continue to access.

The reason that we update the lists each year is to make space for newly published books and to make sure that we offer the best balance of titles available for each year group as children’s reading trends evolve over time. The new versions of the booklists take into account feedback from schools, librarians and review panel members. Each year we ask school librarians to tell us which books are popular reading for pleasure choices at the moment and we look at where these might be added into the packs.

This year, we’ve added more graphic novels to the lists – previously you may have noticed graphic novels in the older year groups but as more accessible graphic novels have been published since our last update, we’ve been able to add these into the younger year groups too, like Agent Moose on the Year 3 list or Narwhal and Jelly in Year 1. We’ve also been sure to include some brand new non-fiction about topics close to children’s hearts – environmental themes abound in Earth Heroes and It’s a Wonderful World for Year 4 and sports fans are well catered for in Football School Star Players and On Your Marks, Get Set Gold for Year 5.

Importantly, we’ve added in some hot-off-the-press brand new storytime choices for all year groups too. Reception children will enjoy the new-for-2022 Rabbit’s Pancake Picnic and My Mum is a Lioness, while older readers in Year 6 will enjoy Hannah Gold’s newly published The Lost Whale or Sophie Anderson’s latest magical adventure The Thief Who Sang Storms.

To make space for the new choices, we’ve removed a handful of out of print titles to make it easier for our partners at Peters Books to continue to be able to supply your school with full versions of the packs. We’ve listened to feedback from the teachers and librarians, who have asked for more laugh-out-loud choices in the older year groups. As a result, we have redressed the balance and added titles like Danny Wallace’s The Luckiest Kid in the World and Paul Coomey’s Stick Boy as Upper KS2 choices. Another tweak we’ve made is to make sure that more of Barrington Stoke’s dyslexia-friendly titles are scattered in among the year groups as well as a few more titles proven to appeal to reluctant readers within each age group.

5. How do I buy the books from the packs?

We LOVE hearing from happy schools who use our recommended reads year group packs to boost reading for pleasure in their schools.

If you are looking to select individual titles from among the lists, the books on the lists can be purchased through Amazon and BookShop.Org links on the website, or head to our BooksShop.Org store to browse the full collections.

Schools looking to purchase the full sets can get an amazing 20% discount from our partners at Peters Books. Find out more about school purchasing here or go directly to the Peters’ ordering page.

Quick Links

All Year Group Lists

Preschool List

Reception List

Year 1 List

Year 2 List

Year 3 List

Year 4 List

Year 5 List

Year 6 List

Peters Books – full bookpack purchase


Where next?

> Visit our Reading for Pleasure Hub

> Browse our Topic Booklists

> See our Books of the Month.

>View our Year Group booklists

Each year at around this time, we release our updated ’50 Recommended Reads’ Year Group lists. Together with our friends at Peters Books,…

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