100 best classic children's books for all ages

From treasures like Peter Pan to modern favourites like The Gruffalo, here's our edit of the best classic children's books, tailored to each age group. 

Which books did you love as a child? Did you jump down the rabbit hole with Alice or swing through the jungle with Mowgli? Here are some great children's classics to pass on to the next generation.

Goodnight Moon

by Margaret Wise Brown

Book cover for Goodnight Moon

Margaret Wise Brown's comforting, rhythmic text accompanied by the warmth of Clement Hurd's classic mid-century illustrations make Goodnight Moon a timeless picture book. In a great green room, a little rabbit is tucked up snugly and safely in bed and is getting ready to say goodnight to all the familiar things that surround him, one by one. 

Fox's Socks

by Julia Donaldson

Book cover for Fox's Socks

Lift the flaps and join in the fun with Fox's Socks, a bestselling preschool classic from the Tales From Acorn Wood series by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Poor old Fox has lost his socks – can you help him find them? Are they inside the clock or hidden in a chest? Lift the flaps and find out!

Book cover for Dear Zoo

Dear Zoo

Rod Campbell

Book cover for Oh Dear!

Oh Dear!

Rod Campbell

Book cover for Goodnight Buster!

Goodnight Buster!

Rod Campbell

Book cover for I'm Not Scary!

I'm Not Scary!

Rod Campbell

Peter Pan

by Miriam Bos

First Stories: Peter Pan is a perfect introduction for young children to J.M. Barrie's classic story. Push, pull and slide mechanisms to bring the story to life and reveal favourite scenes in action. Follow the Darling children as they travel to Neverland discover the Lost Boys and come face to face with cunning Captain Hook. This well-loved story is beautifully re-imagined for a new generation by illustrator Miriam Bos.

We're Going on a Bear Hunt

by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury

Book cover for We're Going on a Bear Hunt

For brave hunters and bear-lovers, We're Going on a Bear Hunt is the classic chant-aloud book by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury. Follow and join in the family's excitement as they wade through the grass, splash through the river and squelch through the mud in search of a bear. What a surprise awaits them in the cave on the other side of the dark forest!

Book cover for Cinderella

Cinderella

Nick Sharratt

Book cover for Jack and the Beanstalk

Jack and the Beanstalk

Nick Sharratt

Book cover for Little Red Riding Hood

Little Red Riding Hood

Nick Sharratt

Book cover for Goldilocks

Goldilocks

Stephen Tucker

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

by Eric Carle

Book cover for The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Eric Carles The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a perennial favourite with children and adults alike Its imaginative illustration and clever cutout detail charts the progress of a very hungry caterpillar as he eats his way through the week.

Guess How Much I Love You

by Sam McBratney

Book cover for Guess How Much I Love You

Sometimes, when you love someone very, very much, you want to find a way of describing how much you treasure them. But, as Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare discover, love is not always an easy thing to measure. The story of Little and Big Nutbrown Hares’ efforts to express their love for each other has become a publishing phenomenon. 

Book cover for Gruffalo, Where Are You?

Gruffalo, Where Are You?

Julia Donaldson

Book cover for My First Gruffalo: Gruffalo Growl

My First Gruffalo: Gruffalo Growl

Julia Donaldson

Book cover for The Gruffalo Touch and Feel Book

The Gruffalo Touch and Feel Book

Julia Donaldson

Book cover for My First Gruffalo: The Gruffalo Puppet Book

My First Gruffalo: The Gruffalo Puppet Book

Julia Donaldson

Where's Spot?

by Eric Hill

Book cover for Where's Spot?

A list of classic children's books would not be complete without, Where's Spot?, the very first lift-the-flap book. Find all sorts of funny animal surprises, before discovering where cheeky Spot has been hiding. This is the perfect first book for little ones; the playful text is a wonderful spur to read and respond together, and the hide-and-seek flaps encourage curiosity and interactivity.

