The best children's books - according to Mumsnetters

17 May 2019

mother and daughter reading

From fantasy and adventure to classics that take you back to your own younger days, when it comes to the world of children’s literature, there is so much to explore with your little (and not-so-little) ones. Here’s a round-up of the children’s books that come highly recommended by Mumsnetters.

Best books for KS1 and below

The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr, £4

The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr, £4

Relive some treasured childhood moments with a much-loved children’s classic. The Tiger Who Came to Tea follows the story of Sophie, a little girl who receives a very special and unexpected visitor for tea – a big, furry, stripy tiger! With beautiful illustrations and a timeless tale, there’s a reason why this book hasn’t been out of print since it was first published in 1968.

“Ah, The Tiger Who Came to Tea – it’s my most favourite book ever!”

“The Tiger Who Came to Tea is one of my top books too. I love the pictures so much.”

For children aged 3-5 years

Buy it now

Tabby McTat by Julia Donaldson, £4.93

Tabby McTat by Julia Donaldson, £4.93

A heartwarming story with a modern twist, Tabby McTat is a story of friendship and loyalty set in the city of London. Join Tabby as he ventures across the big city in search of his singing busker friend, Fred. Mumsnetters appreciate the diversity of characters explored in the book, which helps children to understand that there are many different types of people (and kittens!) in the world.

“At her request, I am reading Tabby McTat by Julia Donaldson on a nightly basis to my daughter, and one of the things I love about it is it's based in London and so all the city crowds are really diverse. From women in hijabs to big men with tattoos and dogs, to Rastafarians, it's just like real life.”

For children aged 3-7 years

Buy it now

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney, £3.99

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney, £3.99

If there’s a story that’s sure to bring a joyful tear to the eye of Mumsnetters, it’s the simple, yet moving, Guess How Much I Love You. This beautiful tale follows Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare as they explore different units of measurement in order to express how much they love one another. With sweet illustrations as well as heartfelt prose, this book is a wonderful way to let your little ones know how loved they are (just make sure you've got tissues on hand).

“Guess How Much I Love You seems to have a magic effect on my daughter and calms her down, even if she wakes up crying during the night.”

“I can never get to the end of Guess How Much I Love You unless I have waterproof eyeliner on!”

For children aged 2-5 years

Buy it now

Little Heroes by Little Heroes Publishing, $4.99

Little Heroes by Little Heroes Publishing, $4.99

There are plenty of personalised children’s books on the market but the Little Heroes range offers a huge selection of stories and styles, so you’re sure to find something that suits your child’s tastes. From classic fairy tales to stories of everyday people, the Little Heroes stories put your child at the heart of the plot – a feature that will engage junior bookworms and reluctant readers alike. Mumsnetters recommend the series thanks to the fact that the illustrations in the books can also be personalised, making them even more tailored to your child.

“Little Heroes do both the story and illustration customisation, which is pretty rare. They also have books which allow you to put in more than one name. They're pretty reasonable price wise, so if you're feeling generous – get two!”

For children aged 2-8 years

Buy it now

See Inside… Usborne Flap Book Series by Katie Daynes, from £7.19

See Inside… Usborne Flap Book Series by Katie Daynes, from £7.19

If you’re looking to introduce some non-fiction into your children’s bookshelf, the Usborne See Inside series is a great option as it focuses on the facts without losing any of the fun. From science to history and everything in between, this series encourages kids to look ‘inside’ the subjects of space, the body, towns and cities, and even historical events. With excellent illustration and flaps throughout the books that reveal more information, this series is informative and oft-recommended by Mumsnetters.

“You HAVE to have some Usborne books. We love looking at them with the kids, and the 'See Inside' ones are particularly good.”

For children aged 5-8 years

Buy it now

Best books for KS2 and above

The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis, from £8 for seven books

The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis, from £8 for seven books

When it comes to classic children’s books, no list would be complete without The Chronicles of Narnia. For generations, kids have loved exploring the magical land of Narnia and meeting its many fascinating inhabitants – from the brave lion, Aslan, to the evil White Witch. As well as offering beautifully told stories and action aplenty, this collection provides a nostalgic trip down memory lane for many Mumsnetters, which they enjoy sharing with their own children.

“I love The Chronicles of Narnia books, all 7 of them. There isn't one I didn't like.”

“The Chronicles of Narnia were all a joy to re-read with my children and brought back many happy memories.”

For children aged 8+

Buy it now

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell, £34.39 for 11 books

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell, £34.39 for 11 books

The How to Train Your Dragon book series has quickly become a modern classic, thanks to its hilarious characters and non-stop adventure. Join Horrendous Haddock the Third and his dragon friend, Toothless, as they take on epic quests and brave battles. This series is highly praised by Mumsnetters for its diverse range of characters and its championing of gender equality.

“I think the How to Train Your Dragon series is good for non-stereotypical characters – the hero is a clever, thoughtful, not-very-brave sort of a boy, and his female friend is the active rush-out-and-grab-it one of the pair. Good stories, too.”

For children aged 9+

Buy it now

Harry Potter by J K Rowling, £29.99 for seven books

Harry Potter by J K Rowling, £29.99 for seven books

Despite still being relatively new, it’s safe to say that the Harry Potter stories have quickly become classics – beloved by people of all ages, all over the world. Get stuck into this box set and escape with your child into the phenomenally detailed world of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Children will love joining Harry, Hermione and Ron as they learn about friendship, life and wizardry – all whilst battling to defeat Harry’s evil arch enemy, Voldemort.

“The Harry Potter books are an utter JOY to read aloud and I feel as if I am reading them anew this way having read them numerous times myself.”

“My son really enjoyed them and the best bit is, as they get older, they can reread them many times as they are still just as gripping.”

For children aged 8+

Buy it now

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, £3.99

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, £3.99

If your child enjoyed the Harry Potter series, the five-book Percy Jackson collection is sure to be a hit too. With the tagline, “Half Boy, Half God, All Hero”, kids can expect exciting adventures and magical quests as Percy, the son of Poseidon, attempts to defeat the evil Kronos. Mumsnetters love that the stories are equally gripping for kids and adults alike, so if it’s a book you intend to read together with your child, you’re in for a treat!

“I would second Percy Jackson. My daughter is loving them at the moment and I know the whole story without having read a word she's that animated about them.”

“My daughter (10) got me into them. Love them!”

“DS1 has the Percy Jackson books and really likes them. I picked it up one day to have a look and its really good! I am actually reading them for my own enjoyment now (and learning a bit about the Greek gods whilst I am at it.)”

For children aged 9+

Buy it now

Gangsta Granny by David Walliams, £4

Gangsta Granny by David Walliams, £4

Much-loved UK comedian, David Walliams, turns author in this hugely successful children’s book about prejudice and acceptance. There is more to Ben's granny than meets the eye and she shatters stereotypes when Ben discovers she was once an international jewel thief! Mumsnetters appreciate the warmth and humour in this bestselling book, which teaches the importance of not judging others.

“Walliams' writing is a bit like Roald Dahl's in that the children love the books and there are often funny and even gruesome moments but also an emotional undercurrent and very vivid vocabulary.”

“Gangsta Granny is genuinely touching as well as very funny.”

For children aged 9-12 years

Buy it now

Prices correct at time of publication. Mumsnet carries some affiliate marketing links, so if you buy something through our posts, we may get a small share of the sale (more details here).