Children’s books from the 90s to share with your own kids

Best Children's books from the 90s

by Arabella Horspool |
Published on

There's nothing better than sharing the things you loved as a child with your little one and children's books from the 90s are no exception! Not to make anybody feel old, but who would have thought that these kids' stories would have stood the test of time for over 30 years?

The best 90s children's books at a glance:

You may be surprised at how long ago some of your favourite stories were published, with classic books like The Gruffalo, Guess How Much I love You and Kipper standing the test of time and remaining firm favourites in schools and nurseries up and down the country. Some of these tales have even become popular franchises and TV shows with numerous adaptations.

Best for gifting: Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
Best for separation anxiety: Owl Babies by Mike Waddell
Best for tackling racism: Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
Best for animal lovers: A Classic Treasury: Percy The Park Keeper by Nick Butterworth

So, if you're looking for something to make you feel nostalgic, check out the list of our favourite 90s kids books below, which are perfect for updating your littlun's bookshelf.

The best children's books from the 90s:

Best for gifting

Children's books from the 90s
Price: $14.15

Guess How Much I Love You tells the story of two hares - a parent and a baby - and their ever-growing love for one another. It makes a wonderful first storybook for little ones that's perfect for bedtime snuggles, plus it's great for gifting at baby showers, Christenings and birthday parties.

A mum reviewer said: "A I think it’s fair to say that this short story mirrors the feeling of parenthood precisely. It’s a lovely book for before bed or naptime, or if you want a nice calming story for anytime of day. I love how the characters try to describe ways of measuring love, which is very much a young child’s way of critically analysing that feeling. But, quantifying its magnitude is really not the point (there’s always a bigger number in an infinite list). There are types of love that just cannot be compared, like that of a parent towards a child and vice versa, and that’s what I took away from this children’s story, particularly as a new parent myself."

Reading age:Baby-3 years

Best popular children's book

Children's books from the 90s
Price: $10.90

Published in 1999, this just makes the cut and has been on every child's bookshelf ever since! Full of rhyming words and woodland creatures, it's often read in nurseries and schools and has been turned into numerous adaptations, so your little one probably already knows the words off by heart!

One reviewer said: "This is obviously one of, if not the most popular children’s story of Julia Donaldson’s. I think this was the only title of hers that I had heard of before having our daughter, and one of the first that we bought after her arrival. It’s clear why this one is so popular. Everything about it just works so well, from the length, to the rhyming structure, to the illustrations and the wittiness of the story, which verges on feeling very Aesops Fable-esque."

Reading age:2-4 years

Best for separation anxiety

Children's books from the 90s
Price: $13.81

If you're away from home a lot; you're going on holiday without the kiddos; you share joint custody of your kids or they simply struggle to be left with another adult, this is a reassuring story to share with them - that you'll always come back, just like the mummy of the three little owls.

One reviewer said: "This is one of the loveliest books my children had, I buy it often as a gift. The owl babies wait for their mother to return, the language is beautiful and the pictures are full of detail for very small children to pick out. At 2 and 3 years old, my children could really relate to the baby owls as they waited, and they were both excited and relieved when the mother owl returned - every time we read the book! Our copy was in tatters in the end (it’s stored away carefully now) so I usually give the board book as gifts."

Reading age:2-4 years

Best for tackling racism

Children's books from the 90s
Price: $14.09

Grace's classmates tell her she can't play the lead role of Peter Pan in her school play because he wasn't a girl and he wasn't black, but with a bit of guidance from her mother and grandmother, Grace realises she can be anything she wants to be.

One reviewer said: "We first heard this book being read at a story time and I love that it introduces the reality that some people may think you can’t do things just because you look different but in a way that’s understandable for my 4 year old. It then goes on to show you can do anything you put your mind to. This is the first book we own that blatantly shows racism in a kids book and a good book to start conversations."

Reading age:5-8 years

Best for animal looers

Children's books from the 90s

Rrp: $34.99

Price: $28.49
Alternative retailers
Target$28.49View offer

A wonderful collection that's perfect for introducing your little one to the joyous world of Percy the Park Keeper. They'll meet several of his animal friends along the way and share in their riveting adventures. The illustrations are so beautiful, they'll feel as if they could almost step into the pages.

One reviewer said: "I'm so pleased to see that this collection of Percy stories is finally back in print. The new cover is modern and appealing, and the stories are wonderfully heart-warming as expected. We have all the Tales from Percy's Park series which are probably more well known, but the shorter stories seem to have been out of print for years now (both in individual form and this treasury collection). I've seen a few of them in the library over the years but I'm very happy to finally have our own copy of all of them all now."

Reading age:3-6 years

Best for sharing

Children's books from the 90s
Price: $10.40

A lovely little rainbow fish finds happiness when he learns to share with others in this underwater tale by Mark Pfister. We love that it's also available as a waterproof bath book, which makes the story all the more immersive for your little one.

