Booklist: Teachers' Favourites
We love to hear about which books are popular among our community of primary teachers! We asked our community to vote for their favourite children's books published in 2021 (see the full shortlist here). We invited teachers to vote for their best classroom read-alouds, the books that were the biggest hit with their pupils and the top books to support their curriculums.
Here are the books that our community of teachers and librarians chose as their favourites.
Upper KS2 (Ages 9-11)
The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh
"This is a heart-warming story with a positive message, as well as being packed with jokes which will make both children and adults laugh. This debut novel from Helen Rutter is inspired by her own son with a stammer - and although the issues tackled in the book are serious, it’s a warm and funny read. The story shows that we all have differences, and it is important to accept ourselves as we are."
Anisha Accidental Detective: Granny Trouble
Serena Patel & Emma McCann
Our comments: "A love of science lies at the heart of this series and readers enjoy the authentic exploration of Anisha's Indian heritage, particularly around food and fashion. The illustrations reflect the story's humour and provide a high level of accessibility. Anisha is a superb STEM-loving role model who values truth, family and friendships, and readers across KS2 are quickly charmed by her detective adventures."
Best Curriculum Support
Our comments: "This well-researched and highly readable novel takes its title from the name of the medal that honours the Arctic Convoys during World War II. The story, with its concluding Author’s Note and accompanying online teaching notes available from Tom Palmer's website, provides an exciting and informative classroom resource for the teaching of WWII as a curriculum topic, besides being a book many children will choose for the sheer enjoyment of reading."
Lower KS2 (Ages 7-9)
The Last Bear
Hannah Gold & Levi Pinfold
"A beautifully heartfelt and moving story with strong environmental themes. This story highlights the topic of global warming but also draws a picture of the wonderful connection that can develop between children and animals and places hope in the hands of the young to make a difference in the planet's future."
A Day in the Life of a Caveman, A Queen and Everything In Between
Mike Barfield & Jess Bradley
Our comments: "This colourful, cartoon-style reference book brings history to life with humour and fun. It is packed full of interesting facts and presented in an entertaining comic style that is a joy to read. A great book to sit and read individually, or to dip into as a class when exploring related topics."
Best Curriculum Support
Black and British: An Illustrated History
David Olusoga, Jake Alexander & Melleny Taylor
Our comments: "This really is essential reading for primary schools, and the new illustrated version adds an impressive visual element that makes the history behind the book accessible to a younger audience still. A highly recommendable and informative non-fiction read for students and teachers alike."
KS1 (Ages 5-7)
The Boy Who Sang With Dragons
Andy Shepherd & Sara Ogilvie
Our comments: "There's so much to love about this series. The stories are filled with humour and heart in equal measure, making for a warm and enjoyable read with plenty to think about but nothing to scare young readers. We've always enjoyed the warm relationship between the baby dragon and main character Tomas, and any reader who has ever nurtured a plant, pet or person will find Tomas’s sense of joy relatable and comforting. Tomas is a great model for showing how young people can apply curiosity and creativity to the process of growing and nurturing living things, while seeing ‘magic’ in the endeavour."
Best Children's Favourite
Rabbit & Bear: A Bad King is a Sad Thing
Julian Gough & Jim Field
Our comments: "These books are real gems for children who are ready for a short chapter book but may still feel overwhelmed by too much text on a page. Centred around an unlikely friendship between two animals, the stories are laugh-out-loud adventures with appealing illustrations that perfectly break up the text to suit the reading stamina of this age range. This latest adventure continues to focus on small-scale conflict resolution with the perfect dose of silliness (and toilet humour) to keep young readers entertained throughout."
Best Curriculum Support
The Most Important Animal of All
Penny Worms & Hannah Bailey
Our comments: "This is the story of a class of children learning about different animals. At the end of the term, when they have discovered all kinds of amazing things, the teacher asks them to share their ideas about which is the most important animal of all. The pupils share fascinating facts and illustrate how each species fits into a wider ecosystem. We loved this precise perspective and it seems that the British Ecological Society do too, as it is the first children’s book they have endorsed. The book fits neatly into KS1 Science curriculum and is accompanied by school resources to download."
EYFS (Ages 3-5)
My Dad is a Grizzly Bear
Swapna Haddow & Dapo Adeola
"This is a playful and heart-warming picture book that perfectly captures the way in which young children observe familiar adults with curiosity, wonder and imagination - but also with pure adoration. Filled with giggles and with the theme of family bonds at its heart, this is a bear-illiant choice for storytime."