38 best children's books of all time

Discover our list of the best children's books of all time from babies to young teens, including new releases, special editions and more. 

There’s plenty to get excited about for younger bookworms, whether sharing stories out loud or encouraging independent reading. From classic picture books for babies and toddlers, to adventure yarns for under 10s and narratives for older children that tackle more complex issues, we’ve got it covered. For more reading inspiration, see our round-up of the best picture books for children

Dear Zoo

by Rod Campbell

Book cover for Dear Zoo

Rod Campbell's classic lift-the-flap book Dear Zoo has been a firm favourite with toddlers and parents alike ever since it was first published in 1982. This special gold foil edition marks forty years of this children's classic, and makes the perfect gift for the festive season. Keep little Dear Zoo fans entertained with these Dear Zoo activities for kids.

Odo: The Egg

by Odo

Book cover for Odo: The Egg

Odo is off on another adventure with his friends at Forest Camp! Join the little owl, based on the preschool animated series on Milkshake, as he and his friends look after the rock eggs, and get more than they bargained for! Designed to be read and discussed with young readers, Odo: The Egg has bright, engaging pictures that will help toddlers learn about the wonderful wildlife they can encounter in the forest. 

WOW! Said the Owl

by Tim Hopgood

Book cover for WOW! Said the Owl

At night, when we are feeling tired and ready for bed, owls are just waking up. But one curious little owl decides to stay awake all day, instead of all night, and discovers a world bursting with colour! When the night-time comes around again, the stars above her head are still the most beautiful sight of all. Little ones will love joining in with the WOWs in this warm and simple story, and a final activity spread about colours makes this book perfect for sharing together at story time.

A Dress with Pockets

by Lily Murray

Book cover for A Dress with Pockets

Emerging star Lily Murray and Waterstones Prize-winning illustrator Jenny Lovlie bring you a book for small kids who aren't excited by shiny clothes and sequins. Lucy and Aunt Augusta are looking for new dresses. The Fabulous Fashion Store is crammed with frilly, stripy, silly and colourful choices. But Lucy isn't interested . . . she just wants a dress with pockets, where she can store her collection of petals, nettles, spells and shells. Will Lucy find the dress of her dreams?

Night Night Sleep Tight: Farm Animals

by Lucy Rowland

Book cover for Night Night Sleep Tight: Farm Animals

When it's time to head to bed, little readers can help tuck sleepy animals in for the night by turning the blanket-shaped pages of this lovely book, created by bestselling author Lucy Rowland and pattern designer and illustrator Monika Forsberg. With gentle rhymes and dreamy illustrations, Night Night Sleep Tight: Farm Animals will help lull little ones to sleep . . .

Vegesaurs: Ginger Meets the Pea-Rexes!

by Macmillan Children's Books

Book cover for Vegesaurs: Ginger Meets the Pea-Rexes!

Meet Ginger the Tricarrotops and the mighty Vegesaurs in this picture book adventure, based on the animated TV series. Ginger the Tricarrotops is on the run from a herd of hungry Pea-Rexes – but what happens when three mischievous baby Peas decide they want to be her friend? This funny picture book captures all the adventure and humour of the TV episodes, with themes of friendship, play and healthy eating. 

Dig, Dig, Digger

by Morag Hood

Book cover for Dig, Dig, Digger

The new picture book from award-winning author and illustrator, Morag Hood, Dig, Dig, Digger follows a little digger as she embarks on a big adventure like no other. Join Digger as she decides that she’s bored of mud, and wants to dig up and see what’s in the sky - with the help of a big bunch of balloons. With Hood’s trademark witty text and a story of the importance of friendship at its heart, Dig Dig Digger will become a firm favourite with kids and adults alike. 

The Grumpus

by Alex T. Smith

Book cover for The Grumpus

A heartwarming story that celebrates the true meaning of Christmas, the Grumpus is perfect family reading for the festive period. The Grumpus has a Darstadly, Dreadful Christmas Plan and things have already gone wrong at the North Pole on Christmas Eve. With beautiful artwork and a festively foiled cover, read along as The Grumpus looks beyond twinkly lights and tinsel of Christmas to discover what it's really all about. 

The Gruffalo and Friends Advent Calendar Book Collection

by Julia Donaldson

Book cover for The Gruffalo and Friends Advent Calendar Book Collection

This alternative advent calendar includes twenty-four mini books based on classics by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, all enclosed in a beautiful presentation case and tied up with a ribbon – the perfect present for kids to explore in the run-up to Christmas. With songs, rhymes, colouring, drawing and activity guides, there's plenty of festive family fun to be enjoyed! 

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Colours, Colours Everywhere

by Julia Donaldson

Book cover for Colours, Colours Everywhere

From Julia Donaldson, the bestselling author of The Gruffalo, follow a little girl as she paints her own adventure with her bright blue tree frog companion. Complete with vibrant artwork and rhyming text, as well as amazing flaps to lift and holes to peep through, Colours, Colours Everywhere is essential family reading.  

