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.
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.