15 Must-Read Children’s Books

Reading is a wonderful way to stimulate your children’s minds, teach them great lessons, open up new worlds, and give them a life-long interest in learning.

If your children are young, reading aloud also provides a great opportunity to spend quality time together — plus, if you get most of your books free, reading is an incredibly frugal pastime!

We love books at our house. We don’t have a lot of children’s toys, but oh do we enjoy books!

Our children never tire of being read to. And since I’m often asked for children’s book recommendations, I’ve compiled 15 of my all-time favorite read-alouds below. These are books that we’ve read over and over and over again. Many of them might already be on your own shelves, but I hope you’ll discover a few new ones, too.

1. Goodnight Moon

This is one of family’s most-read books. In fact, I’m pretty sure every single one of us have this entire book memorized by heart. We can also can tell you every little detail on every square inch of every page. But that’s perfectly okay, because it’s such a great classic book.


2. The Seven Silly Eaters

This book was sent to our family by a blog reader and it has become one of the most-requested read-alouds by our girls. It’s a fun — and sometimes a bit over-the-top — book about life in a bustling household.


3. Because I Love You

If I had to pick a favorite book from all the children’s books we own, I’m pretty sure this book would be it. It’s a beautiful story of God’s love for us — even when we were yet sinners. It touches me every time I read it to the girls and opens up lots of opportunities for me to explain truths about God.


4.The Bear That Heard Crying

This is a true and fascinating story from 1783. A 3-year-old girl gets lost in the woods and is saved by a bear — yes, I said a bear. The girls are always in awe and ask dozens of questions when we read this one.


5. The Story of Ferdinand

The children never tire of this story and it always produces a plethora of questions on bull-fighting, bees, and everything in-between.


6. Keep the Lights Burning Abbie

Kathrynne loves this story and so do I. It’s a beautiful tale of a girl who shows great responsibility and determination to stick to her commitments — in spite of great difficulty.


7. Caps for Sale

Despite how many times we’ve read this book, it never ceases to capture the girls’ complete attention. They find it fascinating. Plus, it offers lots of opportunities for us to discuss entrepreneurialism and how “way back when” people really had to get creative when it came to earning a living.


8. Bless the Lord: The 103rd Psalm

With absolutely gorgeous and detailed artwork, this book contains the rich phrases of the Psalm 103. If your children are anything like mine, they will want to spend a great deal of time just studying the pictures.


9. The Gingerbread Boy

This story always captures the girl’s attention and keeps it the entire time. While it’s not a realistic story, it’s still a fun book to read — and the pictures are enjoyable, too. It’s also a great way to teach your children about the fact that some people can pretend to like you or have your best interests in mind, when really, they are out to hurt you.


10. The Cow Who Fell in the Canal

This book is such a fun read! The pictures are colorful, the story line is engaging and it also opens up opportunities to introduce your children to how different people in different countries live.


11. Any and All Books By Lois Lenski

Hand’s down, Lois Lenski is one of our very favorite children’s authors — it’s simply impossible for me to narrow down our favorites to just one or two of her books. I grew up on her books and have been delighted to share them with my children, as well.


12. The Jesus Storybook Bible

We’ve searched high and low for quality children’s Bible story books — ones that are accurate, doctrinally sound, and not filled with nonsense and fluff are hard to find. I apprehensively ordered The Jesus Storybook Bible based upon the strong recommendations of friends I trust. It has since become our most treasured read-aloud. The girls would pick this over any other book any day.


13. Curious George Books

No book list is complete without mentioning the Curious George books. I first introduced the girls to them when I was pregnant with Silas and very sick with morning-noon-and-night sickness. The girls would ask me to re-read the Curious George books again and again. And to this day, it’s not changed! Anytime I ask them to go pick out books to read, you can be sure there will be at least one Curious George title in the mix.


14. Little House on the Prairie

We’ve already read through The Complete Little House Nine-Book Set, but we also love the My First Little House books, as well. We’ve had so many great discussions on how blessed we are to live with so many modern conveniences and how important it is to have a strong work ethic — all thanks to the Little House books.


