Reading to toddlers while they're young and encouraging them to enjoy books puts them in good stead to become a bookworm and broaden their vocabulary. Here's a list of some of the top children's books for new readers.
There’s nothing more satisfying than those early years when your child is learning to read and their improvements come on quick and fast.
The best way to make sure you’re keeping up to speed with your little one, and to keep their progress fast and fun, is to supply them with plenty of great books. This collection ranges from classics you might remember yourself from when you were little, to some of the newer offerings on the shelves.
We’ve included good old fashioned favourites like Winnie The Pooh and Peter Rabbit and some shiny new ones, too. Think Aliens Love Underpants (yes, that really is its title) and the Charlie And Lola stories, which somehow have an inexplicable grip over all small children it seems.
There are options suitable for tiny tots with plenty of pictures to keep them entertained, to stories that will be best for between 3-5 year olds with trickier words and longer sentences to stretch their vocabulary and reading skills. Plus, you’ll be pleased to know, there’s not a Biff and Chip book in sight!
Cuddle up at bedtime and enjoy listening to some of these tales with your little one, although be warned – once they find one they love you might have to listen to the same story every night for the next six weeks solid. Or is that just our lot?
Scroll through using the arrows to discover what it is we love about each of the books and why we think your kids will love them too. Once you’ve found a few favourites you can search for them in your local library, look out for them in expensive charity shops or buy them online. Whatever way you come by them, we’re sure they’ll be firm family favourites for years to come.
And don’t forget, if you have a book you think we should add in just let us know! Visit us on our Facebook page or leave a comment in the text box below.
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The Author: Judith Kerr
What’s it about? A sweet story about a tiger who interrupts little Sophie’s afternoon tea with her mum. He’s a very polite tiger, although he just happens to eat and drink everything in the house.
Why will toddlers love it? It’s just very, very funny and 40 years after it was first published, The Tiger Who Came To Tea is still a favourite with children today.
The Author: Maurice Sendak
What’s it about? A little boy Max puts on a wolf-suit and goes looking for mischief, resulting in him getting sent to bed without any supper. In his room he imagines a magical forest filled with monsters big and small.
Why will toddlers love it? This book is over 30 years old and is still enjoyed by children everywhere. Magic, mischief and mayhem are rife – which, if yours are anything like ours, will be right up their street!
The Author: Nick Sharratt and Hilary Robinson
What’s it about? Nike and Hilary take traditional fairy tales, and scramble them all up together with funny results.
Why will toddlers love it? They’ll recognise the stories initially and will love the twists and turns they take when they merge into other tales.
The Author: Judith Kerr
What’s it about? Your children may already be familiar with the adventures of Mog, the lovable neighbourhood cat. This story describes Mog coming to the end of her adventures when she suddenly feels very tired and thinks she would like to sleep forever.
Why will toddlers love it? The Mog books are classics, and this book in particular deals with the death of a pet in a sweet and sensitive way for children to understand.
The Author: Giles Andreae
What’s it about? A beautiful book about a giraffe who can’t join in the jungle dance because he doesn’t know how to Tango, but learns that it’s OK to be different and he can dance to other songs instead.
Why will toddlers love it? The brightly coloured illustrations and rhyming language keep them enthralled along with the funny story.
The Author: Julia Donaldson
What’s it about? The Gruffalo is a beast with ‘terrible tusks, and terrible claws, and terrible teeth in his terrible jaws’ invented by a little mouse to scare away his enemies – but perhaps he’s not so pretend after all.
Why will toddlers love it? This book is perfect for reading aloud and you can even buy a book and tape set of it. Great rhymes, funny illustrations and kids will love learning the words.
The Author: Pam Adams
What’s it about? A book based on the ridiculous but hilarious nursery rhyme of the woman who swallowed a fly.
Why will toddlers love it? The pictures throughout keep getting wider and wider so you can see all the silly things the old lady has swallowed. They’ll love all the animals and seeing all of them inside one another.
