20 must-read children’s books

20 must-read children's books

20 must-read children’s books

Reading has always been a big part of my life. My mum was always reading to me and with me when I was little and I find it such a lovely way to spend time as as a family. If you are looking for some book ideas for your little ones, here is my list of 20 must-read children’s books, which I have created with the help of some lovely blogging friends.

Zog by Julia Donaldson

Jenny from Cheetahs In My Shoes says: “It’s great to read to pre-schoolers and my daughter in Yr 3 loves it to. All about the Dragons at school learning how to do different dragon things, it has the wondrous Julia Donaldson rhyme, the beautiful Axel Scheffler illustrations and the ability to be adjusted into your home life – so we frequently change the name of Madam Dragon into the name of the children’s teachers. Love it.”

Eric – The Viking by Terry Jones

Molly from Mother’s Always Right says: “My little girl absolute adores this book, although it’s way too old for her. It’s written by Terry Jones and illustrated by Michael Pratchett and whenever we read it, she closes her eyes and says that she can see the pictures in her head! It was mine as a kid and I like that she’s sharing it with me.”

That’s Not My Kitten by Fiona Watt and Rachel Wells

Andrea from All You Need Is Love and Cake says “This book is part of the Usborne touchy-feely books range. Sophie loved these books from a very young age, as she could feel all the different textures. As she has got older, the continuation of certain graphics throughout the book made it great fun for her to look for things, such as the mouse on each page. At 2 years old these are still a firm favourite and I can see them remaining so for a good while yet.”

The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson

Jennifer from Jennifer’s Little World thinks “It’s a really sweet story about a little girl with a mother that makes her a string of paper dolls, which she takes on adventures around the house and garden. Sadly they can’t escape a boy and his scissors, but they are not gone forever, and instead live on in the little girl’s memory along with lots of other wonderful things. The story is a reminder of the passing of time, and it really touches parents too. It’s a lovely book.

Each Peach Pear Plum by Allan and Janet Ahlberg

Mary from Keynko thinks this is the perfect book for all generations: My 2 adored this book and even now at 22 and 17 can recite it word for word. It is now a family tradition to buy a copy for each person we know who had a baby.

The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Aly from Plus2Point4 and her kids are big fans of Carle’s animal books: “The illustrations and simple story telling bring to life the animal world that engages children and invites them to explore.”

Sir Charlie Stinky Socks from Kristina Stephenson

Cat from Cat’s Yellow Days says: “We love this series of books. The use of language makes them great fun to read, the illustrations are beautiful and they have big fold out flaps that are great fun to explore.”

You Can’t Eat A Princess by Gillian Rogerson

Helen from Kiddy Charts loves the idea of “having a little princess as a hero, rather than a bit of a pain in the bottom. I love the idea that one of the soldiers can’t help her because he has rollers in his hair too! She is a feisty girl, driving across the galaxy to save her father from being eaten by aliens. The pictures are bright and bold, and the aliens end up preferring to eat chocs to people, so are clearly my kind of aliens.”

Dogs Don’t Do Ballet by Anna Kemp

Liz from Me And My Shadow can’t wait to see stage show of her favourite book: “It’s our all time favourite and at only three and a half years, Ruby could recite the book word for word. It has fabulous illustrations and a beautiful story.”

The Panda and Gander by Joyce Dunbar

Sandy from Baby Baby recommends this fun series of books: “Panda is greedy and needy and Gander is uptight and serious. There’s always a fun twist at the end of the stories and I love reading them to the boys, especially doing funny voices.”

The Cat In The Hat by Dr Seuss

Hayley from Simply Hayley would love to see this book on every child’s bookshelf: “In our family Dr Suess books have been a hand me down book. We adore the cat in the hat because its so silly, what child doesn’t love silly stories. It’s also a fantastic rhyming book and good for parents to practice their tongue twisters with! It ensures giggles from all the family!”

George and the Dragon by Chris Wormell

Becky from Baby Budgeting thinks this book is an absolute must-read for children, because it is ” funny, superbly illustrated and sweet, We adore this book and it shows how big and brash and loud doesn’t win the day!”

Where the wild things are by Maurice Sendak

If you like it wild, then Jenny from Mum Of One’s favourite might be for you. “This book has always been a bedtime favourite with my son. We like a bit of a wild rumpus before sailing away home to bed!”

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson

Cas from Mummy Never Sleeps loves this classic: “Noah adores this book. I think the way the rhyme reads gets him really involved and he really listens to the tale of the clumsy witch losing her belongings and picking up the waifs and strays that find them for her. Plus there’s a big scary dragon which he loves!”

That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown by Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton

Annie from Mammasaurus says: “This book is full of great illustrations and the story is one that you can read in lots of different characters voices – it stimulates imaginative play and gives ideas of games a child can play with their favourite teddy / soft toy too.”

