A few of our favourites (and why you’ll love them!)

There are some books that you will (be forced to) read again and again; some that will be thumbed and torn and covered in mysterious, indecipherable stains due to overuse; some that your older kids will indulgently take from the shelf even when you’re sure they’ve outgrown them. I’ve put together a little list of some of our kids’ favourites; books they constantly return to and, incidentally, they’re all books that we enjoy reading too. Because, let’s face it, some kids’ books are crap really, aren’t they?

If you’re relatively new player of the parenting game and have yet to accumulate the entire Julia Donaldson back catalogue then some of these may be new to you. If you’ve been around the block once or twice, then you probably own most of them already.

Owl Babies by Martin WaddellBook 1 - Owl Babies

This was one of my son’s first books. He unintentionally memorized the first few pages when he was three and used to ‘read’ it aloud to his baby sister. Ouch. I just got an ache right in the heart thinking about it. It’s really adorable. The premise is this: three little owl siblings sit on a branch waiting for their mother who has taken off for some undisclosed reason. Maybe she had some rodents to catch or insects to gather. Or maybe she just had enough and wanted a half hour without wails and demands in her feathery ear.  Either way, after a couple of pages – in which the baby owls speculate about reasons for her absence – she returns, as expected. Phew. Everyone is delighted and peace is restored to the nest. Hurrah!

If you’re the kind of mum who needs to escape every once in a while, whether it’s just to get a facial or better still, to abscond for the weekend and party like it’s 1999, then this is the book for you! Mums have to go away sometimes; to work; to run errands; to consume unusually large volumes of Shiraz and dance badly to 90s pop; but rest assured kiddos, they’ll always come back.  Buy Owl Babies here. 

Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson
Book 2 Paper Dolls

Brace yourselves for #allthefeels if you’ve not read this one. Here’s how it goes: cute little girl has lots of fun and adventures with paper dolls she has cut out with her mum. Nasty little Horrid Henry type snips them up but little girl is OK because dolls will live on in her memory along with – wait for it –  her long-since departed ‘kind granny’ and all sorts of other childhood treasures that no longer exist. Gulp. Yup. It’s a magical one. If you don’t come over all emotional at the end, you’re made of stone. Fact. Buy here. 

Five Minutes’ Peace by Jill Murphy book 3 - 5 minutes peace

This one is for the parents and the kids. Mrs. Large is all too relatable; the quintessential frazzled mother who just wants to be left alone to read the newspaper and eat a bit of leftover cake in peace. No martyr to the cause, Mrs Large is on a mission for some me time. She’s delusional enough to attempt to fill a bubble bath with four kids in the house and of course is repeatedly interrupted because, as per the rules of motherhood, no woman who has borne a child shall be permitted into the bathroom alone.

Everyone will get a chuckle out of this one and you might feel a little better knowing that Ms Large’s head is just as wrecked as yours is. Buy Five Minutes’ Peace here.

Zog by Julia Donaldson Book 4 Zog

With two daughters, we’ve resigned ourselves to a certain degree of pink, glitter and sparkly unicorns. As much as we try not to gender stereotype as parents, it seems to seep in from all directions. We have a lot of books about fairies and princesses and that’s OK. Our six-year-old son loves them just as much as our four-year-old daughter. But there ain’t nothing like a bit of subtle feminism and Donaldson nails it yet again in this warm tale of a hapless dragon named Zog who teams up with a princess who has had enough of being rescued by knights in shining armour and would much rather pursue a career in medicine. Princess Pearl is all about female empowerment and we love her! Buy Zog here. 

The Tiger who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr

the tiger who came to tea
This one has always been a massive hit here. It’s a sweet yarn about a hungry tiger who pays a visit to a mum and daughter and proceeds to eat them out of house and home. To be honest, I reckon the tiger serves as a metaphor for that annoying neighbour who seems to call at the most inopportune times and stays too long.

The book has been around since the 60s and it shows its age a bit when mom has a freak-out upon realising that she has nothing to feed the hard-grafting man of the house for his dinner, but we’ll forgive that. The cheeky tiger even drinks ‘all of daddy’s beer’. Mom was cute enough to hide the gin, it would seem. Or maybe it was she who actually drank all the beer and concocted the whole fanciful story to cover her drunken ass? Theories abound but one thing’s for sure, kids love that crazy lager-swilling tiger. Pick it up here. 

What are your kids’ favourites? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Alternative theories about our mysterious jungle friend are also welcome! 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Shinners & the Brood is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk. For further details on how and why I collaborate with brands, please read my Disclosure page. 

