The best picture books for children

Filled with witty, uplifting stories and brilliant illustrations, these children’s picture books are sure to become storytime favourites.

27/07/2021
9 minutes to read

Whether you’re reading to your child, or they’re learning to read by themselves, little ones will want to return to these picture books for kids again and again. Full of loveable characters, playful stories, and beautiful illustrations, these are just some of the best picture books for children of all ages.

For more inspiration, don’t miss the best books for babies and the best bedtime stories for kids. And our edit of the best sticker and activity books will keep little minds engaged for hours.   

Picture books for babies and toddlers

Time for Bed, Panda

by Jo Lodge

Book cover for 9781529026740

 A perfect bedtime story for babies, this colourful board book teaches little ones simple words about their bedtime routine. Babies and toddlers will love the bright illustrations and googly eyes on the cover.

Fruits

by Valerie Bloom

Book cover for 9781529007565

This award-winning picture book for toddlers is a fun and educational counting poem from Valerie Bloom, with beautiful illustrations by David Axtell. How much fruit can one little girl eat? Count from one to ten, learning the names of different Caribbean fruits. The rhyming text helps little ones learn to count while exploring the Caribbean’s many delicious fruits.  

Freddy the Frog

by Axel Scheffler

Book cover for 9781529023329

Follow Freddy the frog as he squelches in slime, races his friends and croaks all day! Little ones will love this colourful board book with sliders to pull, tabs to push and a gentle rhyming text to enjoy together.

Five More Minutes

by Marta Altés

Book cover for 9781509866038

A little fox gives his time-poor dad some advice about what 'time' really means and how to make the most of it in this charming and funny story from award-winning picture book creator Marta Altés.

We're Going on a Lion Hunt

by David Axtell

Book cover for 9781529007558

Full of David Axtell’s beautiful illustrations of magnificent animals, this picture book adventure through the African savanna is a rendition of a well-known children’s poem. Two sisters go looking for a lion that lives on the African savanna. They go through swishy swashy long grass, a splishy splashy lake and a big dark cave – but when they finally meet the lion they have to run, run, run all the way home. 

It's Mine!

by Rod Campbell

Book cover for 9781529000566

From the creator of beloved pre-school classic, Dear Zoo, Rod Campbell's It's Mine! is a hide-and-seek story that little ones will love. Packed full of bright, bold illustrations and exciting jungle animals, the best is saved for last with its surprise pop-up ending, and its thick card pages make it the perfect baby book for children who love to explore through touch.

There's an Owl in My Towel

by Julia Donaldson

Book cover for 9781447251804

This beautifully illustrated book is full of gentle humour as baby’s every activity is thwarted by a variety of unexpected animals. It’s difficult to have breakfast with a mole in your bowl, but who wouldn’t like a ted in their bed?

Beyond the Burrow

by Jessica Meserve

Book cover for 9781509866625

Take a hop, skip and a jump into the big wide world with this beautifully illustrated picture book for babies and toddlers. Telling the tale of a brave bunny who ventures out beyond his safe burrow, this is a story all about the fantastic adventures you can experience when you step out of your comfort zone. 

New In Town

by Marta Altés

Book cover for 9781509866052

The uplifting new picture book from award-winning illustrator Marta Altés, this a story about the challenges and excitement of moving somewhere new. Starring a friendly dog who can't wait to start his life in his new town – and make lots of new friends – this is a great book to read with children ahead of a move to a new school, house or neighbourhood. 

Picture books for children aged 3 - 5 years

Three Little Vikings

by Bethan Woollvin

Book cover for 9781509889839

Long ago in a Viking village, and everything is going wrong. Chickens are vanishing, trees are falling and there are weird loud noises everywhere. The Chieftain won't listen, but three little Viking girls come up with a plan to figure out the mystery and save the village. A story about speaking out, and working together.

We Want Our Books

by Jake Alexander

Book cover for 9781529049022

A protest book for tots, this is the tale of Rosa, who goes to the library and finds it is closed. With her sister Maria, Rosa decides she must fight the closure. In the process of defending their beloved library, the two girls bring their community together. With beautiful illustrations, this is a must for curious children.

Love Our Earth

by Jane Cabrera

Book cover for 9781529035544

Young explorers will love this playful picture book all about caring for the Earth. Part picture book, part board book (so perfect for little hands), there's lots to spot and count on this colourful journey across mountains, rivers, jungles and oceans. Plus, don’t miss the fold-out surprise at the end!

Milo Imagines The World

by Matt de la Pena

Book cover for 9781529066319

This is a story about a little boy with a big imagination who learns that you can't know anyone just by looking at them, from the award-winning and New York Times bestselling picture book duo Matt de la Pena and Christian Robinson. On a train journey with his sister, Milo draws pictures of the lives he imagines for the other passengers. He imagines a little boy with bright white trainers lives in a castle with a moat and butler, but when he gets off the train and realises the boy is heading to the same destination as him, he realises we're all more alike than different: both boys are visiting their mothers in prison. 

