Best Books for Babies and Toddlers as Voted by You

Best Books for Babies and Toddlers as Voted by You

#20 Hairy Maclary – Lynley Dodd

Adorable dog Hairy Maclary was first published back in 1983 in the original book Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy. Since then Hairy Maclary has become a 12 book series, and there are another 9 books about his friends which generation after generation of kids seem to love.

“Any Hairy Mclairy book by lynnly Dodd my 3 children all love it when I try to read it to fast and get my words twisted ! #WHSbookmarks #bestbabybooks” – Kelly Wilson

Hairy Maclary is often found in the midst of adventures with his animal friends and opposed to the cunning local cats, including tomcat Scarface Claw. New Zealand author Lynley Dodd has written this classic picture book series with rhythmic verse and repetition to help little ones develop and practise language and narrative. The books usually have a wide format so that child and adult may sit side by side and enjoy the stories and pictures together.

#19 Meg and Mog – Helen Nicoll & Jan Pienkowski

Helen Nicoll and Jan Pienkowski first introduced us to Meg the witch and her striped cat Mog back in the 1970’s. Meg can never quite get her spells right, often leading to lots of trouble for Mog, Meg and their friend Owl.

“@WHSmith #WHSBookmarks #bestbabybook my boys loved Meg, mog and owl. They never grow old” – Caroline

The character proved to be so popular with little ones that an animated TV series was made and released in the UK and the US. 40 years later and many of us who enjoyed Meg and Mog as children still share their adventures with our own little ones.

#18 Stick Man – Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

This is certainly not going to be the last time we see the dream team that is Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler in this particular top 20, and to start things off we have Stick Man at #18. An adorable character that brings life to the world around us, your little one will see Stick Man everywhere next time you go to the park.

“@WHSmith Stick Man, I bought it when our Daughter was pregnant. Grandbaby is 1 now and loves it #WHSBookmarks #bestbabybook” – Our Patch

Life is never simple for Stick Man, birds want to use him to build a nest, dogs want to fetch him and others want to build fires with him. In this colourful picture book little ones can read about Stick Man’s dangerous journey back to his family tree where his Stick Lady Love and their 3 stick children live.

#17 The Gruffalo’s Child – Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

We told you it wouldn’t be the last we saw of them! The Gruffalo’s Child is the follow-up book to the incredibly popular picture book The Gruffalo.

“It has to be the gruffalo and The gruffalos child. Great for parents and the children can be so inspired by the story. We often take it into the woods to really capture their imagination!” – Phil Turner

The Gruffalo has warned his daughter about the big bad mouse that he met in the first book and told her not to go into the woods. The Gruffalo’s daughter ignores her father and heads into the woods anyway, only to come across the Fox, Owl and Snake that we all remember from the first book too. When the animal’s directions don’t help her find the big bad mouse, The Gruffalo’s daughter thinks he must have been made up. But then she really does meet the mouse, and just like he did to her father, he uses his brains to trick her into believing that he’s the scariest animal in the woods.

#16 The Jolly Postman or Other People’s Letters – Janet Ahlberg and Allan Ahlberg

The Jolly Postman takes the #16 spot with his multi-award winning interactive picture book. We suspect there’s not a copy left in a library that still has all the bits and bobs that come with it intact.

“Anything by the Allbergs. Each Peach and the Postman book are remembered with affection by my (now adult) children.” – Eileen Ridley

The story follows the Jolly Postman as he rides his bike around delivering letters to some well-know children’s characters, including the three bears from Goldilocks and the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood. As you are your little one make your way through the book there are plenty of envelopes to open, containing letters, games and even a tiny little book! The sense of wonder at discovering these hidden treasures will make this book one that will stay with your little one for years.

#15 Mog the Cat – Judith Kerr

Judith Kerr’s well-loved character Mog the Cat first appeared on our bookshelves 45 years ago in Mog the Forgetful Cat. Mog’s owners Mr and Mrs Thomas and their children Nicky and Debbie often appear in the books too, and were in fact based on Judith’s own family.

