UK’s favourite children’s books include Cat in the Hat and Gruffalo | Books | Entertainment

Some of the UK’s most loved bedtime stories for children are more than 50 years old, research shows.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, written by Eric Carle, and Judith Kerr’s The Tiger Who Came For Tea have stood the test of time for decades and are still often read by parents and grandparents in houses across the country today.

The research published after World Book Day on Thursday shows The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss is our most loved tale though, with more than 22,000 searches for it online on average each month in the UK.

But our old favourites are still enjoyed by families, experts say.

They’ve stressed the importance for parents to continue to read to their children.

Dr Sophie Bostock, a sleep expert, said: “Reading a book can help to reduce your stress levels and improve creativity, before you switch out the light. The printed page is less alerting for the brain than backlit screens. Scientists found that picking up a book for just six minutes can reduce muscle tension and slow the heart rate, readying the body for sleep.”

The study, carried out for Britain’s leading bed retailer Bensons for Beds, shows Julia Donaldson is a poplar author among children.

The 74-year-old writer, from London, wrote The Gruffalo, which is still loved today despite itself being more than 20 years old.

Dr Bostock continued: “A trial in 2021 invited 991 members of the public to either read before bed, or not read before bed for seven days. Four out of 10 readers (42 per cent) felt that their sleep quality had improved, versus 28 per cent of the non-readers. So, reading might not be right for everyone – it may come down to how enjoyable and relaxing you find reading as a past time.

“A 2020 survey by publishers, Random House, found that those who read before bed typically get an extra 25 minutes sleep each night versus those that don’t read. However, the same survey also found that bedtime readers were also more likely to listen to soothing sounds, listen to music, and meditate compared to those who do not read before bed. It may be that readers are benefiting from a relaxing bedtime routine in a way that many non-readers do not.”

Bedtime stories ranked by Search volume (average monthly searches)

  1. The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss – 22,100

  2. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson – 18,100

  3. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle – 12,100

  4. The Tiger Who Came To Tea by Judith Kerr – 12,100

  5. Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak – 12,100

  6. The Highway Rat by Julia Donaldson – 5,400

  7. Zog and The Flying Doctors by Julia Donaldson – 4,400

  8. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter – 1,600

  9. The Smeds and The Smoos by Julia Donaldson – 1,600

  10. The Gruffalo’s Child by Julia Donaldson – 1,000

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