There are so many reasons to read to your children. It is a crucial part of their language and literacy development. It helps foster their imagination, improve their listening and concentration skills, and increase their vocabulary.
It is also a great way to bond with your young children. And the earlier the better!
But it isn’t easy to know which books will captivate young children. Which will entertain them and, let’s be honest, entertain you as well! You’re the one doing all the reading – might as well find some books that are good fun to read.
Here is our list of 30 of the best picture books for children. Our list isn’t exhaustive – there are so many awesome children’s books out there – but it is a good place to start. They aren’t in any specific order either. And once you’ve read these ones check out others by the same authors, you won’t be disappointed!
30 of the best picture books for children
by Emma Quay
Book the Year for Younger Children in the 2012 Australian Book Industry Awards, Rudie Nudie is the cute and energetic story about two kids enjoying those nudie moments between bath and bed time.
The Very Cranky Bear
by Nick Bland
This is just one of the very many excellent picture books from Aussie author Nick Bland. This one – the first in the Cranky Bear series – has a wonderful rhythm and is a joy to read. There’s even a bit of a moral to the story too.
Where is the Green Sheep?
by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek
This book, from renowned Aussie author Mem Fox, is quirky, fun, rhythmic and beautifully illustrated by Judy Horacek. We meet the elusive title character in the end but it’s the many and varied sheep we meet on the way that make this book so enjoyable.
Room on the Broom
by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
A kind witch and her cat end up inviting all sorts of animals to share her broom in this magical story about friends and family. A very fun book to read with a nice message to go along with it.
Edwina the Emu
by Sheena Knowles and Rod Clement
This follow-up to Edward the Emu, finds Edward and Edwina with some eggs waiting to hatch. In preparation for the imminent arrival of her babies, Edwina goes off in search of the perfect job to help support her family. Of course, she finds it.
Green, Eggs and Ham
by Dr Seuss
There are so many Dr Seuss books that could feature on this list but Green Eggs and Ham is a definite classic. It is silly, wonderfully repetitive and fun to read. Although quite a mouthful at times! Plus you can refer back to it at dinner time if you’ve got a fussy eater!
Harry the Dirty Dog
by Gene Zion and Margaret Blog Graham
Originally published in 1956, Harry the Dirty Dog is a classic book about a white dog with black spots who goes on an pretty messy adventure. Its classic 1950s painted illustrations are beautiful and the story is simple but lovely.
by Ludwig Bemelmans
“In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines … ” A gorgeous classic book set in Paris and telling the story of little Madeline and her friends at her boarding school. This is the first in the series and was published in 1939.
Who Sank the Boat?
by Pamela Allen
From multi-award winning author Pamela Allen, this is the story of five animals who decide to go for a row (for no particular reason). Children will love guessing who sank the boat. And the end might be a little surprising!
by Alison Lester
This much-loved Australian children’s book exposes kids to all the wonders of the natural world. The illustrations are so intricate that children will want to read this one over and over again. One of many excellent picture books from Australian author Alison Lester.
by Marcia K Vaughan and Pamela Lofts
This very Aussie tale is about a clever dingo making some ‘gooey, brewy, yummy, chewy’ wombat stew. Thankfully (for the wombat) he is outwitted by a host of Australian native animals.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit
by Beatrix Potter
Written in 1892, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, is unquestionably a classic children’s book and one of the best selling books of all time. It tells the story of the cheeky rabbit Peter who disobeys his mother and runs amok in Mr McGregor’s garden.
Where the Forest Meets The Sea
by Jeannie Baker
Illustrated with pictures of collages made from natural materials, this is a beautiful children’s book. It is the story of a young boy exploring a forest and finding his place in its ancient history.
The Jolly Postman or Other People’s Letters
by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
This isn’t your usual book! As we follow the postman on his delivery route we get to open envelopes and read the letters inside. Making this book even more enjoyable are all the references to well-known children’s storybook characters such as the three bears and Cinderella.
