Higher Standard Reading

(Year 5 and Year 6 pupils)

Suggested reading for higher standard readers in Year 5 and Year 6.




Detective & Mystery


War Stories

Real Life Issues

Scary & Horror


Click / hover book covers for synopsis

Twins Arthur and Maudie Brightstorm receive word that their famous explorer father died when attempting to reach the southernmost point in the world. Not only that, but he has been accused of stealing fuel before he died! The twins don’t believe the news; they answer an ad to join a new attempt to reach South Polaris. It’s their only hope of learning the truth and salvaging their family’s reputation.

Brightstorm: A Sky-Ship Adventure

Vashti Hardy

Meggie lives a quiet life alone with her father, a bookbinder. But her father has a deep secret- he possesses an extraordinary magical power. One cruel night, as Meggie’s father reads a book called Inkheart aloud, an evil ruler named Capricorn escapes the boundaries of fiction and lands in their living room. Suddenly, the two are plunged into the kind of adventure Meggie has only encountered in fiction.


Peter Bunzl

There are no polar bears left on Bear Island. At least, that’s what April’s father tells her when his scientific research takes them to a faraway Arctic outpost. But one night, April catches a glimpse of something distinctly bear shaped loping across the horizon. A polar bear who shouldn’t be there—who is hungry, lonely and a long way from home.

Last Bear

Hannah Gold

For as long as she can remember, Rumaysa has been locked away in her tall, tall, tower until one day, after dropping a hijab out of her small tower-window, Rumaysa realizes how she might be able to escape. Set in a magical version of South Asia, Rumaysa explores enchanted forests and dragon lairs, teaming up with Cinderayla and Sleeping Sara along the way creating a strong sense of sisterhood.

Rumaysa: A Fairytale

Radiya Hafiza

Flick isn’t impressed when her family moves to a village but, whilst exploring she finds herself irresistibly drawn to a strange, dusty old shop. What she finds inside is even stranger; an odd young man who has a peculiar talent for magic tricks and when Flick looks at the world outside through an unusual piece of glass, she discovers that he’s not the only one with hidden abilities

Strangeworlds Travel Agency

L.D Lapinski

Isabella lives on the island of Joya with her father, a cartographer and her faithful hen, Miss La. Discovering the history of her home, Isa is determined to one day venture beyond Gromera and discover the mysteries of the forbidden lands beyond. When her best friend Lupe goes missing, Isa takes it upon herself to find her and soon she is leaving Gromera behind, and her adventures truly begin.

The Girl of Ink and Stars

Kiran Millwood Hargrave

London schoolboy Ben is heading for Kenya to meet his Maasai family. But how is an outsider going to fit in? When he meets his cousin Kip, he discovers they share more than he thought. Together, the boys must survive the African savannah: hunt for food, defend elephants– and even face the king of the beasts. Does Ben have what it takes to be a twenty-first-century warrior?

Warrior Boy

Virginia Clay

Twelve-year-old Torak is now alone and scared. His father is dead, slain by a demon in the form of a great bear but with his dying breath tells Torak he is the only who can stop it. He must keep going; his only friend is another orphan, a small wolf cub. Evil stalks the forest and Torak must face a foe that stalks him silently and cannot be shaken.

Wolf Brother

Michelle Paver


Click / hover book covers for rationale

Anne Shirley, an eleven-year-old orphan, has arrived in this verdant corner of Prince Edward Island only to discover that the Cuthberts—elderly Matthew and his stern sister, Marilla—want to adopt a boy, not a feisty redheaded girl. But before they can send her back, Anne—who simply must have more scope for her imagination and a real home—wins them over completely

Anne of Green Gables

L. M. Montgomery

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys an easy life! But this happiness is ended when the wizard, Gandalf, and a company of thirteen dwarves arrive on his doorstep and take him away on an unexpected journey! They have a plot to raid the treasures of Smaug the Dragon!

The Hobbit

J.R.R Tolkien

When Bilbo reached his eleventy-first birthday he disappeared, bequeathing to his young cousin Frodo the Ruling Ring and a perilous quest: to journey across Middle-earth, deep into the shadow of the Dark Lord, and destroy the Ring by casting it into the Cracks of Doom. The Lord of the Rings tells of the great quest undertaken by Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring: including wizards, elves and dwarves.

