Reading for pleasure in Year 3 can provide entertainment and delight as well as opening up a host of new worlds to children. Books provide children of this age group with opportunities to stretch the imagination as well as to consider what life might be like in a myriad of different settings and situations. Stories about the lives of others can help children to develop empathy and understand emotions, while at the same time increasing children's language skills and vocabulary.
Furthermore, research shows that reading for pleasure in childhood is a more powerful indicator of future educational attainment than parental socioeconomic status. In order to facilitate the enjoyment of reading, getting the right book into the right child’s hands at the right time is the key. At the age of 7-8, many children have learned to read short books by themselves and begin to exercise a greater freedom of choice over their independent reads at school and home. Funny books are very popular with this age group, as are short chapter books with illustrated elements and visually appealing non-fiction texts. In addition to independent reading, story time with adults remains important and treasured in Year 3, too - both at home and in the classroom.
With these factors in mind, we have carefully selected a range of books especially picked for encouraging reading for pleasure in Year 3, both as independent book choices and for texts to be read aloud by an adult. Some of the stories in the collection will be especially appealing to children looking for an illustrated chapterbook series, such as Laura Allen Anderson’s Amelia Fang stories and the very popular 13-Storey Treehouse books, which all have memorable characters and frequent visual elements to break up the text.
Other stories chosen for our Year 3 booklist are more tender-hearted and thought-provoking. Animal lovers will be drawn towards the feline world of Varjak Paw or to Michael Morpurgo's poignant story of a whale that swims up the Thames in The Morning I Met a Whale. Not all of the stories on the list are longer reads - for excellent picture-book choices suitable for Year 3, we recommend the completely magical Leon and the Place Between, the stunningly-illustrated Oceans Meets Sky or the inspiring story of Wangari’s Trees of Peace.
If you are looking for classic stories, you’ll find on our list some real favourites suitable for children aged 7-8, like Ted Hughes’ thrilling and mysterious story of The Iron Man or the poignant farmyard tale of friendship, courage and loss in Charlotte’s Web.
You’ll find a variety of genres and formats included on our recommended Year 3 reading list, from poetry collections like Joshua Seigal’s giggle-worthy I Bet I Can Make You Laugh to the impressive nature poetry anthology Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright, which contains a poem for every day of the year. If you are looking for a short chapter book for an ideal first step into independent reading, try the humorous intergalactic mystery Space Detectives or Malorie Blackman’s Ellie and the Cat.
When children choose to read, they gain access to a host of exciting ideas and worlds and this helps to flex the muscles of the imagination, develop empathy and better understand the lives of others, as well boosting language skills, vocabulary and comprehension.
In order to facilitate the enjoyment of reading, the provision of books that are age-appropriate, high quality and appealing is key. At the ages of 8 and 9, most children have learned to read short chapter books by themselves and have gained enough experience of books to articulate preferences about styles, themes and formats. Animal tales, fantasy adventures, funny stories, comic-style books and illustrated chapter books are popular at this age, as are non-fiction texts covering topics of interest like science or history. In addition to a wide choice of independent reads, stories being read aloud by adults continue to be an important - and much-enjoyed - aspect of the reading for pleasure journey at this age.
With these factors in mind, we have carefully selected a range of recommended books for reading for pleasure in Year 4. Many of the books in the collection are well-known for getting children hooked on reading due to their humorous style and highly illustrated elements, like the comic-style Dog Man books, and Liz Pichon’s fabulously relatable Tom Gates series.
Many children at this age have developed the ability to make connections within a story and spot finer details in the text, and this enables them to enjoy a good mystery story. For a cracking mystery adventure, we recommend the Highland Falcon Thief, the Lori and Max series or, for a set of head-scratching mysteries from the real world, try the award-winning Real Life Mysteries. Animal rescue stories also remain popular with Year 4, with Jess Butterworth’s exciting Himalayan adventure When the Mountains Roared or Michael Morpurgo’s poignant story of animal companionship in The Butterfly Lion being excellent choices.
