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Myths, magic and mischief: the best children's fairytale books

There's a reason that fairytales have been around forever: children find these strange, exciting and instructive stories irresistible. This is our list of the most magical of fairytale books for kids, many with a contemporary twist.

While some fairytales remain classics, many have been beautifully reimagined; from feminist rewritings to taking the protagonist out of the mythical woods and seeing them explore India, Japan or Mexico. If you're on the hunt for a fairytale book for the little ones in your life, this list is sure to capture your imagination (and theirs).

Fairytale books for babies & toddlers

Peter Pan

by Miriam Bos

Book cover for Peter Pan

This push, pull and slide book is the ideal way to introduce small readers to J.M. Barrie's evergreen tale of  Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up. Follow the Darling children on their trip to Neverland, encounter the Lost Boys and meet conniving Captain Hook.

Cinderella

by Dan Taylor

Book cover for Cinderella

You shall go to the ball! Feel Cinderella's excitement as she is plucked from her unhappy home and her mean stepsisters to encounter the fairy godmother and handsome prince. Little readers can push, pull and turn their way through the classic tale.

Little Red Riding Hood

by Nick Sharratt

Book cover for Little Red Riding Hood

Lift the flaps to reveal the story of Little Red Riding Hood and her perilous journey through the wood to visit grandma, dodging the Big Bad Wolf. Features a free audio reading, with music and sound effects: just scan the QR code on the book and turn the pages when you hear a chime.

Jack and the Beanstalk

by Nick Sharratt

Book cover for Jack and the Beanstalk

Lively rhymes, bright and witty illustrations and flaps to lift make this junior take on Jack and the Beanstalk fun and fresh. Help take the beanstalk up into the clouds, peek through the doors into the giant's castle and watch his feet sticking out from the compost heap when he falls!

Once Upon a World Collection: Snow White; Cinderella; Rapunzel; The Princess and the Pea

by Chloe Perkins

Book cover for Once Upon a World Collection: Snow White; Cinderella; Rapunzel; The Princess and the Pea

This is a multicultural whisk around the fairytale world, as Snow White runs from her Japanese castle and meets seven enigmatic dwarves, Cinderella goes to the ball in Mexico and mislays her glass slipper, Rapunzel runs from her tower in India and a Russian princess makes her point with one tiny pea.


Fairytale books for kids aged 3–5

Once Upon A Fairytale

Book cover for Once Upon A Fairytale

With this engaging book the young reader gets to decide the outcome, and weave their own story. Choose your own character! Will you be a smart princess, a gentle knight or an inquisitive gingerbread man? And which adventure will you go for? Picnic with fairies, make your home in a tree, eat freshly-buttered sunbeams or take a ride on a unicorn – the choice is all yours. 

A Hero Called Wolf

by Lucy Rowland

Book cover for A Hero Called Wolf

This is un uplifting rhyming picture book, which makes you the hero of your own story. Wolf loves reading, but how come wolves are always the bad guys? When a giant heaves his way into the library, Wolf looks for the courage to speak up, and be a different kind of fairytale hero. It comes from the creative partnership of Lucy Rowland and Ben Mantle, adapters of further fairytale adventures Little Red Reading Hood and The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Book.

Once Upon a Wild Wood

by Chris Riddell

Book cover for Once Upon a Wild Wood

This is a witty and richly imaginative meeting of Red Riding Hood, Thumbelina, Rapunzel, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, the three bears, the seven dwarfs and many more sparkly characters. Little Green Raincape is on her way to party in the woods at Rapunzel's. And luckily she's smart enough to refuse help from smiling wolves along the way . . .

Little Red

by Bethan Woollvin

Book cover for Little Red

From acclaimed fairytale adapter Bethan Woolvin comes Little Red, a New York Times winner for its bold and bright illustrations. Everyone knows the story of the big bad wolf eating Grandma. But in this version, plucky Little Red Riding Hood turns the tables in a way that the wolf definitely isn't expecting.

The Ghanaian Goldilocks

by Dr Tamara Pizzoli

Book cover for The Ghanaian Goldilocks

The Ghanaian Goldilocks is set in Accra in Ghana, and features Kofi, a boy with sun-lightened hair known to his friends and family as Goldilocks. As with Goldilocks in the traditional version, Kofi is known for sometimes getting into trouble. But an unexpected visit to a neighbour teaches him a life-long lesson.


Children's fairytale books for ages 6–8

Princess Mirror-Belle

by Julia Donaldson

Book cover for Princess Mirror-Belle

Bestselling Gruffalo creator Julia Donaldson brings you Princess Mirror-Belle, the thrilling adventures of a bold princess. She pops out of mirrors to tell Ellen magic stories, and whisk her away on new escapades. Perfect for children who are starting to read alone, the book features black and white images throughout.

Aziza's Secret Fairy Door and the Mermaid's Treasure

by Lola Morayo

Book cover for Aziza's Secret Fairy Door and the Mermaid's Treasure

The fourth title in this young magic adventure series by Lola Morayo, Aziza's Secret Fairy Door and the Mermaid's Treasure takes inspiration from world mythology, and is beautifully illustrated in black and white throughout. Aziza is packing to go on holiday when she sees sand and shells from the fairy door scattered all over her room. She steps through the door to  Shimmerton’s beach, where mischievous fairies the Gigglers are causing havoc by waking up the ancient shell-walker. The Gigglers need to be stopped, so Aziza calls on her new mermaid friend to help.


Fairytale books for kids aged 9–12

Rumaysa: A Fairytale

by Radiya Hafiza

Book cover for Rumaysa: A Fairytale

Weaving together the well-known stories of Rapunzel, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, this modern retelling offers a fresh new perspective on three classic fairytales. Locked away in a tower for her whole life by an evil witch, Rumaysa has no idea what lies outside, until one day, she lowers her hijab out of the window and escapes to freedom. As funny as it is escapist, this debut novel will be loved by fans of young adult fiction as well as readers who enjoy retellings of classic stories. 

The Thirteenth Fairy

by Melissa de la Cruz

Book cover for The Thirteenth Fairy

This is the first title in thrilling contemporary adventure series Never After, written by Melissa de la Cruz,  bestselling writer of Disney's Descendants series. Filomena Jefferson-Cho has few expectations of her boring small town. But then Jack Stalker, one of the heroes of her favourite Never After books, materialises. He asks her to come with him at once, to help save the kingdom and battle dragons and a distinctly evil queen.

The Macmillan Fairy Tales Collection

by Macmillan Children's Books

Book cover for The Macmillan Fairy Tales Collection

This is the ideal hardback gift book for children of all ages, with more than fifty fairy tales from all around the world, and an introduction by award-winning writer Michael Morpurgo. Alongside familiar stories such as Cinderella and The Little Mermaid, read the Chinese tale of Bayberry, who saves his sister, Little Red, from a cunning dragon. Plus you'll find Russian witches, Indian tree ghosts and Japanese moon spirits, as well as iconic images from Arthur Rackham and others. This 480 page volume, drawn from Macmillan's archive, is a treasure to read and share.