This is the next in an ongoing series of topic related posts which are aimed at helping educators and/or parents to find books which are suitable accompaniments to their topic based projects in school.
I tend to steer away from recommending non-fiction works, as these are much easier for you to search on using Amazon or other book sites, given that the majority of non fiction topic books will have key words in the title. It’s not so easy with works of fiction.
Our Early Years unit have just finished doing a project on super heroes and these are some of the Key Stage One books we have discovered which you may want to use if you are doing a similar project yourselves.
I will indicate where I have read the book in question. If I do not mention it, I have not read it, and I would advise you to read all the books in question before you give them to children just to double check they are fit for purpose.
If you have any recommendations I have missed, please feel free to drop them in the comments box below the post.
When I create a list like this for Key Stage Two readers I generally suggest whether the book would be suitable for guided reading (length is the main criteria here, as it will need to be started and finished within the topic parameters and in school time), and whether it is suitable for girls or boys or both. With Key Stage One books this is less problematic as the books tend to be simpler, shorter and more universal in appeal. If I think a book has a specific bias or there is an issue with gender I will point it out. Otherwise all the books are suitable for everyone.
Max by Bob Graham – Max is a small boy who is born into a family of super heroes. Everyone in Max’s family can do something special, except Max. This gentle and lovely story follows Max’s progress as he finds his super hero qualities.
The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man by Michael Chabon – In this wonderful picture book, which has the look and feel of and old fashioned super hero comic strip, the author Michael Chabon, best known for his award winning adult fiction turns his hand to the picture book format. This is a beautifully exciting adventure story of a young boy who can shoot positronic laser beams from his eyes, save the universe, and who has a cool side kick dog, Moskowitz.
Nat Fantastic by Giles Andreae – This is the first of several books about the hero Nat Fantastic. Nat finds that every time he sneezes, he is transported from his ordinary, every day, child world, into a world where he becomes a hero, battling to save the day. My six year old son loves the Nat Fantastic books. I, as an adult, find them rather repetitive, but there is no arguing with the audience.
Super Daisy by Kes Gray – In this story about Daisy, heroine of the children’s classic ‘Eat Your Peas’, Daisy has to save planet earth from colliding with planet Pea with potentially disastrous results. There are now many books about Daisy, some suitable for older readers and available in novel form, but this is firmly in the pre school, early years format, with flaps and pull outs to play with. If you are using this as a classroom aid, it is best to keep this as a book that the teacher or LSA read with the whole class, as lovely and interactive as flaps and pull tags are, they always tend to get ripped quite quickly.
Super Duck by Jez Alborough – This is one of the very popular ‘Duck in the Truck’ series, in which bumbling, clumsy duck is aided and abetted by his friends in generally having a calamitous but ultimately successful time at whatever they’re doing. Children love the bright, simple, illustrations and the funny, repetitive writing, and Duck is always a hit with early readers. The rhyming text makes them particularly popular for some reason.
Traction Man is Here by Mini Grey – This is the first book in the popular Traction Man series by talented author and illustrator, Mini Grey. My son absolutely loves Traction Man and his side kick, Scrubbing Brush. This is a joy to read for adults, and to listen to for children. It is funny and creative and busy enough to find things to talk about every time you read it. The other books in the series are just as strong.
Charlie’s Superhero Underpants by Paul Bright and Lee Wildish – On a very windy day, Charlie’s mum’s washing blows off the line and disappears who knows where? There is one big problem, Charlie’s superhero underpants were on the line, and he can’t manage without them. This is the story of Charlie’s quest to track down his pants, and the many places it takes him in the name of washing retrieval.
George Saves The World by Lunch Time by Jo Readman and Ley Honor Roberts – George wants to save the world before lunch time, but doesn’t really know how to go about it. His grandfather teaches him about recycling and they spend the morning learning how to save the world in the best way possible. This would be a perfect book for either a topic on super heroes or recycling, or a good way of linking both.
My Dad is a Superhero by Lily Lexington – A feel good story about a young boy who has a fantastic relationship with his dad. Sam believes his dad can do absolutely anything and everything.
Super Sam by Lori Ries – This is a brightly coloured picture book with a slender narrative about a young boy called Sam who is fascinated by being a super hero. He plays super heroes all the time, but his skills are really put to the test when he has to save his baby brother.
Super Spud and the Stinky Space Rescue by Sam Lloyd and Ben Cort – Children will love this book, primarily because the illustrations are by Ben Cort, responsible for the wildly popular Aliens Love Underpants series. Spud has to save the day by helping to put his alien friends to bed when they can’t settle down for the night properly.
Superkid by Claire Freedman – written by the author of the popular Aliens Love Underpants series, this book is about an ordinary boy who turns his ordinariness into super powers, including his ability to fell pirates with his stinky broccoli farts.
Superhero School by Thierry Robberecht – A fun story about how superheroes have to learn to get along with each other in school, and how differences between children (and super heroes) are to be celebrated.
My Mum Has X-Ray Vision by Angela McAllister – Milo wonders how his mum seems to know everything about him, particularly when he has done something wrong. He decides that the only way she can possibly know so much is because of her super power X-Ray vision. He decides to test out his theory.
The Secret Superhero by Ian Whybrow – A book for slightly older readers. This tells the story of Alan and his new step dad. Alan has to decide whether to trust his step dad with the news that he has real super hero powers.
The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey – This is an incredibly popular and very silly series of books about the eponymous Captain Underpants. These are best suited to an older audience of Key Stage 2 children (six and up). Captain Underpants is created by two naughty school boys who hypnotise their teacher with alarming and hilarious results. Captain Underpants is a noble creature who is destined to fight the evil Dr. Diaper. Who will win?
Skippyjon Jones by Judith Byron Schachner – is the first in a series of books about a Siamese kitten who thinks he is a Chihuahua, and who also believes he is the super hero El Skippito.
Powerless by Matthew Cody – This is the story of 12 year old Daniel who moves to a new town, only to discover that all of the new friends he is making in school have serious super powers. What will Matthew do? He has none? This is the first book of a series. I have not read it, but reviews suggest that it is more appropriate for higher key stage two children.