Picture Book Suggestions

At Jennett’s Park, we believe that picture books are so important in reading, that they deserve their own section!

Picture books are often used to explain more complicated ideas to children, in a way that is easier for the children to comprehend.

These texts further improve inference and reading comprehension, as children have to apply their reading strategies to read between the lines- as there are such few words! Consequently, children have to look carefully at the pictures, and decipher how these link to the written words. To further aid their understanding, picture books encourage children to use their experience to apply to the text, to help it make sense.

As a result of this, picture books are vital to children of every age, not just children who are not confident readers yet. Consequently, we encourage picture books to be read to and with children as often as books with more words, throughout every year at school.

We have collected a few of our favourite picture books, alongside suggestions for what phase these books are suitable. Our suggestions focus on suitable texts for KS1 and KS2, as picture books heavily feature in reading during Early Years.

Please note: just because a book is rated as suitable for KS1 and above- that doesn’t mean that older year groups won’t enjoy it: this purely means that this is the minimum age at which the book can be appreciated. Some of these picture books are timeless and can be appreciate from Year 1 all the way up to Year 6. Their open interpretations often means that there is something there for everyone to enjoy.

Upper Key Stage 2 and above picture books

 

     

The Watertower

Gary Crew

 

Nobody in Preston could remember when the watertower was built, or who had built it, but there it stood on Shooter’s Hill — its iron legs rusted, its egg-shaped tank warped and leaking — casting a long dark shadow across the valley, across Preston itself.

 

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The Island

Armin Greder

 

When the people of the Island discover a man and a tattered raft on their beach, they are reluctant to take him in. He doesn’t look like them. But they cannot send him back to the sea where he will surely perish. Instead, they put him aside but even that doesn’t solve their problem.

 

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The Arrival

Shaun Tan

 

What drives so many to leave everything behind and journey alone to a mysterious country, a place without family or friends, where everything is nameless and the future is unknown.

 

This silent graphic novel is the story of every migrant, every refugee, every displaced person, and a tribute to all those who have made the journey.

 

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How to Live Forever

Colin Thompson

 

Peter and his family live among the Quinces in the cookery section of a mystical library, and at night, when the library comes to life, Peter ventures out of his home to find a missing volume: How To Live Forever.

 

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I am Thomas

Libby Gleeson

 

As the voices in his life crowd in on him, Thomas looks for another way.

 

Powerful illustrations and a spare text make a parable of Thomas’s journey, which reflects the courage we all need to find our passion and be ourselves.

 

A masterful and compelling story.

 

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Farther

Grahame Baker-Smith

 

A young boy, was bewitched by his father’s unrelenting passion to fly. When his father goes to war and does not return it seems the spell is broken.

 

Much later, the boy, now a young man finds himself drawn once more to his father’s drawings and failed experiments. Finally able to make his father’s dream a reality, he flies. Will his own son be visited by this unrelenting passion?

 

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Lost Thing

Shaun Tan

 

A humorous story about a boy who discovers a bizarre-looking creature whilst out collecting bottle-tops at the beach.

 

Having guessed that it is lost, he tries to find out who owns it or where it belongs, but the problem is met with indifference by everyone else, who barely notice it’s presence.

 

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Lower Key Stage 2 and above

 

Black Dog

Levi Pinfold

 

Only Small, the youngest of the Hopes, has the courage to face the Black Dog that appears outside the family’s home. When it chases her through the forest she shows no fear, so it grows smaller and smaller.

 

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King of The Sky

Nicola Davies

 

Starting a new life in a new country, a young boy feels lost and alone – until he meets an old man who keeps racing pigeons. Together they pin their hopes on a race across Europe and the special bird they believe can win it: King of the Sky. A beautiful story: an immigrant’s tale with a powerful resonance in our troubled times.

 

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The Mysteries of Harris Burdick

Chris Van Allsburg

 

Who is Harris Burdick? Where did he disappear to? And how was he going to finish his stories?

 

Chris Van Allsburg presents a series of loosely related drawings each accompanied by a title and a caption which the reader may use to make up his or her own story.

 

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The Dam

 

David Almond

 

When a great dam was built by the Kielder Water in Northumberland, the valley below slowly filled with water. But just before this, when the villagers had been moved out, two musicians went back to the abandoned valley. They tore down the boards over the houses, stepped inside and started to play – for this would be the last time that music would be heard in this place.

