I absolutely love reading, and one of my favorite things about becoming a mom has been diving into the magical world of children’s books. To me, children’s books are full of imagination and whimsy, and help form our kids’ perceptions of the world and of themselves.
So, I wanted to share some children’s books you should definitely check out. As a bibliophile, it was really challenging to narrow this list down to 15 books because I could have easily generated 100 suggestions! I’d love to hear your favorites in the comments.
Magic Treehouse Series
The Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne is a massive collection of stories about Jack and Annie, who are teleported in time via the magic treehouse. The prose is a nice blend of fiction and non-fiction, so your early reader learns some facts while being entertained.
The series is extensive, with multiple collections following the original series:
- Merlin Missions have more challenging text;
- Super Editions are longer and the stories are more dangerous; and
- Fact Trackers are non-fiction counterparts to the fiction editions.
Don’t fear! Each book stands alone so you can read as many as you like in whatever order you like.
The Tales of Beedle the Bard
Not gonna lie, I’m a potterhead. Up until just recently, though, my oldest wasn’t really ready to start Harry Potter. Next best option? The Tales of Beedle the Bard, by J.K. Rowling!
The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a collection of fables told to wizarding children. The fables are unique and spur fun conversations with your kids. Even better, the book also serves as a foray into the wizarding world of Harry Potter (helpful in building a family of potterheads).
What Do You Do With an Idea?
What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada is a charming, stunningly illustrated book about how to help an idea take flight. Even more importantly, the book demonstrates what happens personally when we foster our ideas and become more self-confident.
One Monster After Another
One Monster After Another by Mercer Mayer is a classic children’s book about – you guessed it – monsters. The text is silly and funny, but also includes a lot of fake words so your reader gets to practice phonics and other early-reading skills (think, “Jabberwocky”). The illustrations are whimsical and really detailed, with little bits of humor snuck in for adults.
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Francesca Cavallo and Elena Favilli is a simple yet powerful book for any kid. It features one-page biographies accompanied with outstanding, full-page portraits of 100 history-making women covering all walks of life and points in time.
If you like this one, you can move on to the sequel!
A Sick Day for Amos McGee
A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead is a touching story about friendship. Both the text and the illustrations are somehow simple yet profound. You and your kiddo will finish this story with warm hearts and a broader perspective on what makes a good friend.
Ada Twist, Scientist
Ada Twist, Scientist is one of the awesome books comprising The Questioneers series. Ada Twist is a clever, audacious girl modeled after Ada Lovelace and Marie Curie. She gets into a bit of mischief and is a bit misunderstood as she treats everything in life like a science experiment, leading to a lot of fun and adventure.
All the books in the Questioneers series have a similar format and STEM focus. Other titles to read are Iggy Peck, Architect; Rosie Revere, Engineer; and Sofia Valdez, Future Prez. The series also includes activity books to accompany your reader’s favorite questioneer.
The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson tells of a clever mouse who scares his predators away with the myth of a ferocious beast, the gruffalo. Kids will need to be a bit more mature to follow some of the subtlety in the mouse’s prank, but the rhyming prose and curious features of the gruffalo will keep them engaged regardless.
If you like The Gruffalo, explore the rest of Julia Donaldson’s titles – they’re all great! You can also find short film adaptations of some of her books on Netflix.
Pandamonia, written by Chris Owen and Chris Nixon, is a super engaging tale of what happens if you wake the panda at the zoo. I’m awe-struck by the remarkable illustrations in this book, plus I even learned new vocabulary!
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend
Beekle, a Caldecott winner, shows what life is like for imaginary friends. Reading how imaginary friends long to be paired up with their perfect unimaginary friends tugs at your heartstrings, and the beautiful bond built between the real and imaginary worlds gives you a new perspective on the value and strength of imagination. And the illustrations, like most of my recommendations in this post, are phenomenal.
Toddler – Infant
Giraffes Can’t Dance
My toddler wants to read Giraffes Can’t Dance every day. This sweet board book by Giles Andreae teaches kiddos self-confidence and the idea that being yourself – and being different – feels good and is better than fitting in.
Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain
Verna Aardema has taken a classic nursery rhyme and made it more accessible in Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain. This cumulative story tells how Ki-pat, a shepherd, brings rain to a drought-stricken plain, and sheds light on how everything in nature is interconnected.
Blue Hat, Green Hat
We’ve read a lot of Sandra Boynton books, but I chose Blue Hat, Green Hat because it’s just plain funny! This is a great board book to use to practice colors, parts of the body, and articles of clothing, and the turkey will make you laugh every time.
Dream Big, Little One
Vashti Harrison is known for her books about extraordinary, diverse women. Dream Big, Little One is no different, featuring amazing ladies like Nina Simone, Florence Joyner and Gwen Ifill in a toddler-friendly, approachable way.
Pout Pout Fish
This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen. The pouting fish is simply grinchy and can’t be lifted from his foul mood by any of his sea creature friends, until a new friend gives him a bit of a surprise at the end! My kids have loved the sing-songy, rhyming cadence of this story. Just beware, it may get stuck in your head.