Books for Year 1. This list contains suggested stories to appeal to children in Year 1, aged 5-6 years old, in primary school classes. Our reading recommendations include a range of titles to cover all ability ranges including the less able and the more able. We aim to provide teachers and parents with a wide variety of book choices to read together with your child or encourage them to begin to read independently and develop a life-long love of reading. This list is reviewed regularly and features authors including Satoshi Kitamura, Poonam Mistry, Eric Carle, Chris Riddell, Cressida Cowell, Michael Rosen, Judith Kerr, Joseph Coelho and Mini Grey.
Books for Year 1 – our recommendations
The Search for the Giant Arctic Jellyfish by Chloe Savage
Dr Morley sets out with all the proper equipment, all the right people, and years of careful planning to find a bizarre monster that no one has ever seen before. Will she be the first to see the enigmatic jellyfish? This is a great story of adventure, perseverance and resilience that will encourage children to never give up. Also featured in our exploration books list.
The Midnight Panther by Poonam Mistry
Panther feels out of place and sets out into the jungle to face obstacles, overcome insecurities, and discover where he belongs. A stunningly illustrated, captivating, and mystical modern fable The Midnight Panther book is a joy to read aloud and share with a class at the end of the school day. Also featured on our animal stories list.
Picture book | Fable
Smile Out Loud by Joseph Coelho
25 exuberantly happy poems to read-aloud burst from this brightly illustrated large format picture book. Featuring ‘Imagination Running Free’, ‘The Dragging Dragon’, ‘Recipe For This Boy’ and many more, Smile Out Loud is a great book to instil fun and inspire confidence when children read aloud or read chorally as part of a group.
Teddy’s Midnight Adventure by Yoko Mori
Teddy has lost his button eye, so he and Akiko walk through an evocatively illustrated moonlit world to try and find it. Everything seems different and mysterious at night. But by the time the sun comes up, there’s a happy ending. A mesmerising, unforgettable and magical story of friendship.
King of the Classroom by Derrick Barnes and Vanessa Brantley-Newton
An inspiring and confidence-building picture book that follows a boy going to school for the first time. Ideal for reading and sharing with children starting a new school, class, or activity. The artwork – with hints of Basquiat, is inclusive and this is a useful year 1 book resource to inspire classroom display ideas.
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury
A family walks through the countryside on an unlikely search for a bear. But there’s a surprise on the other side of the forest. A wonderful story, with many fun and repetitive lines which will help children remember the more difficult words. A great book for year 1 children to read as a group, with lots of repetition.
Read aloud picture book
The Smile Shop by Satoshi Kitamura
When a young boy goes shopping for the first time, just before he decides to buy something he loses his pocket money. Disaster! But then he discovers a ‘Smile Shop’ and wanders in. A refreshing modern fable with strong visual elements this is an ideal book for sharing, reading aloud and eliciting discussion with pupils.
Fable picture book
You Choose! by Nick Sharratt and Pippa Goodhart
An unusual and imaginative book that makes the reader think. Each brightly illustrated double-page spread has a question, such as ‘Imagine you could go anywhere – where would you live?’ and invites the child to come up with answers. This incredibly imaginative book is a gift to infant teachers looking to develop creative writing and help pupils scaffold story ideas. This is a must-have text for your Year 1 reading list.
A Dark, Dark Tale by Ruth Brown
A visually stunning story about a black cat’s journey through a spooky wood and around a strange house. There’s a gripping ending, and this is a great book to share with a class, use for paired reading, or to inspire descriptive writing in literacy lessons.
That Rabbit Belongs To Emily Brown by Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton
A classic and catchy story of right and wrong that is perfect to explain the concepts of property and justice. Equally suited to classroom discussion and bedtime reading, this is one of those timeless picture books children will want to revisit. A great year 1 book to discuss in storytime.
Classic picture book
Numenia and the Hurricane by Fiona Halliday
A touching picture book story that follows a young bird who struggles against the elements to find and rejoin her family. Told in rhyming verse, this is a great book to read aloud to a year 1 class in literacy or circle time. The stunning illustrations are an ideal impetus for art ideas.
Rhyming picture book
Cinnamon by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Divya Srinivasan
A stunning modern fable with vibrant illustrations. Cinnamon is a mysterious princess who has pearls for her eyes, cannot see and does not speak. While many people try to help her, none succeed – until a fearsome tiger befriends her and changes her life forever. An ideal book with rich language to share in Year 1.
I Can Only Draw Worms by Will Mabbitt
A hysterically funny book about worms and their amazing adventures. The writer invites the reader to use their imagination, and this is a good book to help develop inference. A clever picture book for 5-6-year-olds, and one that can be read again and again.
Adventure picture book
Yokki and the Parno Gry by Richard O’Neill and Katharine Quarmby, illustrated by Marieke Nelissen
This traditional Romani folk tale sees Yokki – a boy with lots of ideas and a passion for telling stories – enchanting his family with tales of a magic horse who will take them to a better life. This highly illustrated short text is an atmospheric and engaging introduction to Roma life and a good book to discuss with groups in year 1.
