Best new children’s books for 2020
Looking for stocking fillers? Or perhaps just a gift that keeps giving once Christmas is long gone? Look no further - here are the best books for every age, from tiddlers to pre-teens.
Babies to toddlers
You’re My Little Baby: A Touch and Feel Book – Eric Carle
Everyone’s favourite caterpillar author/illustrator is back with this delightful interactive board book where various animal parents dote over their young.
Hooray for Little Fingers! – Tristan Mory
A fun way to encourage numeracy in tiny children: the holes in the book allow chubby baby fingers to become ladybird’s legs or crab’s claws.
Oi Aardvark! – Kes Gray & Jim Field
Fans of this series will know the gig by now: main characters Frog, Cat and Dog force other animals to sit on objects that rhyme with their name. Baboons sit on balloons, crocs on clocks, etc. This clever addition is an A-Z to add an extra kick of literacy.
Four to five-year-olds
Little People, BIG DREAMS: David Attenborough – Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara
This is a rather fetching series of books that explore the life of important people and Sir David is a great subject to inspire budding conservationists. Consider them biographies for mini-people.
Dogger’s Christmas – Shirely Hughes
Dogger’s back! And this time he risks being neglected by all the new toys that Christmas brings until Dave realises the value of a true friend. A book to bring all the festive feels.
The Alphabet’s Alphabet – Chris Harris & Dan Santat
Yes, learning your letters can be a chore but this clever rhyming book gives Reception and Yr1 children a new way to think about the alphabet. For instance, “An A is an H that just won’t stand up right, A B is a D with its belt on too tight…”. Fun, visual and a very useful aide for children in the classroom.
Six to eight-year-olds
The Ickabog – JK Rowling
After a stint writing Robert Galbraith’s Strike detective series, JK is back in children’s territory with this glorious fairytale that has just the right mix of silliness and peril. It’s peppered by children’s drawings (those who won The Ickabog Illustration Competition this summer) and lends itself to being read aloud.
The Wizard in My Shed: The Misadventures of Merdyn the Wild – Simon Farnaby
As screenwriter of Paddington 2 and various episodes of Horrible Histories, no one can doubt Simon Farnaby’s writing creds. Here, a warlock from the year 511 finds himself in a 21st century garden shed, and conveniently 12-year-old Rose has lots she could use his help with.
Is There Anybody Out There? – Dara O’Briain
As a theoretical physicist and comedian, Dara is pretty well placed to make a funny and diverting non-fiction book about aliens, space and a whole host of interstellar facts and theories. If you have a space fan in your midst, this will keep them amused for hours.
Nine to eleven-year-olds
Kay’s Anatomy: A Complete (and Completely Disgusting) Guide to the Human Body – Adam Kay
You may know Adam Kay for This is Going to Hurt – the brilliant book about life as a junior doctor. Well, here he is dispensing his take on the human body with enough gross facts to make any primary-school-age child roll around with delight.
Northern Lights – Philip Pullman and Chris Wormell
In this new, illustrated large format edition to mark the 25th anniversary of its publication, Philip Pullman’s extraordinary tale of Lyra Belaqua is brought to life by Chris Wormell’s woodcut-style illustrations. Fabulous as a gift and something to treasure on the bookshelf.
Your Mood Journal – Fearne Cotton
Wellbeing guru and broadcaster Fearne Cotton has chosen to bring her brilliant, accessible take on mental wellness to school-age children by creating this journal that encourages kids to explore their emotions and therefore understand why they feel and behave the way they do. We give her A+ for EQ.
Love Frankie – Jacqueline Wilson
Jacqueline Wilson has a way of tackling sensitive subjects head-on with grace and humour and Love Frankie is no different. Frankie is 14 and is caring for her mum with MS. Not only that, she may be developing feelings for a girl at school who used to bully her. A warm-hearted look at the complexities of growing up.
Red Stars – Davide Morosinotto
A great introduction to the war novel, this tale of 12-year-old twins separated during the siege of Leningrad during WW2 uses diary entries, maps, historical photographs and drawings to lead readers on a journey of danger, courage and heroism.
A Secret of Birds & Bone – Kiran Millwood Hargrave
The first book by Kiran Millwood Hargrave – The Girl of Ink & Stars – won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize in 2016. This is another cracker about a girl, Sofia, and her younger brother, who set out to search a plague-ravaged Italian city for their missing mother. Gripping, even for adults.