Although The Gruffalo is the character we all remember from the story, it is the mouse who is our protagonist and leads us through the narrative. Whilst strolling through the woods, the mouse comes across several creatures who may want to eat him, but convinces them that he’s on his way to meet the Gruffalo who may want to eat them! The woodland creatures are scared by the threat of the Gruffalo and leave the mouse alone, whilst the mouse chuckles at their stupidity –
“Silly old fox, doesn’t he know? There’s no such thing as a Gruffalo!”
But then the mouse really does come across the Gruffalo, and now he must convince him not to eat him either. The mouse takes the Gruffalo through the woods to demonstrate that the mouse is the scariest creature in the woods. When the woodland creatures from before cower at the sight of the Gruffalo, he is impressed by the mouse’s apparent status within the woods.
The perfect book to help pre-schoolers develop their vocabulary, the book is intended for 3-7 year olds and is written in a rhythmical style that is ideal for reading aloud. In 2009 The Gruffalo was voted the UK’s favourite bedtime story by listeners of BBC Radio 2, and the book has also won the Blue Peter Award for The Best Book to Read Aloud. Axel Scheffler’s enchanting illustrations have created an instantly recognisable character that children adore, and contributed to the book’s perception as a modern classic.
The Gruffalo is an obvious choice of book for pre-schoolers, and many parents find their child transfixed by the beautiful illustrations, infections rhymes and funny story again and again. But once you’ve read The Gruffalo for the hundredth time, you may want to start looking for other picture books to capture their imagination. We’ve put together a list of books that we think are perfect for Gruffalo fans, with beautiful illustrations, fun characters and stories that will keep them hooked until the last page.
Noi spends a lot of time lonely in a house by the sea, and so when a baby whale gets washed up on the beach, Noi takes his new friend home and looks after it in secret. As you can imagine, a whale in the house doesn’t stay secret for long and soon Noi has to let his friend return to the sea, grateful for the influence the whale has had on his life.
“The Storm Whale is an evocative portrayal of a child’s need for friendship, told through the sparest of text and imagery in this beautiful picture book.” – The ReadingZone
David Walliams has channeled his talent for children’s books into a picture book that is sure to have little ones laughing out loud. Complete with fantastic illustrations by Tony Ross, the big, blue slightly annoying elephant is a character that your children will want to read about again and again.
“Tony Ross is a master at capturing the humour in childhood” – Books Magazine
“David Walliams books are a breath of wonderful fresh air” – The Sun
Life for the Brown family is never the same after meeting the charming Paddington Bear. Having travelled from Darkest Peru with only a few essentials – and of course a jar of marmalade – Paddington finds life in London a little difficult to adjust to, resulting in plenty of mayhem and hilarious situations.
“Paddington has joined Pooh as one of the great bears of English children’s literature.” – The Teacher
“Michael Bond’s accident-prone bear…has become one of the most enduring of children’s characters.” – The Bookseller
One of the most recognisable and well-loved children’s characters of all time, many parents can’t wait to introduce their little ones to the cat in the hat. Bringing plenty of chaos to Sally’s house, the cat in the hat saves Sally and her brother from a rainy day by providing lots of mischief. Complete with the rhymes and whimsy that Dr Seuss is celebrated for, this is a wonderful book to read aloud.
“Some books we read and we forget them right away […] But there are those other books, that they just stay with us. And The Cat in the Hat is that kind of book.” – Anita Silvey, author of 100 Best Books for Children.
The last thing little Duncan expects when getting his trusted crayons out to do some colouring is for the crayons to be in rebellion! Beige doesn’t want to live in Brown’s shadow anymore and Yellow and Orange are no longer speaking. And when will Pink finally get a chance to shine?
“Fresh and funny. Oliver Jeffers’s quirky, joyful illustrations convey the strength and comedy of the crayons’ sentiments, and children ages 4-8 will laugh in recognition at seeing their own color preferences reflected back at them.”—The Wall Street Journal
We refuse to believe that there’s a single person out there who hasn’t heard of the Very Hungry Caterpillar! Mesmerising children for more than 40 years, the timeless story is one that many children hold dear in their hearts for years.
