Devouring picture books with under fives has to be one of the loveliest parts of parenting.
Reading the same blinking book on loop, 50 times in one weekend, not so much!
Variety’s definitely the name of the game.
You just can’t have enough picture books for littlies whether bought or borrowed from library and friends …
… even if it does mean they take over every single room of the house!
But faced with crammed full library shelves and a tiring child – or grandparents wanting lists – how can you be sure you’re picking real crackers and not dull as ditch water duffs? (These I will not share my house with!)
We have for you here a list of our fifty absolute favourite picture book authors for under 5s.
And the list is even alphabetically ordered – get us! – by author, so you can easily find things in the library or book store.
So here goes ….
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A To B
Adamson, Jean Topsy and Tim (USA) provide great intros to everything from dentists to swimming to starting school. Around since the 60s, kids will read again and again and again!
Ahlberg, Janet Each Peach Pear Plum (USA) is a book length rhyme, which if you don’t know already, you will soon know by heart. Also try, The Jolly Postman, Burglar Bill and Peepo (good from under one and up).
Alborough, Jez Confess not our but loads of kids adore Some Dogs Do (USA), Fix It Duck, Duck in the Truck and loads more.
Andrea, Giles Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs (USA) – pirates AND dinosaurs! What’s not to like?
Audrey, Rev T Thomas (USA) and his friends need no introduction – the originals are better for over 3s, but there are lots of simple versions available for younger children.
Blathwayt, Benedict We loved the Little Red Train (USA)! Brilliantly detailed pictures, everything from how a steam engine works to cow poo! Also Dougal the Digger and Ben’s Big Book of Cars.
Bond, Micheal Paddington (USA) is still going strong after all these years! The originals are really too hard for under 4s, so look out for simple picture versions.
C To F
Campbell, Rod Simple but compelling lift up books for under-1s onward. Dear Zoo (USA) is the most popular, but we also loved the Buster series.
Carle, Eric Hungry Caterpillar obviously needs no introduction but Carle also wrote The Very Busy Spider (USA), Mister Seahorse (USA) and the Mixed Up Chameleon (USA) in a similar vein.
Child, Lauren Charlie and Lola (USA) still have us in fits now!
Cooper, Helen We totally loved the Pumpkin Soup (USA) series from about 3 up. Also, The Baby Who Wouldn’t Go To Bed, Tatty Ratty and Bear Under the Stair.
Cousins, Lucy The Maisy series plus Hooray for Fish (USA) (which is great for under-1s and up), Noah’s Ark and Yummy (USA) (a bolshie retelling of Red Riding Hood etc).
Cowell, Cressida That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown (USA), the first in a series about Emily and her rabbit Stanley, was a Smarties winner and a big winner in our house!
Donaldson, Julia Obviously Gruffalo but so many more … we loved Sharing A Shell (USA) when very small and Highway Rat (USA), Dinosaur Drip (USA) and Jack & the Flum Flum Tree (USA) later.
Doyle, Malachy A girl, her tiger and her great grandmother dance through the woodland in The Dancing Tiger, another Smarties winner. Not a total hit in our house, but different.
Dunbar, Polly Lots of popular choices including the Tilly and Friends (USA) series which is suitable for under 2s.
Freeman, Claire Madcap rhyming fun in Aliens Love Underpants (USA) and the follow on Dinosaurs Love Underpants, Pirates Love Underpants, Monsters Lover Underpants etc!
G to I
Gravett, Emily Monkey And Me (USA) is an incredibly simple but fabulous rhyming jive that we totally loved from before kiddo’s first birthday.
Grey, Mini Won a Smarties award with Biscuit Bear – also wrote the slightly weird Adventures of the Dish & the Spoon, Egg Drop and Traction Man.
Hargreaves, Roger No introduction required to the Mr Men (USA)!
Harris, Peter Rip roaring pirate adventure at the dead of night in the Night Pirates (USA).
Holabird, Katherine I was sceptical but the Angelina Ballerina (USA) books are well written and the originals beautifully illustrated.
Hughes, Shirley Every small child can identify with the anguish in Dogger (USA) of losing a precious toy!! From late two – three up we also really enjoyed the Alfie (USA) series.
Inkpen, Mick Wibbly Pig (USA) was a very early fave and we adored accident prone Kipper (USA).
