favorite children’s books, for all ages!

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today i have compiled some of our favorite children’s books for all ages – from board books for babies to chapter books fitting for eleanor’s age group! these are some of the books that we have gravitated towards over and over again with each little one over the years and also the ones my kids want to read again and again. (there are too many favorites to list all of them!) while reading year round is great, with the start of a new school year here, it’s the perfect time to get into a structured routine of reading together more every day and i hope these books are helpful for anyone looking for new books to add to their collection!

i grouped them very loosely based on age and level, from reading to babies up to picture books to reading chapter books on their own. but it’s very general obviously. i have also linked all the books below each photo, but a special shout out to public libraries everywhere where you can access countless titles every day as well!

littlest readers (babies)

BABY BUNNYand also BABY DUCK
both our baby girls adore the finger puppet books in this series. they are the perfect size for new baby readers to hold and turn the pages with themselves and making the puppet dance and move around on each page always brings out the biggest giggles in our girls…and gets them excited about books! i remember beatrice carried the baby duck book around with her when she learned how to finally hold something while walking like it was her most prized possession. she really loves these books. the puppet is permanently attached to the book which i appreciate since sometimes keeping track of an accessory or additional item for reading time just means losing it altogether over here. :)

HOP ON POP
we are such fans of Dr. Seuss in our home and this one is a great one for first time readers, but because it’s so silly we seem to get extra silly when reading it which has made it a favorite for the babies.

MR BROWN CAN MOO, CAN YOU?
another Dr. Seuss book that we really love. especially fun to help learn our animal names and the sounds animals make! beatrice and madalena love to moooo like a cow and we’re working on the other sounds but we are very close to buzzing like bees as well which is exciting. ;)

WHEN I GO TO CENTRAL PARK
it always feels special when the book we are reading is a place we know! this one is extra dear to my heart since it takes you through central park and at the end asks your little one to share their favorite part of the park with you. the paintings are also really beautiful. it’s great to find books about your own town or area!

HOME SWEET HOME
all the indestructible books for little ones are seriously gold! they are made of lightweight nontoxic paper material that you can clean (even in the dishwasher) and your little one can’t rip or bend or chew up and destroy! they really are indestructible and it’s kind of amazing.

THE CARROT SEED
from the same illustrator who did harold and the purple crayon (another book we love). i don’t think it’s ever too early to read books with great lessons in them to our little ones and this one has a great message. also, we didn’t learn about this book until after madalena and beatrice were born so i’d recommend that if you find an author or illustrator you love, go check out what other work they have done! it’s how we found this one!

GIRAFFES CAN’T DANCE
probably my favorite book for this age! (although it’s a great one for older kids, too, and often requested by my bigger kids as well.) i just love gerald the main character so much (and maybe relate to him, too?) as so many tell him he can’t dance because he is a giraffe as they point out body parts that they think won’t allow him to dance. but through the story, he finds courage to dance to his own tune in his own way and becomes a wonderful performer. the book is so encouraging and sweet, and i love the lesson within it. i can’t recommend this book enough.

CHICKA CHICKA BOOM BOOM
i didn’t learn of this book until eleanor was maybe two and a half and we fell in love with it together. it’s a fun one for beginning to learn the alphabet and we love singing the chant with the baby girls throughout the day.

CITY BLOCK
this is a great one for city kids (or kids who wants to learn more about city life)! all the sections open up bigger to feature larger city scenes while also focusing on things that go, things to see, and things to eat! it’s colorful and fun to interactive with since many pages fold and pop up and down.

 

smaller readers (toddlers)

POUT POUT FISH
we were given this one at beatrice and madalena’s first birthday by a friend and it has quickly become an all-time favorite to read and chant together! i’m a pout pout fish, with a pout pout face, so i spread the dreary-wearies all over the place. haha! so good. we love it.

MY VERY FIRST CASTLES BOOK
this one has a lot of words labeled on pictures, so this is a great one for those kiddos who aren’t reading just yet and just putting together letters into words as they learn about new things and building vocabulary. it has a great educational aspect and all three of my older ones have loved all books around castles and knights.

THE KNIGHT AND THE DRAGON (not pictured, but we also adore THERE ONCE WAS A DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT)
again, this one doesn’t have a ton of words, the pictures allow you to kind of figure out what is happening on some of the pages which makes it fun for this age.

DAY OUT WITH DADDY  
we have read this book since E was a baby but always swap out Daddy with Papa, ha. it’s just fun to see all the mishaps and silly things that take place.

