In Depth Baby Product Reviews Led by a Pediatrician

The 4 Best Children's Books

Our list of favorite children's books includes classics, lesser-known books, and rhyming tales that are worthy of joining your child's library
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Best Children's Books Review
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Our Top Picks

By Molly Bradac ⋅ Senior Review Editor
Wednesday May 22, 2024

Looking for awesome children's books? We've compiled a list of 11 of our favorite children's books that are exciting and worthy of a spot on your child's bookshelf. To ensure that our recommendations stand out, we did a deep dive into the market before purchasing well-loved and popular options for hands-on testing. Whether you're building your child's library or looking for a single gem, we've got you covered. Our testing method involved lots and lots of reading with kids to see which ones truly grabbed their attention. We also looked at interactive features and book format. It's safe to say we left no page unturned. Let our recommendations guide you to the perfect book to help build your child's library.

Reading is an excellent way to connect with your child. If you're looking for more book treasures, we've also reviewed books suitable for toddlers and kids. From board books to chapter books and everything else in between, our reviews aim to help.

Editor's Note: We updated this review on May 22, 2024. We added new books to the list and checked product pricing and availability.


The Best Children's Books


Overall Best Book


Room on the Broom


Interactive: No | Author: Julia Donaldson
REASONS TO BUY
Rhyming text
REASONS TO AVOID
Pint-size board book

Room on the Broom is an all-star in our review. This story follows a friendly witch and her black cat on a broomstick ride. As gusty winds blow away the witch's hat, bow, and wand, get ready for a series of delightful encounters. You'll have to read the book to see what happens next, but we promise the ending has an entertaining twist. The rhyming style of this book adds a playful rhythm, making it a fun read-aloud. You may find your toddler memorizing the lines to “read” along.

This board book is small in size, which is fitting for little hands to hold, but if you plan to read this book with multiple children, passing it around might be necessary for everyone to enjoy the illustrations. Despite this minor consideration, there are no significant drawbacks to this book. We highly recommend this book to friends and family. In fact, you can't go wrong with any book by Julia Donaldson, and if you enjoy this book, check out The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo's Child.

childrens books - room on the broom is one of our favorite books for its catchy...
Room on the Broom is one of our favorite books for its catchy, rhyming lines, and fun story.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Best Book about Self-Care


The Good Egg


Interactive: No | Author: Jory John
REASONS TO BUY
Humor
Positive message
REASONS TO AVOID
Best for an older child

The Good Egg blends humor and a valuable life lesson. In this story, The Good Egg, a standout among a dozen not-so-good eggs, faces pressure and decides to break free from the carton and the stress that comes with it. Adding a layer of suspense, will The Good Egg ever return? We think this book is cleverly written, and the humor is funny for children and adults alike. We also appreciate this story's message about self-care, and even adults can take note.

Picture books are generally longer than board books and include more complex storytelling. While this book is longer, we think children with shorter attention spans will still follow and understand the story. Plus, the illustrations are captivating. After all the books we've read, we think The Good Egg is a hit and highly recommend it. If you like the author's style and storytelling, check out other Jory John books, such as The Cool Bean and The Bad Seed.

childrens books - the good egg provides fun illustrations and humor to teach about...
The Good Egg provides fun illustrations and humor to teach about self-care.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Best Bang for the Buck


Are You My Mother?


Interactive: No | Author: P.D. Eastman
REASONS TO BUY
Timeless classic
Repetitive structure aids language development
REASONS TO AVOID
Simplicity may not appeal to everyone
Lacks modern humor

Published in 1960, Are You My Mother? is a beloved classic. When the baby bird emerges from its egg, it discovers its mother is gone. With no idea what she looks like, the baby bird bravely leaves to find her. Will it find its real mother? This book's simple and repetitive structure makes it perfect for young children. It's easy for them to follow along.