“Every child should experience this wonderful, cumulative story, with its brightly coloured pictures of the tiny but greedy caterpillar that eats his way through one apple, two plums and three pears before turning into a beautiful butterfly.” – -Kirkus Reviews UK
“The very hungry caterpillar literally eats his way through the pages of the book — and right into your child’s heart…” -Mother’s Manual
Well-loved characters Winnie the Witch and Wilbur the cat dress up as a pirate and parrot in this book, ready for Cousin Cuthbert’s fancy dress party. Complete with a crew of children from the party, Winnie magics up a handsome pirate ship and the crew sets sail in search of a treasure island. But their crew of fancy dress pirates aren’t the only ones out there and there’s plenty of adventure to be had in the world of pirates.
“Pure magic!” – The Times
“Paul’s artwork is as dynamic and arresting as ever. His comic touch is perfectly judged.” – The Guardian
Featuring classic fairytale characters and the feisty hairdresser Kittie Lacey, the Fairytale Hairdresser series is fun and witty. In this story we meet Snow White as she flees from the wicked queen and Kittie helps save the day with the 7 dwarves and a certain magic mirror.
“This is a clever series – each time you re-read it with your child (or with a class) they will pick up something fresh; a reference to yet another fairytale. The clever and witty writing is set off excellently by the illustrations which bring a contemporary feel to the old favourites.” – Parents in Touch
A book that many parents will remember from their own childhoods, children love the excitement of squelching through the mud and fighting through the grass with the family as they go on a bear hunt.
“Michael Rosen’s classic picture book We’re Going On A Bear Hunt is a firm favourite bedtime read in my house. My three-year-old daughter and 18-month-old son love the repetition, alliteration and onomatopoeic sounds in the verse (even if they have no idea yet what such literary terms mean!).” – ParentDish.co.uk
Little ones adore the naughty and outrageous Underpants series, and Pirates Love Underpants is another hilarious story to read together. With lots of funny characters to meet along the way to finding the Pants of Gold, this will quickly become a favourite addition to the bookshelf.
“The artwork is absolutely fantastic, with really detailed illustrations. There is so much to see on each page and lots of opportunity to discuss what is going on in each picture.” – The Bookbag
When Supertato’s arch nemesis escapes from the freezer, it’s down to Supertato to stop his reign of terror and save the other vegetables. A hilarious character from the bestselling illustrator of Barry the Fish with Fingers, prepare to be asked to read this book again and again.
“As well as being a super bedtime story, or any time story really, this would also be really fun to read aloud to a group of children – probably older pre-schoolers and those in reception and year one would be most appreciative. And who knows, maybe they’ll be lured into the delights of enjoying vegetables at dinnertime too?” – The Bookbag
Patch the dog is the first friend that Oliver meets in the big scary city and the duo are soon like peas in a pod. But Oliver knows that somewhere Patch has a family that miss him terribly, and he realises that he has to do the right thing. With a happy ending, your little one will fall in love with Oliver and Patch.
“This is a sweet story, easily understood by toddlers but also nice to share with those in the first few years of school. It is, of course, ideal for any child who has just endured the trauma of moving house, but I think anyone, really, would enjoy this lovely friendship story.” – The Bookbag
Family life is never quiet, but all Mrs Large the elephant wants is just 5 minutes’ peace and a nice bubble bath. As you might expect, the Large family have other ideas and poor mum doesn’t have long to enjoy her peaceful bath.
“Family life is beautifully observed with a humour that appeals to both adult and child.” – Daily Telegraph
The supermarket is full of dinosaurs causing mayhem, but the grown-ups haven’t noticed a thing! One little boy has spotted all their naughtiness, but can he do anything to stop them?
“This book has wonderful illustrations, we can spend a good 5 minutes hunting for the hidden dinosaurs on some of the pages. Great for a fun read, sometimes a bit too exciting for bedtime but a great book all the same.” – MummyInTraining.co.uk
The wonderful follow-up to ‘How to Hide a Lion’, children will love continuing Iris’s charming story. When Grandma comes to visit, Iris has to hide her lion so that she doesn’t get startled by the big cat. But it seems as though Grandma has something to hide too.
With a slightly retro feel, and rendered in a somewhat subdued palette, Helen Stephens’ illustrations have an old-fashioned charm and are suffused with a gentle humour.” – Jill R Bennet
“Funny and warmhearted. I loved reading it with my daughter.” – Axel Scheffler
We all know that giraffes can’t dance, right? Especially not Gerald the tall giraffe, no matter how much he wants to join in with the Jungle Dance. But then again maybe Gerald just hasn’t found his tune yet. Prepare to fall in love with courageous Gerald and his funky moves.