15. Little Jewel Books

I highly recommend the Little Jewel books, especially for younger children. They are fun to read and full of great character lessons that even very small children can understand and apply.


A Few More Honorable Mentions

I had trouble narrowing our list of favorite books down to 15, so here are a few more we really enjoy:

One resource I’ve used extensively to find quality books to read-aloud to my children is the Hand That Rocks the Cradle: 400 Classic Books for Children. It has excellent reviews and book summaries, as well as dividing up all the books by three different reading levels.

What are your favorite children’s books?

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  1. Leighann says

    Our household is all about books and reading!

    Goodnight, Moon is also a favorite in our household. I’ve read it so many times over the past nearly 3 years that I’ve got it memorized and can tell it to the kids while driving in the car.

    My absolute favorite children’s book is Outside Over There by Maurice Sendak. It is absolutely beautiful, both in story and illustration.

    The Eric Carle books are good to read to much smaller children. Mine both like The Very Busy Spider a LOT.

  2. Toni says

    Absolute musts in our home have been:
    You Are Special (Max Lucado). This book has a profound message; that what others think doesn’t matter. Only what God thinks matters (“The dots only stick if you let them.”)

    Going to Sleep on the Farm (Cheyette Lewison)

    Papa, Please Get the Moon For Me (Eric Carle)

    Definitely The Story of Ferdinand (which so beautifully describes one of my children). 😉

    Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.

    A Cranberry Thanksgiving.

  3. shelly says

    Completely agree with you about the Jesus Storybook Bible. A friend of mine recently recommended it, so we purchased it for our daughter for Valentine’s Day. WE.LOVE.IT!!!

  4. sandra says

    The little house books are great, my son loved Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel, thats an oldie but a goodie. Also, Goodnight Moon, The little bear books and Where the wild things are, just to name a few.

    • Jacci says

      Mike mulligan is great! We bought the cd and my oldest listened to it every night as he went to sleep. I love all of Virginia lee Burton’s books–The Little House, Katy the Snowplow, etc. They are my favorite to read.

  5. says

    I love children’s books! I teach 1st grade and here are some of my favorites:

    -The Giving Tree (Almost makes me cry…the kids think I’m crazy.)
    -Amelia Bedelia (It’s fun when the kids finally start getting the jokes!)
    -Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Classic.)
    -Strega Nona (I always love Tomie dePaola’s illustrations)
    -Sweet Tooth (Hilarious! It’s a great book to do funny voices with.)
    -Any of the Frances books (like “Bread and Jam for Frances” or “A Bargain for Frances”).

    So many more!! I love reading these books to kids.

  6. Laurie G says

    There are so many great books it is hard to choose.

    Actually one of my very favorites is A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson- but it must be the one that Tasha Tudor illustrates. It is gorgeous. A great introduction to poetry. We read a few a day until we finished it and still go back through. The kids were much more open to poems after that.

    My son has loved the Virginia Lee Burton stories. We have to read Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel and Katy and the Big Snow often. He also enjoyed Pinocchio, Charlotte’s Web and Mr. Popper’s Penguins (nothing like the silly movie) very much.

    Other favorites are A.A. Milne’s Pooh series, Beatrix Potter, All Robert McCloskey, All of the Little Bear series by Else Holmelund Minarik, The Story about Ping, Roxaboxen, The Velveteen Rabbit, The Little Engine that Could, and a beloved one- The Tale of Three Trees- a beautiful story about three trees that grow up to be Jesus’ manger, boat, and the cross. We love that one!

    I too LOVE the Jesus Bible Storybook. It is the most excellent bible storybook out there. We have the audio CD and my kids listen nightly.

  7. Kat Cunha says

    My son adores How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, and Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems.

  8. says

    All of the Llama Llama books! Llama Llama Misses Mama helped my little one with separation anxiety in a big way! We love all of the Sandra Boynton books, too.

    • Joy says

      Mo Willems is our favorite, too! My boys are older (in 4th grade) but still love Pigeon, Piggie and Elephant.

