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Recommended Books for Year 2

Books for 6 - 7 year olds

Last updated June 21st, 2024

Recommended Books for Year 2, for children aged 6 – 7 years old: Year 2 is a transitional year when many children start reading books independently. It is crucial to have plenty of books available that children can tackle on their own and books with longer, more complex stories that will be read aloud to them at home and school. Picture books and visual literacy continue to be important, but the stories will be increasingly sophisticated, and illustrations can be more complex. Children with a good repertoire of traditional stories will understand the humour in fractured fairy tales. Episodic stories and collections of short stories are excellent as they help readers develop an implicit understanding of story structure without retaining a complex narrative from one reading session to the next. The layout is important, too – well-designed pages with plenty of white space and illustrations are supportive. Poetry may have a wider range of forms and reflect children’s everyday experiences, with nature and people being popular themes. Inclusivity is an important consideration for all of our selections.

Most of the books in this list have full reviews that you can read for more detailed information and our evaluation.

Individual books and special easy-purchase collections are available from our bookselling partner Best Books for Schools.

The book selection for our recommended reading lists is overseen by Just Imagine Director Nikki Gamble, a former teacher and university lecturer, co-author of Guiding Readers and author of Exploring Children’s Literature. The views of our review panel inform our choices. The panel is convened, and reviews are edited by Jo Bowers, a former teacher and university lecturer specialising in literacy and children’s literature.

Our top picks from recent titles

Adventuremice: Mice on the Moon

By Philip Reeve. Illustrated by Sarah McIntyre. Published by David Fickling Books.

This book is part of the Adventuremice series.

BOOM! Pedro and his friends blast into outer space, where they become the first mice on the moon. Or so they think . . .

Our reviewer, Prue Goodwin, writes. ‘I wish that I had had this series in my classroom to support the literacy curriculum. It offers so much that would engage young readers, starting with a text that reads aloud magnificently (especially with a dramatic use of voices) whilst the images zing off each page.’

Read the full review

Welcome to Our Table

By Luara Mucha and Ed Smith. Illustrated by Harriet Lynas. Published by Nosy Crow.

Find out what children eat all around the world in this beautifully illustrated book, written by bestselling poet and author Laura Mucha, alongside acclaimed cookbook author Ed Smith. From pasta to passionfruit, baguettes to biryani, ramen to rambutan, there are so many different dishes and delicacies all around the world.

Our reviewer, Gethin Wallace, writes. ‘The bright, colourful illustrations of the foods are tasty and tempting and children will enjoy spotting dishes they eat themselves. The writing style is chatty and accessible and the writers have chosen an interesting mix of historical and cultural facts about the origins of the dishes and the ways they are eaten. Children will particularly enjoy the sections which show them how to say foody phrases in different languages.’

Read the full review

Pablo and Splash

By Kazumi Yumoto. Illustrated by Komako Sakai. Published by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC.

Antarctic penguins Pablo and Splash are polar opposites and besties for life. Pablo is a home-bird and a careful planner. Splash is easily bored and hungry for adventure. Sick to her flippers of the harsh, freezing weather, Splash persuades Pablo to go on a holiday with her. But far from the luxury beach destination that Splash has in mind, the pair end up in a time-travel machine that takes them back to the age of the dinosaurs! Suddenly their icy homeland doesn’t seem so dull.

Our reviewer, Roy James, writes,  ‘I fell in love with Pablo and Splash. What makes them so lovable is partly down to how they’re drawn. Just looking at them brings a smile to your face. Splash’s swimsuit and sunglasses and mixing up certain words are endearing. And their friendship is also very sweet.’

Roy Moss writes about comedy duos in children’s graphic novels.

Read the full review

Marv and the Dino Attack

By Alex Falase-Koya . Illustrated by Paula Bowles. Published by Oxford University Press.

This book is part of the Marv series.

It’s Marvin’s turn to look after Nibbles, the classroom hamster. He’s determined to show his grandad that he’s responsible enough to have a pet, but disaster strikes when Dr Boom shows up with his latest invention and makes the hamster HUMONGOUS! It’s time for Marvin to get into his super-suit and become MARV-unstoppable, invincible, and totally marvellous!

