Things To Do With Kids

10 Books Every Kid Needs On Their Bookshelf

By Urban List Writers
24th Jan 2023

It may seem like only yesterday that your parents were stocking your shelves with the likes of Where The Wild Things Are, The Hungry Caterpillar and of course, The Rainbow Fish.

In good faith, we’ll assume you’ve treated your little ones to the same classics already so make way for the next generation of children’s books guaranteed to keep even the busiest tiny tot occupied. Be it an interactive journey with sensory activities, a themed read bearing small life lessons or a hypnotic and rhythmic page-turner guaranteed to send your pride and joy off into some deep Zs—we have you sorted.

Read on for the best children's books.

Somebody’s Land: Welcome To Our Country

By Adam Goodes and Ellie Laing

To you, Adam Goodes is very well one of the greatest AFL players of all time but to those mini humans who live with you, he’s going to be the guy that teaches them to embrace First Nations history and culture, all about the term ‘terra nullius’ and what ‘Welcome To Country’ really means. The illustrations have been crafted by David Hardy so whether this is for your own tiny tots or a gift for others, you cannot go wrong with Somebody’s Land: Welcome To Our Country.

Buy it here.

All The Ways To Be Smart

By Davina Bell

Children’s books sure have come a long way since, oh we don’t know…the entire Dr Seuss collection? If you’ve got your finger on the pulse, you’ll most likely have spotted All The Ways To Be Smart making a cameo on Playschool which has basically catapulted this read into the unofficial ‘Children’s Book Hall Of Fame’. Much like its sweet title suggests, this picture book challenges all the stereotypes about what it means to be clever through flawless rhyme and bright graphics.

Buy it here.

Our Family Pledge

By Emmaline Carrol Southwell

This could very well be one of our favourite new children’s books to date. Would you believe that the well-versed Emmaline actually shot to fame and wrote this book off the back of her viral TikToks during Australia’s Covid-19 lockdown in 2020? If you haven’t graced your time with her account—you really must. You’ll be privy to her ‘Ask Levi’ series which is always heartwarming and you’ll get an insight into how Our Family Pledge really came about, a poem that stemmed from her own family’s mission statement to encourage her kids to be compassionate for themselves, others and the planet. This is a non-negotiable in the family library.

Buy it here.

Jetty Jumping

By Andrea Rowe

Feast your eyes on the CBCA Early Childhood Book Winner of 2022. Now add Jetty Jumping to your cart. This 32-page children’s book, in our humble opinion, is easily one of the books to flip out before bedtime—it’s nostalgic, easy to read and filled with moments of imagination for the little ones.

Buy it here.

Diary Of A Rescued Wombat: The Untold Story

By Jackie French

We mean, you should already have Diary Of A Wombat somewhere in your rumpus room so to really clock out the kid’s collection, this 20th anniversary homage is a must. In this fresh take on the classic you were most definitely brought up with, Diary Of A Rescued Wombat: The Untold Story dives into the (almost) true story of one small wombat who learnt how to train her humans. Iconic.

Buy it here.

Love Makes A Family

By Sophie Beer

If you ask us, there’s probably a number of adults that could do with casting their eye over this magical read with a whole lot of life lessons and mantras to live by. The illustrations in Love Makes A Family are visually stunning and on the shorter side of children’s books (at 24 pages long) with super simple language, dare we say you can start reading this one to peanut when he or she is still wrapped in a swaddle.

Buy it here.

Look Inside A Coral Reef

By Minna Lacey

We might be jumping to conclusions here but we think if you take a leap of faith and gift this book to your mini me, it’ll end up being their most prized possession. This uber interactive children’s book explodes with colour, sea creatures and coral, plus has pull-out and flip-up flaps to uncover more detail (always exciting). If you want to add more to the collection to make birthdays easier, you can also find a number of spin-offs including Look Inside Cars, Look Inside Space, Look Inside Science, Look Inside Food, Look Inside A Farm—you should be sorted until they hit kindy.

Buy it here.

In You I See

By Rachel Emily

While some of the best children’s books will undoubtedly keep them occupied or even better, send them straight to lala land, In You I See is a carefully curated and beautiful book that is useful in more ways than one. Its overarching theme is that there is always more than meets the eye if you really take the time to look (cute) but its repetition of language, sound and rhythm of rhyming text is handy for kids to develop their vocab so they can enter their chatty era.

Buy it here.

Reuse This Book

By Clarion Books

Another epic interactive book with all the tactile fun, Reuse This Book is the perfect little sensory journey for any small adults aged four to seven. Introducing ideas of recycling, earth science and conservation, this super fun book includes a bunch of cute action prompts like “tap to help the seeds grow” and “tilt the book to water the tree”. It’s also made from reused mixed media materials and printed on responsibly sourced paper. Perfect for read-aloud sessions in a classroom or at home.

Buy it here.

I Saw, We Saw

By Nhulunbuy Primary School

Over a series of workshops sponsored by the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, indigenous students from Nhulunbuy Primary School (located in east Arnhem Land wrote I Saw, We Saw and it’s an ideal one for anyone ages five to eight. Firstly, this schmick read features a QR code that plays an actual recording of the story so you can at least cop your own time at the Nespresso machine in peace. Secondly, the book delves into the lives of local Yolnu kids and also sports language from Yolnu country with a glossary that helps little ones to pick out objects in the traditional language. Ticks all the boxes, in our opinion.

Buy it here.

Image credit: Urban List

Editor's note: Urban List editors independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. Urban List has affiliate partnerships, so we get revenue from your purchase.

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