“Mog was my all-time favourite! #WHSBookmarks #BestBabyBooks” – Natalie Jane Hyde-Wilkins

We last read about Mog in 2002 when Mog sadly died, teaching children about the experience of losing a pet. Mog has continued to be a popular character with children for generations, and one that many parents look forward to sharing with their kids.

#14 Each Peach Pear Plum – Janet Ahlberg & Allan Ahlberg

The second book by Janet and Allan Ahlberg to make the top 20, Each Peach Pear Plum has a bouncy rhythmical story that leads from one well-known children’s character to the next.

“@WHSmith #WHSBookmarks #BestBabyBook Each Peach Pear Plum. We are still reading it together 6 yrs later. Its our snuggley.book” – Clare

Cleverly accompanied by the illustrations, your little one can search for clues as to who the next page will be about as you read. Will it be Robin Hood? Tom Thumb? Jack and Jill? A timeless story that children enjoy reading again and again.

#13 Elmer – David McKee

One of the older books on this list, Elmer was published back in 1968 (nearly 50 years ago!) although a series of books about this loveable elephant have been regularly published since the early 1990’s.

“#WHSBookmarks#BestBabyBooks l childmind and a firm favourite here is Elmer :)” – Susan Marks

Elmer’s story is one of accepting that we’re all different and acknowledging that it’s those quirks and differences that make us who we are and that others love us for. Elmer has a colourful patchwork appearance that little ones will adore, and children love the moment when Elmer stops trying to blend in with the other elephants and accepts that everyone loves him for his differences. This book contains a positive message and a character that your kids will eventually share with their own children.

#12 Room on the Broom – Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

Surely none of you thought that Julia and Axel would only appear twice in the top 20? Their third book to make the list, Room on the Broom, is the story of a kind witch and her cat who are flying on their broomstick. A windy storm blows away the witch’s hat, bow and wand, but three helpful animals return the items to her. In return they ask for a ride on her broomstick, but soon it becomes clear that there are too many of them on one broom and they all end up tumbling into a bog. How will they escape the bog and the dragon that lives there? You’ll have to read it to find out!

“only recently discovered room on a broom and love to read it to our 1 year old and 5 year old #WHSBookmarks #BestBabyBooks” – Mel Sawyer

Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s winning formula of captivating illustrations and a fun, rhythmical story that will keep children entranced once again has proven a success.

#11 Peepo! – Janet Ahlberg & Allan Ahlberg

Another fun and interactive book by the Ahlbergs, Peepo! Is one of the best loved books for reading together with your baby. As you go through the story, your little one can peep through a hole in the page to see what’s to come on the next page. And as the story is about a little baby’s day, there will be plenty of familiar images for your little one to enjoy.

“@WHSmith #WHSbookmarks #BestBabyBooks Peepo by Janet & Allan Ahlberg is a must for a baby & children grow into it’s layers of sophistication” – Kathy Lambert

Full of surprises and fun discoveries, parents and children have marvelled at the wonderful illustrations and giggled their way through this book for generations.

#10 Peppa Pig

As we enter the top 10 we have a slightly more contemporary character for you. Peppa Pig burst onto our TV screens a few years ago, delighting children with her playful personality and fun family – Mummy, Daddy and little brother George.

“At the moment my toddler is loving all of his books but especially his Peppa Pig ones as there is lots to discuss from the pictures and the page numbers are fab and helping him to learn #WHSBookmarks #bestbabybooks” – Kirsty Russon

Similarly to the TV series, the Peppa Pig books feature Peppa and her family in various scenarios as they work through new experiences and often learn a new lesson. Fun, colourful, relatable and educational, these interactive books have become a firm favourite among children and parents too.