The book's simplicity, including its illustrations, may not wow everyone. It also doesn't feature modern humor in the same sense as contemporary children's books might, like The Good Egg. However, despite its age, this book still holds up. Its themes are timeless, making it a great addition to any kid's bookshelf. If you like this book, Go, Dog, Go! is a short read that is sure to entertain young audiences.

childrens books - "are you my mother?" is a classic and timeless book with a simple...
"Are You My Mother?" is a classic and timeless book with a simple storyline, making it great for young listeners and early readers.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Our Favorite “Power to Choose” Book


What Should Danny Do?


Interactive: Yes | Author: Ganit & Adir Levy
REASONS TO BUY
Teaches decision-making skills
Choose-your-adventure adds excitement
REASONS TO AVOID
Longer story

In What Should Danny Do?, Danny is learning to become a superhero by mastering the “power to choose.” Throughout the book, Danny encounters various situations. He must make decisions, and the consequences of those decisions shape the story's outcome. Since readers actively participate by making choices for Danny, you control the story's direction.

The book can feel lengthy, posing a possible challenge for younger or less patient readers. Remember, though, you don't have to read all nine possible endings in one sitting. Overall, we think this book is most suitable for older children who may better understand the concept of decision-making and enjoy the choose-your-adventure style.

childrens books - "what should danny do?" is a choose your adventure style book, an...
"What Should Danny Do?" is a choose your adventure style book, an interactive feature that children enjoy.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Best for Humor


Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!


Interactive: No | Author: Mo Willems
REASONS TO BUY
Memorable character
REASONS TO AVOID
No rhyming text

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! is a popular children's book that stars a mischievous pigeon on a quest to get behind the wheel. It's a fun book that left us giggling. But, seriously, will the pigeon actually drive the bus? You'll have to read it to find out.

While it doesn't rhyme, this book is packed with humor. If you're all about rhyming, you may want to look elsewhere. Besides that, we think this book is fantastic and recommend it to friends and family looking for humor. Also, maybe early readers would like to try reading it.

childrens books - in the book "don't let the pigeon drive the bus!" the pigeon is...
In the book “Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!” the pigeon is determined and spunky, making it a great book to read-aloud.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Book for Determination


Stuck


Interactive: No | Author: Oliver Jeffers
REASONS TO BUY
Funny
REASONS TO AVOID
Font

"It all began when Floyd got his kite stuck in a tree…" This picture book Stuck is well-loved for its illustrations and comical storyline about Floyd's determination to problem-solve. Also, don't miss the last picture of the book. It will make you smile.

The book's font has a handwritten style which can be slightly challenging to read. Besides this factor, we think this book is a hit. If you're looking for a funny picture book, Stuck is a must-read.

childrens books - the book "stuck" has some cartoon illustrations that are lively and...
The book “Stuck” has some cartoon illustrations that are lively and funny.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Best Timeless Mouse Book


If You Give a Mouse a Cookie


Interactive: Yes | Author: Laura Numeroff
REASONS TO BUY
Includes a game
REASONS TO AVOID
Repetitive structure could become tiresome

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is a silly story about cause and effect. From craving milk to needing a straw and beyond, the mouse's quirky requests lead to some funny moments. Ultimately the mouse circles back to… you guessed it, another cookie! The story will keep you smiling throughout. Flip to the book's last page for a fun activity called “The Great Cookie Game,” which is interactive and reinforces reading comprehension.

After multiple readings, this story's repetitive structure might lose some of its initial novelty. However, everyone's preferences vary. We think this children's book is a throwback and deserves a spot on your family's bookshelf.

childrens books - if you give a mouse a cookie is a funny book about a mouse that...
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is a funny book about a mouse that keeps making requests.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Best Book about Feeling Emotions


Grumpy Monkey


Interactive: No | Author: Suzanne Lang
REASONS TO BUY
Validate emotions
REASONS TO AVOID
No rhyming words

Grumpy Monkey is a tale about grumpiness starring Jim Panzee (what a name, right?), a character who knows a thing or two about it. His friends try to improve Jim's attitude, but nothing seems to work. Eventually, Jim explodes with emotions, teaching us that sometimes feeling grumpy is okay.

