Why We Love Ladybird Books

Why We Love Ladybird Books

A firm favourite among parents and teachers, Ladybird ranges vary across all age groups, whether it’s exploring the sensory side of books with the Baby Touch series or building up skills as an independent reader with the Read it Yourself series. Ladybird have always strived to help educate children while growing their love for reading through colourful illustrations and captivating stories – and all at the best value for money.

During World War Two the first pocket sized Ladybird came out as part of an Animal series including Bunnikins and Downy Duckling. Children were up-lifted by the colourful illustrations and adorable characters, and that value for money ethos was especially important at the time. It was after the War that Ladybird set its sights on educational non-fiction, reaping the benefits of the need for school books while making these books more fun and exciting for kids.

One of the first factual Ladybird book was in fact written by radio’s Children’s Hour presenter Derek McCulloch – In the Train with Uncle Mac.

Ladybird’s world renowned Key Words Reading Scheme launched in 1964 after William Murray discovered that only 12 words form up to 25% of all the words we speak. A method for teaching children these key words was derived from this discovery and used within the Key Words Reading Scheme. The scheme has helped many children learn to read quickly and easily, and is still in print today!

The company name officially became Ladybird Books in 1972, and after a new owner took over the company a year later the range of books continued to grow, including the Read It Yourself series – which even Prince William has been spotted with – in the 1970’s and the Puddle Lane reading scheme for 3-6 year olds in the 1980’s.

Ladybird fully integrated within Penguin in 1999, relocating from Loughborough to London. Still producing books for all age groups and releasing those favourite series – including Topsy and Tim, Key Words with Peter and Jane and Baby Touch – Ladybird have also now acquired books by a number of exciting modern brands such as Peppa Pig, In the Night Garden and Lego.

100 years later, Ladybird is still a firm favourite with parents, children and teachers, and those well-known characters that we fell in love with as children are still just as relevant for children today.

Here we take a look at some of the best loved books from Ladybird over the years:

Pirate Pete and Princess Polly

Using simple words and colourful pictures, the Pirate Pete and Princess Polly books help children to deal with some of the new experiences and skills that they will learn as toddlers. Whether it’s potty training, saying please and thank you or simply shopping for a new pair of shoes, the books are intended to reassure children and parents and to encourage positive reactions to new milestones. Many of the Pirate Pete and Princess Polly books now include sound buttons to further reinforce positive behaviour, including sounds such as a baby giggling in the ‘I’m a New Big Sister’ book and cheering in the ‘New Shoes’ book.

“The illustrations are big, bold, bright and very eye catching. We loved watching Pirate Pete and Princess Polly try on and choose their new shoes. Because it’s a Ladybird book, we also adored finding the little ladybird on each page.” – Little Fiction Fascination review of ‘New Shoes’

Read It Yourself Books

The classic Read it Yourself range of books have been carefully graded to help improve children’s confidence with reading and to help improve their vocabulary and abilities. Starting with Level 1, children can dip their toe into reading with fun and simple stories. Levels 2 and 3 gradually advance from this point with stories for children who can begin to read simple sentences and then simple stories with help. As children grow in confidence, Level 4 provides longer stories that continue to progress children who can now read independently and with fluency. The range includes many different stories to suit various children’s interests – whether it’s a fairytale story such as Sleeping Beauty, a modern character such as Peppa Pig, or a classic character such as Peter Rabbit.

“My youngest daughter is 4 and just learning to read. At school they use the phonics system and the oxford reading tree, It is really nice to have other, different books to share with her at home that she can attempt to read from too. These read it yourself books from Ladybird take me right back to my own child and my first forays into reading.” – BookReviewsForMums.com


Topsy and Tim

Topsy and Tim has been one of Ladybird’s best known and best loved series for over 50 years. The classic twins have helped generations of children with scary new situations such as starting school and visiting the dentist, showing that real kids can react differently to new scenarios. Created by husband and wife team Jean and Gareth Adamson, the twins offer realistic portrayals of children in real-life experiences – a concept that was very fresh at the time. The use of twin characters allowed the writers to present different opinions and reactions to new experiences, and reassure children that it’s okay to feel differently to someone else. Jean still works closely with the design team working on Topsy and Tim to provide that influence that has made the twins so successful for so long.

“Where would we be without the redoubtable Topsy and Tim? Between them they have covered almost every activity known to humanity and a few that are only known to children.” – Books for Keeps

Baby Touch Books

Inspired by the Ladybird First Focus range of books, the Baby Touch range provides a sensory experience for babies with cloth books, lift-the-flap books and sturdy board books that can be used in a variety of circumstances.

Introducing books to exciting new situations such as bath time and in the buggy, the Baby Touch range is the perfect way to make books a part of your baby’s life as early as possible.

Whether it’s discovering the different textures of animals with your hands or lifting flaps to reveal shiny foil and colourful pictures, you can subtly introduce your little one to language whilst enjoying a sensory experience that will keep your baby’s attention. And bringing a new level of interactivity to the range, you can now download Baby Touch apps with peekaboo games that are specifically designed to help a baby’s eye-tracking skills, hearing ability and motor skills.

“My family loves Baby Touch because of the bright colours, the sounds and the textures. They mean we can share books, even at such an early age. Books are so important in my life and being able to pass that on to my children is fab!” – Angela Griffin


You can take a look at our fantastic selection of Ladybird books on our website.

Let us know which Ladybird book brings back fond memories for you in the comments box below.