FOX IN SOCKS by Dr. Seuss
just a super silly tongue twister book and we all like seeing how fast papa can read this one – but without making a mistake! ;)

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK
a very sweet book with a powerful message about being kind and helping others (even when they’re rude) and what a beautiful thing friendship truly is.

NOT A BOX
probably our absolute favorite book about encouraging exploring your imagination as we discover together all the things a box can be! from a rocket ship to a sail boat to the top of a mountain, this book is a good one and everyone in our family loves reading it.

TAP THE MAGIC TREE 
this book is very interactive, encouraging you to tap, jiggle, shake and even kiss one of the pages as it takes you through each season and all the changes that come for a little brown tree. it’s a fun way to engage with the book together.

 

small readers (preschool age)

MISS RUMPHIUS 
this book is just beautiful. from the pictures to the text, about miss rumphius who makes a promise to make the world a more beautiful place and her legacy with the lupines that bloom along the coast of maine. it’s a very sweet read and one we have in rotation very often.

WILFRED GORDON MCDONALD PARTRIDGE
another book that tugs at my heart strings every time we read. this one, all about a little boy who tries to discover and learn more about the meaning of the word “memory” to help his elderly friend remember. have tissues on hand!

WOLFIE THE BUNNY
this one is a great one for anyone with a new baby (or babies!) in the family, all about sibling rivalry, unconditional love and also the importance of eating our vegetables! it’s very cute. we read it… a lot! in fact, a running joke (or motto?) in our family is “i’ll start on your toes!!!”

THE QUILT MAKER’S GIFT
ok. this book has such a good message, beautiful photos and one we read over and over again. about a greedy king who really wants this quilt maker to make him a quilt. she is so generous and good-hearted, and when she agrees to do so with one condition, she helps him find a change of heart in the process. it’s SO GOOD.

ZEN SHORTS
zen shorts presents three ancient zen tales to three children through stillwater, a sweet giant panda who moves into the neighborhood. the imagery is also very special. this book and the others above are all books that have lessons and morals, something we look for in books at this age.

THIS IS ROME
we own several of these classic books that focus on specific cities filled with lots of historical landmarks and fun facts about the places we might travel to. they also make for beautiful coffee table books but in all honesty my kids always take these whenever i have them out and bring them back to their bedside. it’s kind of hysterical since they’ll leave all their other books all over the living room. ;)

 

early readers (starting on their own)

PETE THE CAT TREASURY
when kids are starting to learn to read, sometimes you have to just let them choose the books because it’s what they want to read. sometimes it’s not what you might pick for them, but we have learned that it doesn’t matter what the book is, as long as they are excited about it and wanting to read it. samson chose this book during kindergarten and it’s what got him excited about reading so i wanted to share it here with that message of allowing our kids to sometimes lead us to what they might be interested in reading. whatever it might be, even comic books! just igniting that interest and supporting it is what is most important!

MAGIC TREE HOUSE SERIES
we bought this entire series at the beginning of summer and plowed through it. these are great because both samson and eleanor love reading them both to themselves and also out loud. conrad also enjoys these so we read them at bedtime together as well. i like that the books pair exciting adventures around the world with history so we’re learning so much about a new subject as we read each book. they are really well done and quick reads that our entire family has enjoyed.

A TO Z MYSTERIES
samson has really enjoyed the entire a to z mystery series so much so he has read several a second and third time. they are great for first level chapter books (short chapters!). they keep new readers engaged throughout since they are anxious to find out what might happen, too!

LITTLE GOLDEN BOOK: STAR WARS
one of the great things about new readers is that there are endless topics and books they can read and once they find a topic or subject exciting, you can expand on it through reading. this is why we have countless books about star wars in our home. and the little golden books are great for beginning readers so these were great when eleanor and samson were starting to read.

BIRDS WE KNOW
for the life of me, i can’t remember how we got this book!  it’s very old school and somehow all three of my older children are obsessed with it! i think nonfiction nature books are where it is at, though! we read it all the time and while i sometimes feel like i’m kind of tired of it (ha!) it doesn’t appear my children will anytime soon so i included because it’s a major favorite.

PICTURE BOOKS
and of course all the books listed up above from earlier that i’ve already shared for reading to your little ones too!

 

older readers (off on their own)

HOMER PRICE
our copy of homer price once belonged to josh’s older siblings! it’s very old and one of the first books eleanor read on her own and has since reread about 4 times through! she really likes it i think?! ;) it’s a fun story and quick read and she even chose it when it was her first turn to host book club (she is currently in two tiny book clubs with neighborhood kids from school and it’s very sweet to see them all agree on a book to read each month and then sit back and watch them discuss on their own — ocassionally they need some guidance from a parent but for the most part, they really don’t! and honestly, sometimes i learn far more from their insightful observations as they discuss without parents chiming in…).  it’s fun to read books written in different eras and this one is rather quirky and anachronistic and almost like a little back in time machine reading this one.

