I want to share with you our favourite 100 books for under 5s. I have two boys under 5 and books play a big role in our house. I love reading to the boys as part of their bedtime routine. My 2 year old is a huge Gruffalo fan and we had a great time making our own Gruffalo wood the other day. My four year old is autistic and his current special interest is books, so we have a lot of books. I am going to share our favourite ones with you. From baby books all the way to great books for pre-schoolers. Hopefully you can find something new to try with your little ones. Don’t forget to tell us your favourite in the comments too.
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The series of Ten Little .. books by Mike Brownlow and Simon Rickerty are so good I think I have included them all. They are wonderful rhyming books that will help kids to recognise and count between 1 and 10.
- Ten Little Pirates is without question the favourite in our house. This is the book that taught both my boys to count to ten and shout ‘ARRRRHH!’
- Ten Little Dinosaurs a really lovely book especially for dinosaur fans, the illustrations are fabulous.
- Ten Little Elves this one makes a great Christmas present.
- Ten Little Monsters this is a great read around Halloween.
- Ten Little Princesses a good one for fans of fairy tales.
- Ten Little Superheroes the boys really love this one as will other superhero fans.
- Ten Little Robots this one is new and we only bought it this week. It doesn’t disappoint. My 2 year old is shouting ‘robots BEEP’ and my 4 year old is taking the book to bed, another winner I can’t wait for the next one!
Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler
I think most households have a Julia Donaldson book by now. The Gruffalo, Stick Man and Room on the Broom are wonderful books that have been made into fabulous TV films. I can’t wait to see Zog this Christmas. Julia Donaldson is a brilliant writer and young children love rhythmic books especially when learning language. Axel Scheffler manages to add the magic with spectacular illustrating.
- Tabby McTat this is probably my favourite, a really lovely story particularly for cat lovers. It was the song in this book that helped me to lose my inhibitions when reading to my kids – books are so much better with silly voices.
- Zog a great book about a young dragon at school learning to fly and capture princesses. This will be the 2018 Christmas TV special so if you don’t have it now get it for the kids stockings.
- Room on the Broom my 2 year old loves this book. We have a toy broom which he puts his toys on then taps it with his wand while wearing his witches hat.
- The Gruffalo I didn’t think much of the Gruffalo at first, probably because of all the hype. Seeing the joy it brings to my kids I have fallen in love with it. My 2 year old goes to sleep every night with his mouse and snake from the Gruffalo.
- The Gruffalo’s Child I think this is the book (and film) that taught my kids about snow. A great book for winter.
- Stick Man I blame this book for the reason my boys are always picking up sticks when we are out!
- The Snail and the Whale this is such a lovely book, I love travel and this book really takes you to the far off magical lands.
- The Smartest Giant in Town is a great tale with some opportunities for a sing a long with the kids.
- Monkey Puzzle is full of lovely animals and makes a good read before a trip to the zoo.
- Scarecrow’s Wedding had to be on the list as my nieces absolutely love it.
- Tales from Acorn Wood – Postman Bear this is a lift the flap book and a lovely story about Bear’s birthday party. I love lift the flap books with young kids, it really helps with language development.
- Tales from Acorn Wood – Foxes Socks another lift the flap book filled with different clothes on the search for Foxes socks.
- My First Gruffalo set is a lovely box set for little ones. Very simple picture books with the familiar Gruffalo characters. A nice gift.
Axel Scheffler has some lovely books, his illustrations really are fantastic at capturing kids imaginations.
- Rhyming Stories there are a couple of different options from Katie the Kitten and Lizzy the Lamp to Pip the Dog and Freddy the Frog.
- Pip and Posy Snow Day, Pip and Posy is a series of lovely books. We read the Snow Day quite a bit when we had a run of snow. My eldest thinks the picture of characters sliding / falling down the hill in the snow is hilarious.
Nick Sharratt & Pippa Goodhart
I think Nick Sharratt is my eldest’s favourite illustrator. Here he teams up with Pippa Goodhart and has created two wonderful books. These books are full of pictures with so much going on. They are great for pre-schoolers to use their imagination. Both books are also available as colouring books if you have a little artist on your hands.
- You Choose is full of pages from where would you choose to live to where would you like to sleep. We love looking for the cat on each page too.
- Just Imagine is just as fantastic as You Choose and full of pictures to help the mind wander. These books are particularly good for visual kids who love spending time with a book by themselves.
Our favourite book series by Nick Sharratt is the Shark in the.. books.
