Recommended children's booklists sorted by age or topic

Home

Topic: Picturebooks Upper KS2

Best Picturebooks for Years 5 and 6 

Picturebooks are brilliant for all ages in primary schools and are not to be left behind in EYFS and KS1 libraries alone. Shared with older children, the best picturebooks can allow children and adults to share a reading common experience made up of the interplay between the visual and the written word.

In Upper KS2, picturebooks are excellent for opening discussions on important issues like Last: The Story of a White Rhino, for exploring philosophical or political concepts like The Island, for developing empathy and for challenging thinking like I Talk Like A River. Sometimes they simply provide an imaginative reading experience that caters to a visual appetite that is excluded from chapter books offered at this age, like The Midnight Fair. We’ve picked out a list of the best picturebooks that are suitable for children aged 9-11….

NB: If you are looking for more KS2 picturebook recommendations, try Picturebooks for Lower KS2 or Wordless Picturebooks. For even younger readers, head to Storytime Favourites for EYFS.

Picturebook

What if words got stuck in the back of your mouth whenever you tried to speak?

After a day of being unable to speak when asked, and of being stared at, a boy and his father go to the river for some quiet time. “It’s just a bad speech day,” says Dad. But the boy can’t stop thinking about all the eyes watching his lips twisting and twirling. When his father points to the river bubbling, churning, whirling and crashing, the boy finds a way to think about how he speaks. Even the river stutters. Like him. “I talk like a river,” he says.

An incredibly moving picture book that offers understanding rather than a solution, and which will resonate with all readers, young and old. Masterfully illustrated by Sydney Smith, winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal.

Picturebook

Berta is a young girl with an artistic soul growing up on a farm in the Swedish countryside at the beginning of the 20th century. Her father doesn’t understand her and her mother is dying. But Berta longs to be an artist and can’t stay on the farm forever.

Based on the life of Swedish artist Berta Hansson, this is the story of a young woman with the bravery to live her own truth and follow her own path, despite the protests of her father and society at the time.

A universal story of longing and imagination, the perfect refrain for a young rebel.

Picturebook

A young boy, bewitched by his father’s unrelenting passion to fly; a desperate craving that absorbs his every waking minute, finds himself entranced by the dream. When his father goes to war and does not return it seems the spell is broken.

Much later, the boy, now a young man finds himself drawn once more to his father’s drawings and failed experiments. Finally able to make his father’s dream a reality, he flies. Will his own son be visited by this unrelenting passion?

Picturebook

Once, the only sounds to be heard were the buzzing of bees in the grass, the murmuring of moles in the earth, and the song of birds in the sky. These warmed the hearts of those who cared to listen – until the others came to fill the sky with a cacophony of noise. With dramatically lit artwork and a spare, intriguing text, Varmints tells of a pastoral world in need of protection and of the souls who love it enough to ensure its regeneration.

Picturebook

It’s night and the dark is filled with strange sounds as Shane makes his way home. On a fence he finds a stray cat that at first growls and spits at him. But Shane talks and strokes the kitten to calmness, and decides to take the ‘Spitfire, Kitten Number One,’ home with him. No gang of boys, or avenue of dense traffic, or fierce dog can stop Shane carrying his new found friend to the place he calls home. Greg Rogers’ sensitive use of charcoal and pastel create Shane and his cat in splendid city-at-night time scenes.

Picturebook

Deep underground beneath Perfect Pets , where children can buy genetically engineered “perfect” creatures, there is a secret lab . Barnabus and his friends live in this lab, but none of them are perfect.

They are all Failed Projects. Barnabus has never been outside his tiny bell jar, yet he dreams of one day seeing the world above ground that his pal Pip the cockroach has told him about: a world with green hills and trees, and buildings that reach all the way to the sky, lit with their own stars.

But Barnabus may have to reach the outside world sooner than he thought, because the Green Rubber Suits are about to recycle all Failed Projects . . . and Barnabus doesn’t want to be made into a fluffier pet with bigger eyes. He just wants to be himself. So he decides it’s time for he and the others to escape . With his little trunk and a lot of cooperation and courage, Barnabus sets out to find freedom – and a place where he and his friends can finally be accepted for who they are.

This suspenseful , poignant and magical story about following your dreams and finding where you truly belong will draw readers into a surreal, lushly detailed world in which perfection really means being true to yourself and your friends.

Picturebook

Rabbit borrows a book about wolves from the library. He can’t put it down! But soon a sinister figure with sharp claws and a bushy tail starts to creep right off the pages. You won’t believe your eyes – but if you’re a rabbit, you probably should.

Brilliantly witty, ingeniously constructed, and with amazing artwork throughout, Wolves has thrilled critics and booksellers alike. Wolves was Emily Gravett’s debut book, winning her the Macmillan Prize for Illustration and her first CILIP Kate Greenaway Award.

This edition of Wolves features an additional mini book to cut out and keep; it’s called 10 Little Rabbits , and it’s Wolf’s favourite book…

Picturebook

Touch the wooden gate in the wall you never saw before, say ‘please’ before you open the latch, go through, walk down the path…

The reader is invited on a lyrical journey peopled by a cast of mythical characters, with a set of instructions that is both intriguing and reassuring. The advice for travelling through a fairytale landscape might just save you from being eaten by wolves or being lost for ever, but it is also a charming metaphor for living courageously and taking risks. The expressive and stylish prose resonates with Gaiman’s distinctive voice and will captivate readers of any age.

Illustrated throughout with gorgeous art by Charles Vess, whose work can also be seen in Neil Gaiman’s Blueberry Girl and Susanna Clarke’s The Ladies of Grace Adieu.

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