The Lord of The Rings

J.R.R Tolkien

Now nearly 100 years old, this story centers on the lives of three children whose comfortable, middle-class existance ends when their father has to go away unexpectedly. Roberta, Peter and Phyllis leave their London home and move with their mother to a small cottage in the country where life is very different.

The Railway Children

Edith Nesbit

When Mary Lennox is sent to Misselthwaite Manor to live with her uncle everybody says she is the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen. It is true, too. Mary is pale, spoilt and quite contrary. But she is also horribly lonely. Then one day she hears about a garden in the grounds of the Manor that has been kept locked and hidden for years. And when a friendly robin helps Mary find the key, she discovers the most magical place anyone could imagine.

The Secret Garden

Frances Hodgson Burnett

When Tom is sent to stay at his aunt and uncle’s house for the summer, he resigns himself to endless weeks of boredom. As he lies awake in his bed he hears the grandfather clock downstairs strike… eleven… twelve… thirteen…Thirteen! Tom races down the stairs and out the back door, into a garden everyone told him wasn’t there.

Tom’s Midnight Garden

Phillipa Pearce

When Jim Hawkins sets sail searching for buried treasure and adventure, he finds himself caught up in a deadly mutiny where he must outwit the cunning pirate Long John Silver in order to stay alive.

Treasure Island

Robert Louis Stevenson

Rat, Mole, Badger and the preposterous Mr Toad (with his ‘Poop-poop-poop’ road-hogging new motor-car), have brought delight to many through the years with their odd adventures on and by the river, and at the imposing residence of Toad Hall.

Wind in the Willows

Kenneth Grahame

Detective and Mystery

Click / hover book covers for rationale

When Vicky’s father is arrested, accused of stealing over a million pounds from the bank where he works, she is determined to prove his innocence. But how? There’s only one way – to attempt to break into the bank’s computer files. Even if Vicky is the best hacker in the world, will she find the real thief before they find her?


Malorie Blackman

Tamarind never knew her Indian mum, Chinty. So when she arrives at her ancestral home, a huge mansion in the Himalayas surrounded by luxuriant gardens, she’s full of questions. But instead of answers, she finds an ominous silence – and a trickle of intriguing clues: an abandoned hut, a friendly monkey, a glowing star ring, and a strange girl in the who calls herself Ishta. Slowly, Tamarind unravels a mystery….

Tamarind and the Star of Ishta

Jasbinder Bilan

Sally Jones is not only a loyal friend, she’s an extraordinary individual. In overalls, this unique gorilla moves among humans without speaking but understanding everything. She and the Chief are devoted comrades who operate a cargo boat. A job they are offered pays well, but the deal ends badly, and the Chief falsely convicted of murder. This begins a harrowing quest for survival and to clear the Chief’s name.

The Murderers Ape

Jakob Wegelius


Click / hover book covers for rationale

Imogen and Marie’s Grandma take them for tea – but when Imogen spots a beautiful moth, she can’t help but follow it through a door in a tree. Joined by Marie, the pair tumble into a magical world and meet Prince Miroslav. But with the King keeping a dangerous secret, will the girls stay safe, learn the truth about the scary skrets and lesni and find their way home?

A Clock of Stars: The Shadow Moth

Francesca Gibbons

Conor has the same dream every night, ever since his mother first fell ill, ever since she started the treatments that don’t quite seem to be working. But tonight is different. Tonight, when he wakes, there’s a visitor at his window. It’s ancient, elemental, a force of nature and it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.

A Monster Calls

Patrick Ness

The Widdershins sisters, Betty, Fliss and Charlie are trapped, prevented from leaving their home on Crowstone by an ancient family curse that they will die if they leave. When they inherit three magical objects with the power to change their fate, adventure beckons. But When Betty tries to use these objects to change their fate, she inadvertently puts her sisters in grave danger.

A Pinch of Magic

Michelle Harrison

Penelope lives with her mother–her father died years ago. She has always been different from other children: for example, her hair has been grey since she was born. But one day, Penelope wakes up with sparkling red hair and her mother confesses the truth: her father is not only still alive, he’s a wizard. Penelope has inherited his powers, and embarks on a journey to find him…

A Tangle of Magic

Valija Zinck

Aru Shah is a Pandava (a reincarnation of the god of thunder); blessed with power and burdened with responsibility. She’s wrongly accused of stealing a bow and arrow from Kamadeva, the Hindu god of love. The Council of Guardians, protectors of the universe, grant the Pandavas 10 days to bring back the celestial weapon and clear Aru’s name. Racing time, can they reveal the traitor of the gods.

