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.

16/11/2021
8 minutes to read
I'm Actually Really Grown Up Now, The Gruffalo, The Truth About Old People children's books

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 Time for Bed, Panda

 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 Fruits

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 Freddy the Frog

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 Five More Minutes

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 We're Going on a Lion Hunt

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 It's Mine!

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.

Beyond the Burrow

by Jessica Meserve

Book cover for Beyond the Burrow

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. 

Black History

by Campbell Books

Book cover for Black History

Illustrated by Jayri Gómez

In Black History, young children can read about the lives of inspirational Black people from around the world, from Maya Angelou to Stormzy and from Rosa Parks to Nelson Mandela. This pre-school read features push, pull and slide scenes, and punchy bright illustrations by Jayri Gómez.

New In Town

by Marta Altés

Book cover for New In Town

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

Robin Robin

by Daniel Ojari

Book cover for Robin Robin

The heart-warming story of Robin Robin and her adopted family of mice is the perfect Christmas read – from the creators of the Robin Robin film, created by Aardman for Netflix. This picture book version of the story, beautifully illustrated by Briony May Smith, is perfect for sharing with young children.

Meet the mouse family and their newest addition, Robin. Keen to fit in, Robin tries her best at sneaking crumbs for the family without disturbing the dreaded house cat and generally trying not to be a noisy, clumsy bird. A funny, festive story to win the hearts of families everywhere.

How Winston Came Home for Christmas

by Alex T. Smith

Book cover for How Winston Came Home for Christmas

Join Winston the mouse as he sets out on another heart-warming Christmas adventure! Discover gorgeous, colourful artwork and lots of Christmassy activities in this festive sequel to the much-loved How Winston Delivered Christmas

With only five days to go until Christmas, Winston has a Very Curious Mystery to solve. Promising Oliver that he'll be back in time for Christmas, Winston travels around the world in search of a mysterious, half-remembered mouse that he knows is very important to him. 

Grace and the Christmas Angel

by Lucinda Riley

Book cover for Grace and the Christmas Angel

Grace and the Christmas Angel, created by bestselling author Lucinda Riley and her son Harry Whittaker, is a reassuring, timeless story and the first book in the Guardian Angels series.

Somewhere, an angel is listening . . . 

The tree is decorated, the presents are wrapped and it's a big day for Grace on Christmas Eve. She's singing in the nativity, and her fisherman father has promised to come and see her. But when a big storm appears at sea, Grace teams up with Hope, the Christmas Angel, to get him back safely for Christmas morning. 

Squirrel's Snowman

by Julia Donaldson

Book cover for Squirrel's Snowman

Lift the flaps and join in the winter fun with Squirrel's Snowman, a new story in the Tales from Acorn Wood preschool series by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, creators of The Gruffalo – perfect for sharing at Christmas!

It's snowing in Acorn Wood, and Squirrel wants to build a snowman. Will she and her friends find everything they need to build? Lift the flaps to find out in this wonderful wintry tale.

With sturdy flaps on every spread and rhyming stories that are a joy to read aloud, Squirrel's Snowman joins the first four stories in the Tales from Acorn Wood series – Fox's Socks, Postman Bear, Rabbit's Nap and Hide-and-Seek Pig – which have been delighting parents and children for over twenty years.

The Christmas Bear

by Ian Whybrow

Book cover for The Christmas Bear

Illustrated by Axel Scheffler

When Santa sets off in his sleigh to deliver his presents, poor Bear is left behind. This charming and very funny picture book by Ian Whybrow follows Bear on his travels as he tries to get to Tom’s house in time for Christmas morning. Beautifully illustrated by Axel Scheffler,  this is a Christmas book full of fun.

Room on the Broom

by Julia Donaldson

Book cover for Room on the Broom

Illustrated by Axel Scheffler

This story of a witch and her cat, and the medley of creatures that hitch a ride on her broom isn’t just for Halloween! The witch loses her hat, bow and wand which are returned by a dog, a bird and a frog, all eager for a ride on her broom. It’s the more the merrier until the broom snaps under its heavy load - and there’s a greedy dragon looking for a snack . . .

This Room on the Broom 20th Anniversary Edition features bonus content for the anniversary year.

Little fans of Room on the Broom will love these books and activities based on Axel Scheffler and Julia Donaldson's characters.