“Andreae’s rhyming text has a jaunty rhythm that’s likely to spark interest in the read-aloud crowd.” – Publishers Weekly
“The book is delightfully illustrated with rhinos who rock and roll, lions tangoing, and baboons performing a Scottish reel. The humour appeals to adult and child alike.” – Kids-BookReview.com
Perfect for children who are learning about numbers, the ten pirates will take your little one on an adventure filled with characters such as a hungry shark and a giant squid. With a rhythmic verse and hilarious illustrations, this is an action-packed picture book that will keep your little one hooked until the last page.
“Perfect to share with young children who are learning about numbers. With its bouncy, rhythmic text and lots of great sound words, this piratical adventure is perfect for sharing again and again.” – Parents in Touch
A unique twist on the traditional fairytale, the deep dark wood is a dangerous place that no one would dare wonder through. Between the trolls, witches and the Big Bad Wolf, there are plenty of scary creatures to keep us out of the trees. But then what is a sweet little girl doing in there? And is she everything that she seems?
“For every kid who loves a bit of a thrill laced with humour, this is perfect.” -Books for Keeps
“Neatly told with lots of brilliant read-aloud bits.” – Read it Daddy
A fantastic sensory book for little ones, you can feel the dinosaur’s scales as you read and have lots of fun making the dinosaur noises too. The fun group of dinosaur friends make great characters for young readers to enjoy.
“The images are fantastic and with the added bonus of scaly dinosaurs in the book there is an extra sensory element to the boo especially important for young children.” – RainyDayMum.co.uk
A wonderful introduction to the classic story, with all the best-loved characters and phrases too. Children will be captivated by the colourful illustrations and enjoy playing with words such as “curiouser and curiouser”.
“Puybaret brings a playful sophistication to his dreamlike images, which are well matched to the unpredictable atmosphere of Carroll’s classic fantasy.” – Publishers Weekly
A favourite children’s character for over 20 years, Elmer is widely considered a modern classic that every child should read. Encouraging little ones to accept the parts that make them different, you’ll take a positive message away from this story.
“McKee’s gentle humor and love of irony are in full force in this celebration of individuality and laughter.” – Publisher’s Weekly.
Before a little boy cried wolf, young Bonehead cried “Gigantosaurus” to all the other dinosaurs until they all stopped believing him. So what will happen when the Gigantosaurus really makes an appearance
“Duddle’s digital illustrations create a rich prehistoric world with an almost sculptural depth, and his bug-eyed dinosaurs exude personality. Bouncy rhymes and a narrative propelled by alternating moments of terror and relief make for a lively, mischievous read.” — Publishers Weekly
When the Jolly-Rogers stop to fix their boat, the locals soon start gossiping about the arrival of this unusual family. But looks aren’t always what they seem and the locals soon learn that they’re wrong about our favourite family of pirates.
“Veiled in humor, but hard not to read as a parable that tweaks narrow minds and parochial attitudes.” -Kirkus Reviews
Naughty, funny and with hilarious characters, Danny and Dino’s space adventure is a fantastic follow up to their debut. When Dino gets hungry in space and Danny realises that he’s forgotten his lunchbox, everything soon becomes a potential meal – including the pair’s rocket!
“The kids were in hysterics reading this book… The story is really easy to read and builds up to a dramatic boom with Dinosaur. It will definitely keep children of all ages engaged and wanting to read it again and again. The illustrations are great.” – YummyMummyFlabbyTummy
“It’s a great book for reading aloud to little ones . . . I highly recommend it for kids aged two and up.” – Jennifer Muirhead from WeekendNotes
In a world where animals must sit on an object that their name rhymes with, cats must sit on mats and gofers must sit on sofas. But what happens if frog doesn’t want to sit on a log? Hilarious and full of fun rhymes, this is a perfect book to read aloud together.
“Field’s illustrations are bursting with energy and silliness, and Gray’s fertile imagination conjures up bizarre scenarios that will have little ones giggling out loud and making up new rhymes of their own. An absolute treat.” – Daily Mail
For more children’s books for pre-schoolers, take a look at our website.
If you’ve found a picture book that you think is perfect for fans of The Gruffalo then share you recommendation with us in the comments box below.