10 picture books for Year 1. Actually there’s 12 but who’s counting?

box 2

As I’m coming to the end of my lists (1 to go) stepping back has made me realise that I have missed out so many brilliant books, authors and illustrators. I ended up with 12 here because I couldn’t leave out some of them. There are many others doing brilliant work, go and explore, find the books which work for you.

Hope the lists have started you looking.

Independent bookshops are amazing I find lots of the quirky and the interesting, hidden on their shelves,

I’m lucky I’ve got a few on my doorstep. Drake bookshop in Stockton, Book Corner in Saltburn, Whitby books, Guisborough books and White Rose books in Thirsk all are great helpful and knowledgeable. Go find your local bookshop… you never know what you will find.

1 Wild by Emily Hughes

“You cannot tame something so happily wild.”

In this beautiful picture book by Emily Hughes, we meet a little girl who has known nothing but nature from birth—she was taught to talk by birds, to eat by bears, and to play by foxes. She is unashamedly, irrefutably, irrepressibly wild. That is, until she is snared by some very strange animals that look oddly like her, but they don’t talk right, eat right, or play correctly.
Stunning, wildly vivid visuals jump off the page.  Inventive and quirky with the most expressive lead character.  Just fabulous.

2)  On Sudden Hill by Linda Sarah and Benji Davies

Two best friends enjoy playing games of their imaginations on a big hill using cardboard boxes; life is great. When another boy brings his box and joins in on the fun, there’s a rift in the original friendship.

A wonderful book about the complexities of friendship and how kindness can help us overcome the issues.

If you’ve not come across illustrator Benji Davies you are in for a real treat

Benji Bonus

3) Pattan’s Pumpkin by Chitra Soundar and Frane Lessac

When Pattan finds a yellow-flower vine wilting in his valley, he replants and cares for it, watching as a pumpkin appears and grows taller than the goats, taller than the elephants, as tall as the very mountains. When a terrible storm rages across the valley, Pattan wonders if perhaps his pumpkin can save the seeds and grains and saplings, the goats and birds and bison, and protect them all as the storm clouds burst and the waters rise.

Frane Lessac’s brilliantly vibrant artwork is a feast for the eyes, while Chitra Soundar’s thoughtful retelling is a fascinating example of the kinds of stories told the world over — and the differences that make each version unique.

4) Little Red Bethan Woolvin

Little Red Riding Hood meets a wolf on her way through the woods to visit her sick grandmother. The wolf is hungry, and Red Riding Hood looks tasty, so he hatches a dastardly plan, gobbles up Grandma and lies in wait. So far, so familiar. But this Little Red Riding Hood is not easily fooled, and this big bad wolf better watch his back. In this defiant interpretation of the traditional tale, the cheeky, brave little girl seizes control of her own story (and the wolf gets rather more than he bargained for).

Minimal stylised artwork and retellings with a twist make these playful versions perfect.

Bethan Bonus

5) Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

One night Max puts on his wolf suit and makes mischief of one kind and another, so his mother calls him ‘Wild Thing’ and sends him to bed without his supper. That night a forest begins to grow in Max’s room and an ocean rushes by with a boat to take Max to the place where the wild things are. Max tames the wild things and crowns himself as their king, and then the wild rumpus begins. But when Max has sent the monsters to bed, and everything is quiet, he starts to feel lonely and realises it is time to sail home to the place where someone loves him best of all.

A classic what more needs to be said. We are all a little bit Max.

6) Lion and The Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

Brilliant wordless adaptation of one of Aesop’s most beloved fables, an unlikely pair learn that no act of kindness is ever wasted. After a ferocious lion spares a cowering mouse that he’d planned to eat, the mouse later comes to his rescue, freeing him from a poacher’s trap.

Pinkney’s vivid depictions of the landscape of the African Serengeti and expressively drawn characters, make this a truly special retelling, and his stunning pictures speak volumes.

7) Stanleys Stick by John Hegley and Neal Layton

This book is about a stick owned by a boy called Stanley. But it is more than a stick because Stanley can make it into whatever he wants it to be through the power of imagination.

