Nation's favourite children's books revealed ahead of National Storytelling Week - and #4 is an absolute must-have

New research has found the nation's favourite childrens' books, with bestsellers and literature classics making the list

Collage showing the nation's favourite children's books
(Image credit: Future)

For many parents, reading with your child is an essential part of the nighttime ritual to relax them and get them ready for sleep. For others, reading together is a chance to bond and enjoy some chilled out time together. But reading is also a critical stage in your child's development. Your child might even have a favourite that you have read so often you could now actually recite it from start to finish without having to look at the pages.

But now, in honour of National Storytelling Week (27 January - 4 February 2024), new research has revealed the nation's favourite children's books, and we bet they have all have made it into your story time at some point. If you fancy more ideas, take a look at our pick of the best books for toddlers.

The data comes from interiors brand Ruggable who has compiled their list of the top 10 must-have children's books to have on the nursery shelf based on average monthly search volume in the UK.

Nation's favourite children's books

According to Ruggable's research, the nation's favourite children's book is the modern classic The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, with an average of 22,000 searches in the UK every month. In second place comes Dr Suess' The Cat in the Hat with 14,800 monthly searches on average. The third spot goes to Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, with 12,100 average monthly searches. But while the ever-popular Julia Donaldson takes the top spot, it's not her only entry in the top 10. She also takes tenth spot with her tale of a busker's cat, Tabby McTat.

Here's the top 10 list in full - is it time to add some more to your collection?

  1. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson - 22,000 searches - £6.81 at Amazon
  2. The Cat in the Hat by Dr Suess - 14,800 searches - £7.59 at
  3. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak - 12,100 searches - £8.27 at Amazon
  4. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle - 9,900 searches - £4 at Amazon
  5. Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Robert Southey - 8,100 searches - £5.69 at
  6. Hairy Maclary by Dame Lynley Dodd - 6,600 searches - £12.59 at Amazon
  7. Elmer the Elephant by David Mckee - 5,400 searches - £4 at Amazon
  8. The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister - 3,600 searches - £6.90 at Amazon
  9. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams - 2,400 searches - £2 at The Works
  10. Tabby McTat by Julia Donaldson - 1,900 searches - £4 at Amazon

While The Gruffalo was originally published in 1999, some books in the list have origins that go much further back - The Very Hungry Caterpillar was published in 1969, The Cat in the Hat was published in 1957, The Velveteen Rabbit was published in 1922 and Goldilocks and the Three Bears dates back to 1837!

But while these classics made the list, surprisingly, other classic children’s literature such as The Tale of Peter of Rabbit by Beatrix Potter and The Tiger Who Came To Tea by Judith Kerr missed out on the top 10 ranking, with both books only receiving 1,000 average monthly searches

If you want to really engage your child in reading as they grow, you could try creating a dedicated cosy space where they can easily access their favourite books, and make story-time a snug and relaxed experience. If you need some ideas for how to create a space like this, Emily Simmons, Creative Director at Ruggable, shares some tips: “Not only is reading an important element to introduce to children from a young age to aid development, but books are great to help create a fun and inviting interior space for children. 

"You could create a feature wall, using one wall to place shelving all the way across to build your child their very own library. Stack books vertically, as well as having the odd book facing forward so your children can see their favourite characters along the shelving. This helps to add colour and vibrancy to their room, which is brilliant for sensory development. 

"If you opt for a traditional bookcase, you could create a book corner by simply draping a bed canopy over the bookcase, with fairy lights placed along the shelves for added magic. 

If your child struggles with reading, here are three activities you could try instead, and even watching Disney movies could help with their emotional growth. If you're teaching your child to read, you might also try teaching them how to tell the time too.

Sarah Handley
Consumer Writer & Money Editor, GoodtoKnow

Sarah is GoodtoKnow’s Consumer Writer & Money Editor and is passionate about helping mums save money wherever they can - whether that's spending wisely on toys and kidswear or keeping on top of the latest news around childcare costs, child benefit, the motherhood penalty. A writer, journalist and editor with more than 15 years' experience, Sarah is all about the latest toy trends and is always on the look out for toys for her nephew or Goddaughters so that she remains one of their favourite grown ups. When not writing about money or best buys, Sarah can be found hanging out with her rockstar dog Pepsi, getting opinionated about a movie or learning British Sign Language.