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Best books for children

A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on. Carl Sandburg
With so many beautiful children’s books to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start. How do you know which books your child will enjoy, or find just the right flip-the-flap or touch-and-feel book to buy for your friend’s new baby?

We’d love to hear your recommendations on the best books for children, including children’s classics, picture books, nursery rhyme collections, flip-the flap books, touch-and-feel books, and paperback fiction for those hard-to-buy-for primary school children. Just leave a comment below telling us which books your kids love and why!

Keep an eye on our Books and Music category as well – our visiting BookWorm from Clover Hill Book Reviews writes a regular feature previewing brand new children’s books by talented new authors and illustrators. You’ll also see features about some of our favourite authors like Judith Kerr and Julia Donaldson.

Best places to buy children’s books

We wholeheartedly recommend the Oxfam Second-hand Bookstore. They have a great selection of second-hand books, including some gorgeous children’s classics. The money you spend in their online second-hand book store will go towards Oxfam’s campaigns to fight poverty around the world, and to help other families.

If you are looking for new releases or the best deals online, The Book People website has some deals which are simply too good to be true, with whole collections of top selling children’s books for a fiver at times.

A few of Really Kid Friendly’s favourite books for young children

The Snail and the Whale by Julia DonaldsonChildren's Book: Tickling TigersThe Nickle Nackle Tree

The Snail and thWhale by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler
A wonderful illustrated children’s book about adventure, companionship and a subtle message about ecological responsibility.

Tickling Tigers by Sean Taylor and Jo Brown
Incredibly silly little picture book for young children and a great excuse to have a tickle and a giggle.

The Nickle Nackle Tree by Lynley Dodd
What a pleasure to read! This picture book uses inventive language and feels fresh and fun every single time.

Main image courtesy of Kate Ter Haar on Flickr

Written by Janis P.


  1. My children love where’s wally and spend hours searching for him! Very interesting books i would highly recommend for children.

  2. Both my children have loved all the Spot the Dog books. My eldest is now nine and enjoys reading them to his 2 year old sister. They are bright and colourful with easy to read words for learner readers and lift the flap fun for the little ones. I think they are timeless books which my little ones will probably be reading to their children in years to come!

  3. When they were at Primary School, both my children loved the Oxford Reading Tree books which we also borrowed from the Library.

    My daughter is into Vampire fiction now & my Son loves the Wimpy kids books.

  4. My son loves My Funny Bunny by David Wood. He’s done some other mole books too, which he loves.

    He has just got Calm Down Boris by Sam Lloyd and some other books by her too and he loves them.

    Mr Men books are still very popular with him too.

  5. The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton is an excellent book and the kids love it.Moonface is the best character and even i enjoy the story.I can still remember it being read in school to me and how much i enjoyed it then so i wanted my own to experience it too.I can highly recommend it.

  6. My children and me enjoy reading books by Julia Donaldson, Eric Carle and Anthony Brown.
    Lovely appealing stories, there is the fun rhyming with Julia Donaldson, and with Eric Carle and Anthony Brown they are great stories usually with a good message within the story. Would recommend anybody with preschool and primary school children to get books by these authors.

  7. Suz’y Shoes by Susan Hill for 4 -6 year olds
    My daughter loved this book (I think we had it on permenant loan from the library!) I think it was a sign of things to come in the shoe department.

  8. It’s Potty Time! by Tracey Corderoy, Caroline Pedler
    Quite a new book, but beautiful, we love the touchy, feely pages. Good book for bedtime reading but usefulstoryline as well.

  9. My childen used to love ‘One Snowy Night’ by Mick Inkpen – Percy the Park Keeper at his best. Lovely as autumn approaches – Enjoy

  10. My 2 year old really likes the mr men books (chunky ones). Really bright and colourful! They are nice and simple to read too.

  11. I love reading the rhyming books like The Gruffalo, or The Snail and the Whale. Not only do kids love listening to the stories they are great fun for us adults to read too! 🙂

  12. My babies always loved books with photographs especially ones of faces, really helped their facial recognition even when they were tiny!

  13. The Gruffalo is a big favourite of ours and Sam Sheep Can’t sleep. It’s a phonics book and lots of fun. My kids love finding the duck on every page. We’ve got the whole series but this is our favourite of them all.

  14. Gruffalo, any parent that can’t recite the tale of the brown mouse hasn’t had a reluctant enough sleeper. A tale for children of all ages, what really is a gruffalo…

  15. My baby is still very young and is not quite at the understanding stories age, but she LOVES that’s not my…. series.

    She get’s really excited when she touches the correct part (that’s not my bear his paws are too rough, she’ll touch his paws etc)

    Great book to get them engaging in reading, and learning!

