We’ve done the heavy digging to find the 40 best books for kids in 2021 (ages 0 to 11 years).
Whether you are looking for the ultimate picture book or the most popular story for preschoolers to late elementary, we’ve got you covered!
This list provides a fun read for all personality types and learning levels.
From heartwarming to important life lessons, silly moments, and everything else in between, your soul will feel uplifted.
Let’s explore the top 40 rated and reviewed children’s books in order from youngest to oldest.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Ages 0 to 3 Years)
By: Eric Carle
This #1 selling children’s book follows the life cycle of a caterpillar.
From the start of an egg to an emerging beautiful butterfly, the interactive story teaches you the days of the week and how to count up to five.
Final Verdict: The book is the perfect size for little hands and early learners.
►► View Now: The Very Hungry Caterpillar ◄◄
First Colors, Numbers, and Shapes Board Book (0 to 3 Years)
By: Roger Priddy
Your child is exposed to learning their first numbers, colors, and shapes in this vibrant board book.
But the learning doesn’t stop there…
There are 100 simple words along with eye-catching pictures to hold your little one’s attention.
- Opposites (happy, sad, small, big)
- Objects (sippy cup, socks, book)
- Animals (pig, frog, duckling)
- Landscapes (home, countryside, beach)
Final Verdict: A simple and engaging 1st book for the youngest youth to learn key concepts and basic words.
►► View Now: First Colors, Numbers, and Shapes Board Book ◄◄
Monster Party! (Ages 0 to 4 Years)
By: Alicia Ortego
A goofy Monster party is going down!
This story is nothing short of the classic kid favorites; cupcakes, pizza, games, and silliness.
“Monster’s delighted, Monster’s excited!”
From eating a “buggy lunch” to clapping, jiving, and high-fiving, these monsters are all about having a good ol’ time.
Final Verdict: The adorable monsters and brightly colorful illustrations know how to hold a little one’s attention. This makes a fun read for babies and toddlers who love silly characters.
►► View Now: Monster Party!◄◄
Kindness Is My Superpower (Ages 0 to 11 Years)
By: Alicia Ortego
As the title portrays, this book is ALL about kindness.
Through gentle rhymes and beautiful illustrations, the story explains that it is ok to make a mistake and say I’m sorry.
Final Verdict: Kids learn by example and that is exactly what this book teaches, how to be kind and caring.
►► View Now: Kindness Is My Superpower ◄◄
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (Ages 1 to 3 Years)
By: Bill Martin Jr.
The simple bold and colorful pages will dazzle your eyes.
The singsong text exposes your child to learn all sorts of things like animals, colors, and words.
Final Verdict: The simple catchy melody and beautiful illustrations make this one of the BEST toddler books.
►► View Now: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? ◄◄
How Do Dinosaurs Count to Ten? (Ages 1 to 5 Years)
By: Jane Yolen
“Dinosaur counting starts with one. One tattered teddy bear just for fun.”
“Two big balloons tied to the bed, three toy trucks painted in blue, green, and red.”
Go on a journey with your favorite dinosaurs in this adorable rhyming read-aloud.
T-Rex, Triceratops, Stegosaurus (to name a few) teach you how to learn numbers with objects like…
- Paint jars
- And MORE!
Final Verdict: Ready to count to ten? This is a fun way for toddlers to effortlessly learn how to count from 1 to 10. Especially if your child is a dinosaur fan or enjoys silly books, this book is for them.
►► View Now: How Do Dinosaurs Count to Ten? ◄◄
The Snowy Day (Ages 2 to 5 Years)
By: Ezra Jack Keats
The book takes you back to 1962, where a young boy named Peter steps outside into a winter wonderland.
Through the eyes of Peter, we experience what it is like in his snowy new world.
Final Verdict: This makes the perfect read to cozy up together on a cold winter day by a fire or with a cup of hot cocoa.
