Here's a selection of picture books suitable for babies and toddlers. They're all published in an easy-to-hold board format, so that even very young children can hold the book and turn the pages themselves. Board books are also really sturdy and teething-resistant, which means it's never a disaster when they are inevitably chewed on! Full disclosure - there is a cat in all of these books, even the ones about dogs.
Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton
It's 10 years since Irish author and illustrator Chris Haughton published his first picture book, A Little Bit Lost. Since then, he has become one of the world's most popular children's authors. There's an incredibly detailed exploration of Haughton's work on the Tales for Tadpoles blog. You can read all about the inspiration and creation process behind this story, as well as his new Fair Trade rug company, Node, on Haughton's own blog.
Oh No, George! is an extremely entertaining story about a very big dog with very little impulse control. George tries to be good, but it doesn't always work out. It's hilarious to see what George gets up to, and because we know he is desperately trying to resist each temptation, his antics are even funnier. The bright colours and simple, interactive story are perfect for the very young, who will enjoy shouting "Oh No, George!" along with the reader.
Mog's Family of Cats by Judith Kerr
We love the Mog books by Judith Kerr; the first one, Mog the Forgetful Cat, was originally published in 1970 and has been in print ever since. Mog's Family of Cats was first published in 1985. If you're interested in learning more about Mog's fascinating creator, here's a brilliant documentary about Judith Kerr, her life and work.
Mog's Family of Cats is almost like looking at a photo album. We see individual pictures of Mog's parents, grandparents, siblings, uncles and aunts, with a short description of each cat. The book ends with all of them celebrating Mog's birthday together. The text is sparse and there's lots of details in the illustrations that will appeal to small kids, as well as seriously cute and charismatic cats. A lovely introduction to one of children's literature's most endearing, and enduring, characters.
Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy by Lynley Dodd
Another classic! Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy has sold more than 11 million copies worldwide. It has been translated into several languages and even adapted for the stage. First published in 1983, Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy has become a classic bedtime storybook in Australia and New Zealand, where author Lynley Dodd is from.
There are lots of Hairy Maclary books, but this is my favourite. In this story, Hairy Maclary and his delightful canine companions, with irresistible names like Schnitzel von Krumm and Hercules Morse, all go for a stroll. The illustrations are brilliant and brimming with all the enthusiasm and energy you would expect from a band of bounding dogs. Children love repetition and it's important for early brain development. Rhyming from start to finish, with lots of repetition the whole way through, this couldn't be more perfect for babies and toddlers.
Artsy Cats by Angie Rozelaar
All the best picture books can be described as art, but this goes even further by celebrating iconic artists and providing an art history lesson too! Artsy Cats is part of a series that also includes Bookish Cats and Music Cats, both of which are on my wish list. If you're a fan, there's lots of merchandise including magnets, jigsaws and tote bags available. Illustrator Angie Rozelaar has an Etsy shop where prints and even custom paintings of cats can be ordered. You can see many more beautiful children's books illustrated by Rozelaar here.
Described as "a pawsitively purrfect tour through modern art history," Artsy Cats is a collection of cat portraits, rendered in the style of famous artists. Each cat's name is a parody of who they represent, such as Clawed Monet, Vincat van Gogh, Henri Catisse and my favourite, Frida Catlo. This is highly amusing for adults, and engaging for toddlers and babies too as the vibrant, colourful images appeal to even the very young.
Publisher: Galison Mudpuppy ISBN: 9780735361065