The 30 best children’s books that every child should read

children's books

by Samantha Price |
Updated on

Books were a magical part of a lot of our childhoods. If you were lucky enough to get a bedtime story read to you at night or during storytime in class, we're sure some of the best children's books will have stuck with you for life.

When you become a parent, it's natural to want to share the magic of reading with your child from a young age and not only does reading help their development, but it also builds a bond between you and your child. With so many different themes and genres available across books, you'll be spoilt for choice if you're looking for something in particular to read about to your child. As well as diving back into stories you'll no doubt remember from your youth, there are also lots of newer titles to discover and add to your children's bookcase.

Editor's choice:

Best classic children's book: The Tale of Peter Rabbit
Best children's book with textures: Very Hungry Caterpillar
Best timeless children's book: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Best inclusive children's book: We All Belong
Best children's book with toy: Guess How Much I Love You toy set

To help you grow your child's own collection, we've rounded up some of the best children's books of all time. There's no order to our round-up but from well-known classics children's books to more modern stories your little ones might recognise, there's something for all ages and reading abilities. Read on to discover our selection of the best children's books that you can read to your little one.

The best children's books of all time

Ladybird Ten Minutes to Bed – Little Dragon Board Book
Price: $15.74

The Ladybird Ten Minutes to Bed – Little Dragon Board Book was awarded Gold for Best Toddler Toy at the Mother&Baby Awards 2024.

This Little Dragon Board Book is the perfect book to calm little sleepy dragons everywhere, just in time to go to bed. Soaring high in the skies to find adventure, little dragon siblings Flicker and Flash are doing their best to avoid going to bed. But then they spot a lost egg that they need to get back to its mother - will they get back in time?

Our mum tester said: "The Little Dragon book is based on a really good concept- the countdown to bedtime, it sets the scene really well for a bedtime story whilst also promoting thoughts about time. It allows a solid framework for the book to tell an exciting and engaging story within a setting where bedtime is constantly referred to- allowing a natural tapering off to allow the children to calm down before bed."

Read our full Ladybird Ten Minutes to Bed – Little Dragon Board Book review.

Pros

  • Bestselling bedtime series 
  • Part of a series
  • Affordable
  • Great storyline
  • Pictures are colourful

Cons

  • None

Best children's book with textures

A classic picture book, nearly all parents know the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. This colourful tale shows the journey of the caterpillar on his quest to munch through everything he can find. This children's book incorporates textures with easy-to-follow text that'll have your child unable to look away.

Age range: 1 - 3 years

Review: "What is it with this book? This is the all-time, number one greatest book my daughter has got. It's something about the artwork and the holes (from the caterpillar munching) that fascinates her. I have to read the same page to her hundreds of times.... hundreds, I tell you!"

Best children's book about animals

best-childrens-books 2022
Price: $14.57

Introduce them to animals by getting them familiar with lions, monkeys and giraffes with Dear Zoo. They'll soon come to recognise the wonderful animals across each of the pages. On their next trip to the zoo, your child will be delighted to be able to name all of the animals from their favourite open-the-flap book.

Age range: 1 - 3 years

Review: "It's really a nice book for babies who love animals. I gifted this book to my little one on his first birthday. He recognises all the animals and loves to open flip-flaps. The book is quite sturdy too. One can make it more interesting by asking questions and illustrating more about animals."

Best children's book with flaps

best-childrens-books 2022
Price: $9.67

Keep your child's interest and attention with the iconic open-the-flap book Where's Spot? They'll love interacting with the pages by lifting the flaps and trying to find Spot! A children's book you're sure to be familiar with, this one will have them entertained for hours.

Age range: 1 - 2 years

Review: "Fantastic book. Daughter's favourite since she was 8 months old. The pages are nice and thick, so she can turn the pages herself, and the flaps are big enough for her to open them herself. Loves this book."

Best children's book about embracing who you are

best-childrens-books 2022
Price: $16.73

A beautiful tale by Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o. This children's book is all about loving what makes you unique and embracing who you are. Join Sulwe on the journey to self-love in this moving, empowering and heart-warming book.