A teacher said: "I knew the story having read it to the pupils when I was teaching. It's very easy for quite young children to understand the importance of sharing through the narrative and the extra stories in the Rainbow Fish anthology also get their message across ( they also have a moral ) clearly. Beautiful illustrations too."

Age rating:2-5 years

Best for saying bye to dummies

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Trying to ditch the "noo-noo" in your house? Marlon's granny thinks he's too old for his dummy and his mum throws it in the bin, but the little monster won't let it go until he's ready. Perhaps the story will inspire your toddler to ditch theirs!

Liz N (a reviewer) said: "I remember this book helping me to understand and comes to terms with this. It also taught me to have confidence in myself and to stick by my principals and values - VERY important life lessons. The fact that Jill Murphy can teach this to 3 year olds speaks volumes."

Reading age2-4 years

Best for picture books

Children's books from the 90s
Price: $22.82

Why purchase one Kipper book when you can have four? Those born in the 90s will probably recall all of the fun and brilliant adventures Kipper got up to. The set includes: Kipper, Kipper's Snowy Day, Kipper's Toybox and Kipper's Birthday.

Reading age:2-5 years

Best for iconic characters

Children's books from the 90s
Price: $8.99

Nick Sharratt's illustrations really bring the character of Tracy Beaker to life in this modern classic by Jacqueline Wilson. Even if you didn't read the books, you probably watched the TV show at weekends on CBBC and now, you've probably got that iconic theme tune stuck in your head...

Tate, a young reviewer wrote: "I grew up with Tracy Beaker, the books, tv shows and merchandise hold a very prominent place in my heart. Although I’m only fifteen, nostalgia hit me hard when I spotted a new addition to the Tracy Beaker series; My mum, Tracy Beaker. At that moment, in an overcrowded superstore, I decided to re-experience the magic of Jaqueline Wilson, and purchased book 1 on kindle. After the first chapter, I fell in love with the books all over again; a great read for kids: young, old or a kid at heart."

Reading age:7-10

Best for TV adaptation

Children's books from the 90s
Price: $9.79

Noughties babies will probably remember watching this show (where everyone's names had alliteration) after school, but may not be aware that it actually started life as a series of books. This is the second story in the collection, but they don't really follow on from one another, so you can read them in any order.

A proud mum wrote: "Horrid Henry Books helped my son read. I have no doubt. He was level 1 at age 9 (that meant his reading age was that of a 6 year old). We discovered Horrid Henry in the Holidays and although he first stumbled over words, his interest grew as did his reading ability. Since then (still age 9) they've had further checks and tests and he is now level 3A. He still can't get enough of Horrid Henry but is also now happy to read harder books due to his regained confidence."

Best for self-acceptance

Children's books from the 90s
Price: $10.14

Elmer is a multicoloured elephant who wonders what it's like to fit in with the rest of the herd, who are all grey. While the story was originally published in 1968, this special edition was published in the 90s to celebrate the 30th anniversary, so, it's likely that your parents had Elmer on their childhood bookshelves too!

Laura, a reviewer said: "The illustrations, are basic but beautiful and Elma’s patchwork colours were the biggest selling point for my daughter when she was younger than one, but then gradually becoming more interested in the other elephants and animals as she grew up. The writing is entertaining, especially for a toddler learning their colours and the giant ‘Boo!’ page is always anticipated with excitement! The moral of the story is also applicable to any age, helping to teach us that people love us for who we are, and our individuality is something to be celebrated, not covered up."

Reading age:1-4 years

Best for a love story

Children's books from the 90s
Price: $20.26
Alternative retailers
Target$10.39View offer
Macy's$12.99View offer

Roald Dahl had an illustrious career spanning many decades and this was one of his later works. It tells the story of a shy old man who lives alone in his apartment. He's secretly in love with his neighbour who adores her pet tortoise, so he comes up with a plan and a spell to win her over, which involves quite a few shelly friends...

A bookworm said: "Our daughter is a big Roald Dahl fan and we have started collecting these coloured editions for her. They’re lovely books and Esio Trot is no exception. Good quality paper and much bigger than the usual paperbacks so ideal for reading together. The coloured illustrations make them feel even more special. Will definitely be buying more!"

Age rating:7-9 years

How did we choose these books?

We selected the books on our list by thinking back to when we were children and sharing what we liked to read back then. Most of the stories we've included were first published in the 90s, although a couple of them are special editions and collections which may have been reprinted during that time.

We've recommended page-turners for all ages, including many books for toddlers, babies and children aged between two to six years old.

What books did 90s kids read?

Obviously this varies from person to person, but there were plenty of popular books that made there way onto kid's shelves up and down the country. Several stories from previous decades were also widely read at this time, including The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Matilda and novels by Enid Blyton, for example.

Arabella Horspool is a Commercial Content Writer for Mother&Baby at Bauer Media. She's a bookworm who enjoys cooking and spending time with her many pets.

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