 

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Angus rides the Goods train

Alan Durrant

 

When Angus boards the goods train, laden with milk, honey, and rice, he’s full of excitement as the driver speeds across land and sea.

 

But why won’t the train stop for those who are hungry and thirsty? What can Angus do?

 

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Mr Wuffles

David Weisner

 

Mr Wuffles ignores all the toys people buy for him. He’s not lazy, he’s just very picky. Now Mr Wuffles has the perfect toy and he’s ready to play. But it’s not really a toy at all. It’s something much more interesting …

 

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Phileas’ Fortune

Agnès de Lestrade

 

How can Phileas express himself to Cybele when he doesn’t have the right words say? How can he tell her how he feels when he doesn’t have enough money to buy the words?

 

Words are important, but what is more significant is the sincerity and character behind what is actually being said. True self-expression comes from deep inside. And, in the end heart is always more meaningful than money.

 

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Instructions

Neil Gaiman

 

The reader is invited on a lyrical journey peopled by a cast of mythical characters, with a set of instructions that is both intriguing and reassuring. The advice for travelling through a fairytale landscape might just save you from being eaten by wolves or being lost for ever, but it is also a charming metaphor for living courageously and taking risks.

 

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The Sound of Silence

Katrina Goldsaito

 

Yoshio thinks Tokyo sounds like a symphony hall! He delights in everyday sounds–shoes squishing through puddles, raindrops pattering down, and lots of giggles! But one day he meets a musician who tells Yoshio that her favorite sound is ma, the Japanese word for the sound of silence. Yoshio must hear this! But how can he find it amid the hustle and bustle of the city?

 

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Where the Poppies Grow

Hilary Robinson

 

Set in a bygone age, the carefree childhood of Ben and his best friend Ray becomes a distant memory when they join the army to serve their country. But, in the midst of battle can their friendship survive?

 

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Varmints

Helen Ward

 

Once, the only sounds to be heard were the buzzing of bees in the grass, the murmuring of moles in the earth, and the song of birds in the sky. These warmed the hearts of those who cared to listen – until the others came to fill the sky with a cacophony of noise. With dramatically lit artwork and a spare, intriguing text, Varmints tells of a pastoral world in need of protection and of the souls who love it enough to ensure its regeneration.

 

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The Promise

Nicola Davies

 

On a mean street in a mean city, a thief tries to snatch an old woman’s bag. But she finds she can’t have it without promising something in return – to “plant them all”. When it turns out the bag is full of acorns, the young thief embarks on a journey that changes her own life and the lives of others for generations to come.

 

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Flotsam

David Wiesner

 

A bright, science-minded boy goes to the beach equipped to collect and examine flotsam-anything floating that has been washed ashore. Bottles, lost toys, small objects of every description are among his usual finds. But there’s no way he could have prepared for one particular discovery: a barnacle-encrusted underwater camera, with its own secrets to share . . . and to keep.

 

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The Tunnel

Anthony Browne

 

Scornful of his younger sister’s fears, a young boy decides to explore a tunnel forcing her to go after him when he doesn’t return.

 

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Town Is by the sea  

Joanne Schwartz

 

This beautifully understated and haunting story brings a piece of mining history to life. The ever-present ocean and inevitable pattern of life in a mining town will enthral children and move adult readers, as a young boy wakes up to the sound of the sea, visits his grandfather’s grave after lunch and comes home to a cosy dinner with his family, but all the while his mind strays to his father digging for coal deep down under the sea.

 

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The Lost Happy Endings

Carol Ann Duffy

 

What would happen if we lost the happy endings to stories – imagine the tears at bedtime! A fantastic and magical tale about what happens when, one night, a wicked witch steals the happy endings to bedtime stories. It is up to Jub, the keeper of the happy endings, to save the day and ensure sweet dreams everywhere in this lyrical story about storytelling.

 

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KS1 and above picture books

Tadpole’s Promise

Jeanne Willis

 

“Where the willow meets the water, a tadpole met a caterpillar. They gazed into each other’s tiny eyes and fell in love. ‘Promise me that you will never change’, the caterpillar says.” Foolishly, the tadpole promises. But as the seasons pass and he matures, his legs grow, and then his arms – and what happens to his beautiful rainbow friend?

 

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Don’t Spill the Milk

Christopher Corr

 

Up the downy dunes, across the dark, wide river and up and down the steep, steep mountain, Penda lovingly carries a bowl of milk to her father in the grasslands.

 

But will she manage to get it there without spilling a single drop?

