Best Julia Donaldson books

Julia Donaldson has now written almost 100 books for children starting with the song bird reading scheme, to the Gruffalo, and more recently the Scarecrows wedding.

But what is the best Julia Donaldson book?

Read on to find our top 5!

I’m not claiming to have read them all, but with a 3 year old and a 5 year old who loves books we’ve got most of the collection. Our top rated books cover age ranges from toddles up to 8 year olds.

Our guide goes up in age ranges, so if you’re looking for a book for 5-8 year olds just scroll past the toddlers section!

Julia Donaldson book guide

Best over all book – The Gruffalo & the Gruffalo’s child

The Gruffalo was her first commercially produced book after the songbird series for children learning to read. It has gone on to be one of the most popular children’s books, it’s been turned into a film and there’s lots of Gruffalo products you can buy for kids (mine have currently got gruffalo dressing gowns, garden sets and wall stickers). The book was followed up with the Gruffalo’s child which then lead to Stick Man (see our children’s christmas book guide here).




The Gruffalo is a friendly cuddly monster who kids will love. The first story was released in 1995 and was followed up with the Gruffalo’s child in 2005. Both have been made into short films that can usually be found on tv around Christmas or are available on DVD. These are two absolutely fantastic books that almost all kids will love and want to read over and over again (I can personally recite the Gruffalo’s child from memory I’ve read it so many times!).

Other gruffalo products

  1. Gruffalo sticker book (Winter nature trail – get it here)
  2. Gruffalo family calendar
  3. Gruffalo clothing
  4. Gruffalo-toy-Gruffalo teddy (Official 8 inch Gruffalo – get it here)
  5. Magnetic books
  6. Board books for younger children
  7. Gruffalo wellies and splash suits (These are amazing)
  8. Gruffalo-gardening-set-for-childrenGardening sets (Get the one on the right here)
  9. Gruffalo bed (yes really!)
  10. Lunch boxes, plates and cutlery

I’ll stop at 10 but you can find everything a child may like/ use with the Gruffalo on it!

Best books for babies

The range of books by Julia Donaldson includes some that are converted down into books for smaller children from the full version of the book. For babies and really young ones then then little library of board books is a great option. There are lots of these around and they include 4 small books in a box. My recommend set is the Gruffalo which covers number, colours, opposites and animal actions. These are fun little books to get them started on their learning journey.




Best book for toddlers

Super worm – Introducing toddlers and little ones to books is great fun and the illustrations in Julia Donaldson books really help to engage them while you read. Lots of the books come as board books so can take a bit of rough play and throwing around. My top pick for this is the fantastic book “Super Worm” (which has now sold over 1,000,000 copies). Loved by small children this is the story of a worm who gets captured by a crow to dig for treasure before being freed by his friends.




*If you’re ordering from Amazon the button above will take you straight to this book, just remember to switch to the board book option if its for a toddler 🙂

Best under 5’s Julia Donaldson books

Okay so this can be for children who are over 5 but they maybe about to reach the point where they want to start reading themselves and would be better suited to different books. But as an age range 3-5 would be about right for these books. I’ve read absolutely loads of these books to my kids and here’s by guide to the best ones (I’ve already covered the Gruffalo at the top of this page).

1 – What the Lady Bird Heard

This is a fantastic book illustrated by the very talented Lydia Monks and is the first of 3 books. Each page has includes a glittery ladybird to find. The first book charts the tales of Hug and Len trying to steal the fine prize cow. Fortunately the lady bird hears and hatches a plan to stop them. This is a brilliant story full of bright colours and animal noises which children love. For the slightly younger ones theres a sound book version when they can press the animals to make the noises (much more fun to do it yourself we say!


Other books

  1. What the lady bird heard next
  2. What the lady bird heard on holiday
  3. What the lady bird heard play (guide for putting a play of the story on)
  4. Sticker books
  5. Who’s on the farm – Lift the flap books for younger children

2 – Sugar lump and the unicorn

As usual with Julia Donaldson books this is very creative story about a rocking horse who wants to see the world rather than be stuck in a bedroom all day. With the help of a magical unicorn Sugar lump gets her wishes.



3 – Paper Dolls

This is a story of a little girl and her mum making some paper dolls and the journey they go on. It’s a lovely tail that sees the girl grow up and make paper dolls with her own child. This is a great book for reading and then getting the pens out and making your own dolls like in the book. (Get it on amazon here)


*Tip – If you want some activities to do inspired by the book just google paper doll activities 🙂

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