Children’s Books for Primary Schools
By Nicole Haynes, Emma Rogers and Rosie Pinder
Children's books are great tools for teaching young people about different people, perspectives and ways of living. Encouraging children to read helps to develop their creativity and widens their view of the world. Here are our top picks of books that work especially well within a primary classroom setting, whether that’s due to their subject matter, world-building or reading-level.
Ruby’s Worry: A Big Bright Feelings Book by Tom Percival
Tom Percival’s beautiful children’s book Ruby’s Worry is an excellent springboard for discussions about hidden worries and wellbeing. The story follows Ruby who discovers a worry that will not go away. Ruby’s worry grows bigger and bigger, until she decides to share it with someone else. Percival’s picture book is an ideal starting point for conversations about anxieties and how young people can learn to manage their emotions. Introducing children to this topic through literature can offer a sympathetic outlook on their thoughts and feelings.
The Tantrum that Saved the World by Megan Herbert and Michael E. Mann
This fantastic picture book is a great way to start conversations about climate change in the classroom. Funded by a kickstarter campaign, the book follows Sophia who is forced to confront the plight of displaced animals like polar bears, bees and bengal tigers when they turn up at her house looking for refuge. Importantly, though, this isn’t a book designed to shock or scare young people about the state of the climate. Instead, it is a hopeful read showing the power of a child’s voice and what can be achieved through collective action.
Ages Five to Seven
Pink is for Boys by Robb Pearlman
Published in 2018, Pink is for Boys delivers a powerful message about expressing oneself. This picture book features a diverse set of characters, including girls that love racing cars and boys that enjoy dressing up, which greatly reflects the real-life classroom. Pearlman combines his words with vibrant illustrations that help young children identify different colours and learn more about their surroundings.
Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
Jeremy is desperate to own a pair of “those shoes,” the ones that everyone in his class at school is wearing. But he soon realises that there is a big difference between needs and wants, a lesson which this book encapsulates brilliantly. Maribeth Boelts is an ex-school teacher herself and perfectly addresses themes of generosity, empathy and consumerism. This would be a great conversation starter for the classroom.
The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
Brian is the invisible boy. He is the last person picked for the sports team, the only person not invited to birthday parties and spends most of his time lost in his drawings of aliens and superheroes. When a new boy, Justin, arrives at the school, the pair team up on a project that gives Brian a new way to shine. This picture book is great for the quieter children in the classroom that often feel overlooked and ignored. Ludwig excellently tackles topics of bullying and teaches children the importance of small acts of kindness.
Ages Seven to Eleven
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
Aimed at slightly older children, R. J. Palacio’s Wonder is becoming a staple on teacher’s bookshelves. August, a young boy with a rare facial disfigurement, loves video games, riding his bike and eating ice-cream. When he starts school for the first time, August faces cruelty from some classmates, but also acceptance from others. The story focuses on individuality, kindness and friendship, tackling issues such as bullying and self-acceptance.
It is a beautifully crafted novel with heaps of material to utilise in lessons, but also spreads an important message about kindness that all children can benefit from.
How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell
How to Train Your Dragon is the first book in Cowell’s fantasy series telling the story of Vikings and their flying companions. Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third is the heir to the Hairy Hooligan throne, but he often feels inferior to his father. Hiccup must lead ten men in their initiation to train dragons before every Viking is devoured. It is a race against time for Hiccup to save the tribe and earn his place as heir to the throne. This book is a great introduction to descriptive and creative writing for children and combines humour with important messages to teach them about self-worth.
Little People, Big Dreams Series by Various Authors
Little People, Big Dreams is a best-selling biography series that tells the stories of outstanding people, from Marie Curie to Dwayne Johnson. Loaded with facts and pictures, the series shows that every successful figure begins as a child with a dream. This series inspires children from diverse backgrounds and there are a multitude of books to choose from for the classroom. Currently, Queen Elizabeth – Volume eighty-eight is sitting at the top of the W.H.Smith Children’s chart!