Tiny Books For Kids Who Love Cute Things

tiny books

My daughter is not a wide reader. But she will read the same illustrated series over and over again, and also anything tiny. She loves Sylvanian Families, bugs and tiny books. In an effort to get her reading more widely I asked for recommendations from people who know kids’ books.

Here’s what they suggested:


It’s easy to forget about this one. Because they’re out of copyright, these books are relatively cheap, per book, if you buy them all at once. I found the cheapest place to get them here in Australia is at Big W (for $50). I’ve also seen them at Costco.

Definitely avoid buying the big anthology of the Beatrix Potter stories. Beatrix would be horrified to know they’d ever been printed like that. Those little books were only meant to be read as little books.

Each book is about 166.9 x 231.9 x 28.2mm.


Annick Press published an imprint of tiny books featuring authors such as Robert Munsch. In fact, it was one of these which got my daughter hooked on tiny books. I bought it online thinking it was a regular sized picture book, mainly because it was the cost of a regular sized picture book. I was disappointed to see how tiny it was when it turned up, but perked up when my daughter loved the tiny size of it. The Paper Bag Princess is the most famous book in this series. (We already have the regular size.)

If you’re in America you’ll be able to buy these second hand for a buck each, but in Australia we’d be paying an extra ten dollars per book to get it sent over.

204 x 204mm, with stiff but paperback covers


Four Maurice Sendak books in tiny version, in their own little box. Aww. (And ‘aww’ isn’t normally a word I’d use with Sendak’s dark work.)

It includes Alligators All Around, Chicken Soup With Rice, One Was Johnny and Pierre.

71.12 x 101.6 x 43.18mm | 249.47g


HarperChildren’s have realised that there are girls (especially?) who love small books, so they’ve published a few of their girly series as tiny versions, including Fancy Nancy and also Pinkalicious.

Fancy Nancy is 76.2 x 109.22 x 38.1mm in its box.


Dogs, bugs, horses, Ancient Rome… If you’re after tiny non-fiction, this is your series.

Each book in the series is 97 x 127 x 10mm.


Though not published specifically as part of a tiny edition of anything, the 1997 edition of this book is in itself unusually small, though not quite as small as ‘nutshell editions’ of things.

123 x 180 x 10mm


“The adorable hares from the classic Guess How Much I Love You are back in a gorgeous miniature slipcase gift collection containing four short stories.Big and Little Nutbrown Hare, from the multi-million-selling picture book Guess How Much I Love You, return in these four seasonal picture books: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Each captivating story is seasonally themed and beautifully illustrated, and the four books are collected in a covetable miniature slipcase”

92 x 94 x 52mm


These are board books, so obviously designed for the book-chewing toddler market, but the stories work for an older audience.

91.44 x 96.52 x 38.1mm


These small board books have fur on the front, great for sensory seekers. They’re by Margaret Wise Brown.

There was a little fur family
warm as toast
smaller than most
in little fur coats
and they lived in a warm wooden tree.

Published 1946, the layout is similar to Beatrix Potter.


The set of A Year In Brambly Hedge are reasonably small, which makes sense because the main characters are mice.

154 x 178 x 52mm

Small editions of books tend to come out before Christmas, because they’re considered ‘stocking stuffers’.

Though they are hard to find if you’re looking for them, I’ve also noticed a disproportionate number of tiny books in secondhand stores. I have a theory about why this is: They’re a pain to keep on a shelf. Mainly because you can’t shelve them. You need a little box for them. I think parents get sick of them lying around and send them to the thrift store. Also, if little books are considered stocking stuffers, it’s easy come, easy go.

Anyhow, keep your eye out in thrift stores if you have a little lover of tiny books! One day you may stumble upon a collector’s item. Four Frogs In A Box by Mercer Meyer is out of print and goes for about $50 second hand.

Which makes me think small, limited editions of books may be especially valuable. It’s far cheaper for publishers to produce regular sized books, and they don’t put them out that often.

I haven’t added the Mr Men books here because I think they are terrible. But I am sure their nice, small size contributed to their wide appeal.

Teaching Emotional Literacy Via Chapter Books

Throughout the history of children’s literature, children’s books have existed in large part to teach lessons. Not only do they teach children to be compliant, grateful, pious, and to work hard, children’s books socialise children. Today we might say they teach ’emotional literacy’.

emotional literacy is taught via the Ramona books

“Everybody else on the block rides two-wheelers. Only babies ride tricycles.” She made this remark because she knew Howie still rode his tricycle, and she was so angry about the ribbon she wanted to hurt his feelings.

Ramona the Pest, Beverly Cleary

Adult readers are left to work out motivations, ironies and desires for ourselves — we read between the lines. And this is true for young adult novels, too. But when children are learning to read they are also learning to recognise and name their feelings. Chapter books such as the Ramona series are good at doing that because they add that little extra bit of explanation.

This little bit of extra explanation can be found in children’s books for older readers, too:

“So you should have told me before, that’s what. You shouldn’t hide things like that from people, because they feel stupid when they find out, and that’s cruel.

Northern Lights, Philip Pullman (Lyra to her father)

When an adult is unable to identify their own feelings it’s called alexithymia.

Alexithymia is defined by:

  1. difficulty identifying feelings and distinguishing between feelings and the bodily sensations of emotional arousal
  2. difficulty describing feelings to other people
  3. constricted imaginal processes, as evidenced by a scarcity of fantasies
  4. a stimulus-bound, externally oriented cognitive style.

Alexithymia is found more commonly in the autistic population, but not all autistic people have trouble understanding and identifying emotions. In fact, only about one in two autistic people have trouble with this.

Likewise, a surprisingly high 10 percent of non-autistic individuals are alexithymic.