The Author: Elfrida Vipont and Raymond Briggs
What’s it about? An Elephant takes a Bad Baby for a ride and they go ‘rumpeta, rumpeta, rumpeta down the road.’ They help themselves to ice creams, pies, buns, crisps, biscuits, lollipops and apples, and the shopkeepers follow them down the road shouting and waving.
Why will toddlers love it? It’s a clever way of teaching children the importance of saying please.
The Author: Lauren Child
What’s it about? Charlie tells a reluctant Lola that peas are green drops from Greenland and carrots are orange twiglets from Jupiter, she’s soon eating her greens.
Why will toddlers love it? They’ll sympathise with Lola for not fancying her veg – great for fussy eaters!
The Author: Janet and Allan Ahlberg
What’s it about? This classic story tells the story of Bill, who is a burglar until he accidentally burgles a baby!
Why will toddlers love it? The naughty Bill has a softer side and little ones will love seeing how he copes when he steals a baby by accident.
The Author: Ed Vere
What’s it about? A well illustrated book about a monkey who tries all sorts of tricks to get hold of a tasty banana, but learns that surprisingly saying please goes a long way.
Why will toddlers love it? Another great one to teach manners in a fun and engaging way. They won’t even suspect a thing!
The Author: Emily Gravett
What’s it about? Follow little mouse as he confronts all his many fears from loud noises, to getting sucked down the plughole.
Why will toddlers love it? They’ll sympathise will little mouse’s fears and rejoice in his successes when he finally overcomes them!
The Author: John Vernon Lord and Janet Burroway
What’s it about? A group of villagers hatch a plan to make a giant jam sandwich to get rid of a swarm of bees in their town. A really underrated classic in our opinion.
Why will toddlers love it? What’s not to love? There’s comradery, a giant jam sandwich and plenty of pictures. Tick, tick, tick!
The Author: Claire Freedman and Ben Cort
What’s it about? This story is about a group of aliens who come down from space to steal people’s underpants, because they don’t have them where they’re from – guaranteed laughs!
Why will toddlers love it? Colourful drawings, funny words, nearly-toilet-humour and great rhymes.
The Author: Raymond Briggs
What’s it about? Fungus is a bogeyman that lives in the dark and disgusting Bogeydom. Follow a day in his life while he goes about his business of scaring humans.
Why will toddlers love it? Children will love the repulsive detail given to describe Fungus and everything he does.
The Author: Janet and Allan Ahlberg
What’s it about? This follows the events of a baby’s day, from waking in his cot and playing with his sisters to getting a goodnight kiss from his dad.
Why will toddlers love it? There’s a hole on every other page so they can peep into the next scene.
The Author: David McKee
What’s it about? Elmer isn’t like everyone else in the jungle – he’s a colourful patchwork elephant. When Elmer’s friends laugh at him, he discovers that it’s not because of how he looks, but because he’s happy and lovable.
Why will toddlers love it? He’s a colourful elephant!
The Author: Ladybird
What it’s about? Peppa and George’s very quiet day turns into a noisy one when they discover all sorts of things to crash and wallop on in the house.
Why will toddlers love it? There are 18 sounds for them to press, plus who doesn’t love Peppa Pig?
The Author: Rod Campbell
What’s it about? The zoo keep sending pets, but none of them are quite right… What will happen?
Why will toddlers love it? There are all sorts of different cardboard flaps to lift up for them to peep under and they’ll be discovering all sorts of animals.
The Author: Janet and Allan Ahlberg
What’s it about? Lots of different nursery rhyme characters are playing hide and seek and you follow a journey to find them.
Why will toddlers love it? They’ll have fun finding the next character who’s hiding.
The Author: Helen Nicoll and Jan Pienkowski
What’s it about? Meg the witch and Mog the cat and their adventures and dodgy spells. She just never seems to get them quite right.
Why will toddlers love it? The language is really simple, so perfect for little ones, and with bold colourful illustrations it’s a fun read.