Albert Talbot: Master of Disguise

by Ben Manley

Book cover for 9781509882250

From getting up in the morning to going to bed at night, Albert faces many challenges. But by imagining himself as powerful heroes, from Rusti Buffels the Fearless Mountaineer to Zandrian Delaclair the Antarctic Submariner, he can feel brave as he faces adversity. This fun and playful picture book celebrates the joy of imaginative play and the freedom to be whoever you want. 

How Do You Make a Rainbow?

by Caroline Crowe

Book cover for 9781529059526

When a little girl is stuck inside on a rainy day, she asks her grandad to help her paint a rainbow in the sky. But grandad explains that rainbows are created out of kindness, hope and helping other people. This heartwarming picture book celebrates love and positivity and shows little ones that brighter times are always just around the corner. 

You Live Where?!

by Garry Parsons

Book cover for 9781529052169

This hilarious story from John Hay is illustrated by Garry Parsons, the illustrator behind the bestselling Dinosaur That Pooped series. It’s the first day of the holidays, and the birds are getting to know each other by the side of the pool. They soon discover they have one thing in common – they all come from places with very silly names!

The Rhyming Rabbit

by Julia Donaldson

Book cover for 9781529040708

This special edition of the witty rhyming picture book from the bestselling partnership of Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks includes previously unseen artwork, a special letter from Julia and a shiny foil cover. The Rhyming Rabbit loves to make up poems, but the other rabbits don’t appreciate his talent. Will he ever find someone who wants to share his poems? 

The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Book

Book cover for 9781529003659

Ben is determined to finish the bedtime story his mother had been reading to him, even if he can't quite read just yet. To his surprise and delight, the story comes to life when three little pigs come knocking on his bedroom door. . .  A playful rhyming take on the much-loved fairy tale, The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Book is a celebration of the magic of reading and storytelling.

Coming to England

by Floella Benjamin

Book cover for 9781529009422

Baroness Floella Benjamin travelled from Trinidad to London with her older sister and two younger brothers when she was just ten years old, as part of the Windrush generation. This is her inspiring true story. Arriving in England to be reunited with the rest of her family, cold and unfriendly London wasn’t quite what Floella expected. This beautifully illustrated and powerful true story about overcoming adversity is full of Floella’s trademark optimism and joy.

M is for Melanin

by Tiffany Rose

Book cover for 9781529062502

This joyful and empowering alphabet book teaches children their ABC and celebrates Black children, encouraging all kids to love the skin they’re in. Each letter of the alphabet contains affirming, black-positive messages, from E is for Empowerment, to L is for Lead to W is for Worthy.

Too Much Stuff

by Emily Gravett

Book cover for 9781509857333

This funny woodland story with an environmental message is a perfect picture book for young eco-warriors. Meg and Ash are a pair of magpies who are building a nest for their eggs. They start by using the usual building materials – mud, sticks and grass – but they are soon convinced that they don’t have enough stuff. They add more things – from cuckoo clocks to mops and socks, a pram and even a car – to their ever-growing pile, until the inevitable happens and there’s a big crash! 

I Can Catch a Monster

by Bethan Woollvin

Book cover for 9781509889808

Bo the Brave is a rebellious little girl on the hunt for a fearsome monster. Her brothers say she’s too little to catch a monster, but Bo is smart, strong and has big ideas of her own. She sets out to catch a beast, but can she defeat the furious griffin, the hideous kraken and the big scary dragon? Or, will she find herself some new friends instead? This is a vibrant picture book with an empowering message about standing up for yourself and not judging by appearance. 

Just One of Those Days

by Jill Murphy

Book cover for 9781529021370

Fans of Jill Murphy’s classic picture book Peace at Last will love this new story featuring Mr Bear, Mrs Bear and Baby Bear.Mr and Mrs Bear wake up late, and it’s raining. The Mrs Bear breaks her glasses and Mr Bear spills his coffee. It’s just one of those days, but the Bear family muddle through, and there’s even a surprise for Baby Bear at the end of the day. 

Counting Creatures

by Julia Donaldson

Book cover for 9781529040517

Illustrated by Sharon King-Chai

This stunning picture book is a fun, interactive counting book with peep-through pages, fold-out flaps and bright, beautiful artwork. Little ones will love comparing the creatures, exploring their habitats and learning the proper names for all the baby animals.

The Little War Cat

by Hiba Noor Khan

Book cover for 9781529032130

This beautifully illustrated picture book was inspired by a true story. A little grey cat is caught amongst the bangs and crashes of the humans in boots who have changed the city of Aleppo into one she struggles to recognise. But then an unlikely friend appears and shows her that there is still plenty of kindness in the world. And soon the little grey cat realises how she can make a difference too. 

