1001 Children’s Books you must read before you grow up 1

Yes, I succumbed. Was there really any doubt? Of course this is likely to be a very subjective list (aren’t they all??) but every time I thought of one of my favourite children’s books, there it was. So what else could I do?

If children’s literature leaves you bored, just stop reading here (I bet you don’t!)

This reference book is divided into 5 chapters : (i) ages 0-3, (ii) ages 3+ , (iii) ages 5+ , (iv) ages 8+  and (v) ages 12+ . I found early on, even with picture books, that reading about the story spoilt the surprise often associated with picture books, so I recommend enjoying the books first before reading the reference entry. I will try not to give too much away in my posts.

Many of these books will be out of print, and some will never be. But that adds a seeking aspect to the challenge which was impossible to resist.

Let’s start with five of the picture books randomly chosen from the 0-3 pages. Each one of these is probably someone’s childhood treasure.

Rosie’s Walk, by Pat Hutchins

Rosie the Hen goes for a walk around the farmyard, oblivious to the hungry fox close behind. The illustrations, although with a limited palette, are bright and reminiscent of American folk art carving. Fun story but not in my treasure box.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle.

The hungry bug eats his way through a lot of food but isn’t satisfied easily. Little holes in the pages show his progress. The colours and shapes are raw and for me, unlovely.

Each Peach Pear Plum, by Allan and Janet Ahlberg.

This was the best of the five by far. I loved the peek-a-boo searching, the soft colours and fun nursery rhyme characters. The title and cover don’t begin to do the tale justice. Added to my list for the grandkids.

Elmer by David McKee.

Bright colours, excellent fun and unexpected events abound as Elmer, the only multicoloured elephant in the jungle, decides its time for a change.

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury.

This one is someone else’s classic, but despite the fun sounds and words as the family pursue their bear hunt, it just didn’t work for me. The last illustration left me sad.

So who’s rushing out to their library tomorrow to raid the picture books?







  1. How I wish I my eye hadn’t been caught by this post! (Ok, I don’t really wish that but I just know where it’s going to lead me…) Fortunately I don’t feel the need to reread from the 0 – 3 category so that’s a relief 😉

    And I agree with you: my favourite from this batch was Each Peach, Pear, Plum. (Though all were read and enjoyed countless times with my own children back in the day.) The one that is the most meaningful for me however, is The Very Hungry Caterpillar. My son adored this book and could recite it wordperfect at a precociously young age. Now in his mid-thirties, he has very little interest in reading novels. All that reading together in his early years cut no ice at all. *sigh*

    None of which is of interest to anyone but me, but I’ve enjoyed this little trip down memory lane!

    Liked by 1 person

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