Owl Babies

by Martin Waddell

Book cover for Owl Babies

This comforting story reassures little-ones that Mummy will always come home. Three baby owls, Sarah, Percy and Bill, wake up in their tree home to discover their mother is not there. So they sit on a branch and wait but darkness gathers and the owls grow anxious. But, at last, she does and they bounce up and down with joy, welcoming her home. 

Peace at Last

by Jill Murphy

Book cover for Peace at Last

Jill Murphy's bestselling classic Peace at Last has delighted young children for almost forty years, and is equally beloved by tired parents who are all too familiar with the plight of poor Mr Bear. Mrs Bear is snoring, the clock is ticking very loudly, so is the kitchen tap. Will Mr Bear ever get to sleep? Fans can celebrate thirty-five years of the bear family with this special edition of Whatever Next! an equally warm bedtime story from Jill Murphy. 

Puff, the Magic Dragon

by Peter Yarrow

Book cover for Puff, the Magic Dragon

Most readers will remember Puff, the Magic Dragon for its timeless Peter, Paul and Mary song. With bonus versions of the song, this edition is a foiled, gift reissue to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the song's release. Listen, read and enjoy the enchanted land of Honalee and its extraordinary inhabitants, and share in the adventures of Jackie Paper and his childhood friend, Puff, the magic dragon. 

Book cover for Just One of Those Days

Just One of Those Days

Jill Murphy

Book cover for On the Way Home

On the Way Home

Jill Murphy

Book cover for Whatever Next!

Whatever Next!

Jill Murphy

Book cover for The Night Before Christmas

The Night Before Christmas

Clement C. Moore

The Snail and the Whale

by Julia Donaldson

Book cover for The Snail and the Whale

Go on an adventure with a tiny snail and the great big grey-blue humpback whale in this anniversary edition of the much-loved The Snail and the Whale. A little snail hitches a ride on the tail of a whale and feels so small in the vast world he sees. But when disaster strikes, it’s the tiny snail who saves the day. Julia Donaldson's characters will charm little ones in this story of friendship. 

The Gruffalo

by Julia Donaldson

Book cover for The Gruffalo

Julia Donaldson's characters are loved around the world, and none more so than the Gruffalo. It has been more than two decades since the little mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood, and millions of kids and adults worldwide fell in love with the creature with terrible tusks and claws. Also available in the beautiful hardback edition.

Book cover for The Gruffalo's Child

The Gruffalo's Child

Julia Donaldson

Book cover for A Squash and a Squeeze 30th Anniversary Edition

A Squash and a Squeeze 30th Anniversary Edition

Julia Donaldson

Book cover for Winnie-the-Pooh and Me

Winnie-the-Pooh and Me

Jeanne Willis

Book cover for Winnie-the-Pooh at the Palace

Winnie-the-Pooh at the Palace

Jeanne Willis

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The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook

by Joyce Lankester Brisley

Book cover for The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook

The stories of Milly-Molly-Mandy and her friends have charmed generations of children since their first publication in 1925. Perfect for reading aloud, these twenty stories will bring back happy memories for parents and grandparents and introduce younger readers to an enduringly popular heroine and her friends Little-Friend-Susan and Billy Blunt. Join the little girl in the candy-striped dress as Milly-Molly-Mandy does the gardening, goes to a party, and has a seaside adventure – whatever Milly-Molly-Mandy and her friends are up to, you're sure to have fun when they're around! 

Paddington

by Michael Bond

Book cover for Paddington

For six decades, stories of Paddington Bear have delighted children all over the world. This is the classic story of the bear from Darkest Peru who stowed away on a ship headed for England. He arrived at Paddington Station with nothing but a suitcase, a half-empty jar of marmalade and a label that read, ‘Please look after this bear. Thank you.’

