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World Book Day 2021 – 30+ amazing KS2 book topics

Gear up for the biggest literary event of the school year with a wealth of free book topics for your primary class...

  • World Book Day 2021 – 30+ amazing KS2 book topics

Looking for KS1 book topics? Check out our selection here.

1 | James and the Giant Peach

Climb aboard the giant peach for a book topic that teaches Key Stage 2 students about the importance of friendship through a range of activities.

After that, look into the science of the story using an actual piece of fruit.

Get this book topic here.

2 | Kid Normal

Murph is a pupil at a secret school where everyone has an awesome power. But he can’t do anything. He’s boring old Kid Normal and things aren’t looking good, until evil man-wasp Nektar takes over the school and Murph is forced to step up.

Written by Radio 1 presenters Greg James and Chris Smith, Kid Normal won this year’s First News Funny prize in the Teach Primary Book Awards and has been a runaway hit with audiences, reluctant readers included.

But there’s more to this book than fast-paced jokes and irreverent remarks. Alongside the storytelling zing and superhero silliness comes a sensitively crafted subplot about fitting in and finding your place. This is a book with a great big heart, and one that’s well worth putting at the centre of creative cross-curricular projects.

Get this book topic here.

3 | Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

The popularity of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone makes it a joy to work with and gives you opportunities you wouldn’t have with other texts.

Children who know the book will be keen to revisit it, and those who don’t will soon be drawn into its well-paced and absorbing narrative.

They will want to talk about Harry’s wizarding world and their own experiences there as readers. Expect strong feelings about the characters – Harry and his friends seem real and children like to treat them as such.

Their involvement is frequently expressed through play, making the book a natural and rewarding starting point for cross-curricular activities.

Get this book topic here.

4 | Shackleton’s Journey

Take your class on a perilous journey through the icy waters of Antarctica with William Grill’s book Shackleton’s Journey.

Write a persuasive letter from both perspectives: Shackleton trying to get people to sign up for a dangerous journey, and the men who applied to be crew members. Learn about the rigours of the mission and the perils of the freezing climate.

Get this book topic here.

5 | The Spiderwick Chronicles

Role-play diary writing for the characters of the internationally bestselling series by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi.

In this book topic from Pie Corbett, students will look at how The Spiderwick Chronicles can provide a rich vein of inspiration for recounts and many more literacy lessons.

Get this book topic here.

6 | In Their Shoes

By walking a mile in the shoes of classic literary characters, your class will go on a learning journey they’ll never forget.

Explore different versions of familiar folk stories, study picture composition and of course find out more about shoes of all kinds throughout history.

Get this book topic here.

7 | 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.

8 | Oliver and the Seawigs

There’s something in the water in Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre’s Oliver and the Seawigs, with mermaids, a talking albatross and some rather strange islands.

Look at sea-themed mythology in literature, take part in some art and design for the story and find out more about problem solving.

Get this book topic here.

9 | The Great Mouse Plot

‘The Great Mouse Plot’ was one of the stories from Roald Dahl’s childhood autobiography, Boy, where he and his friends pranked the local sweet shop owner by placing a dead mouse in a jar of sweets.

They were duly caught, and caned by their headmaster. Carey Fluker Hunt’s book topics explores memories, and fictionalising them for engaging creative writing.

Get this book topic here.

10 | 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.

11 | Kick

Kick is the stunning debut novel from author Mitch Johnson.

It focuses around young boy Budi who lives in Jakarta, Indonesia with his family. His family is very poor, so instead of going to school he has to work at the local factory making football boots in order to get by.

Budi escapes his harsh reality by playing football with his best friends and dreaming of one day playing for Real Madrid alongside the mighty Kieran Wakefield.

It’s both uplifting and hard-hitting, making it a truly special book for Upper KS2 classrooms (particularly Y6).

The opportunities for learning and discussion are vast and this book will have even the most reluctant reader in your class – boy or girl – hooked from the beginning.

Get this book topic here.

12 | Cloud Busting

The central themes of bullying, friendship and difference are not so unusual, but the remarkable use of poetic forms, perfectly matched to the mood of each story section, has a profound effect.

Readers experience the narrator’s perspective in a sensory way that is hard to imagine being achieved in any other form.

Christine Chen and Lindsay Pickton’s book topic helps students write emotive pieces using inspiration from the clouds. Haikus, limericks, alliteration and more are all covered.

Get this book topic here.

13 | Flotsam

In David Wiesner’s Flotsam, a boy finds a camera on a beach, which contains images of a fantastical underwater world of invented creatures.

This wordless picturebook explores natural sciences from specimens to things like floating and sinking; biodegradability and ocean currents. There are also numerous opportunities for writing, drama, music, art and dance.

Get this book topic here.

14 | A Child of Books

A Child of Books takes readers on a journey of celebration. Both of its makers describe it in just three words: ‘ode to literature’ and ‘world of words’. It is indeed both.

The story follows a confident little girl, our child of books, as she leads her friend on a journey through a world of stories.

Along the way we are taken on a homage to children’s literature, as a myriad of genres are revealed across each spread, brought alive by typographic landscapes ingeniously created with the language of those classics.