►► View Now: The Snowy Day ◄◄
Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes (Ages 2 to 5 Years)
Pete the Cat goes on a walking journey in his new white shoes singing and grooving to his song…
“I love my white shoes, I love my white shoes, I love my white shoes.”
While walking, his shoes get messy, changing into different colors like blue, red, brown, and WET.
But, he doesn’t get upset!
In fact, he keeps moving and grooving while singing his song because “it’s all good”.
Final Verdict: Pete the Cat teaches a wonderful life lesson to not sweat the small stuff.
►► View Now: Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes ◄◄
I Love You to the Moon and Back (Ages 2 to 5 Years)
A bear and her cub begin their day by showing their affection.
This precious gentle rhyme allows you to tell your child just how much you love them!
Final Verdict: A wonderful read along to share the positive affirmations of love.
►► View Now: I Love You to the Moon and Back ◄◄
Scribble Stones (Ages 2 to 6 Years)
By: Diane Alber
A little stone believes he will become something amazing someday.
He soon realizes he is just a boring paperweight, but that doesn’t stop him.
He is on a BIG mission to become something greater when he meets a couple of friends.
Together, they conjure an incredible plan to bring happiness to thousands of people!
Final Verdict: This heartwarming story teaches us to spread kindness to the world.
►► View Now: Scribble Stones ◄◄
Ten Little Caterpillars (Ages 2 to 8 Years)
By: Bill Martin Jr.
Find out how ten small critters go on very different adventures.
What journey awaits them?
The ocean, a hungry wren, or a frightened hen perhaps?
Through rhythmic text, follow along to see what happens to each caterpillar in this wonderfully illustrated picture book.
Final Verdict: If your kiddo likes to count or is a fan of science (particularly insects), this book is for them!
►► View Now: Ten Little Caterpillars ◄◄
What Should Danny Do? (Ages 3 Years and Up)
By: Adir Levy
This book is part of the “power to choose” series that follows a superhero named Danny.
Are you ready for the BEST part?
As your child navigates through nine different storylines, they will make choices for Danny and shape his day into what it becomes.
Final Verdict: The book teaches us a GREAT lesson…we all have the power to choose. Our choices shape our days and ultimately what our lives become.
►► View Now: What Should Danny Do? ◄◄
What Should Darla Do? (Ages 3 Years and Up)
By: Adir Levy
Darla, an energetic youngster, has BIG dreams to become an astronaut.
Her mind is set on traveling to Mars someday.
Similar to “What Should Danny Do?”, your child makes choices for Darla to shape her day the way they want.
The eight storyline choices allow your child to interact and have FUN.
Final Verdict: The story allows you to navigate through relatable scenarios that you face every day.
►► View Now: What Should Darla Do? ◄◄
Alphabet Rescue (Ages 3 to 5 Years)
By: Audrey Wood
When duty calls, these super cute letters know what to do!
They band together to build a fire truck to save the day.
As their adventurous journey begins, one thing is certain, the heroic alphabet letters become fire hose experts!
Ready to find out how these ambitious letters save the day?
Final Verdict: An adventurously fun story for toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarteners to learn the alphabet!
►► View Now: Alphabet Rescue◄◄
Press Here (Ages 3 to 5 Years)
By: Herve Tullet
An interactive children’s touch book that takes you on a magical journey.
The story instructs the reader to do silly things like press the button, tilt, shake, and MORE.
The anticipation of WHAT happens next makes this one of the longest-running best-selling picture books in the New York Times.
Final Verdict: A TOP teacher’s pick, this engaging touch book captivates you from start to finish.
►► View Now: Press Here ◄◄
The Wonky Donkey (Ages 3 to 5 Years)
By: Craig Smith
A hilarious story to captivate you with the goofy commentary written by New Zealander Craig Smith.
The book is based upon a song that Smith wrote in 2005 after hearing the joke “What do you call a donkey with three legs? – A wonky donkey”.