Book cover for Hansel and Gretel

Hansel and Gretel

Bethan Woollvin

Book cover for Little Red

Little Red

Bethan Woollvin

Book cover for Rapunzel

Rapunzel

Bethan Woollvin

Book cover for The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid

Campbell Books

Where the Wild Things Are

by Maurice Sendak

Book cover for Where the Wild Things Are

One night Max puts on his wolf suit so his mother calls him 'Wild Thing' and sends him to bed without his supper. That night a forest begins to grow in Max's room, and an ocean rushes by with a boat to take Max to the place where the wild things are. Max tames the wild things and crowns himself as their king! But when Max has sent the monsters to bed, and everything is quiet, he starts to feel lonely. He realises it is time to sail home to the place where someone loves him best of all.

The Tiger Who Came to Tea

by Judith Kerr

Book cover for The Tiger Who Came to Tea

The doorbell rings just as Sophie and her mummy are sitting down to tea. Who could it possibly be? What they certainly don't expect to see at the door is a big furry, stripy tiger! This warm and funny picture book story is perfect for reading aloud, or for small children to read to themselves time and again. First published in 1968 and never out of print, it has become a timeless classic enjoyed and beloved by generations of children and parents. 

The Little Prince

by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

A pilot who has crash-landed in the desert awakes to see an extraordinary little boy. 'Please,' asks the stranger, 'will you draw me a little lamb!' Baffled by the little prince's incessant questioning, the pilot pulls out his pencil and starts to draw. As the little prince's curiosity takes them further on their journey together, the pilot is able to piece together an understanding of the tiny planet from which the prince has come. Chris Riddell's brilliant full-colour illustrated version of this timeless classic is a perfect gift for families and children. 

Journey to the River Sea: Illustrated Edition

by Eva Ibbotson

Book cover for Journey to the River Sea: Illustrated Edition

Journey to the River Sea is an exciting Amazon escapade set in Brazil's rich wilderness, filled with mystery and intriguing characters. This illustrated edition is perfect for younger readers. Orphan Maia looks forward to meeting her remote relatives in the Amazon, anticipating a loving family with whom she will share great adventures. Instead, she meets two hostile cousins who view the jungle as the enemy. But, meeting a solitary boy living by the untamed riverside, Maia starts a remarkable exploration of an extraordinarily stunning new world.

Book cover for Peter Pan

Peter Pan

J. M. Barrie

Book cover for The Wind in the Willows

The Wind in the Willows

Kenneth Grahame

Book cover for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

Lewis Carroll

Book cover for What Katy Did

What Katy Did

Susan Coolidge

Gobbolino the Witch's Cat

by Ursula Moray Williams

Book cover for Gobbolino the Witch's Cat

With his sparkly whiskers and magic tricks, no one could mistake Gobbolino for a simple kitchen cat, but that's just what the witch's kitten wants to be. Instead of learning how to turn mice into toads for the witch's brew, Gobbolino sets out on an adventure to find a family and a home of his own. Reissued for its seventy-fifth anniversary with illustrations by the award-winning Catherine Rayner, this classic tale has been loved by generations of children.

Charlotte's Web

by E. B. White

Book cover for Charlotte's Web

Charlotte's Web unfolds the bond of a little girl Fern with Wilbur, a petite pig, and Charlotte, an elegant grey spider. When Fern's uncle determines to turn Wilbur into bacon, a remarkable plan is hatched by Fern, Charlotte, Templeton the rat, and other farm friends to dupe the humans and save their unique pig. This story, filled with joy, humor, and profound emotions, emphasizes the strength of friendships and cherishing individual uniqueness. Rightly regarded as one of the most enduring children's story ever written.

Book cover for Milly-Molly-Mandy Stories

Milly-Molly-Mandy Stories

Joyce Lankester Brisley

Book cover for More of Milly-Molly-Mandy

More of Milly-Molly-Mandy

Joyce Lankester Brisley

Book cover for Further Doings of Milly-Molly-Mandy

Further Doings of Milly-Molly-Mandy

Joyce Lankester Brisley

Book cover for Milly-Molly-Mandy Again

Milly-Molly-Mandy Again

Joyce Lankester Brisley

Now We Are Six

by A. A .Milne & E. H. Shepard

Book cover for Now We Are Six

Curl up with Winnie-the-Pooh and Christopher Robin in A. A. Milne’s classic book of poetry for children, Now We Are Six. This work includes poems for children which feature Pooh helping Christopher Robin with his schoolwork (if helping is the word). It is an evocation of childhood, through the eyes of the six-year-old Robin. Featuring E. H. Shepard’s original illustrations, Now We Are Six is a heart-warming and funny introduction to children’s poetry, offering the same sense of humour, imagination and whimsy that we’ve come to expect from his favourite books about Winnie-the-Pooh.

