Best Books for Kids

This is my list of the best books for kids ages 0-3. I’ve read these books to my own son and daughter. As you can see, there are tons of them. As I was compiling this list, the thing that struck me most is how MANY kids books are good. Anyway, I decided to make this list regardless, even if just to help me bring back memories when my kids are grown.

These are all affiliate links to Amazon, so if you end up buying a book, I’ll get a small credit from Amazon (thanks!).

Board Books (best for babies and toddlers)

That’s Not My Snowman (Fiona Watt and Rachel Wells)

A simple touch-and-feel book that the babies seem to love.

Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb (Al Perkins and Eric Gurney)

A rhythmic cavalcade of monkeys. Apparently the board book is shorter than the hardcover version, so if you’re buying this book because you rememer it as a kid, you might want to check out the hardcover.

Mommy Hugs (Anne Gutman and Georg Hallensleben)

Different animal moms hugging their kids. Short and adorable.

Daddy Kisses (Anne Gutman and Georg Hallensleben)

Different animal dads kissing their kids. Short and adorable.

Mama, Do You Love Me? (Barbara M. Joose and Barbara Lavallee)

Cute story of daughter pushing her mother’s limits and wondering about the depths of love. Cool Alaskan Inuit (I think) imagery.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Eric Carle)

CHOMP CHOMP CHOMP. The classic by Eric Carle.

The Very Busy Spider (Eric Carle)

Another in the Eric Carle canon. Good way for kids to learn animal sounds.

The Very Loney Firefly (Eric Carle)

A lonely firefly checks out various lights in search of his friends.

My Toes, My Nose and Me! (Frida Bing and Rachael O’Neill)

Lift-the-flap learn-the-body-parts goodness.

Hug (Jez Alborough)

A monkey goes in search of his mother, with the help of some elephants and other African animals.

Where is Baby’s Belly Button? (Karen Katz)

Another lift-the-flap take on body parts.

Freight Train (Donald Crews)

For the love of trains.

Jamberry (Bruce Degen)

Lyrical romp through a fantastical berry-themed world.

Snowmen at Night (Caralyn Buehner)

What DO snowmen do at night?

From Aloha to Zippy’s (Carol Colbath)

A-Z with Hawaiian theme.

Hop on Pop (Dr. Seuss)

Goofy fun.

The Itsy Bitsy Spider (Iza Trapani)

The classic nursery rhyme is expanded into additional verses and fun illustrations.

I Love You All the Time (Jessica Elin Hirschman, Jennifer Elin Cole and Bonnie Bright)

Explains to kids that parents love you all the time, even if they can’t pay attention to you right this second.

Penguins 123 (Kevin Schafer)

A couting book with a penguin theme.

Little Quack (Lauren Thompson and Derek Anderson)

A couting book with cute ducks on the pond.

Maisy’s Favorite Things (Lucy Cousins)

Maisy’s Favorite Animals (Lucy Cousins)

Maisy’s Colours (Lucy Cousins)

I’m not sure what it is about the Maisy books, but the kids seem to love them.

Goodnight Moon (Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd)

The classic. Goodnight.

Little Fur Family (Margaret Wise Brown and Garth Williams)

An odd book where the little fur creature goes on an adventure in the woods, before returning home for a bath.

Ten, Nine, Eight (Molly Bang)

A counting book but also a cute story of a daughter going to bed.

My First Colors Board Book

Each page is devoted to one color, and there are many images for kids to pick out.

Wake Up! Wake Up! (Nancy Davis)

A lift the flap book that my kids seem to love.

Funny Face (Nicola Smee)

This book shows kids the correlation between different emotions and the faces we might make to go along with them.

Peek-A Who? (Nina Laden)

Very simple book that’s a takeoff on playing peek-a-boo.

Go, Dog. Go! (P.D. Eastman)

Dogs scramble around in packs, on their way to a party. We have the board book version. I understand some parts were taken out when it was converted from hardcover, so if you remember it from childhood, look for the hardcover.

Good Night, Gorilla (Peggy Rathmann)

Wonderful book with excellent illustrations, a good storyline, and very few words.

The Carrot Seed (Ruth Krauss and Crockett Johnson)

A child plants a carrot seed, and has faith that the seed will grow.

Count My Kisses, Little One (Ruthie May and Tamsin Ainslie)

A counting book with kisses. Cute.

Guess How Much I Love You (Sam McBratney)

Little Nutbrown Hare tries to describe just how much he loves his parent, Big Nutbrown Hare. Cute.

Dinosaur’s Binkit (Sandra Boynton)

Dinosaur searches for his blanket. A touch-and-feel book.

Doggies (Sandra Boynton)

A counting book, with dogs.

Snuggle Puppy (Sandra Boynton)

A rhyming song book with a mother dog telling her child how much she loves him.

Hippos Go Berserk (Sandra Boynton)

A counting book with hippos.

Belly Button Book (Sandra Boynton)

Belly button poetry, with hippos.

