Books for Year 2. Here’s our reading list of 45 books to foster an early love of reading in Year 2. With picture books, poetry, first readers, and chapter books, there’s a wide variety of titles to appeal to children in KS1 Year 2 classes in UK primary schools. With a range of material to appeal to all ability ranges including the less able, the more able, reluctant readers, and struggling readers; these stories can be used for individual reading, reading with siblings, and whole class reading. This list of Year 2 reading books is revised each term and includes stories by Mac Bennett, Anete Melece, Joseph Coelho, Louise Fatio, Michael Rosen, Anthony Browne, Clotilde Perrin, Raymond Briggs, Wendy Orr, and more.
Books for Year 2 – our recommendations
Our Tower by Joseph Coelho & Richard Johnson
Three children escape from their tower block into a fantasy land of magic and adventure in this compelling illustrated modern fable. With a memorable story, interesting wordplay and spellbinding illustrations, this is a great text both to read and share and use to spark children’s writing about their own lives and homes.
Marv and the Dino Attack by Alex Falase-Koya, illustrated by Paula Bowles
A class visit to the Natural History Museum is more exciting than Marvin and Joe could have imagined when a supervillain brings the dinosaur exhibits back to life. Can Marvin and his super-intelligent robot Pixel stop the prehistoric reptiles before it is too late? A gripping, fast-paced and fun first short chapter book.
Adventure | Diverse
Big Sky Mountain by Alex Milway
Grandma Nan is no ordinary Grandma – she goes on adventures, canoes and lives in a log cabin – and Big Sky Mountain is beyond anything Rosa, a young city girl, could fathom. With immersive short descriptions, maps and illustrations, this is an exciting and easy-to-read nature story that will appeal to children reading chapter books for the first time. Read our full review.
When Dad’s Hair Took Off by Joerg Muhle
When Dad’s hair gets tired of being combed it takes off and begins a rollercoaster journey around the world, sending postcards from far-flung places. But one day, in an unexpected twist, Dad’s hair returns! With laugh-out-loud illustrations and memorable wordplay, younger children will request this catchy tale again and again.
Isadora Moon Goes to School by Harriet Muncaster
Isadora loves the dark, bats, and wearing black. But she also likes playing outside, waving her magic wand and the colour pink. Perhaps it’s because her mum is a fairy and her dad is a vampire! The illustrated short chapter Isadora Moon books are perfect to get children in Year 2 hooked on reading for pleasure.
Series | Short chapter
The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
Two boys hypnotise their headteacher and create an alter ego – Captain Underpants – with wedgie power – fighting for good against evil. With eye-catching and cartoon-like illustrations, this book is sure to be a hit with reluctant readers, and with many other titles in the series, could be a springboard for getting your Year 2 pupils hooked on reading for pleasure.
Uncle Gobb and the Dread Shed by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Neal Layton
Malcolm is a normal boy, but all those around him a slightly strange. There’s a school that tries hard to make everything boring, a genie who appears if you rub your nose, and a city called Ponky. The first of a series, this is an ideal book for Year 2 children to read out loud.
Clarice Bean, That’s Me by Lauren Child
At home, Clarice has to put up with her annoying younger brother, a really moody older brother, and a grandfather who pours soup on his cornflakes. A very funny story about Clarice, who just wants peace and quiet. One of a series of great books for Year 2 that are suitable for more independent readers.
Family | Series
The Lost Homework by Richard O’Neill, illustrated by Kirsti Beautyman
Sonny has lost his homework book and is worried about how his teacher will react. As he searches for the missing book, the reader learns about Sonny’s life as a Traveller, which includes going to a traditional wedding, helping his neighbours, and repairing one of the caravans they live in. A good picture book to show children how all of our lives are different, this text includes wonderful illustrations and a clever twist.
Britannica First Big Book of Why by Sally Symes and Stephanie Warren Drimmer
Perfectly pitched for inquisitive children in Year 2, this is a wonderful book to keep children occupied, interested, and asking questions. With big, bold graphics, eye-catching photography, and accessible larger print text, this book will be at home in every primary school library – and will appeal to readers age 6+ as well as older reluctant readers. There’s also a quiz section that could be useful for group reading and informal comprehension tasks. Highly recommended.
Inside the Villains by Clotilde Perrin
This fantastically illustrated and highly original hardback presents fairy tale villains in forensic and scientific detail! The wolf, witch, and giant are dissected with a series of clues, strengths, weaknesses, personality traits, and physical attributes. The flaps to lift, ‘diabolical thoughts’, and even the stomach contents are a delight. A spectacular and interactive book like no other, this is a great text to inspire children to create monstrous characters in KS1 and KS2 creative writing.