Goodnight Everyone by Chris Haughton
The perfect bedtime story about going to sleep. Each page will make the reader ever so slightly more … sleepy. Stunning visuals and engaging and comforting characters. The use of repetition will be useful for children who are reluctant readers in year 1.
Family picture book
Oof Makes an Ouch! by Duncan Beedle
When Oof – who is still learning to talk – starts to make up new and interesting words, his best friend Pib gets jealous in this vibrantly illustrated picture book. Great for reluctant readers, mixed ability groups and performing with a class, with lots of impetus ideas for story writing, PSHE links and wall displays.
Funny picture book
The Pocket Chaotic by Ziggy Hanaor and Daniel Gray-Barnett
A charming and well-crafted picture book story about Alexander, a joey who lives in his kangaroo mother Nancy’s pocket, his quest for order and tidiness, and his ultimate independence. There’s a lot to discuss here with themes of organisation, self-reliance and living with other people. With vibrant and florescent illustrations, this is a great book for reluctant readers in year 1, and also to read to classes in key stage one, particularly at the start of a new school year.
Family picture book
The Bad-tempered Ladybird by Eric Carle
This short story is about a ladybird who argues with every other living creature he meets. This ideal book for year 1 children also uses a clock face cleverly to illustrate the passing hours, making it ideal for introducing children to an analogue clock face and telling the time.
The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
A modern classic about a mouse who escapes the clutches of various other animals who want to eat him by creating a monster who is scarier than all of them put together. Great fun, with wonderful illustrations, this is a surefire Year 1 favourite.
Classic picture book
A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond, illustrated by Peggy Fortnum
The classic tale of Paddington, a bear from Darkest Peru, who joins the Brown family with nothing but a hat, a suitcase and a jar of marmalade. This is a good text for 5 and 6-year-old children who are starting to read independently, and the perfect way to introduce younger children to book series and books that can be read in more than one sitting.
Cops and Robbers by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
There’s a dastardly plan to steal all the Christmas presents in London. But Officer Pugh has other ideas and catches all but one of the robbers red-handed. A fun and memorable year 1 book for classroom storytimes.
Adventure picture book
Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy by Lynley Dodd
Hairy Maclary likes to wander off for a walk with his friends. But the scary Scarface Claw is just around the corner. A great book for introducing children to rhyme. An ideal book to aid language and literacy development, this is a fun text for year 1 pupils to share.
Adventure picture book
Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson
Three baby owls wait for their mother to come, and wonder where she is. They wait and wait, and it becomes darker and darker, and in a happy ending, the mother returns. A great book for reassuring children and discussing in circle time.
The Emperor of Absurdia by Chris Riddell
A wonderfully illustrated fantasy story about a strange world of wardrobe monsters, snoring fish; with a clever twist ending. Highly imaginative, this is a useful book to develop reading stamina in more independent 5-6-year-olds who have a longer attention span.
Fantasy picture book
There Are Cats in This Book by Viviane Schwarz
This innovative book with flaps and clever pictures puts the reader in charge of saving the cats from an impending flood. Ideal for children who enjoy books with interactive elements. A good book to inspire imaginative children in year 1.
Lift the flap
Captain Toby by Satoshi Kitamura
When Toby can’t sleep due to the wind, rain and thunder outside, he finds himself and his home transported into the ocean where a giant octopus lurks. This is a wonderful book to read and share with younger children, and with sparkling and imaginative artwork, and memorable characters, this picture book is also a great impetus for creative writing ideas in infant classes.
Mister Magnolia by Quentin Blake
This engaging story-length poem sees Mister Magnolia, an eccentric man who has many fascinating objects around his house but is missing a boot. Then one day receives an unexpected parcel in the post. What could it be? The rollicking rhymes and energy in this story make Mister Magnolia an ideal book to read aloud to, or with, children in year 1.
Katie Morag’s Island Stories by Mairi Hedderwick
Set in Scotland, Katie Morag is a mischievous character who is always up to something. This volume contains four of the most popular Katie Morag stories. A popular series of year 1 books, Katie Morag’s Island Stories are ideal for children who enjoy empathising with story characters.
My Friend Bear by Jez Alborough
A young bear wishes he had some real friends and not just his teddies. But then his teddies start to talk. A good book to help children discuss friendships, and what it means to have a friend.
Avocado Baby by John Burningham
When the Hargreaves family let their child eat an avocado, very strange and inexplicable things start to happen. This is a great book for year 1 children to use to develop imaginative ideas.
The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr
When the doorbell rings during Sophie’s tea time, there’s a big striped tiger at the door. And he’s very, very, hungry! This classic tale is an ideal class read-aloud for the end of the day, and to use as an impetus for creative writing in year one literacy lessons.