    • Michelle says

      Yes yes yes! I have a bit of a crush on Mo Willems, he’s so awesome. I laugh hysterically every time I read Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.

  9. Katie Dykier says

    I am a former pre school teacher… my list of ‘must haves’ is very long! I was HUGE into reading to my students.

    Some of my recomdations:
    The “NO DAVID!” series books,

    For older children, if you can find them, are the Water Magic book and the series that goes along with it. THere are 5 books and they cover all the natural Elements… Fire, Water, Wind, Air and Electricity I believe.

    Rainbow Fish is a definate!
    Down By the Cool of the Pool by Tony Mitton
    The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
    The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
    Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
    Love You Forever by Robert N. Munsch
    Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
    (This was a personal favorite of mine when I was a child!)

    Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
    Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
    Strega Nona by Tomie De Paola
    (Strega Nona is a wonderful book as well!!)

    I hope I have introduced you to new ones!!

  10. Amy says

    Lisa you stole mine! My daughter loved anything by Sandra Boynton when she was a toddler. Now that she’s older, she loves the Pinkalicious series.

  11. Amanda says

    My son’s favorite book that we read every night for probably close to a year was God Knows My Name by Debby Anderson. Great book filled with Scripture, fun pictures, and will probably become your child’s favorite book too!

  12. Tanya says

    Our favorite include:

    You are my I Love You

    Stone Soup

    The Little Engine That Could

    Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

  13. Abageal says

    Stella Luna by Janell Cannon is a really cute book about a baby bat who gets lost from her mom and winds up living with a family of birds also Twaddletons Cheese by Ryan Higgins is really funny

  14. Cristi Foos says

    We love the Jesus Storybook Bible and actually have the audio cd version as well so we can listen to it in the van. My son is 7 years old and on the autism spectrum. He has recently accepted Jesus as his personal savior and I believe listening to that book has helped make his need for God’s rescue plan understandable to him. You have listed several books I’m not familiar with and look forward to trying!

  15. Angel says

    I have the Jesus Story Book Bible on CD in my van. My kids will sit absolutly silent for as long as I have it on…..even after we are parked at home! Defanently worth investing in the CDs.

    • Carissa says

      I totally agree! My son, has in turned memorized it! Great bible and CD!! Well worth the extra cash to buy the audio addition!

  16. carrie beth says

    My children are a little older, so the lists we have enjoyed are a little different from the one included here; however, I just feel like you cannot go wrong with the read aloud lists from Sonlight homeschool curriculum co. We have used them every year and my oldest son is in fourth grade. They provide a vehicle for conversation and encourage a love for reading that is absolutely wonderful. There have been very few on their lists that were not a hit with us.

  17. Melissa Bush says

    Let Me Hold You Longer by Karen Kingsbury is truly moving! I bought the edition that had the CD with it where she reads it to you… it made me cry the first time I heard it. Then I played it for my mom and it made her cry. I will read it to my kids as they grow up and then pass it on. It is amazing!

  18. Diana says

    Yeah, I love Lois Lenski! I grew up reading them (because I think my mom did as well) and always look for them at the library book sale.

  19. Kris says

    You really should read The Pickle Patch Bathtub by Frances Kennedy. It’s about some industrious children who spend an entire summer growing and selling cucumbers in order to buy their Mama a REAL bathtub. It’s a keeper in our house!

  20. KellyH says

    I saw several that we like mentioned but not these: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, If You Give a Pig a Pancake, and several more in series


  21. says

    I have to mention “A Hive of Busy Bees” by Effie M. Williams. It is a collection of short stories about a brother & sister and their adventures one summer on their grandparent’s farm. Their Grandmother tells them a new “BEE story” each evening, such as “BEE Obedient” or “Bee Grateful.” It has been one of our kid’s favorite story collections since they were little bitty. We had 4 children (not our own) stay with us for an extended period of time and they fell in love with “A Hive of Busy Bees.”

