World Book Day: books to read with the little ones in your life

To help you share a story this World Book Day, the team at Macmillan’s Children’s Books share their favourite books to read with the little ones in their lives.

Reading for pleasure has a transformational effect on young minds, and World Book Day’s Share a Story message aims to encourage and empower as many children as possible to engage with enthralling stories and read for the love of reading.

To help you share a story with the children in your life this World Book Day, here the Macmillan’s Children’s Books team have shared the books they love to read with their own little loved ones.

Little Monkey by Marta Altes

I love to read Little Monkey by Marta Altes with my niece, she loves the artwork and finding the different creatures on each page - especially the tiger! It's the perfect adventure to read together and shows that the smaller you are, the bigger your adventures can be.
Cheyney Smith – Senior Communications Executive MCB Communications

Little Monkey

by Marta Altés

Ages 3-5 years

This beautifully illustrated, funny and empowering picture book shows us that the world is a big, wild and wonderful place where anything is possible . . .

This is the story of a little monkey in a big troop, who has had enough of missing out. So, she decides to climb the tallest tree in the jungle all on her own!

But who’s that following closely behind her, with large stripes and sharp teeth?

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

I love reading Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler with my young nephews (aged 2 and 4) and there's a brilliant sound edition so they get really engaged and excited to push the buttons to hear the frog croak and the broomstick whoosh into the sky. Nine times out of ten I'm asked to read that one again and again!
Amber Ivatt – Senior Publicity Manager MCB Communications

Room on the Broom

by Julia Donaldson

Ages 3-5 years

From the creative partnership behind The Gruffalo, Room on The Broom is the story of the witch and her cat, who fly happily together in the night sky until a storm blows away the witch’s hat, bow and wand! Luckily, some new friends below can help to find the witch’s lost possessions, and they would all like a ride on the broom. But is there room on the broom? Of course, the more the merrier! That is until . . . SNAP! The broom breaks in two, and the witch, the cat and their new friends must think quick if they’re to avoid a greedy dragon looking for a snack!

The Something by Rebecca Cobb

I have read The Something by Rebecca Cobb to my two-year-old more times than I could possibly count. We both know it off by heart and it has prompted many conversations (and investigations!) into all the wonderful and unexpected things that could be just out of sight down a hole. A perfect story for encouraging imagination, and the illustrations are breathtakingly gorgeous.
Chloë Pursey – Senior Editor Editorial MCB Under 6

The Something

by Rebecca Cobb

Ages 3-5 years

A truly original story that evokes the wonder of childhood, The Something is the tale of a little boy whose ball disappears down a mysterious hole in his garden. But what could be down there? Could it be the lair of a hungry troll? Or a cosy mouse’s house? Whatever it is . . . he’s determined to find out!

Sharing a Shell by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks

I love reading Sharing a Shell by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks with my friend's children. The colourful characters are so engaging and really capture their attention - plus the story makes them laugh every time. No matter how many times we need to read it, it's enjoyable each time.
Jessica Rigby – Brand Manager MCB Communications

Sharing a Shell

by Julia Donaldson

Ages 3-5 years

A heartwarming underwater story of friendship, fun and learning to share, Sharing a Shell is the story of Crab, who finds a beautiful new shell and doesn’t want to share it with anyone, that is until he finds out that he needs help from his friends in the rockpool. With beautiful rhyming verse and glitter on every page, this is a story perfect for sharing together.

Too Much Stuff by Emily Gravett

It's hard to single out just one of Emily Gravett's books as a favourite - I think her latest Too Much Stuff ties with Too Many Rabbits. For sheer fun, and the amount of detail she packs into her illustrations to discover on first, second, third and more readings I'd go for Too Much Stuff. A salutary tale for all of us about what happens when you try to cram too much into your humble abode, with endpapers with retro adverts for more belongings which you might just find that the two magpies have tried to stash in their ever-expanding nest.
Clare Hall-Craggs – Head of Publicity MCB Communications

Too Much Stuff

Book cover for Too Much Stuff

Ages 3-5 years

An engaging and beautifully illustrated picture book, Too Much Stuff is the perfect story to share with budding eco-warriors.