 

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Life Doesn’t Frighten Me

Maya Angelou

 

Maya Angelou’s brave, defiant poem celebrates the courage within each of us, young and old. From the scary thought of panthers in the park to the unsettling scene of a new classroom, fearsome images are summoned and dispelled by the power of faith in ourselves.

 

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Ocean meets Sky

Eric Fan

 

From the creators of The Night Gardener, comes a stunning new picture book about a young boy who sets sail to find a place his grandfather told him about… the spot where the ocean meets the sky.

It’s a good day for sailing.

 

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After the Fall

Dan Santat

 

After the fall, Humpty Dumpty is a broken egg. Life is tough: he’s so afraid of heights, he can’t even bear to climb onto his bed, or reach his favourite cereal on the top shelf at the supermarket. But one day, fuelled by his passion for bird-watching, he decides to conquer his fears and something amazing happens…

 

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Last Stop On Market Street

Matt de la Peña

 

CJ begins his weekly bus journey around the city with disappointment and dissatisfaction, wondering why he and his family can’t drive a car like his friends. Through energy and encouragement, CJ’s nana helps him see the beauty and fun in their routine.

This beautifully illustrated, emotive picture book explores urban life with honesty, interest and gratitude.

 

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Castles

Colin Thompson

 

In this fantastical world there are castles in space, floating castles, castles in the sky and castles made of glass. Each one hides a royal family and there are all the usual mazes, puzzles tricks and messages waiting to be discovered.

 

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Tuesday

David Wiesner

 

In this ingenious and imaginative – nearly wordless – picture book, frogs in a pond lift off on their lily pads and fly to a nearby town where they zoom through a woman’s living room, encounter a dog playing in his yard, and distract a bathrobe-clad citizen from his midnight snack. Who knows what will happen next Tuesday?

 

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The Dark

Lemony Snicket

 

Laszlo is afraid of the dark. The dark lives in the same house as Laszlo but mostly it spends its time in the basement. It doesn’t visit Laszlo in his room. Until one night it does . . . Join Lazlo on his journey to meet the dark, and find out why it will never bother him again.

 

*Note: this starts off a bit spooky, but the ending is fab! Has been received really well from Year 2 upwards.

 

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The Moonlight Zoo

Maudie Powell-Tuck

 

Eva has looked everywhere for her missing cat, Luna. Then she discovers the Moonlight Zoo – a magical place for all lost animals. There amongst lions and elephants she sees parrots, dogs, even guinea pigs…

But can Eva find Luna before the zoo fades at dawn?

 

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The Grotlyn

Benji Davies

 

What is the mysterious Grotlyn? What sort of creature could it be, scuttling across the town, frightening everyone in its path? And why has it stolen PC Vickers’ knickers?!

 

A beautifully illustrated rhyming tale about things that go bump in the night.

 

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The Secret Sky Garden

Linda Sarah

 

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.

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The Tin Forest

Helen Ward

Helen Ward’s tale of The Tin Forest follows an old man who tidies the rubbish in a junkyard and dreams of a better place. With faith, ingenuity and hard work, he transforms it into a wonderland in this poetic modern fable.

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A River

Marc Martin

There is a river outside my window.
Where will it take me?
So begins an imaginary journey from the city to the sea. From factories to farmlands, freeways to forest, each new landscape is explored through stunning illustrations and poetic text from this award-winning picture-book creator.

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The Night Gardener

Terry Fan

 

When Alan, a self-styled Evil Lunatic, moves in next door with his grumpy robot sidekick and his silent right-hand-dog, Kevin Phillips, Wilf knows he will have to find a way to overcome his anxiety and fears. And soon he realises: only he can stop Alan’s ridiculous yet still Quite Evil plan to destroy the world…

 

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The Antlered Ship

Dashka Slater

 

An inquisitive fox sets off on a seafaring voyage with a crew of deer and pigeons in this enchanting tale of friendship and adventure. But none of the other foxes share his curiosity. So when a magnificent ship adorned with antlers and with a deer for a captain arrives at the dock looking for a crew, Marco volunteers, hoping to find foxes who are as inquisitive as he is that can answer his questions. The crew finds adventure and intrigue on their journey.

 

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The wall in the Middle of the Book

Jon Agee

 

In this timeless tale battling notions of prejudice and preconception, a little knight is glad the wall in the middle of the book keeps him safe from the ogre on the other side – until a big flood on his side means he needs the ogre to rescue him! Suddenly he discovers a wonderful new world.

 

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