Age range: 4 - 8 years

Review: "My 6-year-old niece loved it so much she read it over the phone to me and later took it to school and was asked to read it to the class. The teacher was really impressed and is trying to add it to the school library. Brilliantly and thoughtfully put together, the book deals with the complex issues of race, shadeism and Black female empowerment in such a skilful and beautifully illustrated way. A must for any library."

Best children's book with colourful images

best-childrens-books 2022
Price: $10.17

A colourful classic, this children's book includes bright, eye-catching illustrations. The tale of Elmer is about being bold and learning to accept your differences. A great children's book with a great message: it teaches the reader to be unashamed of what makes you unique.

Age range: 1 - 4 years

Review: "It's a great book to read to children when they are young, as children these days are constantly judging themselves for looking different. This book teaches children it's not about being different from others. It's about being YOU because when you are yourself and when you are at your best, that's when everyone loves you the most and appreciates you for who you are. FANTASTIC BOOK!"

Best children's book about friendship

best-childrens-books 2022
Price: $12.69

The Little Blue Truck book teaches the importance of friendship and helping others. With an emphasis on the sounds of the word, it will help your child pick up on vocabulary. As well as this, it will make them familiar with the different animals they might come across on their outdoor adventures.

Age range: 1 - 3 years

Review: "Brilliant book, great length to read to my five-month-old. Love the rhymes and has lots of animal sounds: moo, neigh, cluck, croak and baa but also beep and honk for the vehicles. Great moral to the story about friendship too."

Best children's book about motherhood

All Mrs Large wants is five minutes' peace and quiet away from her energetic children so she takes refuge in the bathroom for a bubble bath with a tray of breakfast and the morning paper. But naturally her children have other ideas...

Age range: 2 - 4 years

Review: "This book is a much loved classic - it should be on every child’s bookcase! The story is simple and engaging and relatable to adults and children alike. I’m a reception class teacher and I read this to my class of four to five-year-olds every year - the children always enjoy it and laugh throughout the story."

Best children's book about adventures

best-childrens-books 2022
Price: $14.37

The pattern of rhyme and use of sound in this much-loved We're Going on a Bear Hunt children's book will become your child's new favourite game. Take them on an adventure up the hill, across the river and through the forest to find the big bad bear. We're not scared!

Age range: 2 - 4 years

Review: "I'm a reception class teacher, and this is one of my favourite children's books to read to my class. The illustrations are beautiful, and the text is simply written and perfect to sing along to. The repetitive language is appealing for small children, and the noisy words to describe the family's movement through the different settings are easy for children to remember. It's one of those classic books that every child should read, enjoy and role-play. Perfect for classrooms, bedtime stories and sharing with a little one."

Best children's book about same-sex families

best-childrens-books 2022

Rrp: $8.99

Price: $7.20

A story about a family with two mummies: this book is a phenomenal read with rhythmic text and illustrations that shows the day in the life of a toddler with same-sex parents. This Mommy, Mama and Me children's book shows that family comes in many different forms, teaching about family structures from the get-go.

Age range: 1 - 3 years

Review: "As one of the two moms in our family, I am always on the lookout for books with diverse family structures to share with our son. I ordered this one when it was recommended by Amazon, and am so glad I did. It's a simple story about the adventures of a little family with two moms. It's not clear if the child is a boy or a girl, which is nice. My son loves this book and brings it to us to read constantly - I think it's going to be a favourite!"

Best modern classic children's book

best-childrens-books 2022
Price: $10.68

We all love The Gruffalo! Be prepared to read this one to your child again and again. With characters like Mouse and Snake, this much-loved favourite will definitely be a hit with your little ones. Oh, help! Oh no! The Gruffalo!

Age range: 2 - 4 years

Review: "Fab book, excellent catchy rhyming that kids adore! Great vocabulary, too, so it's a great descriptive book for little ears! It's hardcover, and the pages are really sturdy, so with old drops from little hands!"