It follows Meg and Ash, two magpies who are busy building a nest and soon become certain that they need far more than the usual mud sticks and grass. . . they need all manner of new things, from cuckoo clocks to mops and socks and even a car!

Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell

My niece has always adored Chris Riddell’s brilliant Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse ever since it was first published. She enjoyed everything about it from the witty text, to the glorious illustrations and Ada’s perfect outfit, which she persuaded her mum to recreate so she could wear it on Word Book Day. She loved the story but she also loved the beauty of the book itself, which she treasures still – even though Sara Barnard’s young adult fiction is more her thing these days.
Sarah Hughes – Associate Publisher Editorial MCB 6 Plus

Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse

Book cover for Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse

Ages 6-8 years

Ada Goth is an only child whose father, Lord Goth of the enormous Ghastly-Gorm Hall, believes that children should be seen and not heard . . . so Ada wears her largest clumpy boots to make sure he can always hear her coming. But if she’s honest, living alone with her father and struggling to make friends, Ada can feel very lonely.

That’s until William and Emily Cabbage come to stay and together they begin to unravel a dastardly plan that the mysterious gamekeeper is plotting . . . 

Beautifully illustrated and winner of the Costa Children’s Book Award, Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse is a heart-warming read packed full of mystery.

The Umbrella Mouse by Anna Fargher

I love reading The Umbrella Mouse by Anna Fargher with my niece (aged 10). She is learning about WWII at school so finds it particularly interesting, and the magical animals make the content so much more accessible. The illustrations by Sam Usher are also stunning – we love how he’s brought Pip to life!
Sabina Maharjan – Publicity Manager MCB Communications

The Umbrella Mouse

by Anna Fargher

In 1944, young mouse Pip Hanway’s world is turned on its head when her home, James Smith & Sons umbrella shop, is hit by a bomb. Having lost her parents, Pip finds herself suddenly alone and the only way to find a new home is to join Noah’s Ark, a secret organisation of animals fighting with the resistance in France, and soon she must risk everything to save her new friends . . . 

A touching story of bravery, resistance and friendship, The Umbrella Mouse is an award-winning, heart-stopping adventure.

Owl and the Lost Boy by Amy Wilson

One of my favourite books that I read with my niece (age 9) this year was Owl and the Lost Boy by Amy Wilson. Full of magic, adventure and friendship, my niece kept asking if we could read just one more chapter to find out if Owl would be able to restore the seasons and escape an eternal summer – and I normally ended up reading more than one extra chapter with her because I couldn’t wait to find out what happened either!
Maria Higgins – Marketing Executive MCB Communications

Owl and the Lost Boy

by Amy Wilson

Ages 9-12 years

Amy Wilson has been hailed as ‘the rising star of children's fantasy’, and in Owl and the Lost Boy, she takes young readers on an adventure filled with friendship, nature and the magic of the elements.

Owl and his friend Mallory are stuck in an eternal summer, and what’s more, Owl’s friend Alberic – who also happens to be the Earl of Autumn's son – is missing. Determined to find him and restore the natural world, Owl and Mallory embark on an adventure. But, they soon discover that there are more secrets behind Alberic’s mysterious disappearance than they could ever have imagined, and an epic battle of the elements approaches . . . 

The Monsters of Rookhaven by Pádraig Kenny

This is a completely immersive read. Don't start it at night. Embark on it when you have time to race through the pages and then pause and go back to read Padraig's words. You'll want to savour them. Imagine a very creepy character who lives down the corridor, behind a thick padlocked door, capable of being as a large as an elephant or as small as a dog, who devours raw meat and makes the most hideous of noises... then imagine spending the night at the other end of the corridor, overcome with curiosity about this thing, or this beast, a curiosity that puts you in enormous danger.
Clare Hall-Craggs – Head of Publicity MCB Communications

The Monsters of Rookhaven by Pádraig Kenny

by Pádraig Kenny

Ages 9-12 years

This thought-provoking, chilling and beautiful book explores what it means to be different from one another and the power of empathy. 

