20 modern classic children’s books to read

Our pick of 20 new modern classic books for children to honour the twentieth year of World Book Day.

20 modern classic children’s books for World Book Day 20

Here at Junior we love books and think reading with your children is one of the most important things you can do with them. So we’re rounding up 20 modern classic children’s books for school-children, toddlers and babies, that both children and parents will love.

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Baby Lit

1. The Baby Lit series £5.99

Retelling everything from Shakespeare to Jane Austin via Little Women, The Baby Lit series uses simple but charming illustrations and minimal words to turn classic literature into contemporary baby board books. Start a life-long love of the classics early with this easy and lovely format.

20 modern classic children’s books for World Book Day 20

2. Pantone Colors £6.99

A children’s book with a difference, the Pantone Colors book combines the board book format with a paint colour chart. There’s no story, but each page is devoted to a single colour, with grids of different shades related to every-day objects children will easily identify, from bubble gum pink to fire engine red. Pantone Colors is a book for stylish colour lovers everywhere, of all ages.

20 modern classic children’s books for World Book Day 20

3. Press Here by Herve Tullet £6.99

Press Here starts with a simple instruction to press the dot on the front cover to start the story. An interactive book that’s completely offline, each page then has a different, fun order for the reader to carry out. Herve Tullet is known as the ‘Prince of Preschool’ and it’s easy to see why from this book.

Wow said the owl

4. WOW Said The Owl by Tim Hopgood £6.99

WOW Said The Owl tells the story of a curious owl which refuses to go to sleep (likely to be a familiar scenario for most parents). Staying awake during the day for the first time, the owl is amazed when the sun rises and the world turns from black into a rainbow of different colours. This book is another creative way of learning about colours along with with beautiful illustrations.

20 modern classic children’s books for World Book Day 20

5. Kitchen Disco by Claire Foges and Al Murphy £6.99

A book all about the unexpected things that happen at night, Kitchen Disco tells the tale of the fruit bowl that comes alive for a party when the household goes to sleep. There’s a banana DJ, cheeky coconut and even breakdancing lemons. One for all of us who love dancing round the kitchen to music.

20 modern classic children’s books for World Book Day 20

6. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt £3.99

What happens when a box of crayons don’t get on? This is the scenario faced by Duncan when he takes out his crayon box and finds a pile of resignation letters from all the different colours. The Day the Crayons Quit is a must-read for children and a tale about relationships, accepting differences and learning to get on despite them.

20 modern classic children’s books for World Book Day 20

7. Edie by Sophy Henn £5.49

Have you met Edie? She’s an enthusiastic pre-schooler with an infectious lust for life, who is possibly a little too helpful at times. Painting on the living room wall aside, Edie is a beacon of positivity and hopefulness and a new book all children are bound to love.

20 modern classic children’s books for World Book Day 20

8. I Want My Hat Back by Jon Classen £5.49

I Want My Hat Back is the story of a bear who almost gives up the search for his missing hat until a chance meeting with a deer sparks an important memory and puts it on the right path. It is written with dark humour that will appeal to children and parents alike.

20 modern classic children’s books for World Book Day 20

9. There’s A Lion In My Cornflakes by Michelle Robinson £6.99

Did you ever collect the tokens on cereal boxes to win a prize when you were younger? Then this story might be familiar, but with a twist. When Dan and his brother collect enough tokens to claim their own lion, chaos – predictably – follows.

20 modern classic children’s books for World Book Day 20

10. Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton £6.99

George is a dog that tries very hard to be good, but even the best intentions can go awry when you are faced with chocolate cake and cats. The bold, bright and colourful illustrations of this book make it a great one to read and share.

20 modern classic children’s books for World Book Day 20

11. Blown Away by Rob Biddulph £6.99

Blown Away tells the tale of a fearless animal, Penguin Blue, who accidentally goes on a journey when his brand new kite takes flight. Rob Biddulph was previously the art director of The Observer, NME and even Just 17, skills now used to great effect in this beautiful – and beautifully rhyming – children’s book.        

20 modern classic children’s books for World Book Day 20

12. Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers £5.54

This is the story of a boy who finds a penguin on his doorstep and decides to take the penguin home himself via a journey to the South Pole in a row boat. Lost and Found is actually an uplifting story about the importance of friendship and the power it can have on our lives.

20 modern classic children’s books for World Book Day 20

13. Otto The Book Bear by Katie Cleminson £5.94

This is the story of a boy who finds a penguin on his doorstep and decides to take the penguin home himself via a journey to the South Pole in a row boat. Lost and Found is actually an uplifting story about the importance of friendship and the power it can have on our lives.

20 modern classic children’s books for World Book Day 20

14.  Oi, Frog! by Kes and Claire Grey and Jim Field £3.39

In this funny and silly book, cats sit on mats and hares sit on chairs. But what happens when the frog will not sit on a log? It’s a book all about finding your own place in the world.

20 modern classic children’s books for World Book Day 20

15. The Storm Whale by Benji Davies £6.99

Noi and his father live in a house by the sea. His dad works long hours as a fisherman and Noi is lonely, with only their six cats for company. However his life changes dramatically when he finds a small whale on the beach; but how long can he hide it in the bath for?

20 modern classic children’s books for World Book Day 20

16. The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson £3.99

A beautiful tale of childhood, love, loss and the power of memory and imagination, The Paper Dolls is the story of a string of paper dolls, and their owner, throughout the years. Warning: wear your waterproof mascara if you’re reading this with your children.

20 modern classic children’s books for World Book Day 20

17. How to Hide a Lion by Helen Stephens £6.99

How do you hide a lion, in a house, where your parents won’t find it? This is a question posed by Iris when she takes in a lion who is chased away by townspeople after an aborted hat-finding expedition. It’s a tale with a happy ending after the lion ends up saving the town and is eventually presented with his own hat. One for all fans of The Tiger Who Came To Tea.

The book with no pictures

18. The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak £5.24

Created by B.J Novak – of the U.S. version of The Office fame – The Book With No Pictures is as it sounds, a book with no pictures. This may seem like an odd premise for a children’s book. However, there are many words instead and the beauty of the story lies in the reading and delivery (so no pressure, parents).

20 modern classic children’s books for World Book Day 20

19. Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World by Kate Pankhurst £5.24

Written by a descendant of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World is a modern history book all about wonderful women who have had an important impact on the world, from Jane Eyre through to Rosa Parks and Coco Chanel. Important history reading for both girls and boys.

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20 modern classic children’s books for World Book Day 20

20. My Dad Used to Be So Cool by Keith Negley £11.99

Do you ever look back on your life before children? My Dad Used To Be So Cool is an ode to fatherhood, with a new dad who reminisces on his pre-child times when he played in a band, rode a motorcycle and got tattoos. But don’t worry if this sounds familiar. The book emphasises that despite these days being behind you, your child will always think you’re the coolest person in the world.

Compiled By Gillian Crawshaw, A Baby on Board www.ababyonboard.com