Books for children in primary schools

Books for 3-11 year olds

Recommended reading books for children aged 3-11 in UK primary schools. Lists are curated and updated by teachers and librarians.
Books for children and teens in secondary school

Books for 11-16 year olds

Books for children aged 11-16. Recommended reading lists for Year 7, Year 8, Year 9, Year 10 and Year 11 in secondary school KS3 and KS4.
Magazines for children

Magazines for children

Recommended newspapers and magazines for children aged 3-6, 7-12 & 13+, and subject teachers in the UK.
Topic books for children

Topic books for classrooms

Cross-curricular topic books for children aged 5-11 in UK primary schools in EYFS, Year 1, Year 2, Year 3, Year 4, Year 5 and Year 6.

School Reading List - what we do

We recommend children's books and YA books to teachers, UK curriculum primary and secondary schools, parents, home-educators and tutors of children aged 3-18. In addition to our lists of books for kids and teens, we also provide free teaching resources for enrichment, primary topic and cross-curricular guides, and round-ups of online courses for home learning.

School Reading List Book of the Month

School Reading List Book of the Month

The School Reading List compiles this list of recommended books monthly. This book of the month list highlights new releases and editions of fiction and non-fiction books suitable for children and young adults aged 5-16.

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The Little Thing by Nick Cave

The Little Thing by Nick Cave

The Little Thing by Nick Cave features vibrant and ultra-high colour contrast illustrations that will intrigue children aged 3+. The hardback format with large print and each character’s dialogue on facing pages lends itself to shared reading or possibly as a thought-provoking bedtime story.

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Rita Wong and the Jade Mask by Mark Jones

Rita Wong and the Jade Mask by Mark Jones

Rita Wong and the Jade Mask by Mark Jones has a dreamlike, almost hypnotic quality that works brilliantly and the cover and illustrations by Seamus Jennings capture the shadowy mystery and warm humour beautifully. I read the book in two sittings.

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The Week at World’s End by Emma Carroll

The Week at World’s End by Emma Carroll

The Week at World’s End is rich in period detail and all the characters are vivid and entirely believable. We care about what happens to them, and to the world they live in. I would recommend it for pupils in Years 6, 7 or 8.

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The Sister Who Ate Her Brothers by Jen Campbell

The Sister Who Ate Her Brothers by Jen Campbell

The Sister Who Ate Her Brothers by Jen Campbell is a deliciously dark selection of peculiarly modern and relevant traditional tales. This collection will appeal to years children in years five and six who like short stories with danger, excitement and mystery.

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When Shadows Fall by Sita Brahmachari

When Shadows Fall by Sita Brahmachari

When Shadows Fall by Sita Brahmachari does much more than just describe people and locations; it examines deep human impulses. The failures of a systems-driven society that so often neglects and then ignores young people are laid bare.

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Book of Numbers by Oliver Jeffers

Book of Numbers by Oliver Jeffers

Book of Numbers – this enchanting book teems with pictures and ideas which cannot fail to engage a curious child aged between three and seven. This is an ideal book to read and share and discuss with nursery aged children.

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The Ash House by Angharad Walker

The Ash House by Angharad Walker

The Ash House by Angharad Walker is a great work of imagination that grips the reader from the first page. It is not an ‘easy read’ but it is refreshingly original and vividly powerful.

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Food and cookery topic books

Food and cookery topic books

Food and cookery topic books including picture books by Gianna Pollero, Jasbinder Bilan, Winsome Bingham, Ewa Jozefkowicz, Chris Callaghan, A.F. Harrold, Morag Hood, Laura Gladwin and more.

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Children's Literature Blogs

Children’s Literature Blogs

Children’s literature blogs are a great way to keep track of the latest trends, releases and recommendations in children’s literature – including picture books, short chapter books, middle-grade fiction, school library non-fiction and YA novels.

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Children’s book lists – our recommended reading ideas

Children’s book lists – our reading book ideas for parents and teachers to encourage reading for pleasure

Our lists of books for kids and teens are carefully curated to make it easier for teachers, parents, and schools to find high quality, engaging and interesting books to instil a reading for pleasure culture in the classroom and encourage primary and secondary aged pupils to read at home.

By Jan Tolkien. This page explaining our reading book lists was last updated on Oct 8, 2021 @ 11:53 pm.

Which books should I read with my child? – Younger primary school readers aged 3-7

Remember, with children’s books, children learn to read pictures before they learn to read words.

Children’s books can be accessed by even the youngest kids. From a few months of age, infants can look at pictures, listen to voices, and point to objects. Guide your child by saying the names of objects or pictures your child points to in books. By associating words with pictures and objects, your child will begin to appreciate the language.

How can I embrace the interesting sounds of words when reading with my child?

