A Must Read List of Children’s Books


This weekend I became godmother again to my friends ‘Small No2’ – it’s a bit like getting Chanel No.5 but they smell real bad. This seems to have astounded some people at work mostly due to the fact that I was picked twice. I frown at this judgement – just because I get absolutely smashed with all my work mates does not mean I will automatically take my godchildren to pubs (I have, but that is another matter).  Just because I seem to have little or no control over most of the things that go on in my life does not mean I have nothing valuable to teach my small followers (I’m pretty sure I explained to the eldest one why Auntie Lauren looked like she was going to barf in her Roast Dinner last time she was visiting). It’s true, I will best be able to teach them to party and how not to vomit on their shoes but this must all be saved for later in life.

‘Perhaps’ I smugly interject at work during the mocking ‘you haven’t been asked because you aren’t making the grade’. I see being a godparent as an assignment and I am very glad to say I nailed the first task. If you get given a brief in advertising you either challenge it or astonish them with your understanding of what they want.  I beat off all the competition (and there was competition – how many of you have the same godparents? None. Thought so.). I understood the brief best, I am the winner, I got the next assignment.

Partly I assume I was picked for comedy value but that is pretty much how I have been picked for most things in my life. The father of my god children and my dearest friend’s husband finds my brand of guidance often less than amusing. When given a play-mat that created a light and sound show this weekend my god daughter was distraught to find it didn’t work – No batteries. ‘You’ll find Goddaughter’ I chimed with glass of Rose wine ‘Nothing comes with batteries in younger life and older’ the parents shot me a look ‘What!? I’m managing expectations!!’.

So to prove once and for all that I don’t just provide knowledge on what comes first salt, tequila or lemon. I have complied some of my other great wisdom – Children’s books you must read and own. Perfect for gifting especially at this time of year when birthday’s seem two a penny there are of course lots out there but here are just 10 of my favourites.

Big Green Book

The Big Green Book – Robert Graves (Illustrated by Maurice Sendak)

It’s not that famous but I loved it as a child and the illustrations are beautiful . Currently out of print in English (don’t hate me hate the publishers!!) the book starts with an orphan finding a magic book that turns him into an old man. Fun and adventure ensue – I still remember the part where his nails grow so long they indent into his hands! It’s perfect for a rainy day so hunt it down and treasure it.

The Twits

The Twits – Roald Dahl

Maybe it’s my age but Roald Dahl is the master of the Children’s books – every single one probably deserves a mention but in this list I have stuck to two. The Twits is positively disgusting and I still have nightmares about what was in Mr Twits beard. Perfect for reading aloud in bed with small ones but no doubt you’ll have them in fits of hysterics and they won’t sleep.


The Gashlycrumb Tinies – Edward Gorey

Ok, so it isn’t strictly a Children’s book but if you have a Wednesday Addams type child like myself growing up this is the perfect warm up to them devouring The Littlest Vampire and The Worst Witch as they get older. I used to know the whole thing off by heart as I spent an afternoon learning it and then promptly forgot it. I do remember I didn’t know what Lye was and had to go an look it up – not a nice way to go!!

Flat Stanley

Flat Stanley  – Jeff Brown

Flat Stanley always reminds me of my oldest friend Serena – It follows the adventures of well…Stanley who is flat. I love it that he fits under doors like and envelope, it is childish and silly but also wonderfully illustrated and imaginative.


Fungus the Bogeyman – Raymond Biggs

The pop up book of Fungus is the only way to go if you want to be a hit with the gift of books. It’s vile – it even has a washing line with his disgusting pants. My sister actually was the one who had the copy but I used to steal it and read it over and over. The tale of the Bogeyman’s most horrid and gross life is enthralling and the livid green snot colour which covers the whole book makes it all the more special!

Esio Trot

Esio Trot – Roald Dahl

He’s back – I know, I know there are so many other authors but this book I feel a certain ‘pang’  about which means I have to mention it. It to me is by far the most touching book Mr Dahl wrote and I feel the most over looked. Esio Trot is Tortoise backwards and tells the looking story of how the little old man upstairs tries to win his old lady sweethearts love downstairs by making her beloved Tortoise grow.  It is bringing a tear to my eye now!

Now We Are

When We Were Very Young and Now We are Six – AA Milne

It’s old fashioned but all kids love it, the poems are fantastic and it is a window back in time to wonderful British childhoods of the past. Winnie the Pooh of course makes the odd appearance and it is all the better with him involved.


The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle

The pictures make you feel like you have stepped into an art project from the 70’s – well they used to but now I revere them as a work of art all by themselves. Iconic and creative every child must see what the hungriest caterpillar needs to eat.

The Old Lady

There Was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly – Pam Adams

This book is magic, simple and effective we were all reading it over the weekend after a couple of glasses of wine. Proof that a good children’s book stays with you for ever we all chorused ‘There was an old woman who swallowed a fly – I think she might die’ and then laughed.  Well it takes one to know one I suppose!!

Author: Rohini Wahi

Rohini is a London based freelance journalist and trend forecaster for the design industries. She has worked for Elle Decoration, Living Etc, Houzz and Design Sponge amongst others.

She loves a period drama and keeps a tidy home. Launched in 2007 The Beat That My Heart Skipped focuses on home inspirations, design trends, lifestyle and food – coupled with an insight into Rohini’s work and home life – from key picks at trade shows to styled weekend soirees. To contact Rohini for queries, work for hire or just to say hi drop her a line at mail@rohiniwahi.com

3 Comments on A Must Read List of Children’s Books

  1. Helen
    Friday, June 18th, 2010 19:54 at 7:54 pm (8 years ago)

    Esio Trot over Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Crazy! Really good list though. I’d add some Diana Wynne Jones – maybe Howl’s Moving Castle, The Magicians of Caprona, maybe A Tale Of Time City or The Homeward Bounders for older kids.

  2. BB
    Thursday, June 24th, 2010 13:00 at 1:00 pm (8 years ago)

    beatrix potter. animals in human clothing. brilliant. the hugely efficient Miss Tiggy Winkle and the credit crunch couple that are Ginger and Pickles

  3. Léonie
    Wednesday, July 7th, 2010 07:13 at 7:13 am (8 years ago)

    Ok, I agree with the above list but I do have a few titles that really should have been included and must have been accidentally omitted?!?

    The Kitchen Warriors by Joan Aiken – criminally out of print, the adventures of tiny people on a quest around the kitchen cupboards featuring a dragon… too magical for words.

    Andrew Lang fairy tales – yes, they are pretty gruesome to adult eyes but they’re so well written and kids love a bit of gross!

    Angry Arthur by Hiawyn Oram and Satoshi Kitamura – Arthur gets so angry that he destroys the house, the country, the world, the universe and then can’t remember why he was so angry. Fantastic illustrations and the story really captures the fury of munchkin tantrums perfectly.

    I have so many more, In the Night Kitchen, The Tiger Who Came to Tea, Green Eggs and Ham, Each Peach Pear Plum… hmmm… kids books are clearly brilliant!

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