Best magical children's book

A book that needs no introduction, many of us will have grown up with the Harry Potter books and are desperate to share the magic with our children. If your youngster is still quite young, the illustrated editions are a great way to introduce them to the famous wizard and are filled with incredible illustrations.

Age range: 6+ years

Review: "Since the pages are much bigger and words larger than a traditional novel, it also makes it less daunting and more readable for younger, perhaps more reluctant readers as well. Having read the original un-illustrated version, re-reading this again with the illustrations gives a whole new feeling to the story."

Best classic children's book

A traditional classic is The Tale of Peter Rabbit. This children's book is still popular despite being written 120 years ago. Follow the life of this mischievous little rabbit as he gets up to no good, making friends along the way.

Age range: 3 years+

Review: "Lovely book, just right for a first birthday gift."

Best children's book about Pooh Bear and friends

We just adore the loveable and docile bear that is Winnie-the-Pooh. His adventures with Christopher Robin and his friends were a massive part of our childhoods that we can't seem to forget. This Winnie-the-Pooh: The Complete Collection of Stories and Poems celebrating the 90th anniversary of Pooh Bear is a wonderful story to read to your children. 

Age range: 3 years+

Review: "Beautiful book. Lovely to have it in the protective cover. Will enjoy reading it myself and to my grandson when he is older. Would highly recommend it. Would make a lovely pressie. Thank you."

Best children's book for animal lovers

best-childrens-books 2022
Price: $15.27

One of our favourites, The Tiger Who Came To Tea tells the story of Sophie, who welcomes in a cheeky and uninvited guest! The charming illustrations show the events unfold as Tiger sits down to tea with Sophie and her mum. A lovely story - one to remember.

Age range: 2 - 4 years

Review: "I adore many children's books, but this is the one that I always think of the most fondly. It was one of my own favourites as a child, it has been a favourite of all 3 of my own children, and it's still to this day one of my favourites to share with nursery/Reception age children. A timeless classic to treasure generation after generation. It doesn't surprise me it has been one of the nation's favourites for 50 years now. "

Best children's book about self-love

best-childrens-books 2022
Price: $15.79

Filled with positivity and self-love, in Hair Love, Academy award-winning filmmaker Matthew A. Cherry tells the story of a father learning how to style his daughter's beautiful hair. "I love that my hair lets me be me," says the main character, Zuri, as she embraces her hair texture in all its different styles!

Age range: 3 - 6 years

Review: "This is such an uplifting story of father and daughter bonding over hair. The message is so clear. Appreciate all that life gives you and find strength in your differences. Look at the beauty of what you've got and work with it. A story that's read over and over and always puts a smile on my face."

Best inclusive children's book

We All Belong
Price: $12.99

This superbly written and illustrated picture book recognises and celebrates the diversity in a caring group of children. It aims to help little ones recognise the differences between cultures and races and to appreciate that everyone is beautiful.

Age range: baby - 8 years

Review: "What an amazing little book. For young children and for adults to be fair. Me and my daughter have really enjoyed this book. This book has done more than words can say for our little family. Such a big message from a little book! Love it!"

Best children's book with a rhyme

best-childrens-books 2022
Price: $15.91

One that we guarantee will be stuck in your head is Room on the Broom, which the children will love. From the same author as The Gruffalo, this book is a popular choice in schools and nurseries due to its clever rhythm and rhyme. It'll keep your children's attention as well as help them develop a sense of vocabulary, and it also makes a brilliant book to read at Halloween

Age range: 2 - 4 years

Review: "This is one of the best stories from Julia; the story flows, and the rhyme is well-paced, making it really fun to read aloud. The illustrations are really good and detailed, and the 'monster' at the end who saves the witch is just so much fun. It's clever and brilliant. I love this book, and I read it regularly at storytime and sometimes do a craft with it as it gives you so many options. Well worth buying for your library. It's a classic."