Playful words by Hegley are complimented by Layton’s simple, colourful illustrations which include just the subtlest pieces of collage to bring places like Blackpool beach to life.

8) Orion and the Dark by Emma Yarlett

The best way to conquer your fear is to face it.
This is exactly what Orion does. Orion is afraid of many things, his greatest fear is the Dark. One night Orion gets fed up with being afraid and he demands the Dark leave. The Dark and Orion meet and learn more about each other. Together The Dark and Orion explore the scary parts of the dark and see that there is fun to be had, and The Dark is not so scary.

Playful formatting make it a visual wonder. Loads of challenging vocab in there helps children put words to fears.

This story teaches a great lesson about how to get over our fears. How to address them and how to make them our strengths instead. this book is a great book for anyone with fears, not just of the dark.

9) Is There a Dog in This Book? by Viviane Schwartz

Equal time for canines! Three cats —Tiny, Moonpie, and André — think there might be a dog in this book, but it’s up to the reader to help them find out.

Can cats and dogs share the same turf? Revisit the age-old dilemma with a hide-and-seek romp among furry friends.

Brimming with humor and featuring Viviane Schwarz’s exuberant artwork, here is a lively interactive exploration of the surprising joys of unlikely friendships.

Also recommended…

10) LOTS, The Diversity of Life on Earth by Nicola Davies and Emily Sutton

Lots, a beautifully illustrated introduction to the concept of biodiversity for younger readers.

There are living things everywhere: the more we look, the more we find. There are creatures on the tops of the tallest jungle trees, at the bottom of the coldest oceans, even under the feathers of birds and in boiling volcanic pools. So how many different kinds are there? One, two, three … lots!

With beautiful words from Nicola Davies and amazing detailed  illustrations by Emily Sutton, this book is certain to enchant and inspire your class. (they’ll fight over it if you’re not careful)

11) Shh! We Have A Plan by Chris Haughton

What looks to be four friends or four family members creep through the woods at night in search of prey. Three of them have nets–and a plan–to capture a bird. They fail, time and time again, while the smallest member of the party attracts a flock of birds with his friendliness, kindness, and offer of food. Of course, the others still don’t learn from his example.

Funny and profound, the books helps explore the importance of every voice, even the smallest.

12) Grumpy Frog by Ed Vere.

Grumpy Frog is not grumpy. He loves green, and he loves to hop, and he loves winning. But what happens when Grumpy Frog doesn’t win, or encounters – horror of horrors – a Pink Rabbit?
Join Grumpy Frog as he learns about compromise and tolerance, friendship and the power of saying sorry.
A hilarious book with a twist in the tail about getting – and getting rid of – the grump

Wildly funny, anarchic and playful. Grumpy frog does that rare thing and hiding serious messages beneath the humour. It’s a corking assembly book too.

Links to other year-group lists…

Year 2

10 picturebooks for year 2 – Leaps of Imagination #picturebookpage

Year 3

Picturebooks – Choosing is tricky… 10 Picturebooks for Year 3. #picturebookpage

Year 4

Picturebooks – more than just a pretty picture? -10 picturebooks for Year 4 #picturebookpage

Year 5

Find the space to talk… 10 picturebooks for Year 5 #picturebookpage

Year 6

Why Picturebooks? -10 picturebooks forYear 6 #picturebookpage


10 picturebooks for year 2 – Leaps of Imagination #picturebookpage


Picturebooks  as Martin Galway, English teaching and learning adviser with Herts for Learning, says: they provide a swift democracy, a shared world and experience that can mitigate and compensate for varying levels of experience of the world. They can provide a unique common starting point that levels the playing field. The best picture books give us that wonderful opportunity to talk, explore and interpret.

This set of 10 for Year 2 does just that I think. Hope its useful.

1) The Mystery of the Golden Wonderflower by Benjamin Flouw

Lavish and luscious. This book could be the start point for an amazing journey into learning about nature, plants and the environment.