Meg and Mog by Helen Nicholl and Jan Pieńkowski
An ideal story for first reading aloud. Meg, a witch, and Mog, her cat, travel by broomstick to a Halloween party. A good text for year 1 children who are phonetically confident, this is a perfect book to inspire Halloween-themed writing and displays.
Not Now, Bernard by David McKee
Bernard is a boy with an issue. He’s found a monster in the garden, and however hard he tries to get help, no one seems to listen. So he tries to deal with the monster himself, with some very funny results. A great book for year 1 children to discuss in storytime.
Dogger by Shirley Hughes
Dogger is Dave’s beloved toy animal, who goes missing, only to turn up at the school fete. But can he buy him back before someone else does? This is a wonderful and heart-warming animal story to help children discuss and understand possessions, loss and how to resolve problems.
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
A bear has lost his hat. And he wants it back. Everyone he asks says they haven’t seen it, except a deer who provides a hint of hope. Great illustrations and ideal for reading aloud. A great book for year 1 children to read aloud.
The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen
In this beautifully illustrated story about overcoming fears, Laszlo comes back from a journey never again afraid of the dark. A more challenging and greater-depth text that lends itself to group reading, this is an ideal year 1 book to help develop ideas for children’s creative writing.
You Can’t Take An Elephant On the Bus by Patricia Cleveland-Peck
A hysterically and laugh out loud funny rhyming picture book where a variety of unlikely animals cause complete chaos. An ideal addition to your classroom library of books for year one pupils and also a good book to discuss when reading at home.
Rhyming picture book
Penguin by Polly Dunbar
A very accessible picture book ideal for reading aloud and acting out. A boy receives a penguin for a present. Only when a lion goes by does it speak, and when it does, something surprising happens. A wonderfully fun book to read aloud to a class and encourage participation and inference.
Hole in the Zoo by Chloë and Mick Inkpen
There’s a hole in the wall at the local zoo, and all the animals have started coming through in this madcap and addictive rhyming story that children will want to read over and over again. A laugh-out-loud read for pupils in year 1, Hole in the Zoo is a good choice for paired reading with older siblings.
Stanley’s Stick by John Hegley, illustrated by Neale Layton
Stanley finds a stick. But it’s not just any stick – with his stick, Stanley can do anything and go anywhere. A great book to stimulate your child’s imagination, develop written story ideas, oral storytelling and reading out loud performance.
How to Wash a Woolly Mammoth by Michelle Robinson and Kate Hindley
A hysterically funny guide with step-by-step instructions for cleaning this unusual pet. But beware, very strange things can happen if the instructions are not followed carefully! Sparkling illustrations. A great book for Year 1 to share.
Dinosaurs in the Supermarket! by Timothy Knapman and Sarah Warburton
Be warned! A trip to the supermarket will never be the same after your child has read this outrageously funny and addictive rhyming story. A good book to share with younger siblings, this book’s use of repetition will help children to develop their inference skills and develop the confidence to read more independently.
The Adventures Of The Dish And The Spoon by Mini Grey
This award-winning short text is a terrific rhyming picture book with stunning illustrations. Equally perfect for shared reading, call and respond and encouraging your child to read independently.
Rhyming picture book
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Books for year 1 video
Below is a video containing all our year 1 book recommendations in a convenient five-minute movie format – suitable for meetings, training, assemblies, school libraries and sharing on online learning platforms, social media, and intranets.
How many Year 1 books have you read?
Here’s a free background wallpaper of our recommended year 1 books list to use on your classroom computer
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Books for Year 1 – what titles to recommend to children
For Year 1 children, it’s beneficial to recommend books that align with their developing reading abilities and interests. Consider introducing engaging picture books with simple narratives and repetitive text to support early reading skills. Gradually progress to early readers with short sentences and a larger font. To support reading development, popular series like Oxford Reading Tree, Read with Biff, Chip & Kipper, or Phonics Bug can be suitable. Additionally, incorporating classic stories and introducing a variety of genres helps foster a love for reading. Titles like The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, and Captain Toby by Satoshi Kitamura are often enjoyed by Year 1 students. As children have diverse interests, offering a mix of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry can cater to their varied tastes and contribute to their overall literacy development.
Why is reading important in Year 1?
In Year 1, reading plays a pivotal role in academic and personal development. Reading skills acquired during this foundational year lay the groundwork for future academic success. In Year 1, children are at a crucial stage of building a positive relationship with books and learning to decode written language. Reading also sparks imagination, creativity, and empathy, nurturing essential qualities in their early years. The importance of reading in Year 1 extends far beyond the classroom, influencing various aspects of a child’s cognitive, emotional, and social growth.
Click for more children’s reading book recommendations – Picture books to read before you are 5 years old | Reception books | Year 1 books (this page) | Year 2 books | Year 3 books | Year 4 books | Year 5 books | Year 6 books | Topic books | KS3 books
For even more year-one books, see this list.
For more challenging reads for your child, why not try our Books for Year 2 suggested reading list?