The Author: Beatrix Potter
What’s it about? Peter Rabbit is a naughty rabbit who’s always getting into trouble in Mr McGregor’s garden, where he lives with his mother and siblings.
Why will toddlers love it? It’s simple and has lovely drawings, a real classic.
The Author: Eric Carle
What’s it about? A caterpillar is very hungry and starts to eat and eat and eat.
Why will toddlers love it? The holes in the food, learning to count and the last page of course…
The Author: Michael Rosen
What’s it about? Follow a family as they go on a walk to hunt for a bear, singing songs as they go.
Why will toddlers love it? There are great sound effects and plenty of repetition to help little ones learn and recognise simple words.
The Author: Eric Hill
What’s it about? Spot the dog is missing. Can you help find him?
Why will toddlers love it? They’ll love lifting the flaps of paper to see where Spot is hiding.
The Author: Rachel Bright
What’s it about? Twins Frankie and Fifi find it difficult sharing their favourite toy, but luckily Granny’s on hand to show them how.
Why will toddlers love it? A story that will teach them how to share in a lighthearted and engaging way. The illustrations and layout of the text make it a quick, fun read for bedtime.
The Author: Michael Bond
What’s it about? A teddybear who loves marmalade sandwiches from darkest Peru but finds himself in London somehow!
Why will toddlers love it? Paddington is such a lovable, fun character and his silly adventures and bumbling ways will have little ones excited to read it time after time. An all-time classic.
The Author: Lauren Child
What’s it about? We just can’t get enough of the tales of Charlie and his sister Lola and the funny things they get up to. The whole collection could take years to read but we’re sure your little ones will love them!
Why will toddlers love it? It’s exactly how kids speak and behave with each other so they’ll enjoy the language while you can enjoy their reading.
The Author: Ian Whybrow
What’s it about? Harry finds some toy dinosaurs in his Nan’s loft. All’s well until one day they get lost. You’ll have to read the story to find out how Harry gets them back!
Why will toddlers love it? Kids will love learning the names of dinosaurs. And the idea of toys coming to life appeals to all kids.
The Author: Mick Inkpen
What’s it about? The funny adventures of Kipper the dog.
Why will toddlers love it? Fun, bold drawings and easy-to-read stories – perfect for an early years reader to get them excited about books.
The Author: Dr Seuss
What’s it about? A madcap cat in a stripey hat who goes around causing havoc.
Why will toddlers love it? Silly but brilliantly easy to remember rhymes and funny illustrations. One that they’ll always remember.
The Author: Enid Blyton
What’s it about? Three children discover a magic tree at the bottom of the garden and meet Moonface, Mr Saucepan and many more wonderful characters.
Why will toddlers love it? Even though they were written years ago, the stories are just as fun and powerful now as they were then. It’ll reignite their fascination with magical goings on at the bottom of the garden!
The Author: Traditional story
What’s it about? One day a poor little girl is given a magic porridge pot that cooks all the porridge she could ever wish for, but what happens when she can’t make it stop?
Why will toddlers love it? A simple funny story and if you find an edition with colourful illustrations and large words on each page it’s perfect as a very early read for little ones.
The Author: Kenneth Grahame
What’s it about? The adventures of Mr Toad, Mole, Ratty and Badger.
Why will toddlers love it? It’s a brilliant story and is very, very funny. The language in this is a bit more advanced than most in this round-up so it’s probably best kept as a book you read to them, rather than the other way around.
The Author: Rev W Awdry
What’s it about? The adventures of Thomas the Tank Engine and his other friends on the branch line.
Why will toddlers love it? Great rhymes, funny illustrations and kids will love learning the words.
The Author: AA Milne
What’s it about? The adventures of a small, yellow bear and his friends Piglet, Eeyore, Rabbit in Hundred Acre Wood.
Why will kids love it? Pooh’s tales are classics and seem to never age. His childlike antics are sure to cement him in the heart of your toddler forever.