The Dragonsitter by Josh Lacey, illustrated by Garry Parsons
Young Edward has been asked to look after his uncle’s pet while he goes on holiday. But it’s no ordinary pet, it’s a dragon – who eats Jemima! Presented as a series of emails, this story is easy to read and very funny. A good book to inspire classroom penpals, non-fiction writing and ICT-related activities, this is also a well-paced and accessible text that will work well as a class reader in Year 2.
Hattie and Olaf by Frida Nilsson, illustrated by Stina Wirsén
When Hilda decides that she must have a horse to compete with her friend Ellen, who already has three, she thinks she’s finally persuaded her father to buy her one when a horse box pulls up. However, she’s beyond disappointed to meet its inhabitant – Olaf – who is definitely not a horse. With fast-paced dialogue, strong female characters, and lots of action, this bestselling story from Sweden is a fun read for children in Year 2 who are beginning to tackle chapter books independently.
Bug Belly Froggy Rescue by Paul Morton
The second in the Bug Belly series, Froggy Rescue is a clever adventure for 5-7-year-olds that blends laugh-out-loud moments and a fast pace with eye-catching diagrams and illustrations. The highly engaging text will appeal to both emerging and reluctant readers, and the punchy dialogue is ideal to read aloud in a classroom. Add in some poo monsters and these books are surefire winners that provide a good option for children moving away from reading schemes in Year 2.
Salty Dogs by Matty Long
The Salty Dogs are a band of pirates constantly on the lookout for riches and treasure. Along the way, they meet outrageous sea monsters and a ship full of monkeys. The illustrations are filled with clever details and speech bubbles which are ideal for helping develop imagination. This is an ideal book for Year 2 children who are enthralled by pirate stories.
Picture book | Pirates
Don’t Look in this Book by Samuel Langley-Swain
With an eye-catching cover and provocative title, this book is bound to appeal to reluctant readers in Year 2. The artwork is stunning, taking the reader on an imaginative journey through fantastical places including outer space and a luminous green sewer – all told in rhythmic rhyming couplets which will encourage reading out loud. There’s also an encouraging twist at the end which should inspire creative ideas for the classroom.
Rhyming picture book
Gorilla by Anthony Browne
A classic picture book for younger readers. When Hannah asks for a Gorilla for her birthday, she gets more than she bargained for – a real gorilla appears and takes her on a mesmerising and unexpected journey. This is a good book to help spark imaginative ideas from Year 2 pupils to then discuss, model and use in creative writing.
Fantasy picture book
Dr Xargle’s Book of Earthlets by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross
Human life is told through the unique perspective of Dr Xargle, an alien David Attenborough writing an observational travel guide. There are some hysterically funny descriptions of eating and babies. It’s ideal to read to your child in Year 2 and this book is guaranteed to cause fits of the giggles.
Funny picture book
The Kiosk by Anete Melece
This fascinating and unusual picture book story tells the story of Olga, a kiosk owner who spends so long in her workplace she becomes part of it. When two shoplifters strike, to the surprise of passers-by Olga uproots and makes chase – still attached to her kiosk. An unfortunate encounter with a dog on a bridge leads to a surprisingly happy ending. Quite unlike anything else you will read, this highly illustrated story is one of those books where children will spot or realise something new each time they reread it. It’s also an excellent Year 2 book to help illustrate three-act story structure in KS1&2 literacy lessons.
Adventure picture book
The Legend of Spud Murphy by Eoin Colfer
Not only does Will struggle to get any attention with four other brothers in the house, but his mother decides to send them all to the library – in the holidays! The librarian, Spud Murphy, is Will’s worst nightmare. But unexpectedly, things take a sharp turn for the better. A more challenging addition to your class library of books for Year 2 and a great book for teachers or parents to read aloud.
The Problem with Pierre by C.K. Smouha and Suzanna Hubbard
A charming and heart-warming story about Alan and Bertram, who live next door to each other. Both seem to have something missing in their lives and are brought together in a clever ending – despite their different personalities – through Bertram’s cat Pierre. There are lots of discussion points for KS1&2 PSHE – how to compromise, how to respect each other’s differences, and how to find happiness; and the simple and effective character descriptions are ideal to explore in KS1 literacy lessons. Art teachers will see lots of opportunities to inspire pastel work using illustrations as an impetus.
Mr Majeika by Humphrey Carpenter
Mr Majeika is no run-of-the-mill teacher. Amongst other things, he glides in each day by magic carpet and turns the class clown into a frog. School life will never be the same again! This imaginative short-chapter book is a good starting point for encouraging children to try longer and more complex texts in Year 2.
