Making the difference: choosing the best KS2 books

What constitutes the ‘best’ KS2 books and how do you choose?

Ultimately, it’s reasonable to argue that the best KS2 books are the ones where learners’ can see themselves in the stories. When we relate to the characters or the setting and see a thread of our own lives and circumstances, we begin to engage - and that’s where the magic happens!

‘...Children see themselves as readers and part of the stories. The diversity featured in the Big Books, additional reading practice books and the Target Practice Readers is exceptional.’ - Tameside Primary Academy

Before Reading Planet, reading schemes often focused on a version of life from 30-40 years ago. As we all know, the world has changed rapidly in that time, so when Reading Planet was developed, it was done in a very conscious way to reflect the real, modern world we live in.

This isn’t a token box we’re ticking - we work closely with diversity and inclusion experts, literacy experts, authors, partners, and schools to create books for ALL learners.

‘In our catchment area, children don’t have many outside experiences, so the stories strike the right balance of being relevant and relatable, but humorous and engaging too. We have found that the books are engaging for the children and link to their interests - the children relate to the characters.’ - Griffin Park Primary School

The characters and settings represent all backgrounds, include traditional tales and interests from around the world, and draw on inspirational real-life stories about people from different cultures, places and professions. Examples include Amazing Men in Black History, Heroic Girls: Tales of Bravery, Maui and the Sun and All Aboard the Empire Windrush.

Reading scheme books vs ‘real’ books

We know there can be some negative associations with reading at school, particularly from learners that find the process a little more challenging than their peers, or those that aren’t quite comfortable with a learning environment.

But for all learners, associating reading with enjoyment and fun is critical, and the fundamental reason why we purposefully designed our books not to feel like reading scheme books. Reading for pleasure is powerful and transformative, giving a sense of independence that learners have likely not experienced in any other way yet. It offers a huge reward and sense of accomplishment - something that we feel is key to fostering in Reading Planet readers.

On that basis, we’ve worked with a team of award-winning children’s authors and illustrators to create books that capture the magic of ‘real’ children’s books. Combining this with expert levelling, we ensure readers make essential progression as they journey towards the National Tests to meet or exceed their expectations. Our books are also made from different paper and formatted to not feel like reading scheme books.

Catherine Coe is the Series Editor for KS2 Fiction. She has written numerous titles for children and has also launched a mentoring and outreach programme for underrepresented children’s book writers. All of this experience and knowledge is poured into our books, with huge benefits for learners. Alongside our other outstanding authors, we’re confident our books stand up and stand out!

If you’re interested and would like to find out more about Reading Planet, and perhaps set up a free 30-day trial at your school, you can do so quickly and easily here.

Hamish Baxter is a Senior Commissioning Editor at Hodder Education and is the KS2 lead publisher for Reading Planet.


English, English and Literacy, key stage 1, key stage 2, KS1, ks2, national curriculum, phonics, Reading, Reading and Ebooks, reading scheme, Rising Stars Reading Planet

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