The Very Hungry Caterpillar
By Eric Carle, published by Puffin, RRP £6.99
What’s the story: Every child should experience this wonderful, cumulative story, with its brightly coloured pictures of the tiny but greedy caterpillar that eats his way through one apple, two plums and three pears and much more, before turning into a beautiful butterfly on the very last page.
Why we love it: It is now over 40 years since The Very Hungry Caterpillar was first published. So popular is it that there is a Very Hungry Caterpillar Day celebration every year on 20th March. This is a much-loved classic but still relevant today that’s immensely satisfying for parents and children. Available in hardback, paperback, board book, giant boardbook (with a caterpillar toy big enough to poke its way through the cut out holes in the pages), means there’s a variety of ways to introduce your little one to this most loved of children’s book.
First published: 1969
Each Peach Pear Plum
By Janet and Allan Ahlberg, published by Puffin, RRP £5.99
What’s the story: Play ‘I spy’ with the characters hiding in the pictures. A poem on each page gives the clue as to what is hiding in the picture opposite. In the happy finale, the whole cast meets up for plum pie in the sun, where the little one on your lap will gleefully find everyone.
Why we love it: There’s no disappointment in an Ahlberg book, ever, with the combination of Janet’s fantastic drawings that fill the page in rich detail, and Allan’s clever rhymes and catchy word plays. The deserved winner of the 1978 Kate Greenaway Award, Each Peach Pear Plum is filled with beloved nursery characters from Mother Hubbard to Baby Bunting. Baby will delight in pointing out the characters sneakily hiding in the pictures.
First published: 1978
Baby Brains: The Smartest Baby in the Whole World
By Simon James, published by Walker, RRP £5.99
What’s the story: Say hello to the world’s brainiest baby. He reads the paper, mends the car, goes to school to teach the teacher and works as a doctor at the hospital after only two weeks of studying. He’s so clever that some scientists ask him to go on their next space mission. And that’s when Baby Brains shows that in one way, at least, he’s like every other baby in the world: he wants his mummy!
Why we love it: This is a memorable picture book, as bright and engaging as its extraordinary young hero. The companion title, Baby Brains and Robomum (£10.99 in hardback), is just as funny.
First published: 2004
Doing the Animal Bop
By Jan Ormerod, illustrated by Lindsey Gardiner, published by OUP, RRP £5.99
What’s the story: Prepare yourself for a riotous animal romp that will have you and your young ones stamping their feet and joining in with gusto. Waddle like a penguin, stomp around like a rhino and wiggle like a monkey with this hugely entertaining, interactive and playful book.
Why we love it: You won’t be sure who enjoys this book more (you or your child) as you both jive, jiggle and jump around to this fantastic book that gets everyone moving. This book is also available with a CD for those who want that extra animal bopping experience.
First published: 2005
By Jan Ormerod, published by Bodley Head, RRP £3.99
What’s the story: Peek-a-boo must be the most popular baby game ever. Each page in this affectionately illustrated book shows a baby hiding its face with various objects. A simple flap to pull down reveals an awake and smiling face popping out to say ‘peek-a-boo’ to your baby, until the last page, when the baby is fast asleep.
Why we love it: This book has lovely clear pictures of babies from different cultures, who are all playing the universal game. It’s a perfect book for those moments when parents are too tired to play the game. This book does the game for them!
First published: 1997