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A list of fantastic books your preschooler will love and you won't hate! #WorldBookDay

My Petit CanardPink Pear BearMy Random Musings3 Little ButtonsMummascribblesReflections From MeCuddle FairyMummuddlingthroughDiary of an imperfect mumDear Bear and BeanyYou Baby Me MummyethannevelynThe PramshedKeep Calm and Carry On Linking SundayPost Comment Love
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72 Comments

  1. We have Zog but not the others so will have to look them out. Embarrassingly I’m not sure I know The Tiger Who Came To Tea although its a classic! #coolmumclub

    • Sinéad Reply

      My four-year-old wanted nothing but the tiger for about four months last year. I think I know it by heart!

  2. Some of my favs here but I’ve never read the Owl Babies one. That sounds great for when I’m babysitting the grandkids
    #sharingthebloglove

    • Sinéad Reply

      It’s really sweet and the message is lovely. Can imagine it being a lovely one to read while looking after grandkids! 🙂

    • Sinéad Reply

      I can kind of understand that. It’s almost sad at the end in a way. But lovely at the same time.

  3. Such a gorgeous selection! I LOVE the paper dolls, it gets me every time! The mouse has a major obsession with TTTCFT…I think the Mum made up the tiger story so Daddy would take them all out for chips.

    Thanks for sharing with #coolmumclub

    • Sinéad Reply

      I kind of love her even more if she did! Can identify with doing all sorts to get out of the cooking! Ha.

  4. I love five minutes peace and to be honest, i love anything Jill Murphy writes regarding the Large Family. I never appreciated how she is so obviously talking from experience as a mum when she wrote these! #ablogginggoodtime

    • Sinéad Reply

      Yeah – the poor woman! Though Mr Large is no flipping help! ????

  5. I remember a couple of these from when I was little! Thank you for reminding me of these classics – I’ll have to pick up a few of these for my little one. #CoolMumClub

    • Sinéad Reply

      Aw that’s really sweet! I have no recollection of books as a small kid. Not until we got into Enid Blyton territory,

  6. Owl babies sounds like a good one for my son who is one year old. That’s so adorable that your son memorised the first few pages, my heart would melt too! I think I’ll check out the Five Minutes Peace as well, not only because I need five minutes peace but also love a book that’s for kids and adults. Thanks for sharing with #StayClassyMama!

    • Sinéad Reply

      It’s really sweet. Mine still love reading it, even though the six-year-old pretends he’s just listening for the sake of his little sis!

  7. Some favourites here, but also some I’ve not read yet! I absolutely love the Large Family – my Mum gave my son a whole set of Jill Murphy books for Christmas. Julia Donaldson is currently my son’s favourite – Stick Man, The Gruffalo – but we’ve not tried either of the ones on your list so I’ll have to rectify that. Thanks for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

    • Sinéad Reply

      Aw we love Stick Man and The Gruffalo here too. Happy reading! 🙂

  8. The Gruffalo’s Child! Both my children loved this with it’s ‘A ha A ho tracks in the snow’!!! JD is pure genius when it comes to rhyming! The illustrations in The Tiger who Came to Tea are fab and so nostalgic. #fridayfrolics

    • Sinéad Reply

      She really is! We love that one here too! In fact I think we prefer it to The Gruffalo!

  9. Glad to see the tiger make the list. My niece had a favourite story book which we all knew off by heart, and we were regularly told off by her when we deviated from the story to get it done more quickly!! thanks for sharing with #PoCoLo

    • Sinéad Reply

      There’s no rushing through them, alright! They know them so well!

  10. This is great! We shared some of our favourite books this week too, although most were for older children. Maybe you’ll like some of them too in the next few years? Nice to see you chose some absolute classics here. #Sharingthe BlogLove

    • Sinéad Reply

      Oh I’ll definitely have a look, Cal! Always on the look out for new suggestions! Thanks.

  11. my favourite story to read when i was teaching was The Tiger Who came to tea, we wrote and invited the tiger to come to class and had a tea party, so many learning outcomes, popping over from #PoCoLo

    • Sinéad Reply

      They just go mad for it don’t they. I’m a teacher too. Taking a year out. When I read the words ‘learning outcomes’ the hairs stood up on the back of my neck! Lol!

  12. Some great choices on this list. We love Paper Dolls and The Tiger who came to Tea here and I’ve just added Zog to our reading list now! #thelistlinky

  13. Great choices. The only we one we don’t own is Paper Dolls, I’ve not heard of this one but sounds great. The others were all favourites of my son’s and I’m now getting to read them again with my daughter. Her favourite at the minute is Owl Babies and she makes lots of ‘aww’ sounds all the way through ????
    #KCACOLS

    • Sinéad Reply

      It’s just so adorable. And how their little faces light up when she whooshes back! Awwww. I’m with your little one!