The catchy words at the end of the book about Wonky Donkey a spunky, hanky-panky, cranky, stinky, dinky, lanky, honky-tonky, winky wonky donkey will bring a smile to your face. 🙂
Final Verdict: This is rated a top “teacher’s pick” and is for those who want a good laugh.
►► View Now: The Wonky Donkey ◄◄
The Story of Ferdinand (Ages 3 to 5 Years)
By: Munro Leaf
A peaceful bull who doesn’t want to make waves with anybody loves his quiet life under his favorite tree.
His bull friends are quite the opposite as they like to run and buck.
As the story progresses, Ferdinand finds himself in an aggressive situation where he refuses to give in and remains his beloved peaceful self.
Final Verdict: The story teaches us the value of peace vs. aggression.
►► View Now: The Story of Ferdinand ◄◄
Never Let A Unicorn Scribble (Ages 3 to 6 Years)
By: Diane Alber
A little girl hears to “NEVER let a unicorn scribble!”
Never say never…
The little girl comes up with an ingenious way to get her unicorn to scribble which turns into something very magical.
Final Verdict: This is for all the Unicorn lovers and those who enjoy magical moments.
►► View Now: Never Let A Unicorn Scribble ◄◄
Marvel Meet the Super Heroes! (Ages 3 to 6 Years)
By: Brooke Vitale and Megan Ilnitski
Meet the famous, Captain America, along with 11 of the most popular Marvel Avenger Superheroes.
Iron Man, Hulk, Spider-Man, Black Widow, Rocket and Groot to name a few.
These short stories are an exciting read for beginner readers to learn all sorts of wonderful things like…
- Beginner sight words
- Word repetition
- Short, easy-to-follow sentences
Final Verdict: A simple read for early readers who love the Marvel Avengers or who are superhero fans.
►► View Now: Marvel Meet the Super Heroes! ◄◄
If Animals Kissed Good Night (Ages 3 to 6 Years)
By: Ann Whitford Paul
A cute story that talks to you from the perspective of an animal.
How would an animal kiss their loved ones goodnight as we do?
Every creature is unique in how they express their affection, now we get to learn about it.
Final Verdict: For the animal lovers or those who like precious moments.
►► View Now: If Animals Kissed Good Night ◄◄
The Snail and The Whale (Ages 3 to 7 Years)
By: Julia Donaldson
A tiny snail meets an enormous humpback whale.
They decide to go on an adventure to a faraway land.
The snail is elated for the opportunity to travel the world as she has never left home.
The two go on an exciting journey passing volcanoes, icebergs, sharks, and penguins.
But as the faraway land approaches, the whale gets too close to shore.
Will the snail be able to save her new friend?
Final Verdict: For the inquisitive mind who wants to know more about the world.
►► View Now: The Snail and The Whale ◄◄
The Day The Crayons Quit (Ages 3 to 7 Years)
By: Drew Daywalt
A beautifully illustrated and humorous book that portrays what a “crayon” thinks.
Sweet Duncan loves to color but his crayons have rebelled!
The yellow and orange had a little spat because each color believed to be the true hue of the sun.
The blue is exhausted from coloring the bodies of water and the black wants to be more than outlining things.
Will Duncan come up with a solution to make his crayons happy?
Final Verdict: A New York Times best-seller and a top “teacher’s pick”, this goofy read is for the little artist.
►► View Now: The Day The Crayons Quit ◄◄
The Most Magnificent Thing (Ages 3 to 7 Years)
By: Ashley Spires
The story follows an unnamed girl and her sweet pet dog (who happens to be her bestie).
The girl has a brilliant idea…
To make the most MAGNIFICENT thing ever!
But she soon realizes the struggles and difficulties she faces while trying to make the MAGNIFICENT thing.
Will she prevail?
Final Verdict: Never give up on your dreams. It is OK to fail because we learn and grow which makes success that much sweeter.
►► View Now: The Most Magnificent Thing ◄◄
Grumpy Monkey (Ages 3 to 7 Years)
By: Suzanne Lang
If you need to figure out HOW to deal with confusing feelings this book helps you navigate those emotions.