- Shark in the Dark is the best one just before bed as Timothy Pope also goes to bed at the end. This book got my youngest into telescopes which he tends to make out of loo roll holders (by pulling off all the loo roll when I am not looking!).
- Shark in the Park a really fun story that will have your kids screaming ‘Shark in the Park’ as loud as they can.
- Shark in the Park on a Windy Day the newest addition to the series and just as much fun as the others.
Nick Sharratt and Julia Donaldson
It’s obviously going to be a winner when Nick Sharratt and Julia Donaldson work together.
- Toddle Waddle my eldest loves this one, spends ages looking at the pictures. A lovely sequencing and rhyming book for younger kids.
- Goat goes to Playgroup this book has been fantastic for talking to my boys about nursery. I would really recommend this one as a gift for any kids starting pre-school.
- One Mole Digging a Hole is a brilliant counting and rhyming book and lots of fun.
Jill Murphy is one of my favourite children’s books authors. The books are very funny and some of the best bedtime stories around.
- Peace at Last I love this one just before bedtime, it’s a great story. It is also full of opportunities to make noises with your kids from the hum of the fridge to the birds tweeting.
- Five Minutes Peace If I was a character in any book I would be Mrs Large, I think most Mums would relate to her in this classic.
- A Quiet Night In both of my kids love the tales about what is happening in Large family. They particularly enjoy the pictures detailing the story so well.
- A Piece of Cake this story is totally me, getting everyone on a diet and eating cake in the middle of the night!
- Mr Large in Charge another fantastic title from this series – very relatable for most families with young kids (unless its just me!).
Classic stories that I loved as a child still fantastic today with my boys.
- Mog the Forgetful Cat we have two cats in our house and so the kids love reading about what cats get up to. This is the best Mog story for me.
- Mog in the Dark this one is a little more abstract but the boys really love it. They seem to be fans of the mousedogbird!
- Mog and the Baby this one was a nice story for my eldest when my youngest came along
- The Tiger who came to Tea who does’t love a tea party with a tiger?
Janet and Allan Ahlberg
Another set of classics here but hey, they are classics for a reason right!
- Funnybones this is a must at Halloween, I get the song about connecting the bones together stuck in my head regularly when we read this one.
- Burglar Bill a fun story for the older kids.
- Each Peach Pear and Plum my Granny bought this one for the boys and they love it. Great for lovers of the classic kids tales.
All toddlers should have a Spot the Dog book. These are such wonderful books. They are also very simple so perfect for little ones. My autistic son communicates with Picture exchange communication (PECs) and his Spot books have been brilliant for commenting on.
- Where’s Spot a fantastic lift the flap adventure on our hunt for Spot the Dog.
- Spot the dog goes to the Park kids love books they can relate to and my boys spent most of their days at the park as toddlers.
- Spot’s Toys this is a favourite for me as it is one of the first books that my eldest (who is still non-verbal -we get the odd single words) spoke the words too as we read it together. It is the simplicity of books like this that allows confidence to kids that need it to be sure they understand.
- Spot loves Nursery another brilliant book for kids starting nursery or pre-schoool.
Rod Campbell’s books are perfect from such a young age.
- Dear Zoo this is a must have for all babies and toddlers. Kids are so excited to see what will be under the flap and what a great range of animals included too. This is another book that has been fantastic to use with picture exchange communication commenting.
- Let’s Name is a fantastic book for learning key words, it is a simple book full of pictures of everyday objects that are familiar to young children.
- First Rhymes a lovely book full of nursery rhyme favourites, we love seeing Incy Wincey washed down the drain in this book.
- Oh Dear another great lift the flap book full of our most familiar farmyard animals.
There are so many children’s books that stand the test of time and these are some of our favourites.
- The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, a lovely book about a little caterpillar becoming a butterfly, counting, food and days of the week.
- We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury. This is a great book for making sounds.
- Meg and Mog by Helen Nicholl and Jan Pienkowski. Big fans of Meg and Mog in this house, always have fun making spells when reading Meg and Mog.
- Paddington and the Disappearing Sandwich by Michael Bond. Paddington is a real classic and this book makes it even more accessible for younger kids.
- Guess How Much I love You by Sam McBratney. Such a beautiful book to read to your children right from the start.
As eldest son is autistic and non-verbal, communicating visually is really important for him and highly visual books are really key to developing understanding.
- Look and Tell Fairy Tales this book is full of fairy tales but with plenty of pictures within the text so the kids can read along with you.
- Busy Busy World by Richard Scarry is a very busy book full of pictures to fill your child’s imagination.
- Where’s Wally by Martin Handford is great for kids who like spending quiet time with books. It takes me hours to find Wally on the page.
