A lot has shifted over the last few weeks, but one thing that's remained blissfully unchanged is reading! No matter what life throws at us, we'll always be able to get cosy at home and settle down with a good book, and there are so many brilliant ones to choose from. From eager bookworms to kids who are just building up their reading confidence, here are our top picks of the best children's books by key stage.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Eric Carle)
This iconic picture book has been a children's classic for over fifty years, so why not share it with your youngest children too? Follow the story of a caterpillar who eats his way through loads of different food before tucking away in a cocoon and turning into a butterfly. With beautiful collage illustrations plus the opportunity to teach the days of the week and how to count up to five, every child should read this delightful story at least once.
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (Michael Rosen)
We're going on a bear hunt, we're going to catch a big one! Join one family on their adventure to find a bear. Every time you turn the page the family has to overcome different obstacles, and each one is described with great detail, which is brilliant for expanding your child's vocabulary and immersing you in the story. It's also great fun to move around while you read and pretend to be the family in the story. Stomp through long, wavy grass, wade through thick, oozy mud and much more.
The Rainbow Fish (Marcus Pfister)
Meet Rainbow Fish, who has beautiful, shiny, multicoloured scales. After refusing to share his scales with another fish, the rest of the sea creatures don't want to play with him anymore. He visits a wise octopus, who tells him he should be generous and share the beauty of his scales with others. When the Rainbow Fish begins to share his scales, he realises that seeing other people's joy makes him happy, even without all his magnificent scales. This wonderful story teaches children the importance of sharing and being kind.
Owl Babies (Martin Waddell)
When three baby owls wake up one night and find their mother is gone, they are frightened! They must be brave and stick together while they wait for her to come home. Young children will identify with Bill, the smallest owl, who always says "I want my Mummy", and if you've got more than one child they'll relate to the idea of being a protective older sibling. With simple text, beautiful illustrations and subtle kid-friendly messaging on fear, patience and being brave, it's the perfect story for young children.
Zog (Julia Donaldson)
Axel Scheffler's vibrant illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to Julia Donaldson's text in this brilliant children's story. Zog is an enthusiastic dragon who will do whatever it takes to get a gold star at dragon school. In fact, he is so eager that he works too hard and ends up hurting himself! However, it all works out when a new friend comes to his rescue and helps him get better. Reading this allowed to your younger children will inspire them to be brave and confident and keep working towards their dreams.
Key Stage 1
Where the Wild Things Are (Maurice Sendak)
Young Max is being cheeky in the house with his wolf suit, so his mother sends him to his room without dinner. While he's alone, he imagines a forest grows and he goes on an adventure to where the Wild Things live. Although he's scared at first, it's not long before Max manages to conquer his fear, and they admire him so much they decide to make him their king. After a while Max feels homesick, so he makes his way back to his room, where a tasty surprise has been left for him.
Mr Majeika (Humphrey Carpenter)
Do you ever wish school was a little more magical? Class Three do, so when new teacher Mr Majeika flies through the classroom window on his magic carpet they're shocked! He sometimes pretends to be an ordinary teacher, but most of the time this wizard's mesmerised students love watching him do the coolest magic tricks. This hilarious book is great for kids who are becoming more confident readers, and is also a fun one for parents to read as a bedtime story. There are plenty more Mr Majeika stories to read afterwards if you find you love this first book.
If I Ran The Zoo (Dr Seuss)
No matter your age, Dr Seuss books are always loads of fun to read aloud. Filled with funny rhymes and silly storylines, they're brilliant for young readers who want to practise. In this story, Gerald McGrew visits the zoo but isn't excited by the exotic animals he sees there, so he imagines a whole new range of animals, like an Elephant Cat, a New Sort-Of-A-Hen and a Fizza-ma-Wizza-ma-Dill!
Frankie vs The Pirate Pillagers (Frank Lampard)
Kick off the Frankie's Magic Football series with Frankie vs The Pirate Pillagers! When Frankie and his team win an old football at a funfair, they're taken to a magical football world they could never have imagined. If they want to go home, they must beat the swashbuckling Pirate Pillages in a tense match - can they do it?