Get this book topic here.

15 | Skellig

Part bird, perhaps part angel, Skellig is a mystical creature inhabiting a mundane setting.

Considering his true nature will open some challenging debates, and close reading of David Almond’s powerful text can enrich children’s own writing.

Get this book topic here.

16 | Kensuke’s Kingdom

Michael and his parents are sailing in tropical waters when Michael is swept overboard. Washed up on an island, he struggles to survive until a bowl of water and some food appear while he’s asleep.

Michael isn’t alone – there’s an elderly Japanese man living on the island and he doesn’t like strangers. But Kensuke’s instinct is to care for those in need, and following an accident they become friends.

There’s only one problem – Michael’s desperate to be reunited with his family and Kensuke doesn’t want to contact anyone from the outside world.

Kensuke’s Kingdom won the Teachers’ Choice category in this year’s Teach Primary Book Awards – a category designed to celebrate stories that are enjoyable to teach and inspire new activities year upon year – and is packed with exciting themes to inspire creative cross-curricular work.

Get this book topic here.

17 | Who Let the Gods Out?

Elliot’s mother has dementia and she’s getting worse by the day but Elliot fears telling anyone in case they separate the two of them. To make matters worse, Elliot had to take out a loan using his mother’s name, and now he has a few days to pay it back or he and his mum will be out on the street.

What Elliot isn’t expecting is that rebellious constellation Virgo will come crashing into his cowshed. Virgo has disobeyed the orders of the Zodiac Council and snuck to Earth to give Ambrosia to the mysterious Prisoner 42.

Elliot manages to get swept along, and together they manage to release the death daemon Thanatos into the world. Good going, guys! Can Elliot and Virgo make things right with the help of the Gods?

There is little sweeter than the laughter of children, and this book is better than most for eliciting such a wonderful reaction.

This book topic features practical activities that look at shifts in formality, discuss dementia and let students become reporters and help you host a mock trial.

Get this book topic here.

18 | 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.

19 | The Amazing Tale of Ali Pasha

A tortoise waking up might not sound the most thrilling topic starter, but the slumbering reptile in The Amazing Tale of Ali Pasha has an account of WWI that begs to be told, and retold.

Set up a news room, write letters home from the trenches and look at maps of the war to give children a global perspective.

Interspersed with evocative illustrations and exploring themes of heroism, friendship and triumph over adversity, the text is the perfect introduction to World War I history for children – not to mention an engaging story for readers of any age.

Depending on the themes you choose to develop, it can be the basis of a powerful book topic for both lower and upper KS2.

Get this book topic here.

20 | The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day

This is the story of Maisie, a gifted 10 year old already studying for a degree in mathematics and physics at the Open University.

All she wants for her birthday are the things she needs to build a nuclear reactor; but instead she wakes up to an empty house, and outside the front door is a terrible, all-consuming blackness.

Trapped in this ever-shifting reality, Maisie needs to use the laws of the universe – and the love of her family – to survive.

The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day is a story packed full of parallel and virtual worlds, but at the centre of it all is also a very real world, full of enough love and emotion to bring anyone back down to earth, and to leave children more illuminated than they were before they started.

Get this book topic here.

21 | Black Dog

This award-winning book from Levi Pinfold lets pupils explore their fears from a safe space.

Role-play the characters to discover what frightens them, collect data and create graphs on what scares your class the most, then present the findings as statistics or in a story (or both).

Look into the distinctive tempera method of the artwork, and delve into the folklore of the black dog.

Get this book topic here.

22 | The Imaginary

The story of Amanda and her imaginary friend Rudger starts to go wrong when the evil Mr Bunting and his imaginary accomplice find them.

Mr Bunting needs to feast on imaginaries to keep himself alive, and he plans to eat Rudger if he can catch him. Sue Cowley’s book topic covers memory, growing up, den building, creating tension in illustrations and the power of our imaginations for good and bad.

Get this book topic here.

23 | The Honey Hunter

Shonu lives on an island in the Bengal delta surrounded by mangrove forests – an area known as the Sundarbans, where bees build their combs like golden palaces in the treetops.

Shonu’s father is a honey collector and Shonu understands the natural laws of the forest. When indiscriminate logging disturbs the environmental balance, cyclones, floods and droughts ensue.

Eventually Shonu’s hunger overwhelms him and he gorges on the dripping honeycomb. But the forest has its guardians, and out jumps the Demon King in tiger form. It’s all over for Shonu – or is it?

Part environmental fable and part adventure story, this hugely appealing picture book is full of treasures to be unpacked, enjoyed and used to inspire creative activities of all kinds.

Get this book topic here.

24 | The Island at the End of Everything

Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s tale of inspiring and selfless courage is a great starting point for a variety of KS2 activities.

Amihan and her Nanay live together on Culion, a gorgeous island that is blessed with gorgeous weather and features stunning greenery and beautiful beaches. But life on Culion is not as desirable as the divine setting would have you believe: it is, in fact, an island for lepers.

Despite this, life is peaceful and the inhabitants go about their day-to-day business with little fuss. That is, until government representative Mr Zamora turns up to announce a new government initiative that will tear the island apart.

Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s stunning second novel is a beautifully written, heartbreaking yet heartfelt novel that is bound to have your class captivated from the first few words. It’s a perfect piece for some brilliant PSHE and science links.

Get this book topic here.

25 | East of the Sun, West of the Moon

The hinterland of East of the Sun, West of the Moon allows children to explore both fantastical themes and very real dilemmas.

Plan, structure and write a warning story for people being displaced, mount a persuasive campaign and teach bushcraft skills that Berneen needs on her journey.

Get this book topic here.

26 | Pirate’s Handbook

You may have already plundered a pirate topic in KS1, but revisiting men of low moral fibre in KS2 can yield fresh spoils.

In this book topics you can discover nautical geography skills and see what foods keep well for long journeys at sea with this book, which is a fantastic example of writing in role for a specific audience and provides a user-friendly entry into the world of piracy.

Get this book topic here.

27 | 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.

28 | Lob

Linda Newbery’s book about nature reminds us that life is full of joy, change and loss, but only if we look close enough.

Lob is a timeless book that gives children an unusual and uplifting perspective on the world. However, it’s gentle wisdom is accompanied by something much tougher.

Nature is wild, after all, and life is full of change and loss. But with it comes growth, and the knowledge that the people we love give us something that stays with us forever. As a stimulus for thinking and talking about some of life’s biggest ideas, it’s hard to beat.

Delicately illustrated by Pam Smy from close observation of the allotments and gardens recorded in her sketchbooks, Lob reminds us to make space to observe and protect the natural world that connects us all and give us life.

Get this book topic here.

29 | Dr Who

Graphic novels are perfect for tempting pupils into a wider world of reading, and can stimulate creativity in literacy.

With the help of Dr Who, Steve Bowkett shows you how to teach narrative structure, how to use a story grid and the importance of exploring alternative endings.

Get this book topic here.

30 | The Dragon Snatcher

A kitten might be cute, a rabbit cuddly, but they’re both damp squibs when it comes to igniting children’s story writing, compared to hatching a pet dragon, anyway.

Invent, draw and label your own dragons, write non-chronological reports and create spider diagrams of what a dragon needs to survive.

Get this book topic here.

31 | The Rabbit Problem

With ever more children being packed into schools, Emily Gravett’s The Rabbit Problem, in which a colony of rabbits must deal with the challenges of a rising population, may well strike a chord.

Get this book topic here.

32 | This Morning I Met a Whale

In this book topic you can use Morpurgo’s tale of a boy who spies a bottlenose whale in the Thames as the centrepiece of your next Key Stage 2 storybook curriculum.

There are loads of writing opportunities, from environmental information pamphlets, persuasive letters and news reports.

Get this book topic here.

33 | The Matchbox Diary

The Matchbox Diary shows how the simplest possessions can tell powerful stories about who we are and where we come from.

It’s a story of family ties, of intellectual curiosity and openness. Every page is suffused with warmth – and a clear-sighted optimism that will be welcomed in these uncertain times.

While children are enjoying its artwork and narrative energy, they’ll likely be unaware that it’s a powerful advocate for tolerance, empathy and compassion.

Get this book topic here.

34 | Anthony Browne books

The pictures in Anthony Browne’s books often tell a different story to the words, and getting children to fill in the gaps between the two is rich and rewarding work.

These books grab our attention by drawing us into detailed and unsettling worlds that are quite simply impossible to ignore, and make a rewarding starting point for discussion and creative work with older children, as well as younger ones.

Get this book topic here.

35 | Weslandia

It’s human nature to conform to group mentality, but Weslandia questions whether sacrificing your own interests and opinions is too high a price to pay for fitting in.

Words and pictures work together seamlessly to deliver a quirky and appealing tale with a depth and power that’s not easily forgotten, and Kevin Hawkes’ artwork, with its vibrant colours and unusual perspectives, adds its own humour to Paul Fleischman’s honed and dryly understated text.

The result is a beautifully-crafted picture book that can be enjoyed by any child ready to engage with its themes.

Introduced at upper KS2, it provides a creative way in to so many different curriculum areas, but younger children will enjoy working with it too.

Get this book topic here.

36 | The Land of Neverbelieve

The Land of Neverbelieve’s weird and wonderful wildlife will have children’s imaginations overflowing with world-building ideas.

It has an almost magical ability to intrigue and astonish children and adults alike through its carefully crafted words and delightful illustrations.

Possessing a richness of language that will challenge children throughout Key Stage 2, and a breadth that promotes plenty of opportunity for cross-curricular work, this text makes an excellent focus for a book topic.

Get this book topic here.

37 | Harry Miller’s Run

See how memories and the past can make children appreciate every passing moment, no matter how quickly they seem to be rushing by.

This poignant and uplifting story makes a great choice for both English and cross-curricular work with Key Stage 2.

As children engage with Harry’s ‘story within a story’, they will be transported back to the simpler times of his youth, contrasting with their own lives and that of Liam’s.

The beautiful illustrations by Salvatore Rubbino build on the concept of living memories through his use of colour – with vibrant depictions of the past contrasting with the black-and-white depictions of present day.

Get this book topic here.

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