Inside: How on earth do you find the best children’s books? There are so many ages and so many stages, and finding the best books for kids sometimes feels downright impossible. We’re here to help!
How can you find the best children’s books when there are so many to choose from?
Take a deep breath — if you are looking for the best children’s books, you’re in the right place.
I get it. Sometimes it feels like an impossible feat. With so much emphasis on reading and the multitude of remarkable benefits this simple act can have on children, it feels like so much pressure to find the best children’s books.
You don’t want to mess up. You don’t want to get the wrong books. Reading, after all, should be magical. It should help kids thrive.
RELATED: Want to make storytime magical? Check out PARADE! Family Book Club, an eight-week book club I designed with my kids that will help your family spark communication, encourage creativity, and nurture connection.
Yet, when you’re standing in the library or at the book store, the shelves seem endless, and it’s hard to know how to find the best books for your kids. Should your child be reading board books or picture books? Early readers or chapter books? Can you still read a picture book if your toddler is now a tween?? And what on earth do you make of reading levels and age groups?
We’re here to help.
This is your ultimate guide to the very best children’s books!
Finding the right books for your kids is everything. We get it.
Whether your kids are toddlers or tweens, the books on our carefully curated lists are hand-picked to target specific ages and stages, always keeping diversity of characters, subjects and authors at the forefront. These books will make conveying important values and lessons not only easy, but enjoyable as well.
Every story on these lists has been chosen to help you instill a love of reading in your children, while simultaneously empowering them with knowledge, confidence and tools to help them tackle challenging situations. When you use our guides, you’ll be delighted to find that storytime becomes a fulfilling family experience, fostering laughter, curiosity and — most importantly — connection!
So check out the best children’s books organized by category below, and — most importantly — have fun reading!
Best Board Books for Babies: The best children’s books for babies and toddlers stimulate development in pretty incredible ways. Not only does reading with your baby help develop language skills and processing, it also introduces little ones to sound and emotion, and stimulates the part of the brain that helps with imagery and comprehension. When selecting board books for your babies, look for stories with lots of repetition, limited text and sturdy pages. Check out this post of the best board books for more awesome tips and our great selection for babies!
Best Books for Toddlers (2 year olds!): The best books for toddlers have to hook your kids. Why? Because if your little ones are anything like mine were, many toddlers are going to do anything but sit in your lap and snuggle while you read. They will be roaming, playing and chattering… but, I promise, if the books are engaging, they will also be listening! This list containing the best books for 2 year olds are stories our family loved when my boys were little — or books I wish we had at that time!
Kindness Picture Books for Pre-K+: The values we instill in our children are ones that will be engrained in them forever. The best children’s books convey the importance of being kind, inclusive and respectful. These are the books that showcase the magic that happens when we spread kindness through selfless acts and thoughtful gesture. Check out our list of 50+ kids books about kindness, perfect for children in pre-K and beyond!
Funny Children’s Books for Pre-K+: Not every storytime needs to be filled with important learning experiences or messages. Sometimes, we need to read stories to our children solely for the sake of entertaining them. After all, thats how we get them to fall in love with reading! So if you want to gift a child some books that are so over-the-top silly they will make your kids laugh till they’re clutching their tummies and tears stream down their cheeks, this is the list for you. These are the books children will associate books with F-U-N, perfect for little ones in pre-K and up!
Multicultural Picture Books for PreK+: Every child, whether a toddler or a tween, needs to see himself reflected in the stories he reads. They need to see families who look like theirs, children who share their skin color, kids who observe the same holidays, share the same challenges, and celebrate the same achievements. Just as important, children need to read about people who are not like them! This fabulous list of diverse and multicultural picture books for kids in pre-K and up will help foster empathy, build bridges, and challenge harmful stereotypes, something us grownups should strive for every day. We love these stories for pre-K and older!
Growth Mindset Picture Books for Pre-K+: Growth mindset books are all the rage these days, and it’s easy to understand why. This important concept helps kids recognize that effort is more important than intelligence. Children who adopt growth mindsets are not only more likely to take risks and work to overcome challenges, but they are also more likely to learn from their mistakes. Some of the best children’s books address the growth mindset phenomenon, and these growth mindset books are perfect for kids 5 and up!
Books for Beginning Readers: Kids show readiness to read at all different ages, and whether your child is 3 or 6, finding the right books to support beginning readers is so important. Beginning reader books (also known as “early readers,” “emerging readers,” “easy readers” or, quite simply “kindergarten books,” all of which are used interchangeably) are terrific when your children are mastering sight words, beginning to decode unknown words, building their fluency and self correcting. For more tips and information, and to check out some of our favorite books for beginning readers, check out this post!
Kindergarten Books: When our kids begin kindergarten, most of us have one major thought: my child will read this year! Supporting your kindergarteners with great books to help them learn and build on the skills they are learning in class is so important, especially because books for kindergartners typically have distinct features. For instance, they have large text, short sentences, and the pictures provide supportive clues to the reader. The text has a lot of repetition when it comes to structure (often containing word families and rhyme), and the words are fairly simple and easy to decode. Here are some of our favorite kindergarten books!
Easy Chapter Books: The leap from beginning readers to easy chapter books is amazing, but challenging! Parents and teachers often have a tough time finding great books to satisfy their newly independent readers, but we’ve got you covered when it comes to easy chapter books, particularly those of you looking for books for first graders your readers won’t want to put down.
Books for 7-Year Olds: Many of my students who love to read in kindergarten and first grade slowly slip away in second. By third and fourth, I worry I will lose them for good. So how do we prevent this? How do we hook our kids when they are still young enough to help them discover the magic in stories and make reading a permanent and cherished part of their daily lives? These awesome tips and chapter books for 7 year olds will help.
Books for Advanced Readers: Advanced second and third grade readers (kids anywhere from 7-9 years old), can be exceedingly challenging to pair with great books. Why? Because, despite their reading prowess and high comprehension, these advanced readers are still so young. This is where the problem lies: there is often a big jump between the easy chapter books many kids in their grades are reading, and the middle grade novels for tweens. We therefore have to find this group of readers books that are both challenging and age appropriate. The fantastic stories on this list will help! (Note that these choices are also perfect for fourth and fifth graders, but we highlighted these specifically for younger, advanced readers as well due to the appropriateness of content and subject matter.) Check out these books for advanced readers!
Books for 10 Year-Olds and Tweens: If you want to raise readers, your kids need captivating books! When picking books for tweens, make sure to give them books that correspond to their interests. Try reading them before your kids do so you can talk about the stories together. Even better? Read them together, chapter by chapter – reading aloud is STILL beneficial for children, even when your kids are more than capable of reading on their own. Most importantly? Give your kids choice. Take them to the library or book store and give them the chance to explore. Grab them a stack of books and let them choose what interests them. And if they want to read the same book again and again – let them! These are some of the very best children’s books that are perfect for tweens, and I can pretty much guarantee your kiddo will fall in love with a story on this list!
Graphic Novels for all ages: Whether you have early readers or tweens in your house, chances are, they love graphic novels. These books have skyrocketed in popularity over the last several years, and for good reason. They are so much fun! But in addition to their engaging format, graphic novels have a multitude of benefits for children, including among other things, rich language and vocabulary and their unique ability to teach inferencing skills. My students cannot get enough of these graphic novels, and this list has options for all readers, organized by their ability.