10 more Picturebooks for Year 4…#PicturebookPage

So here is my second list for Year 4

The aim as always is as follows…

Picture book are often dismissed as being for younger children. They’re not! They are written off as easy. They’re not! There are some stunning picture books out there. Many offer us more than first appears. Many require us to bring in our own cultural understanding to truly make meaning of them.  People who dismiss them more often than not haven’t put the time in to understand and explore them.

So the aim of this post is to show  why I think picture books are blummin’ ace. The chosen books for Year 4 do all these things and more. Don’t miss a trick.

  1. They elicit emotion. (often in my case tears)
  2. They confuse and challenge
  3. They broach difficult issues in wonderful ways
  4. They open doors to other cultures.
  5. They provide leaps of imagination
  6. They are wild and playful
  7. They are quiet and thoughtful
  8. They require the reader to fill in the gaps


The Green Ship by Quentin Blake

Two children find the Green Ship when they climb over the wall into what is more like a forest than a garden. The ship has bushes for bows and stern and its funnels are trees; a small garden shed on an ancient stump is the wheel house and in command of the ship is the owner of the garden, old Mrs Tredegar. Throughout the summer she and the Bosun and the two children sail the Seven Seas visiting exotic faraway places and having wonderful adventures.

This book opens us up to so many areas.  Aging, curiosity, strangers,  friendship, imagination, creativity, supporting others, changes over time. Most importantly its a book that captures the true essence of childhood. It’s an absolute classic and is perfect for Year 4 to dig deeply into. Now get outside.

A World of Your Own by Laura Carlin

“Laura Carlin’s A World of Your Own is a great starting point for a creative project. How do you relate to the place you live in, to your room, flat or house, your street, village or town? Can you draw it? Or, like this artist, create elements of it by using boxes, or pegs, pebbles, or even a hair comb. Now, can you invent the home, place or city you would like to live in? I am inspired by the resourcefulness of the artist, finding everyday objects and reimagining them as creatures, buildings and people. She is using items we often discard, repurposing them to make a precious ‘world of her own’. This is something anyone can do, there are no special art materials, it doesn’t have to cost anything, and there is no right or wrong way of doing it.”―Lauren Child, BookTrust

A book of pure creativity. Laura lets us inhabit her imagination and in doing so allows to find our own.  Creative, funny and challenging the book allows us too take children an a wild imaginative adventure, turning the mundane into the amazing. Can we really ask anything more from a book?

One Little Bag : An Amazing Journey by Henry Cole

A wordless book that starts from a tall tree growing in the forest –
to the checkout counter at the grocery store –
one brown bag finds its way into the hands of a young boy on the eve of his first day of school.

And so begins the journey of one brown bag that is used
and re-used
and re-used again.

In a three-generation family, the bag is transporter of objects and keeper of memories. And when Grandfather comes to the end of his life, the family finds a meaningful new way for the battered, but much-loved brown bag to continue its journey in the circle of life.

A wordless picturebook that is about conservation and caring for the world, but its set in a generational family story. Profound, beautiful and emotional. The use of colour links us through the story. It is as it says the story of one bag, but it is so much more. Just brilliant.

Lights on Cotton Rock by David Litchfield

An out-of-this-world picture book from David Litchfield, the best-selling author of The Bear and the Piano and Grandad’s Secret Giant.

***** Stunning images with a powerful message
***** Magical, heartwarming and imaginative!
***** Another amazing story by David Litchfield

Heather is a little girl who wants to go to Outer Space, where the stars sparkle with magic and wonder. When a spaceship lands at Cotton Rock, it seems that all of her dreams have come true. But soon the alien has to leave. Will the spaceship ever come back? And if it does, is Heather ready to leave everything on Earth behind? This beautiful story for all ages about family and dreams travels through space and time to show us that what we are looking for might be closer than we think.

David is the king of light. He is also a damn fine picturebook writer. Light’s on Cotton Rock is possibly his finest yet. A wonderful out of this world story about valuing what you have. The details and references are fantastic, but the visual storytelling is the thing that really leaps out, part picturebook, part graphic novel. It’s amazing. Karl Duke and I spent a day planning a picturebook session using this, we chose it because it is so brilliant. Sadly it didn’t happen due to Covid… We need to make it so.

Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

Yuyi Morales tells her own immigration story in this picture-book tribute to the transformative power of hope . . . and reading.