  14. Paper Dolls is one of our favourite books to read. We love Julia Donaldson books. I haven’t ready the large family, I will have to take a look for them. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove x

    • Sinéad Reply

      Thanks so much for featuring the post on your showcase, Laura! So chuffed. x

    • Sinéad Reply

      We tend to have a lot of rubbish ones that I try to hide around bedtime. :0

    • Sinéad Reply

      We’ve only got two. I must look out for the others. I do get a laugh out of Jill Murphy.

  15. A great collection of books (none of which I’ve heard of, oh god). I really appreciate posts like this so I know which books to go out and buy for my baby boy. Thank you so much for sharing 🙂

    #KCACOLS

    • Sinéad Reply

      Aw that’s great. Yeah – there are a lot of rubbish ones out there too. And then some absolute gems!

  16. A couple of these are old favourites of my own and there’s a few we haven’t yet heard of so great list. We have so many books for Archie but he’s always open to reading new ones. Have been meaning to grab Zog for a while! Thanks for linking up to #MarvMondays. Kaye xo

    • Sinéad Reply

      Even though some of them are years old, I had never heard of any of them until I had kids.

  17. I have never heard of these ones-either its cause Im in the states or Im just a crap parent 😉 Either way they look great 🙂

    #sharingthebloglove

    • Sinéad Reply

      Julia Donaldson is English and pretty much has the book market sewn up this side of the pond. Obviously she hasn’t ‘broken’ America yet! Lol.

  18. These are fab books and we have all of them. Haven’t read Owl Babies for a while though so will have to dig it out again. The Tiger Who Came To Tea is one of my favourites – even if it does show its age with the mum’s reaction to dad coming home! 🙂 #SharingtheBlogLove

    • Sinéad Reply

      It really does. ‘Daddy’s beer’ makes me laugh!

  19. Thanks for the great suggestions! I’m going to be the mystery reader for my 4-year-old son’s preschool class next week and I was flat out of ideas. Five Minutes Peace seems like a perfect fit! #SharingtheBlogLove

    • Sinéad Reply

      Oh that sounds like so much fun! Adorable idea! How did it go?

  20. We haven’t got all of those books at home but we have read them. Personally I don’t like the tiger who came to tea, I find it so boring and lacking imagination but my 3 year old loves it urghh haha #sharingthebloglove

    • Sinéad Reply

      I actually know what you mean. My kids love it but it’s a bit of a slow one, isn’t it?

  21. I’ve not read the paper dolls book, but wonder if it might be a good one to read with my son who has started asking questions about death and loss. On a different note, we recently got ‘the tiger’ out of the library and it really made me smile, how many childrens’ books written now would talk about daddy’s beer! x #KCACOLS

    • Sinéad Reply

      I actually read that! We’re peeling the onion here, aren’t we! Very interesting stuff!

  22. I have just bought Five Minutes Peace for my youngest (can’t believe we hadn’t already got it!) Unbelievable that it’s 30 years old! #SharingtheBlogLove

    • Sinéad Reply

      And life hasn’t gotten any easier for Mrs Large or the rest of us! Ha!

    • Sinéad Reply

      Hope you enjoy them, if you get your hands on them!

    • Sinéad Reply

      It’s a kind of foolproof list, I reckon, so you can’t go too far wrong.

  23. Zog is such a classic but the other ones look pretty good too! A lot of reading in perspective! Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday.

    • Sinéad Reply

      Yeah. Gotta love Pearl and Zog! 🙂 Your little man will love them all, I reckon in the next year or two.

  24. We love these books, though not read the paper dolls one yet. Ironically it’s one I spotted at the shops last weekend but didn’t pick up. Thanks so much for sharing with the #DreamTeam x

  25. Aw I love 5 minutes peace, we have it and it was mine when I was a kid! And we are big julia donaldson fans too but not seen the doll one so will look out for it! #SharingtheBlogLove

  26. I am new to Julia Donaldson books. I’m sure the kids will surely enjoy reading them. Thank you for sharing these books. What we used to read with the kids are still classic books like The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, but haven’t tried any of these books. I think I would like to consider reading The Paper Dolls first, and then followed by the others, or what can you recommend?

  27. Oooh, we have not read Paper Dolls. I am going to have to go and look for that one in the library.

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