10 best books for 5 year olds

Let your 5-year-old's imagination take flight with these classic tales. Here are our top ten picks of the best books for 5-year-olds...

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Where the Wild Things Are

By Maurice Sendak, published by Red Fox, RRP £5.99

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What’s the story: One day, Max plays at home making mischief in his wolf-like costume. As punishment, his mother sends him to bed without supper. In his room, a mysterious, wild forest and sea grows out of his imagination, and Max sails to the land where the wild things are. Max manages to tame them and he’s made King of the Wild Things. However, he soon finds himself lonely and homesick and returns home to his bedroom where he finds his supper waiting for him, still hot.

Why we love it: To those who read this book as a child, the story has remained constant and fresh in their memories. Sendak’s colour illustrations are beautiful, and full of wonder. The wild things manage to be scary looking without being terrifying to a young child – most of the time they are made to look comical. Sendak creates somewhat of a floating feeling, of being half way between a dream and the wondrous imagination that children have. The message at the end of the book, like many others, is that there’s really no place like home.

First published: 1963

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The Man on the Moon

By Simon Bertram, published by Templar, RRP £5.99

What’s the story: Subtitled The Day in the Life of Bob, this beautifully illustrated book is about a very polite English chap who lives on Earth and commutes to the moon everyday to work.

Why we love it: There’s a retro Fifties feel to the pictures which evokes a simple time when moon landings were almost, but not quite possible, and an element of what’s out there beyond our horizon was even more fascinating than it is now. Children will have fun spotting aliens everywhere, hiding in craters, sneaking into Bob’s rocket and even peering out of his garden bushes back home!

First published: 2002

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Granpa

By John Burningham, published by Red Fox, RRP £5.99

What’s the story: Granpa describes the very special relationship between a little girl and her grandfather. Together they go share some precious moments and adventures together.

Why we love it: The charm of Granpa is the dialogue of the two characters which is both amusing and insightful. This is a very touching book that helps a parent deal with and explain to a young child the sensitive issue of bereavement. Burningham doesn’t flat out say that the grandfather is dead, instead he ends the book with room for interpretation. When Granpa’s chair is empty at the end it’s up to the children to decide whether they’re ready to understand where he’s gone – either he’s passed away, gone on holiday or absent for a little while so the little girl has to wait for him to return.

First published: 1984

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Green Eggs and Ham

By Dr Seuss, published by Harper Collins, RRP £4.99

What’s the story: The main character, Sam-I-Am, is on a mission to find a taker for his dish of green eggs and ham. He’s desperate to get his friend to eat his speciality and thinks up of all kinds of scenarios that might make the food more appealing – all of which are haughtily rebuffed.

Why we love it: The sheer genius of Dr Seuss’ use of language cannot be denied. Simple rhymes such as ‘fox’ and ‘box’, ‘goat and boat’ help in the development in children’s ability to speak and have fun with language. You all might get a hunger for the title dish, which can be made simply by whipping up an omelette and stirring pesto into it (check out Nigella Lawson’s very tasty version).

First published: 1960

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Winnie-the-Pooh

By A.A. Milne, illustrated by E.H. Shepard, published by Egmont, RRP £6.99

What’s the story: The stories of set in ‘100 Aker Wood’ have been loved by generations of children since Pooh, Christopher Robin, Piglet, Rabbit, Owl, Kanga, Roo and Eeyore first made their appearance in 1926. Accompanied by E.H. Shepard’s original illustrations in colour, this edition is an ideal book for bedtime reading. While the tales were inspired by Milne’s own son, Christopher Robin, and his cuddly toys, the image of Edward Bear (Winnie-the-Pooh to you and I) comes from Shepard’s son’s favoured toy bear.

Why we love it:  Discover what happens when Pooh goes visiting and Piglet meets a Heffalump, not forgetting when Eeyore loses his tail and Pooh finds one! Delightfully sweet, just like Pooh’s beloved honey.

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First published: 1926

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