1. Cops and Robbers by Janet and Alan Ahlberg – KS1 (Ages 3-5)
Cops and Robbers is a bestselling book, and with Christmas right around the corner, it is the perfect book for your Key Stage One child to pick up and get straight into. The book tells the story of how the robbers of London are planning to steal all the Christmas presents on Christmas Eve, leaving all the children sad when they wake up. Fortunately, our brave protagonist has a plan to stop robbers, but one unlikely criminal manages to slip through the gaps. With a recent Puffin re-release, it is a funny and engaging story for your child to get stuck into either individually or to read together.
2. The Pocket Chaotic by Ziggy Hanaor and Daniel Gray-Barnett – KS1 (Ages 3-6)
Ziggy Hanaor does a great job in writing a heart-warming tale about the connection between a son and his mother. In the story, Alexander is a joey who lives in his mother’s (Nancy’s) pouch and loves his independence and cleanliness. However, he faces the challenge of the more he cleans, the messier the pouch gets. The story does a great job of highlighting the relationships that children can have with their parents and the fact that not everybody is perfect. Daniel Gray-Barnett also does a great job of illustrating the book with his use of neon colours, and innovative way of organising how the text is structured.
3. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson – KS1 (Ages 3-7)
The Gruffalo is a timeless classic. It is a rhyming story that tells the tale of a mouse travelling through the forest. Throughout the mouse’s travels it meets various predators that scare it, so to escape, the mouse comes up with a monster scarier than any of the predators it faces. The story works and scares off all the predators. But what will the mouse do when it comes face to face with the real Gruffalo? Donaldson does a great job of opening the moral of the story to interpretation. Whether your child interprets it as the smaller person coming out on top or being able to get yourself out of any situation, it really is up to them.
4. We’re Going On A Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen – KS1 (Ages 4-9)
Arguably one of the most famous bedtime story books of all time, ‘We’re Going On A Bear Hunt’ by Michael Rosen is still a timeless classic. Written in 1989, the short story follows Stan, Katie, Rosie, Max, the baby, and Rufus the dog when they decide to go on an adventure in search of bears. The story follows the family as they go on their search facing a wide range of obstacles and challenges in their quest. The book does a great job at being engaging and interesting, whilst also introducing a range of narrative techniques. For example, the famous repetition of “We’re going on a bear hunt” and “We’ve got to go through it”. In addition to this, there is also great illustration done by Helen Oxenbury which makes the story just that much more engaging.
5. The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers – KS1 (Ages 6-8)
What better way to get children interested in reading than with space travel? This is exactly what Oliver Jeffers does in ‘The Way Back Home’, an adventure story about a boy who finds a plane in his cupboard. He takes this plane and flies it up to space where he ends up crashing into the moon. Luckily, we have a friendly alien who is also stuck in the same predicament. The story goes on to explore themes of adventure, friendship, and trust where we wonder if our main character will ever be able to get back and help his newfound friend.
6. Varjak Paw by SF Said – KS2 (Ages 8-9)
Varjak Paw won the 2003 Smarties Gold Award for the 6-8 years range, but it is perfectly suited for students in Year 4. The story written by British author S.F Said and illustrated by Dave McKean tells the tale of an exotic blue cat that admires the stories that his grandfather tells of ninja cats. What he doesn’t realise is that he will soon be thrown headfirst into that world, with unexpected challenges and trying tasks to face. Said does a great job at touching on themes of being singled out for physical differences, unlikely relationships, and navigating unknown situations, whilst being accompanied by a “gothic” illustration.
7. Absolutely Everything by Christopher Lloyd – KS2 (Ages 9-11)
Sometimes the hardest part of reading is finding a book about something you enjoy, so what better way to solve that issue than by having everything you could want in one place? From dinosaurs to the silk trade, electricity to plastic, and everything in between, this book takes you on a journey through the millennia. It is as good a read as it is an excellent learning resource, expanding your child’s knowledge on a range of topics, and possibly getting them hooked on a topic they may have never even heard of before. Christopher Lloyd utilises clear writing, illustrations, and timelines to condense the history of the Earth (and even more) into a comprehensive read that is easy to follow!
8. High Rise Mystery by Sharna Jackson – KS2 (Ages 10-11)
Sharna Jackson is a British writer who focuses on children’s fiction, known for her series of mystery novels that focus on a pair of crime-solving sisters in a London tower-block estate. The first entry in this series is High-rise Mystery. The fast-paced and witty story follows the adventures of Nik and Norva who attempt to solve the mystery of the murder of the community art teacher on their estate. The sisters use their initiative to create an action plan before the police even arrive, but the evidence doesn’t turn out to be as clear-cut as they expected. With humorous characters dropped into a thick plot, your child will be glued to the pages as soon as they start reading!
9. Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover by Markus Motum – KS2 (Ages 8-9)
Space is as interesting as it is vast, especially when it comes to finding life on other planets. The Red Planet has been the trendiest of the planets for a while now, and it’s story is made even better when told from the point of view of Curiosity, the Mars rover. Markus Motum uses a brilliant combination of descriptive writing and engaging illustrations to tell the story of how a NASA robot travelled 350 million miles to explore and relay information about a planet we had never visited before. This book is great for children in KS2 interested in STEM or space in general, with the writing style really bringing Curiosity to life.
When April’s father must go to Bear Island, she decides to join him. Unfortunately, his scientific research tells the world that there are no polar bears left on the island. But one sleepless night, April catches a glimpse of something distinctly bear-shaped; lonely, starving, and desperate to be home. In a time when climate change is being introduced in schools at an earlier age due to its significance, Gold does an amazing job at introducing environmental awareness in a story that highlights themes of friendship and hope.