• John McIntyre

Book List: Dear John's books for a first library


A few weeks ago, John McIntyre wrote his final replies to the last round of Dear John letters we received before he died. One of the letters asked for suggestions of must-haves for a first library, and we thought John's answer deserved its own post.

A spread from Roadworks

Dear John,

My wee bubba is 18 months old, and I am getting stumped for what types of books are most likely to pique their interest. We are keen not to go down the road of gender-marketed books, so we’d love a few suggestions of books that have both great female and male characters.

We are checking out books from the library frequently, but we’d love to know what you would suggest to buy and build our home bookshelf with – perhaps some locals if possible.

Regards, Jamie F.

Dear Jamie,

Time for a book list, I think. Here are my top picks (in no particular order), though I have plenty more recommendations. Some you'll have, and the library is always good to check out the ones you’re not sure of.

A word of caution: even when your children are teenagers, and no matter how mangled a book looks, don't throw them out. We are constantly meeting disappointed adults trying to find their childhood favourites, and especially when they become parents themselves.


dear zoo

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

Puffin RRP: $18.00

Buy Now


the gruffalo

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson Pan Macmillan RRP: $19.00

Buy Now


The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss HarperCollins RRP: $13.00

Buy Now




by Sally Sutton Walker Books RRP: $20.00

Buy Now



Stomp! by Ruth Paul Scholastic NZ RRP: $19.00 Buy Now


The Noisy Book by Soledad Bravi Gecko Press RRP: $25.00 Buy Now


the very hungry caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle Puffin RRP: $23.00 Buy Now


A Summery Saturday Morning by Margaret Mahy Puffin RRP: $20.00

Buy Now


who sank the boat

Who Sank the Boat? by Pamela Allen Puffin RRP: $18.00

Buy Now


Each Peach Pear Plum by Allan Ahlberg Puffin RRP $18.00 Buy Now

the nickle nackle tree

The Nickle Nackle Tree by Lynley Dodd Puffin RRP $18.00

Buy Now


A Lion in the Meadow by Margaret Mahy Hachette NZ RRP $17.00

Buy Now

we're goin on a bear hunt

We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen Walker Books Ltd RRP $20.00

Buy now

hairy Maclary from Donaldsons Dairy

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy by Lynley Dodd Puffin RRP $18.00 Buy now


Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox Puffin RRP $18.00 Buy now


Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney Walker Books RRP $20.00 Buy now


Down the Back of the Chair by Margaret Mahy Frances Lincoln Publishers Ltd RRP: $20.00 Buy Now


Ten Little Fingers, Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury Puffin RRP $21.00 Buy Now

marmaduke duck and the marmalade jam

Marmaduke Duck and the Marmalade Jam by Juliette MacIver Scholastic NZ RRP: $18.00

Buy Now

the giant jam sandwich

The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord Random House Children's Publishers UK RRP: $22.00 Buy Now

mog the forgetful cat

Mog the Forgetful Cat by Judith Kerr HarperCollins NZ RRP: $19.00 Buy Now

haarry the dirty dog

Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion Random House Children's Publishers UK RRP: $21.00 Buy Now

where the wild things are

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Random House Children's Publishers UK RRP: $20.00 Buy Now

witch in the cherry tree

The Witch in the Cherry Tree by Margaret Mahy Puffin RRP: $2000 Buy Now


The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr HarperCollins Children's Books RRP: $19.00 Buy Now

giraffes cant dance

Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae Hachette Children's Group RRP: $20.00 Buy Now


The Little Yellow Digger by Betty Gilderdale Huia Publishers RRP: $20.00 Buy Now


poo bum

Poo Bum by Stephanie Blake Gecko Press RRP: $20.00 Buy Now


Sarah forster

Editor of The Sapling, and Media & Communications Manager at Booksellers NZ. Sarah has worked in the book industry for the past 11 years. She ran the Writers in Schools and other education programmes for the NZ Book Council for 7 years, and knows exactly how awesome our Kiwi writers and illustrators are. Sarah is from the West Coast, and lives in Wellington.

#lists #DearJohn #DearZoo #thegruffalo #thecatinthehat #roadworks #stomp #thenoisybook #theveryhungrycaterpillar