  16. There is no doubt at all – Usborne books. I was brought up with them and now i make sure my daughter is as well. They cater all childrens ages, development stages and interests. At the moment my daughter is in love with the touchy feely Usborne books. Perfect, Colourful and Interesting. No competition needed

  17. My daughter loves the Gruffalo – other Julia Donaldson books like A Squash and a Squeeze are fantastic too. My two-year-old is also a massive fan of Peppa Pig books and the Monkey and Robot series is fantastic – I actually enjoy reading Doctor Monkey as a bedtime story!

  18. I love the ‘ thats not my’ range of books – my daughter loves the touchy feely part and she finds them very funny. I can read them to both my children and whilst my youngest is too young to really understand, she laughs when her older sister does and touches what she does.

  19. My 2 year old is mad about ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’. I first borrowd the large book and audio cd when she was little then bought her her own copy that came with a miniture bear teddy! She makes the ‘Uh Oh’ noises at all the right times and tries to make the sounds of each noise eg, swishy swashy. She giggles and giggles when we meet the bear at the end and i use the teddy as a prop to chase her! Fantastic book with great illustations and repetition x

  20. Elmer the Elephant is a firm favourite with his lovely bright patchwork colours and the simple but very appealing stories, they put smiles on my son`s face everytime x

  21. My son loves the Bing Bunny books. Hard to find but worth hunting down if you can get them. Sometimes you can get them on on eBay or Amazon marketplace.

  22. My daughter loves The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See? and Peek-A-Who? books

  23. We’re going on a bear hunt by Michael Rosen is one of the most lovely children books ever. Whenever we go on a walk, my little ones love to act out the book and we can remember most of it to chant along the way. This is one of the books that I will be putting in my loft so that I have it to read to the grandkids!!

  24. The Gruffalo and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt are brilliant. My little boy loves them and always wants them read to him.

  25. My children ADORED the Mog storiesby Judith Kerr. Mog’s Christmas was their favourite book for me to read on Christmas Eve. We still read it together when they were teenagers and I can’t wait to introduce our first Grandchild to the much loved stories.

  26. Lulu and the Flying Babies by Posy Simmonds. Really sweet little tale and i’ve yet to find a childrens book with more beautiful illustrations than this one!

  27. This is probably for when the kids get a little older, but ‘ The Mennyms’ by Slyvia Waugh has such an unusual premise- a family of rag dolls living in the suburbs that try to hide the fact they’re not human from everyone. Sounds creepy but in fact its really gripping and at times genuinely sad. If you and your child fancy something different this is well worth a read!

  28. Two newish books that our Granddaughter loves are Not Me by Nicola Killen and Silly Barney by Anna Claybourne and Michael Terry. Both ‘rhyming’ story books with great illistrations and a simple story. Great for a pre-school child.

  29. The “Thats not my” books are great for younger children. They start with feeling the textures then graduate to Where is the mouse. The books are simple with not a lot of text so they remember the words and enjoy “reading” the books on their own when they are older. Being hardbacks they lats longer and are great for the car too.

  30. You’ve got it in your picture! Goodnight Moon, a charming book which flows beautifully. All my chidlren have loved it and so do I.

  31. No kids of my own yet (first on the way!) but when looking after others’ little ones we always loved ‘Going on a Bear Hunt’ and ‘The Gruffalo’, and anything by Dr Seuss…

  32. I have 4 kids and they all love The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. It teaches numbers, days of the week, fruits and it is also a really lovely story.

  33. Dear Zoo- my toddler loves lifting the flaps in the book and its a great way to teach children what noises animals make.

  34. My kids all loved – we’re going on a bear hunt, the very hungry caterpillar, and Fix it duck, great books for age 2-5

  35. For real littlies I’d recommend ‘Dear Zoo’ or ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’, for small kids I’d say anything by Shirley Hughes, ‘The Tiger that Came to Tea’ etc, & for older kids anything by Roald Dahl, or the Harry Potter series.

  36. My kids both love The Gruffalo and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. They also love rhyming books which is why Juliia Donaldson is a firm favorite! The series of ‘That’s Not My…’ are very good too. 🙂

  37. The tiger who came to Tea was always a favoutrite in our house along with all the Hairy McLary stories and the Maisie books (when a little bit older).

  38. My little one absolutely adores The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Peace At Last – they were also really popular with my other 2 children who are now a little bit older. Both stories are fantastic and the brightly coloured illustrations in The Very Hungry Caterpillar are fantastic for very young children. Peace At Last is a wonderful story book and the constant use of repetition is fabulous for children to join in with!
    My elder daughter absolutely loves The Rainbow Magic series of books which I would highly recommend for little girls who love to hear stories aloud but who can also start to read basic words by themselves so they can join in. My little girl loves fairies, pixies, goblins etc so this range of books is great for encouraging her to improve her reading. She also loves hearing the Enid Blyton Magic Faraway Tree series. A really brilliant set of books!

