We’ve picked the brains of some of our teaching community to discover their favourite books to inspire great writing. There are some classics, but also a few lesser-known suggestions. We hope they provide a great starting point for your lesson planning!
Grange-Enders by Maggie Walker is a highly engaging book for Year 6 children contemplating the move to secondary school. It’s packed full of PSHE discussion points, touching on areas such as peer pressure, identity and the emotional roller-coaster of starting in a new school. A ‘must’ for Year 6 teachers!
Henry Smith, Teacher
Archie’s War by Marcia Williams is one of the best books I’ve used with KS2. Written in scrapbook style through the eyes of a child in WW1, it is truly captivating. The detail and presentation — which includes comic strips, photos, letters and clippings — lends itself to inspire learning in so many ways, whilst engaging children and teachers alike.
Helen Lisseman, Teacher
The Day the Crayons Quit
The Day the Crayons Quit by Oliver Jeffers is a fantastic book for KS1 (and adults will enjoy it too!). A box of crayons go on strike from always colouring the same old things — children will love writing their own version of the story or imagining what the crayons could colour instead!
Miriam Simpson, Teacher
Wonder by RJ Palacio is a book about a boy born with a facial anomaly who, after years of home-schooling, is about to attend school for the first time.
The story is written from the perspective of several different characters, with key events told from one point of view and then another. This enables pupils to focus on character traits and how they influence choices and actions in a story.
Whilst the book addresses themes that are sensitive and thought-provoking, the author also uses humour throughout — making for a really enjoyable class read. I’ve used this book for lessons on character analysis (using evidence from a text to support opinions) and for writing about an event from two different perspectives. There are also precepts (‘life rules’) dotted throughout the story that can lead to some brilliant discussion and debate. For example, “when given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind”.
Clearly, Wonder can also work really well as a stimulus for addressing bullying, exploring values (e.g. kindness, perseverance, bravery, empathy) and for acknowledging preconceptions we may have about people who we perceive to be different to us.
Sarah Doughty, Teacher
Kensuke's Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo is a fantastic book for UKS2! Children can easily relate. Emotional at just the right level. Test of strength and resilience. Wonderful for team building too.
Niki Tighe, Teacher
Have you filled a bucket today?
Have you filled a bucket today? By Carol McCloud encourages kindness towards others. It encourages positive behaviour by using the concrete concept of an ‘invisible bucket’ that holds your good thoughts and feelings. When you do something kind, you fill someone’s bucket; when you do something mean, you dip into someone’s bucket and remove some good thoughts and feelings.
This book focuses on how our social interactions positively or negatively affect others and encourages all to be kind. It’s a great book for EYFS/KS1 as helps with personal, social and emotional development.
Zoë Jenkins, Teacher
The Mr Men
There are so many great books but don’t underestimate the little guys! My book choice would be The Mr Men Books by Roger Hargreaves. I have used these traditional books with very young children right up to Year 3 and you can create some fab SPaG lessons from their understated content.
Francesca Ross, Teacher
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
As a child, my favourite author was Roald Dahl and my favourite book was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I loved chocolate and the idea of seeing how it was made fascinated me. I liked the fact though that in this story Charlie was rewarded for doing the right things unlike many of the other golden ticket winners. This is a great story to use with your class to discuss behaviour and rewarding children who make good choices. It can also be used for great creative lessons to inspire any budding inventors. Can they invent a new chocolate bar or a machine that makes sweets?
Simon Blower, Pobble Lead Teacher & Co-founder — @SimonPobble
Journey to Johannesburg
Journey to Johannesburg by Beverley Naidoo was brilliant for UKS2. It generated thought-provoking questions from the children that resulted in many deep discussions about fair trade, equality, discrimination, relationships and fairness in the world. It would make a great link to current affairs. My year 6’s studied fairtrade as a huge, creative topic that lasted a half term and this book ran alongside it. The main idea was to keep a journal with their thoughts, feelings and general points of learning about this topic however we also created many pieces of writing around this topic.
Louise Robinson, Teacher