“More More More,” Said the Baby (Vera B. Williams)

Three stories of little babies wanting more tickles, more chasing, and more sleeping.

From Head to Toe (Eric Carle)

Kids learn body parts by mimicking animals.

Non-Board Books (for when they stop tearing the pages…)

Truck (Donald Crews)

No words. A truck brings some packages from one depot to another.

Once Upon a Potty (Boy) (Alona Frankel)

This book about a boy learning to use the potty resonated with both my kids (boy and girl).

Potty Book for Boys (Alyssa Satin Capucilli and Dorothy Stott)

Boy learns about the potty and makes mistakes. Mother is put-upon changing diapers. Both my boy and girl liked this one.

Oops (Arthur Geisert)

A wordless book. A glass of spilled milk causes a surprising chain reaction.

Uh Oh! Gotta Go! (Bob McGrath and Shelley Dieterichs)

More potty goodness.

What the Mailman Brought (Carolyn Craven)

Oddly creepy story of a boy home sick.

On the Day You Were Born (Debra Frasier)

Beautiful non-religious creation story.

Corduroy (Don Freeman)

It’s a big world out there for a teddy bear.

My Dad Is Great (Gaby Goldsack and Sara Walker)

Daughter thinks her Dad is great, though he’s actually amusingly bumbling.

Is There Really a Human Race? (Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell)

A delightful book about finding your own path in life.

The Mitten (Jan Brett)

Animals discover a boy’s lost mitten and start crowding into it.

Driving My Tractor (Jan Dobbins and David Sim)

A sing-song-y book set on a farm.

Dinnertime (Jan Pienkowski)

Fun pop-up book. It starts with a frog, who gets eaten by a vulture, who gets eaten by a gorilla I think, and so on. Visceral for the kids — by flapping the pages you make the animals CHOMP CHOMP — yet fun. It’s also fun to say the author’s name in a strong Eastern European accent: JAN PIENKOWSKI. Like all pop-up books, vulnerable to a baby tearing the pages by accident.

Little Monsters (Jan Pienkowski)

Another pop-up book from Jan Pieńkowski. Different monsters doing different things.

Daisy and the Beastie (Jane Simmons)

Set on a farm, Daisy and Pip run around looking for the mythical Beastie.

Wriggly, Wriggly Baby (Jessica Clerk and Laura Rankin)

The baby sneaks out of the house and goes on a crazy adventure through town with the family cat and dog. Great illustrations and fun rhymes keep it moving along..

Once Upon a Lily Pad (Joan Sweeney and Kathleen Fain)

A frog’s-eye view of Monet and his water lily paintings.

Baby Says (John Steptoe)

A baby tries to get the attention of his older brother. Very few words in this book.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (Laura Joffe Numeroff and Felicia Bond)

If you give a mouse a cookie, madcap adventures will ensure.

If You Give a Moose a Muffin (Laura Joffe Numeroff and Felicia Bond)

If you give a moose a muffin, even more madcap adventures will ensue.

Oh, the Thinks You Can Think! (Dr. Seuss)

Just how long IS the tail of a Zong?

The Lorax (Dr. Seuss)

Cautionary tale about overconsumption and environmental impact.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! (Dr. Seuss)

The ups and downs on the road of life.

Horton Hatches the Egg (Dr. Seuss)

One dedicated elephant.

ABC3D (Marion Bataille)

A pop-up book with letters A-Z, one on each page. Not a kids book per se, but my son (who loves letters) really enjoyed this.

Alphabet (Matthew Van Fleet)

DOG (Matthew Van Fleet)

CAT (Matthew Van Fleet)

Tails (Matthew Van Fleet)

The Van Fleet canon has cute animals and things to touch or do on each page.

In the Night Kitchen (Maurice Sendak)

A dreamlike book about a boy who helps some tiny bakers bake cake during the night.

Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! (Mo Willems)

The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog! (Mo Willems)

The Pigeon Wants a Puppy (Mo Willems)

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (Mo Willems)

The pigeon series. What a character, that pigeon. Humorous for adults and kids alike.

Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity (Mo Willems)

Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion (Mo Willems)

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale (Mo Willems)

The Knuffle Bunny series. Trixie grows up, having adventures with her stuffed bunny along the way.

City Dog Country Frog (Mo Willems and Jon J. Muth)

A dog and frog make friends. A touching story about life, death and friendship.

Pemba Sherpa (Olga Cossi and Gary Bernard)

A story about a girl in Nepal who wanted to be a Sherpa, even though girls were at one time not allowed to be Sherpas. A tale of bravery, danger, and family.

The Best Nest (P.D. Eastman)

A bird and his wife go looking for a new nest. I used to love this one as a kid and I’m glad my children are into it. Old-fashioned gender stereotypes come into play a tiny bit, but not enough to take it off my recommended list…

Blueberries for Sal (Robert McCloskey)

Human mother and child meet bear mother and child while they are all out picking blueberries.

Make Way for Ducklings (Robert McCloskey)

Ducklings make their way through the city, with the help of some humans.