Our reviewer, Suzanne Horton, writes, ‘Marv is an enjoyable introduction to chapter books for younger readers to get their teeth into and a superb read aloud book which will keep listeners enthralled throughout.’

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Donut Feed the Squirrels

By Mikka Song. Illustrated by Mikka Song. Published by Pushkin.

This book is the first in the Norma and Belly series.

Norma and Belly really, really, REALLY want a donut. But things aren’t going their way! With a burned breakfast and a grumpy donut seller at the local food truck, they may be stuck with only nuts to eat… But these squirrels won’t give up that easily! They’re on a mission to get their paws on the biggest, most delicious donut of their tiny lives!

Our reviewer, Karen Hulse-Vickers, writes, ‘Mika Song has created a sweet and funny tale that is supported by beautiful ink-lined illustrations that bring the story to life. The story has a lovely ending that demonstrates that a bad event (having your doughnut van raided by squirrels) can work out well in the end. This is a story of friendship, ingenuity and hunger and is ideal for emerging readers or as a shared read. The illustrations are delightful and add depth and nuance to the tale.’

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Luna and the Sky Dragon

By Bethan Woollvin. Illustrated by Bethan Woolvin. Published by Pan Macmillan.

Luna loves the sky and finding out about all the wonders she can see above her. But the villagers can’t stop worrying about the mythical Sky Dragon – a fearsome creature who is said to dwell in the sky. Can Luna share her love of the sky and show the villagers that the Sky Dragon is nothing to be afraid of?

Our reviewer, Gethin Wallace, writes, ‘This book will be enjoyed by children from four to seven and would be a good class read aloud in Year 1 and Year 2 classes. It could also be used as a springboard for learning about the role of storytelling and astronomy and as a way of finding out about some more diverse figures in Ancient Greece.’

Read the full review

Call the Puffins: Muffin and the Shipwreck

By Cath Howe. Illustrated by Ella Okstad. Published by Hachette Children's Group.

Call the Puffins is a first-chapter book series for readers aged 5 and upwards.

Welcome back to the island of Egg, where a group of young puffins are training to join a search and rescue team. Meet Forti, the newest recruit. He’s a bit of a dreamer and the other puffins have their work cut out looking after him! When an old wreck washes up in a storm, the puffins are told to keep away – but Forti cannot resist swimming right up to it for a closer look. But then disaster strikes, and Forti’s leg gets stuck in the rigging. Can Muffin, Tiny and the other puffins remain unflappable in the face of danger and save the day?

Our reviewer, Kalpa Ghelani, writes, ‘Call the Puffins! is a great introduction to chapter books for readers in KS1 upwards and can be used as a class story to read for pleasure; a beginner chapter book for younger readers or a first step for those ready to move on to more independent reading.’

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Who Rules the Rockpool

By Matty Long. Illustrated by Matty Long. Published by Oxford University Press.

Crab is a big crab in a small rockpool and he RULES THE ROCKPOOL . . . or so he thinks. When a big wave sweeps him and Prawn into an even larger pool, he has to reevaluate his place in the hierarchy. If Crab doesn’t RULE THE ROCKPOOL, who does?

Our reviewer, Ann Cowling, writes, ‘I loved this picture book and would highly recommend it for inclusion in primary school libraries, as part of the curriculum, or as a really useful gift for children to take on a seaside trip.’

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Dictionary of Dinosaurs

By Dr Mathew G. Baron. Illustrated by Dieter Braun. Published by Quarto.

Find out about every dinosaur that’s ever been discovered in this Dictionary of Dinosaurs! From aardonyx to zuniceratops, read about where they lived, what they ate and much more. Featuring firm favourites such as the T-rex, ankylosaurus and triceratops, as well as lesser-known beasts like the baryonyx, rugops and shanag, there’s no dino left behind in this A-Z. Each entry includes a fact file, scale diagram, Latin name and pronunciation.

Our reviewer, Jo Tregenza, writes, ‘Attractively illustrated, this book really is a joy to behold. It has to become an essential book for any primary classroom. Everything you could ever want to know about dinosaurs is here and many things you didn’t know you wanted to know. There are dinosaurs you have never heard of. Have you heard of a Malawisaurus? No, me neither! And can you guess where the Malawisaurus is from? It’s Malawi!’

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Max and Chaffy: The Great Cupcake Mystery

By Jamie Smart. Illustrated by Jamie Smart. Published by David Fickling Books.

