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, Choosing Books for the Classroom; Read Alouds.
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
The Good Turn
By Sharna Jackson. Published by Penguin Random House.
Three friends set up their own secret club to do good in the community but then they discover that someone is living in a derelict building. Things are starting to get scary.
Our reviewer, Rebecca Kennedy writes, ‘The Good Turn deals with themes of injustice, trust, friendship, activism and community. Political themes within this novel are presented with care. There is depth to this story and much to explore and discuss, for example, issues of homelessness and immigration. It would spark many interesting discussions with an upper KS2 class and would make an excellent read-aloud book.’
Sharna Jackson talked to Nikki Gamble about this book In the Reading Corner
The Rescue of Ravenwood
By Natasha FarrAnt. Published by Faber.
Three unlikely friends band together to save what is important to them. Our reviewer, Lucy Timmons, writes ‘The story is full of adventure and pace. The writing is gripping, and it is incredibly difficult to put down. There is a timeliness to the themes in this book. Especially at a time when young people are having to comprehend the actions of the adults before them and their impact on our society and environment.@
Rosie Raja: Churchill's Spy
By Sufiya Ahmed. Published by Bloomsbury.
France, 1941, Rosie Raja is spying for the allies. Our reviewer, Ann Cowling, writes, ‘The wartime situation in Europe is portrayed honestly and in an age-appropriate way. Likewise, the politics of the British Raj, and the fight for India’s independence, occurring simultaneously with the Second World War, are mentioned with sensitivity and truthfulness. Rosie Raja is a striking example of a wartime novel, with a more diverse setting and useful information about the huge role played by soldiers throughout the British Empire.’
The Secret of the Treasure Keepers
By A M Howell. Published by Usborne.
Set in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. February 1948. Ruth has been whisked off to the lonely Rook Farm to investigate the discovery of long-buried treasure with her mother. But at the farmhouse, she finds secrets lurking around every corner. Joe, the farmer’s son, is hiding something about the treasure, while land girl Audrey watches their every move.
Our reviewer, Jane Atkin, writes, ‘This story has a great storyline based on real archaeological finds in Suffolk and Peterborough. Ruth and Joe’s relationship is central to the story, but there are also many other interesting characters whom we meet along the way and who feed into the mystery. I found myself not wanting to put the book down until I’d found answers out.’
A Different Kind of Freedom
By Richard O'Neill. Published by Scholastic.
A gripping football-filled adventure based in the Romani community of 19th-century Sheffield.
Our reviewer, Vikki Varley, writes, ‘You do not have to be interested in football to enjoy the text. It’s an inspiring story of ambition and resilience, of following your own path even when there is opposition from your family, your community and wider society. The relationship between Lijah, Henry, and their father is gripping, as they balance the traditional with their hopes for the future and their love and respect for each other.’
The Shark Caller
By Zillah Bethall. Illustrated by Saara Soederlund. Published by Usborne.
Blue Wing is desperate to become a shark caller, but instead, she must befriend infuriating newcomer Maple, who arrives unexpectedly on Blue Wing’s island. At first, the girls are too angry to share their secrets and become friends. But when the tide breathes the promise of treasure, they must journey together to the bottom of the ocean to brave the deadliest shark of them all…
Our reviewer, Stephen Connor, writes, ‘ This is what I would call a real page-turner. It is clear something is amiss, and it is clear that the blurring of the traditional and the new will lead to change, but try to second-guess this story at your peril. Jump in.’
By Carlie Sorosiak. Published by Nsy Crow.
.Clementine is a genius. She can calculate pi to 69,689 places, remembers the exact moment she was born, and dreams in Latin. She’s also a mouse. And when she escapes from the lab which has bred her, Clementine discovers that it’s not enough to be the smartest mouse in history if she wants to survive in the real world – especially while the scientists who kept her are trying to recover their prize specimen.
Our reviewer, Kalpa Ghelani, writes, ‘I love that Sorosiak has written a children’s book about a topic that can be difficult to get right, but she has absolutely managed to create a beautiful story that is honest, enlightening and moving. With so many learning opportunities, it is highly recommended for Upper KS2 and above.’
Classic and established favourites
By Jamila Gavin. Illustrated by Richard Collingridge. Published by Penguin Random House.
This collection of original fairy stories from Jamila Gavin reflect the cultural diversity of contemporary Britain and retain the darker elements of the Grimms Fairy Tales. The collection is a long-standing favourite with our Take One Book schools, and the stories are perfect for reading aloud.
Asha and the Spirit Bird
By Jasbinder Bilan. Published by Chicken House.
Asha lives in the foothills of the Himalayas. Money is tight, and she misses her papa, who works in the city. When he suddenly stops sending his wages, a ruthless moneylender ransacks their home and her mother talks of leaving. From her den in the mango tree, Asha makes a pact with her best friend, Jeevan, to find her father and make things right. But the journey is dangerous: they must cross the world’s highest mountains and face hunger, tiredness – even snow leopards. And yet, Asha has the unshakeable sense that the spirit bird of her grandmother – her nanijee – is watching over her …
Winner of the Costa Children’s Book Award 2019. This is an excellent read-aloud choice for year 5.
Real Life Mysteries
By Susan Martineau. Published by b small.
Have you ever wondered what exactly does go bump in the night? From mysteries like Shackleton’s ghostly companion to the Loch Ness Monster and friends, read the amazing evidence about these mysterious cases and make up your own mind. Things are not always what they seem – until they are, then you might wish you had never asked!
This book was the winner of the Blue Peter Book Award 2018 (Best Book with Facts) and is recommended as a read aloud by our reviewer, Ben Harris. You can see what our reviewers have enjoyed in this video about choosing read-alouds for the classroom.
Race to the Frozen North
By Catherine Johnson. Published by Barrington Stoke.
Matthew Henson was simply an ordinary man. That was until Commander Robert E. Peary entered his life and offered him a chance at true adventure. Henson would become a navigator, craftsman, translator, and right-hand man on a treacherous journey to the North Pole. Defying the odds and the many prejudices that faced him to become a true pioneer
A thrilling adventure, economically told. This is a popular choice with our Take One Book schools.
By Ann Turnbull. Illustrated by Sarah Young. Published by Walker Books.
The timeless stories of Theseus and the Minotaur, Persephone, King Midas, Ariadne, Orpheus and Eurydice, and Echo and Narcissus are told with great freshness, and there is a good balance between the gentler myths and the ones packed with battles and monsters. Our reviewer Karen Vickers-Hulse writes, ‘This book will appeal to those who love Greek mythology but is also a fabulous introduction to the world of myths and legends for new readers.’
Small Change for Stuart
By Lissa Evans. Published by David Fickling.
Stuart Horten, ten years old and small for his age, is about to have the strangest adventure of his life. After moving to the boring town of Beeton, he finds himself swept up in an incredible quest to find his great-uncle’s lost legacy: a magician’s workshop stuffed with trickery and MAGIC. There are clues to follow, unbearable neighbours to avoid and puzzles to solve.
This book has been a successful and popular choice with our Reading Gladiators book club. Have a copy of the sequel Big Change for Stuart available for children who enjoyed the story.