What the Ladybird Heard at Christmas

by Julia Donaldson

Book cover for What the Ladybird Heard at Christmas

From Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks, What the Ladybird Heard at Christmas is a new festive favourite in this beloved series and the perfect book to read with little ones during the run-up to Christmas. In this rhyming adventure, the ladybird is visiting her good friend the spider for some Christmas cheer. But Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len are causing trouble as always. Luckily, the ladybird is on-hand to save the children's Christmas presents with her devious plan. 

Cars Cars Cars!

by Donna David

Book cover for Cars Cars Cars!

Full of spotting and counting fun, with different cars to follow on each page and an exciting fold-out race at the end, this rhyming preschool picture book from Donna David and Nina Pirhonen has been specially developed to encourage pre-reading skills and expand language and vocabulary. With a super-shiny foil cover and fun read-aloud text, Cars Cars Cars! is perfect for any transport-obsessed toddler!

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. 

Mole's Spectacles

by Julia Donaldson

Book cover for Mole's Spectacles

Lift the flaps and join in the fun with Mole's Spectacles, a brilliant story by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Mole has lost his spectacles. He searches all around his house, in the garden and even in Weasel's sweetshop, but he can't find them anywhere! Where could they be? Lift the flaps to help him find them. With sturdy flaps on every spread and rhyming stories that are a joy to read aloud, Mole's Spectacles joins the bestselling Tales from Acorn Wood which have been delighting parents and children for over twenty years.

Badger's Band

by Julia Donaldson

Book cover for Badger's Band

Gruffalo creators Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler bring you Badger's Band, the latest story in the bestselling Tales from Acorn Wood preschool series. Badger is keen to start a band, and his friends want to join in. Bear plays piano and Tortoise plays trumpet, but does anyone else want to take part? Lift the flaps to find out, and join Badger and co for their important concert. With sturdy flaps and lilting rhymes, this story is a delight for both children and adults.

Treehouse Tales: too SILLY to be told…UNTIL NOW!

by Andy Griffiths

Book cover for Treehouse Tales: too SILLY to be told…UNTIL NOW!

Andy, Terry, and their friends are back for even more silly adventures from the world’s most fantastic treehouse. Join the boys as they recount the tales of when Terry flushed them down the toilet, the sharks bit their heads off and more, all with Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton’s hilarious words and pictures. This new standalone story collection contains thirteen brand-new treehouse adventures, perfect for fans of the bestselling series. 

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Aziza’s Secret Fairy Door and the Magic Puppy

by Lola Morayo

Book cover for Aziza’s Secret Fairy Door and the Magic Puppy

When Aziza and Otis’ parents tell them they’re not allowed a pet dog, they’re thrilled to find one at the fairy Spring fete. That is, until they realise that the clock which makes spring happen in fairyland is broken. Can they save the day and end winter for everyone in the land? The newest title in Lola Morayo’s inclusive magical series, Aziza’s Secret Fairy Door and the Magic Puppy follows Aziza, her brother Otis and fairies Peri and Tiko on another adventure. This chapter book series is perfect for readers who are building their confidence in reading independently. 

The Book of Legends: What if all the stories were real?

by Sir Lenny Henry

Book cover for The Book of Legends: What if all the stories were real?

Comedy legend Lenny Henry promises thrilling adventure in his second children's novel, The Book of Legends. Packed full of jokes and illustrated by Keenon Ferrell, follow Bran and Fran as they seek to find their story-teller mum. But, this is no ordinary quest – their mum's stories are a portal to a magical world. There, they meet Wilma, the Wizard's wife, and Zack, the wisecracking Zebracorn, to help them defeat the evil princes, mud monsters and Viking armies that stand in their way . . . 

InvestiGators: Ants in Our P.A.N.T.S.

by John Patrick Green

Book cover for InvestiGators: Ants in Our P.A.N.T.S.

Down in the sewers, the alligator investigators have a brand new mission. Agent Brash is in a coma and the technicians have replaced him with RoboBrash! Mango and the robot set out to stop giant ants which are rampaging through the city. But the ants aren't the only bugs causing trouble – there are a few bugs in RoboBrash's system, and they are adding to the hilarity and chaos.

A Robot Squashed My Teacher

by Pooja Puri

Book cover for A Robot Squashed My Teacher

Esha Verma, along with her snooty apprentice Broccoli and his clever pet tortoise, have a plan. The gang are determined to win the famous Brain Trophy for genius inventors. Their entry is the RoarEasy – a machine that lets people speak to animals. But rival inventor Ernie steps in and the RoarEasy goes haywire, turning Monsieur Crépeau into a pigeon. So Esha, Broccoli, Archibald and Monsieur Crépeau take a trip to the Central Research Laboratories – with Ernie on their tail –  to try to solve the problem, encountering huge robots, killer plants, mechanical spiders and shrinking machines along the way.