In 1994, Yuyi Morales left her home in Xalapa, Mexico and came to the US with her infant son. She left behind nearly everything she owned, but she didn’t come empty-handed.

She brought her strength, her work, her passion, her hopes and dreams…and her stories.

A much underrated book about immigration, it is also about the power of books and libraries. What makes it standout is that this is Yuyi’s story. A true immigrant story and therefore much needed. Powerful hopeful storytelling and stunning art.A story that should be shared in every classroom.

The Moose of Ewenki by by Gerelchimeg Blackcrane, Jiu Er (Translated by Helen Mixter)

From one of China’s bestselling children’s authors comes this story of friendship and empathy, which celebrates the traditional way of life for the Indigenous Ewenki peoples of Mongolia.

When a Mongolian elder named Gree Shrek hunts a female moose by mistake, her young calf is left behind. Saddened by her loss, Gree Shrek names the calf Xiao Han (“Little Moose”) and the moose and man form an authentic attachment. Xiao Han accompanies Gree Shrek as the hunter-gatherer herds reindeer, sets up camp, forages for food in the forest, and visits his peoples’ village, where many fun adventures happen. But as the little moose grows bigger, Gree Shrek knows he must return his companion to the forest.

A fantastic book that helps us understand the traditional way of life of the Ewenki people of Mongolia. Fantastic characterful illustrations bring the story to life with empathy and humour. A book that is perfect for helping to explore and understand differences.


Lift by Minh Le and Dan Santat

When Iris’s elevator button-pushing is disrupted by a new member of the family, she’s pretty put out.
That is, until the sudden appearance of a mysterious new button opens up entire realms of possibility, places where she can escape and explore on her own. But when it becomes a question between going it alone or letting someone else tag along, Iris finds that sharing a disc

A fantastic wild creative story. I mean who hasn’t wanted a button that can literally take you anywhere. This is a perfect inspiration for writing, the art and visual storytelling is top-notch and the characters emotions and motivations are utterly believable. A totally magical. top-drawer book. Le and Santat make quite a team (if you haven’t seen the cross generational, language barrier breaking story ‘Drawn Together’ then hunt it out )


A Stone sat Still by Brenden Wenzel

The follow-up to They All Saw a Cat

A Stone Sat Still tells the story of a seemingly ordinary rock—but to the animals that use it, it is a resting place, a kitchen, a safe haven…even an entire world.

A book about perspectives.   This is a great book to share ideas about perspective and how it changes  and seeing the possibilities in things. This is a book to help children understand viewpoint and why people can see things differently. A great PSHE book to spark a discussion. Philosophical, calm and thoughtful.  (also get They all Saw a Cat)

Elvis is King by Jonah Winter and Red Nose Studios

Elvis Presley–the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, still beloved by millions of Americans–comes to vibrant, gyrating life in this extraordinary picture-book biography from an award-winning author and the winner of a New York Times Best Illustrated Book Award.

Here’s the perfect book for anyone who wants to introduce rock ‘n’ roll and its king to the child in their lives. In single- page “chapters” with titles like “The First Cheeseburger Ever Eaten by Elvis” and “Shazam! A Blond Boy Turns into a Black-Haired Teenager,” readers can follow key moments in Presley’s life, from his birth on the wrong side of the railroad tracks in the Deep South, to playing his first guitar in grade school, to being so nervous during a performance as a teenager that he starts shaking . . . and changes the world!

Jonah Winter and Red Nose Studio have created a tour-de-force that captures a boy’s loneliness and longing, along with the energy and excitement, passion, and raw talent that was Elvis Presley.

This book captures Elvis. Elvis was a bit before my time so I didn’t really get the fuss, but this completely nails, the energy, buzz and excitement. It made me realise how a skinny blonde kid changed the world. It’s about the power of music and rebellion. It is equally a might fine picturebook biography.  Tying into history, music and perseverance this book ticks a lot of boxes.

Finding Narnia by Caroline McAlister and Jessica Lanan

Finding Narnia is Caroline McAlister and Jessica Lanan’s captivating picture book biography of two brothers, Jack and Warnie Lewis, whose rich imaginations led to the creation of the magical world of Narnia.