Best children's book with toy

Guess How Much I Love You
Price: $21.79

One of the cutest books you could buy that also comes complete with a soft bunny, this popular story of Big Nutbrown Hare and Little Nutbrown Hare follows the adorable game they play to express their love for each other. But the hares soon discover that love is not an easy thing to measure.

Age range: baby - 2 years

Review: "I first bought this product in 1998 for my eldest nephew as I have always said I love you to the moon and back. Since then my family have introduced GHMILY to inlaws, outlaws and friends. I have bought dozens of copies for all my nieces and nephews and friends' kids. It's so special to me I have a big nut brown hare tattooed. It's a beautiful book proving Love is universally understood."

Best funny children's book

best-childrens-books 2022
Price: $13.83

A great book for older children, Gangsta Granny, is unafraid of exploring heavier topics and approaching them with a sense of humour. This children's book is brilliantly witty, reminiscent of Roald Dahl with its illustrations and style of writing. It's sure to make your child laugh, cry, reflect and inquire all at once.

Age range: 7 - 10 years

Review: "Grandaughter loved it and then read to me through lockdown, and I loved it. Very funny, and now I'm reading to a number of people with special needs, and they love it. So, all in all, I would say a brilliant book. Funny, sad, and emotional. Well written."

Best superhero children's book

best-childrens-books 2022

Rrp: $9.99

Price: $4.38

We all remember The Adventures of Captain Underpants! This hilarious children's book follows the journey of two practical jokers in school as they create the comic book hero that is Captain Underpants.

Age range: 7 - 11 years

Review: "Absolutely brilliant. I bought it for my 8year old son who loves reading but gets bored quickly. The chapters are small, so it's easy to keep track of where we read to and doesn't exhaust him, and the pages have pictures and words (about 6 sentences), which doesn't put him off reading it. It's also a great book for taking into school for when they have to read a book themselves. It helps my 8-year-old is a captain underpants fan and has seen the film, so knew the characters."

Best timeless children's book

best-childrens-books 2022
Price: $16.11

Any book by Roald Dahl could have easily made this list, with his wacky sense of humour and clever wit that makes this a timeless classic. Recreated in film time and time again, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is easily one of the most timeless children's books around. Other great reads include Matilda, The BFG and James and The Giant Peach, to name a few.

Age range: 7 - 9 years

Review: "Bought as part of my Grandson's birthday present. He is thoroughly enjoying it."

Best children's book about overcoming challenges

best-childrens-books 2022
Price: $9.88

Yet another popular children's story is The Story of Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson. Despite the author often portraying hardship in her books and tackling difficult subjects, her books will open an older child's mind and make them fall in love with reading over and over again.

Age range: 7 - 9 years

Review: "I've just introduced my 7-year-old daughter to the Tracy Beaker stories, and she's loving them."

Best children's fantasy book

best-childrens-books 2022
Price: $23.99

Explore the magical world of Narnia with this children's classic, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Follow the journey of a family of children who have an extraordinary adventure in the back of an enchanted wardrobe.

Age range: 6 - 9 years

Review: "Good little book for children or young teenagers, this one. Well written. It is about four children who get sent off during the war to an old professor's house. Lucy, Susan, Peter and Edmund, their names are. They eventually all go into a wardrobe that leads them into an enchanted land."

Best children's book collection

Percy the Park Keeper 

Rrp: $34.99

Price: $28.49

A wonderful gift idea, this collection of much-loved Percy the Park Keeper stories follows Percy and his animal friends in a series of adventures along with charming illustrations.

Age range: 3 - 6 years

Review: "This would make a wonderful gift for a young child as a first introduction to Percy the Park Keeper. These stories are not as lengthy or eventful as the Tales from Percy's Park series, but they're just as charming and amusing. I'm very satisfied with this purchase."

Best children's book for bedtime

Say Goodnight
Price: $17.09

One to read to your little one when you're preparing them for bed, this close-the-flap book encourages little ones to say goodnight and put away their toys, close the curtains and turn on the nightlight, ready for sleep.

