The 10 Best Julia Donaldson Books To Read

There are children’s authors, and then there’s Julia Donaldson. Her books, with their colourful characters, repetitive rhyming patterns and beautiful illustrations, have made them the perfect bedtime stories for kids for the last 40+ years.

Although we think all of her books are great, some are definitely better than others. So, to make sure that you start with the best Julia Donaldson books, we’ve pulled together an essential reading list. The ones where if you could only read a handful of her books, these would be the ones that we would recommend reading.

So make yourselves cosy, settle down and be prepared to go on an adventure with some of our favourite children’s book characters.

Check out our favourite Julia Donaldson books!


Best Julia Donaldson Books

The Gruffalo

The Gruffalo Julia Donaldson

Why we love it:

- Kids love its engaging story, fun rhyming scheme, and delightful illustrations.
- It teaches qualities of patience and understanding and suggests that there is more to someone than their appearance.


Celebrating its 25th year of publication in 2024, The Gruffalo remains a well loved, award-winning classic. A simple yet brilliant rhythmic story of a brave mouse getting out of bad situations with the help of the “scariest” creature in the deep dark wood, its charming tale of wit and bravery has captured hearts worldwide and continues to make it one of the best Julia Donaldson books to read to your little one. 

Room on the Broom

Room on the Broom - Julia Donaldson

Why we love it:

- A fun family read-aloud with enchanting rhymes and exciting illustrations. 
- Encourages children to learn valuable lessons about kindness and unity.


Another bestseller from Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler, Room on the Broom is a timeless classic that belongs on every child's bookshelf. Through themes of inclusivity and teamwork, it draws readers into a magical world where a kindhearted witch and her cat embark on an adventure, gathering new friends and overcoming adversity along the way. This heartwarming story not only promotes language development but also instils important positive values that will resonate with readers of all ages.

The Gruffalo’s Child

The Gruffalos Child - Julia Donaldson

Why we love it:

- Great for reading together with children to develop their comprehension skills.
- A delightful continuation of the Gruffalo story. 


The Gruffalo’s Child is the much-loved sequel to The Gruffalo.  Once again, Julia Donaldson's signature rhyming style and Axel Scheffler's expressive illustrations come together to create a captivating story that children will ask for again and again. Kids can relate to the character of the Gruffalo’s child and will love her adventurous spirit. We follow her journey through the deep, dark woods, teaching your little one about bravery, curiosity, and the importance of facing your fears. 


The Snail and the Whale

The Snail and the Whale - Julia Donaldson

Why we love it:

- An educational book that inspires and entertains.
- Encourages empathy and understanding of the natural world, instilling a sense of responsibility for caring for the planet.


The Snail and the Whale is another colourful tale that teaches about the significance of believing in oneself and helping others, regardless of their size or perceived limitations. Through the unlikely friendship of a tiny snail and a giant whale, Julia Donaldson introduces children to environmental themes, highlighting the beauty and importance of marine life and the need to protect our oceans. This story is an educational and adorable adventure told through playful poetry that is fun to read aloud and appropriate for all ages. 


Stick Man

Stick Man - Julia Donaldson

Why we love it:

- A quirky and imaginative adventure based on family values
- A perfect winter read


Stick Man is an adventurous and imaginative story with adorable illustrations that you and your children will fall in love with. It follows his journey to get back to his stick family in their family tree with lots of challenges to overcome along the way. The light-hearted rhymes brilliantly lend themselves to themes of family values, love, and commitment, and the perils that Stick Man faces as he gets used as a sword, a pen, and on top of a sand castle will delight imaginative children. Even Santa has an unexpected appearance, making this an especially great read for the festive season.  Early readers may need help with some higher-level vocabulary but will enjoy this funny and exciting tale with a happy ending.


A Squash and a Squeeze

A Squash and A Squeeze - Julia Donaldson

Why we love it:

- Highlights the importance of perspective and gratitude.
- Enjoyable rhyme and repetition to help familiarise children with vocabulary. 


