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A selection of books especially selected for children in Reception classes (4-5 year olds) of average reading ability for the 2021/22 academic year.
If your child is a competent reader or has read all these titles then try the books from the Year 1 list. Our overall mission is to promote reading for pleasure with quality texts that are perfectly pitched for the age group and the curriculum. We have particularly avoided blockbusters, classic or set texts, known to everyone, so that we can include poetry, stunning information texts and inspirational books in which all children and young people can find themselves reflected.
Thanks to our partnership with Browns Books For Students we are able to offer all the books on this list at an exclusive price.
Told with great humour by Nigerian storyteller, Atinuke, this story of the headstrong, impetuous Lami will strike a chord with all children. The gentle message - to use quick thinking not just quick running - gives an incredibly satisfying ending, while Angela Brooksbank's beautiful artwork captures the energy and the beauty of the West African setting perfectly.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Award 2022 ages 3-6 | May 2021 Book of the Month | It is an unusual sight to see a completely naked toddler on the cover of a picture book, but you can tell from his smile as he jauntily stomps across the page that this child is gloriously unashamed, inhabiting that brief interlude in early childhood before self-consciousness sets in. Both here and throughout the book Fred is drawn and positioned so cleverly that his modesty is preserved, and the title reassures the audience that he will get covered up eventually. But first he romps and dances through the house revelling in his freedom, while Mum and Dad blithely carry on reading. Nothing to make a fuss about here! We see his natural curiosity lead him to explore his parent’s bedroom and their wardrobes. Dad’s clothes prove too difficult to handle, but from Mum’s wardrobe he makes a dress from a blouse and scarf. He then totters out on some shoes to try his hand at makeup but ends up with a smear of lipstick across his face, just as Mum and Dad discover him. Their reaction - to clean him up and for Mum to show him how to do it properly and then for Dad and the Dog to join in the fun is simply delightful! A shining example of parental love, acceptance and support. You can never be too young to hear a body positive message told with such innocence and infectious delight.
From Chris Haughton comes a funny, suspenseful and keenly observed cautionary tale about pushing boundaries and indulging your more mischievous, cheeky side (when nobody is looking). Three little monkeys, and their big monkey, are sat high up on their branch in the forest canopy. Ok, monkeys! I'm off, says the big monkey. Now remember. Whatever you do, do NOT go down to the mango tree. There are tigers down there. Mmm ... mangos! think the little monkeys. They LOVE mangos. Hmm ... maybe ... maybe they could just look at the mangos? That'd be ok, right?
March 2021 Debut of the Month | This is the story of Triangle, a bright yellow triangle, who has such fun with all the shapes as she goes along trying to find other triangles. First, she rolls with the blue circles, and although she feels a bit different at times, she really feels the times that make her shape stand out. So off she sets to find other triangles – which she does eventually, but only after spending time with Squares, Hexagons, and Stars. The joys of finding others like herself start to wain after they have made lots of shapes, and Triangle realises she misses all the other shapes! She invites the other shapes to play – and they all join in to find they could have a brilliant time together. On the last double page spread they all fit together in harmony to make an explosion of coloured shapes covering the whole area. This debut picture book was written to help the son of this husband-and-wife team fit into nursery and make friends – but it is such a universal story of finding a place in the world it has been snapped up worldwide! It is entertaining, amusing, charming and playful, as well as exploring shapes and how they can fit together. Each shape has a couple of double pages to itself (with Triangle joining in) and all shapes have their own variations of the same colour – so by the end spread of all the shapes there is a veritable rainbow of colours to see and enjoy. A simple book that uses shapes to explore concepts of individuality and inclusion. You can find more books with a theme of Friends & Friendship here.
'There's something I need you to help me with. When I say BOO, you say HOO. Are you ready?' Boo is little ghost who lives in a haunted house - and he is afraid of the dark. In I Say Boo, You Say Hoo, readers must help tell the story with a series of hilarious verbal and visual cues. This is a wonderful book for sharing with a single child or in a group ... and it's a little bit stinky. Be prepared for riotous laughter at story time!