Cave Baby

by Julia Donaldson

Book cover for 9781529027778

This special tenth-anniversary edition of this wonderful adventure story is a must-have picture book for little Julia Donaldson fans. A hairy mammoth takes a little baby on a thrilling journey. On the way they meet a sabre-toothed tiger, a leaping hare, a laughing hyena and even, just maybe, by a big brown bear. But where are they going? And what has it got to do with the scribbles baby made on the cave wall?

Monkey Puzzle 20th Anniversary Edition

by Julia Donaldson

Book cover for 9781529027785

Help Monkey find his mum in this special twentieth-anniversary edition of Monkey Puzzle, with special never-seen-before content. It’s not much fun being lost in the jungle, and Monky just wants to find his mum. Can the kindly butterfly help?

Arlo The Lion Who Couldn't Sleep

by Catherine Rayner

Book cover for 9781509804207

This beautifully illustrated bedtime story from Catherine Rayner has a gentle mindfulness message which is especially helpful for little ones who have trouble going to sleep. Arlo the lion is exhausted, but he just can’t fall asleep, no matter what he tries. But then he meets Owl, who can sleep all through the day. Can she teach Arlo some special tricks?

Poo! Is That You?

by Clare Helen Welsh

Book cover for 9781529030471

This is the stinkingly funny story of Lenny the Lemur who has gone on holiday to the Amazon rainforest. He’s just about to settle down for a snooze when he gets a waft of a very yucky smell. What could it be? Lenny decides to track down the source of the smell and meets lots of stinky creatures along the way, finding out all about how they smell and why.

My Dad Is A Grizzly Bear

by Swapna Haddow

Book cover for 9781529013979

Could Dad be a grizzly bear? He has fuzzy fur, big paws and he loves the outdoors. He sleeps a lot, and he ate all the honey. What else could he be? Sometimes, when it's scary at night, there's nothing better than a big bear hug.

What the Ladybird Heard at the Seaside

by Julia Donaldson

Book cover for 9781529023145

The adventure continues for the little ladybird in Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks's much-loved children's picture book series. The clever little ladybird is off for a day out at the beach, but those two bad men, Lanky Len and Hefty Hugh, are up to no good again. Join the ladybird as she meets a cast of sea creatures and stops Lanky Len and Hefty Hugh from getting up to their usual tricks. Animal-mad little ones will love spotting the story’s seaside inhabitants in this glittery seaside adventure. 

Starbird

by Sharon King-Chai

Book cover for 9781509899579

Starbird is an original fable about freedom and love, stunningly illustrated by Sharon King-Chai. Starbird’s songs delight all who hear them, but when the Moon King traps Starbird in a cage as a gift for his daughter, all the colour and life in his voice begins to drain away. With beautiful illustrations and shiny silver foil throughout, this stunning picture book is an exquisite gift for any child or adult.

The Grizzly Itch

Book cover for 9781529013566

Victoria Casanell's delightful story of a bear who can't scratch his post-hibernation itch will teach children about the importance of friendship and helping others. Readers of all ages will enjoy spotting the animals in each painted scene as they follow Bear's mission to scratch his Grizzly Itch once and for all. 

Kiki and Jax

by Marie Kondo

Book cover for 9781529032116

Kiki and Jax is a charming picture book story from tidying superstar Marie Kondo about how tidying up can spark joy in the lives of young children. Kiki and Jax are best friends – Jax enjoys sorting, but Kiki enjoys collecting and gathers lots of stuff. When Kiki’s home becomes too full of things for the friends to play in, Jax teaches Kiki how to sort everything, and to only keep those things that spark joy!

The Truth About Old People

by Elina Ellis

Book cover for 9781509882274

This funny, loveable picture book is a tribute to grandparents and old people. When you’re small, everyone bigger than you seems really old. But being older doesn’t mean being boring, slow or quiet! From Elina Ellis, winner of the Macmillan Prize for Illustration, The Truth About Old People tackles ageism without being preachy.

The Crocodile Who Didn't Like Water

Book cover for 9781447214717

Everybody knows that crocodiles love water, but this little crocodile is different. He doesn’t like water at all. In fact, he prefers climbing trees! Could it be this little crocodile isn’t a crocodile at all? He might just be a DRAGON!

The Crocodile Who Didn't Like Water is a funny and uplifting story proving that being different can be fun!

Illustrated spread from The Crocodile Who Didn't Like Water

I Am Perfectly Designed

Book cover for 9781529036152

This empowering picture book about loving who you are comes from Karamo Brown, star of the hit Netflix series Queer Eye, and his son Jason. Follow a boy and his father as they spend the day in the city together, talking about all the ways they are perfectly designed for each other.