Reading and understanding complex and difficult emotions are skills that need to be learned by all of us. Another reason not to skip the chapter books!

While Beverly Cleary does it beautifully, it’s easy to name emotions badly.

I’ve noticed a tendency in children’s books to describe the feeling of an emotion without using the word commonly associated with that emotion. A classic example is repeated like a chorus through the picture book Hannah and the Seven Dresses.

Hannah, with her closet full of dresses handmade by her mother, breaks out in a sweat when she has to decide which to wear: “”Her face got hot. She shivered all over. Her knees went jiggly and her toes curled under.”

from the Publishers Weekly review

These physiological reactions are described but not named.

The reason I advocate for naming as well as describing emotions in children’s stories is because attaching feelings to descriptive words is a learned skill, a difficult skill, alexithymia or no, and children’s writers needn’t shy away from it.


Dark feelings will haunt us until they are expressed in words from Psyche

Boy Friendly, Girl Friendly

What is meant by boy friendly and girl friendly?

Sometimes a Google search screenshot speaks a thousand words:

boy-friendly-search girl-friendly-search1

Girl Friendly Links

10 Great Science Fiction Books For Girls from Flavorwire

Strong Female Characters In Fiction from Common Sense Media

100 YA Books For The Feminist Reader from Bitch Media


Here’s an interesting article from author E.M. Kokie about how much harder it is in some ways to write a female protagonist than a male one: “I’ve discovered, to my frustration and anger, that it’s actually much more difficult to talk about [my female protagonist’s] body, and her body’s desires, in ways that feel natural to her character (and her love interest’s character) and that feel readily accessible to the landscape of YA readers….I was shocked to find a complete lack of language for the female anatomy in all but one of the books I checked, and none at all during an intimate scene.”

Unlikable Female Characters In YA Fiction from Stacked, because girls don’t need to always be liked.

The Greatest Girl Characters of Young Adult Literature from The Atlantic

Top Picks For Women’s Equality Day from Reading Today Online, a website which also has the lesson plans Females in the Spotlight: Strong Characters in Picture Books and Girls Read: Online Literature Circles.

How Do You Find Feminist Children’s Books? asks Bitch Media

Readers’ Choice: 10 More of the Most Powerful Women in Literature from Flavorwire

Teen Girl Sleuths to Read While You’re Waiting for Veronica Mars from Book Riot

Women Protagonists in YA: A List and Resources from Ashley F. Miller

Feminism 101 book recommendations for teens from Feminism 101

And for the younger readers, here are some chapter books about girls, though I haven’t read them so can’t promise they’re ‘girl friendly’, which it should be clear by now, is not the same thing! (Here are early chapter books featuring girls that come in a series.)

How To Write The Perfect YA Heroine is an ironic how-to guide which points out all the ways in which societal expectations and biases and sexisms play out in fiction as much as they do in real life.

Heroines Of Colour is a Pinterest board featuring book covers of heroines who are not white.

Girl Friendly Books: Well-known For Rounded Female Characterisation

  • The Latte Rebellion by Sarah Jamila Stevenson
  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
  • Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis
  • Feeling Sorry For Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty
  • Along For The Ride by Sarah Dessen
  • Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales
  • The Kayla Chronicles by Sherri Winston
  • Spindle’s End by Robyn McKinley
  • Don’t Judge A Girl By Her Cover by Ally Carter
  • Year Of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty (2003)
  • Kiki Strike by Kirsten Miller (2006)
  • The Running Dream by Wendolin Van Draanen (2011)
  • True Blue by Deborah Ellis
  • The Wild Girls by Pat Murphy
  • Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson (2006)
  • Arabel’s Raven by Joan Aiken
  • Nim’s Island  by Wendy Orr
  • Princess by M.M. Kaye
  • The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz
  • The Penderwicks and its sequels by Jeanne Birdsall
  • Esperanza Rising  by Pam Muñoz Ryan
  • A Wrinkle in Time (Madeline L’Engle)
  • Independent Dames by Laurie Halse Andersen
  • The Daring Nellie Bly by Bonnie Christensen
  • You Forgot Your Skirt, Amelia Bloomer! by Shana Corey
  • Imogene’s Last Stand By Candace Fleming
  • Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell
  • The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman
  • The Evolution Of Calpernia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
  • His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman
  • Clementine By Sara Pennypacker
  • Eleanor Roosevelt by Russell Freedman
  • A Ballet For Martha by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan
  • Daughters Of Time edited by Mary Hoffman
  • Just Like Tomorrow (2004) by Faïza Guène, translated by Sarah Ardizzone
  • Lady: My Life as a Bitch (2001) by Melvin Burgess
  • A Gathering Light (2003) by Jennifer Donnelly
  • Ballet Shoes (1936) by Noel Streatfeild
  • Wise Child by Monica Furlong


What is (literacy) concretization?

Texts often describe how places, people, or objects look or sound or smell. Readers can enrich their experience and increase their understanding by forming mental pictures: by imagining what is being described as exactly as the words of the text allow them to. This process is what theorists of reader-response call “concretization”. […] Concretization is a skill often possessed by children. In fact, imagining as literally and completely as possible the world and the people a text describes is the only way that many children know of building consistency from the texts they read. This seems to be the reason that so many children and other inexperienced readers worry about the logic and coherence of the worlds that texts enable them to concretize—why they so often get angry when there are inconsistent details in descriptions of places and people or confusions in the sequence of events.

On the other hand, concretization is a skill that many adults have forgetten. Many readers have been taught to focus so much on using texts’ potential for engendering sights and smells and sounds. That’s a pity. Not only does it deprive such readers of a source of pleasure, but it also prevents them from understanding the subtle richness of the texts they read.

– The Pleasure of Children’s Literature by Perry Nodelman and Mavis Reimer