Children are fascinated by sounds, including words before they start to identify words on a page. Reading aloud to children helps develop their imagination and understanding. It also helps language and listening skills and prepares them for the written word. When the sounds and rhythm of language become a part of a child’s life, learning to read will become a natural progression.

Why should I talk to my child about reading?

Talking together about words and pictures builds up a bank of vocabulary and improves confidence. Words might be in books, on signs, on the computer or TV, or on packets. Wherever the words are, it will help your child if you talk about them together. Looking at and discussing appropriate children’s reading books lists can help with this. A child is much more likely to want to read a book they feel they have chosen.

How to read with your child each day

Reading together for 5-10 minutes, at a regular time of day, helps to get children hooked on books. Developing a daily reading routine is important.

Why should I relate children’s books to real life?

When you read together, explain to your child how events or places in books relate to real life. Compare details in stories or non-fiction books with your holidays, places you have visited, or experiences you have shared. These connections and shared experiences help to make reading words on a page seem realistic. For example, ‘That’s just like when we went to the zoo. Do you remember?’

How can singing and chanting help develop my child’s reading?

Nursery rhymes, songs and chanting poems are ideal to read aloud with young children. Children are particularly adept at remembering rhymes and repetitive stories and this can help develop sight recognition of new words.

Why is a variety of new books for kids, classics, and old favourites is important when choosing children’s reading books?

Sometimes children want to read a favourite book again and again. This can be useful to build confidence, and shouldn’t be discouraged. However, it’s also important to suggest lots of different genres and styles of books of an appropriate reading level while continuing to re-read favourite books. This is where children’s reading book lists can be useful. It is important to avoid suggesting books that are too difficult too early. Confidence is key to ensuring your child’s reading progresses. Struggling with difficult words too early can lead to frustration with reading.

How to read with children

How to sound out words with your child

Encourage your child to break a word into its sounds to read it and then encourage them to write it out too.

Why you should listen to your child’s reading

It’s really important for children to read aloud. Reading from carefully chosen reading scheme books that have come home from school ensures progression so your child can become more confident as they move through the scheme.

What to talk about when reading a book with your child

Talking about stories helps to tune your child into books. Talk about the writer, the pictures, the cover, the blurb, the beginning, the end, the story, and graphic elements on the page, such as speech bubbles or captions.

How to find out how much your child has understood when reading

Pictures are useful to help your child’s understanding – ask your child about them. Find out if your child can predict what is likely to happen next – can they work it out from the text and pictures? Can you guess the ending together?

How to praise your child’s reading

Always remember to praise your child’s efforts in reading. Too much pressure might put a child off reading from an early age.

Children’s reading book lists for kids aged 7-11 – what to read with your child

How to discuss and project your own reading as a parent

Talk to your child about their reading interests, and their interests outside of reading. This will help inform both of you when picking suitable books. Show your child what you read, and ensure your child sees you reading – whether it’s a book, newspaper, Kindle or a magazine. Always encourage your child to ‘look at this’, or ask ‘have you read this?’

How to read with your child and encourage your child to read to others

Your child is never too old to read with, read to, or hear reading. It’s also a good idea for older children to read to younger siblings. This encourages them to read to an audience. It can also help older children discover new or classic books from children’s book lists that they might have missed out on or overlooked when they were younger.

Encourage your child to take part in speech and drama activities, LAMDA lessons, or audition for a part in a school production.

Why re-reading your favourite children’s books is important

Re-reading books and selecting ‘easy’ reading material from time to time can help confidence and shouldn’t be discouraged. Comparing and sharing your memories of your favourite kid’s books can be a good way to expand reading interests.

How singing and performing children’s books can boost reading confidence

Learning lyrics, singing songs and performing poems together is a great way to dismantle a lack of confidence when reading aloud or to an audience. It also helps younger readers hear cadences and rhythms in poetry and prose, and develop a love for language and wordplay.

How to make buying a children’s book an experience

The UK is full of exciting independent small booksellers and town and village libraries. Making finding a book an exciting trip or experience is a great way to encourage a love of reading and find new books for kids and teens. Looking at a reading book list and then taking your child to look for and choose a book can be an empowering experience.

How to read with children – general advice

How children decode and spell words

Children will still use phonic skills to decode words that they cannot recognise instantly, and they should be encouraged to continue to develop these skills. Children should be discouraged from relying on sight recognition alone – ie guessing words based on words they already know. If your child struggles with a new word, show them how to sound out all the parts of the word, including the ending, especially if your child decodes the beginning of the word but guesses the rest.

Reading nonsense words and poetry – for example, Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll or any text in a foreign language can be a good way to encourage your child to decode all of an unknown word.

Why playing word games helps to improve reading

Games such as Scrabble hangman, countdown, Bananagrams, Boggle or crossword or anagram games in newspapers are great to play with your child.

