Ten children's books that every parent should read

Author Sarah Forbes shares her tips for grown-ups

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Ten children's books that every parent should read

Sarah Forbes, author of the Elspeth Hart series

Remember losing your first tooth? Remember wanting to push your brother down the stairs? Remember the horror of misplacing your favourite toy, or how big the playground looked on the first day of primary school?

As adults it’s easy to forget the ups and downs of being a kid. And as a busy parent, preoccupied with juggling work, bills, bedtimes, avoiding Bake-Off spoilers and remembering to wipe the sick off your shoulder, sometimes it’s good to be reminded of how the world looks from a wee one’s perspective.

I reckon all the books on this list are worth reading either to your kids or alone, as a reminder of the things that make the small people in your life tick. Don’t worry – there isn’t a sparkly princess or a talking train in sight.

Dogger by Shirley Hughes
This classic about a little boy who loses his favourite cuddly toy is everything a picture book should be: gentle, engaging and fun.

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell
A good one to read together in transition periods like starting nursery school, this sweet story about baby owls missing their mummy ends on a comforting note.

You Choose by Nick Sharratt and Pippa Goodhart
These books are simple but clever: brightly coloured scenes where the reader picks how the story develops. Great for getting your child’s imagination going.

Mr Skip by Michael Morpurgo
A gently-told modern fairy tale about a little girl living in a high-rise who finds a garden gnome in a skip, from the award-winning author of War Horse.

You’re a Bad Man, Mr Gum by Andy Stanton
The Mr Gum books are a treat for parents and children alike and will banish boredom on a rainy day. They’re chaotic, silly and hugely entertaining.

Goggle Eyes by Anne Fine
A great book for kids dealing with divorcing parents or a parent with a new partner. Anne Fine always deals with tricky issues in an entertaining, child-friendly way.

The Brilliant World of Tom Gates by Liz Pichon
A delightful reminder of what it’s like to be a boy in primary five. Expect lost homework, mean teachers and annoying sisters. Pichon’s illustrations really make these books sing.

The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson
Wilson deals brilliantly with tough family situations. This novel, about a girl whose mum suffers from manic depression, won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize.

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
I can heartily recommend pretty much any Judy Blume novel, but dads out there struggling with their daughter becoming a moody teenager would do well to give this a whirl.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
A beautiful, moving story about love and loss: Connor is visited by monsters as his mother undergoes treatment for cancer. Heartbreaking but brilliant.

Sarah Forbes is director of The Lighthouse Children’s Literary Consultancy and the author of the Elspeth Hart series about a ten-year-old girl on a desperate mission to track down her parents. Elspeth Hart and the Perilous Voyage, the second book in the series, is out Thu 10 Sep.

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