Fox is an avid botanist. He loves all flowers and trees! One evening, whilst flicking through his books, he discovers the Golden Wonderflower. But little is known about this precious plant…And so, Fox embarks on an exciting journey on the search of this curiosity. Join him on an adventure through forests, meadows and the mountains. Delight in the wonders that lie in nature s remote corners. Lovers of the great outdoors will delight in a story that sends a powerful message about the environment and our wild, natural world.

The rich illustrations catch the tranquility of the unspoiled, depict the plants that Fox finds on his way and take the young reader on an exciting adventure into the wild.


2) Beegu by Alexis Deacon

Beegu’s  is stranded on Earth. Now she is lost and wandering. Waiting for a rescue signal from her mother, she fails to make friends with the strange creatures she encounters. Rabbits don’t seem to understand her; windblown leaves won’t stay still to listen. But at last, on a school playground, Beegu discovers a group of fantastic companions who are happy to let her join their games . . . until a grownup creature spoils the fun.

A wonderful, emotional book that resonates with love and hope but isnt afraid to tell some hard truths.

3) The Secret Sky Garden by Linda Sarah and Fiona Lumbers

A delightful book about how one person can make a difference to their world and the importance of sharing that.

Funni loves the old, disused car park, and spends a lot of time there flying her kite and playing her recorder. But something is missing. Definitely. So Funni decides to create a garden in the neglected space and after weeks of careful nurture, her garden in the sky takes shape. One day, a little boy, Zoo, spots the square of colour amongst the grey from an incoming flight, and decides to try to find it. And slowly, not only do Funni’s flowers bloom, but a very special friendship blossoms too. 

Bonus book Footpath Flowers



4) That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown by Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton

This is a very personal choice as it’s the book I’ve read with my son more than any other. It is just a fantastically joyous bit of storytelling. It does everything a great picturebook should and does it with a swagger. A story about valuing things and really caring about them.

Emily Brown’s rabbit, Stanley, is NOT FOR SALE.

Not even to her Most Royal Highness Queen Gloriana the Third.

Not even for all the toys Emily Brown could ever desire.

So when naughty Queen Gloriana steals “Bunnywunny” away, Emily Brown sets out to get him back. Along the way, she shows the queen how to love a special toy of her very own.


5) Traction Man is Here by Mini Grey

Mini Grey’s story in words and pictures is an irresistible invitation to the private world of a child’s play. Fantastic Comic-art, and brilliant use of humour and pathos combine to make this book brilliant fun, your class will take traction man on some brilliant further adventures.

Traction Man—wearing combat boots, battle pants, and his warfare shirt—comes in a box, but very quickly finds the way into the imagination of his lucky boy owner. This superhero searches for the Lost Wreck of the Sieve as the boy makes a game of doing the dishes, and later in the bathtub, he conquers the Mysterious Toes that are stealing his pet, the brave little Scrubbing Brush. These are just a few of the action-packed adventures played out by the boy and his new toy that may not be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but can vanquish all manner of villains lurking around the house. The biggest challenge however arrives in the form of Nan’s homemade outfit.

6) Journey by Aaron Becker.

If this books doesn’t get your class writing then nothing will.

A lonely girl draws a magic door on her bedroom wall and through it escapes into a world where wonder, adventure, and danger abound. Red marker in hand, she creates a boat, a balloon, and a flying carpet that carry her on a spectacular journey toward an uncertain destiny. When she is captured by a sinister emperor, only an act of tremendous courage and kindness can set her free. Can it also lead her home and to her heart’s desire? With supple line, luminous color, and nimble flights of fancy, author-illustrator Aaron Becker launches an ordinary child on an extraordinary journey toward her greatest and most exciting adventure of all. A vibrant, hair-raising journey through the power of imagination

Becker Bonus


7) At Our House by Isabel Minhos Martins and Madelena Matoso

Wonderfully vibrant,  colourful art  could lead to all-sorts of maths based fun. What is it at your house? Or even better What is in your class?