Philadelphia Chickens (Sandra Boynton)

Funny songs and general Boynton mayhem.

The Giving Tree (Shel Silverstein)

A sad book about a tree giving everything it can to a young man who isn’t very appreciative.

Falling Up (Shel Silverstein)

A Light in the Attic (Shel Silverstein)

Where the Sidewalk Ends (Shel Silverstein)

Funny, ludicrous poems from Shel Silverstein.

My Little Yellow Taxi (Stephen T. Johnson)

This was a great gift. It’s a pop-up book, but all focused around someone getting their taxi ready for their shift. Each page shows a separate aspect of the driver getting ready for the day, such as checking the tire pressure, making sure the meter is working, etc. Each page is a fun hands-on experience for kids.

Sammy the Seal (Syd Hoff)

This was one from my childhood. Sammy the Seal lives at the zoo, but has always wanted to venture out into the world. One day, he does.

Wonder Bear (Tao Nyeu)

Another great gift. Beautiful, somewhat psychedelic illustrations of a magical world with monkeys and bears and flying sea creatures. Wordless. Both my kids loved this.

In a People House (Theo. LeSieg)

A mouse and a bird go bonkers inside someone’s house, making a mess.

Beware of The Frog (William Bee)

A bizarre, fun book. Miss Collywobbles’ pet frog protects her from terrible creatures emerging from the forest.

George Shrinks (William Joyce)

George makes his chores more fun by imagining he’s shrunk to about the size of a mouse.

Pete’s a Pizza (William Steig)

Pete’s having a bad day, so his parents cheer him up by pretending to make him into a pizza.

Biscuit Goes to School (Alyssa Satin Capucilli and Pat Schories)

Dog breaks the rules by visiting boy in school. Cute.

The Kissing Hand (Audrey Penn, Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak)

A raccoon on his way to school for the first time is comforted by his mother’s “kissing hand” technique.

The Napping House (Audrey Wood and Don Wood)

A chain reaction book. Everyone in the house takes a nap, until a wakeful flea disrupts things.

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (Bernard Waber)

Crocodile in New York City navigates awkward social situation involving neighbor’s cat.

Bob Books, Set 1: Beginning Readers (Bobby Lynn Maslen and John R. Maslen)

Simple stories and simple words.

Harold and the Purple Crayon (Crockett Johnson)

Classic book featuring raw imgaination.

The Relatives Came (Cynthia Rylant and Stephen Gammell)

Everything gets a bit crazy when the relatives come.

Hooway for Wodney Wat (Helen Lester and Lynn Munsinger)

Wodney has a speech impediment and is shy as a result, but things turn around when he inadvertently confronts Camilla Capybara.

A Tree Is Nice (Janice May Udry)

The title pretty much says it all. Lovely book.

Owl at Home (Arnold Lobel)

Owl lives at home by himself yet still manages to get himself into a tizzy with frequency. Was a favorite of mine from childhood, too.

Frog and Toad All Year (Arnold Lobel)

Days with Frog and Toad (Arnold Lobel)

Frog and Toad Together (Arnold Lobel)

Frog and Toad Are Friends (Arnold Lobel)

Frog and Toad navigate the ups and downs of everyday life. A classic series that I loved as a child, too.

Uncle Elephant (Arnold Lobel)

Uncle Elephant takes care of his young nephew.

Ming Lo Moves the Mountain (Arnold Lobel)

Ming Lo and his wife consult a wise man about how to move the mountain away from their house.

Mouse Soup (Arnold Lobel)

Mouse outwits a weasel through storytelling.

Grasshopper on the Road (Arnold Lobel)

Grasshopper encounters different creatures in his travels

No Fighting, No Biting! (Else Holmelund Minarik and Maurice Sendak)

Cousin Joan makes up a tale about alligators.

Chicken Soup with Rice (Maurice Sendak)

A small book with a different poem for each month.

Pierre (Maurice Sendak)

I don’t care.

One Was Johnny (Maurice Sendak)

Johnny likes to be by himself, but he keeps being disturbed by animals coming into his house.

Scruffy (Peggy Parish and Kelly Oechsli)

A boy’s birthday present is that he gets to adopt a cat from the shelter. We watch as the boy chooses his cat and decides which one to take respnsibility for.

The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist (Stan and Jan Berenstain)

The Berenstain Bears and the Prize Pumpkin (Stan and Jan Berenstain)

The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day (Stan and Jan Berenstain)

The Berenstain Bears Go to the Doctor (Stan and Jan Berenstain)

The Berenstain Bears and the Week at Grandma’s (Stan and Jan Berenstain)

The Berenstain Bears’ New Baby (Stan and Jan Berenstain)

The Berenstain Bears books are a great way to teach your kids how to handle different childhood situations. These are a few we’ve read, and there are many more.

Crictor (Tomi Ungerer)

An old woman receives a snake as a pet. She’s scared at first, but eventually takes the snake into her life. The snake turns out to be loyal and brave.

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