7 books all children should have on their shelves

Building a library for your little one can be overwhelming, with such a wealth of wonderful children’s books to choose from. We’ve picked out some of our very favourites which we think should take pride of place on any child’s shelves - perfect for kicking off a lifelong relationship with reading.

The Shirley Hughes Collection by Shirley Hughes

The Shirley Hughes collection

Shirley Hughes


Shirley Hughes’ portrayals of children and their inner lives are celebrated for their perceptiveness and honesty, and this collection brings together her very best. Including shorter rhymes and stories for very young children, the classic ‘My Naughty Little Sister’ and ‘Alfie & Annie Rose’ stories and some longer reads for older children, the collection will grow with your little one and hopefully give them many years of enjoyment. It’s also incredibly beautiful with some wonderful double-page illustrated spreads.


We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen & Helen Oxenbury

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

Michael Rosen & Helen Oxenbury


Rosen’s triumphant classic has become so well-loved since it first appeared in 1989, it barely needs an introduction. Little ones love to chant along with the repeating chorus and try out the sounds (swish, splash, squelch!) as the family navigate different terrains on their bear hunt. It’s so much fun to read aloud and little ones are always delighted by the change in pace as the family finds their bear and frantically retraces their steps back to the safety of home.

The Complete Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklem

The Complete Brambly Hedge

Jill Barklem


There’s something very special about these stories about a community of mice who live among the hedgerows. Their miniature world mirrors the human world above them with incredibly detailed illustrations depicting their vast, complex homes, the little aprons and bonnets they wear and their kitchens and pantries bursting with the natural produce they find around them. The stories are rooted in the natural world and the seasons and feel at once completely other-worldly but wonderfully familiar.




The Elephant and the Bad Baby by Elfrida Vipont & Raymond Briggs

The Elephant and the Bad Baby

Elfrida Vipont & Raymond Briggs


A truly irresistible picture book and the stand-out from my own childhood (although probably mostly because of the tasty treats the elephant and the bad baby find on their adventure!) We love the cheeky, boisterous story and the way it builds as more shopkeepers join in the chase. Little ones will delight in joining in with the ‘rumpeta, rumpeta, rumpeta’ refrain

and will hopefully also pick up on the

reminder to always say ‘please!’

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox & Helen Oxenbury

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes

Mem Fox & Helen Oxenbury


An adorable board book that features a cast of the sweetest little babies from all over the world, depicted in gentle watercolours. The repeating rhyming text is perfect for reading to very young babies and we love the diversity of the babies pictured, with the text highlighting both their differences and the fingers and toes they have in common!


Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd

Goodnight Moon

Margaret Wise Brown & Clement Hurd


Much beloved by families since its publication in 1947, this timeless bedtime story combines calming, rhythmic text with striking illustrations in vivid colours. Little ones will feel lulled and comforted as they settle down to sleep alongside Bunny and hear him say goodnight to the familiar things around him. We especially love the quirky dreamlike rhymes and the way the colours on the pages grow dimmer as the

night draws in.


All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon

All the World

Liz Garton Scanlon


This beautifully illustrated book is deceptively simple but truly touching. The text contains lists of objects that can be found in different environments in our world, notable because the sounds used are satisfyingly diverse and the lines surprisingly poetic when taken together. The soothing, rhyming text takes us from morning through to evening, touching on feelings of family, togetherness and discovery.



See our story-time reading of The Elephant and the Bad Baby below, and visit our video library for more story-time videos here.