Books for Reception – the following list contains suggested stories to appeal to children aged 4 and 5 years old in primary school EYFS classes in the UK. These reading recommendations include a range of titles to cover all ability ranges. We aim to provide a wide variety of book choices for literacy planning, reading spines, and to develop a reading for pleasure pedagogy. These books are suited to first independent reading, paired reading, to read together with your child or for encouraging a lifelong love of books. This list of picture book titles for infants is reviewed regularly and features authors including Steve Weatherill, Jeanne Willis, Oliver Jeffers, and Julie Fulton.
Books for Reception – our recommendations
Baby Goz by Steve Weatherill
Baby Goz has just hatched and goes in search of his mum. The reader follows, opening flaps along the way to see if the animal behind is Goz’s mum or not. With a great story, well-presented text, and fun, and engaging artwork, this is an ideal book for first independent reading in reception.
Hey, Water! by Antoinette Portis
A subtle and poetic picture book that follows water from the tap to the house, to the stream into the river and the ocean, and back into the atmosphere and weather system. This is a clever book that explains the water cycle through practical everyday scenes and engaging artwork.
Shark in the Park by Nick Sharratt
A wonderful and catchy rhyming story about Timothy, and what he can spot in the park looking through his new telescope. He thinks he’s spotted a shark. Is it a shark? Find out as more is revealed on each page. An ideal book to read with your child or for paired reading at school.
Oi! Get Off Our Train by John Burningham
When a small boy sets off on a fantastical night train with his toy dog for company, little can he imagine what will happen next. Soon they are joined by a series of endangered animals. A great story to share and raise awareness. The artwork is terrific and ideal to inspire story journeys in reception literacy lessons.
I Really Want to Shout! by Simon Philip and Lucia Gaggiotti
With big, bold illustrations, this picture book story is narrated by a girl who struggles with things that are unfair, including parents, other children and teachers. The clever rhyming text and powerful illustrations make this an ideal text for reception or year 1 class, and also for KS1 and lower KS2 PSHE. A good book to help children explore and discuss anger and frustration.
Peep Inside Nighttime by Anna Milbourne
An inventive and inspirational lift the flap book that explores what goes on in the dead of night. Uplifting and imaginative, this is a great book to inspire ideas and artwork.
Small Knight and George and the Royal Chocolate Cake by Ronda Armitage
When a big fat chocolate cake has been stolen, George the Dragon and Small Knight set out to find the thief and rescue the baked marvel. However, there’s a sticky twist when the thieves make some tasty demands. The rhyming text is ideal for whole-class teaching.
How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers
A boy who loves to stare at the night sky longs to have his very own. So one day he decides to catch one. A highly imaginative story and beautifully illustrated book for reception children that is ideal for first independent reading.
It’s Only Stanley by Jon Agee
A fun picture book to read to children under five. Stanley the dog likes to fix and improve things around the house – much to the bemusement of his family – the Wimbledons. The engaging rhyming storyline follows Stanley as he attempts increasingly more complicated feats. Great for children who are interested in how things work, and with eye-catching large format illustrations – ideal for reluctant emerging readers.
Blue Monster Wants It All by Jeanne Willis
Every child will come across someone who wants everything, especially things they can’t have. Blue monster is one of those people. Despite getting everything he wants, he’s never happy and wants more and more. But are there some things money can’t buy? A clever story that will get children thinking. Ideal for discussion and reading in groups.
I am a Tiger by Karl Newson
A super confident mouse declares “I am a Tiger”, and does it with such authority that the snake, fox, raccoon, and bird are convinced. Persuading the real tiger proves to be a harder sell. A great book to help children look at things in a new way. The artwork and repetition are ideal to encourage early readers.
A Great Big Cuddle by Michael Rosen
A collection of poems that explore life from a child’s point of view. Set to vibrant and engaging artwork, these poems will resonate with small children and inspire ideas for reception literacy lessons.
We Planted a Pumpkin by Rob Ramsden
Part of a trilogy of picture books including I Saw a Bee and We Found a Seed, this story follows the life of a pumpkin from seed to Halloween. The illustrations are vibrant and inclusive. These books are perfectly pitched for reception aged children, and ideal for inspiring wall displays.