#9 Guess How Much I Love You – Sam McBratney & Anita Jeram

We’ve had many funny and whimsical books on our list so far, but Guess How Much I Love You is perhaps one of the most heart-warming. Released in 1994 the book has all the hallmarks of a classic that parents will continue to read to their children for generations.

“@WHSmith A book called “guess how much I love you” was my favourite book as a toddler #WHSBookmarks #BestBabyBook” – Annie

The story follows Big Nutbrown Hare and Little Nutbrown Hare as they each use bigger and bigger examples to show just how much they love each other. You and your little one will be thinking up new things to describe how much you love each other for weeks.

#8 Spot the Dog – Eric Hill

Of course Spot the Dog made the top 10! Created by Eric Hill in 1980, the iconic image of the yellow dog with a brown spot on each side of his body is one that everyone should recognise.

“Spot the dog books are great from toddler through to eary years at school. #WHSBookmarks #BestBabyBooks” – Elaine Livingstone

This mischievous little dog has been the star of many books and a TV series, with touch and feel books, lift-the-flap books and cloth books all available. In the very first book – Where’s Spot – Spot’s mother Sally searches the house for him, a simple story that many little ones love to read again and again.

#7 Mr Men and Little Miss – Roger Hargreaves

We think you’d be pretty hard done by to try and find a person today who doesn’t know and love the Mr Men and Little Miss series. Roger Hargreaves’ classic series has been going since 1971, and features some of the best known children’s characters around.

“My 4 year old is Mr Men and Little Miss mad, she adores them all, and so do I, it’s a blast from my past too xx #WHSBookmarks #BestBabyBooks” – Joanne Tocher

It all started with the fun orange character Mr Tickle, when Roger Hargreaves’ son asked the often-wondered question “what exactly is a tickle”? Since then there have been more than 80 Mr Men and Little Miss characters, each providing a moral lesson to be learned from excessive use of their name-trait.

#6 The Tiger Who Came to Tea – Judith Kerr

Another classic that has stood the test of time, the wonderfully whimsical The Tiger Who Came to Tea is one of Judith Kerr’s most loved stories. Ideal for reading aloud, the colourful illustrations and fun story makes this a lovely tale to enjoy together.

“@WHSmith The Tiger Who Came to Tea #WHSBookmarks He drank all Daddy’s beer you know! That made my daughter chuckle every time.” – Judith Allen

When the doorbell rings as Sophie and her mother are about to have tea in their kitchen, the last thing they expect to find at the door is a big furry tiger. Immediately making himself at home, the tiger eats all their food, drinks all their drinks and drains all their water so that Sophie can’t have a bath. After the tiger has left Sophie’s father takes them out for a meal, and the next day the family show a great level of forgiveness towards the tiger.

#5 Dear Zoo – Rod Campbell

So that’s it, we’ve reached the top 5! And at last we see an appearance by Rod Campbell. The lift-the-flap book Dear Zoo has been a favourite among little ones for more than 25 years. An interactive book, children love reading and re-reading this classic, lifting the flaps to reveal the different animals as you make your way through the story.

“Dear zoo, it’s great fun especially with the lift flaps #WHSBookmarks #BestBabyBooks” – Hayley J Evans

A fun way to learn about the different animals at the zoo while enjoying the fun pictures, it’s no wonder that this classic has made the list.

#4 That’s not my… – Rachel Wells & Fiona Watt

The Usborne touchy-feely series That’s Not My… has been a huge success with babies and toddlers since it was first published in 1999, providing new textures for little ones to explore.

“#WHSBookmarks #BestBabyBooks Hey! We love the Usborne That’s Not My .. Books. He really enjoys them. I think I’m going to have a right little book worm on my hands. Liked & Shared x” – Heidi Leah Peter

With repetitive text and wonderfully illustrated characters, parents and children love finding out about the different animals together. And of course there’s the little white mouse that appears in every picture for children to try and spot. There’s so much to do on each page, it’s no wonder little ones are enchanted by these sensory books.