A truly fab Maths based picturebook…Counting is fun, but it’s a lot more fun when you can count things like fingers, tongues, bones and freckles. At Our House is a charming adventure through the eyes of one household and the bodies that are in it. Vibrantly illustrated, each page counts up the number of toes and teeth, and even length of intestines children might find in their own family, in a hilarious (and gross!) story that children will love. 

8) Moth (An Evolution Story) by Isabel   Thomas and Daniel Egneus

A truly fantastic book that would work from Year 1 all the way to Year 6.THis is just about the perfect combination of science and story-telling.

Powerful and visually spectacular, Moth is the remarkable evolution story that captures the struggle of animal survival against the background of an evolving human world in a unique and atmospheric introduction to Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection.

Against a lush backdrop of lichen-covered trees, the peppered moth lies hidden. Until the world begins to change…Along come people with their magnificent machines which stain the land with soot. In a beautiful landscape changed by humans how will one little moth survive?

A clever picture book text about the extraordinary way in which animals have evolved, intertwined with the complication of human intervention. 

Here is the trailer…


9) Not Now Bernard by David Mckee

The perfect book for open-ended discussion. Hilarious on the first take, deeply sad by the tenth.

Bernard’s got a problem because he’s found a monster in the back garden but his parents are too preoccupied to notice him let alone heed his warnings. If he’s eaten, will they even notice? Beautifully written and illustrated the levels within the story allow for deep discussion. I find it incredibly sad, as an adult, to read. With his dad barely there (he’s only in two parts) and his mum only offering practical support – making him dinner, making him go to bed – Bernard is pretty much on his own, nobody eats with him and he’s expected to take himself to bed. A true classic.

10) Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Pena and Christian Robinson

Fantastic, gentle book that explores community and diversity through the eyes of a child. Wonderful as a starting pont for exploring your communities and opening discussion about them.

Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.
This energetic ride through a bustling city highlights the wonderful perspective only grandparent and grandchild can share, and comes to life through Matt de la Pena’s vibrant text and Christian Robinson’s radiant illustrations.

Deservedly won lots of plaudits including the 2016 Newberry Medal





Picturebooks – Choosing is tricky… 10 Picturebooks for Year 3. #picturebookpage


No rant on this one…

Just an explanation. To choose the books I have looked to vary theme, content and style, I have tried to include aspects of diversity in the text choices, though I will be the first to admit this is not an area I have enormous knowledge about, there are others such as @rebeccaLucas  and @mat_at_brookes who are much more knowledgeable than me. i’d also recommend reading the Reflecting Realities report from the CLPE.

You may feel the books would work better in other year groups, that is fine.  On reviewing the lists I would say most books in 5/6 are interchangeable between year groups and I would say the same for 3/4. Hope it helps …Simon

1) Voices In The Park by Anthony Browne

A book that could actually be used in any year group. Four different voices tell their own versions of the same walk in the park. The radically different perspectives give a fascinating depth to this simple story which explores many of the author’s key themes, such as alienation, friendship and the bizarre amid the mundane. Wonderfully playful  art expands the viewpoints and voices. Utter classic.

2) The Day the War Came by Nicola Davies and Rebecca Cobb

A moving, poetic narrative and child-friendly illustrations follow the heartbreaking, ultimately hopeful journey of a little girl who is forced to become a refugee.

“The day war came there were flowers on the windowsill and my father sang my baby brother back to sleep.”

Imagine if, on an ordinary day, after a morning of studying tadpoles and drawing birds at school, war came to your town and turned it to rubble. Imagine if you lost everything and everyone, and you had to make a dangerous journey all alone. Imagine that there was no welcome at the end, and no room for you to even take a seat at school. And then a child, just like you, gave you something ordinary but so very, very precious. In lyrical, deeply affecting language, Nicola Davies’s text combines with Rebecca Cobb’s expressive illustrations to evoke the experience of a child who sees war take away all that she knows. Powerful and moving.

