Best Books for
Kids at Each Age

Here at Elephant Books we believe in children reading. That’s why we’ve assembled some of our favorite articles about books your kids will love in one place.

February 2021

Reading with your child has countless benefits. It is a great way to spend quality time together while helping your young reader learn and grow. Each age brings new milestones in a child’s literacy journey, so it can be difficult to discern which selections are best for your young reader’s age and most appropriate for their development. That’s why we’ve compiled book lists specifically catered to each age.

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Best Books for 2 Year Olds

Ten Little Dinosaurs
Mike Brownlow

Join ten little dinosaurs on an adventure. Find out what happens when they meet a grumpy triceratops, a storming diplodocus, and a very, very hungry T-Rex. Learn to count to ten and back with this action-packed board book.

This book is great to help introduce and learn numbers. Not only does it feature a traditional counting rhyme, but it also holds a storyline and an unforgettable journey. The adorable illustrations and all the action are sure to get your child roped into this amazing board book. Published by Waterstone, this book is perfect for reading together with your little one.

John J. Reiss

Learn the colors of the rainbow with illustrations that jump off the page. From red lobsters and yellow baby chicks to brown puppy-dog tails, this book is filled with opportunities to learn and explore. This board book is perfect for two-year olds who are just starting to learn their colors.

We like this book because it introduces color by using common, everyday objects. Children learn much more easily when they can relate new information to things that they already know. So, learning about the color yellow through objects they already know about, like bananas or baby chickens, will help this information stick a little easier.

Sandra J. Howatt

The sun is set, and all the sleepyheads are tucked in and ready for bed. Rabbit is snoring away in the grass, Duck is snuggled up in the reeds, and Bear is snug in his cave. But there is one little animal who is not in his bed. Where could he be?

Sleepyheads is a great soothing, sleepy story. Its illustrations are so sweet and use calming colors and sleepy little animals to signal that it’s time for bed. The rhyming pattern is also very clever and introduces some new and unique vocabulary to your child. This is the perfect book to snuggle up with before you head to bed.

Under the Sea
Little Hippo Books

Welcome to the ocean! Discover lots of fun and friendly sea creatures in this tactile book. Find out if they are scaly, squidgy, bobbly, or stretchy through though-and-feel elements.

We selected this book because it is highly interactive. All of the different textures and patterns and colors will help young toddlers learn more about the world around them. Being able to interact with the book will give them a sense of independence and freedom that young children often crave.

What’s Up, Tiger? Food

What are all these silly animals up to? Use the pictures to figure out and then lift the flap to see if you are right! You might just catch a tiger cooking up something special.

We love this book because it is so interactive and fun. It is structured as a guessing game, which makes it so engaging. It also is amazing for building skills like making predictions, drawing on prior knowledge, and using your imagination. This is a perfect read for anyone looking for a playful book.

Check out our complete list of the best books for two-year-olds here. 

Best Books for 3 Year Olds

Three year olds are curious about everything! These books are the perfect choices to help answer your child’s questions, foster their unique interests, and keep them entertained. Below are some of our favorites.

Katie Wilson

Journey around the world as you flip through the pages of this book about famous destinations. Landmarks will take you across the globe through approachable and childlike illustrations of important places. Discover The Sydney Opera House, The Eiffel Tower, The Colosseum, and The Statue of Liberty, and more! 

Landmarks is an Elephant Books pick found in our subscription packages. This wonderful Montessori-style book is a great choice for your three-year-old. We love Landmarks because it introduces your child to the world around them through beautiful illustrations and encourages a hands-on learning experience.

Catching Kisses
Amy Gibson

As the seeds of a dandelion blow through the wind, they carry kisses that travel all across the country. The graphic-style illustrations in this story show us the many places a kiss you blow can travel— from New York City to Washington D.C. to New Orleans— and the many people who can catch it. 

Another Elephant Books choice, Catching Kisses teaches your three-year-old about different locations in the United States. The colorful illustrations and simple prose will help them conceptualize big ideas about caring for someone who might live far away. This book reinforces the importance of affection, which plays a big role in teaching young ones how to treat those around them. The story also introduces a lesson about people, places, and things we cannot see, but we know are still there.

The Gruffalo
Julia Donaldson

A clever mouse makes his way through the deep dark woods, and meets three not-so-friendly creatures along the way. The fox, the owl, and the snake are all interested in having the mouse for dinner, but the mouse uses his imagination to think up the scariest creature of them all: the Gruffalo! Little does the mouse know that the big, scary Gruffalo exists outside of his imagination, too. 

This classic story is a fantastic read-aloud option for younger readers. The first in a collection of stories following the fantastical Gruffalo character, this book teaches kids that, even for an imaginative mouse, things aren’t always as they seem. The rhyme and rhythm of this storyline, along with its bright, colorful pictures keep children engaged and encourage them to use their own imaginations.

What Do You Do With a Tail Like This?
Steve Jenkins, Robin Page

Discover all kinds of animals with all different jobs in this book about how creatures use their bodies to look for food, keep warm, and stay safe. The colorful illustrations and textures on each page of the book help kids understand what is unique about different types of animals. 