Before C.S. Lewis wrote The Chronicles of Narnia, he was a young boy named Jack who spent his days dreaming up stories of other worlds filled with knights, castles, and talking animals. His brother, Warnie, spent his days imagining worlds filled with trains, boats, and technology. One rainy day, they found a wardrobe in a little room next to the attic, and they wondered, What if the wardrobe had no end?

Years later, Jack began to think about what could be beyond that wardrobe, and about a girl named Lucy and her siblings. This picture book biography introduces the beloved creator of The Chronicles of Narnia to a new generation of children who see hidden magic in the world around them.

I still think The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is a book all children should have read to them. I also happen to think Year 4 is the perfect age for that book to be read. With that in mind, this picturebook biography would make a stunning accompaniment to the sharing of that book. It is a fascinating story of how the two brothers branched in different directions but how their childhood was instrumental in creating the beloved land of Narnia.

Hope they’re helpful.

Other Lists

2nd year 6 list..

More Picturebooks for Year 6 (list 2) …#PictureBookPage

2nd year 5 list…

10 more Picturebooks for Year 5 (List 2)…#PicturebookPage

1st year 4 list

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

Collated list of links for Picturebooks so far (Y1-Y6)

Booklists (picturebooks)




10 more Picturebooks for Year 5 (List 2)…#PicturebookPage

So here are 10 more books that would work brilliantly in year 5. Hope it’s helpful…

Manhattan: Mapping the story of an island by Jennifer Thermes

“An innovative look back through time, Manhattan Maps follows the history of Manhattan Island from its natural formation to the bustling city today. It explores the ways in which nature and people are connected, tracking the people who lived on Manhattan from the Lenape Indians to Dutch settlers hunting for beaver pelts to early Americans and beyond, and how they’ve (literally) shaped the island (and vice versa). Jen Thermes highlights watershed moments where nature demanded action of New Yorkers–the Great Fire of 1835, the Great Blizzard of 1888, and Hurricane Sandy in 2012. In special sidebars, she closely traces specific threads of history and their lasting impact today–New York as a hub for immigration and the slave trade, for example. An epic volume that chronicles the rise of Manhattan through the lenses of geography, city planning, sociology, historiography, and more, Manhattan Maps is a groundbreaking format that will fascinate curious readers of all ages”

Do I need to say more than what is said above. It is a completely brilliant, gorgeous to look at and full of amazing information that sparks, discussion. As it says it’s totally epic, and is perfect for any discussion of place and habitation, just perfect for helping children understand how places change and what causes that change. I’d pair it with River by Elisha Cooper which is a more personal exploration of change. Both are amazing

Bonus book

River by Elisha Cooper

Caldecott Honor winner Elisha Cooper invites readers to grab their oars and board a canoe down a river exploration filled with adventure and beauty.

In Cooper’s flowing prose and stunning watercolor scenes, readers can follow a traveler’s trek down the Hudson River as she and her canoe explore the wildlife, flora and fauna, and urban landscape at the river’s edge. Through perilous weather and river rushes, the canoe and her captain survive and maneuver their way down the river back home.

River is an outstanding introduction to seeing the world through the eyes of a young explorer and a great picture book for the STEAM curriculum.

Maps and information about the Hudson River and famous landmarks are included in the back of the book.


2. Aviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog including Instruction Manual by Kate Samworth

Since 2031, Aviary Wonders Inc. has offered bird lovers a unique opportunity: Assemble your own bird from stunningly beautiful and carefully hand-crafted parts. The birds can even be taught to fly and to sing! This slyly satirical crafter’s delight is offered as the perfect antidote to extinction of birds in the wild.

Brilliantly illustrated with oil paintings and filled with laugh-aloud asides as well as sobering facts about extinct species, this mock catalog is a clever send-up of contemporary sales spin and a thought-provoking look into an all-too-possible future.

Utterly bonkers but a totally brilliant satirical take on the extinction of different species. This book is a brilliant way to get children thinking and questioning our actions and the impact we have on our planet. Possibly a bit out-there for some but if you like it you love it.


3. Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett and Matt Myers

Encourage creativity with this wildly entertaining picture book mash-up from the minds of Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett.

Alex has been given a saccharine, sappy, silly-sweet picture book about Birthday Bunny that his grandma found at a garage sale. Alex isn’t interested – until he decides to make the book something he’d actually like to read. So he takes out his pencil, sharpens his creativity, and totally transforms the story!

