Recommended books to read aloud in year 2 list includes picture books, which continue to be an important part of the read-aloud experience. Reading books with various illustration styles will broaden children’s experience and continue developing their visual literacy and language. Illustrations may be more complex and interact with the text in interesting ways.
Continue to read traditional stories, including some longer, more complex stories, less familiar tales and stories from around the world to reflect a range of cultural traditions.
The shared read-aloud session is the perfect opportunity to share stories that benefit from discussion and guidance from an adult. This can help build empathy and understanding of others as well as broaden children’s knowledge of the world.
Humour is often a preference for children at this age. Funny books have many benefits, not least a bonding effect, which helps to create a community of readers. They can also help to relieve stress and create a sense of well-being.
Throughout the year, you will want to read stories requested by the children, offer guided choices, and expand their reading horizons.
Our recommended poetry lists have plenty of suggestions for each year group too.
Roy Moss has written a useful blog about choosing read-alouds. for your class.
Find out which books our reviewers enjoy reading with their classes in this video we recorded.
Sonia Thompson and Ben Harris join Nikki Gamble to talk about why reading aloud to your class is so important and to advise on choosing books to read aloud
Our top picks from recent titles
Too Small Tola
By Atinuke. Illustrated by Onyinye Iwu. Published by Walker Books.
Three delightful stories about Too Small Tola, a young girl who, though small, is very determined. Tola lives in a flat in Lagos with her sister, Moji, who is very clever; her brother, Dapo, who is very fast; and Grandmummy, who is very bossy. Episodic stories are a good choice for year 2. They develop familiarity with characters but do not have to hold a long complex narrative in their heads from one read-aloud session to the next. There are more Tola stories to be enjoyed when you have finished this collection.
Mr Penguin and the Lost Treasure
By Alex T Smith. Illustrated by Alex T Smith. Published by Hachette.
Mr Penguin, adventurer and penguin. Indiana Jones meets Hercule Poirot in this hilarious mystery series. Our reviewer, Laura Ovenden chose this book for her year 2 class. The language is quite challenging, so it may work best towards the end of year 2.
Grey Island, Red Boat
By Ian Beck. Illustrated by Ian Beck. Published by Barrington Stoke.
Everything on the Island of Ashes is grey, from the weather to the castle, the grass and the flowers. But then the red boat arrives, and with it a young man who believes he is cursed – everything he touches turns to colour. Princess Opal and the people of the island are enchanted, but the King is suspicious and imprisons him. This book is a hugely popular choice in our award-winning Reading Gladiators.
The Queen on Our Corner
By Lucy Christopher. Illustrated by Nia Tudor. Published by Lantana.
Nobody notices the Queen on the corner. Nobody, that is… except one young girl. An important story about recognising the worthofn all human beings regardless of their circumstances. This story was inspired by the author’s encounters with homeless people.
The King with Dirty Feet
By Sally Pomme Clayton. Illustrated by Rhiannon Sanderson. Published by Otter-Barry Books.
There once was a king who hated bath time so much that he never washed. He was a very smelly king! The king is finally persuaded to bathe in the river but no matter how clean the rest of him is, his feet stay dirty. Until someone has the bright idea of making a pair of shoes. Sally Pomme Clayton is a renowned storyteller and this comes across in this lively telling of this story – perfect for reading aloud.
The Song of the Nightingale
By Tanya Landman. Illustrated by Laura Carlin. Published by Walker Books.
A gorgeous and evocative story of how the animals got their colours. A majestic retelling of this fable perfectly matched with Laura Carlin’s illustration. Our reviewer, Jonny Walker, writes, ‘This is one of the best picture books I’ve reviewed in recent years, and by some margin. The language is precise and energetic, and Carlin’s illustrations contain much detail and life. A book to read aloud with a barely suppressed lump in the throat.’
The Royal Leap Frog
By Peter Bently. Illustrated by Claire Powell. Published by Bloomsbury.
A funny retelling of The Frog Prince told with characteristic rhyme and rhythm by Peter Bently. Children will also enjoy The King’s Birthday Suit based on Hans Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes.
By Ali Standish. Illustrated by Alette Straathof. Published by Little Tiger Press.
Lonely Alma longs to explore the lush forest beyond her narrow town, but her uncle has forbidden it. One night, she ventures into the trees to see the forest for herself. There she discovers a wonderful and welcoming place, and a frightened bear cub all alone. A short story with lovely full-colour illustrations.
The Night Train
By Matilda Woods. Illustrated by Penny Neville-Lee. Published by Little Tiger.
With a shrill whistle, the Night Train is off, delivering its passengers to children’s dreams. The yeti, the ballet dancer, the friendly monster and the princess all have starring roles. A lovely read-aloud for a winter’s afternoon, this story has something of the feel of The Polar Express in the snowy landscapes the train travels through. Gorgeous colour illustrations will need sharing on the visualiser so children can appreciate them. It’s a pity this book doesn’t;t have chapters or marked stopping points, so you’ll need to plan them in advance.
Einstein the Penguin
By Iona Rangeley . Illustrated by David Tazzyman. Published by HarperCollins.
When the Stewarts spend a sunny, frosty December day at London Zoo, they’re enchanted by one small penguin. At the delight of young Imogen and Arthur, Mrs Stewart insists the penguin “must come and stay with them whenever he likes.” But not one Stewart expects the penguin to turn up at their door that evening, rucksack labelled “Einstein” on his back… Children love to feel superior to characters in stories, particularly adults and they will delight in the incompetence of parents, teachers and zookeepers in this most enjoyable read aloud.
Classic and established favourites
A Bear Called Paddington
By Michael Bond. Illustrated by Peggy Fortnum. Published by Puffin.
Most children will be familiar with Paddington from the popular films. The original episodic stories written by Michael Bond reflect the language and period detail of an earlier time. While the language might be a challenge for most independent readers in year 2, they are made accessible when read aloud by a teacher. Written in a classic storytelling voice.
By Alf Proysen. Published by Penguin Random House.
The classic collection of episodic stories about a woman who shrinks to the size of a pepperpot and has lots of adventures. The joy of short stories is that you can dip in and choose a story when it suits.