- Peep Inside the Zoo by Anna Milbourne is a lovely book filled with exotic animals.
- 1000 Things Under the Sea by Usborne. A wonderful book for teaching children with a huge collection of sea creatures.
- The Usborne Children’s Encyclopaedia another book to help with learning particularly for those at school.
- My First Dinosaur Book by DK Publishing. A must have for all dinosaur fans. Although my pronunciation still needs some work when reading this one.
- Pixar Character Encyclopaedia also by DK Publishing. The boys love Pixar films and this book is full of their favourite characters from Toy Story to Cars.
- My First Words, the ‘My First’ range again by DK Publishing are some of the best visual books I have come across to support learning key words, I really recommend these for kids when learning language.
- My First Numbers is a great book for early counting.
- My First Playtime is full of pictures of all your child’s toys.
Just Great Books
- Wow Said the Owl by Tim Hopgood is a lovely story about an Owl discovering different colours. This book has really helped my youngest with naming colours.
- Rain by Sam Usher is more for the pre-schoolers but most kids can relate to being stuck inside on a rainy day desperate to be out jumping in puddles.
- The Great Dragon Bake Off by Nicola O’Byrne is again for the 4/5 year olds. A lovely story about a Dragon who is a cake baker at heart.
- Zag a Zoo by Quentin Blake is probably most enjoyable for the adults but a lovely tale from birth to old age.
- The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss is one of my husband’s favourites and another very popular book.
- Banyard Dance by Sandra Boyton was given to us as a present. It is a lovely book full of singing and dancing animals with some very catchy rhyming.
- Hooray for Fish by Lucy Cousins is a lovely book all about fish from stripy and spotty fish to fast and slow fish.
Kids love cartoons, many of your kids favourite TV characters have books that match up with the TV episodes. If you are struggling to get your little ones into books this may be a way in.
- Twirlywoos – Gone
- Bing – Hide and Seek
- Peppa Pig – Easter Egg Hunt is a lovely gift for little ones at Easter.
- Peppa and the Big Train
- ABC with Peppa is great for learning the alphabet.
- 123 with Peppa is another brilliant book for counting to ten.
- Peppa Pig – The Dentist Trip this is very helpful before a trip to the dentist.
- Teletubbies – Magic Watering Can
- Postman Pat – The Greendale Rocket
Books for Little Learners
- Topsy and Tim go to the Zoo – Read it yourself is perfect for early readers.
- Follow me 123 (touch and trace)is a brilliant sensory book, it is made for the child to trace the numbers with their fingers.
- Follow me Finger Mazes another one for kids to trace over with their finger.
Books For Babies
Reading to your baby right from the start is one of the best things you can do. At first you can read them anything as they just want to hear your voice. Once they start to be more interactive these books are brilliant first books.
- Peek a Moo by Marie Torres Cimarusti is a fantastic book to play peek a boo with.
- Baby touch Farm is a lovely book with different textures to feel on each farm animal.
- Baby touch Numbers is another one full of textures and for early counting.
- That’s not my Tiger again with textures to feel as you look for your’s tiger.
- That’s not my Dinosaur is another sensory book great for babies.
- Peter Rabbit Nursery Rhymes is a lovely book to give as a present and is full of popular nursery rhymes to sing to your baby.
- Amazing Baby Black and White Book is great as a fist book, babies respond to the black and white contrast really well.
- The Transport Black and White Baby Book, my youngest loved cars from the start so this was perfect for him.
Brilliant Book Sets
A book set can make a great Birthday or Christmas present. My autistic son particularly enjoys lining up his sets of books!
- The Complete Mr Men box set is full of so many different characters to meet.
- Thomas the Tank Engine Ultimate Collection is brilliant for all the train fans.
Books about events / everyday activities
The last few recommendations on the list are a few books that have helped us through events and everyday activities.
- Going to the Dentist by Avril Webster we use social stories with my eldest and the Avril Webster books work really well for supporting everyday activities we always read this in the week coming up to a dentist visit.
- Going to the Hairdresser by Avril Webster has been a huge help for hairdresser visits – my sons most hated activity!
- Pirate Pete Potty whilst we are still working on potty training this book has been really great.
- I’m a New Big Brother, Pirate Pete book by Amanda Li this book was brilliant for my eldest when I was pregnant with his brother. Although he did enjoy pressing the button that made the baby cry a bit too much!
- Everybody Poos by Taro Gomi is a useful book when potty training.
I hope there is some inspiration here for you. I would love to hear about your favourites as we always want to find great new books, so let us know in the comments below.
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