Rumaysa: Ever After

by Radiya Hafiza

Book cover for Rumaysa: Ever After

Rumaysa: Ever After is the fabulously empowering sequel to Radiya Hafiza's Rumaysa: A Fairytale – a powerful and laugh-out-loud story that turns a classic fairytale around, showing that anyone can be a hero. The story starts long ago and far away, with young Rumaysa looking for her long lost parents. She hopes that an invitation from Saira White, the Queen of Bishnara, will help. Will the queen help her find her family? But it's not quite that straightforward, and soon Rumaysa is tugged into a mystical adventure, trying to help some new friends. Witches, princes, princesses and beasts feature in this tale set in a magical, alternative South Asia.

Escape to the River Sea

by Emma Carroll

Book cover for Escape to the River Sea

It's 1946 and the war in Europe is over, but nobody has come to collect Rosa Sweetman, a young Kindertransport girl. She is stuck at Westwood, a country home in the north of England, where she found refuge seven years earlier. But then Yara Fielding arrives, taking Rosa on an adventure that leads deep into the Amazon rainforest, amongst jaguars and giant sloths and Yara's welcoming family. Has Rosa finally found somewhere she can belong?

Aziza's Secret Fairy Door and the Birthday Present Disaster

by Lola Morayo

Book cover for Aziza's Secret Fairy Door and the Birthday Present Disaster

When Aziza sees a Secret Fairy Door in her bedroom, covered in a ribbon tied with a messy bow, it's clear that a new adventure is just around the corner. She opens the door, and finds herself in the palace, just as Princess Peri's birthday party is about to begin. Tiko is organising party games, tasty food and more. But when some the the presents go missing, Peri needs Aziza's help. The third title in an enjoyable and inclusive series, this story is packed with mischief, magic and friendship. 

The Boy With Wings: Attack of the Rampaging Robot

Book cover for The Boy With Wings: Attack of the Rampaging Robot

Selected as one of this year's World Book Day titles, The Boy With Wings: Attack of the Rampaging Robot is the newest title in comedian Sir Lenny Henry’s hilarious middle-grade adventure series. Following Tunde Wilkinson, an ordinary kid with a normal life who just happens to be a secret superhero, this bitesize story follows Tunde as he fights to stop an evil robot from destroying his hometown and still get home in time for football practice.

The Marcus Rashford You Are a Champion Action Planner

by Marcus Rashford

Book cover for The Marcus Rashford You Are a Champion Action Planner

An interactive guide, packed full of fun and engaging activities and challenges as well as brilliant advice, The Marcus Rashford You Are a Champion Action Planner is the perfect way to get kids reading and empower them to achieve their dreams. Having already inspired millions of children around the world with his guide for life, You Are a Champion, this new book cements Marcus Rashford's place as the ultimate role model for young readers. 

The Arctic Railway Assassin

by M. G. Leonard

Book cover for The Arctic Railway Assassin

In M. G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman's sixth thrilling adventure, follow Hal and Uncle Nat as they climb aboard the train to Narvik to see the northern lights for Christmas. Read as a standalone novel, or enjoyed as part of the award-winning Adventures on Trains series, The Arctic Railway Assassin is Hal and Uncle Nat's most chilling adventure yet. As their train plunges into the Arctic winter, they must outsmart an assassin, putting Hal's powers of observation to the test . . . 

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Sabotage on the Solar Express

by M. G. Leonard

Book cover for Sabotage on the Solar Express

Ride into high stakes with Hal and Uncle Nat in the fifth Adventures on Trains series entry, from bestselling authors M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman. After Australian child prodigy Boaz designs the winning locomotive in billionaire enthusiast August Reza's competition, he invites Hal and Uncle Nat on the prototype's maiden voyage across the Australian Outback. But during the journey to Darwin, the train is sabotaged, hurtling passengers into a rip-roaring thrill-ride and leaving Hal to find the saboteur and stop the runaway train before calamity strikes.

You Can Do It

by Marcus Rashford

Book cover for You Can Do It

Packed with inspiring stories from Marcus's own life, brilliant advice, and top-tips from social justice educator Shannon Weber, You Can Do It will show kids how to use their voice and make a difference in this world. From surrounding themselves with the right team, to showing kindness to those around them, to celebrating and championing difference, this inspiring book will bolster and empower young readers.