SSSSNAP! Mister Shark by Neal Zetter
An addictive and funny read-aloud performance poetry book about a boy who begs a shark not to bite him. An ideal book for reception classes.
A First Book of Nature by Nicola Davies
A beautifully illustrated and diverse collection of poems, stories, recipes, thoughts, and ideas, this is an inspiring book to look at, discuss, and read together with reception aged children.
Zim Zam Zoom! by James Carter
A stunning book for reception children containing exciting performance poetry to perform with children. It’s perfect to read and perform together, or as class groups. The themes include space, animals, music, and the fireworks ideas are perfect for incorporating into literacy teaching at the start of November.
Handa’s Surprise by Eileen Brown
When Handa takes a fruit basket to her friend little does she realise that animals are sneaking off with her produce along the journey. Will there be anything left in the basket when she reaches the village? A classic for whole-class reading and developing predictive skills. The whole class will be itching to reveal what they think will happen next.
Pattan’s Pumpkin by Chitra Soundar
Pattan’s pumpkin is bigger than goats, elephants, mountains, it’s bigger than everything! But when an epic flood threatens Pattan’s family, will the immense pumpkin be enough to save them. A great book to introduce traditional tales to reception children.
Elmer by David McKee
A modern classic, this picture book tells the story of Elmer, a colourful patchwork elephant who wonders what it would be like to grey like every other elephant. Not only is this a good book for reception readers, but it is also a useful text to provoke and inspire discussion and artwork.
This Book Just Ate My Dog by Richard Byrne
A unique picture story that turns the concept of a book upside down. When Bella takes her dog for a walk, he disappears from the picture and off the edge of the page. Bella is so outraged she goes after him! After a shakeup from the adults in charge, the book coughs up Bella and her dog and everything is as it should be. Or is it? A fantastic story for group or paired reading in reception, and great for discussion.
Mr Big by Ed Vere
Mr Big just wants friends, but he is so big that he scares them off. How can he get people to see beyond his huge appearance and notice the person inside? A great book for reception children to read and talk about in literacy lessons.
Little Green Donkey by Anuska Allepuz
A clever picture book about a donkey who fixates on one particular food – grass. Grass is his favourite, and despite what anyone says, little green donkey can’t see the point in trying anything else – until he catches a look at himself. A thought-provoking story to read with reception children.
The Perfect Sofa by Fifi Kuo
When Panda and Penguin decide the old sofa needs to go, they spend ages and ages looking, but can’t choose a new one. After an epic search, they eventually find the perfect one for them. This is the perfect story to explore the ideas of compromise, agreement and not giving up with smaller children.
Corduroy by Don Freeman
A modern classic about a little girl who sets her heart on a toy bear in the shop. Her mother, however, can’t see past the fact he’s been on the shelf for a long time and is missing a button. Can Corduroy the bear sort himself out in time?
Supertato by Sue Hendra
Vegetable superhero Supertato meets his nemesis in a very naughty pea who has escaped from the freezer. Can Supertato restore peace and order or will the pea cause havoc? A hysterically funny story that will appeal to (!) and encourage reluctant readers.
Bears Don’t Eat Egg Sandwiches by Julie Fulton
A great book to read to the class at the end of a day in reception. When a bear arrives at Jack’s house wanting lunch, Jack offers him an egg sandwich but the bear would prefer Jack for lunch… Can Jack convince the bear to take the sandwich? Children will love the bear’s repetitious reply when he’s asked if he wants an egg sandwich.
Stanley and Rhoda by Rosemary Wells
A classic picture book with three stories that explore getting along with siblings and friends sensitively and funnily. ‘Don’t touch it, don’t look at it’ with Dr Zuckerman is timeless. A great bedtime story.
Aliens Love Underpants by Claire Freedman
The perfect picture book for reception reluctant readers. Not only is there a catchy and funny rhyming text that helps with predictive skills, but the crazy plot involving aliens wearing every variety of pants cannot fail to amuse and engage even the most reading averse child.
For even more reception books, see this list.
For picture books, see our list of 50 picture books to read before you are five.
For more challenging reads for your child, why not try our Books for Year 1?
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