The best illustrated children’s books for parents and kids to read together

Who am I?

I came to write books for children somewhat by accident – my first Star Wars book, Darth Vader and Son, was intended to be for adults, but kids decided the book was really for them. One of the most satisfying things as an author has been hearing from parents whose children have them read the book to them over and over. I’ve loved being able to read to my sons, introducing them to books I loved at their age, and discovering others I haven’t read before. The books I love most to read with them, though, are the ones we both laugh out loud at. It’s one of the best feelings in the world.

I wrote...

Star Wars: A Vader Family Sithmas

By Jeffrey Brown,

Book cover of Star Wars: A Vader Family Sithmas

What is my book about?

Sithmas time is here, and the Vader family—little Luke, Leia, and the Dark Lord of the Sith—are busy trimming the tree, hanging their stockings, building stormtrooper snowmen, and listening for Santa’s tauntauns on the roof. Featuring Force-wielding snowball fights, gingerbread Death Stars, sledding with Han Solo, and much more, this charming family album of festivity in Jeffrey Brown’s New York Times bestselling Vader series is the stocking stuffer of the season for fans across the galaxy far, far away.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Winnie-the-Pooh

Jeffrey Brown Why did I love this book?

Most people know Winnie the Pooh from cartoon adaptations, but those have never done justice to the original stories. Milne’s characters are incredibly funny and human, putting themselves in ridiculous situations and attempting to solve problems with even more ridiculous solutions, all with the seemingly nonsensical logic of a toddler. While kids may enjoy Pooh’s antics for their sheer silliness, adults will appreciate the subtle commentary on grown-up foibles and love the deep heart with which Pooh navigates the world.

By A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Winnie-the-Pooh as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

An award-winning production, with an all-star cast including Stephen Fry and Judi Dench, brings to life one of the best-loved children's books of all time.

Packed full of fun and adventure with Winnie-the-Pooh and all his friends in the Hundred Acre Forest. This is a wonderful dramatisation of Winnie-the-Pooh with original music. This captivating adaptation conveys all the magic and humour of AA Milne's classic stories.

The cast includes the following stars:

Pooh - Stephen Fry
Piglet - Jane Horrocks
Eeyore - Geoffrey Palmer
Kanga (and Narrator) - Judi Dench
Roo - Finty Williams
Rabbit - Robert Daws
Owl -…

Book cover of Nicholas

Jeffrey Brown Why did I love this book?

Although there are some parts of the Nicholas series that don’t hold up quite as well today – Nicholas and his friends attempt to smoke a discarded cigar, and their game of cowboys is extremely dated – these everyday adventures perfectly capture the feeling of being a kid looking out at a world that doesn’t make sense, because the world is run by grownups. Narrated by Nicholas himself, each chapter is a self-contained story full of the hilarious ups and downs of childhood. Sometimes when you’re a kid, no matter how hard you try to do good, you still get in trouble, and sometimes, your parents are endlessly frustrated, while you remain happily oblivious.

By René Goscinny, Jean-Jacques Sempé (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nicholas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Nicholas is the first in a series of five books, that bring to life the day-to-day adventures of a young school boy - amusing, endearing and always in trouble. An only child, Nicholas appears older at school than he does at home; his touchingly naive reactions to different situations cut through the preconceptions of adults to result in a formidable sequence of escapades.

This first book in the series contains a collection of 19 individual stories in which, despite trying to be good, Nicholas and his friends always seem to end up in some sort of mischief. In the school…

Book cover of Pippi Longstocking

Jeffrey Brown Why did I love this book?

I missed out on reading this as a kid, I think because I saw part of the 1969 movie version and found it unwatchable. But better late than never! A precocious and heroic girl living alone, Pippi Longstocking’s surreal but often literal take on the adult world exposes contradictions and paradoxes in the most entertaining fashion. She behaves the way kids often wish they were allowed to and suffers no fools along the way.

By Astrid Lindgren, Lauren Child (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Pippi Longstocking as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

This flagship gift edition illustrated by Lauren Child is a glorious celebratory tribute to the strongest girl in the world.