MAGIC TREEHOUSE MERLIN MISSIONS
another series that continues where THE MAGIC TREE HOUSE SERIES above leaves off. but these books are great for more experienced readers. once again, i really like how they bring history and new lessons into exciting adventures.

THE COMPLETE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA SET BY CS LEWIS
samson hasn’t gotten into this one yet, but eleanor loved this and it makes me so happy! it’s heavier reading and a great one to read together perhaps so you can have some great discussions about the stories. i find series like these to be wonderful because when they take you to another world, you can really get immersed and enveloped into this new world over several weeks or months at a time while going from book to book. this series is especially imaginative and exciting, and i like that it is also allegorical, full of rich christian symbolism.

PETER PAN
the classics are classics for a reason and i’m so glad my kids are gravitating towards several and loving them. a lot of classics are surprisingly accessible for young readers, like peter pan, and worth introducing early on as they start growing their love for reading.

WHO IS JK ROWLING?
non-fiction is important too! and biographies are a great way to introduce new readers to non-fiction. several of these ‘who is…’ books by pam pollack are great for first time readers! eleanor especially loved this one on jk rowling since she has loved several of the harry potter books and chose jk rowling as her subject when she wrote her second grade biography. as a parent you can suggest biographies on people you think would be good role models for your kids.

FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER
another one that eleanor read last spring and loved so much that she had her friends also read for her book club as well.. it’s extra fun because it is set in new york (they sneak into and sleep in the metropolitan museum of art!), and involves a lot of team work and mystery and good times. it is also a favorite of josh’s from when he was growing up.

MARY POPPINS boxed set
eleanor has really enjoyed the set (4 books) that take you through four different adventures with mary poppins over the years. considering how much she loves the soundtrack to both the original mary poppins and also the newer version, mary poppins returns, it’s been fun to add the books to her collection and see her carry them around this summer.

 

just to name a few!

which books do you and your little ones love that you would recommend to us and others? please share below so we all can benefit from your suggestions.

  1. Marsha Kern

    I love the “Little Blue Truck!!

  2. Chiara

    I think Eleanor would love The Penderwicks series.

  3. Elaine

    great suggestions… makes me want to have a little one around to read to! I’m going to look through some of the children’s books we still have.

  4. Elizabeth N.

    Jamberry is one of my favorite board books to read with my babies.

  5. I’m a new follower here and I’m enjoying your blog so far. This was a nice post — so many of the books are classics. I like the Dr. Seuss books and kids love them. But there are so many new picture books and chapter books now though with better illustrations and more diverse characters and stories.

    If you’re looking for chapter book recommendations, you may enjoy this round-up I did of 20 great contemporary chapter books https://afomaumesi.com/chapter-books/ Recommendations include books featuring kids from a variety of races, a child with autism, STEM picks and more.

    There are so many great books in the world — look a bit past the classics, maybe? :)

  6. Rachel

    We’ve recently found “The Circus Ship” and my 4.5yo and 2you are obsessed with it! The illustrations are spectacular, and the story is super fun :D

  7. Tara

    You may want to rethink Dr. Seuss as one of your favorites…I know it’s hard to learn that a beloved author was deeply flawed (especially if you loved his books as a kid!), but he used racist caricatures and had some disturbing personal beliefs. There are lots of other classics old and new that are better alternatives for today’s kiddos!

    https://www.colorlines.com/articles/what-about-dr-seuss-when-childrens-books-promote-racial-stereotypes

    https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2019/02/26/695966537/classic-books-are-full-of-problems-why-cant-we-put-them-down

  8. Emily Jane Wright

    Hi! I have enjoyed discovering your blog over the past year. I am a new mama to a sweet baby boy and during some long nights awake in the beginning rocking him to sleep. I would wander your blog posts and enjoy. I was excited to look over your list of children’s book suggestions. I LOVE children’s books and it has been so fun having a little one of my own to share these beloved books with. However, I was a bit disappointed to find a lack of children’s book celebrating diversity on your list. I wasn’t familiar with all the books so perhaps I missed one or two that include people of color? There are so many good ones out there now and as a mama to a beautiful brown babe I find it especially important to populate our home library with books that include diverse characters, but I also feel it is important for all kiddos to be exposed (through books and in so many other ways) to diversity! You have such a wonderful and dedicated following on your blog and your suggestions I’m sure are taken to heart by so many mamas! Just some thoughts shared with love…. blessings. EW

  9. Kat

    When I was in the second grade I checked out The Trumpet of the Swam so often the school librarian would just tut-tut at me. But it’s a lovely story. At Eleanor’s age I also loved A Little Princess and The Secret Garden. As a Scandinavian I wish Astrid Lindgren’s (author of Pippi Longstocking) other books were more well known. My favorites as a child were Mio, My Son and Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter. Worth reading at any age.