  22. says

    All of the ones you listed are wonderful. The Ox Cart Man, Roxaboxen, Little Quack, Sarah Morton’s Day, Mad Maddie Maxwell, and Do You Know What I’ll Do? are just a handful of some of our personal favorites. :)

  23. Amy L says

    I can’t believe no one has mentioned Dr. Suess! Green Eggs and Ham is a favorite in our house! Since it is easy for kids to memorize, they can almost read it themselves without knowing they are really reading!!

    Another favorite is the Gruffalo, Magic Tree House Books and Pocket of Kisses.

  24. Elisa says

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE anything by Chris Van Dusen, especially the Magee books! He is a current author, but his books have a very distinct vintage feel. You gotta check them out :)

  25. says

    So I asked my son what his favorite book is (he is 7) and for the last few years he has fallen in love with The Dangerous Journey – it has been on his favorites list since he was 5. I enjoyed the book, but my son LOVES it and we read it all the time. The book is a paraphrase of the classic Pilgrims Progress, but written so younger children can understand what is happening.

    I am in awe at how much of life my son relates to this book, he’ll make comments like “Christian struggled with taking the easy way out, I’m going to make sure I obey God and follow the right path…” I am not sure a girl would love it as much, but Dangerous Journey is at the top of his list. You can listen/watch it on youtube if you want to check it out before you buy it.

  26. PAULA C. says

    My son and I enjoy reading Tiki Tiki Tembo and The True Story Of The Three Little Pigs By A.Wolf. I remember reading those as a child and I am happy I can enjoy them with my son now.

  27. PAULA C. says

    Also meant to mention one of my sons all time favorite books is Oh,The Thinks You Can Think by Dr. Seuss. He is one of our favorite authors. My house is filled with so many Dr. Seuss books.

  28. Lana says

    For older kids I highly recommend the Little Britches series by Ralph Moody. “The Home Ranch” was strictly a read aloud so that I could edit the cowboy language! I would say you should wait on these until age 10-12 depending on the maturity level of your child. They are great read alouds and we could hardly get the kids to go to bed at night when we were reading these in the evening.

  29. R. says

    The Last Wild Witch by Starhawk and Smoky and the Feast of Mabon by Catherynne M. Valente and W. Lyon Martin are wonderful books. I’m getting them for my neice.

  30. Laura says

    I also LOVE and would highly recommend the Jesus Storybook Bible. My kids also love all the Berenstain Bear books and my daughter loves Amelia Bedelia. Another author who we love is Sandra Boynton.

  31. Barb says

    The Pinkalicious Series, If you give a … , Anything Dr. Seuss and any Eric Carle. We are starting the Junie B Jones books.

    • Leighann says

      I used the Better World Books voucher that was available to order the first two boxed sets of the Junie B. Jones books for my middle child. She’s about to turn 3, but she’s extremely gifted and is pretty well leaving Dr. Seuss behind at this point. My oldest (now 14) LOVED Junie B. Jones, so I figure that Meghan will love them, too!

  32. Becky Beckham says

    Our current family read aloud is Mary Poppins Comes Back. They love that Jane and Michael are familiar characters with Mary Poppins. It’s all the fun of the original Mary Poppins, in a sequel!

  33. says

    That is a good list! I have read Keep the Light Burning,Abbie,as well as most of the curious George and Little House books. And we’ve also read most of the Little Jewel books,and Farming with Father, God’s World and Johnny, Blueberries for Sal, The Courage of Sarah Noble and Make Way for Ducklings.
    Here are two great new children’s books:
    To see all children’s books sold on that site,click here: http://www.clp.org/store/browse/49_children
    ~Alison of http://sendasong.etsy.com

  34. Meredith says

    Courdroy books are popular with my daughter. She is also in a smurf phase and we got her some books. I wouldn’t consider blue figures running from gargamel high quality learning books though.

  35. Joy says

    Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney is awesome for 3rd grade boys on up. For middle school boys, I recommend the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.

  36. Heather Neely says

    We love the Jesus Storybook Bible as well! My oldest loves being read the stories and often flips through it just to look at the great artwork and “read” the stories himself.

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