Birthday Bunny becomes Battle Bunny, and the rabbit’s innocent journey through the forest morphs into a supersecret mission to unleash an evil plan – a plan that only Alex can stop.

Featuring layered, original artwork that emphasizes Alex’s additions, this dynamic exploration of creative storytelling is sure to engage and inspire

Utter creative genius. Great messages about creativity and telling the stories you want to read. More than anything we found it unleashed creative monsters in our children that had previously lain dormant, their wildest ideas were set free when we used this book, they also learnt how hard it is to rein those ideas in and keep it coherent and tell the story. It helps children see that stories are alive and sometimes we need to control them as well. A brilliant book, and an utterly fantastic writing lesson for the children.

Here is link to ‘Birthday Bunny’ so your children can make their own Battle Bunny or whatever stories.

Link to Birthday Bunny PDF for children to create their own books.

4. The Pilot and the Little Prince: The Life of Antoine de Saint-Exupery by Peter Sis

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was born in France in 1900, when airplanes were just being invented. Antoine dreamed of flying and grew up to be a pilot—and that was when his adventures began. He found a job delivering mail by plane, which had never been done before. He and his fellow pilots traveled to faraway places and discovered new ways of getting from one place to the next. Antoine flew over mountains and deserts. He battled winds and storms. He tried to break aviation records, and sometimes he even crashed. From his plane, Antoine looked down on the earth and was inspired to write about his life and his pilot-hero friends in memoirs and in fiction. Peter Sís’s remarkable biography celebrates the author of The Little Prince, one of the most beloved books in the world.

A fantastic picturebook biography, rich in art and detail, it can be a little tricky to navigate but I feel that is part of the point.. Wonderfully detailed spread require exploration and that is why it is a year 5 text, it’s a book that inspires discussion and exploration and equally shows us an extraordinary life to boot.

I’d read it alongside the wonderful  “The Little Prince”

5. Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford and Kadir Nelson

Born into slavery, Harriet Tubman hears these words from God one summer night and decides to leave her husband and family behind and escape. Taking with her only her faith, she must creep through the woods with hounds at her feet, sleep for days in a potato hole, and trust people who could have easily turned her in.

But she was never alone.

In lyrical text, Carole Boston Weatherford describes Tubman’s spiritual journey as she hears the voice of God guiding her north to freedom on that very first trip to escape the brutal practice of forced servitude. Tubman would make nineteen subsequent trips back south, never being caught, but none as profound as this first one. Courageous, compassionate, and deeply religious, Harriet Tubman, with her bravery and relentless pursuit of freedom, is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

This is a unique and moving portrait of one of the most inspiring figures of the Underground Railroad. Kadir Nelson’s emotionally charged paintings embody strength, healing, and hope.

This picture book is a beautiful account of Harriet Tubman’s escape of slavery. Carole Boston Weatherford’s fictionalized story includes many historical facts.  Whilst the talking to god may put some people off the book, for me it enhanced my understanding of Harriet Tubman.

The author does an amazing job of spotlighting the feelings and struggles Harriet Tubman had along the journey. Kadie Nelson’s art zings and every image could be used to start a conversation about the challenges that she had to overcome. Powerful, challenging and a great story.

6. You are Stardust by Elin Kelsey and Soyeon Kim

You Are Stardust begins by introducing the idea that every tiny atom in our bodies came from a star that exploded long before we were born. From its opening pages, the book suggests that we are intimately connected to the natural world; it compares the way we learn to speak to the way baby birds learn to sing, and the growth of human bodies to the growth of forests. Award-winning author Elin Kelsey — along with a number of concerned parents and educators around the world — believes children are losing touch with nature. This innovative picture book aims to reintroduce children to their innate relationship with the world around them by sharing many of the surprising ways that we are all connected to the natural world.

Grounded in current science, this extraordinary picture book provides opportunities for children to use their imaginations and wonder about some big ideas. Soyeon Kim’s incredible diorama art enhances the poetic text, and her creative process is explored in full on the reverse side of the book’s jacket, which features comments from the artist. Young readers will want to pore over each page of this book, exploring the detailed artwork and pondering the message of the text, excited to find out just how connected to the Earth they really are.

A stunning picture book that explains how we are part of a natural world. Great science and stunning art make it an absolute treat. The Diorama art is a great thing to replicate as well. Eloquent and profound. A top drawer picturebook that sparks loads of question.