#3 We’re Going on a Bear Hunt – Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury

For more than a quarter of a century, children have followed this excited family on their adventure to find a bear. Rhythmical, fun and bold, with catchy repetition throughout, kids can’t help but join in with this fun and adventurous tale.

“@WHSmith Also We’re going on a bear hunt as can do action to that too. A real act out book #BooksForU5s #WHSBookmarks” – Kate Buckle

There are plenty of laughs as you go through the grass “swishy swashy” and “squelch” and “squerch” your way through the mud together. But will the family ever find their bear? And if they do, what happens next? If you have doubt that this is the perfect book to read aloud then check out this video of Michael Rosen himself performing the story.

#2 The Gruffalo – Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

So we think you all might just have a soft spot for Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. With an astounding four books in the top 20, this infectious pair have demonstrated just how successful their colourful illustrations and engrossing rhymes have been in keeping parents and children happy. But it was one particular character who made an appearance back in 1999 that has seemed to have had the biggest impact on the imaginations of our little ones; The Gruffalo!

“@WHSmith #BestBabyBook #whsbookmarks my favourite books to read to my daughter are any by Julia Donaldson. We particularly love The Gruffalo” – Lucy Woodrow

When the mouse finds himself the potential dinner of several woodland predators, he tells them that he’s off to meet the Gruffalo who may well like to make them his dinner. But when the mouse really does stumble across The Gruffalo, he has to use his quick thinking and cunning once again to make his escape.

And the Best Book for Babies and Toddlers as Voted by You is…



#1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle

We know you’ve been wondering when this hungry little caterpillar would show up on this list, and we’re pleased to say he’s here at number one! Eric Carle’s classic picture book ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ has been a staple in many children’s reading diets for more than forty years.

“The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is the perfect toddler book it’s eye-catching , role play & colourful we all love reading it too #WHSBooks#BestBabyBooks” – Kim Tyler

“#WHSBookmarks #BestBabyBooks i still think the old ones are the best, there’s a good reason why children are reading them, generation after generation, mine and my sons first favourite- the very hungry caterpillar x” – Vicky Collins

“The very hungry caterpillar has to be the best baby/toddler book as it has a sweet story that includes counting and how creatures grow and change. #BestBabyBooks #WHSBookmarks” – Rebecca Wright

“The Hungry Caterpillar was always a big favourite of mine and my little one loves it too!” – Katy C Johnston

A timeless story, the book has a subtle educational element both in its narrative of a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly, and in its use of counting and the days of the week. Wonderfully colourful and fun, kids adore the spectacular illustrations that accompany this tale, as well as the variety of foods that the caterpillar eats. Your votes have proven that this iconic character is as loved today as he was 46 years ago!





Take a look through the top 150 books that you recommended as the best books for babies and toddlers here:

1 . The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle

2 . The Gruffalo – Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

3 . We’re Going On A Bear Hunt – Michael Rosen & Helen Oxenbury

4 . That’s not my… – Rachel Wells & Fiona Watt

5 . Dear Zoo – Rod Campbell

6 . The Tiger Who Came to Tea – Judith Kerr

7 . Mr Men and Little Miss – Roger Hargreaves

8 . Spot the Dog – Eric Hill

9 . Guess How Much I Love You – Sam McBratney & Anita Jeram

10 . Peppa Pig

11 . Peepo! – Janet Ahlberg & Allan Ahlberg

12 . Room on the Broom – Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

13 . Elmer – David McKee

14 . Each Peach Pear Plum – Janet Ahlberg & Allan Ahlberg

15 . Mog the Cat – Judith Kerr

16 . The Jolly Postman – Janet Ahlberg & Allan Ahlberg

17 . The Gruffalo’s Child – Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

18 . Stick Man – Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

19 . Meg and Mog – Helen Nicoll & Jan Pienkowski

20 . Hairy Maclary – Lynley Dodd

21 . What the Ladybird Heard – Julia Donaldson & Lydia Monks

22 . Bing

23 . Aliens Love Underpants – Claire Freedman & Ben Cort

24 . Thomas The Tank Engine

25 . Barry The Fish With Fingers – Sue Hendra

26 . Tales from Acorn Wood – Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

