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World Book Day 2021 – 25+ great KS1 book topics

Looking for some great new books and activities for young primary children for this year's World Book Day? Look no further. We've got a quarter century of free book topics for you here...

  • World Book Day 2021 – 25+ great KS1 book topics

Looking for KS2 book topics? Check out our selection here.

1 | A Bear Called Paddington

In the 60 years since A Bear Called Paddington was published, his adventures have been translated into 40 languages and many millions of copies of the books have been sold across the world.

It remains as engagingly fresh and accessible today as it was in 1958 and is great fun to read aloud. The chapters feature linked yet self-contained stories, offering rich opportunities for cross-curricular activities.

There’s also plenty of scope for children to read on independently through the other titles in the series.

Get this book topic here.

2 | Don’t Read This Book!

This deconstruction of story structure featuring guest appearances from fairytale characters is a playful metafiction book is guaranteed to have your class hooked, intrigued and laughing out loud.

An unbelievably impatient king, a forgetful court story writer and an array of guest appearances by a host of favourite characters makes for a refreshing take on a traditional fairytale. Explore the illustrations for clues, role-play the characters and narrator and construct your own version of the story.

Get this book topic here.

3 | The Cat and the King

If your house had been destroyed by a fire-breathing dragon, where would you go? The cat and the king opt for Number 37, Castle Close, which involves quite a bit of downsizing, not to mention a complete change of outlook.

With the cat’s support, the king learns how to do the really important things (like washing-up and waiting in queues), and although he misses his banquets and his marching band, the cat lays on a programme of activities with a suitably royal flavour and everyone is happy. Until the dragon reappears, that is, and threatens to blowtorch everything.

Get this book topic here.

4 | Billy and the Minpins

Billy can’t resist the forbidden forest that lies beyond his garden gate – until a smoke-belching monster chases him and it starts to look as if he really should have listened to his mother after all.

Then, just as the monster’s about to finish him off, Billy discovers a community of Minpins living in the trees – and when you’re battling a Gruncher, it really helps to have a team of tiny people on your side.

Featuring classic Roald Dahl ingredients such as zany humour and breakneck storytelling, Billy and the Minpins comes served with lashings of charm and wonder, with a side order of real fear.

Get this book topic here.

5 | Over and Under the Snow

Beneath the winter white crust of snow, there’s a hidden world of hibernating creatures for children to meet.

They can look at habitats, camouflage, food and the seasons through artwork, discussion and writing.

Get this book topic here.

6 | Leaf

Washed in by the tide, a polar bear arrives on the shores of a northern forest and settles in an abandoned cave.

This beautiful picture book has plenty of heart – but there’s bite here, too, beneath the decorative surface. It’s an original story, not a retelling, but feels grounded in a way that adds genuine heft to Dieckmann’s rich and satisfying artwork.

Leaf has been informed and shaped by northern folk traditions: not only in its use of colour and the patterns that enhance its pages, but also in the darker aspects of the story: The bear’s separation from home and family, the threat of environmental imbalance and the mistrust of the ‘other’ that is so evident throughout.

This is a book that appeals across a wide age range and makes a compelling focus for creative projects in the KS1 classroom.

Get this book topic here.

7 | The Day the Crayons Quit

Ignored, stereotyped and diminished, if the crayons in your classroom could talk, they might object to their treatment.

Understanding why leads to great lesson activities, such as looking at emotion cards, getting creative with colours and dramatising feelings.

Get this book topic here.

8 | Christopher Nibble in a Tale of Derring-Do

Play with poetry, create real writing with a menu and role-play advertising for a persuasive pitch to the class. You can also become town planners for Dandeville, designing a map or building a model.

Get this book topic here.

9 | Secret Tree Fort

“I have a secret tree fort, and you’re not invited!” In this true-to-life, warm and appealing picturebook, two siblings have contrasting views about what they should do outside. “Play with me,” begs the younger one, but the older girl just wants to read. “Fine!” says the little one, eventually.

Secret Tree Fort is a gem, with lots to enjoy, laugh about and unpack. It’s unusual to find a picturebook addressing a sibling relationship with such a sure touch as this one; these girls are feisty, with richly imagined inner worlds. Their approaches to life may be different, but they’re not one-sided. Imagination and action coexist quite comfortably for both of them, and they feel very real.

This is a book that offers “small, wonderfully specific insights into childhood imaginings, feelings and frustrations” (Kirkus Reviews), and it’s this emotional integrity along with Secret Tree Fort’s funny, fresh inventiveness, that makes it work so well at KS1.

Get this book topic here.

10 | Do You Speak English, Moon?

The story of a little boy’s affinity with the moon, who lives so far from all his friends, opens the way to thoughtful discussions on the subject of loneliness.

It is a tale in which the themes of loneliness and friendship are deeply felt. The illustrations are brightly coloured, bold and engaging and the activities emanating from the story itself could easily be differentiated to suit children across the whole of the infant age-range

Get this book topic here.

11 | Lots

With its beautiful artwork and retro styling, Lots certainly catches the eye – but this is a book that delivers more than just good looks.

Nicola Davies is a prize-winning author with a deep understanding of her target audience, and her ability to craft a non-fiction text is rarely matched. Themes such as biodiversity, the interdependence of living creatures and the importance of caring for our planet are explored with authority, humour and restraint.