Three Little Vikings

by Bethan Woollvin

Book cover for Three Little Vikings

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 We Want Our Books

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 Love Our Earth

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!

Albert Talbot: Master of Disguise

by Ben Manley

Book cover for Albert Talbot: Master of Disguise

Illustrated by Aurélie Guillerey

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. 

You Live Where?!

by Garry Parsons

Book cover for You Live Where?!

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 The Rhyming Rabbit

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? 

Coming to England

by Floella Benjamin

Book cover for Coming to England

Illustrated by Diane Ewen

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 M is for Melanin

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, 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 Too Much Stuff

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! 

Just One of Those Days

by Jill Murphy

Book cover for Just One of Those Days

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 Counting Creatures

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 The Little War Cat

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 Cave Baby

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?

Poo! Is That You?

by Clare Helen Welsh

Book cover for Poo! Is That You?

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 My Dad Is A Grizzly Bear

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.

Starbird

by Sharon King-Chai

Book cover for Starbird

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

by Victoria Cassanell

Book cover for The Grizzly Itch

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 Kiki and Jax

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 The Truth About Old People

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

by Gemma Merino

Book cover for The Crocodile Who Didn't Like Water

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

by Karamo Brown

Book cover for I Am Perfectly Designed

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 The Gruffalo

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 I am a Tiger

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 Brenda Is a Sheep

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.

I'm Actually Really Grown-Up Now

by Maisie Paradise Shearring

Book cover for I'm Actually Really Grown-Up Now

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 There Is a Tribe of Kids

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

by Rebecca Cobb

Book cover for Aunt Amelia's House

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+

Black and British: An Illustrated History

by David Olusoga

Book cover for Black and British: An Illustrated History

From award-winning historian and broadcaster David Olusoga, and illustrators Jake Alexander & Melleny Taylor, comes this stunning visual journey through 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: An Illustrated 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.

This children's edition of the bestseller Black and British: A Forgotten History is beautifully illustrated in full-colour with maps, portrait galleries, timelines, photos and portraits.

Journey to the River Sea: Illustrated Edition

by Eva Ibbotson

Book cover for Journey to the River Sea: Illustrated Edition

Rediscover Eva Ibbotson's award-winning, bestselling classic adventure with this gorgeous 20th anniversary hardback-jacketed gift edition. Fully illustrated in colour throughout by Katie Hickey.

Maia, an orphan, can't wait to reach her distant relatives a thousand miles up the Amazon. She imagines a huge, loving family with whom she will share great adventures. Instead she finds two spiteful cousins who see the jungle as the enemy and refuse to step foot outdoors. But the secrets of the rainforest more than make up for the horrible twins . . .

A joyous Amazon adventure set in the lush nature of Brazil, Journey to the River Sea is filled with mystery and extraordinary characters. It's perfect for girls and boys of 9+.

Alice's Adventures In Wonderland

by Lewis Carroll

Book cover for Alice's Adventures In Wonderland

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.

Aziza's Secret Fairy Door

by Lola Morayo

Book cover for Aziza's Secret Fairy Door

The first title in a magical adventure series, perfect for readers aged 6+, Aziza's Secret Fairy Door is packed with mischief, friendship and magic. A mysterious gift arrives on Aziza's birthday – a secret fairy door that will whisk her away to a magical world with princesses, fairies, unicorns and more! But when the precious jewelled doorknob is taken, Aziza is trapped. Will she ever see her home and family again? Maybe her new friends can help . . .

One Day in Wonderland

by Kathleen Krull

Book cover for One Day in Wonderland

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.

Long Walk to Freedom

by Chris Van Wyk

Book cover for Long Walk to Freedom

and Nelson Mandela

Illustrated by Paddy Bouma

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela is the amazing story of a true hero of our times; his famous biography has been specially adapted for children in a beautiful illustrated picture book format. Discover how a little boy whose father called him "troublemaker" grew up to fight apartheid, become South Africa's first black president and campaign for freedom and justice throughout the world.

Adapted by poet Chris van Wyk and illustrated by South African artist Paddy Bouma, with an introduction from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Long Walk to Freedom introduces children to the life of one of the world's most beloved leaders.

The Misadventures of Frederick

by Ben Manley

Book cover for The Misadventures of Frederick

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 . . .

In this episode of Book Break, Emma shares some of the most beautiful children's picture books that you'll want to keep forever: