The best children's books about cycling 3: characters who ride bikes
It's great when you find a book where you can relate to what the characters are doing, especially if you're a child. If you're part of a family who prefer to cycle places, rather than drive, it can be quite difficult to find children's books that reflect this lifestyle choice. I've been trying to find a selection of books where cycling is how the characters get from A to B, rather than cycling being the main plot, for this the third book in my series on the best children's books about cycling.
Quite a few of Enid Blyton's books see the protagonists cycling - but she was writing at a time when there were far less cars on the road, and children more free range than these days. I've struggled to find many modern children's books where cycling is the main mode of transport for characters. Unfortunately some of the choices I've included are now out of print, but I've included them as you can often find them second hand.
It's sad that there's very few new children's books reflecting cycling as a way families get around in their day to day life. At a time when we're facing increasing levels of dangerous air pollution, warnings of imminent catastrophic climate change and worryingly high levels of childhood obesity, type 2 diabetes and mental health problems, all linked in some way to our over reliance on polluting cars, it's a shame there's not more examples of every day active travel in children's literature.
Do please let me know which other books you enjoy reading with your children that role model cycling as a form of transport, so I can add them in. And if you're a children's author or illustrator reading this, please consider carefully how your characters travel - we'd love to be able to add more new books to this list!
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Children's books where the characters cycle rather than go by car
These books are all have plots totally unrelated to cycling, but where the characters happen to be using a bike as their mode of transport. I've tried to list them in roughly age / ability order from picture books for reading aloud through to fiction books for older KS1 and KS2 readers.
If you're looking for children's books where cycling is the main theme of the book, then check out these two posts instead:
If you want a literary role model who cycles their children to the shops, then look no further than the mother in Chimp and Zee.
Mumkey takes her offspring to the market in a trailer to buy some banana's but Chimp and Zee find this a bit boring and start to misbehave. Something, I'm sure all cycling parents can relate to!!
Buy now: Chimp and Zee by Laurence Anhold
Another great example of using bicycles to do every day activities is Maisy Goes Shopping. Aimed at the very youngest of children it's a fun way to show that cycling is normal - even Maisy and Charlie are doing it!
Buy now: Maisy Goes Shopping by Lucy Cousins
Cycle Sprog reader Julia recommended All the World to us after reading the first version of this article. She tells us it's a beautiful poetic picture book that includes two people carrying their farmers market haul home on a tandem bike throughout the pages.
By now: All the World by Garton Scanlon
There's so many things for children to look at in Richard Scary Books, and usually you can find a few pigs or cats cycling around.
There's always quite a focus on motor vehicles, and not all cyclists are portrayed in a good light, so you can get some useful talking points with his books if you want. Alternatively you can just enjoy the great illustrations and simple text.
Buy now: Richard Scary books
This classic children's book is such fun, because as well as following the cycling Jolly Postman on his rounds you actually get to open six proper letters, hidden away under flaps in the book.
The Jolly Postman is also a good prompt to make sure your child has heard the classic fairy tales such as Goldilocks and The Three Bears, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack and The Beanstalk, as all the letters are between characters in the various tales.
Buy now: The Jolly Postman by Janet and Allen Ahlberg
One day Louis is out in the woods on his scooter with his older sister Sarah, who's riding her bike. Unfortunately poor Louis gets eaten by a monster called Gulper.
Thankfully for Louis, Sarah isn't going to stand for it. A great book for role modeling not just cycling, but also girls taking the lead role, and rescuing the boy.
Buy now: The Day Louis Got Eaten by John Fardell
Angelina Ballerina is a dancing mouse who is looking forward to her birthday party. She's sent off by bike to Mrs Thimbles Grocery Store to pick up some decorations, but can't resist racing her friend on the way there.
This book actually helps to highlight why we always recommend children ride a bike that's been correctly designed for them and kept well maintained! Sadly Angelina's riding her Aunt's old bike (obviously designed for adult mice) and it ends up broken. The resulting story is all about how she manages to save up for a new bike whilst preparing for her birthday party.
Buy now: Angelina's Birthday by Katharine Hollabird
Also a popular CBeebie’s TV series, the Katie Morag books are a great way to escape the pace of modern life and retreat to the fictional Scottish island of Struay.
It's Wednesday, which means it’s time to deliver the island’s mail, by bike of course!
Buy now: Katie Morag Delivers the Mail by Mairi Hedderwick
The Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs series of colourfully illustrated children's books are a brilliant example of how you can incorporate cycling as an everyday mode of transport into children's literature.
Harry is a little boy who has a bucket of toy dinosaurs which come to life and cause all sorts of mayhem. The family take the car for longer journeys but the shorter trips, for example to the dentist or to school, have Harry in either a rear bike seat or on his own bike.
Not all the books in the series feature cycling - just those where it's appropriate. All children's illustrators please take note - in some of the books there's no reference to their cycling - the picture says it all.
In Harry and the Dinosaurs go to School, there's this lovely scene where Harry cycles to his first day at school.
Unfortunately most of the Harry books are now out of print at a time we desperately need to be show casing non-polluting ways of transporting children. If only there were more books showing cycling as an everyday method of transport.
Buy now: Harry and the Dinosaurs Go to School by Ian Whybrow
Another sadly out of print book, Teddy Bears Moving Day was written to help children cope with the emotional upheaval of moving house and leaving their friends and familiar surroundings behind. The bears use removal bicycles, rather than removal vans to transport all their possessions.
Check for second hand availability: Teddy Bears' Moving Day
A big thank you to Cycle Sprog reader Alice for recommending this book.
Where else do you get to see a Donkey in a Caravan being towed by a bicycle??? The book itself is about Dicky Donkey, who one day looses his voice.
Buy now: No More Eee-Orrh by Lydia Monks
Previously published as "Winnie Rides Again", this is a new version of the classic children's tale. It's a fun way to look at how our transport systems are getting busier and busier, with a couple of other talking points added in.
Winnie used to enjoy flying her broomstick in open skies, but these days they're so congested. She keeps failing to see passing helicopters and aeroplanes and having near misses. In an attempt to find a safer way to get around, she attempts various modes of active travel including cycling and walking - all with comic results. If only all our traffic congestion problems could be fixed as simply as Winnie's.....
Buy now: Winnie and Wilbur: The Broomstick Ride by Valerie Thomas
If you're looking for a tale about a kick ass Princess, who'd rather slay the dragon than be rescued by a knight in shining armour, then this tale of the adventures of Princess Rosamund is for you.
She also happens to get around by bicycle, and ends up having to carry it home when it gets damaged whilst she's fighting monsters. Sounds like our sort of Princess!
Buy now: The Tough Princess by Martin Waddell
In the still before dawn, while the rest of the world is still asleep, a boy and his dog leave the comfort and warmth of their bed to start their paper round.
As the paperboy rides his bike along a route he knows by heart, his dog runs by his side. They both enjoy a world that, before sunrise, belongs only to them.
Acclaimed author and artist Dav Pilkey celebrates the beauty found in silence and the peace that comes from being with a beloved friend in this newly remastered edition of his timeless, award winning picture book which was first published in 1996.
Buy now: The Paperboy by
Enid Blyton Books
Kids had a lot more freedom in Enid Blyton's day, plus the roads weren't so crowded because cars were a luxury rather than a necessity. As a result, many of the characters in her books (and she wrote 726 of them!) feature children who cycle as part of their adventures. This isn't surprising, as a bicycle gives a child the freedom to explore without any reliance on adults, and the theme of many of her books is children outwitting grown ups.
I know many people have a problem with Blyton's books, and they are very dated now, with an emphasis on white, wealthy children from families with servants. Some books have gender / ethnic / body stereotypes that are offensive. However, they also show a different time when the automobile didn't dominate society, and attitudes towards class, race, religion, ethnicity and gender were not as tolerant and inclusive as today.
Her books, which offer exciting adventures that children still enjoy, can offer good discussion points about how the world has changed both socially and environmentally, how some of the views expressed by the characters are no longer acceptable, and why. If your child is reading them, it's well worth taking the time to discuss with them these issues.
The very first sentence in the Noddy series of books involves a bike (albeit a crash!) and throughout the series Big Ears rides his bike when not getting a lift in Noddy's car.
There's now loads of different style Noddy books available for children of various ages to enjoy, as well as Enid Blyton's original series.
Buy now: The Noddy Books by Enid Blyton and others
Would you allow 4 children and a dog to go off on an unaccompanied cycling holiday?? I never fail to be impressed at how relaxed the parents of Julian, Dick, George and Anne are, especially as by this book they've already had seven serious scrapes!!
In this book, their eighth adventure, the Fab Five set off on a cycle touring holiday, stopping off to top up delicious supplies on the way and finding wild camping areas to spend the night. It would all be rather idyllic if Dick didn't end up getting kidnapped by a gang of vicious criminals whilst fixing a puncture!
Buy now: Five Get Into Trouble by Enid Blyton
Another series of her books that features a lot of cycling is the Mystery Series, also known as the Finder Outers Series, where a group of children solve crimes, often cycling round collecting evidence.
Buy now: The Mystery Series by Enid Blyton
Considering the Wombles are some of the best known eco-warriors of children's literature, they have a disappointingly small amount of cycling featured.
The books are however a great way of including concepts such as recycling and reuse, and there's the funny moment in the first book when Orinoco decides to get fit by riding a specially adapted bike that caters for his rather rotund physique and short legs. "Look at me" called out Orinoco. "This is the way to take some exercise. Splendid for the muscles. Wonderful for the constitution. Much better than silly old golf!". Couldn't agree more!
Buy now: The Wombles by Elisabeth Beresford
This book has come recommended to us by Cycle Sprog reader Alice, who tells us that it's "not a massively well known book, but had my 10 year old in stitches. Moone Boy is forced to ride his sister’s old bike as he’s the only boy in a big family of girls. Finally he gets a new one for his birthday!!" It's written in a similar diary style to the Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Tom Gates series.
Buy now: Moone Boy by Chris O'Dowd and Nick V Murphy
If you appreciate my hard work at collating all these inspirational books together, that show children that cycling is a viable means of transport, please consider buying me a coffee - it will help keep me going onto the next post! Thanks Karen
Other posts you should read whilst you're here:
Affiliate Disclosure: We are an affiliate of Amazon, through which all these books are available. This means that if you make a purchase after clicking on one of our links we may get a small commission. It doesn't affect what you pay, but really helps us to keep the website going. Thanks for your support. Karen and Chris
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