A #1 New York Times best-selling picture book series, “Grumpy Monkey” portrays an important life lesson…
It is OK to feel the way you feel.
This is a great tool to leverage to help your child explore their emotions whether that be good or bad.
Final Verdict: This makes a wonderful read on how to navigate your emotions.
►► View Now: Grumpy Monkey ◄◄
The Wonderful Things You Will Be (Ages 3 to 7 Years)
By: Emily Winfield Martin
In the eyes of a parent, this book depicts all the loving things you think about when you look at your child.
The story is told in a rhythmic rhyme illustrating children who discover themselves.
Do you want to be an actress or maybe in a garage band?
The message is loud and clear that no matter what you become you will be loved and accepted.
Final Verdict: The beautiful story celebrates the love a parent has for their child.
►► View Now: The Wonderful Things You Will Be ◄◄
The Gruffalo (Ages 3 to 7 Years)
By: Julia Donaldson
A mouse is taking a lovely stroll through the deep dark woods when suddenly arrive several hungry animals; a fox, an owl, and a snake.
The mouse invents a one-of-a-kind idea to protect himself called the Gruffalo!
The BIG scary Gruffalo has arrived with dangerous claws and a poisonous wart at the end of its nose.
No animal will surely mess with a mouse now or will they?
Final Verdict: This is for those who like adventurous stories, animals, or fun creatures.
►► View Now: The Gruffalo ◄
Just Go to Bed (Ages 3 to 7 Years)
By: Mercer Mayer
This goofy bedtime story features Little Critter who does not want to go to bed.
Anything to stall bedtime is precisely what he will do!
From hopping in the bath to making a fuss putting on pj’s, or pretending to be a robot are ways Little Critter refuses bedtime.
Final Verdict: This book may be the solution to introducing your child to their very own bedtime routine.
►► View Now: Just Go To Bed ◄◄
Love You Forever (Ages 4 Years and Up)
By: Robert Munsch
This heart-warming book tells a story of a mother and her newborn son.
Their evolving relationship grows as she sings a sweet song to him.
“I’ll love you forever
I’ll like you for always
As long as I’m living
My baby you’ll be.”
Final Verdict: A nursery staple, this simple four-line poem will have you and your precious one reading or singing together.
►► View Now: Love You Forever ◄◄
The Good Egg (Ages 4 to 8 Years)
By: Jory John
The good egg is just that, a very good egg.
Even though his friends misbehave, he keeps them in line.
Things take a turn…
The pressure starts to get to the very good egg because it is hard trying to be perfect since nobody is perfect.
So enough is enough!
The good egg makes an important life choice to go on a journey of self-discovery and do what it takes to feel self-love.
Final Verdict: The charming story encompasses what it is like to finally find happiness and acceptance.
►► View Now: The Good Egg ◄◄
If You Give A Mouse A Cookie (Ages 4 to 8 Years)
A mouse shows up on your doorstep asking for a cookie so you kindly give it to him.
Then, the mouse requests a glass of milk.
You happily oblige.
And then the mouse requests a series of other things for you to help him out with…
Final Verdict: A story that prompts important conversational topics like selflessness, kindness, and free will.
►► View Now: If You Give A Mouse A Cookie ◄◄
The Rainbow Fish (Ages 4 to 8 Years)
The Rainbow Fish is a unique fish with shimmery glittery scales.
The other fish admire him and want to be just like him.
So the charming Rainbow Fish learns to make friends by sharing his most prized possessions.
This story embodies a very simple message…
Sharing makes us happy.
Final Verdict: An appealing read with gorgeous colors and illustrations, but most importantly, to spread a powerful message to share and be kind.
►► View Now: The Rainbow Fish ◄◄
Tornadoes! (Ages 4 to 8 Years)
When warm air rises and cool air falls, what happens next?
Swirling air forms to create a funnel-shaped cloud…
And then…a tornado is born!