The Worst Witch

by Jill Murphy

Book cover for The Worst Witch

The original world of teaching magic and spells awaits your little readers at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches, a boarding school where potions and brooms are the main curriculum for Mildred Hubble and her friends learning to be witches — if only Mildred could get anything right! The Worst Witch is the first in one of the best book series for young readers whose imagination is sparked by magical mishaps, spells gone awry and a bumbling yet loveable underdog story, which teaches us that it’s okay not to be the best at everything.

Book cover for The Teddy Robinson Storybook

The Teddy Robinson Storybook

Joan G. Robinson

Book cover for Teddy Robinson meets Father Christmas and other stories

Teddy Robinson meets Father Christmas and other stories

Joan G. Robinson

Book cover for William's Birthday and Other Stories

William's Birthday and Other Stories

Martin Jarvis

Book cover for William's Wonderful Plan and Other Stories

William's Wonderful Plan and Other Stories

Martin Jarvis

The BFG

by Roald Dahl & Quentin Blake

Book cover for The BFG

Master storyteller Roald Dahl is one of the most popular children's writer of the late twentieth century, and The BFG is set to become a classic of its period. One dark, silvery moonlit night, Sophie is snatched from her bed by a giant! Luckily it is the Big Friendly Giant (the BFG), who is no ordinary bone-crunching giant, but instead prefers snozzcumbers and frobscottle to children. But there are other giants in Giant Country. And those giants have a plan to gallop far and wide to find some tasty human beans to eat. Can Sophie and the BFG stop them?

Matilda

by Roald Dahl & Quentin Blake

Book cover for Matilda

Matilda has a magical mind. But her parents have decided she's a nuisance who wastes too much time on reading and stories. And her headmistress Miss Trunchbull is a mean bully, who thinks children should be locked up. Now it's time for Matilda to find the power to change her story, and show them just how extraordinary children can be. This adored story is here to inspire a whole new generation of young readers.

Journey to the River Sea

by Eva Ibbotson

Book cover for Journey to the River Sea

Eva Ibbotson's bestselling classic adventure has been enchanting young readers and parents alike since its publication in 2001. Set in the lush nature of Brazil, the story follows Maia, an orphan, who can't wait to reach her distant relatives a thousand miles up the Amazon. She imagines a loving family but instead finds two spiteful cousins. But when she meets a mysterious boy who lives alone on the wild river shores, she begins a spectacular journey to the heart of an extraordinary and beautiful new world whete the wonders of the rainforest more than make up for the hideous twins and their parents.

Millions

by Frank Cottrell-Boyce

Book cover for Millions

Heart-achingly funny, touching and brilliantly clever, Millions is a fantastic adventure about two boys, one miracle and a million choices. Brothers Damian and Anthony didn't mean to get caught up in a botched train robbery. But what would you do if a massive bag of cash dropped from the sky and you had only a few days to spend it before it became worthless? This edition of Frank Cottrell-Boyce's Carnegie Medal-winning Millions features fantastic cover artwork from the brilliant Steven Lenton. Millions has also been adapted for the big screen, directed by Oscar-winner Danny Boyle.

Book cover for Pinocchio

Pinocchio

Carlo Collodi

Book cover for A Little Princess

A Little Princess

Frances Hodgson Burnett

Book cover for The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz

L. Frank Baum

Book cover for The Railway Children

The Railway Children

E. Nesbit

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

by Ian Fleming

Book cover for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Commander Caractacus Pott buys his family their first car. It looks like a wreck, but once restored it turns out to be no ordinary vehicle: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a magical car which can fly, swim and even think. With a mission to stop a criminal gang in its tracks Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is on an adventure – and she is taking the Potts with her! First published in 1964, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was James Bond creator Ian Fleming's only children's book.

Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse

by Ursula Moray Williams

Book cover for Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse

In times of struggle, a tiny wooden horse from Uncle Peder's toyshop ventures out into the world to change its master's fortune. Whether engaged in laborious mining, sailing perilous oceans with pirates, or balancing precariously in a circus, the faithful horse desires nothing more than to return to his dear creator. Originally published in 1938, Ursula Moray-Williams' The Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse is her most famous story and continues to be one of the most-loved classic stories of children's literature.

Book cover for Heidi

Heidi

Johanna Spyri

Book cover for The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book

Rudyard Kipling

Book cover for The Story of Doctor Dolittle

The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Hugh Lofting

Book cover for Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables

L. M. Montgomery

The Call of the Wild & White Fang

by Jack London

Book cover for The Call of the Wild & White Fang

Extraordinary both for the vividness of their descriptions and the success with which they imagine life from a non-human perspective, these two classics of children’s literature are two of the greatest and most popular animal stories ever written. The Call of the Wild tells the story of Buck, a domestic dog who is kidnapped from his home in California while White Fang is the tale of a crossbreed who is three-quarters wolf and a quarter dog, and who must endure considerable suffering in the wilderness.

The Secret Garden

by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Book cover for The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden is a magical tale of transformation that has enchanted children since its publication in 1911. When Mary Lennox is orphaned she is sent from her home in India to live with her uncle at Misselthwaite Manor on the Yorkshire Moors. She arrives as a sour-faced, sickly and ill-tempered little girl, bewildered by her surroundings and desperately lonely. One day she discovers a way in to a secret abandoned garden and, with the help of local lad Dickon and her poorly cousin Colin, they set about restoring the garden.

Book cover for The Mountain of Adventure

The Mountain of Adventure

Enid Blyton

Book cover for The Ship of Adventure

The Ship of Adventure

Enid Blyton

Book cover for The Circus of Adventure

The Circus of Adventure

Enid Blyton

Book cover for The River of Adventure

The River of Adventure

Enid Blyton

The Water Babies

by Charles Kingsley

Book cover for The Water Babies

One of the most unusual children's books ever written, The Water-Babies follows Tom, a chimney-sweep who falls asleep and tumbles into a river. There he is transformed into a 'water-baby' and his adventures truly begin. Beneath the surface, he enters a magical world full of strange and wonderful creatures, where he must prove his moral worth in order to earn what he truly desires. First published as a complete novel in 1863, Charles Kingsley's classic tale explores ideas about religion, the Victorian education system and the working conditions.

Swallows and Amazons

by Arthur Ransome

Book cover for Swallows and Amazons

The Walker children set sail on the Swallow and head for Wild Cat Island. There they camp under open skies, swim in clear water and go fishing for their dinner. But their days are disturbed by the Blackett sisters, the fierce Amazon pirates. The Swallows and Amazons decide to battle it out, and so begins a summer of unforgettable discoveries and incredible adventures. This classic tale of adventure is perfect for young free spirits. 

The Lie Tree

by Frances Hardinge

Book cover for The Lie Tree

The Lie Tree is a wonderfully evocative and atmospheric novel by Frances Hardinge and winner of the 2015 Costa Book of the Year. Faith's father has been found dead under mysterious circumstances, and as she is searching through his belongings for clues she discovers a strange tree. The tree only grows healthy and bears fruit if you whisper a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, will deliver a hidden truth to the person who consumes it. Soon, the girl realises that the tree might hold the answers to her father's murder. 

I Am Thunder

by Muhammad Khan

Book cover for I Am Thunder

I Am Thunder is the award-winning YA novel which questions how far you'll go to stand up for what you believe. Fifteen-year-old Muzna Saleem is used to being invisible. So no one is more surprised than her when Arif Malik, the hottest boy in school, takes a sudden interest. But Arif is hiding a terrible secret and, as they begin to follow a dark path, Muzna faces an impossible choice: keep quiet and betray her beliefs, or speak out and betray her heart. Muhammad Khan's writing gets right to the centre of what it means to be an urban teenager today.