Shortlisted for CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2021 | Having suffered heatwaves and COVID anxiety, we can all empathise with the tired and grumpy Arlo who just cannot sleep. The hero of the Greenaway medal winner’s new book speaks to us all, but particularly to over-tired and over excited small children who do not know how to let go of the day. Luckily for Arlo, and for children, Owl is to hand with some useful advice on how he manages to sleep when everyone is awake during the day. The logic of receiving advice from a nocturnal animal will really register with this audience. “Have a good stretch from your nose to your toes/ Do a little wriggle, let your eyes gently close/Relax your whole body, slow your breathing right down/ Imagine you’re sinking into the soft ground". The gentle refrain that Owl teaches Arlo is the perfect antidote for us all- a little bit of mindfulness that would also be a lovely calm down routine in the classroom! Not only are the illustrations a visual feast, with a stunning colour palette marking the transitions between night and day, but Arlo and Owl are beautifully characterised. Another trademark from this hugely talented author is the warm humour. Arlo is so excited by his long and restful sleep that he must tell Owl- and wakes him up! The song is reciprocated with success and their joint celebrations at dusk wake the rest of the neighbourhood and a duet is required to restore calm. The repeated refrain will be one that is copied in homes and classrooms everywhere. Useful for mindfulness and as an introduction to Night and Day topics, this stunning book is a real triumph of beautiful words and images working in absolute harmony.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2021 | Rebecca Cobb’s warm and uncluttered illustrations capture the importance of friendships and how they can best be made. Here, an eager little girl expresses her delightful enthusiasm for sharing everything including indoor and outdoor play, packed lunch and more while in pleasing contrast the boy who is the focus of her attentions shows that friendship can also take longer to develop. A sweet story which also provides a lot of scope for thoughtful conversation and reflection.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Award 2022 ages 3-6 | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month July 2020 | A class trip to the art gallery inspires Luna and her friends in all kinds of ways. Seeing the amazing pictures by Cezanne, Matisse, Van Gogh and many more they are transported into other worlds and given the opportunity to savour the colours and textures of some of the world’s greatest paintings. They are also encouraged to create their own pictures inspired by the range of images they see and the stories they tell. Luna loves the art - and loves sharing it with her mum who is a helper on the trip. But for some, the experience is more challenging. Can Luna help Finn engage with what he sees and find a way of expressing his feelings? She can and the day ends happily for all. Readers will love this introduction to art as enjoyed by Luna and her classmates.
The Diddle that Dummed is like your favourite pantomime distilled into 32 pages. Fiddler Flinty Bo Diddle is writing a tune for his fiddle – diddle diddle diddle diddle … all is going well until – dum! Which diddle went dum? The culprit steps forward, shrugging: ‘I’m not like the other diddles. Sometimes I like to go dum.’ Flinty is beside himself, he wants all his diddles to diddle. They try again, and again – they try with the defiant diddle at the beginning and at the end, but every time the diddle goes dum. They swap things round, and try a dum dum dum sequence for Flinty’s drum – you can probably guess what happens. By this point, everyone will be laughing out loud at the sheer silliness of it all, at the diddle’s cheekiness, at Flinty’s furious indignation – and then it gets sillier and more comic still. What seems a simple idea is full of surprises and cleverness and every one of us knows a diddle that dums. Sheer picture book brilliance.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2021 | This is a superb example of an information text, ostensibly for younger children, but with multi-age and multi-curriculum uses. It is also a thing of beauty, printed on high quality paper doing full justice to the stunning illustrations, with the author’s expressive brush work, clever layout and a palette filled with watery blues and greens and the white and grey of rain, fog and snow. A little girl notices the role of water all around her—a sprinkler, a tap, a stream, a lake. She also notices that water sometimes tries to hide, or change state, and that water is part of every living thing including her. The book concludes with four pages of beautifully clear explanations of water forms (liquid, solid and gas), the water cycle and the all-important conservation of water. There are some excellent suggestions of how to play and learn about water and true or false questions to check understanding. These are very well suited to older children too, as indeed the book is, as a model of writing and the effective use of figurative language. Poetic descriptions make this an enjoyable read-aloud and the larger font labels that identify the source of the water on each page (including Zoe the narrator) are perfect for vocabulary building for the youngest child. A really well thought out and brilliantly executed early science picture book that deserves a place in every school.
Shortlisted for the Klaus Flugge Prize 2020 | Shortlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2021 | Kate Read uses bold colours, composition and collage to tell the story of one famished fox’s encounter with some angry hens, making this counting book a real thriller. The Klaus Flugge judges said: ‘Visually stunning. There’s real drama here and the way the story is told is joyous. She’s done a very clever thing and created a counting book while keeping within the beats of a story.’