Aru Shah and the Song of Death

Roshani Chokshi

There’s no TV, internet or phone. No human-made sound can be heard at night, just birds and animals rustling in the forest outside. Her witchlike grandmother dispenses advice and medicine to the village, but she’s tight lipped about their family history. Something must have happened. Determined to find out, Simi disobeys her grandmother and goes exploring. Caught in the sinking quicksand of a forbidden lake, her fantastical journey begins.

Children of the Quicksands

Efua Traore

Imagine England is covered by water, and Norwich is an island.
Zoe, left behind in the confusion when her parents escaped, survives there but clings to the belief that she will find them. Alone and desperate among marauding gangs, she digs from the mud a derelict boat and escapes to Eels Island. But Eels Island, whose inhabitants are dominated by the strange boy Dooby, is full of danger too.


Marcus Sedgwick

Lyra, a savage, schemer and champion of the alethiometer, is rushing to the cold, far North, where witch clans and armoured bears rule. North, where the Gobblers take the children they steal–including her friend Roger. North, where her fearsome uncle Asriel is trying to build a bridge to a parallel world. Can one small girl make a difference in such great and terrible endeavours and who will betray who?

His Dark Materials series

Phillip Pullman

Found abandoned in a bear cave as a baby, 12-year-old Yanka has always felt out of place in her small village. When she wakes up to find that her legs have become bear legs, she sets off into the forest to discover who she is, on a journey that takes her from icy rivers to smouldering mountains, with an ever-growing group of misfits alongside her.

The Girl Who Speaks Bear

Sophie Anderson

Meggie lives a quiet life alone with her father, a bookbinder. But her father has a deep secret- he possesses an extraordinary magical power. One cruel night, as Meggie’s father reads a book called Inkheart aloud, an evil ruler named Capricorn escapes the boundaries of fiction and lands in their living room. Suddenly, the two are plunged into the kind of adventure Meggie has only encountered in fiction.

Inkheart series

Cornelia Funke

Bastian, a lonely boy, has a strange book that draws him into the beautiful but doomed world of Fantastica. Only a human can save this enchanted place by giving its ruler a new name. But the journey to her tower leads through lands of dragons, giants, monsters, and magic, and once Bastian begins his quest, he may never return and he must find the courage to face unspeakable foes.

The Neverending Story

Michael Ende

When eleven-year old Malky and his brother Seb become owners of a “Dreaminator”, they are thrust into worlds beyond their imagination. From tree-top flights to thrilling battles and sporting greatness- nothing is out of reach. But impossible dreams come with impossible risks and when Seb is taken to hospital in a coma, Malky is forced to leave reality behind and undertake a final, terrifying journey to wake his brother…

When We Got Lost In Dreamland

Ross Welford


Click / hover book covers for rationale

1835. Cabin boy Syms Covington is on the voyage of a lifetime to the Galapagos Islands with the world-famous scientist Charles Darwin. But when Syms falls overboard during a huge storm, he washes up on an unexplored island. Stranded there, he makes a discovery that could change the world. But should he share his find, or will it lead to the extinction of a legendary species?

Darwin’s Dragons

Lindsay Galvin

Alfie Monk is like any teenage boy – except he’s 1,000 years old and can remember the last Viking invasion of England. Obviously no-one believes him. So when everything Alfie knows and loves is destroyed in a fire, and the modern world comes crashing in, Alfie embarks on a mission to find friendship, acceptance, and a different way to live…which means finding a way to make sure he eventually dies.

The 1,000 Year Old Boy

Ross Welford

Boy, a hunchbacked goatherd, is content in his quiet country life. But when a shadowy pilgrim arrives on the farm, his world is turned upside down. Secundus enlists Boy as his servant, plunging them both into a perilous treasure hunt – but there is more to the pilgrim’s quest than meets the eye …

The Book of Boy

Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Nisha tells the story of one fictional family’s experience during the partition of India into two countries in 1947. The story is told in the form of diary entries written by Nisha a twelve-year-old half-Hindu and half-Muslim girl. Nisha and her twin brother live with their Hindu father, Papa; their grandmother, Dadi and their cook, Kazi.

The Night Diary

Veera Hiranandani

When the young boy Arthur pulled the mysterious sword—meant for the one true King—from the stone, his destiny, and Britain’s, was changed forever. The Fellowship of the Round Table was formed, and the most famous knights in the land came to court. But what happened to King Arthur himself make for the most fascinating story of all.