My Dad by Anthony Browne

Helen from The Crazy Kitchen loves this “heartwarming and funny book describing ‘My Dad’, the hero that can do anything. All dads will be able to relate to some of the traits in the book and will love reading it to their little ones at bedtime. Dad is as strong as a gorilla, and as happy as a hippopotamus. He’s as wise as an owl, except when he tries to help…”

The Tomten by Astrid Lindgren

Emma from A Bavarian Sojourn is a big fan of the “magical stories based on ancient Scandinavian folk tales about tiny guardians of nature. We discovered them when we lived in Scandinavia, and are forming a slight bedtime story reading obsession for both my children and myself! No home should be without them!”

Hairy Maclary by Lynley Dodd

Nikki from Stressy Mummy says: “My little ones love the fun rhyming books about the dog Hairy Maclary and his doggy friends. They get up to all sorts of adventures and the images and the rhyming text is funny and appealing to little ones and adults.”

The Snail And The Whale by Julia Donaldson

Jenny from Mummy Mishaps and her boys “love the Snail and The Whale because of the rhyming verses and beautiful illustrations which make it a great book to read. The tale of the tiny snail who took a ride on the tail of the humpback whale and saw the world and all its wonders is so beautiful and poignant, especially when she says “I feel so small” – it almost makes me cry! Rather than stay on a rock for the rest of her life, she took herself off on an adventure of a lifetime much to the horror of her fellow snails, who were happy sat on a rock. I think it teaches children the importance of being brave and not being a sheep – be true to yourself and you will live a life which is full of wonder and happiness and contentment.”

The Worst Princess by Anna Kemp

Kelly from Domestic Goddesque recommends “The Worst Princess, because it is a brilliant rhyming book which does away with the ages-old image of a fairytale princess and introduces a newer feistier version. This Princess doesn’t want to live in tall towers and marry a handsome Prince, she wants to see the world and have epic adventures. The perfect antidote to traditional fairy stories, which demonstrates to girls of all ages that they are just as likely to succeed in their dreams as boys.”

Which are your must-read children’s books? If you have suggestions, please share them below. I’m always on the hunt for new books to read with Amy and there might be a must-read children’s book reloaded list, if we get enough comments!


  1. says

    Great list. I was looking for a post like this just this past weekend! Ended up buying a friend a childhood favourite of mine, Dr Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham. I'd add a collection of Nursery Rhymes. Bought Talitha a beautiful collection from Usborne books for her birthday and it is absolutely stunning – a real winner with her too.

    • says

      That's a fabulous idea. I bought a book called Nursery Rhyme treasures just after Amy was born and it was brilliant for me as I knew no English nursery rhymes at all x

    • says

      Oh fabulous, I have also written down a few of the suggestions. That's why I love working with other bloggers on lists like this. You find so many new reads, instead of being stuck with what you read all the time :)

    • says

      Thanks so much, Becky, and of course a massive thank you for joining in. I feel really inspired by it myself, so we'll go out and get some more books too x

  2. says

    How could you skip Elmer the patchwork elephant? :) No list is complete without him. Glad to see Lindgren, I loved her books as a kid, and also Tove Jansson's Moomins. Plus I'd swap Zog for Tiddler. And add any book from Findus and Pettson series.

    • says

      We'll save Elmer for Part 2 of the list then and maybe add some of the other books you've mentioned. I'm a big Moomins fan too. Loved them when I was little and Astrid Lindgren really deserves a list of her own, don't you think? 😉

  3. says

    Great to see so many of our favourites are here. Our toddler is loving another Julia Donaldson classic -Tabby McTat. It's the story of a cat and a busker who get separated. An adorable tale about friendship – how the two live until they're re-united :)

    • says

      I haven't read that one yet, but seeing as it's another Julia Donaldson classic, I am sure it's just as lovely as all her other books. It sounds great!

  4. caradonovan says

    Ooh, lovely list. Yes we have quite a few on our favourites from there too. I second The Paper Dolls, I read this most nights to mine alongside whatever they pick too. It's really quite sad, but that goes over the heads of the children. A couple of others from us are What the Ladybird Heard another by (the lady who can do no wrong) Julia Donaldson, which if you get the touchy feely version has the little ladybird with raised glitter on each page so you can feel for it. Also, Someone Bigger by Jonathan Emmett is brilliantly and comically illustrated with a great ending.

    • says

      I have never heard of Someone Bigger, so that's another one for me to look into. I love that everyone's sharing their favourite reads. So many great suggestions already!

  5. mummydaddyme says

    Wow what a great list- we have hardly tried any on there and we read to Mads every single night and every single morning! It is lovely to hear recommendations from other Mums. x

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