J to L
Jannson, Tove We loved Moomin, particularly Moomin and the Birthday Button (USA) which really seemed to strike a chord and was read over and over.
Jeffers, Oliver Ever popular, Smarties winner, Lost & Found (USA) plus How To Catch A Star, Stuck, Up & Down and The Incredible Book Eating Boy and more.
Jones, Ursula The Witch’s Children series in which the children’s spells end up going wrong and mum has to come to the rescue – obviously 🙂
Kerr, Judith So many of us know The Tiger Who Came To Tea (USA) and the Mog (USA) series from childhood but worth checking out Judith Kerr’s others like One Night In the Zoo and The Crocodile Under the Bed.
Layton, Neal Layton is best known as an illustrator but has also written Bartholomew and the Bug, Oscar and Arabella and The Story of Everything a great science book for 4 and up.
Lynley, Dodd Hairy Maclary (USA) and friends were big, big faves of ours. The fantastic rhyme and rhythm makes them accessible even to under ones.
M to R
McBratney, Sam Guess How Much I Love You and You’re All My Favourites from Sam McBratney (USA) are just really lovely last book at bed time read.
Milne, A A Everyone loves Pooh and Piglet but we also discovered the poetry books When We Were Very Young (USA) and Now We Are Six (USA) were wonderful at sending little ones to sleep.
Murphy, Jill Peace At Last, Five Minutes Peace, Whatever Next, All In One Piece and the like from the fab Jill Murphy (USA) are loved by kids and appreciated by frazzled mummies everywhere!
Nicoll, Helen Not everyone’s cup of tea but we really enjoyed the wacky adventures of Meg, the witch, Mog, her cat, and Owl in the Meg & Mog (USA) series.
Pichon, Liz My Big Brother Boris and My Little Sister Doris explore sibling rivalry and dynamics in a family of crocodiles 🙂
Potter, Beatrix No introduction required here! Some are quite long for little ones but Tom Kitten (USA) and Peter Rabbit (USA) can hold their attention from 2 on.
Riddell, Chris Bed time adventures with The Emperor of Absurdia (USA). Weird as only Riddell can be, but some kids love.
Rosen, Micheal We’re Going On A Bear Hunt needs no introduction but also check out Little Rabbit Foo Foo (USA) plus his nonsense books and Dear Mother Goose.
S to T
Scheffler, Axel Best known as Gruffalo etc illustrator but has also written his own Pip & Posy (USA) series, of lovely everyday stories about a mouse and a rabbit.
Sharratt, Nick For laugh out loud big picture fun, Nick Sharratt (USA) is pretty hard to beat.
Stephenson, Kristina Prepare for mischief and daring adventure with the Sir Charlie Stinky Sock (USA) series.
Stewart, Joel Dexter Bexley and the Big Blue Beastie (USA) in which Dexter and the Beastie set up a Detective Agency. One for threes and up. Especially those who enjoy their stories a bit odd 🙂
Tomlinson, Jill The Owl Who Was Afraid Of the Dark (USA) is a lovely book and might just help little ones who are a bit scared of the dark too!
U To Z
Voake, Charlotte Smartie winning Pizza Kittens and the Ginger Cat (USA) series are perfect for cat lovers.
Waddell, Martin Awww … we love Owl Babies, Snow Bears and the Little Bear series from Martin Waddell (USA). (So much so that little bear moved into our house for a while … he was invisible and I was responsible for cleaning his teeth. It wasn’t easy!)
Whybrow, Ian Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs (USA) plus others in the series massive winners with any little kid who cannot be separated from their dinosaurs (cars, trucks, trains, insects etc)
Willis, Jeanne Tadpole’s Promise (USA) is very popular, but be warned, it has a gory ending and is not for the sensitive!
Wormell, Chris Two Frogs is another Smartie winner and George and the Dragon also popular.
Yolen, Jane And just in case you’ve not got enough dinosaur books … look out for the How Do Dinosaurs series including How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight!
And there it is. Our absolute mega list of brilliant picture books for under 5s.
Bookmark it. Take it to the library. Send it to grandma and grandpa. And you’ll never be short of bedtime books again and definitely not stuck with duffers!
As always, do tell us what you think.
Which do you love most? What did we miss?