27 . Monkey Puzzle – Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

28 . Three Little Pigs

29 . A Squash and a Squeeze – Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

30 . Calm Down Boris – Sam Lloyd

31 . The Snail and the Whale – Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

32 . Peace At Last – Jill Murphy

33 . Sir Charlie Stinky Socks and The Pirate’s Curse – Kristina Stephenson

34 . The Pirates Next Door – Johnny Duddle

35 . Topsy and Tim – Jean Adamson

36 . Paddington Bear – Michael Bond

37 . Alfie – Debi Gliori

38 . The Cat in the Hat – Dr Seuss

39 . Funnybones – Janet Ahlberg & Allan Ahlberg

40 . Kipper – Mick Inkpen

41 . Pippi Longstocking – Astrid Lindgren

42 . Superworm – Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

43 . Not Now Bernard – David Mckee

44 . Barbar – Laurent de Brunhoff

45 . Bunny Roo I Love You – Melissa Marr & Teagan White

46 . Can’t You Sleep Little Bear – Martin Waddell & Barbara Firth

47 . Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak

48 . The Giant Turnip – Henrietta Barkow

49 . Dogger – Shirley Hughes

50 . The Bad Tempered Ladybird – Eric Carle

51 . Peekaboo Who Are You Georgie Birkett

52 . The Rainbow Fish – Marcus Pfister

53 . Miffy – Dick Bruna

54 . Slinky Malinki – Lynley Dodd

55 . Winnie the witch – Korky Paul, Valerie Thomas & Laura Owen

56 . Hansel & Gretel

57 . Goodnight Moon – Margaret Wise Brown & Clement Hurd

58 . Baby’s Very First Touchy-feely Book (Usborne Touchy Feely Books) – Steve Baggott

59 . Tiddler – Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

60 . Percy the Park Keeper – Nick Butterworth

61 . Five Minutes Peace – Jill Murphy

62 . Peter Rabbit – Beatrix Potter

63 . Winnie the Pooh – A. A. Milne

64 . Giraffes Can’t Dance – Giles Andreae & Guy Parker-Rees

65 . Toddle Waddle – Julia Donaldson & Nick Sherratt

66 . I Want My Potty – Tony Ross

67 . Noddy – Enid Blyton

68 . Charlie and Lola – Lauren Child

69 . First 100 Words – Roger Priddy

70 . Sophie the Giraffe – DeLiSo S.A.S

71 . Peep Inside… – Usborne

72 . Tabby McTat – Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

73 . The Day the Crayons Quit – Drew Daywalt

74 . The Dinosaur That Pooped… – Tom Fletcher, Dougie Poynter & Garry Parsons

75 . Supertato – Sue Hendra

76 . Pip and Posy – Axel Scheffler

77 . Burglar Bill – Alan Ahlberg & Janet Ahlberg

78 . I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean – Kevin Sherry

79 . Little Rabbit Foo Foo – Michael Rosen & Arthur Robins

80 . Father Christmas Needs a Wee – Nicholas Allan

81 . How to Grow a Dinosaur – Caryl Hart & Ed Eaves

82 . Handa’s Hen – Eileen Browne

83 . Hello London – Marion Billet

84 . The First Slodge – Jeanne Willis & Jenni Desmond 

85 . You Choose – Pippa Goodhart & Nick Sharratt

86 . Slowly Slowly Slowly Said the Sloth – Eric Carle

87 . The Tale of Tom Kitten – Beatrix Potter

88 . Once There Were Giants – Martin Waddell & Penny Dale

89 . The Hairy Toe – Daniel Postgate

90 . Fancy Dress Farmyard – Nick Sharatt

91 . Sleepy Me!

