Monday, 3 March 2014

Our Top Ten Picturebooks

You know, it's weird how blogging seems to go in waves.  Sometimes I have so much to share that I can write more than one post a day - and sometimes I just lose the flow completely and find it hard to get back into it.  So apologies to anyone who missed me: my laptop had to be mended recently due to a dodgy socket, but we have been reunited now, so all is well.  I may do a 'catch-up' post of what we've been up to in the last couple of weeks, but today on Facebook a lovely friend asked for my top ten recommendations for 4-5 year olds.  As I have my very own resident five-year-old I thought it would be a doddle, but actually it proved to be really hard just to narrow the list down to only ten!  Anyway, it took me a while but I put a lot of thought into it, because I LOVE children's literature, and my lovely friend too :)  And then I thought to myself, why not share the list with you lot as well?  And as it's my blog, I might just share a few extra bonus ones too, that didn't quite make the final cut...!

My Top 10 Picturebooks for 4-5 year olds
(not written in any order other than the order I picked them up off the pile they happened to be in)

THUD (NickButterworth)
- because who doesn’t love a story where the smallest creature turns out to be the bravest - and where the much-feared mysterious beast turns out to be not scary at all...?  Plenty of ‘THUD’s for enthusiastic youngsters to join in with.  Oh, and it is almost impossible to read this aloud without doing character voices for each animal ;)

Who’s Hiding (Satoru Onishi)
- because its clean, quirky design style makes it utterly unique.  It is almost impossible to read just once, and adults will find ‘playing along’ just as challenging as their offspring.

- because quite frankly in my opinion any ‘top 10’ picturebook list without an Oliver Jeffers title is just not good enough – and this one is my personal favourite.  Simple yet emotive illustrations perfectly capture this journey with friendship at its heart – just beautiful.

HUG (Jez Alborough)
- because it takes some kind of genius to write a story that revolves around the almost exclusive use of just one word.  Non-readers probably get even more out of this story than readers, because they automatically draw more from the rich illustrations.  Definitely a favourite in our house!

Dig Dig Digging (Margaret Mayo & Alex Ayliffe)
- because it is a positive festival of all the coolest biggest vehicles that a boy could wish to gaze upon.  The illustrations are bright and simple, the rhythm and repetition instantly hook the reader.  And I particularly appreciate the end of the story where all the busy noisy vehicles go to sleep, which is a nice hint to any boys who are having the story read to them at bedtime by their tired Mum!

- because although its predecessor “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” is possibly more well-known and better loved by multiple generations, my own little ones weren’t too happy with the thought of that bear roaming about out there in the dark – and this story nicely turns the bear into a friend to be played with, all the while imparting Rosen’s famous love of language and encouraging countless flights of imagination.

The Great Pet Sale (Mick Inkpen)
- because apart from being a lovely story about a child who wants a pet, and a lift-the-flap book of the sort loved by small hands everywhere, it’s also a book about numbers that is not a simple ‘one to ten’ counting book - it can be read as a story in its own right even if the child isn’t old enough or keen enough to do the maths at the end just to check that the author got it right – but many of them will! 

The Snail and the Whale (Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler)
- because surely most everybody agrees on the perfectly genius pairing of Donaldson and Scheffler when it comes to what makes a good picturebook.  Choosing just one of their many brilliant books is difficult indeed, but this one is best loved in our house – partly because of the perfect (as always) rhymes and the typically character-filled illustrations, and also because the message of ‘big working together with small’, married with a subtle awareness of our (human) place within nature is a subject dear to our hearts and important to all.

Pants (Giles Andrae & NickSharratt)
 - because we have read it here so many times that I can almost recite the whole thing by heart; because there is something about underwear that is endlessly fascinating and amusing to all, and because the deceptively simple rhymes, bold illustrations and silly scenarios never cease to be entertaining.

Kiss Good Night, Sam (Amy Hest & Anita Jeram)
- because it’s the perfect atmospheric bed-time story for a dark, blustery night.  Parents of little ones will appreciate the use of the child-like voice in places, as well, of course, as the beautiful illustrations.  And the story ends with the perfect cue to tuck your own little one in with a kiss or two.  A real feel-good snuggle-up story.

And a dozen more books that didn't make it onto the list, but are also the most frequently requested reads in our house...

Nighty Night (Margaret Wild & Kerry Argent)

Baby Brains (Simon James)

What the Ladybird Heard (Julia Donaldson & Lydia Monks)

Captain Duck (Jez Alborough)

Stuck (Oliver Jeffers)

Bella Gets Her Skates on (Ian Whybrow & Rosie Reeve)

Goodnight Gorilla (Peggy Rathmann)

PS If you're looking for The Gruffalo, I only didn't include it because everyone on the planet has already read it, right?


  1. Brilliant! I agree with lots, but also have some new ones to try!

  2. Ahh, I love children's picture books too, even though my 2 have got way past that stage now, I still can't bear to part with some of them! Some our our favourites in that list too. R x