This is the second book in the Max and Chaffy series.

Max and Chaffy are excited to attend Chief Constable Moose’s SURPRISE BIRTHDAY PARTY! But the birthday cake has gone MISSING!Max and Chaffy need to find the clues and solve the mystery so the party can go ahead, and YOU CAN HELP!

Our reviewer, Ann Bradley, writes, ‘Jamie Smart’s illustrations are charming and fun to study. The characters have great expressions designed to make children laugh. At the end of the book are some additional puzzle pages where the reader is given items to find within the story There are strong themes of friendship and co-operation.’

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Farrah Loves Mangoes

By Sartak Sinha. Illustrated by Sartak Sinha. Published by Flying Eye.

Farah loves mangos! She could eat them all day long and she wouldn’t mind living in one either. Every summer when she visits her Grandpa they always pick the ripe fruit from his mango tree. This year, however, the tree is empty! Farah puts her mind to it and decides she will make the tree grow fruit.

Our reviewer, Helen Dearing, writes,  ‘Farah Loves Mangos is a delightful picture book that leaves a lasting impression. With its blend of heart warming storytelling, gentle humour, and thought-provoking themes, it’s a story that appeals to readers of all ages. Through Farah’s journey to save the mango tree and her special relationship with her grandpa, readers are reminded of the power of love, resilience, and the wonders of the natural world. So, grab a copy of this enchanting book and let it take you on a journey of laughter, reflection, and mango-scented magic.


Read the full review

Bad Panda: Mites, Camera Action

By Swapna Haddow. Illustrated by Sheena Dempsey. Published by Faber.

This is the third book in Swapna Haddow and Sheena Dempsey’s  Bad Panda Series.

A documentary crew has come to the zoo to film everyday life with the animals. The only thing is that the reality is a bit boring, so they ship in some animal actors. Lin and her best friend Fu are less than impressed with the prancing lion that wants to take centre stage. And the smaller animals in the zoo, the mites, are fed up with being overlooked. It’s time to unleash some bad pandaness! Insects and pandas unite to create an authentic show about real zoo life that promises to be anything but boring!

Our reviewer Prue Goodwin writes, ‘I love this book for so many reasons. Obviously, the slapstick wit (including poo jokes) running through the text but also: six pages of amazing lyrics to a popular panda song (so we can all join in); the delightful pictures and other graphic elements of the storytelling; the insightful characterisation of leadership. A fabulous read-aloud experience which will have you laughing together with your class.’

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The King of the World

By Ben Clanton. Illustrated by Ben Clanton. Published by HarperCollins.

This is the second book in Ben Clanton’s (Narwhal and Jelly) Tater Tales.

Rot is ready for another adventure, and he’s going “Spudlunking!” But while Rot is excited to dig through the muck for treasure, all his friends seem more interested in their own plans. When Rot uncovers a shiny old crown, he’s sure it’ll change their minds.
And it does…in a most unexpected way. When Rot wears it, he feels powerful…He feels invincible…He feels like…the King of the World!

Major and Mynah: Tarantula Terror

By Karen Owen. Illustrated by Louise Foreshaw. Published by Firefly Press.

This is the third book in Karen Owen’s Major and Mynah series.

SPUD – the Super Perceptive Undercover Detectives are back and have another mystery to solve. When Callie, Grace and Bo discover that a tarantula has escaped from the wildlife park, they must find the spider and reunite her with her spiderlings before she dies from the cold. Can Callie’s magical hearing aids and Mynah bird Bo – the SPUD team’s Spy in the Sky – help to find the missing creature before it’s too late?

Our reviewer Ann Cowling writes, ‘The story is full of excitement, suspense, and humour, with a little dash of magic, and brought down to earth by the realistic and amusing reactions of Callie’s parents. Louise Forshaw’s black and white illustrations add to the joy of the book, with her portrayals of the characters, fact files, and links between the text.’

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The Magic Callaloo

By Trish Cooke. Illustrated by Sophie Bass. Published by Walker Books.

Long ago and far away, a magic callaloo plant grew in a village square. Whoever ate one of its leaves was granted a wish. But a greedy, selfish man wanted all the wishes for himself, so he stole the callaloo. With only one leaf left, Mister and Missus, desperate for a child, pluck it to make their dream come true. But the greedy man wants everything, and he kidnaps their beloved daughter, who will ultimately make the most remarkable escape.