  39. I recommend the velveteen rabbit for children. I used the extract where the rabbit asked the horse what is real and the horse explains that ‘real’ (love) is when you’r shabby and got bits falling off you but your still loved, for my wedding. I now read this book to my 6 month old daughter and it’s such a beautiful story with a lovely sentiment and is especially special to me.

  40. I used to read The Faraway Tree when I was little, & now I read it to my 2 boys – they absolutely love it too!

  41. I always make sure either myself or my husband enjoy the books we read to our baby daughter so that our baby senses our enjoyment too. Particular favourites at the moment are Happy Dog Sad Dog, Nosey Norman, Dear Zoo, I won’t Bite and The Washing Line…and lots more!!!

  42. James and the giant peach is a great read for kids!
    You end up dreaming that you will come across one some day!

  43. My two both enjoy the Very Hungry Catterpillar, the Gruffalo, Dear Zoo, One Mole Digging A Hole, The Whale and the Snail, and are now getting into the classic tales such as The Gingerbread Man, Goldilocks and the three Bears, and also the Biff, Chip, Kipper and Floppy books 🙂

  44. For older children Harry Potter captures their imagination from a young age through to adulthood, and later on Lord of the Rings is also a fantastic read, not forgetting old classics such as The famous Five, Secret Seven, and other Enid Blyton books 🙂

  45. To be honest I think any book is good if it captures a child’s imagination-each child finds different things appealing so all books chosen are to be encouraged as this is the whole point-to get them wanting to read 🙂

  46. I love the hungry caterpillar. we do all the actions,
    my oldest son is16 and still remembers us reading it together!

  47. I recommend The old lady who swallowed a fly – I had it as a child and bought it for my son who seems to like me singing it to him while he puts his fingers through the holes in the pages. We recently read Hairy Mclairy for the first time and that was an instant hit with everyone.

  48. Robert Sabuda’s pop-up books are fantastic for eliciting that vision of wide-eyed wonder at the turn of each page (and not just the first time!).

  49. My older children all loved the Chronicles of Narnia. Great for bedtime reading because you can always finish on an exciting bit. They can then go to sleep thinking about what will happen next.

  50. I recommend any rhyming book. The Dr Seuss books are great but so are some of the Janet and Allen Ahlberg books such as ‘peepo’. The rhythm of peotry really grabs little imaginations.

  51. The Very Hungry Caterpillar EVERY time, that book never grows old, it will be around for many more years to come, each telling their story to the next generation! :3)

  52. My 2nd son loves The Gruffalo, The Hungry Caterpillar and The Very Quiet Cricket. His older brother when younger loved the first 2 books but his favourite was One Bear at Bedtime.

  53. Great websites for good deals and fabulous book, will add Oxfam Second-hand Bookstore to list. Buying books and giving back it’s very rewarding. Thank you for your input.

  54. The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s child are my daughter’s favourites. Also Where the Wild Things Are!!

  55. My 18 month old loves “Oh Dear” by Rod Campbell. It’s a lift-the-flap book and tells the story of Buster who goes to stay with his Grandma on her farm. His mission is to find the eggs. I don’t know what it is about the book but my son has loved this book from a very early age and can ask me to read it again and again … so much so that there have been occasions when I’ve hid the book under the sofa cushion when his back is turned!!!! Another absolute favourite has been “Frogs & Friends” by Joanne Barkan. This book has two plastic frogs embedded in the front cover which “ribbit” when you press them. The pages lift over the frogs so they feature on each page of the story. The story has a lilting rhyming sound to it and I think this is why my son loves it so much. The illustrations in both books are excellent and are useful to teach my son animals and objects ie: “where are the ducks”, “where is the sun”, “where is Buster’s teddybear”? etc etc etc.

  56. For 5-6 yr-olds, Frog and Toad stories are wonderful, written by Arnold Lobel. They use great stories but also use simple enough language that the children can read them too.
    My 8-yr-old son is currently working his way through the Lemony Snicket Series of Unfortunate Events books. They are quite dark tales, but are full of brilliantly drawn characters and wonderful language. Also love the way all the adult characters are flawed in some way (or deliciously evil) whereas the children are resourceful and intelligent.

  57. What a fantastic list!! I often find myself enjoying pictures books more than my daughter 🙂 I wanted to recommend a fabulous book called “The Little Brown Animal” by DiMari Bailey ( It’s the first book in the “Tales of the Deep Forest” series and it not only teaches children some wonderful life lessons but it promotes story-telling and sparks the imagination. The book follows a little brown animal who doesn’t feel like he fits in with his forest companions. He goes on a journey that teaches him just how special he really is. A feel good book for sure and one that my daughter and I reread quite regularly together.

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