Classic Fairy Tales: The Illustrated Collection by Berlie Doherty and Jane Ray
Including retellings of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, Beauty and the Beast, Rumpelstiltskin, Aladdin and Snow White, the rich language and gorgeous illustrations will provide much inspiration for art ideas and creative writing. Ideal for class reading in Year 2.
Unusual Day by Sandi Toksvig
Jessica brings her granny to school because she can spin plates. Told to come back next week, Jessica’s granny leaves—only to surprise everyone by returning later as a firefighter. A great group reading text for more advanced Year 2 readers.
I Was a Rat!: Or, the Scarlet Slippers by Philip Pullman
A little boy turns up on the doorstep of Old Bob and his wife Joan, and when asked where he came from, says: “I was a rat!” An enthralling story with a clever twist and atmospheric writing, it’s ideal to read and discuss with your child in Year 2.
Adventure | Fairytale
The Day The Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
When Duncan opens his box of crayons, instead of colours, he sees letters spelling “We Quit!”. A very funny story which will appeal to all abilities. The concept and bright illustrations make this an ideal book for Year 2 pupils to provoke discussion in class and help model ideas for pupils’ writing.
Tuesday by David Wiesner
A magical picture book, with few words, where naughty frogs fly on magic lily pads to surprise people in all sorts of unexpected ways. Incredible artwork makes this an ideal Year 2 book for imaginative storytelling, especially with emerging readers.
Fantasy picture book
Beaver Towers by Nigel Hinton
Philip flies to a magical island with his enchanted kite and meets a world of Beavers. But all is not well – many of the beavers have been imprisoned by the evil Oyin, and only Philip can save them. A cracking page-turner for more confident six-year-old readers.
The Happy Lion by Louise Fatio and Roger Duviosin
A fun and engaging story about a lion who just wants to thank the villagers for feeding him – only for chaos to ensue. Beautifully illustrated in pen and ink. A classic picture book, and ideal for independent or paired reading in year 2.
Triangle by Mac Barnett
Ideal for reluctant readers to read aloud and discuss. Triangle is looking to get one up on his friend Square. But Square has other ideas. Clever and engaging with memorable illustrations. A useful book to explore in Year 2 PHSE lessons, this book will help teachers and pupils decide what to do when practical jokes go wrong, and how to avoid situations where neither person is prepared to lose face.
Fungus the Bogeyman by Raymond Briggs
Full of snot, slime, smells, and much revoltingness, this book is bound to appeal to reluctant readers in year 2. The cracking illustrations make this a hit read and one that’s ideal for paired or buddy reading with siblings or older year groups. It’s also a useful classic text to use when exploring vivid descriptions that use the senses.
Mrs Wobble the Waitress by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
Mrs Wobble has her dream job – as a waitress – with one small problem. Her wobble. Faced with a jelly, she wibbles and wobbles and mayhem ensues. The sheer fun and great use of alliteration, onomatopoeia, and rhyme make this a great book to read around the class or for the teacher to perform in front of a class of 6-7-year-olds.
The Dunderheads by Paul Fleischman, illustrated by David Roberts
Possibly the most evil teacher in the world gets her comeuppance in style thanks to Junkyard, Pencil and Spider, who come up with a cunning plan. This fun story with short chapters and rich language works well as a year 2 class reader or a read-aloud for the end of the day.
Pirate School: Just a Bit of Wind by Jeremy Strong
Pirate school is a little different to an ordinary school. Lessons include learning how to walk the plank and hand-to-hand fighting. A funny story that will appeal to reluctant readers, this is a useful book for year two targeted group reading and catch-up reading strategies.
Funny | Pirates
Weslandia by Paul Fleischman, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
Wesley creates his own country, language, food, and civilisation – all in his back garden. This spectacularly imaginative picture book will spark endless conversations, ideas, and inspiration for creative writing and artwork in Year 2.
The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake
A crazy story about Billy, who wants to own a sweet shop, and the Ladderless Window Cleaning Company run by a giraffe, a Pelly and a monkey. A good introduction to Roald Dahl books for year 2 readers on the verge of moving away from structured reading schemes, this is a high-interest text that uses vibrant language to keep children interested. It’s also ideal for shared reading at home.
Mog Time Treasury: Six Stories About Mog the Forgetful Cat by Judith Kerr
A collection of Judith Kerr’s Mog stories, including Mog the Forgetful Cat, Mog and Bunny, Mog and Baby, Mog on Fox Night, Mog’s Bad Thing and Mog’s Christmas. A brilliant collection of books for year 2 children to read in school or share at home, these stories will appeal to children who love animals and pets.
