40 children’s books for struggling and reluctant readers

A literacy charity lists the 'most engaging' books for primary school pupils

Kate Parker

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Fostering a love of reading in pupils is a must for any primary school teacher. 

But not all pupils take to reading like a duck to water, and often it can be a real struggle to engage those pupils with literacy.

So how can you turn those reluctant readers into avid bookworms?

Perhaps with one of these 40 books. 

Beanstalk, a literacy charity that recruits, trains and places volunteers in primary schools to provide one-to-one support for children who have fallen behind with their reading, has revealed the 40 books that it finds can engage even the most unwilling of readers. 

Ginny Lunn, chief executive Officer of Beanstalk, said: "We also hope that by revealing Beanstalk’s ‘Top 40 ‘, it might help anyone looking for inspiration for a child they know - from parents to grandparents, reading helpers to teaching staff." 

Lower key stage 1 titles:

Some Dogs Do, Jez Alborough

We’re Going on a Lion Hunt, David Axtell

Dear Zoo, Rod Campbell

There’s a Bear on My Chair, Ross Collins

Wriggle and Roar!, Julia Donaldson (Illustrated by Nick Sharratt)

Dave’s Cave, Frann Preston Gannon

You Choose!, Pippa Goodhart (Illustrated by Nick Sharratt)

Peace At Last, Jill Murphy

It’s Okay to be Different, Todd Parr

Axel Scheffler’s Flip Flap Jungle, Axel Scheffler


Upper key stage 1 titles:

Open Very Carefully, Nick Bromley (Illustrated by Nicola O'Byrne)

A Dark, Dark Tale, Ruth Brown  

Tidy, Emily Gravett

Oi Frog!, Kes Gray (Illustrated by Jim Field)

The Great Big Book of Families, Mary Hoffman (Illustrated by Ros Asquith)

Class Two at the Zoo, Julia Jarman

The Book With No Pictures, B.J. Novak

Mixed Up Fairy Tales, Hilary Robinson (Illustrated by Nick Sharratt)

Press Here, Hervé Tullet

That Is Not a Good Idea!, Mo Willems


Lower key stage 2 titles:

The Children Who Smelled a Rat, Allan Ahlberg (Illustrated by Katharine McEwen)

Norman the Norman from Normandy, Philip Ardagh (Illustrated by Tom Morgan Jones)

Window, Jeannie Baker

Little Beauty, Anthony Browne

Eric... the Hero?, Christopher Wormell

Frog and Toad are Friends, Arnold Lobel

Once Upon an Ordinary School Day, Colin McNaughton (Illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura)

The Big Book of Magical Mix-Ups, Hilary Robinson (Illustrated by Nick Sharratt)

There’s No Such Thing as a Snappenpoop, Matt Saunders

Lottie Potter Wants an Otter, Jeanne Willis


Upper key stage 2 titles:

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night, Janet and Allan Ahlberg

The Tunnel, Anthony Browne

The Covers of My Book Are Too Far Apart, Vivian French (Illustrated by Matt Saunders)

The Wolves in the Walls, Neil Gaiman (Illustrated by David McKean)

Archie’s Unbelievably Freaky Week, Andrew Norris (Illustrated by Hannah Shaw)

The Brilliant World of Tom Gates, Liz Pichon

What Are You Playing At?, Marie-Sabine Roger

The Laugh Out Loud Joke Book, Michael Rosen

You’re a Bad Man, Mr Gum!, Andy Stanton (Illustrated by David Tazzyman)

Tadpole’s Promise, Jeanne Willis (Illustrated by Tony Ross)

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Kate Parker

Kate Parker is a FE reporter.

Find me on Twitter @KateParkerTes

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