3 ) After the Fall by Dan Santat

Everyone knows that when Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. But what happened after?

Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat’s poignant tale follows Humpty Dumpty, an avid bird watcher whose favorite place to be is high up on the city wall—that is, until after his famous fall. Now terrified of heights, Humpty can longer do many of the things he loves most.

Will he summon the courage to face his fear?

After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) is a masterful picture book that will remind readers of all ages that Life begins when you get back up.

4) Pandora by Victoria Turnbull

Pandora lives alone, in a world of broken things. A world that is is transformed by care and love. Epic widescrean art envelops the reader, firstly depicting the loneliness  of the main character and ultimately the love.

It is a wonderfully illustrated celebration of connection and renewal.

5) The Rythmn of the Rain by Grahame Barker Smith

What at first appears to be an amazingly illustrated version of the Water cycle, is actually so much more and ultimately connects us with the cyclical mature of life. Just stunning. You could spend hours lost in the illustrations.

6) Street beneath my Feet by Charlotte Guillian and Yuval Zommer

This double-sided foldout book takes you on a fascinating journey deep underground. One side of the foldout shows the ground beneath the city, whilst the other side of the foldout shows the ground beneath the countryside. The scenes in the book, by the widely acclaimed illustrator Yuval Zommer, are continuous, so contrasting underground sections, from tunnels and pipes to burrowing creatures, layers of rock to the planet’s molten core, run seamlessly into the next. Mixing urban and rural settings, as well as Geology, Archaeology and Natural History, The Street Beneath My Feet offers children the opportunity to explore their world in a detailed learning experience. And its fold-out,  style, which extends to 2.5 metres in length, is great fun to spread out on the floor and really get involved! It’s a real WOW! book.

Coming soon…


7) Jumanji Chris Van Allsburg

Left on their own for an afternoon, two bored and restless children find more excitement than they bargained for in a mysterious and mystical jungle-adventure board game. Amazing illustrations that withsatnd countless explorations

“Mr. Van Allsburg’s illustrations have a beautiful simplicity of de-sign, balance, texture, and a subtle intelligence beyond the call of illustration.”

Bonus books...I would also add Zathura if your doing somethig Space-based (just as good) or at Christmas The Polar Express is hard to top.

8) Tell me A Dragon by Jackie Morris

Everyone has their very own dragon, and this book describes many different varieties of the beast, showing in words and stunning pictures exactly why their owners find them so entrancing. If this doesn’t get your children writing and creating then nothing will. Sublime.

9) I’ll Take You To Mrs Cole! by Nigel Gray and Michael Foreman

Whenever he is naughty, a young boy’s mother threatens him with Mrs Cole, who appears to be a disreputable character living nearby in total chaos. One day he runs away from home and finds himself outside Mrs Cole’s house. She invites him in and he discovers that Mrs Cole’s noisy, kindly house is welcoming and warm and far from being frightening. A brilliant book about prejudice  and the demons we create in our heads.

Tip…Cover up the front cover as it ruins the suspense that the playful text and art build up.

10) Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine and Kadir Nelson

A stirring, dramatic story of a slave who mails himself to freedom by a Jane Addams Peace Award-winning author and a Coretta Scott King Award-winning artist.

Henry Brown doesn’t know how old he is. Nobody keeps records of slaves’ birthdays. All the time he dreams about freedom, but that dream seems farther away than ever when he is torn from his family and put to work in a warehouse. Henry grows up and marries, but he is again devastated when his family is sold at the slave market. Then one day, as he lifts a crate at the warehouse, he knows exactly what he must do: He will mail himself to the North. After an arduous journey in the crate, Henry finally has a birthday — his first day of freedom.

Challenging for Year 3 but a wonderfully told, powerful story.

Year 4…

Picturebooks – more than just a pretty picture? -10 picturebooks for Year 4 #picturebookpage

Year 5…

Find the space to talk… 10 picturebooks for Year 5 #picturebookpage

Year 6…

Why Picturebooks? -10 picturebooks forYear 6 #picturebookpage