Book cover for Black Beauty

Black Beauty

Anna Sewell

Book cover for I Capture the Castle

I Capture the Castle

Dodie Smith

Book cover for A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens

Book cover for Pollyanna

Pollyanna

Eleanor H. Porter

Noughts & Crosses

by Malorie Blackman

Book cover for Noughts & Crosses

In the award-winning Noughts and Crosses sequence, Malorie Blackman creates a dystopian world in which the white Noughts are treated as an inferior race, while the black Crosses are born into privilege and perceived as superior in every sense. It follows Sephy and Callum, who, despite the friendship they have shared since they were children, are fated to be bitter enemies. Sephy is a Cross, dark-skinned, beautiful and the daughter of a powerful politician, while Callum is a Nought, white and poor, existing to serve Crosses and nothing more. But against all odds, star-crossed lovers Sephy and Callum choose each other. 

The Hunger Games

by Suzanne Collins

Book cover for The Hunger Games

In the remains of what was North America lies the nation of Panem, with its twelve outlying districts. Each district must send one boy and one girl each year to compete in the Hunger Games, a live televised fight to the death. For sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen the call up seems like a death sentence. But she has faced death and won before. As battle commences, Katniss must choose between survival and her own humanity.

Book cover for The Princess Diaries

The Princess Diaries

Meg Cabot

Book cover for Royal Scandal

Royal Scandal

Meg Cabot

Book cover for Bad Heir Day

Bad Heir Day

Meg Cabot

Book cover for Crowning Glory

Crowning Glory

Meg Cabot

Field Notes on Love

by Jennifer E. Smith

Book cover for Field Notes on Love

Hugo and his girlfriend have the perfect romantic trip planned together – travelling across America by train. But then she dumps him. She leaves him the tickets as a parting gift, the only problem is that they’re in her name, and they’re non-transferable. Desperate to get away, Hugo advertises for a replacement Margaret Campbell, which is where Mae comes in. After getting rejected from film school, she’s looking for a new adventure and a cross-country trip with a stranger will prove to be just that.

Northern Lights

by Philip Pulman

Book cover for Northern Lights

Lyra Belacqua and her animal daemon live half-wild and carefree among scholars of Jordan College, Oxford. The destiny that awaits her will take her to the frozen lands of the Arctic, where witch-clans reign and ice-bears fight. Her extraordinary journey will have immeasurable consequences far beyond her own world. First published in 1995, and acclaimed as a modern masterpiece, this is the first book in Philip Pulman's His Dark Materials trilogy. 

Book cover for Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret

Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret

Judy Blume

Book cover for Forever

Forever

Judy Blume

Book cover for Just as Long as We're Together

Just as Long as We're Together

Judy Blume

Book cover for Deenie

Deenie

Judy Blume

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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

by Mildred Taylor

Book cover for Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Set in 1930s Mississippi during the peak of the American Depression, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry explores a girl's journey amidst a fiercely racist society. Capturing a family's quest to preserve their dignity, pride, and self-reliance, the book underscores the resilient human spirit. The Mississippi of the 1930s was a hard place for a black child to grow up in, but still Cassie didn't understand why farming his own land meant so much to her father. Yet, as hatred sweeps her community, she gains insight into the stark societal divides, realising that standing for principles can be worth enduring significant difficulties.

Private Peaceful

by Michael Morpurgo

Book cover for Private Peaceful

Private Peaceful recounts the poignant tale of young Private Tommo Peaceful. He reflects on his blissful rural childhood in England and his experiences of love, loss, and the horrors of World War I. In the war trenches, Tommo's journey reveals the strength of brotherhood and the bitterness of injustice. The narrative captures the profound implications of war on individual lives, with moments of joy juxtaposed against the face of adversity.