This year is the 25th anniversary of the publication of Handa’s Surprise, named as one of the "50 best culturally diverse children’s books" of all time in 2014 and which together with its sequel Handa’s Hen has sold over a million copies worldwide. So, a new book about Handa will be a cause for celebration in schools everywhere and fans will not be disappointed! Handa’s best friend has invited her to a sleepover and the girls are allowed to sleep in a small hut near the house. Demonstrating feelings that children and parents will find immediately relatable, Handa is excited but increasingly nervous and, as they play and prepare for bed, strange noises keep disturbing her. Akeyo reassures her that it is just her noisy family, but, as the omniscient reader can see on the page opposite, it is in fact an assortment of nocturnal animals that are responsible. Both the sound effects and the unusual animals will prove irresistible to young audiences. Handa, Akeyo, their families and all the animals are luminously depicted in the intense and vivid style that is so characteristic of this talented artist and so evocative of the Kenyan setting. Each animal is identified on the lovely night and day endpapers which gives this warm, reassuring and funny story useful topic potential too. Another winner!
Astrid has always loved the stars and space. I want to be an astronaut! she says. While Mama is away, Papa and Astrid have fun acting out the challenges an astronaut faces on a space mission - eating food from a tube, doing science experiments, living and sleeping in near-zero gravity. Astrid can do it all! Then it's time to meet Mama at the airbase. But where has Mama been?
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month May 2019 | A deliciously playful fantasy tells how an audacious and ebullient mouse identifies himself as being something very much more than he is. Especially he dreams of being a tiger! But can he convince anyone else? Sadly for mouse, his lack of stripes, size and GRRR! make it pretty clear that he is certainly not a tiger. And, when a real tiger turns up, Mouse knows for sure that he won’t ever be a tiger. Can he be something else? Karl Newson and Ross Collins capture imaginative play perfectly.
Winner of the UKLA Book Awards 2019 | One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | This must be one of the brightest and best picture books of the year. With minimalist illustrations – simple shapes against blocks of Day-Glo colour – and short lines of text, Morag Hood tells a story that will dazzle and entertain all readers. Cherries, Bat tells us, ‘are my favourite things’, following this up with a fiercely delivered threat: ‘Do not take my cherries.’ In later pages though we see the cherries being stolen. Bat is inconsolable until one of the thieves leaves a pear in their place. Bat’s emotions – joy, anger, confusion, despair, surprise and joy again – are rendered brilliantly in the tilt of an eyebrow and the angle of the head while the intensity of those emotions will be hilarious yet recognisable to child and parent alike. Superb!
Shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2017 | Joint Winner of the CLiPPA 2016 (CLPE Children’s Poetry Award). | Children’s Laureates Chris Riddell and Michael Rosen combine here to create a beautiful collection of ebullient poems for the very young. Michael Rosen’s close and affectionate observation of small children and the way they think is brilliantly captured in poems such as You Can’t See Me and Let Me Do It. There are also plenty of opportunities for the very young to join in with poems such as Tippy-Tappy and The Button Bop which they are guaranteed to want to hear again and again! Chris Riddell’s illustrations created an equally warm-hearted view of the early years and capture the spirit of the poems perfectly. One of our Books of the Year 2015 - A Reader Review Panel Pick of the Year 2015 - chosen by Robyn Chorely, aged 5- Julia Eccleshare's Book of the Month, September 2015
Shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2016. | Award-winning illustrator Jon Klassen has created a second delightful and surprising picture book with Mac Barnett, author of The Dark. Here two boys dig a hole. It doesn’t seem to take them far so they try digging a bit on their own. They still make little progress. So they take a rest…What happens while they are asleep turns out to be most surprising of all! In simple illustrations, Sam and Dave Dig a Hole gives a host of opportunities for imagining and dreaming.
A prize winning title, this introduces Susan who loves to swing, dance, swim, ride do all the things other children do. In fact, she’s no different from any other little girl except that, as the final spread shows, she gets about in a wheel chair. The vigour and active text is perfectly supported by Tony Ross’s warm hearted illustrations.
Polly Dunbar has been selected as one of The Big Picture campaign's Best New Illustrators in 2008 and was also the winner of the 0-5 Nestle Silver Award 2007. We loved the emotional interaction between Ben and Penguin in this delightful story. Just you wait until you see a child enjoy it as much as we did. Polly Dunbar’s illustrations – a mix of mediums including collage, watercolour and pastel, are a delight.