The best children’s picture books to inspire their imagination

children's picture books

by Samantha Ball |
Updated on

While children's books can open up worlds within a child's mind, for little ones who enjoy learning with the help of visuals, children's picture books might be best at keeping them engaged. After all, nothing keeps a child's attention more than bright illustrations to bring their favourite story to life.

Often, when we remember our favourite classic books from childhood, the most important thing we take away is how the book made us feel. And more often than not, we mostly remember the illustrations of our favourite characters on all of their adventures.

The best children's picture books at a glance:

Best overall children's picture books: The Jolly Postman - buy here on Amazon.
Best inclusive children's picture books: You Matter - buy here on Amazon.
Best classic children's picture books: Where The Wild Things Are - buy here on Amazon.

Visual cues help us to recall and remember information best. That's why it makes sense that picture books are a favourite when reading to children, as it helps them to remember the story. So when it comes to adding new books to your child's bookcase, remember to add in some picture book options.

Best overall children's picture books

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Price: $18.12

A personal favourite, The Jolly Postman takes kids on the journey of a postman on his round. What we particularly love is being able to open up the envelopes to read all of the letters and postcards inside.

Including fairytale characters that you'll be sure to recognise like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Cinderella and the Big Bad Wolf, this book was truly a treat to read. It's one that they'll always remember reading with you growing up.

One review said: "Anyone would be charmed by this book, it’s beautifully illustrated and put together containing letters delivered by the postman for the various characters. We have been buying books by this author over the past 30 years and they are still instilling the joy of childhood within us."

Best inclusive children's picture book

best-childrens-picture-book
Price: $15.66

You Matter is a beautifully illustrated book featuring a very important message. This book shows us how the world is all connected. With inclusive artwork and powerful affirmations, it's a book about believing in yourself and how much you're valued. A stunning read.

A reviewer wrote: "Lovely case covering. Beautiful end pages. Using acrylic paint and collage, Robinson’s illustrations draw the reader in, and his words share the most important message our young people need to hear right now: YOU MATTER."

Best children's picture book about the body

best-childrens-picture-book
Price: $7.57

Teaching your little ones about their bodies through rhyme: This charming book Whose Toes are Those? will engage their curiosity. Of course, making the book interactive by tickling their toes always makes for lots of laughs. It will quickly become their new favourite picture book.

One customer wrote: "An absolutely delightful story that my daughter adores. The illustrations are great as is the rhyme of the book. A nice, light-hearted book to read to young ones."

Best children's picture book about strength

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Rrp: $8.95

Price: $3.18

A story about strength, courage and embracing who you are, this book follows the journey of Millie and what makes her wonderfully unique. Millie Doesn't Mind aims to empower and spread hope to little girls, bringing about awareness and inclusion to readers. Watercolour pages and bright, fun illustrations make for an attractive picture book your little readers are sure to enjoy.

One review said: "‘Millie Doesn’t Mind’ - This story could be about me. I smiled, I cried. I can smell Grand-nanny’s cooking. Thank you for taking me back to a place I will never forget. I can’t wait to read this to my grandchildren. I wait patiently for the next episode"

Best children's picture book about self-love

best-childrens-picture-book
Price: $15.79

Filled with positivity, Academy Award-winning Matthew A. Cherry illustrates 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. The Hair Love picture book shows the importance of love in all its forms, whether that's familial love or self-love.

One review said: "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 lift the flap children's picture book

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

Best children's picture book for animal lovers

Your little one will soon come to recognise the wonderful animals across each of the pages in the Dear Zoo children's picture book. 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.

Best children's picture book with different textures to explore

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 picture book incorporates textures with easy-to-follow text that'll have your child unable to look away.

Best modern classic children's picture book

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Price: $10.68

We all love The Gruffalo! Be prepared to read this picture book to your child again and again. With friendly characters like Mouse and Snake, this much-loved favourite will definitely be a hit with your little ones, and a hit for years to come. Any picture book by Julia Donaldson is sure to go down a treat.

One reviewer wrote: "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 pages are really sturdy so with old drops from little hands!"

Best children's picture book with iconic illustrations

children's picture books
Price: $15.75

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

One review: "I remembered reading this book as a child so when it cropped up as a suggested purchase I couldn't resist for my own son. A wonderful story that is beautiful to pass down the generations. Wonderful illustration."

Best classic children's picture book

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Price: $15.41

A wonderfully whimsical picture book, Where The Wild Things Are is a classic that hasn't been forgotten. Absolutely packed full of gripping illustrations of Max's wild adventures, author Maurice Sendak was considered one of the best children's authors of his time.

One review said: "Gave as a birthday gift to a child who is moving away; this is one of my favourite books and I wanted him to have it. It's a new one for his Mom so I was glad to be able to introduce her to the joy of this book. Every child should read this!"

Best interactive children's picture book

best-childrens-picture-book

Rrp: $10.99

Price: $7.25

With vocabulary perfect for early readers and featuring text that interacts with the reader: this clever picture book breaks the fourth wall. It'll get both you and your little one laughing. We Are in a Book! tells the story of best friends Gerald and Piggie as they come to terms with the fact they're the main characters in a book.

One review said: "When I first found this book, I couldn't stop laughing at it. While it doesn't have a plot like most in the series do, it's still fun watching Gerald and Piggie figure out what to do with us.

"I do wonder just how much kids will get some of the jokes, but as an adult, I can't stop laughing at it. This is a departure from the rest of the series, but still just as fun. Highly recommended for fans of these picture books."

What is the difference between a picture book and children's book?

The main difference is that you in a children's picture book, you don't really need to read the words to understand the story. This is because the images give a picture of what the story is about.

What age is suitable for picture books?

While you can read a picture book to children of any age, children between the ages of five years old and eight years old might appreciate the illustrations more and be able to follow the storyline better through the images.

Samantha Ball is a Product & Lifestyle Writer for Mother&Baby and freelanced for the website for two years before joining the team full time. She's a mum of two and loves browsing for the best products and cute outfits.

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