The Gruffalo

by Julia Donaldson

Book cover for 9781509804757

Have you met the Gruffalo? With his terrible tusks and terrible claws? Join the quick-witted mouse as he takes a stroll through the deep dark wood and avoids being a tasty meal for a fox, an owl, a snake and even the Gruffalo!

The Gruffalo is an undisputed modern classic with gentle rhyming words that will improve your child's phonetic skills. Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's children's picture books are loved around the world.

Axel Scheffler's Illustrated spread of Gruffalo and Mouse from The Gruffalo

I am a Tiger

by Karl Newson

Book cover for 9781509855155

This is a hilarious and original picture book about a little mouse with big ideas. The bold little mouse manages to convince the other animals that he is not a mouse, but a tiger. But when a real tiger turns up, will the fearless little rodent be able to persuade the tiger that he’s not a tiger but a mouse?

Brenda Is a Sheep

by Morag Hood

Book cover for 9781509842964

Brenda says she’s a sheep, but she looks very different from her woolly friends. All the sheep love Brenda, but Brenda is very hungry, and doesn’t like the taste of grass . . . She soon begins planning a delicious feast, but will the sheep notice she’s not quite the same as them? A hilarious story about being accepted, from the award-winning Morag Hood.

The Giant of Jum

by Elli Woollard

Book cover for 9781509829927

Fe fi fo fum, here comes the hungry Giant of Jum and he's off in search of the tastiest snack of all. But Jack and his friends don't see a scary giant, they see a wonderfully tall man who can rescue cats from trees and give them a lift home on his shoulders. Perhaps this giant isn't grumpy or grizzly after all . . . 

Children will love this big-hearted twist on a classic fairytale.

Illustrated spread from The Giant of Jum

I'm Actually Really Grown-Up Now

by Maisie Paradise Shearring

Book cover for 9781509834556

Meena wants to join in when the adults have a party, but only grown-ups get to stay up late. So the next day Meena decides, “I’m actually really grown-up now!” She has lots of fun planning her own grown-up party, going to work and experimenting with fashion, but she soon finds out being a grown-up isn’t as easy as it seems.

There Is a Tribe of Kids

by Lane Smith

Book cover for 9781509814008

Legendary illustrator Lane Smith takes children on a colourful adventure through the natural world, following a child as he weaves through the jungle, dives under the ocean and soars into the sky. Along the way he makes friends and causes mischief with a dazzling array of creatures, but can he find a tribe of his own?

A witty and playful exploration of curiosity, discovery and what it means to belong.

Illustrated spread of girl and penguins from There Is a Tribe of Kids

Aunt Amelia's House

Book cover for 9781447250531

Meet a babysitter like no other in this hilarious picture book from Rebecca Cobb, illustrator of The Paper Dolls. With a witty rhyming story to read together and beautifully detailed illustrations, parents and children alike will love finding all about the adventures the children get up to when they go to stay at their Aunt Amelia's house.

Picture books for children aged 5+

Alice's Adventures In Wonderland

by Lewis Carroll

Book cover for 9781529002461

This beautiful edition presents Costa Award and Kate Greenaway Medal winner Chris Riddell's gorgeous new visual interpretation of Lewis Carroll’s classic story. Featuring a foiled jacket, head and tail bands and a ribbon marker, and with lavish colour illustrations throughout, this gorgeous hardback will be treasured for years to come. This is a picture book every Alice fan should have on their bookshelves.

This is Our World

by Tracey Turner

Book cover for 9780753445792

This beautiful gift book is an unforgettable journey through twenty places around the world, vividly bringing to life the people, customs and wildlife. Children from Australia’s dusty Red Centre to bustling Beijing guide us through the place they call home. This is Our World is a colourful celebration of our planet’s cultural and environmental diversity. 

One Day in Wonderland

by Kathleen Krull

Book cover for 9781509878611

This joyful celebration of Lewis Carroll’s love of language is a wonderful introduction to his life and the origin of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Award-winning author Katherine Krull uses many of Carroll’s own words, from brillig and uglification to frumious and chortle, to tell the story of a man who’s legacy continues to delight children today. One Day in Wonderland is strikingly illustrated by Júlia Sardà, making this a book to treasure.

The Misadventures of Frederick

by Ben Manley

Book cover for 9781509851539

Frederick lives in a mansion surrounded by lakes and forest, but he is bored. His life has been very sheltered, so when his friend Emily invites him to play outside he has to say no – what if he hurts himself? But Emily won’t take no for an answer . . .

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

by Lewis Carroll

Book cover for 9781509897582

This elegant edition of one of the most-loved children’s stories breathes new life into Alice’s famous tale. Beautifully illustrated with shiny gold embossing on the cover, this picture book is the perfect gift for Alice fans big and small.