Words and pictures work together to present material in a way that enables children to connect and get involved. This is non-fiction that’s a pleasure to share in the KS1 classroom and offers a rich starting point for science and maths activities, as well as literacy, drama and art.

Get this book topic here.

12 | The Detective Dog

Nell the dog loves visiting Peter’s school because the children read to her – until disaster strikes and all the books are stolen overnight. Have they gone forever, or will Nell’s super-sensitive nose help the children track the thief?

Needless to say, the ensuing chase is not only riotous but effective. The thief is discovered reading in a wheelbarrow – he just couldn’t resist all those stories – and in a pro-library twist is persuaded to sign up for a membership card and borrow to his heart’s content. Meanwhile, back in school, the children write a story of their own. It’s a story about Nell, the dog…

Get this book topic here.

13 | Where my Wellies Take Me

Michael and Clare Morpurgo’s Where My Wellies Take Me uses 40 evocative poems to celebrate the wonder of childhood, germinating a love of verse that will stay with pupils for many years to come.

Explore the spark of an idea in starting the writing process, map out your poetry project in your local area and create an inspiration scrapbook.

Get this book topic here.

14 | Town is by the Sea

This is a gem of a book and disarmingly accessible – children don’t need to know it’s set in the 1950s or understand coal-mining to enjoy it, but once they tune into the book’s emotional landscape they’ll start to read it in a different way.

Town is by the Sea offers an unusually rich experience: one that is multi-layered and can be appreciated on many levels, making it an ideal starting point for creative activities.

Get this book topic here.

15 | Hermelin The Great Mouse Detective

KS1 and 2 children can play detective along with the this book’s rodent sleuth extraordinaire by scanning the illustrations for clues.

It’s ideal for comprehension work, and this book topic will help children create a table of what they can observe, what they know and what they can infer from that.

Get this book topic here.

16 | Toys in Space

Mini Grey’s metafictional tale draws young children’s attention to the playful side of storytelling and feeds their imagination with the question: where do all the lost toys go?

Look at stories within stories, look at different perspectives, imagine different planets, create stories for toys and delve into a bit of physics.

Get this book topic here.

17 | The Butterfly Lion

Here, children can imagine what life would be like with a lion for a best friend.

Activities in this book topic include writing a persuasive letter from the main character’s perspective in boarding school, a survival guide for lions and a plot outline for the novel.

Get this book topic here.

18 | The Incredible Book Eating Boy

Oliver Jeffers’ book serves up a visual and mental feast for children, as we follow Henry as he discovers the world of literature.

The plot is complemented by illustrations that incorporate pages from old books. It’s the perfect concept for teachers who are passionate about books and want to plant a seed that will grow into a lifelong love of reading.

Get this book topic here.

19 | Mr Tiger Goes Wild

Tiger, teacher or excitable five year old, there are times when we’d all like to act on instinct and do as we please, as Peter Brown’s book artfully demonstrates.

Look at the use of colour between the ‘wild’ and ‘civilised’ aspects of the book, study page composition and make inferences from the characters’ facial expressions and make your own picturebooks.

Get this book topic here.

20 | The Tear Thief

Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy imbued this tale of a ghostly character who moves invisibly through the night collecting children’s tears with poetic language and powerful message about emotional truth.

This book topic helps you explore the characters, and look at the metaphors and similes in the text, as well as the way the book uses the language of sound to create atmosphere.

Get this book topic here.

21 | Spots in a Box

If you were a guinea fowl and your plumage didn’t look quite right, what would you do? Take matters into your own beak, of course.

Look at different materials, colours and patterns and experiment with different mediums in art.

Get this book topic here.

22 | Tiny: The Invisible World of Microbes

Tiny: The Invisible World of Microbes brings science and art together, and author Nicola Davies introduces her subject in a friendly, respectful manner, providing hard facts in context and complex ideas in a way that children can relate.

Pay attention to the little things with a treasure hunt, draw or make your own microbes and investigate patterns of reproduction using grains of rice as the microbes.

Get this book topic here.

23 | Meerkat Mail

As Emily Gravett’s restless meerkat goes in search of greener pastures, children tracking his global adventure will discover new creatures and countries to explore in their writing.

It’s a great opportunity to create factfiles and non-chronological reports on each animal and place, including making some Top Trumps as a class.

Get this book topic here.

24 | Speckle the Spider

A talent for tap dancing and an adventurous spirit – introduce your KS1 pupils to Speckle, a very special spider indeed.

With the new curriculum there’s a lot less prescription when it comes to genre, that there’s an emphasis on depth in exploring the writing process, and that talk and response is to be found at the heart of reading enjoyment and comprehension.

Opportunities to immerse pupils in engaging, cross-curricular English abound; the programme of study gives you the freedom to take a book like Speckle the Spider and inspire a whirlwind of writing for purpose.

Get this book topic here.

25 | Ruby Nettleship and the Ice Lolly Adventure

A mysterious ice lolly that, when planted, transforms a run-down inner city playground into a sprawling adventure garden is an irresistible theme for a KS1 topic.

Ruby Nettleship and the Ice Lolly Adventure is a beautiful picture book that’s full of optimism.

Its eponymous central character provides a wonderful role model and the detailed illustrations, which demand repeat viewings, reflect the rich cultural and social mix of British cities.

The story emphasises the importance of free play and imagination, as well as the power of children to influence change, which opens up plenty of creative pathways to be explored in the classroom.

Get this book topic here.

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