Oliver Moon and the Potion Commotion (Sue Mongredien)
There's some debate about whether Harry Potter is suitable for primary school children or not, so if in doubt, why not read the enchanting Oliver Moon instead? Oliver is the hardest working wizard at school - he's sensational at spellcraft and wonderful at wandwork, and he's going to do everything he can to win a prestigious award. This series is a great option for kids who are just getting more confident with their reading, and it's filled with intriguing characters, hilarious exploits and magical moments galore.
Sophie's Snail (Dick King-Smith)
Join Sophie on her outdoor adventures as she tries to fulfill her dream of becoming a farmer. She's small, determined and loves animals, and every day she saves up money in the hopes of one day owning her own farm. If your animal lovers enjoy Sophie's Snail, there are five more books in the series to enjoy as well.
Key Stage 2
Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball (Laura Ellen Anderson)
Amelia Fang lives in Nocturnia, along with her best friends Grimaldi the reaper and Florence the yeti. In Nocturnia, darkness, ghosts and ghouls rule, and glittery fairy magic fills everyone with fear. When mysterious King Vladimir and his son Prince Tangine announce they are attending Amelia's mother's annual Barbaric Ball at the palace, Amelia gets more than she bargained for, and is shocked to discover some sparkly secrets about a new nemesis... Filled with hilarious lines and ghoulish gothic illustrations, this first book in the series focuses on the power of friendship.
The 13-Storey Treehouse (Andy Griffiths)
This hilarious book is about an author and illustrator who live in a 13-storey treehouse and realise they have less than 24 hours to come up with a whole new book idea. If that wasn't weird enough, strange things keep happening to them that stop them from writing anything new. Not only is it rip-roaringly funny, but with generous spacing and font size, along with pictures spread out throughout the book, it's the perfect start for any young reader who's put off by the size of bigger books.
The Hundred-Mile-An-Hour Dog (Jeremy Strong)
When Trevor's mum offers him £30 for walking the dog every day in the summer, he accepts. It'll be easy, right? Unfortunately for Trevor, Streaker the dog has other plans. Trevor realises that Streaker isn't an ordinary dog - she doesn't know how to walk, only race! Expect rogue roller skates, an exercise bike and a bet with a bully in this hilarious tale of a summer gone wrong.
Isadora Moon Goes to School (Harriet Muncaster)
Isadora Moon is different. She loves glitter, anything pink and using her magic wand, but she also likes bats, nighttime and the colour black. Why? Because Isadora is half-vampire, half-fairy and completely unique! With a fairy for a mum and a vampire for a dad, her life in the human world isn't totally normal. When she is old enough to go to school, Isadora must figure out how to fit in while still celebrating what makes her different. This is the first book in the series so if you enjoy it, there are ten more stories to choose from!
The Twits (Roald Dahl)
The everlasting master of children's books, Roald Dahl, brings silliness galore with The Twits. The Twits are a horrid, ugly couple who hate children, keep Muggle Wump Monkeys captive as pets and are desperate to make a pie out of the wild birds that rest on the tree near their house. As the story continues, they play hideous practical jokes on each other and try to capture birds to eat, but will the Twits eventually get their comeuppance? Kids love anything gross, so they'll have a blast reading about the couple's disgusting habits and the horrible pranks they pull on each other!
The Worst Witch (Jill Murphy)
Mildred Hubble is a witch, but unfortunately, she's not a very good one! She's probably the worst student to ever attend Miss Cackle's Academy for Witches: getting into broomstick accidents, casting spells wrong and even turning the teacher's pet into a pig. Mildred can barely put her witch's hat on the right way, but when she uncovers a plot against the school, can she be the one to save everyone from a terrible fate? This lighthearted story is filled with humour, mischief and adventure, and is perfect for confident young readers.
At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.
We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it’s important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.
Kidadl provides inspiration to entertain and educate your children. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.
Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong.
Sponsorship & Advertising Policy
Kidadl is independent and to make our service free to you the reader we are supported by advertising.
We hope you love our recommendations for products and services! What we suggest is selected independently by the Kidadl team. If you purchase using the buy now button we may earn a small commission. This does not influence our choices. Please note: prices are correct and items are available at the time the article was published.
Kidadl has a number of affiliate partners that we work with including Amazon. Please note that Kidadl is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.
We also link to other websites, but are not responsible for their content.