Throughout this story, kids are exposed to what they need to know about tornadoes:
- What scale classifies a tornado?
- How much damage does a tornado cause?
- What are the safest places to go?
- When did the biggest tornadoes occur?
Final Verdict: This is the perfect book for aspiring meteorologists. Plus, it makes a great learning tool for kids fascinated with science or the weather.
►► View Now: Tornadoes! ◄◄
Where The Wild Things Are (Ages 4 to 8 Years)
By: Maurice Sendak
This top-rated children’s book has influenced an opera, movie, and captivates both kids and adults!
The imaginative story takes you into the life of a boy named Max.
Max’s mother sends him to bed without any dinner because he was misbehaving.
After Max falls asleep, his room instantly transforms into a moonlit forest surrounded by a huge ocean.
From there the incredible adventures begin as Max meets the Wild Things who name him King.
Final Verdict: This story allows your imagination to run wild, LITERALLY, and is a fun read for those who like fantasy stories.
►► View Now: Where The Wild Things Are ◄◄
Tickle Monster (Ages 4 to 8 Years)
By: Josie Bissett
A funny, cute, and wacky Monster has arrived from Planet Tickle!
In fact, Tickling is his specialty.
“Tickling my lovies is what I do best. Are you sure you’re ready for what’s coming next?
As you read along, mirror the moments when the cute monster “tickles” those that come in his path.
From your elbows to knees, and ears, this spunky Monster gets you giggling and wiggling!
Final Verdict: Ready to get silly? If you’re looking to create awesomely goofy memories with your child, this book provides a heartfelt bonding experience.
►► View Now: Tickle Monster ◄◄
The Invisible String (Ages 4 to 8 Years)
By: Patrice Karst
A mother tells her two children they are connected by an “invisible string”.
The kids feel this is impossible and question “how can we be connected by an INVISIBLE string”?
They want to know more!
The hidden truth is inevitable: the invisible string is made of love.
Final Verdict: A top pick to help a child or adult cope with separation anxiety, loss, and grief. This story unfolds the everlasting bond between loved ones.
►► View Now: The Invisible String ◄◄
I Promise (Ages 4 to 8 Years)
By: LeBron James
NBA superstar and champion, Lebron James, is the mastermind behind this endearing story.
The book is inspired by Lebron’s foundation “I Promise” which motivates kids everywhere to never give up and to always strive for greatness!
Final Verdict: If you need a good read that adds fuel to your flame, this book will surely do the trick.
►► View Now: I Promise ◄◄
Strictly No Elephants (Ages 4 to 8 Years)
The local pet club will not take in a young boy’s small pet elephant.
The boy brushes it off by not taking “no” for an answer.
Instead, he comes up with a solution, one that involves ALL sorts of extraordinary animals.
Final Verdict: This story subtly tells you there is always a solution to a problem, but sometimes we have to think creatively to get there.
►► View Now: Strictly No Elephants ◄◄
The Giving Tree (Ages 4 to 8 Years)
The gift that keeps on giving is EXACTLY what this classic story portrays.
Written over fifty years ago, The Giving Tree offers the selfless perspective of what it is like to give and how to love in return.
Final Verdict: This is the perfect book to share the uplifting message about the meaning of giving back.
►► View Now: The Giving Tree ◄◄
Dear Girl, (Ages 4 to 8 Years)
By: Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Dear Girl, is a beautiful love letter written for the very special girl in your life.
The book reminds her she is loved, special, powerful, strong, and most importantly, nobody is like her.
Final Verdict: The story encourages self-love and to always be yourself no matter what.
►► View Now: Dear Girl, ◄◄
Moon! Earth’s Best Friend (Ages 4 to 8 Years)
A charming story about the unbreakable bond between the Moon and the Earth.
They are best friends!
The moon ALWAYS has Earth’s back no matter what and vise versa.
Their friendship lasts an eternity.
