The best children's picture books

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

29/05/2020

Whether you’re reading to your child, or they’re learning to read by themselves, kids will want to return to these picture books 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.

Picture books for babies and toddlers

Axel Scheffler Freddy the Frog

by Axel Scheffler

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

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Five More Minutes

by Marta Altés

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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. 

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It's Mine!

by Rod Campbell

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From the creator of beloved pre-school classic, Dear Zoo, Rod Campbell's It's Mineis 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.

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There's an Owl in My Towel

by Julia Donaldson

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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?

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WOW! Said the Owl

by Tim Hopgood

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Tim Hopgood's bold, engaging, beautiful picture books will help children learn about colours.
When it's time for us to go to bed, owls are just waking up. But one curious little owl decides to stay awake all day and discovers a world bursting with colour! Yet when the night-time comes around again, the stars above her head are still the most beautiful of all.

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With My Mummy

by James Brown

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This touching celebration of the special relationship between mother and child is told in gentle rhyme by James Brown, while charming illustrations by Cally Johnson-Issacs bring the story this beautiful picture book to life.

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Picture books for children aged 3 - 5 years

Monkey Puzzle 20th Anniversary Edition

by Julia Donaldson

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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?

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Arlo The Lion Who Couldn't Sleep

by Catherine Rayner

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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?

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Poo! Is That You?

by Clare Helen Welsh

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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. 

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Albert Talbot: Master of Disguise

by Ben Manley

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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 Mountainer to Zandrian Delaclair the Antarctic Submariner, he can feel brave as he faces adversity. This fun and playful story celebrates the joy of imaginative play and the freedom to be whoever you want.

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My Dad Is A Grizzly Bear

by Swapna Haddow

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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.

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What the Ladybird Heard at the Seaside

by Julia Donaldson

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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. 

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Starbird

by Sharon King-Chai

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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.

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The Grizzly Itch

by Victoria Cassanell

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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. 

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I am not an Elephant

by Karl Newson

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Laugh out loud at the adventures of bold, imaginative little Mouse, who is accused of being an elephant by a gecko. Mouse is quite certain this isn't true, but what else could Mouse be? An owl? A sheep? A yak? A cow? Mouse persuades the others that it's what's on the inside that counts in this vibrant and characterful picture book. 

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Kiki and Jax

by Marie Kondo

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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!

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The Truth About Old People

by Elina Ellis

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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.

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The Crocodile Who Didn't Like Water

by Gemma Merino

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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!

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I Am Perfectly Designed

by Jason Brown

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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.

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The Gruffalo

by Julia Donaldson

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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.

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I am a Tiger

by Karl Newson

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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?

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Brenda Is a Sheep

by Morag Hood

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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.

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The Giant of Jum

by Elli Woollard

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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.

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I'm Actually Really Grown-Up Now

by Maisie Paradise Shearring

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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.

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There Is a Tribe of Kids

by Lane Smith

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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.

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Picture books for children aged 5+

One Day in Wonderland

by Kathleen Krull

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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.

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The Misadventures of Frederick

by Ben Manley

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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 . . .

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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

by Lewis Carroll

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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.

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