10 books for families with toddlers to teens to read together

Published on: 09 November 2023

The Snow Girl author Sophie Anderson recommends her favourite books to share with children across a variety of ages and stages.

The front covers of The Snow Girl, Every Leaf a Hallelujah, Stormy, You're Snug With Me, The Boy Who Lost His Spark, Winter Tales, Everyone Sang, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, Cress Watercress, A Children's Literary Treasury, and The Lost Spells

I wrote The Snow Girl hoping it would be a book that families with children of all ages could snuggle up and enjoy together this winter. My children are four, seven, 14 and 17 years old and we love finding books that are perfect to read as a family.

Here are ten of our favourites, that we think readers of all ages will adore...

1. Stormy by Guojing

Wordless picture books are a lovely way to give even the youngest children the opportunity to contribute to shared story time by reading aloud. Stormy is my youngest child's favourite, but we all adore this heartwarming tale of a shy, stray puppy finding a loving home – and think it's wonderful how every reading is different!

2. You're Snug With Me by Chitra Soundar and Poonam Mistry

There are so many picture books that are brilliant for all ages, and my children love to share and discuss the stories and artwork in their favourites. You're Snug with Me is one of the very best, a gorgeous tale of a polar bear showing her curious cubs the wonders of the world. Soundar's lyrical text is rich with gentle wisdom, and Mistry's intricate art is sumptuous, perfect to pore over on winter nights.

3. The Lost Spells by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris

An illustration of an owl in flight from the front cover of The Lost Spells

A treasure of a book that, like its big sister The Lost Words, is a celebration of language, nature and art that is designed for all ages. A delight to read aloud and a marvel to look at, The Lost Spells will enchant the whole family.

4. The Boy Who Lost His Spark by Maggie O'Farrell and Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini

A beautifully told and elegantly illustrated tale of two siblings who move to the countryside to discover strange things happening in their new home. Young Verity believes a small mythical creature called a nouka is up to mischief, but her older brother Jem does not believe in such things. This glorious book is sure to spark the imaginations of toddlers, teens and adults alike.

5. Winter Tales by Dawn Casey and Zanna Goldhawk

18 traditional tales from around the world, freshly told and exquisitely illustrated, this is a feast for winter nights and children will love choosing which one – or two, or three – of the stories to read together. There are both familiar and lesser-known tales, each of them sparkling with winter magic and warmth.

6. Everyone Sang: A Poem for Every Feeling chosen by William Sieghart and illustrated by Emily Sutton

An illustration from the front cover of Everyone Sang - a child sitting at the base of a tree smiling with their eyes closed as a bird watches on

Collections of poetry are wonderful to read together. My family love taking turns to choose poems and talking about which ones we like best. Everyone Sang is an excellent anthology of over 100 poems themed around mood, containing work by a wide range of poets from past and present, that is perfect for reading aloud and is sure to entertain and uplift readers of all ages.

7. Every Leaf a Hallelujah by Ben Okri and Diana Ejaita

In this environmental fairy tale written for all ages, young Mangoshi goes into the forest in search of a special flower to cure her ailing mother, and discovers that the trees are in need of help too. Okri's vivid storytelling and Ejaita's vibrant full colour illustrations weave together to create a magical, timely and empowering read.

8. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, written and illustrated by Grace Lin

In this spellbinding story inspired by Chinese folklore, a young girl named Minli sets off on an adventure to find the Old Man on the Moon to ask how she can change her family's fortune. There are magical creatures, stories within stories, magnificent full colour illustrations, and positive, thought-provoking messages. My whole family loves this book, and the two companion novels, Starry River of the Sky and When the Sea Turned to Silver.

9. Cress Watercress by Gregory Maguire and David Litchfield

An illustration of a rabbit sitting at the base of a tree from the front cover of Cress Watercress

The utterly charming and richly layered story of Cress, a young rabbit who has moved to the Broken Arms – a run-down apartment tree – with her mother and baby brother, after her father didn't return from a honey-gathering expedition. Full of brilliantly drawn quirky characters, wit, and wisdom, this story gently explores some big ideas around growing up, finding your place in a community, and managing grief. With glorious full colour illustrations and plenty of humour, this special book had my whole family happily enthralled.

10. A Children's Literary Treasury: Magical Stories for Every Feeling edited by Anna James

Treasuries and anthologies can be a lovely way to sample writing and discover new authors and books. This collection, edited by Anna James (author of the wonderful Bookwandering series), contains 50 extracts from classics and recent favourites, to ignite imaginations and explore emotions. My family have all found something we love in here.

The Snow Girl by Sophie Anderson is out now.

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