The top 50 books that parents love to read to their children

What are your favourite books to read to your children?

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is the best loved children’s book – according to parents, a study found. Despite being published in 1969, the Eric Carle tale of a caterpillar hatching from its egg and eating its way through various foods, came top of the pile of books parents most love reading to their children.

At the end of the story, after suffering stomach ache following its huge feast, the caterpillar spins a cocoon and later emerges as a beautiful butterfly.

Second place in the poll went Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo, which has sold more than 13 million copies and been turned into a show for TV and theatre. I have to admit this is one of my personal favourites.

The Cat in the Hat, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and The BFG completed the top five, which I would have to agree with. The BFG was also one of my favourites as a child.

favourite children's stories

The study of 2,000 parents by also found nine in 10 fed-up mums and dads face reading the same few books over and over, with one in three even admitting they often pretend to lose a book from time to time to avoid having to read it again.

More than three quarters of parents even have books they have read so often, they know them off by heart, while six in 10 have tried to skip pages without their children noticing.

Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory came sixth in the list of children’s books parents enjoy reading, followed by Winnie-The-Pooh and Dear Zoo.

The Harry Potter series and Room on the Broom completed the top ten. Harry Potter is a big deal in our house.

reading with children

Other stories which are popular with both children and their mums and dads include The Tiger Who Came to Tea, Matilda and Charlotte’s Web.

Meg and Mog, A Bear Called Paddington and The Dinosaur that Pooped a Planet also made the top 50.

Researchers from found the average parent reads to their children four times a week, amounting to around an hour in total, and while the average parent starts reading to their child around the age of two, 44 per cent were sitting down to a story before their first birthday.

More than three quarters of mums and dads also admitted to reading a book they loved from their childhood to try and encourage their son or daughter to become a fan – The Witches for me! 94 per cent enjoy reading to their children, with more than nine in 10 seeing it as an opportunity to bond with their offspring.

Test your knowledge of classic children’s stories by taking the quiz below.


1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
2. The Gruffalo
3. The Cat in the Hat
4. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
5. The BFG
6. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
7. Winnie-The-Pooh
8. Dear Zoo
9. The Harry Potter series
10. Room on the Broom
11. The Tiger Who Came to Tea
12. Matilda
13. The Snowman
14. James and the Giant Peach
15. Horrid Henry
16. Stickman
17. Where’s Spot?
18. Charlotte’s Web
19. That’s Not My Monkey
20. The Three Billy Goats Gruff
21. Meg and Mog
22. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
23. Green Eggs and Ham
24. Where the Wild Things Are
25. Diary of a Wimpy Kid
26. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
27. A Bear Called Paddington
28. The Magic Faraway Tree
29. The Highway Rat
30. The Worst Witch
31. Each Peach Pear Plum
32. The Secret Garden
33. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly
34. Curious George
35. Goodnight Moon
36. The Little Princess
37. Dig Dig Digging
38. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
39. Stig of the Dump
40. How to Train Your Dragon
41. I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato
42. The Little Prince
43. The Dinosaur that Pooped a Planet
44. Flat Stanley
45. Noddy Goes to Toyland
46. Pippi Longstocking
47. Asterix the Gaul
48. The Sheep-Pig
49. Watership Down
50. The Queen’s Nose

children's books

Which are your all-time favourites? Do let us know in a comment below.

1 comment

  1. I would love to see Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH on this list – it was a favourite with my children and now with my grandchildren.

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