Age range: 2 - 5 years

Review: "We love this book, it's beautifully written and cleverly engineered. It's like reading a lullaby at bedtime, perfect for nighttime routine."

Best children's board book

That's not my dinosaur
Price: $15.94

There are over 70 different books in the 'That's not my...' series including bus, unicorn, puppy and more, but this one has to be our favourite. Each book is created with sensory play and learning in mind and your little one will love touching the textured patches and looking at the colourful illustrations.

Age range: birth - 2 years

Review: "Over the years I have bought several of the books in this series for my grandchildren and they have all loved them. This I bought to send to my youngest grandson who is a dinosaur fan. He loves it and sits for ages 'reading' it to himself - he is eighteen months old."

Best cloth children's book

Baby's Very First Cloth Book
Price: $17.09

While we all know that young babies can't read, they will still get a lot out of this cuddly cloth book which has crinkly pages for tactile fun and a mirror for stimulating the senses.

Age range: Birth +

Review: "My 2-month-old daughter loves this book! A very informative and a great read (I guess!) jokes apart, she loves (as a normal 2-month-old would) the contrast and the crinkle and the mirror!"

Best children's book for characters

The Enchanted Wood (The Magic Faraway Tree)
Price: $36.25

The first story in a series of three siblings: Joe, Beth and Frannie, who move to a house by an enchanted wood, which is home to the Magic Faraway Tree. Join them and their new friends Moonface, Saucepan Man and Silky the fairy as they discover which new land is at the top of the Faraway Tree.

Age range: birth - 2 years

Review: "The best thing about these stories, for children these days is they are nothing to do with violence, hi-tech things, adverts or idiot commercialised monster. The children behave like children do - there are nice little morals in there - there are funny bits, human bits, exciting bits and hugely imaginative bits - but mostly these people become your friends."

Best children's book for raising a feminist

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls

Rrp: $9.99

Price: $8.99

This board book adaptation of the bestselling Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls introduces your little one to the lives of extraordinary women, past and present, from around the world. The colourful, inviting pages feature easy-to-read text and beautiful portraits.

Age range: Birth - 3 years

Review: "Perfect book for babies. Colourful pictures and an easy, two-sentence description of women from the past and present describing their achievements in simple terms."

The best celebrity children's book

The Dinosaur that Pooped a Planet!
Price: $14.80

Written by McFly's Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter, Danny and his Dinosaur end up in space but when Danny realises he's forgotten Dino's lunch box, the very hungry dinosaur eats everything in sight, including their only way back home: the rocket ship.

Age range: 3 - 4 years

Review: "Both of my children love The Dinosaur That Pooped series of books and this is another bedtime favourite of my sons. There's something about Dinosaurs and poop that seems to be an immediate hit with my son and although he is too young to read yet he always knows when to shout Poo! in line with the story."

Why is reading so important for children?

It's never too early to read to your children. Believe it or not, reading to your child from birth has its benefits. Not only will they love hearing your voice, much like they did in the womb, but the best baby books will help to develop their language skills as they grow.

From there, cloth books and board books will see the transition from baby to toddler. These books will often use rhyme and pictures to help babies' understanding of the world around them, while the attractive bright colours keep their attention.

Later, more advanced books that contain words and sentences will help their transition to school, where they'll study comprehension and literacy. Reading to them from a young age might even give them a head start! Becoming familiar with vocabulary from books can assist with their speech and writing, as well as reading.

More importantly, however, taking the time to read to your child builds the bond between you both. Even when they get older, they'll never forget the times you would read their favourite story before bed. Sometimes even over and over again!

Samantha 'Sam' Price is a Beauty, Fashion & Wellness Products Writer at Bauer Media, working across a number of brands including Closer, heatworld, Grazia, Yours and Spirit & Destiny amongst others. It was 2022 when Sam was employed as a Commercial Content Writer writing about Family Life on Mother & Baby, Yours and Spirit & Destiny.

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