Pippi Longstocking is nine years old. She has just moved into Villa Villekulla where she lives all by herself with a horse, a monkey, and a big suitcase full of gold coins. The grown-ups in the village try to make Pippi behave in ways that they think a little girl should, but Pippi has other ideas. She would much rather spend her days arranging wild, exciting adventures to enjoy with her neighbours, Tommy and Annika, or entertaining everyone she meets…

Book cover of The Phantom Tollbooth

Jeffrey Brown Why did I love this book?

There is a lot going on in The Phantom Tollbooth, making the annotated edition well worth reading, but at its core it’s simply another fun book that follows a kid (and his canine companion, an actual watch-dog) on fantastic adventures. There’s literally plenty of literal literary turns of phrase, and the playful language adds layers and levels to the humor. Kids (and even adults) may not understand it all, or all the same, but the humor carries the reader on nonetheless.

By Norton Juster, Jules Feiffer (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Phantom Tollbooth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

With almost 5 million copies sold 60 years after its original publication, generations of readers have now journeyed with Milo to the Lands Beyond in this beloved classic. Enriched by Jules Feiffer’s splendid illustrations, the wit, wisdom, and wordplay of Norton Juster’s offbeat fantasy are as beguiling as ever. 

“Comes up bright and new every time I read it . . . it will continue to charm and delight for a very long time yet. And teach us some wisdom, too.” --Phillip Pullman

For Milo, everything’s a bore. When a tollbooth mysteriously appears in his room, he drives through only…

Book cover of Frog and Toad: A Complete Reading Collection

Jeffrey Brown Why did I love this book?

There may not be a simpler book that paints a more complex picture of friendship as Frog and Toad. The chapters would be the perfect length for bedtime reading if the two amphibians weren’t so engrossing that both you and your young one will keep deciding on “just one more” until you’ve read them all. Frog and Toad are clever, and naïve, and sweet, and always funny.

By Arnold Lobel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Frog and Toad as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of beloved bestselling characters Frog and Toad! 

Frog and Toad are always there for each other—just as best friends should be! From sledding in winter to eating ice cream on hot summer days, these two friends have fun together the whole year round! 

This box set with a green handle and Velcro closure includes all four classics: the Caldecott Honor Book Frog and Toad Are Friends, Newbery Honor Book Frog and Toad Together, Frog and Toad All Year, and Days with Frog and Toad.

This reading collection is a Level Two I Can Read, geared toward…

You might also like...

The Olympus Project

By Zoe Routh,

Book cover of The Olympus Project

Zoe Routh Author Of The Olympus Project

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Leadership futurist Adventurist Former bellydancer Historical and speculative fiction nut Marathoner

Zoe's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

The future is uncertain, and the stakes are high. Climate change has wreaked havoc on the planet, and humanity is on the brink of extinction. The only hope lies in the Olympus Project, a plan to colonise the moon and build on the Artemis Base.

Led by three of the best and brightest--Troy Bruin, Xavier Consus, and Xanthe Waters--they must battle both winner-take-all competition and their own differences in order to save humanity from destruction. But even as they search for a way to reconcile, a secret organisation is lurking in the shadows, threatening to extinguish their efforts and ensure humanity's downfall.

A gripping tale of leadership, ambition, and the indomitable human spirit.

The Olympus Project

By Zoe Routh,

What is this book about?

***WINNER: GOLD MEDAL in Fiction - Thriller - Environmental, Readers' Favorite Awards 2023***

They are the best. The brightest. The hope of humanity.

And they might destroy us all…

The future. Climate change has rendered much of the world desolate. Crops are failing. Rising seas have flooded coastal communities. The earth is dying, and humanity careens toward extinction.

Enter the Olympus Project—a plan to colonise the moon, building on the Artemis Base, led by three of humankind’s best and brightest: Troy Bruin, Xavier Consus, and Xanthe Waters.

But even the best and brightest can fall prey to humanity’s failing. Soon…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in toys, cowboys, and frogs?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about toys, cowboys, and frogs.

Toys Explore 27 books about toys
Cowboys Explore 67 books about cowboys
Frogs Explore 33 books about frogs