  10. joana

    hi naomi!
    has eleanor read “a series of unfortunate disasters”? she might like them, they’re super fun :)
    joana

  11. Kelly

    My friend has a four year old and I was really struggling on what to get her, thank you!

    xx Kelly
    Sparkles and Shoes

  12. Kelly Ann Zimmer

    Hello! Great suggestions. I just heard a speaker, Deanna Singh, at my talk about the lack of representation of people of color in children’s books. 27% of children’s books represent in-adamant objects and 50% represent white characters. She opened my eyes to this about my own home and my child’s school. She recommends Just Like Me! Book Boxes which offer books with characters of color. I just ordered some!

    Kelly

  13. Angie

    Children’s books – what a wonderful and important topic!
    Our kids loved the Berenstain Bears – wise little messages wrapped in sweet and fun stories about the Bear family. (Get only the ones by the original authors, Jan and Stan Berenstain. Their son Mike continues in the same art style, but his stories lost the charm.)
    Our grandchildren also love Toot and Puddle by Holly Hobbie- beautiful artwork and darling stories about two friends.

  14. Tracy

    I feel like I’ve read every book there is to my 2.5 year old, but there are still so many I’ve never heard of! Some we’ve really loved are Richard Scarry’s I am a Bunny (beautiful illustrations – I love to give it as a gift), anything by Jan Thomas (so funny and cute. my son love them), Dinnertime for Chickies (and the others in that series), and Please, Mr. Panda.

  15. Dana

    Love these recommendations!

    Do you and your family have any favorite Christmas books? Would love to hear those as well!

    Thank you

  16. Dana

    Also, can you show us or tell us in your house where your books are stored? Are they all kept in the one bookcase by the yellow piano in the photo? We have so many that our bookcase isn’t holding them all anymore. Thank you

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  18. Alyssa

    Hi! I am a long time follower (since the NYC before the DC day’s!) and I am so glad you are sharing your family’s love of reading! I hope this messsage reaches you with love and kindness and the idea that when we know better, we do better. Please read this article about Dr. Seuss and consider him removing him from your children’s libraries. I know it’s hard when we have a great memory or sentiment tied to an author. These feelings can exist while acknowledging his racism. However, once you know, I don’t see how anyone can continue to separate the man from his art. Thank you for sharing your lives with us ❤️ https://www.theconsciouskid.org/blog/2018/2/18/a-critical-race-reading-of-dr-seuss

  19. Alicia

    Homer Price!! Just seeing the cover of that book transports me back to my grandma’s house, to my dad’s childhood room, going though and reading all of his books. This was one of my favourites from when I was Eleanor’s age as well!
    I’ve been following your blog since you were pregnant with Eleanor and felt such a connection with you as a fellow June 1986 baby.
    Thank you for sharing your life. It’s so fun to follow along.

    Alicia from Canada :)

  20. Emily

    My favorite to read with my little man (toddler age) is Penguin and Pinecone. It is the sweetest. Thank you for the other recommendations!

  21. Nia

    Too funny to see all these folks who feel Dr. Suess is “off limits”. It’s so bossy! Thankfully, many of us are still able to read a book without turning it into a political activity.

  22. Sabrina

    Thank you for this list! We are always looking for new books to try. Our oldest recently met Mary Pope Osborne, the author of the Magic Treehouse series, at a book signing and she was so kind!

  23. Tazz, what a great list – thanks so much, i’m gonna check MISS RUMPHIUS right now!

  24. Manuela

    Beautiful post!
    Can you tell us more about Eleanor’s book club and the way it works/is organised? In a post maybe?

    Thanks! Manuela

  25. Haley

    Great selection! Nothing sweeter than stacks of children’s books. Where is the darling white bookshelf from?

  26. Jessica

    I just love your kids book recommendations–some of our very favorites have come from your lists! Thank you!

  27. Piper

    Hi Naomi and family! I know I’m a tad late to responding to this post, but it took me awhile to get a small list of suggestions together. I complied a list of some of our favorite middle-grade books here:
    https://www.ohhellopiper.com/home/2019/10/07/diversityinmiddlegradebooks
    My fourth grader has loved these for the last 2-3 years, and maybe Eleanor would find some of them interesting, too :)