For readers looking for shorter texts, try Vashti Hardy’s short chapter book The Griffin Gate (specially formatted for reluctant and dyslexic readers), the graphic novel style picture book Kai and the Monkey King. For picture books suitable for Year 4, we recommend Town is by the Sea, Colin Thompson’'s playful How to Live Forever or the thought-provoking The Barnabus Project, which is stunningly illustrated by the Fan Brothers.
If you are looking for classic stories suitable for 8-9 year olds, you’ll find among the collection some favourites that have been entertaining children for generations, like The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe or Dick King Smith’s The Queen’s Nose. Poetry books that are proven hits with Year 4 are well represented in the collection too, and in particular we love Josh Seigal’s humorous collection Welcome to my Crazy Life. a
Helping children in Year 5 discover a love of reading is most successfully achieved when a wide range of appealing and age-appropriate books are available. Research on reading for pleasure shows that children who choose to read for enjoyment are more likely to achieve higher academic outcomes, to have improved mental health and to gain economic success later in life. What’s more, when children choose to open a book to read, they are able to discover new worlds beyond their own experiences, to learn about different people and to develop critical thinking and crucial empathy skills, as well as advancing their language and vocabulary.
Getting the right book into the right child’s hands at the right time is absolutely key to sparking a love of reading. At the ages of 9 and 10, most children are able to read longer chapter books and handle stories with an increasing complexity of themes. Popular with this age group are thought-provoking books about relevant social issues, as well as laugh-out-loud funny books, graphic novels and non-fiction that covers topics of interest.
With this in mind, we have carefully selected a range of books to help to encourage reading for pleasure in Year 5. Many children at this age start to enjoy stories that encourage thinking and discussion around social issues.
Historical fiction also becomes popular around this age, with children able to draw on their increasing knowledge of history from their curriculum learning in Key Stage 2.
Many children at this age enjoy fantasy stories to spark the imagination. Fantasy adventures like Rumblestar and Dragon Mountain are popular choices, as are stories of adventurous expeditions like Alex Bell's The Polar Bear Explorers Club.
At the very centre of inspiring reading for pleasure in Year 6 is the element of choice. Alongside the use of Accelerated Reading, we always encourage and recommend wider reading through choice. Readers who are motivated to choose to read are often the ones who are best able to make the decisions on where, when, what and how, knowing that they can read at their own pace in their own way. At OLSA, we believe the key to this is by providing a wide range of appealing and age-appropriate texts for readers to explore.
Being exposed to different styles, formats and genres helps children to define themselves as readers, to have a range of alternatives to choose next if something they read is not for them and to make choices about the books that will give them the reading buzz. This process is crucial for children to develop the intrinsic motivation to read and to lay the foundations of a lifelong love of reading.
At the ages of 10 and 11, most children are able to read chapter books and to think critically about what they read. They begin to enjoy multi-layered stories that present different characters’ viewpoints about key issues, and to think deeply about books that explore relevant social issues. Also popular with this age group are graphic novels, funny books and illustrated non-fiction that delves deeply into a particular topic of interest. Storytime with adults continues to be important and enjoyed at this age - despite the high level of independence at the ages of 10 and 11, nothing can replicate the magic of a shared reading experience.
With these factors in mind, books are carefully selected to encourage reading for pleasure in Year 6. Many children at this age are ready to engage with stories that explore social issues or offer insights into a diversity of ways of seeing the world. Catherine Bruton's award-winning No Ballet Shoes in Syria charts the experience of a young refugee finding her feet in a new country and Boy in the Tower hauntingly explores the experience of isolation when it does not feel safe to go outside, as well as the topics of parental mental health and the coming together of community in the face of a crisis.
If you are looking for classic stories suitable for 10-11 year olds, we recommend Tom’s Midnight Garden or Judith Kerr's When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. Poetry collections offer a wealth of enjoyment for reading for pleasure at this age too, from Mandy Coe's upbeat Belonging Street or Joseph Coelho’s Overheard in a Tower Block, which is always a hit with Year 6.
For those without the time or reading stamina to pick up a longer read, try one of the shorter chapter books included in our Y6 reading list, like Lisa Thompson’s Owen and the Soldier or David Long’s Survival in Space, both of which are specially formatted to be accessible to dyslexic readers.