The best children's books ever - as voted by parents

You voted for the books you thought every child should read, and the results are in. These are the timeless classics, the ultimate reading list for children and parents to enjoy together again and again   

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Best picture book: The Gruffalo - Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

The Gruffalo

Best chapter book: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling 

Harry Potter

The best of the rest...

Picture books 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar - Eric Carle

The Very Hungry Caterpillar


Mumsnetters say: "This is a brilliant book ... so simple but so effective. Counting, colours and words - it's all in there. A definite classic."


You Choose - Nick Sharrat and Pippa Goodhart

You Choose


Mumsnetters say: "It's given me and my children hours of pleasure ... it starts conversations about feelings, ideas, dreams and so much more. It's helped me learn about my children, and prompted me to share my own memories of clothes and houses and hidden talents."

Each Peach Pear Plum - Janet and Allan Ahlberg

Each Peach Pear Plum

Mumsnetters say: "A much-loved book ... The illustrations are beautiful, and the rhyming words were recited for a long time in our house."

The Jolly Postman - Janet and Allan Ahlberg 

The Jolly Postman

Mumsnetters say:  "Funny and educational and contains the almost-dead art of letter writing. I've not met anyone who has failed to fall in love with the book."


The Tiger Who Came to Tea - Judith Kerr

The Tiger Who Came to Tea

Mumsnetters say: "The book I was most excited to read with my son because I loved it so much as a child." 

Dogger - Shirley Hughes


Mumsnetters say: "I loved the illustrations, and the way the big sister swaps her new teddy so they can get tatty old Dogger back. I knew that if I'd lost my teddy I'd have done anything to get him back too."

Winnie-the-Pooh - A A Milne

Winnie the Pooh

Mumsnetters say: "Funny, charming and simple, yet at the same time detailed and emotionally engaging. Saying goodbye at the end of the last story still reduces me to tears."

Oh, the Places You'll Go - Dr. Seuss 

Oh the Places You’ll Go

Mumsnetters say: "It's moving and almost spiritual in its image of life and yet brings you back down to earth with leaking sneakers!"

Dear Zoo - Rod Campbell

Dear Zoo

Mumsnetters say: "A lovely book with cute lift-the-flap style pictures. The animals in this book are great for practising our baby signs too."

Chapter books

The BFG - Roald Dahl 


Mumsnetters say: "You can't go wrong with Roald Dahl. I've read his books over and over again, even as an adult - but The BFG was my favourite." 


The Magic Faraway Tree - Enid Blyton

The Magic Faraway Tree

Mumsnetters say: "I loved the excitement of the changing lands at the top of the tree. I read this on my own as a child but I couldn't wait for my sons to reach the self-reading phase, so I read it out loud to them when they were four and six" 


The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

Secret Garden

Mumsnetters say: "This book sparked my imagination like no other. I know my daughter was equally enthralled when I found a copy for her to read many years later too."

Charlotte's Web - EB White

Charlotte’s Web

Mumsnetters say: "I remember being caught reading this with my torch under my covers and being told to go to sleep ... problem was I had to know what was going to happen which meant reading to the end then going down to my mum in floods of tears!"


His Dark Materials - Phillip Pullman 

His Dark Materials

Mumsnetters say: "A trilogy rather than just one book, and definitely geared towards older children, but the His Dark Materials books are ones I returned to again and again. They're just so vivid, I'd get lost in the alternative worlds and as I got older, I saw more of the underlying themes so continued to get something from them."


Swallows and Amazons- Arthur Ransome 

Swallows and Amazons

Mumsnetters say: "I loved this series as a child in the 1970s, and my daughter and lots of her friends loved them just as much when they read them in the 2000s. They're such realistic stories, which makes a nice change nowadays when so many children's books are fantasy and adventure."

Goodnight Mr Tom- Michelle Magorian

Goodnight Mr Tom

Mumsnetters say: "My favourite book from childhood. I really do think every child should read it."

Ballet Shoes - Noel Streatfeild 

Ballet Shoes

Mumsnetters say: "Rereading Ballet Shoes reminded me how much I love it and how well I know it. The characters are flawed but loveable; none more so than Winifred, whose outburst at the unfairness of life feels very real. The detail of the dresses, using the necklaces for security on a loan and going to County Hall to get their performing licences all felt like a window into another world."

The Worst Witch- Jill Murphy

Worst Witch

Mumsnetters say: "I loved it 35 years ago and my children love it now." 

The Borrowers - Mary Norton

The Borrowers

Mumsnetters say: "I read The Borrowers when I was about 10 and loved it; the whole notion of little people who lived under the floorboards being the reason I could never find a hair clip really appealed to me. I'm now reading it, a chapter a day, to my three-year-old daughter who is growing to love it too."

Anne of Green Gables - Lucy Maud Montgomery

Mumsnetters say: "The series was a favourite of mine growing up. I read the books over and over. Anne was a quirky, likeable but unconventional character. I can't wait for my daughter to read them."

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit - Judith Kerr

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit

Mumsnetters say: "A personal account of the historic events preceding the Second World War from the point of view of a young Jewish girl. The book speaks directly to children in a way that inspires empathy and understanding. Anticipate lots of smiles and good humour too."  

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Last updated: 5 months ago