Check out the best 11 children's books available today that are quality literature and bookshelf-worthy. To determine the best, we've researched the market before purchasing well-loved and most popular options to send through hands-on testing (a.k.a, lots and lots of reading). We evaluated each book for elements that support developmental milestones in this age range, interactive features, book format, and much more. Let our recommendations guide you to the perfect book and help build a solid home library for your child.
Our Top Picks
Room on the Broom is hands-down a winner. This spellbinding story of a friendly witch and her black cat on a magical broomstick ride is entertaining for younger audiences. Gusty winds blow away the witch's hat, bow, and wand, and each time she flies to the ground to search, she meets a new friend who joins the broomstick ride. Eventually, the added weight snaps the broom (eek!), causing everyone to fall to the ground where a dragon awaits. Read the book to see what happens next. This book offers poetry in a rhyming style. It is a delight to read, and it catches the attention of young and old listeners. The story also provides repetitive elements, and you may find your toddler memorizing the lines to "read" along. You can never go wrong reading any book by Julia Donaldson, and we suggest checking out The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo's Child.
As a board book, it is more pint-size, which is fitting for little hands to hold. But, if you're planning to read this book with multiple children, you'll likely need to pass it around so everyone can see the pages. Beyond that, we cannot find any drawbacks to this book. We highly recommend this book to friends and family and think it's a must-have book.
"Oh, hello! I was just rescuing this cat. Know why? Because I'm a good egg. A verrrrrry good egg." The Good Egg is a delightful story about the good egg living in an egg carton with 11 other not-so-good eggs, which create trouble. Eventually, the good egg cracks under pressure and decides to leave the carton and stress behind. See if the good egg returns. We think this book is simply adorable, and the humor is funny for children and adults alike. Also, we appreciate this story's message about self-care, and even adults can take a note from it. If you like this book, check out other Jory John books, such as The Cool Bean and The Bad Seed
This book is a hit and does not have any significant downsides. We highly recommend this book and think the humor is egg-cellent.
Are You My Mother? is a classic and still a favorite years later (fun fact, it was published in 1960). It's an oldie but a goodie and budget-friendly. This sweet story is about a baby bird who hatches from its egg while its mother is away, looking for food. Although he has no idea what his mother looks like, he leaves the nest to search. However, he finds himself in peculiar positions. Will the baby bird find his true mother? We think you'll enjoy the ending. The plot is simple and offers repetitive elements that appeal to young listeners and beginner readers. If you like this book, we think you will also enjoy Go, Dog, Go!
We think the illustrations are minimalistic but charming. We recommend this classic, budget-friendly book to families with children within the 3-5 age range.
Danny is a superhero in training, learning, and exercising the "power to choose." What Should Danny Do? is an innovative and powerful book that drives home the important lesson that our decisions have positive and negative consequences, and each one can reshape our day. We appreciate that this book teaches children the power of their choices, and as an interactive book, it allows children to make choices for Danny and how he reacts.
This book is longer, and there are nine possible endings. We believe this story is most suitable for older children, perhaps from 4 years old and up.
We love any book by Mo Willems, and we think Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! is a great read-aloud. It is comical and fun, and we are sure it will leave you and your child laughing. But, seriously, will the pigeon drive the bus? You'll have to find out.
Despite being funny, this picture book does not offer rhyming text, and 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 your early reader would like to try reading it.
"It all began when Floyd got his kite stuck in a tree…" The picture book Stuck is well-loved for its illustrations and comical storyline about Floyd's determination to problem-solve. Also, the last picture of the book 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. So, if you're looking for a funny picture book about a boy who is determined to problem-solve, consider Stuck.
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is a silly book about cause and effect. So, what happens when you give a mouse a cookie? Well, the mouse will be thirsty and request milk. After that, he will need a straw. However, the cycle of requests does not stop there; eventually, the mouse will return to a glass of milk and another cookie.
The story does not offer rhyming lines, but we don't mind. The book's last page provides a game called "The Great Cookie Game," which is fun to play and reinforces reading comprehension. We recommend this timeless book to any child within this age range.
