Reading to children plays a crucial part in developing their language and literacy skills. But with so many books on the market, finding a book your children will love can be a bewildering and frustrating experience.
To help parents navigate the aisles of bookshops and libraries, we have compiled this “classic ten” list of books for the 18 month to three year age group.
The books below – some classics that have survived generations and some more recent titles – all have a special quality that should give pleasure to both children and parents.
Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy
by Lynley Dodd
Hairy Maclary, a loveable, scruffy black dog, is joined by a procession of canine neighbours, and together they go exploring. The simple but inventive rhymes and the repetition will have children engrossed in the story, while adult readers will love giving each dog (with names like Schnitzel von Krumm and Muffin McLay) their own accent and personality.
by Allan and Janet Ahlberg
Here’s a little baby, one, two, three, look through the peep-hole, what does he see? There are hours of entertainment in this classic, as children absorb the detail in the nostalgic illustrations.
by Julia Donaldson illustrated by Axel Scheffler
It is hard to choose which of Julia Donaldson’s books to include, but The Gruffalo is hard to beat. The imaginative and rhythmic verses are fun to read aloud, while the story, with its moral that brain can beat brawn, retains its appeal no matter how many times you read it. Axel Scheffler’s illustrations offer a beautiful accompaniment to the text. The clever sequel, The Gruffalo’s Child, is also a winner.
by Martin Waddell illustrated by Patrick Benson
This story is a great one to read to children who are dealing with separation anxiety. The three owl babies wake in the middle of the night to find their mother gone. They ponder where she might be, but become increasingly concerned, particularly Bill, the smallest, who bleats “I want my mummy!” throughout the tale. The ending, however, leaves children reassured that their loved ones will always come back.
Each Peach Pear Plum
by Allan and Janet Ahlberg
Another classic by this husband and wife team, Each Peach Pear Plum weaves together some of the best-known characters from traditional fairy tales. Use of rhyme and repetition, and clues in the pictures, make it easy for young readers to join in.
by Pamela Allen
Mr McGee lives under a tree, and that’s not the only unusual thing about him. Pamela Allen has written over thirty picture books in two decades – this is just one of her books to be cherished.
Where the Wild Things Are
by Maurice Sendak
The night Max wore his wolfsuit, he embarked on a wild adventure to a land of fearsome yet somehow friendly creatures. In the end, though, there’s no place like home. This story flows beautifully as Sendak’s sentences run on from page to page, and the pictures, particularly of the monsters engaged in their wild rumpus, are glorious.
by Alison Lester
Lester’s beautiful illustrations will charm young readers, as they seek out familiar characters on each page – the dog, the girl with the watermelon hat, and the bespectacled boy. The accompanying text is imaginative, engaging, and fun to read.
There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake
by Hazel Edwards illustrated by Deborah Niland
Hazel Edwards has a wonderful ability to write from a child’s point of view. Most young readers will empathise with the narrator, whose hippo on the roof can do all sorts of things she is not allowed to herself.
by Bob Graham
It is 9.59am when the story begins, and 10 o’clock when it ends. In one minute, the time it takes Jodie to draw the third silver button on her duck, so many things happen in the next room, in the neighbourhood, and all around the world. But something really momentous right beside her too. Silver Buttons is a beautiful book that conveys just how precious every minute is. Children will particularly enjoy poring over the intricate illustrations, with a new detail to discover on each reading. Snuggling up with this book also presents a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the major happenings of the day, through your child’s eyes.