If you’re a parent, you know how important it is to read to your child, but there are so many options for children’s books, you might be wondering, “How do I know what books to get?” Well, wonder no more! We’ve curated a list of the top 15 children’s books. From old classics to new best sellers, these are the books your kids will want to read over and over.
1. Corduroy by Don Freeman
Corduroy is an endearing story about a teddy bear that is on display in the toy section of a department store. One day a little girl walks by and wants to purchase Corduroy but her mother refuses to spend any more money that day and points out that he has a missing button. That night, after the department store closes, Corduroy goes on an adventure searching for his missing button. The very next day the same little girl comes back and purchases Corduroy and gives him what he’s always wanted: a home and a friend. Published in 1976, this book is still a children’s classic and was my personal favorite growing up.
2. The Day The Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
Duncan takes out his box of crayons at school, ready to do some coloring, but instead of crayons, he finds a stack of letters with his name on them. Red crayon complains about being overused and working on holidays, coloring Santa’s suit and Valentine’s Day hearts. Purple is tired of its color going outside the lines. Beige is sick of being second choice compared to Brown. They’ve all had enough! It’s up to Duncan to come up with a creative solution to make them all happy. This is a highly entertaining story that will have both parents and kids giggling during story time.
3. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
You can’t have a list of top children’s books without having Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are on it. A young boy named Max dresses up in a wolf costume and causes all kinds of mischief in the house and is sent to bed without supper. His bedroom transforms into a jungle and he discovers an island where beasts called “Wild Things” live. Max then intimidates the beasts and is crowned “King of the Wild Things.” After playing around with his new subjects, he grows lonely and decides to go back home. When he gets there, he discovers a hot supper waiting for him. This book is a wonderful take on a child’s imagination and is truly a classic that is enjoyable for both adults and kids.
4. Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel
Frog and Toad is a series of books about two best friends and the often humorous adventures they have together. These are short, easy-to-read stories that are perfect for young readers.
5. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
The Giving Tree follows the lives of a boy and a tree that develop a relationship. As a child, the boy would often visit her (the tree) and use the tree to swing on her branches and eat her apples. As he grew older, the boy only visited her when he needed something materialistic. Throughout his life, the boy kept asking for more and more and the tree kept giving and giving, but the visits still made the tree happy. At the end of the story, all that is left of the tree is her stump and the tree gives once more when the boy, who is now an elderly man, wants a quiet place to sit and rest. It’s a tender story that has many interpretations. Some believe the tree represents the Christian ideal of unconditional love. Others believe the boy represents humanity and the tree represents mother nature. Another interpretation is that the relationship represents that of a parent and child. However you interpret the book, it is a great story with many lessons that can be learned.
6. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a classic picture book that is great for young children. This is a great interactive story that helps teach kids the days of the week and includes beautiful illustrations.
7. A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead
Amos McGee is a kind-hearted, elderly man who spends every day working at the city zoo. While he’s there, he makes time for each of his five animal friends, tending to their needs. He plays chess with his elephant friend, reads stories to his owl friend, races against his tortoise friend, sits quietly with his penguin friend, and lends handkerchiefs to his rhinoceros friend. One day, Amos wakes up sick and cannot make it to the zoo, so his animal friends come to him instead. This sweet and gentle story teaches children about the importance of being kind, caring, and thoughtful towards others.
8. Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish
Amelia Bedelia is the story of a maid who goes through her to-do list in a very literal way. Simple tasks like “drawing the drapes” and “dressing the chicken” are accomplished in unexpected ways. This book is a hilarious and enjoyable read for both kids and adults, but is best-suited for older kids that understand the double-meaning of words and phrases.
9. The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka
A hilarious parody of a classic fairy tale, this is the story of the Three Little Pigs from the wolf’s perspective and how his reputation as “the big, bad wolf” was all just a misunderstanding. If there is a lesson to be learned from this entertaining book, it is that there are two sides to every story. Just a warning, the book makes it very clear that the first two pigs get killed and eaten, so it may not be suitable for younger kids.
10. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
A curious little boy named Harold, armed with only a purple crayon, creates a world of his own. He draws himself into and out of many situations on his imaginary adventure. When he’s falling off a mountain, he creates a balloon to bring him back down to the ground safely. When he’s hungry, he draws pies to eat. This is a funny and charming story that shows you just how far your imagination can take you.
11. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems
The book starts when a bus driver has to leave the bus for a bit and asks the reader to keep an eye on things while he’s gone. There is one rule that readers must remember: Don’t let the pigeon drive the bus! After the bus driver leaves, the pigeon begs and pleads with the reader to let him drive the bus and comes up with many excuses why he should be able to drive it. He then has a major meltdown. The pigeon’s behavior is a perfect replica of how a child might act to try to get their way. This is a fun and interactive book for kids that turns the tables on your child and puts them in the “grown-up’s seat.”
12. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
A book that is just as relevant today as it was when it was written in 1971, The Lorax is the story of the Once-ler, who discovered a Truffula tree and chops it down to create a Thneed, which is a versatile garment. The Lorax comes out from the stump of the Truffula, let’s his disapproval be known. The Once-ler sells his first garment and then begins making more and more as business picks up and creates a big factory. The Lorax appears again to tell him that his actions are causing many animals to move out of the area because they lack food. Later, he appears to tell him that he has polluted the air and water causing more animals to leave. The Once-ler continues making Thneeds anyways until he chops down the very last Truffula tree and has to close down because there is nothing left to make the garments out of. The story ends on a hopeful note when the Once-ler hands a boy the last Truffula seed and encourages him to grow a forest. This story is a great lesson on the importance of conservation and how corporate greed can pose a threat to nature and is presented in a very digestible format for kids.
13. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce
This story, that is also a short film, is about a bibliophile, Morris, who is writing his memoir when a terrible storm picks up and blows Morris off of his balcony. After the storm, a woman appears and Morris is lead to an abandoned library. He finds meaning in caring for the books of the library, repairing and reviving damaged books and sharing them with his neighbors, whose bodies that were once dull and gray, become full with color. Mr. Morris’ books have covers that beat like bird’s wings and fly around him protectively. They care for Mr. Morris when he ages and read themselves to him at night. This book has a deeper meaning about love, loss, and healing and has an underlying metaphor about how life is a story. This book contains gorgeous illustrations and is better-suited for children that around four to eight years old.
14. The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
A young girl gets an idea to build the most magnificent thing. She can picture exactly how it will work and how it will look. She builds things all the time so it should be a piece of cake, right? Wrong. With the help of her dog, they start building the thing, but it doesn’t turn out right. They try a second time, but still no luck. They try and fail again and again. The girl gets so mad that she decides to give up. Her dog then convinces her to go on a walk and she comes back with renewed enthusiasm to complete her project and ends up building the most magnificent thing. This book is a great lesson for kids about not giving up.
15. Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae
Gerald the giraffe wants to dance more than anything, but with his skinny legs and long neck, let’s just say he’s not the greatest at it. At the Jungle Dance the other animals are cutting a rug but when it’s Gerald’s turn, the other animals laugh at him. Embarrassed and upset, Gerald heads for home, but on his way, he meets a cricket who suggests that “Sometimes when you're different you just need a different song,” so Gerald starts swaying to his own tune while his jungle friends watch in amazement.
What is your favorite children's book? Let us know in the comments below!