Mr Wolf’s Pancakes by Jan Fearnley
Traditional fairy tales, such as Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs are reworked in these extremely funny stories about a wolf who has some trouble making pancakes. A good source of ideas for creative writing story starters, this book is a useful text to build a short year 2 literacy around.
Gobbolino the Witch’s Cat by Ursula Williams
Gobbolino is a witch’s cat who longs to be someone’s pet. His search for a new home doesn’t start well as mysterious and strange things seem to happen all around him. This is a more advanced short chapter book for independent and greater-depth readers in year 2, and also a captivating and page-turning choice for a teacher to read aloud to the class.
The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton
Could you choose between the Land of Birthdays and the Land of Toys? This is a classic and captivating story set in a magical land. Suitable for very independent year 2 readers, or perfect to read aloud to a class in storytime over a couple of weeks, this is a useful book to inspire imaginative ideas for writing.
The Story of Babar by Jean De Brunhoff
Babar, an elephant, escapes from hunters by travelling to the city, where he learns a lot. On his return to the forest, he is crowned King of the Elephants. A great easy reader book for Year 2 pupils.
Rescue on Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr
A stunning adventure story about Nym, who lives on a beautiful desert island with her friends Jack, Fred, Selkie and Chica. However, disaster strikes when Jack vanishes, and suddenly Nym needs all the help she can get. The book is best suited to independent 6-7-year-old readers who are looking for more challenging and adventurous chapter books.
Fluff the Farting Fish by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Tony Ross
Elvie desperately wants a puppy and isn’t that impressed when Mum returns from the pet shop with a fish. The fish won’t do tricks or bark or sit up, but it does have one special talent… A fun book to read aloud, this text will work well as a whole class reader, or a story for the teacher to read aloud at the end of the day.
The Tear Thief by Carol Ann Duffy and Nicoletta Ceccoli
Each night, the mysterious Tear Thief takes away all the tears from every unhappy child. Where does the Tear Thief go, and what happens to all the tears? This is a useful book to help discuss feelings and emotions with infant pupils – especially during circle time. Atmospheric and poignant, and with rich and poetic language, this is an excellent text to build a year 2 literacy unit around.
Rhyming picture book
How To Live Forever by Colin Thompson
A unique and imaginative book about Peter, who lives in a magical library and is on the search for a very special book entitled: “How To Live Forever”. This book will provoke lots of questions from year 2 children, and it’s a useful text to spark discussion and ideas for creative writing and story starters.
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
The four Penderwicks sisters are all very different. When their father takes them on holiday to a huge country house, they embark on adventures none of them will ever forget. A great series of books for year 2 reading spaces, and ideal for teachers to read aloud with year 2 classes.
Oxford Illustrated Children’s Dictionary by Oxford Dictionaries
With over 50,000 words and intuitive illustrations and photographs, this is the ideal first dictionary for children aged 6+. Age-appropriate definitions, colour-coded sections, a user-friendly margin alphabet index, clear concise usage examples and pronunciation guides make this dictionary a great choice both for school and home learning. The fun games and vocabulary puzzles are useful for stretching the more able.
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Books for year 2 video
Below is a video containing all our year 2 book ideas as a quick-fire video – suitable for classrooms, projectors, wall panel displays, school libraries and sharing on school websites and social media.
How many Year 2 books have you read?
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Books for Year 2 – what titles to recommend to children
In Year 2, the transition from picture books to books with longer text and short chapter books plays a crucial role in advancing children’s reading skills. It’s an opportune time to introduce them to narratives with more extended storylines and basic chapters, fostering the development of sustained focus and comprehension. Consider recommending books and collating a booklist for Year 2 students that strikes a balance between engaging illustrations and increased text complexity, gradually challenging them to follow more intricate plots. This transition allows Year 2 readers to experience a sense of accomplishment as they navigate through slightly more extended narratives, preparing them for the broader literary landscape they’ll encounter in the subsequent years of their reading journey.
What reading age should a Year 2 child be?
Year 2 children are generally expected to have a reading age ranging from 6 to 7 years old. It’s important to recognise the diversity in children’s developmental trajectories, acknowledging that some may surpass this average while others may require additional support. A well-curated year 2 booklist can help with this. National Curriculum guidelines ensure teachers can offer targeted assistance, provide suitable reading materials and create an enriching reading environment. Regular assessments and open communication between educators and parents contribute to a comprehensive understanding of each child’s progress, enabling personalised support tailored to their literacy development.
Click for more children’s reading book recommendations – Picture books to read before you are 5 years old | Reception books | Year 1 books | Year 2 books (this page) | Year 3 books | Year 4 books | Year 5 books | Year 6 books | Topic books | KS3 books
For even more books for 6-year-olds, see this list.
For more difficult titles, try our Books for Year 3 reading list.