Books for babies: the lead-up to Blyton

It rather goes without saying that I will be reading Blyton to my little boy once he’s born, and encouraging him to read Blyton himself when he’s older. I do have lots of thoughts about that which I may explore on here later – mostly about how to broach the subject of gender equality etc and the differences between current times and the times the books were written – but it would never stop me introducing the books to my son.

Blyton did write for a wide age range but not quite so extensively for the very young. There’s also the problem of my collection being all original editions and not really suitable for grabby baby hands. That leads to the next quandary of risking early editions or buying sanitised modern ones?

Anyway, the point is I will read a lot of non-Blytons too, and I thought I would explore my already long reading list for baby this week.


The first list are all books I adore – mostly ones I read as a child but also a few I have stumbled upon as a grown-up.

  • Janet and Allan Ahlberg feature quite heavily as my sister and I loved their books when we were younger. The Funny Bones series (this had a great TV series too), Happy FamiliesEach Peach Pear Plum, The Jolly Postman series (never owned, always read at the library or friends’ houses though), Burglar Bill and Cops and Robbers are all there. These are all such funny books with wonderful and detailed illustrations.

  • Also prominent is Shirley Hughes with the Lucy and Tom books, the Alfie series, Dogger, Helpers, Tales of Trotter Street and Let’s Join In. Actually not on the list – but should be – is Tales by Firelight even if Mrs Toomly Stones scared the life of my little sister.
  • Jill Murphy has quite a few books on there (not sure if he’ll be into the Worst Witch, mind you – though I would like him to read books about girls and not just boys) with Peace at Last (Oh nooo, I can’t stand thiiiis!), The Large Family books, and (needing added) Whatever Next.

One or two you might not be so familiar with are Aileen Paterson and Mairi Hedderwick. Both are Scottish authors that I’ve grown up reading.

  • Aileen Paterson wrote a series about Maisie from Morningside – a kitten living in a posh part of Edinburgh with her granny while her father is off adventuring. I remember these were often sold at tourist attractions in Scotland and spending the last of my holiday money on a new title when we were away.

  • Mairi Hedderwick wrote about Katie Morag, a little red-haired girl who lives on the (fictional) Isle of Struay with her parents and younger siblings. It’s now a TV series on Cbeebies so those of you with young children may have heard of her.
  • And there are also some by the recently passed away Babette ColeThe Trouble With… series, and Dr Dog. I’m sure we will collect more of hers too as I’ve already borrowed one of the Princess Smartypants books from the library. Though I’m stunned to discover the Trouble With series is out of print! Outrageous!

Then there are other random classics on there (or at least what I consider classics):

  • The Spot books by Eric Hill (I love lift-the-flap books!)
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • The Topsy and Tim books by Jean and Gareth Adamson
  • Meg and Mog by Helen Nicoll
  • Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy by Lynley Dodd (featuring Schnitzel von Krumm with a very low tum, a favourite of my sister’s and mine)
  • We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen (and now I’ve thought of it I have to add Don’t Put Mustard in the Custard even though it’s out of print and getting harder to find!)
  • Usborne’s First 1,000 words (find the duckie on every page!)
  • Paddington books by Michael Bond (my mother’s obsession, so I’m sure she’ll provide a library’s worth)
  • The Cat in the Hat (and probably others) by Dr Seuss – we never owned any as my mum didn’t think much of them, but always loved to sneakily read them in the library
  • Old Bear Tales by Jane Hissey
  • After the Storm (and possibly other Percy Park Keeper books) by Nick Butterworth
  • The Ivy Cottage books by E. J. Taylor.

  • Absent only because I already have them are The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr and Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell.
  • There are a couple of much more recent books too – The Gruffalo (There’s no such thing as a Gruffalo!) and Tyrannosaurus Drip (Up with hunting, up with war! Up with bellyfulls of duck-billed dinosaur!) by Julia Donaldson (and I’m sure we’ll end up with many more of hers as she is so popular now, we already have The Everywhere Bear and Tiddler in fact).


I asked on Facebook for some other ideas, it has been a while since I have looked after children and realise there have probably been some great books I have missed out on.

  • That’s Not My… (Dinosaur, Hedgehog, Bunny etc) by Fiona Watt – can’t beat a nice touchy-feely book.
  • You also don’t get better than books with pop-ups so the Pop-Up Peekaboo series has gone on the list.

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

  • Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox (illustrated by Helen Oxenbury of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt fame).
  • Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett
  • Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown – a title I’ve heard many times but have never read.

  • Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney (I have this now, and have probably read it before but wasn’t something we owned).
  • The Baby’s Catalogue – by Janet and Allan Ahlberg – I can’t believe I’ve never seen this before! And also Peepo! which I am familiar with but didn’t have a copy of as a child.
  • Goodnight Scotland by Adam Gamble
  • Nothing by Mick Inkpen (who also wrote the Kipper and Wibbly Pig books and some other great stuff like Lullabyhullaballoo, so I expect to have more of his books too).
  • Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear? by Martin Waddell
  • More Julia Donaldson books like Monkey Puzzle, The Snail and the Whale and Stick Man. I have vaguely heard of Stick Man before and keep picturing Slender Man which I hope is nothing like the reality! Not on the written list but also suggested have been Zog and Room on the Broom.
  • The Enormous Turnip – a classic done by so many authors I don’t know which version to choose (maybe a Ladybird one to go with my pile of Ladybirds like Cinderella, Rumpelstiltskin and The Goose Girl etc.)
  • Zak and Jen’s Astronomical Adventures by Natalie Page and Chris Rivers Nuttall
  • No Matter What by Debi Gliori

Not on the written list but also suggested are The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams (but probably not in an early edition!), Harry and The Bucket Full of Dinosaurs by Ian Whybrow, The Little Red Train series by Benedict Blathwayt, Supermarket Zoo by Caryl Hart.

Phew! That’s a lot of books!


  • I have a few Blytons for the younger audience – the Brockhampton Picture Books like The Train that Lost Its Way are lovely little reads with gorgeous Eileen Soper illustrations (as long as I can keep grabby hands off of the 70 year old pages!)
  • The of course there is Noddy, I have all 24 original books and also the first five in a modern omnibus and there are tons of his books out there. Problem is most of the newer stuff is nasty, shiny and lacking the charm of the originals.

noddy treasury

So there you go, this kid is going to have the fullest bookcase before he’s even born! And yet, I’m still going to ask you for any suggestions you have. Leave them in the comments below!

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4 Responses to Books for babies: the lead-up to Blyton

  1. chrissie777 says:

    “Milly-Molly-Mandy” by Joyce Lankester Brisley, Grimm’s fairy tales, Lady and the Tramp (Walt Disney book) , but most of all the “Rainbow Fish” by Marcus Pfister which teaches little children to share:


  2. Francis says:

    When he is old enough, ‘Noddy goes to the Seaside’ is a classic – the storm and the crab still give me nightmares!


  3. jillslawit says:

    Just got some Noddys for my birthday. Who doesn’t love Little Noddy? Awesome little dude.


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