The illustrations are expressive, and the book's humor centers around Jim's grumpy demeanor. This may not resonate with every reader. But this book is a great conversation starter for talking about emotions and body language. We've all had those grumpy monkey days, right? We think this book is most suitable for kids aged three and up.

childrens books - the grumpy monkey sparks the conversation of emotions and emotional...
The Grumpy Monkey sparks the conversation of emotions and emotional acceptance.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Best Book with No Pictures


The Book with No Pictures


Interactive: Yes | Author: B.J. Novak
REASONS TO BUY
Silly
Unique
REASONS TO AVOID
Lack of illustrations may deter some children
May take a few reads to fully appreciate

No pictures? No problem! The Book with No Pictures will indeed cause a fit of giggles. This interactive book requires the reader to say silly words and outrageous things. If you find yourself in the reader's hot seat, be prepared to act goofy, be expressive, and give it your best effort.

Despite the lack of illustrations, we think this book is genius, creative, and fun for all. However, your little one may first judge this book by its cover. It also might take a few reads to really get the hang of it. But trust us, this book is entertaining.

childrens books - can you have fun with a picture-less book? the answer is "yes!", but...
Can you have fun with a picture-less book? The answer is “Yes!”, but the real effort is on the reader who must say silly, nonsense words and phrases.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Good Classic Book


Love You Forever


Interactive: No | Author: Robert Munsch
REASONS TO BUY
Parent and child relationship
REASONS TO AVOID
Story slightly odd

"I'll love you forever. I'll like you for always. As long as I'm living, my baby, you'll be!" Grab the tissues because Love You Forever is sure to make you teary-eyed. This beloved story is loved by many and shares the message that no matter your child's age, you'll love them forever.

Sure, we think parts of the story can be silly and odd - like the mom rocking her adult son to sleep. However, it conveys a comforting message that parents will always be there for love and support, no matter their age. If you're looking for a touching story to share with your child, check this book out.

childrens books - love you forever is a classic book that encompasses a parents' love...
Love You Forever is a classic book that encompasses a parents' love and how it crosses generations.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Not Recommended Book


The Wonky Donkey


Interactive: No | Author: Craig Smith
REASONS TO BUY
Silly wordplay
REASONS TO AVOID
Humor may not resonate with all readers

The Wonky Donkey is a quirky and silly book about a donkey. Readers learn more details about the donkey as the story unfolds with playful wordplay and illustrations.

We understand why this book is popular. The silly, tongue-twister rhymes are a selling point and are funny-sounding when you read them aloud. However, we feel the content isn't inclusive. The donkey's differences are being ridiculed, and we think the message reinforces bullying behaviors and name-calling. We believe words are powerful, and promoting inclusiveness and love begins at an early age. Therefore, we think you should pass on this book as there are other books that celebrate diversity and individuality without alienating anyone.

childrens books - the wonky donkey is not a book we recommend, especially as there are...
The Wonky Donkey is not a book we recommend, especially as there are better options.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Have Fun
Have fun! Get lost in a story with humor and expression; this will show your child that reading can be enjoyable.

childrens books - each book in our review was purchased and tested to see how it...
Each book in our review was purchased and tested to see how it performs and stands against the competition.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Why Trust GearLab


At BabyGearLab, we have been testing baby gear for nearly a decade, and by this point, we have developed extensive testing methods to rate and rank baby gear. BabyGearLab purchased each children's book for this review and completed hands-on testing to evaluate performance. We previewed books before reading to little ones and spent time reading and observing children reading the books to determine the best and most entertaining options for children.

Leading our review is Senior Review Editor, Molly Bradac, who is also a Nanny with over 15 years of experience. Molly has read countless children's books and can quickly identify unique, stand-out books. Also, Molly was an Early Learning Specialist for AmeriCorps, where she helped develop curriculum plans and promoted school readiness by teaching in preschool and kindergarten classrooms. There is no doubt that Molly has the experience to help provide expert recommendations for children's books.

We suggest creating a reading space that is inviting and comfortable.
We suggest creating a reading space that is inviting and comfortable.

Analysis and Test Results


Endless reading and page-turning went into our review to determine which books offer appealing features and which are bookshelf must-haves.

childrens books - it can be helpful to find a book to speaks to your child's age and...
It can be helpful to find a book to speaks to your child's age and stage in development.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Developmental Milestones


Children dramatically change within the preschool years (roughly ages 3-5), and it can be helpful to find books that support various developmental milestones during this time. During this age range, emotions can be a roller coaster, and your child may experience a wide range of feelings. Sometimes, we wake up on the wrong side of the bed, and the Grumpy Monkey is a great book to remind us that it is important to feel our feelings. If your child enjoys rhymes and repetitiveness, Room on the Broom is the perfect book with catchy lines to recite. To help your little one practice their “power to choose” (a superhero ability), What Should Danny Do? is an excellent book that teaches that each choice has a positive or negative consequence. For children who seek humor and laughter, The Book With No Pictures fits this bill perfectly (as long as the reader is willing to be silly), and Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and Stuck. Regardless of your child's age and stage, reading is beneficial, but it can also help to find a book that speaks to your little one's developmental milestones.

childrens books - it can be helpful to find a book to speaks to your child's age and...
It can be helpful to find a book to speaks to your child's age and stage in development.
Credit: Abriah Wofford


Interactive Features


From beloved classics to new favorites, our review includes children's books with diverse styles and themes. We noticed that those with memorable writing styles, catchy rhymes, or phrases can easily become favorites. We consider Room on the Broom to be an example of this. Others stand out for their interactive features, adding extra excitement to storytime. What Should Danny Do? empowers young readers with the power of choice. Through a choose-your-adventure structure, readers can shape the story's outcome by making decisions for Danny. The Book With No Pictures offers an unconventional approach through sheer silliness. These books can spice up your little one's library and make reading memorable.

childrens books - each book is available in various book formats, such as board books...
Each book is available in various book formats, such as board books, hardcover, and paperback, and it will be up to you to choose the format that works best for your needs and goals.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Book Format


When it comes to selecting the right book format for your child, there are several factors to consider, including budget, needs, and bookshelf space. The three most common formats are board, hardcover, and paperback books. A hardcover book can provide more durability than a paperback book. So, selecting a hardcover book is the way to go if you plan to pass down a book as an heirloom. Paperback books tend to be more cost-effective and less heavy but more susceptible to damage. Board books still appear in this age group and offer thick, sturdy pages with excellent durability. However, board books tend to be smaller in size. It will be up to you to select the right book format based on your intentions.

childrens books - reading to your child every day, even 20 minutes,  holds endless...
Reading to your child every day, even 20 minutes, holds endless benefits.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

A Note on Child Development and Reading


Reading is fundamental in nurturing all aspects of a child's development, including cognitive, language, motor, and more. This lays the foundation for future learning, creativity, and success. We suggest selecting books that expose your child to new ideas, concepts, vocabulary, and more. Through reading, children learn to recognize patterns, make connections, and develop critical thinking skills as they engage in the literature. Encourage active participation by asking questions, discussing the story's events, and letting them turn the pages. These interactive moments foster your child's emerging literacy skills.

Younger Kids?
If you need book ideas for older children, check out our Best Kids Books review.

childrens books - fill your child's library with a variety of books.
Fill your child's library with a variety of books.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Conclusion


Fostering a confident reader starts with you! As your child's first teacher, reading together daily (even 20 minutes) can significantly impact your child's development. Research shows that this bonding time holds several benefits. So, pick up a book, snuggle up, and approach reading enthusiastically. Your child will notice! Let our review help guide you to the perfect children's book for your family.

Molly Bradac