Questions to ask when reading with your child

How to ask children questions and check their understanding when reading

It’s always a good idea to explore stories and books by asking your child questions about what they have read. Ask them about what they reading, why they like it, which character is their favourite, or which setting most appeals to them. See if they can retell the story so far, or predict what is likely to happen next and what they think will happen to a character. Can they compare what they are reading to other kid’s books or authors, or their own experiences in real life? Also, it’s well worth exploring interesting words, vocabulary, and wordplay – with dictionaries, rhyming dictionaries, thesauruses, and online resources.

What questions should I ask my child when reading fiction books?

  • Where does the story take place?
  • When did the story take place?
  • What did he/she/ it look like?
  • Would you like to have a friend like this character? Why?
  • How did you feel during different parts of the story, what made you feel like this?
  • Through whose eyes was the story told?
  • What part of the story did you like/dislike the most? Why?
  • Have you read any other stories which were similar?
  • Do you know any other authors who write about the same issues?
  • What do you think these words mean?
  • Do you think this book was as good as …?
  • What part of the book was the saddest, funniest or most interesting?
  • Did the pictures help you to understand more about the story? Why?
  • What questions would you like to ask the author?
  • Do you think all children would like this book?

What are good questions to ask children when reading non-fiction books?

  • What have you learned from this children’s book?
  • Who do you think would find this book the most interesting?
  • How would you use the index page to find something out?
  • (Look at the contents page) What page would you use to find out about …?
  • Do you think this book could be improved? Why?
  • Did you find the diagrams, illustrations or photographs helpful? Why?

What are the best questions to ask children when reading poetry?

  • Who wrote this poem?
  • What is the poem about?
  • What did you like/dislike about the poem? Why?
  • What poetic features can you identify (rhyme, rhythm, alliteration, onomatopoeia, simile, metaphor, personification …)?
  • Did the poem remind you of anything?
  • How does this poem make you feel? Which words make you feel this way?
  • What do you think the poet is trying to say?
  • Does the shape the poem makes or the sounds the poem makes when you read it add to the message?
  • Does this poem rhyme? Is there a rhyming pattern?
  • Is this poem rhythmic? Can you describe the rhythm?

How to inspire reluctant readers

Ensure a wide variety of reading material is available. Children’s book lists, school librarian recommendations and plenty of reading choices will help with this.

Reading is more than just books. As well as recommendations from kid’s book lists, magazines, newspapers, the internet, text-based games, graphic novels and comics all develop reading skills.

Make the book experience multi-sensory. Buy books with settings, authors or characters which can lead to an appreciation of art, visits to locations, internet research, or integration with hobbies. For example, this page details books associated with popular travel destinations. If your child reads Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce perhaps take them to the National Gallery to see the paintings described. If your child is fascinated by computers, perhaps buy them Hacker by Malorie Blackman

Some children find books more accessible after they know the plot and characters. Consider watching the film or listening to the unabridged audiobook first, and then reading the book. Or, you might decide to read the book and listen to the audiobook at the same time. Many, if not most, of the titles in our reading book lists, have audiobook versions available.

Use iTunes or audible to download audiobooks to play in your car. In addition, if you play an audiobook during every school run your primary aged child will accumulate a vast literary knowledge by the end of Year 6.

Buy your child an exciting bookcase! It doesn’t have to be boring – try a Kartell Bookworm or a wall art bookcase or DIY.

About Us

The School Reading List is curated and reviewed by a small group of librarians, English teachers and parents who meet in school holidays to discuss books that have worked well with groups of children, new releases within the last 12 months and the shortlists for children’s literature awards. Our reading book lists are reviewed and revised monthly.

We also decide on a book of the month which we feature on our ‘Book of the Month’ page, updated at the start of each month. These titles tend to be recently published books.

The books we recommend in our reading book lists are almost always bought from bookshops – both on the high street and online. Sometimes publishers provide us with pre-release copies via national and local booksellers, authors, agents, or publishers, but the majority of titles are picked off the shelf. For us, it’s important to replicate our readers’ experiences.

How we choose our children’s book lists

Only children’s books that we have read to children or road-tested with classes are reviewed, suggested or recommended.

Sometimes we are approached by authors, agents or publishers asking how we select books for kids and teens and or to consider a new title for a list. Our only requirement is that a book is in print or online and widely available from bookshops or eBook outlets. We look at all suggestions and add books that have excellent feedback from young readers and teachers.

The School Reading List is happy for any school or organisation to mention our website and children’s book list pages, but please don’t copy our book descriptions or other content – this is a copyright issue. As we write all our own reviews please respect our hard work! Copyscape protects our site and alerts us to any problems, and sends emails automatically to websites and hosts.