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Monday, May 30, 2016

5 Classic Children's Books for Toddlers and Pre-schoolers

There are many classic children's books that form fond memories from my own childhood. I loved Winnie the Pooh, Peter Rabbit and Little Golden Books, just to name a few. I loved reading as a child, getting lost in far away fantasy worlds and going on huge adventures that weren't possible in real life. Perhaps it was escapism, or just the fact that I could indulge my imagination, but I was always drawn to books from a young age.

Much to my delight, bub's also loved reading since she was really little. Her love of books first started with wooden board books with no words and we quickly moved onto an array of ABC Kids board books {think Peppa Pig, In the Night Garden and Ben & Holly}. She's taught herself most of the stories off by heart, through memorising from me reading and analysing the pictures, so now we're adding some more challenging books to our collection.

I recently shared some reading tips for toddlers from Ryan Spencer on the blog and in that post he made book recommendations for children 5 and under which included Possum Magic, Wombat Stew, Hairy Maclary, The Gruffalo and Piranhas Don't Eat Bananas. Most of you will probably be familiar with at least one of those titles already, but if you're not here's a run down of all the books.


Possum magic was the first book written by famous Australian author Mem Fox. Possum Magic is the story of two possums that live in the outback, Grandma Poss and Hush. Grandma Poss turns Hush invisible to protect her from the dangers in the Australian bush. After a while Hush doesn't want to be invisible any more, but Grandma Poss has forgotten how to undo her spell. The book follows their journey across Australia trying to work out how to make Hush visible again.

I love that the book celebrates Australian animals, cities and food. It's a great way to introduce young children to iconic aspects of the Australian lifestyle. Bub loves watching Hush go invisible and all the things she gets up to while nobody can see her.


Wombat Stew was first published in 1984 {so its as old as me} and I distinctly remember the teacher reading it to us during reading time at school. It's an unusual title and storyline for a book so I guess it has a way of sticking in ones memory.

Wombat Stew is the story of a clever dingo who caught a wombat and decided to make gooey, brewy, yummy, chewy wombat stew. However, wombat's friends band together to help him by adding all sorts of weird ingredients into Dingo's wombat stew.

Just like Possum Magic, Wombat Stew is a colourful celebration of Australian outback animals and the bush tucker they all eat. It's a great way to teach young children about Australian wildlife and also a wonderful story of friendship and comradery.


Hairy Maclary is the story of a scruffy little dog who goes on a walk one day with his friends. On their walk they get a nasty surprise when they're met with a menacing feline, Scarface Claw. The book uses clever alliteration, rhymes and repetition to tell the story, all of which make it appeal to young children. The repetition also makes it easier for children to remember when they're first starting to read. Bub isn't reading properly yet, but I have no doubt she'll pick up this book quite easily once she is starting to read.


I hadn't heard about The Gruffalo until after bub was born and I was actually introduced to the story via the cartoon movie on abc kids. It was only after watching the movie a few times that I discovered it was based on a book.

The Gruffalo is the story of a little mouse who takes a stroll through a deep dark wood. Along the way he is met with an owl, a fox, a snake and finally a scary gruffalo. The quick thinking mouse comes up with amazing tales to escape all the creatures and make it through the woods safely.

At first I thought this book might be too scary for bub, but she actually loves it, which could be because I get quite animated when describing the gruffalo {or it could just be because she knows the story from tv, but let's assume it's because of my reading prowess}. I love that this story teaches children that no matter how small {and seemingly powerless} you are you can still overcome obstacles, challenges and dangers. The sequel, The Gruffalo's Child is equally as enchanting as the original.

If your kids are taking part in a book week parade at daycare or kindy, there's an easy DIY Gruffalo costume idea in my book week ideas post.


This is the story of Brian, the piranha who loves bananas. Brian tries to convince his friends that they should eat them too, but they much prefer eating things like bums. Piranhas Don't Eat Bananas follows Brian's journey to convince his friends to at least try fruit to see if they like it after-all.

Aaron Blabey expertly uses humorous rhymes to draw kids {and adults alike} into this witty tale. His expressive cartoon like illustrations also make it easy for emergent readers to tell the story themselves from the pictures alone. Cue fits of hilarious laughter once they find out piranhas eat bums.

Without a doubt this is bub's favourite book at the moment. She loves telling me all about what's happening and how the fishy tries to get his friends to eat fruit and vegetables, but they don't like them, they think fruit and veggies are yucky. But they say yes to bum bums mummy, they like eat bum bums. She cracks me up. Of course I had to record it so you could all hear for yourselves.

I love that all of these books use animals {and to varying extents humour} to gently introduce children to more serious topics. A lot of the books touch on topics like fear and danger, but broach them without being overly scary. They also embrace concepts like friendships and working together. Each of the stories lends themselves well to being read aloud by a parent/teacher and have very descriptive images so children can easily follow along the story when "reading" themselves even if they don't know all the words yet. I'd definitely recommend adding them to your book collection.

What are your kids favourite books? 

Do you have any other suggestions we should add to our collection?

Disclosure - This post contains some affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you, should you make a purchase.

Would you like to comment?

  1. Love those stories... also try 'wombats week'. And 'biscuit bear' I'll have to go searching for more I have lots from teaching and there are some beautiful stories.

    1. Oh I've never even heard of those ones Caitlin, I'll have to look for them.

  2. These are the best selection! We love Wombat Stew (even I do, it's from my era!) and The Gruffolo but we've not read the bananas one. It sounds like it would suit my boys attitude well xx

    1. I'm sure the boys would love it Vicki, bub is a little obsessed with it.

  3. My girls love the Gruffalo. They like Room on the Broom as well. We borrow books from the library every week. I enjoy reading the ones with rhyming or a flow in the words. We've just read 'There was an old lady who swallowed a thong', it comes with a few different versions. Funny.

    Izzy has just been exploring Pamela Allen books at school which are good too.
    The first thing kids learn at kindy is that you read from the start of the book to the back. What and where is the title, the author's name and the illustrator's name.
    At home we not only read the words, and I have told my hubby to use expression more than a hundred times, but talk about the pictures too.

    1. I love the rhyming ones too. There was an old lady who swallowed a thong sounds hilarious.