The Sword and the Circle

Rosemary Sutcliff

In the autumn of 1880, five babies are discovered at the Little Tulip Orphanage in unusual circumstances. The vile matron calls the children ‘the unadoptables’ but this talented gang of friends know that their individuality is what makes them special. When a sinister gentleman tries to capture them, the children make a daring escape across the frozen canals of Amsterdam, embarking on adventures packed with pirate ships and puppets.

The Unadoptables

Hana Tooke

Leonard is shocked when he arrives in Southampton. His father is a stranger to him, it’s cold and even the Jamaican food doesn’t taste the same as it did back home. But Leonard does his best not to complain, to make new friends, to do well at school – even when people hurt him. How can a boy so far from home learn to enjoy his new life?

Windrush Child

Benjamin Zephania

Set in an alternative 1832. There are wolves outside the walls of Willoughby Chase, but for cousins Bonnie and Sylvia, the real danger lies inside. Their wicked governess Miss Slighcarp is working with a network of criminals, forgers and snitches to carry out a terrible plan. Bonnie and Sylvia must use all their wits if they are to escape their cruel governess – and the wolves.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

Joan Aiken

Real Life Issues

Click / hover book covers for rationale

Way back in the 1920s, Tansy died of the flu; on her lap her daughter, little Emer, felt the illness inhabit her. Now, Emer, 12-year-old Mary’s beloved grandma lies dying; her own daughter, Scarlett, and grand-daughter Mary sadly watch her going. But Tansy’s ghost visits Mary and encourages the four women on a remarkable journey – from Dublin to the old farm in Wexford.

A Greyhound of a Girl

Roddy Doyle

Thirteen-year-old Safiya is an avid gamer with a big imagination, who feels both misunderstood and distanced from her mum since her parents split up. But when she suddenly falls ill, it’s up to Safiya to use her gaming skills of following clues and building stories to uncover the truth about her mum’s history and find the things about her that will bind them together forever.

A Pocketful of Stars

Aisha Bushby

Ware can’t wait to spend summer “off in his own world”—dreaming of knights in the Middle Ages. But then his parents sign him up for dreaded Rec camp, where he must endure whatever activities “normal” kids do. Here, he meets Jolene, a tough, secretive girl at an abandoned church who calls him a dreamer. But when their sanctuary is threatened, Ware vows to save their refuge.

Here in the Real World

Sam Pennypacker

October and her dad live in the woods and are wild. They know the trees, rocks, lake and stars like best friends. And that’s the way it is until the year October turns eleven. That’s the year October rescues a baby owl. The year Dad falls out of the biggest tree in their woods. The year the woman who calls herself October’s mother comes back. The year everything changes.

October, October

Katya Balen

Anna is 1933 is taken aback by what is going on in her home country of Germany when the Nazi party take over. Anna suddenly finds that her life begins to change and one day her father goes missing. Soon after, she and her brother are taken away by their mother in secrecy as they try to escape their home country.

Pig-Heart Boy

Malorie Blackman

An award-winning book about the refugee crisis from a child’s perspective. A world in which friendship and kindness is important in a world that does not always make sense. There used to be an empty chair at the back of the class, but now a new boy Ahmet sits in it. He’s very strange but the more the children find out about Ahmet, the more they want to help.

The Boy at the Back of the Class

Onjali Q. Rauf

Dani and Mamo should never have met. In Ethiopia’s great capital, they led unbelievably different lives. Dani’s home is grand and full of servants- Mamo has no home at all. But now, both boys are on the run, one fleeing a tyrannical father, the other escaping the life of a slave labourer. Fate has brought them together, and their only survival is to trust each other with their lives.

The Garbage King

Elizabeth Laird

The Other Side of Truth is a children’s novel about Nigerian political refugees. The story is set in the Autumn of 1995 during the reign in Nigeria of the evil despotic leader: General Abacha, who is waging a campaign of suppression against journalists and free speech.

The Other Side of Truth

Beverly Naido

When Andy’s school announces a no-uniform policy, her classmates are delighted – but her heart sinks. All she wants is to dress like everyone else, but her mum owns a run-down boutique, so she’s bound to look – different. But when Andy finds a packed, gorgeous bag of designer goodies in the shop’s storeroom, everything changes. Can she learn to love vintage, and help transform her mum’s shop into something truly special?

