Booklist: Best books for Y1 (5 and 6 year olds)

50 Recommended Reads for...

Year 1 

 (ages 5-6)



Our team has selected 50 recommended books for 5 and 6 year olds. Top up your Year 1 reading collections with our hand-picked list of storytime favourites, laugh-out-loud picture books, animal stories, early chapter books, illustrated poetry collections, non-fiction texts and more. 

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best books for year 1
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Guidance: About the Year 1 Booklist

Year 1 is a delightful year group with which to share books and at the moment there is a brilliant range of engaging books available for this age. Often at the ages of 5 and 6, children are learning to read short texts independently, while still relying on strong visual elements. Many Y1 children treasure storytimes when adults read aloud, and shared reading experiences remain an important part of language and literacy development both in the classroom and at home. Children at this age often love handling books, and make a bee-line for texts that offer engaging illustrations, interactive elements or memorable characters. Children in Year 1 are increasingly able to identify themes of interest and empathise with characters in familiar settings. Many 5-6 year olds begin to be able to sustain attention for longer stories that take place over a number of sittings, making early chapter books an appealing option for storytime. 


For this reading list, we’ve carefully selected a balance of different types of books for reading for pleasure in Year 1. Some of the stories in our collection feature larger-than-life characters that will cause a giggle, like the wide-eyed bear in The Bear Who Stared or the hairy, grizzly, honey-loving father in My Dad is a Grizzly Bear. Animal characters feature heavily in the collection too, with some given delightful personalities like the hilarious duo in very popular Rabbit and Bear books, while others explore the deep connection between children and animals, like Michael Morpurgo’s Dolphin Boy.


Many of the stories explore true-to-life experiences, like the arrival of a new sibling in Sona Sharma: Very Best Big Sister, the departure from a familiar home in Anita and the Dragons or the tricky world of navigating friendships in On Sudden Hill. Others help to develop an understanding of feelings, like Katie Abey's fun and interactive We Feel Happy, the beautifully illustrated Gustavo the Shy Ghost or Catherine Rayner's Arlo the Lion Who Couldn't Sleep, which explores nighttime anxiety and mindfulness. For books that affirm the value of each individual, try the picture book poem You Matter or the brightly encouraging Meesha Makes Friends.


Picked out especially for enjoyable storytimes with 5-6 year olds, some of the books on the list lend themselves especially well to being read out loud. Rhyming books like Stick Man or Squishy McFluff are great choices. Others offer a quick win for a super-fun storytime full of zany laughter, like Will Mabbit’s whacky picturebook I Can Only Draw Worms or the witty humour of Simon Bartram’s Man on the Moon, which is always a big hit in the classroom. We’ve also included some classic stories for Year 1 on the list, such as David McKee’s marvellously playful Not Now Bernard and Jill Tomlinson’s much-loved The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark


A number of short, illustrated chapter books are included on the list. For storytime read-alouds or class novels, try Sophie's Adventures, Harry the Poisonous Centipede or Fantastic Mr Fox. For newly independent readers looking for their first longer read, we recommend Isadora Moon, The Hat Full of Secrets or Rabbit and Bear. For more chapter book ideas, be sure to check out our separate booklists listing recommended KS1 Storytime Chapter Books or First Chapter Books for Independent Reading.


You’ll also find on this list a range of age-appropriate non-fiction for Year 1, from the ocean-themed Professor Astro Cat's Deep-Sea Voyage, to the inspirational biography of Captain Sir Tom Moore, to Yuval Zommer’s beautifully illustrated  The Big Book of Blooms. If you are looking for books themed around a particular topic, head over to our KS1 topic booklists.

You can find out more about the process of collating our Recommended Reads booklists here.


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