A Squash and a Squeeze is another cracking story from Julia Donaldson about an old woman who thinks her house is too small.  She follows the advice of a wise old man and moves her farm animals into the house but then kicks them out again. Suddenly,  the house feels much bigger! The story continues and focuses on empathy and understanding for others, as well as an appreciation for the power of kindness and generosity. This book has a lesson for all of us, reminding us to cherish what we have as we often don't appreciate it until it’s gone.


The Smartest Giant in Town

The Smartest Giant in Town - Julia Donaldson

Why we love it:

- A story with a lovely moral about sharing and kindness.
- Great for early readers. 


Aimed at Early Years learners, The Smartest Giant in Town tells the story of a Giant who decides to splash out on a whole new set of clothes. Pleased with his new outfit, he sets off from the clothes shop to head home, but on his way, he is interrupted by an array of animals in distress. Fortunately, his new giant clothes have other uses and are just right for solving their series of problems. Despite giving away his fancy outfit, his kindness and acts of generosity result in him still being “the smartest giant in town!”


Where’s My Mom?

Where's My Mom - Julia Donaldson

Why we love it:

- Fosters kids’ curiosity and understanding of the natural world 
- A feel-good adventure that is educational and a fun way of explaining how misunderstandings can cause confusion


Where’s My Mom? is a sweet and funny rhyming tale about a baby monkey's search for his mother through the jungle. Through the baby monkey's journey and encounters with various other animals, Julia Donaldson teaches children about the importance of staying calm and determined in challenging situations, as well as the comfort of being reunited with loved ones. It also introduces some basic zoology, namely that some animals’ offspring do not just look like miniature versions of themselves. As usual, colourful and expressive illustrations by Axel Scheffler bring the story to life in an imaginatively realistic fashion and make it a nice alternative if you’ve finished reading some of Julia Donaldson’s more popular children’s books. 



Zog - Julia Donaldson

Why we love it:

- Warm messages of perseverance, kindness, and helping others
- Lovable and relatable characters with a great twist at the end of the story


Meet Zog; a young, ambitious, accident-prone dragon who wants to be the best student in Madam Dragon’s school. He is desperate to earn one of his teacher’s coveted golden stars by mastering all the different skills that dragons need to learn. The only problem is that he is a little accident prone and there are a few blunders along the way.
Zog is one of Julia Donaldson's best books and contains everything that makes her stories popular with parents and children. Through Zog's adventures and encounters, children learn about the importance of kindness, courage, and teamwork. The book also celebrates the joy of learning and the rewards of determination, inspiring children to follow their dreams and overcome obstacles with courage and optimism.


Charlie Cook’s Favorite Book

Charlie Cooks Favorite Book - Julia Donaldson

Why we love it:

- A book within a book that celebrates the joy of reading
- An endlessly enjoyable and skillfully interlinked storyline


Readers are introduced to Charlie Cook, whose favourite book is about a pirate who prefers knitting to treasure hunting. As Charlie Cook flips through his favourite book, we are transported into a world of dragons, giants, and faraway lands, showing that books and a little imagination can offer endless possibilities. This book encourages children to appreciate different stories and the beauty of sharing them with others. Through Charlie Cook's interactions with various characters, kids can learn about empathy, friendship, and the importance of inclusivity.


Happy Reading!

Julia Donaldson's books have become modern classics and are loved by families around the world. They offer something for every young reader and are not only entertaining but also educational. Her stories encourage language development, creativity, and empathy in young readers all whilst transporting them to magical worlds where anything is possible. 

Whether you're looking to introduce your child to the magic of reading, want to encourage their literacy comprehension, or just want a delightful bedtime story to share with your little one, the enchanting world of Julia Donaldson has it all. Her award-winning stories, with their unforgettable characters and positive messages, have created a legacy that is loved by adults and children alike and will continue to inspire generations of readers for years to come. 

If you're looking for more Children's books inspiration then why not check out our post on the definitive order to read A Diary of a Wimpy Kid or the best books to add to your kids summer reading list.

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