92 . My Big Shouting Day – Rebecca Patterson

93 . Oh Dear – Rod Campbell

94 . Chicken Licken

95 . God’s Little Princess Bedtime Devotional – Sheila Walsh

96 . There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed the Sea – Pam Adams

97 . Here Come the Aliens – Colin McNaughton

98 . Avocado Baby – John Burningham

99 . One Mole Digging a Hole – Julia Donaldson & Nick Sherratt

100 . Owl Babies – Martin Waddell & Patrick Benson

101 . Peekaboo Pets – Emily Bowlam

102 . Goat Goes to Playgroup – Julia Donaldson & Nick Sherratt

103 . The Highway Rat – Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

104 . Wow! Said the Owl – Tim Hopgood

105 . I’m Not Scared – Jonathan Allen

106 . Never Use a Knife and Fork – Neil Goddard & Nick Sherratt

107 . Mixed Up Fairy Tales – Hilary Robinson

108 . Mr Pusskins – Sam Lloyd

109 . Mungo and the Picture Book Pirates – Timothy Knapman & Adam Stower

110 . The Chimpanzees of Happytown –  Giles Andreae & Guy Parker-Rees

111 . The Elves and the Shoemaker

112 . No Matter What – Debi Gliori

113 . Supermarket Zoo – Caryl Hart & Ed Eaves

114 . Oi Frog – Kes Gray & Jim Field

115 . Big Blue Train – Julia Jarman & Adrian Reynolds

116 . Dinosaur Roar – Henrietta Stickland & Paul Stickland

117 . Good Night Copycub – Richard Edwards

118 . Green Eggs and Ham – Dr Seuss

119 . Tattybogle – Ruth Kenward

120 . Farmyard Tales

121 . Handa’s Surprise – Eileen Browne

122 . Chocolate Mousse for Greedy Goose – Julia Donaldson & Nick Sherratt

123 . Hippo has a Hat – Julia Donaldson & Nick Sherratt

124 . Rainbow Rob – Roger Priddy

125 . When It’s Time for Bed – Nick Butterworth

126 . The Smartest Giant in Town – Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

127 . I Took the Moon for a Walk – Carolyn Curtis & Alison Jay

128 . Hugless Douglas – David Melling

129 . Keep Running Gingerbread Man – Steve Smallman & Neil Price

130 . The Giant of Jum – Elli Woollard & Benji Davies

131 . Horrid Henry – Francesca Simon & Tony Ross

132 . Harry and the Bucket full of Dinosaurs – Ian Whybrow & Adrian Reynolds

133 . Where Oh Where is Huggle Buggle Bear

134 . I’m Not Cute Jonathan Allen

135 . Smelly Louie – Catherine Rayner

136 . Mighty Mo – Alison Brown

137 . Brown Bear Brown Bear – Bill Martin & Eric Carle

138 . The Paper Dolls – Julia Donaldson & Rebecca Cobb

139 . The Troll – Julia Donaldson & David Roberts

140 . How Do You Feel – Anthony Browne

141 . Captain Flynn and the Pirate Dinosaurs – Giles Andreae & Russell Ayto

142 . Dogs Don’t Do Ballet – Anna Kemp & Sara Ogilvie

143 . Don’t Chew on the Royal Shoe – Kate Leake

144 . Judy Moody – Megan McDonald & Peter H. Reynolds

145 . What a Mess – Adria Meserve

146 . Walking Through the Jungle – Stella Blackstone & Debbie Harter

147 . Red Rockets and Rainbow Jelly – Nick Sherratt & Sue Heap

148 . William and The Night Train – Miji Kelly

149 . Maisy – Lucy Cousins

150 . The Fish Who Could Wish – John Bush & Korky Paul