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.

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 our edit of the best sticker and activity books to keep little minds engaged for hours.   

Picture books for babies and toddlers

Dear Zoo

by Rod Campbell

Book cover for Dear Zoo

'I wrote to the zoo to send me a pet . . .' Celebrate forty years since the first publication of Dear Zoo with this gold foiled edition of Rod Campbell's classic picture book. Young children will love lifting the flaps to discover the animals the zoo has sent – a monkey, a lion and even an elephant! But will they ever manage to send the perfect pet? A must for every child's bookshelf, and the thick card pages, chunky cased golden cover and sturdy flaps make it perfect for small hands.

Oh Dear!

by Rod Campbell

Book cover for Oh Dear!

Buster's staying with Grandma on the farm. But where will he find the eggs for breakfast? Not in the stable – oh dear! Young children will love lifting the flaps as they turn the pages and follow Buster around the farm. From the creator of Dear Zoo, this 40th anniversary special edition is a great gift for all Rod Campbell fans. 

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It's Time to Sleep, My Love

by Nancy Tillman

Book cover for It's Time to Sleep, My Love

Bestselling artist Nancy Tillman provides stunning illustrations and soft verse that celebrates the wonders of the natural world, and the bonds of family. As children prepare for bed, the world around them is also settling down for the night. Animals – who live in the jungle, the forest, the sea – all whisper to their babies a soft refrain: "It's time to sleep, my love." Read with little ones to wind down for bedtime with It's Time to Sleep, My Love – a book for toddlers that is both comforting and warm. 

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. Fans of Odo can continue to adventures with Odo: Super Owl!

The Odd Egg

by Emily Gravett

Book cover for The Odd Egg

This fifteenth anniversary edition is complete with extra content from the multi-award winning Emily Gravett. All the birds have eggs to hatch, except Duck. But when Duck finds an egg of his own to look after he's delighted.  But all the other birds think it's a very odd egg indeed – and everyone's in for a BIG surprise when it finally hatches. A beautifully illustrated and cleverly formatted tale with a surprise ending, toddlers will love The Odd Egg. 

On the Farm

by Axel Scheffler

Book cover for On the Farm

From the illustrator of classic children's book The Gruffalo, On the Farm is a bright and colourful board book with gentle rhyming text that little ones will love. Kids can join in the fun on the farm by pulling out the sliders, moving the animals and making all the different noises; quacking along with the ducks, mooing with the cows and neighing with the horses!

Dear Santa

by Rod Campbell

Book cover for Dear Santa

With bright artwork, engaging words and a chunky board book format, Dear Santa is the festive favourite from the beloved creator of Dear Zoo, Rod Campbell. Toddlers will love lifting the flaps to open the presents and find out what Santa has sent. Will he send the perfect present in the end? With gold foil cover, flaps to lift on every page and a touch-and-feel surprise ending, this festive favourite is the ideal Christmas gift or stocking filler for preschoolers.

Cars Cars Cars!

by Donna David

Book cover for Cars Cars Cars!

Fast cars, slow cars, ready steady go cars . . . which are your favourites? Fifty colourful cars travel along along a road – up, down, around and back. Cars Cars Cars! has a shiny foil cover and is crammed with counting and spotting fun, plus the rhyming text has been specially developed to boost pre-school reading skills. You'll find reading tips for parents and carers at the end.

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

by Floella Benjamin

Book cover for We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Enjoy a family Christmas singalong with Baroness Floella Benjamin, including favourites such as 'We Wish you a Merry Christmas', 'Jingle Bells' and 'Ding Dong Merrily on High'! This stunning gift book features 15 familiar Christmas songs to enjoy and has sturdy tabs, making it easy to find your favourite. You can also learn about Floella's own Christmas memories and traditions, and join her in some festive fun with every song.

The Littlest Elephant

by Kate Read

Book cover for The Littlest Elephant

The Littlest Elephant's bright and richly illustrated pages full of jungle creatures will entrance any child as they follow the littlest elephant on her way to the pool for a swim. At first, she is too excited to notice the chaos she is causing, but then she realizes that by slowing down and helping others, everyone can join in the fun. This beautiful and heart-warming book from the creator of One Fox, will help little ones to learn empathy for others and the joy of helping those who may need it.

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.


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.

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

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. 

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Picture books for children aged 3 - 5 years

Dig, Dig, Digger

by Morag Hood

Book cover for Dig, Dig, Digger

Award-winning Morag Hood offers bright colours and witty text in Dig, Dig Digger. It's a normal day for Digger –she spends her time digging down into mud, dark and worms. Until she decides she's tired of digging into darkness – why can't she dig up instead? And so, with some ingenuity and balloons, Digger sets off on a grand adventure. But adventures aren't as fun without friends, so Digger must dig her way home. Complete with a finger trail for little ones to follow, Dig, Dig, Digger is perfect for young children and adults to read together. 

A Squash and a Squeeze

by Julia Donaldson

Book cover for A Squash and a Squeeze

A Squash and a Squeeze is the first ever picture book written and illustrated by the unparalleled partnership of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. A little old lady lives all by herself in her house but it's too small - even for one. Luckily, the wise old man knows what to do: bring in a crowd of farmyard animals. When she pushes them all out again, she'll be amazed at how big her house feels! This tenth anniversary edition features the classic story plus extra content from Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, making it the perfect gift. 