Trish Cooke’s rendition of Rapunzel is inspired by the stories of enslaved Africans. It has a lively storytelling voice and is vibrantly illustrated by Sophie Bass.

Teachers' Treasures

Classic and established favourites

The Green Ship

By Quentin Blake. Illustrated by Quentin Blake. Published by Penguin Random House.

Two young adventurers stray into a neighbour’s garden, discover a ship made from trees, and meet an old lady who wants the children to climb aboard and sail across the seven seas. But summer passes, and storms are on the horizon. While change is inevitable, memories persist, and stories are passed on. Allow time for children to respond to the things they see in this story and the personal meanings they attach to it. Multi-layered as the best stories are.

The Day The Crayons Quit

By Drew Daywalt. Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. Published by HarperCollins.

You will never look at your pencil case in quite the same way after reading this witty story. A pack of disgruntled crayons write letters explaining their grievances. After reading, enjoy making up your stories starring the crayons; you might even make them into storybooks. A beautifully designed book bursting with verbal and visual creativity.

Tadpole's Promise

By Jeanne Willis. Illustrated by Tony Ross. Published by Andersen Press.

This class favourite is hilarious but best understood by children who know about lifecycles. Older children may better appreciate the irony, so this one works with a wide age range from about 7 years upwards.

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Book

By Lauren Child. Illustrated by Lauren Child. Published by Hachette.

A fabulous fractured fairy tale for children already familiar with standard versions. Wonderfully playful, this book was groundbreaking in its use of typography and found materials. This book is included in our Take One Book scheme,

Jim and the Beanstalk

By Raymond Briggs. Illustrated by Raymond Briggs. Published by Penguin Random House.

A wonderful version of the traditional story which celebrates friendship, kindness and problem-solving. A super book to compare with standard versions of the story,

The Secret of Black Rock

By Joe Todd-Stanton. Illustrated by Joe Todd-Stanton. Published by Flying Eye.

A modern story with all the hall marks of a traditional tale. This longer picture book with graphic novel features works well for children in year 2, either for independent reading or as a class book.

The Man Who Wore All His clothes

By Allan Ahlberg. Illustrated by Katherine McEwen. Published by Walker Books.

This farcical story is a masterpiece by Allan Ahlberg. It’s fast-paced and can be read in a few sessions. It works as a class read but most year 2 will be able to read it independently, so a good one for the class reading corner.

Traction Man is Here

By Mini Grey. Illustrated by Mini Grey. Published by Penguin Random House.

A popular classroom choice, Mini Grey’s multi-layered picture books work best with readers from around age 7 upwards who will appreciate the witty wordplay. The message about self-worth may generate class discussion, but it is the playfulness of the story that will attract most readers.

The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark

By Jull Murphy. Illustrated by Paul Howard.

This episodic story about a little owl that meets lots of creatures that reassure him about the beauty of the night has long been a classroom favourite and still appeals to children today.

Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf

By Catherine Storr. Published by Penguin Random House.

These episodic stories about a little girl who outwits the wolf who is determined to have her for dinner works well as a class read aloud, The short stories are particularly good for younger children as they do not need to retain the details of a longer more complex narrative.

Mrs Pepperpot Stories

By Alf Proysen. Published by Penguin Random House.

This collection of classic stories about the woman who shrinks to the size of a pepperpot are great for reading aloud to children in year 2.

Arabel and Mortimer

By Joan Aiken. Illustrated by Quenton Blake. Published by Penguin Random House.

The six hilarious stories in this collection about Arabel and her accident-prone raven, Mortimer are a perfect choice for reading aloud to year 2.

The Night Gardener

By The Fan Brothers. Illustrated by The Fan Brothers. Published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books.

The fan brothers’ dreamy illustrations are intriguing and spark lively conversations about the themes in this story, which we have selected for our Take One Book 

The Bear and the Piano

By David Litchfield. Illustrated by David Litchfield. Published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books.

The first book in the best-selling, award-winning ‘Bear and the Piano’. A superbly illustrated story that tugs at the heartstrings. There are plenty of opportunities to discuss the themes of exploration, belonging and friendship.