Final Verdict: A combination of kid-friendly facts and a precious storyline makes this book a top “teacher’s pick”.
►► View Now: Moon! Earth’s Best Friend ◄◄
The Office: A Day at Dunder Mifflin Elementary (Ages 4 to 8 Years)
By: Robb Pearlman
A kid-friendly spin to mirror the HIT show “The Office”.
Michael Scott is a line leader at Dunder Mifflin Elementary.
But there is one TINY problem…
Michael doesn’t know how to lead the line!
What can Michael do to help his peers and be the best line leader ever?
Final Verdict: This comical story shares an important life lesson, that we all need to ask for help sometimes and that is perfectly OK to do.
►► View Now: The Office: A Day at Dunder Mifflin Elementary ◄◄
Who Stole the Cookie From the Cookie Jar? (Ages 5 to 6 Years)
By: Margaret Wang
There is a cookie thief on the loose!
The story unfolds as you count the disappearing cookies on each page to find out who ate the cookie from the cookie jar?
Along the way, you are introduced to house pets like a dog, cat, guinea pig, fish, bunny, and other animals too like a duck, bird, and frog.
As the countdown begins, each animal you meet reveals why they did not take the cookie.
So who ate the cookie?
Final Verdict: A fantastic interactive book for toddlers to enhance their reading skills when it comes to learning new words and how to count.
►► View Now: Who Stole the Cookie From the Cookie Jar? ◄◄
What Do You Do With An Idea? (Ages 5 to 8 Years)
By: Kobi Yamada
A child brings an incredible idea into the world.
The idea grows bigger and stronger as the child gains courage.
A New York Times bestseller, this book inspires us to DREAM BIG and allow our ideas to flourish into something wonderful.
Final Verdict: For the dreamers, doers, and anyone who has ever had a BIG idea.
►► View Now: What Do You Do With An Idea? ◄◄
My Encyclopedia of Very Important Things (Ages 5 to 9 Years)
A great first encyclopedia to learn fun facts about the world, planet, people, and animals.
Explore the world through amazing graphics and colorful pages by going back in time.
The encyclopedia encompasses a school’s curriculum providing you engaging facts of history.
From dinosaurs to cavemen, to how our world works, the information is easily accessible.
Final Verdict: For the curious learners who want to learn everything about the world.
►► View Now: My Encyclopedia of Very Important Things ◄◄
How To Catch A Mermaid (Ages 4 to 10 Years)
By: Adam Wallace
A bestselling picture book, this story will challenge your imagination on HOW to catch a mermaid.
Especially one that is quick, clever, and smart!
So how in the world do you capture her?
Only you can find out!
Final Verdict: For the mermaid fans or those who enjoy underwater sea adventures.
►► View Now: How To Catch A Mermaid ◄◄
I want to wrap up by extending my gratitude to thank you for stopping by today!
If you have other children’s books to recommend, questions or anything to add that I did not cover in this post, please feel free to comment below.
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This is a brilliant listicle! If I were a new mother, this post would be invaluable. If you are gifting a book to a child for a birthday, Christmas or whatever, your comments include the appropriate ages for each book so that those of us with no kids can easily choose. Keep up the great work!
Thank you so much for the kind words! I love hearing the value someone receives from a post or video.
Misael H says
My mom will find a lot of great use in this article because she is currently trying to find some good children’s books for my little siblings who are five and nine. They are super hyper active and my mom needs to find ways to entertain them, they tend to not like books but hopefully with these options they actually stay calmer and pay attention
Lindsey Kovach says
Wonderful! Thanks so much for your input. I appreciate you sharing what you thought!
The timing for this article is so right for me. I’m a music teacher for kids, and I’m looking for a gift for one of my young student. The idea of an interactive story is wonderful. Maybe that’s why I’m thinking about buying The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The young lady is 3 right now. Or maybe I will choose The Snowy Day. Living in Canada, we surely know what snow is all about.
Lindsey Kovach says
I love to hear that! Thanks for taking the time to share.