The Grumpus

by Alex T. Smith

Book cover for The Grumpus

The Grumpus has a Dastardly, Dreadful Christmas Plan. Inspired by The Krampus and with a hint of The Grinch, The Grumpus is a heartwarming story that celebrates the true meaning of Christmas. From Alex T. Smith, bestselling author of the Claude series and How Winston Delivered Christmas, comes a fantastically festive Christmas adventure about this gorgeous grumpy character, that you won't want to miss.

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! 

What the Ladybird Heard at Christmas

by Julia Donaldson

Book cover for What the Ladybird Heard at Christmas

What the Ladybird Heard at Christmas is the latest title in this beloved series and the perfect book to read with little ones during the festive run-up. In a big old house, the ladybird is visiting her friend the spider for the festive season. But those two bad men, Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len, are up to no good again. The clever little ladybird has overheard their devious plan - to steal the children's Christmas presents, and she has a cunning plan to make sure they don't get away with it! 

Colours, Colours Everywhere

by Julia Donaldson

Book cover for Colours, Colours Everywhere

Follow a little girl as she paints her own adventure with her bright blue tree frog companion. With luscious green trees to climb and red hot air balloons to sail away in, children will delight in the rhyming text, vibrant artwork, flaps to lift and holes to peep through. Written by Julia Donaldson, the bestselling author of The Gruffalo, and illustrated by Sharon King-Chai, Colours, Colours Everywhere will keep little ones entranced.

Room on the Broom

Book cover for Room on the Broom

This bestselling 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 . . .

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I Love Me!

by Diane Ewen

Book cover for I Love Me!

Each morning we take a look in the mirror with Daddy, and say words together to make us feel proud and strong. Full of positivity and good feelings, I Love Me! is an engaging and powerful book for young children, with affirmations, uplifting statements for each day of the week, and enjoyable routines to help with nursery and school. There's also a fold-out section at the end with additional tips for carers and parents.

Five Bears

by Catherine Rayner

Book cover for Five Bears

Bear is walking through the forest, minding his own business when he comes across another bear. The Other bear is different. The two bears wander along, thinking different thoughts, and looking in different directions. Soon the two bears come across another bear and then another bear and eventually find a bear stuck in a tree. The bears realise that perhaps they aren't that different after all and perhaps they could be friends?

What the Ladybird Heard

by Julia Donaldson

Book cover for What the Ladybird Heard

Lydia Monks’ bright, bold illustrations and Julia Donaldson’s trademark rhymes combine in the What the Ladybird Heard picture book series. Following the story of a crime-fighting ladybird and her animal friends, these books would make an excellent gift for children who love The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom. Fans of the Ladybird will love these books and activities based on What the Ladybird Heard

Teapot Trouble

by Morag Hood

Book cover for Teapot Trouble

Teapot Trouble is a silly, hilarious and totally original favourite from Morag Hood. What is living inside Duck's teapot? And more importantly, how can he get them out? Luckily for Duck, Tiny Horse is here and she's equipped with a trampoline, a magnificent hat and a stick of celery. What more could anyone need to save the day? A laugh-out-loud story with a message about kindness, follow the adventures of Duck, Tiny Horse and their teapot troubles! 

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. 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. This picture book version of the story, beautifully illustrated by Briony May Smith, is perfect for sharing with young children.

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 ChristmasWith 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. 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

Another addition to the Tales from Acorn Wood preschool series from Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, perfect for sharing at Christmas! It's snowing in wintery Acorn Wood, so Squirrel and her friends set out to build a snowman. But this is no easy feat, as they'll have to find everything they need to built it first! Discover this festive story with sturdy flaps on every spread and rhyming stories that are a joy to read aloud.

The Christmas Bear

by Ian Whybrow

Book cover for The Christmas Bear

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. Young children can join in the festive fun and lift the flaps on every page, as Bear chases Santa's sleigh through icy seas and snowy forests, all the way from the North Pole to Tom's cosy bedroom. Beautifully illustrated by Axel Scheffler, this is a Christmas book full of fun.

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

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.

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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

This stunning picture book is a fun, interactive counting book with peep-through pages, fold-out flaps and bright, beautiful artwork. From a leopard with her cubs, to a frog and its tadpoles, young readers will love comparing the creatures, exploring their habitats and learning the proper names for all the baby animals. Perfect for gifting, this book was included in The Telegraph's Best Children's Books of the Year. 

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. 

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.

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.


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.

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!

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.

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.

Picture books for children aged 5+

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

Aziza is excitedly packing her suitcase ready to go on holiday when she finds sand and seashells from the fairy door all over her room! Before long, she is stepping through the door and out onto Shimmerton’s beach, where naughty fairies are causing havoc by accidentally awakening an ancient shell-walker who has been asleep for many years under the sand. Inspired by creatures from world mythology, Aziza's Secret Fairy Door and the Mermaid's Treasure is the fourth title in the magical adventure series from Lola Morayo, illustrated throughout in black-and-white.

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 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.

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 gift edition. 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 in this joyous Amazon adventure . . . 

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.

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

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela is the amazing story of a true hero; his famous biography has been specially adapted for children in a beautifully illustrated picture book. 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.