Grumpy Monkey offers excellent illustrations and a tale about grumpiness. Jim Panzee (what a brilliant name) is in a terrible mood for no apparent reason. His friends have a few ideas on how to improve Jim's attitude, but nothing works, and Jim finally explodes with emotions. Perhaps it is a good day to feel grumpy.
This book is a great conversation starter to name and validate emotions and body language. Let's face it, sometimes we all feel like a grumpy monkey, which is okay; the feeling will pass. It does not use rhyming words, which would have been a fun addition, but the story has a dash of humor. The illustrations are expressive and comical. We think this book is suitable for a 3-year-old and up.
No pictures? No problem. The Book with No Pictures will indeed cause a fit of giggles. This interactive book requires the reader to say unusual words and nonsense phrases and perform 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. Also, it may take a few reads to get the hang of it. But this book is entertaining, and we recommend it to older children.
"I'll love you forever. I'll like you for always. As long as I'm living, my baby, you'll be!" Ok, grab the tissues; Love You Forever is likely to make you teary-eyed. This sentimental 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. For instance, the mom driving to rock her adult son to sleep is rather silly. However, the takeaway theme is the concept that parents will always be there to comfort, regardless of age, because they will always be your baby.
The Wonky Donkey is a quirky and silly book about a donkey, and as the story unfolds with silly wordplay and pictures, you learn more details about the donkey.
We understand why this book is popular. The silly, tongue-twister rhymes are a selling point of this book, and they are funny-sounding when you read them aloud. However, we feel the content isn't inclusive. The donkey is being ridiculed for its differences, and we think the message reinforces bullying behaviors and name-calling. Words are powerful. Since we believe inclusiveness, compassion, and love start early through actions and words, we think you should pass on this book. In our opinion, there are better rhyming books on the market that do not alienate people or animals for the things that make them individuals. If you are looking for a book about the inclusiveness of differently-abled individuals, perhaps for an older child, check out We're All Wonders. Based on the true story of Auggie Pullman, this book explores why being different isn't a bad thing.
Have fun! Get lost in a story with humor and expression; this will show your child that reading can be enjoyable.
Why You Should Trust Us
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.
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 over the years and can quickly identify which books are top-notch. 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.
BabyGearLab purchased each children's book at retail price for this review and completed hands-on testing to evaluate performance.
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.
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, the Room on the Broom is the perfect book with catchy lines to recite. To help your little one practice their "power to choose" (a super-hero 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.
You may have noticed that some books offer interactive features, slightly unorthodox from traditional books, yet full of fun. A few books in our review offer this style, such as What Should Danny Do? and The Book With No Pictures. Books with interactive features can add sugar and spice to your little one's library.
Board books, hardcover books, and paperback books, oh my! Yes, there are many options, and the book format you choose may depend on your budget, needs, and bookshelf space. 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 they are 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 what book format feels right based on your intentions.
Benefits of Reading
A child's brain experiences significant development within the first five years. Establishing a solid foundation of skills is essential to support and enhance your child's overall development. Reading to your child plays a crucial part in this journey, and it is never too early to start reading to your child. Before your child can read, they must learn pre-literacy skills. Therefore, we encourage you to establish the habit of reading early and take the time to identify pictures, letters, and numbers. Ask your child questions, discuss what's happening in the book, and allow them to turn pages. These acts of involvement will help your child build those emerging literary skills.
Growing a lifelong reader starts with you; you are your child's first teacher, and reading daily (even 20 minutes) is a small investment that significantly impacts your child's development. Plus, science reveals that the bonding experience holds benefits. Therefore, be a role model, pick up a book, approach reading enthusiastically, and, most importantly, have fun. Your child will notice. Let our lineup of favorite children's books help guide you to the perfect book for your child's library.
— Molly Bradac
Honest, objective reviews. Led by a Pediatrician.
BabyGearLab was founded by a Pediatrician Mom with a mission to provide a reliable, independent, source of information to new parents. Our experts have tested thousands of baby and kids products to share key performance, health, and safety findings. We spend tens of thousands of dollars crash testing car seats to inform our ratings. And, we combine our review work with gobs of expert parenting advice. To assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing by people who care.Learn More