The Little Yellow Digger
by Betty and Alan Gilderdale
If your child loves diggers this is the perfect book. Based on real-life events, this book is wonderfully rhythmic as it tells the story of a little yellow digger that gets stuck in the mud and the consequent rescue mission that goes slightly wrong.
Moo, Baa, La La La!
by Sandra Boynton
This best-selling book has cute illustrations and a catchy rhyme. Young children will think this is hilarious. It is a fun way to introduce animals and the sounds they make to young children.
Sebastian Lives in a Hat
by Thelma Catterwell and Kerry Argent
This is a very sweet book about a baby wombat raised by humans after his mother was killed. The book was voted Best Children’s Book in the 1985 Whitley Awards and short-listed for the 1986 Australian Picture Book of the Year award.
by Eric Hill
The original lift-the-flap book Spot, is a classic book for young readers. Children will love lifting the flaps to reveal the animals hiding all over Spot’s house. There’s plenty more in the series too if your child become a fan!
Iggy Peck Architect
by Andrea Baety and David Roberts
Iggy Peck loves to build and he’s got quite a talent – even if the materials he uses are a little odd. It is just a pity that his Second Grade teacher doesn’t appreciate his talent. Until it comes in handy one day. Beautifully illustrated and fun to read.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
by Eric Carle and Bill Martin Jnr
A gentle, easy-to-read book that will help toddlers learn about animals and colours. Young children love the repetitive text and the wonderful tissue-paper collage illustrations.
by Julia Donalson and Axel Scheffler
This is the story of a smart little mouse who uses his cunning ways to avoid being eaten by bigger animals during a walk in the forest. A very clever story that is fun to read, this book has won many awards and was the UK’s best selling picture book in 2000.
by Graeme Base
This multi-award winning book by Australian author Graeme Base has an environmental theme and games that accompany it. Children can explore the intricate illustrations to find a certain number of animals and plants, teaching them a bit of maths along the way too!
Guess How Much I Love You
by Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram
This sweet little tale of a Small Nutbrown Hare and his dad is perfect bedtime book and one that will leave parents feeling all warm and fuzzy after reading the last line. Will make you want to give your kids a big cuddle.
by Mem Fox and Julie Vivas
Mem Fox’s Possum Magic is an Australian classic. It is the story of a possum called Hush whose grandmother has turned invisible. But what is the magic ingredient that will turn Hush visible again? They have to travel all over Australia to find it!
Where the Wild Things Are
by Maurice Sendak
Another great bedtime book about a boy called Max who, on the night he wore his wolf suit ‘made mischief’ and was sent to his room. There he imagines going on a great adventure to where the wild things are. A classic storybook with incredible illustrations.
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury
An awesome rhyming book about a family going on a bear hunt and encountering all sorts of obstacles along the way. This book will stick in kids’ heads and it even lends itself to a Going on a Bear Hunt game that you can play outdoors.
by Alison Lester
Alison Lester’s books are so Australian and they so beautifully capture the magic of nature and of children’s imagination. This is a gorgeous book about the many ‘magic’ things that the beach can offer, especially when seen through the eyes of an imaginative child.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
by Eric Carle
This is by far the most popular of Eric Carle’s books. It features his trademark paper collage illustrations and has an added dimension as the caterpillar eats his way through a hole in the book. Eric Carle shares his love of nature with children and this book shows them what becomes of hungry caterpillars.
John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat
by Jenny Wagner and Ron Brooks
This is a classic Australian book that has been in print since the 1970s and tells the sweet, sometimes sad, story of an old woman and her dog. It is a bit darker than your usual children’s picture book but for decades children have enjoyed finding their own meaning in its text.
by Rod Campbell
Another classic lift-the-flap book. This one is the story of a person who writes to the zoo asking for a pet. Each time a pet is delivered the reader can open the flap to discover what type of animal is hiding beneath. Kids love interacting with their books and this one will teach them about different types of animals as well.