The best children’s picture books that are great fun and happen to be educational

Who am I?

I write books for children of all ages but I began with picture books, and they will always have a special place in my heart. I like all different types of picture books. Sometimes we read for pure entertainment, and sometimes to find out about the world, but the books on this list hit the sweet spot between the two. They are all books that will inspire further conversation and might even lead to related projects at school or home.


I wrote...

The Leaf Thief

By Alice Hemming, Nicola Slater (illustrator),

Book cover of The Leaf Thief

What is my book about?

Squirrel is so cross. Yesterday there were loads of beautiful leaves on his tree, but today? Today some are missing. Squirrel is convinced that someone has stolen them. Is there a leaf thief on the loose?

Confused Squirrel and wise Bird form the perfect partnership in this brilliantly funny story, with a fact page at the back which helps explain the changing of the seasons.

The books I picked & why

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Poo! Is that You?

By Clare Helen Welsh, Nicola O'Byrne (illustrator),

Book cover of Poo! Is that You?

Why this book?

"Poo! Is that you?" It’s a funny question, and a funny title for a book, which always has little ones holding their noses and flapping their hands in front of their faces—great for interaction. But, as well as being a fun story, this book also has an educational side, as Lenny the lemur learns everything there is to know about smells. I, for one, had never heard of the Stinkbird before I read this book. There are some Super Stinky Facts at the end and there are more books in the series to keep you entertained/educated…


The Rabbit Problem

By Emily Gravett,

Book cover of The Rabbit Problem

Why this book?

I love rabbits. We have our own free-range rabbit at home who hops up and down the garden as I work away in my writing shed. I also think rabbits make great picture book characters, so any bunny-based book will always be a hit with me. But this one isn’t just any bunny-based book. These bunnies live in Fibonacci’s field and keep multiplying…With its calendar format and quirky visual jokes, it’s great fun. It’s also a good way to introduce younger (and older) children to some maths (and biology)!


Betsy Buglove Saves the Bees

By Catherine Jacob, Lucy Fleming (illustrator),

Book cover of Betsy Buglove Saves the Bees

Why this book?

A must for all bug lovers (as well as those who need convincing)! This is a sweet book with a traditional feel to the illustrations, and the only rhyming book on my list. I love it because it captures a child’s perspective on the world so beautifully. It has great messages about enjoying the outside world and making a difference no matter how small you are. There are fun fact pages too about various minibeasts!


Circle

By Mac Barnett, Jon Klassen (illustrator),

Book cover of Circle

Why this book?

This is a difficult book to describe! It’s about shapes (the main characters are a square, circle, and triangle), friendship, fear of the dark, and imagination. As a picture book writer (but not illustrator), I love to see a book where a writer makes space for an illustrator to tell part of the story. This book does that really well, particularly in the part where it’s just Jon Klassen’s signature eyes in the dark! There are three books in this series but this one’s my favourite.


Zed's Bread

By Mick Manning, Brita Granstrӧm,

Book cover of Zed's Bread

Why this book?

This book was a real favourite when my children were small, and like all favourite books, I probably read it about a million times. It’s a simple story about two brothers baking bread. The children loved the rhythm of the text, the repeated refrain, and the gentle ‘twist’ at the end. Like some of my other book picks, this one has facts at the back: this time about different types of bread from around the world. There’s also a recipe. Did we ever bake Zed’s bread? Of course we did! It was delicious.


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