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5 books to try if they loved Clifford the Big Red Dog

Clifford the Big Red Dog has again jumped off the bookshelf for an updated film adaptation. The trailer has divided fans, live action remakes of animated classics seem to have a marmite effect on audiences, but the original books remain essential reading for many families. If your children love Clifford the Big Red Dog, these five books celebrating animal friendships might be a hit.

1. How to Hide a Lion series by Helen Stephens

A girl and a lion peak inside a very large box. What is inside?
What's in Grandma's box?

Like Clifford, these books feature a super-sized animal companion. Not a dog, but a very friendly (we promise) and very big lion. The second book in the series, How to Hide a Lion from Grandma, is a favourite in our house. It’s warm and silly, and will have your kids giggling at how Grandma can possibly keep missing the giant lion in the room. And I love that Grandma, far from being the easily startled like we might suspect, has a surprise of her own waiting to be discovered.

2. The Detective Dog by Julia Donaldson

A girl and a dog lay together reading a book.
Nell, the book-loving dog

The story of Peter and his dog, Nell. Nell has a very important job, each Monday she goes to school with Peter to listen to children at school read. Until one Monday, all the books are gone. The illustrations in this book are beautiful, with lots of tiny details to absorb little readers (my favourite is the penguin stealthily leaving the takeaway shop with a whole pizza). As ever, the phrasing and rhymes make the book a pleasure to read, and without as much repetition as some of her other books, makes this a great choice for school age children.

3. When Sarah met Duck by Sarah Gomes Harris

Duck lifts Sarah up into the air
Careful Duck! Ack!

You might be familiar with the CBeebies television series, it features a girl called Sarah, her friend Duck, and some very satisfying sound effects (QUACK!). These companion board books will be a hit with pre-schoolers familiar with the show. When Sarah met Duck tells the story of how the friends met and gives lot of opportunities for loud quacking (as well as having a sweet story about the two).

4. The Dinosaur that Pooped the Bed by Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter

A wave of poop
Yes, there is a cat surfing a wave of poop.

Alright, I know dinosaurs are extinct, but this series features a larger than life dinosaur that will have your children in stitches. If yours, like mine, are fascinated by poo then they will love this series. Dinosaur is very hungry and will eat anything. Pooped the Bed is my personal favourite as the topic is very relatable for kids; a bedroom that needs to be tidied and a kid, Danny, who doesn’t want to. There is poop-a-plenty and the illustrations do not hold back.

5. Alfie and the Birthday Surprise by Shirley Hughes

A boy lays in bed while a kitten plays with the bedcovers.
Alfie looks after a new friend

While some of the Alfie books show their age in some areas (particularly with gender stereotypes), our children love the stories of day to day life and the distinctive illustrations. This book holds up well, without any moments which make us cringe. Alfie and the Birthday Surprise tells the story of his neighbour, Mr MacNally, and the loss of his loved cat. It is a gentle introduction to themes of loss and death, told in a way that will resonate with kids.

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