Mirabelle has always known she is a monster. When the glamour protecting her unusual family from the human world is torn and an orphaned brother and sister stumble upon Rookhaven, Mirabelle soon discovers that friendship can be found in the outside world.

But as something far more sinister comes to threaten them all, it quickly becomes clear that the true monsters aren't necessarily the ones you can see.

Adventures on Trains series by M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman

I can wholeheartedly recommend the brilliant Adventures on Trains series by M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman with illustrations by Elisa Paganelli. My 9-year-old and I share these together and they are exciting, fast-paced, beautifully illustrated and well written. They follow the main character, a boy called Hal, who goes on train journeys with his uncle Nat. Whilst they are on the train, a crime happens and we follow as Hal solves each one. The first book, The Highland Falcon Thief, tells of the theft of a diamond brooch, the second title is set in America and called Kidnap on the California Comet where Hal discovers what has happened to the daughter of a very rich businessman. We have just finished the third in the series, Murder on the Safari Star, which included an actual murder which my son found thrilling. Each book is set on a real train, on a real journey and the technical information about the train sits perfectly alongside the story and characters, adding detail and gravitas but not too much. Hal is a keen artist and his drawings help him (and us) solve the crimes. I have been known to read ahead after my son has gone to bed to find out what happened!
Jo Hardacre – Head of Publicity MCB Communications
Kidnap on the California Comet is a well-thumbed read by the 9-12-year-olds in my life, perfect at this time when real-life adventures are few and far between! The landscape of the USA truly comes to life as you journey with Hal from Chicago to San Francisco, picking up clues along the way to help solve the mystery of a kidnapped heiress …
Sarah Plowes – Head of Marketing MCB Communications

The Highland Falcon Thief

by M. G. Leonard

Ages 9-12 years

Harrison Beck is reluctantly joining his travel-writer Uncle Nat for the last journey of one of the world’s grandest trains, The Highland Falcon. But as the train makes its way to Scotland, a priceless brooch goes missing, and things are suddenly a lot more interesting . . . 

The first book in the major mystery series Adventures on Trains, The Highland Falcon Thief is packed with illustrations and clues that both you and the young readers in your life will love to solve.

Kidnap on the California Comet

by M. G. Leonard

Kidnap on the California Comet is the second instalment in M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman’s bestselling Adventures on Trains Series. Harrison Beck is off on another amazing train journey with his Uncle Nat, and this time it’s the iconic three-day trip from Chicago to San Francisco. But when the daughter of a billionaire entrepreneur goes missing en route, can Harrison uncover the kidnapper? Help to solve another heart-stopping mystery in this adrenaline-fuelled adventure that kids will love.

Murder on the Safari Star

by M. G. Leonard

Ages 9-12 years

The third book in this thrilling series is set aboard the Safari Star, a luxurious steam train that will take Harrison and Uncle Nat on another trip of a lifetime from Pretoria in South Africa to Zambia’s breath-taking Victoria Falls. But when a passenger is found dead inside a locked compartment, Harrison begins to question if this was a terrible accident or whether there is a more sinister story to be uncovered.

Black and British - A short, essential history by David Olusoga

I passed Black and British - A short, essential history by David Olusoga over to my 13-year-old sister after reading it myself. We both learned a lot and it completely changed my perspective on British history. It was written in a way that was interesting and accessible to both of us. My sister says she's since passed the book over to another friend to read, which is brilliant!
Bethan Thomas – Publicity Executive MCB Communications

Black and British: A short, essential history

by David Olusoga

Ages 12+ years

From award-winning historian and broadcaster David Olusoga, comes this short essential introduction to Black British history for young readers.

Offering answers to thought-provoking questions such as when did Africans first come to Britain? And who are the well-dressed black children in Georgian paintings? Black and British - A short, essential history, is an introduction to 1800 years of Black British history, from the Roman Africans who guarded Hadrian’s Wall, all the way to present day.