The Polka Dot Shop

Laurel Remington

Frank is being bullied – for what, she’s not sure. One day, when bullies throw her bag into stinging nettles, Nick Underbridge comes to her aid – a strange boy, made fun of at school, for his hugeness and odd smell. As they become friends, Frank discovers something strange and wonderful in Nick’s basement – and an explanation for what holds him apart from the others at school.

The Song from Somewhere Else

A. F. Harrold

Anna is 1933 is taken aback by what is going on in her home country of Germany when the Nazi party take over. Anna suddenly finds that her life begins to change and one day her father goes missing. Soon after, she and her brother are taken away by their mother in secrecy as they try to escape their home country.


Malorie Blackman

August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. Wonder, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others.


RJ Palacio

Scary and Horror

Click / hover book covers for rationale

Mirabelle has always known she is a monster. When the glamour protecting her unusual family from the human world is torn and an orphaned brother and sister stumble upon Rookhaven, Mirablle soon discovers that friendship can be found in the outside world. But as something far more sinister comes to threaten them all, it quickly becomes clear that the true monsters aren’t necessarily the ones you can see.

Monsters of Rookhaven

Pádraig Kenny

Flossie- a twelve-year ghost- is the Turnkey at London’s Highgate Cemetery. But it is World War II and each night enemy bombers hammer London. When Flossie encounters the ghost of a German soldier carrying a mysterious object, she becomes suspicious. What is he up to? Before long, Flossie uncovers a sinister plot that could result in the destruction of not only her cemetery, but also her beloved country.

The Turnkey of Highgate Cemetary

Allison Rushby

War Stories

Click / hover book covers for rationale

Summer 1945. The Second World War is finally over and Yossi, Leo and Mordecai are among three hundred children who arrive in the English Lake District. Having survived the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps, they’ve finally reached a place of safety and peace, where they can hopefully begin to recover. Will life by the beautiful Lake Windermere be enough to bring hope back into all their lives?

After the War

Tom Palmer

1940. The train is attacked by German fighters. In the darkness, the with Barney and his mother tells them a story. The story of a young soldier in the trenches of World War I who, on the spur of the moment, had done what he thought was the right thing. It turned out to be the worst mistake– a mistake he must put right before it is too late.

An Eagle in the Snow

Michael Morpurgo

This book is about a Jewish boy named Felix, who lived in Poland is on a mission to find his book-keeper parents, after the Nazis burned the books from a Catholic orphanage in which he was staying. However, a young Jew in Nazi land is an extremely dangerous place for a young boy on a quest…

Once series

Morris Gleitzman

With her father abroad looking for work and her mother killed, Ayesha and her young brothers find themselves refugees in a bombed out flat in Beirut with only their grandmother to care for them. When their Grandmother becomes seriously ill, Ayesha quickly realises that no-one else will take responsibility and she undertakes a perilous journey across no man’s land to enemy-held territory to find a doctor and vital medicines.

Oranges in No Man’s Land

Elizabeth Laird

Looking back over his childhood, while he is on night watch in the battlefields of WWI, young Private Peaceful’s memories are full of family life deep in the countryside: his mother, Charlie, Big Joe, and Molly, the love of his life. Too young to be enlisted, Thomas has followed his brother to war and now, every moment he spends thinking about his life, means another moment closer to danger.

Private Peaceful

Michael Morpurgo

September 1939. When Jimmy is evacuated to a village in Wales, it couldn’t be more different from London. Green, quiet and full of strangers, he instantly feels out of place. But then he finds a skull hidden in a tree, and suddenly the valley is more frightening than the war. When he finds an unexpected ally, they set out together to uncover the secrets that lie with the skull.

The Valley of the Lost Secrets

Lesley Parr

Anna is 1933 is taken aback by what is going on in her home country of Germany when the Nazi party take over. Anna suddenly finds that her life begins to change and one day her father goes missing. Soon after, she and her brother are taken away by their mother in secrecy as they try to escape their home country.

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit

Judith Kerr

It’s 1940, and Joseph has been sent to stay with Mrs F, a gruff woman with no fondness for children. To Joseph’s amazement, she owns a zoo where Joseph meets Adonis, a huge gorilla. Adonis is ferociously strong and dangerous, but Joseph finds an affinity with the lonely beast. But when the bombs begin to fall, Joseph has to guard Adonis’s cage should it be damaged by a blast.

When the Sky Falls

Phil Earle