Similar in theme and stunning art is this below… This is more poetic…

Bonus Book

Child of the universe by Ray Jayawardhana and Raul Colon

Just like the sun gives shine to the moon,
you light up the world beyond this room . . .
You are grand and marvelous, strong and mysterious.
The history of the world is in your fingertips.

A meditation on the preciousness of one child and the vastness of the universe, this picture book shares the measure of a parent’s love along with the message that we are all connected to the broader cosmos.

7. Freedom we Sing by Amyra Leon and Molly Mendoza

I wonder, then, what freedom is. Is it a place? Is it a thought? Can it be stolen? Can it be bought?

As powerful as it is beautiful, Freedom, We Sing is a lyrical picture book designed to inspire and give hope to readers around the world. Molly Mendoza’s immersive, lush illustrations invite kids into the text, to ask themselves what it means to be free, while lyrical and emotive text is provided by musician Amyra León.

Powerful, beautiful and emotive. This is a book for all our classrooms, and should be used to spark the important conversations we need to have. Stunning poetic language and emotive vibrant art combine to create a powerhouse of a book. This is a book for now and the future.

8. Because by Mo Willems and Amber Ren

Mo Willems, a number one New York Times best-selling author and illustrator, composes a powerful symphony of chance, discovery, persistence, and magic in this moving tale of a young girl’s journey to center stage. Illustrator Amber Ren brings Willems’ music to life, conducting a stunning picture-book debut.

You may be detecting a theme. This is a book about artistic expression and how through education we open doorways to what is possible. This time this one is about music and how experiences can be formative and set things in motion that can’t be stopped. Part of our role as schools is to open doorways to our young people. Education should never act as a barrier. This is a perfect year 5 book (or probably Year 4 or Year 3 or actually across the whole school). I would tie it tightly to the music curriculum and see where it can take you.

9. Stone for Sacha by Aaron Becker

A girl grieves the loss of her dog in an achingly beautiful wordless epic from the Caldecott Honor–winning creator of Journey.

This year’s summer vacation will be very different for a young girl and her family without Sascha, the beloved family dog, along for the ride. But a wistful walk along the beach to gather cool, polished stones becomes a brilliant turning point in the girl’s grief. There, at the edge of a vast ocean beneath an infinite sky, she uncovers, alongside the reader, a profound and joyous truth. In his first picture book following the conclusion of his best-selling Journey trilogy, Aaron Becker achieves a tremendous feat, connecting the private, personal loss of one child to a cycle spanning millennia — and delivering a stunningly layered tale that demands to be pored over again and again.

Becker is a master of the wordless art. His journey trilogy are just amazing and are very popular. This for me however is his master-piece. This is essentially the history of the world in a wordless picturebook. It is a stunning achievement but possibly the story telling is too dense and complex. It requires a fair bit of knowledge to get the best out of it.

We used it alongside selected bits of this…



10. A Song for Will and the lost Gardeners of Heligan by Hilary Robinson and Martin Impey

When World War 1 is declared on 4th August 1914, errand boy, Alfie, is disappointed that he is too young to sign up. But his frustration turns to despair as he begins to realise the brutal consequences of battle. During the four year conflict, Alfie’s exchange of letters with Heligan stone mason, Fred Paynter, and the visits home of gardener, William Guy, paint a poignant picture of life at the front. Reading them in a peaceful corner of England, the sanctuary of Heligan, Alfie realises just how different his life could have been. Can Fred and Will survive the horrors of the Somme in 1916? And what worrying news might Alfie receive about other battles? Published in partnership with the Lost Gardens of Heligan and drawing on facts from their archives ‘A Song For Will’ is a beautiful story of longing and loss, of discovery and hope.

A fantastic World War 1 story told in heartfelt emotional letters back home, based on a true story. The letters are complimented by Impey’s art that still manages to convey the horrors of war even though this is aimed at children. This is my favourite Robinson/Impey WW1 book and that is saying something because they are all fantastic.

I’d also like to shout about Martin Impey’s version of Wilfred Owen’s Dulce Decorum Est which is just astounding. We used little bits of but it would be perfect in KS3 in bringing the words of the poem  and the horrors of war to stark, vivid life.

Links to other picturebook lists…

More Picturebooks for Year 6 (list 2) …#PictureBookPage

Booklists (picturebooks)

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