For a animal so notoriously shy in real life, rabbits pop up (or should that be hop?) incredibly frequently in children’s literature.
The most famous has to be Beatrix Potter’s Peter, delighting children with his cheeky antics since 1902, while the perilous journey of the cast of Watership Down is a tale that tugs on the heartstrings.
And who could forget Alice in Wonderland’s trippy pursuit of the time-challenged White Rabbit, or Pooh’s fretful but loyal pal?
There are so many wonderful long-eared, cotton-tailed characters to choose from, but here are 12 stories about bunny rabbits that we think your child will adore…
1. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney, illustrated by Anita Jeram. £6.99 (board book), Walker
If a book could embody the depth of a parent’s love for their child, this reassuring tale by Sam McBratney would be it. First published 25 years ago, the simple story sees Little Nutbrown Hare try to demonstrate to his father how much he loves him, only for Big Nutbrown Hare to outdo every stretch and hop.
Illustrator Anita Jeram’s watercolour images have a gentle, pastoral feel that add to the aura of safety and warmth surrounding this bedtime favourite. And the final line as the doting daddy whispers to his sleeping baby “I love you right up to the moon – and back” would melt even the hardest of hearts. Buy from Amazon
2. The Rabbit, The Dark and The Biscuit Tin by Nicola O’Byrne. £6.99 (paperback), Nosy Crow
Thr Rabbit wants to play instead of going to bed and he doesn’t take kindly to nighttime coming along to the wood and stealing the light. So he finds an empty biscuit tin and steal The Dark instead, trapping it inside.
The Dark doesn’t take it lying down however, explaining to The Rabbit why he needs to be freed. After all, other animals like the bats, owls and foxes only come out at night, not to mention the lack of delicious breakfast after a good night’s sleep.
This charming tale will reassure the most reluctant of sleepers as to why they need to embrace the dark rather than reject it. Plus there’s a magical fold up surprise at the end when The Rabbit – and your child – finally set The Dark free. Available from Amazon
3. Mini Rabbit: Not Lost by John Bond. £6.99 (paperback), HarperCollins Children’s
The lure of cake is a powerful one – and when Mini Rabbit and his mum run out of berries, the sweet-toothed bunny is determined to save the day by locating the missing ingredients.
So begins an epic and possibly perilous adventure for our tiny hero who is most definitely not lost… is he? An impressive debut by author-illustrator John Bond with stunning artwork and a offbeat wit that channels Jon Klassen and Oliver Jeffers. Buy from Amazon
4. Be More Bernard by Simon Philip and Kate Hindley. £6.99 (paperback), Simon & Schuster
Bernard looks like the other rabbits and acts like them, but his dreams are rather different. He isn’t interested in carrots – Bernard just longs to dance. And when the annual bunny ball arrives, he decides to throw off the shackles of living a lie and strut his funky stuff.
We just adore the positive message and wit of this charming book, from Bernard roller disco get-up to the secret passions of the other bunnies that our hero unlocks. A book not just for kids who stand out from the crowd but for teaching tolerance of difference to all. Available from Amazon
5. Cook With Me: Bunny Makes Breakfast by Seb Braun. £7.99 (board book), Little Tiger
In this simple first cookery book, Little Bunny is tasked with helping Big Bunny make a delicious surprise breakfast and has to hop through the pages to find the ingredients.
This is a tasty treat for children who love interactive books, with tons of flaps to lift as you forage for milk, eggs and berries. Not only that, but it encourages a love of good food and cooking together. We especially love the recipe book at the end with instructions on how to make your very own pancakes at home. Buy from Amazon
6. Meltdown by Jill Murphy. £7.99 (paperback), Walker
Picture book veteran Jill Murphy has a knack for painting family life in all its imperfect glory. This tale about Mum and Ruby’s trip to the supermarket will feel painfully familiar to any parent who has suffered the classic mid-shop meltdown.
It’s all going swimmingly well until Mum forgets toddlers don’t do delayed gratification and lets over-enthusiastic Ruby hold the cake. The result is an explosive tantrum, a frazzled grown-up, strangers staring and cake everywhere.
Your child will find it hilarious – and hopefully recognise the ridiculousness of their own sometimes unreasonable behaviour. Available from Amazon
7. Poppy and Sam and the Bunny by Sam Taplin. £7.99 (board book), Usborne
Apple Tree Farm residents Poppy and Sam go all Alice in Wonderland on their latest adventure, following the trail of a mysterious little rabbit who hops across the sheep field one morning.
Babies will adore this interactive board book, with a pop-through bunny finger puppet who you can manipulate to eat the carrots, sneeze at the flowers and snuggle her family at the end. There are plenty of educational elements too, such as a yellow duck to spot on each page and animal noises to mimic. Buy from Amazon
8. Almost Anything by Sophy Henn. £6.99 (paperback), Puffin
Feel the fear and do it anyway is the life lesson that rabbit George discovers in this lovely tale from author-illustrator Sophy Henn. With the help of an encouraging bear and a magic hat, the bunny finds that having a go is great – and you don’t have to be good at everything to have a good time.
Aside from its positive message, beautifully told, this picture book is dreamy to look at and is packed with delightful little details, like the Richie Tenenbaum-esque hedgehogs and George’s expressive ears. Buy from Amazon
9. Santa Claus vs The Easter Bunny by Fred Blunt. £11.99 (hardback), Andersen Press
Splicing the seasons is clearly a picture book trend this year and this cheeky tale imagines the Easter Bunny as somewhat of a Grinch character, annoyed by his neighbour Father Christmas and his jolly demeanour.
Our bad-tempered bunny is also upset that his hard work never gets a thank you so sets out to sabotage Santa by turning all the presents to chocolate – with unexpected results. It’s a raucous and sharply funny read, with fantastic cartoony artwork by Blunt. Available from Amazon
10. Treacle Street: Prima’s Missing Bunnies by Kate Hindley. £6.99 (board book), Simon & Schuster
It’s the night of the dance school first performance but Prima Pavola star bunnies have all gone missing! It is down to young readers to track down the stage fright struck cast in time to lift the curtain.
This second title Kate Hindley’s Treacle Street series has hilarious charming artwork, with the dancing bunnies cleverly hidden behind gramophones, under cake covers and inside grand pianos. Available from Amazon
11. Peter Rabbit Bedtime Tales. £9.99 (hardback), Penguin
The beloved Beatrix Potter tales are such a children’s classic, reinvented many times and in many ways, from books to film. We were given a number of gorgeous versions when Baby Bookworm was born, suited to different stages.
This large hardback anthology features simplified, picture-led versions of four classic stories – Peter Rabbit, Squirrel Nutkin, Jemima Puddle-Duck and Mrs Tiggy-Winkle. An excellent way to introduce little ones to the English writer’s work and a brilliant new baby, christening or first birthday gift too. Buy from Amazon
12. Luna and the Moon Rabbit by Camille Whitcher. £11.99 (hardback), Scribblers
This dreamy tale about a young girl who befriends the giant rabbit who lives in the Moon was the winner of the inaugural Stratford-Salariya Picture Book Prize, to find an unpublished author deserving of publication.
The story follows the duo as they go on a magical adventure through enchanted forests and fields together and was inspired by Japanese folklore. We especially like how the artwork simply glows on the page, like the characters are being lit by a full moon. Available from Amazon
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