Peanut Jones and the Illustrated City

by Rob Biddulph

Book cover for Peanut Jones and the Illustrated City

Drawing feels like magic to Peanut Jones. But art can't fix her problems. Her dad has gone missing, and she's stuck in a boring new school where the teachers hate her doodling, St Hubert’s School for the Seriously Scientific and Terminally Mathematic. Everything seems bothersome, until the day she finds a magic pencil and is suddenly pulled into a world packed with more colour, creativity, excitement and danger than she could ever have imagined. And maybe, just maybe, she might find out what happened to her dad.

The Swallow’s Flight

by Hilary McKay

Book cover for The Swallow’s Flight

A companion novel to the wonderful The Skylarks' War, The Swallows' Flight  tells the tale of German boys Erik and Hans and English girls Ruby and Kate. Under normal circumstances they would never meet. But this is wartime, and fate tumbles the four children together. Meanwhile, Rupert and Clarry are working secretly for peace – and a brighter future for everyone. . .

The Breakfast Club Adventures

by Marcus Rashford

Book cover for The Breakfast Club Adventures

The first novel by everyone's favourite international footballer, child food-poverty campaigner and #1 bestselling author. Written with Alex Falase-Koya, Marcus Rashford tells a story strongly influenced by his own childhood. Something odd is happening at school . . . When twelve-year-old Marcus boots his football over the school fence, he knows it's never coming back. But the next morning Marcus gets a mysterious note inviting him to join the Breakfast Club Investigators, and fun and adventure beckons in a bid to reclaim the ball.

The Breakfast Club Adventures: The Ghoul in the School

by Marcus Rashford

Book cover for The Breakfast Club Adventures: The Ghoul in the School

The Breakfast Club Investigators are back! And good job too they haven't managed to solve a mystery in months and Marcus is worried that the group is going to break up. So when Gbenga, the captain of the school basketball team, comes to ask for their help Marcus knows this might just be the Investigator's last chance to prove themselves. As the mystery deepens they discover that someone – or something – has cursed the basketball team . . . 

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Noah's Gold

by Frank Cottrell-Boyce

Book cover for Noah's Gold

Bestselling, multi-award-winning writer Frank Cottrell-Boyce wants us to know that being the smallest in the room doesn't mean you don't have the biggest ideas. Eleven-year old Noah has snuck onto his big sister's geography field trip. But nothing goes to plan! The teacher disappears and six hungry kids are marooned on an uninhabited island. Their phones aren't working and Noah has broken the internet . . .  But then he discovers a mysterious treasure map, and the gang begin a hunt for hidden gold.


by Frances Hardinge

Book cover for Unraveller

In a world where anyone can cast a life-destroying curse, only one person has the power to unravel them. Kellen does not fully understand his unique gift, but helps those who are cursed, like his friend Nettle who was trapped in the body of a bird for years. She is now Kellen's constant companion and his closest ally. But the Unraveller carries a curse himself and, unless he and Nettle can remove it, Kellen is a danger to everything – and everyone – around him . . .

My Mechanical Romance

by Alexene Farol Follmuth

Book cover for My Mechanical Romance

This book is by Alexene Farol Follmuth, worldwide bestselling TikTok star author of The Atlas Six (under the penname Olivie Blake). My Mechanical Romance explores the vulnerable feeling of a first romance, with an engaging opposites-attract YA love story. Bel shows a talent for engineering, and is made to join the robotics club, where she is thrown together with Mateo Luna, captain of the club and the football team. As Bel and Teo labour over producing a battle-ready-robot, they realise they've also made a connection they don't want to break. As graduation and new futures loom, will their love survive?

You've Reached Sam

by Dustin Thao

Book cover for You've Reached Sam

Seventeen-year-old Julie has her future all planned out: move out of her small town with her boyfriend Sam, attend college in the city, spend a summer in Japan. But then Sam dies. And everything changes. Desperate to hear his voice one more time, Julie calls Sam’s cellphone just to listen to his voicemail. And Sam picks up the phone.

Mark My Words

by Muhammad Khan

Book cover for Mark My Words

Dua Iqbal has always been open to new stories: she is persuasive and curious, and a job as a journalist seems like a good move for the fifteen year old. When her school merges with another one, Dua seizes the moment and establishes a rival newspaper, packed with stories that some teachers and kids would rather not be told. Dua is digging deep, and as exams draw closer, she has to decide when to just let things lie. But when she discovers that some of the pupils are being falsely accused of selling drugs, it's time to speak up and speak out.

I Kissed Shara Wheeler

by Casey McQuiston

Book cover for I Kissed Shara Wheeler

Chloe Green wants to be a winner. Her moms have moved her from SoCal to Alabama for high school, and she has had to spend four years navigating gossips and the puritans who run Willowgrove Christian Academy. She is determined to win valedictorian, and only prom queen Shara Wheeler stands in her way. But, a month before they graduate, Shara kisses Chloe and disappears. Chloe launches an investigation with some fellow students –  quarterback Smith and bad boy Rory. Could it be there's more to Shara than meets the eye?