This science-oriented picture book makes for a memorable introduction to the animal kingdom. It presents facts in a question-and-answer style. The engaging pictures and leading text create a responsive reading experience. Full of predictive pictures and clues, this story helps little ones hypothesize about animals. This story will challenge your child to think about why things are the way they are and will keep them entertained all the while.

Where’s the Pair?
Britta Teckentrup

Where’s The Pair? is a charming activity book full of witty riddles. It is the perfect book for pre-readers, as it challenges them to find matching animal pairs using the read-aloud rhyming clues. 

This “spotting book” is a helpful story for keeping young readers interested. Not only is it full of charming rhythmic poetry, but it gives the reader a task on each set of pages. With this book, three-year-olds can practice their memorization skills and identify what makes each animal unique. The charming and colorful illustrations in Where’s The Pair? can be enjoyed by kids and parents alike.

Find the rest of our picks of the best books for three-year-olds here.

Best Books for 4 Year Olds

When your child is four, they will begin to understand and recount plots, recognize rhymes, and become more involved little readers. Our list is awesome for helping your four-year-old navigate their emotions, learn important lessons, and get excited about reading. These stories will inspire your child to think imaginatively and love learning.

How Do Dinosaurs Learn to Read?
Jane Yolen

How do dinosaurs learn to read? Not by throwing their books or soaking them in the bathtub! This lively read is all about the dos and don’ts of storytime. 

This short book is a great read-along option for four-year-olds, due to its rhyming text and engaging pictures. It not only helps kids with sounding out words, but it also provides a lesson in behavioral approaches to reading. Though reading can seem daunting for children, this book teaches kids to remain enthusiastic and read often.

Green on Green
Dianne White

Green on Green is an enchanting story about the wonder of seasons. It carries us through the different times of year through the eyes of a child whose mother is expecting a baby. Summer, fall, and winter bring us through the changing world to an important milestone in the child’s life.

The quiet but lovely illustrations of the countryside in this story provide a wonderful message about the seasons and rebirth. The poetic text creates a magical sense of anticipation that leads up to the colorful changes for the earth and for this family. This is a great pick for a four-year-old who is expecting a new sibling, and an informative depiction of the change in seasons— both in relationships and in the world.

Yours Sincerely, Giraffe
Megumi Iwasa

A lonely Giraffe from Africa writes a letter and sends it as far as it can go. It reaches a pen-pal Penguin, and Giraffe learns a thing or two about what it is like in other places. He finds an unlikely friendship in Penguin, and asks plenty of questions along the way.

The first in a series of two chapter books, this internationally bestselling book is perfect for young readers. This book’s sweet illustrations and read-aloud quality make it perfect for familiarizing children to stories in installments. It introduces the concept of having a penpal and everything that comes with it, including making silly assumptions, asking questions, and making friends.

Who Wants a Tortoise?
David Keane

A little girl wants a cuddly puppy for her birthday, but she is a little disappointed when she receives the furthest thing from a cuddly pet: a tortoise! How can she possibly play with a slow-moving reptile? She soon finds out that there is plenty to do with this new friend. 

This is a great story about finding joy in unexpected places. This book has a strong-willed main character that many four-year-olds will relate to, and her unlikely friendship with a less-than-cuddly pet provides insight on how to treat all different different kinds of pets. It teaches us that, even if our pets aren’t fluffy and energetic, we can and grow to love them more than we ever imagined.

The Unbudgeable Curmudgeon
Matthew Burgess

Some days we face terrible, annoying, awful, and— most of all—  unbudgeable curmudgeons! How do you get rid of an unbudgeable curmudgeon? Well, there are plenty of tactics to try. Kids will learn how to diffuse frustration, make a great day, and budge their own curmudgeons in this playful story. 

The whimsical illustrations in this story, depicting a big bad curmudgeon, create an imaginative narrative that will help your four-year-old sort through their frustrated feelings. A great reminder that we all get stuck in grumpy moods, this book provides helpful tips for moving beyond a rut. The silly and creative rhymes in this book will create a memorable read-aloud experience  that can help your child understand their complex feelings in a fun way.

Check out the entire list of the best books for four-year-olds here.

Best Books for 5 Year Olds

Age five is when your child will gain a new independence on their reading journey. These books will encourage your five-year-old to start reading on their own, challenge them to use their imaginations, and introduce them to timeless narratives. These picks from our list are perfect for any kindergartener.

Big Red Lollipop
Rukhsana Khan

Rubina is invited to her very first birthday party, but her little sister, Sana, wants to come too. Rubina’s mom, Ami, insists that Rubina bring Sana along, but once they arrive, Sana seems to dominate the atmosphere and even takes Rubina’s party favor, her prized red lollipop. What is a big sister to do? 

This book presents a predicament familiar to plenty of five-year-olds with little siblings. It teaches a valuable lesson about feelings of frustration, navigating relationships with younger siblings, treating parents with respect, and sharing. The attention to detail in each illustration displays the emotions of the characters perfectly and allows the message of understanding that the text imparts to shine even brighter.

Teddy & Co.
Cynthia Voight

Teddy lives in a charming little community with all sorts of other misfit toys, including a snake who loves to eat, an elephant who enjoys baking, two silly pigs, and a solitary penguin. When a new bunch of toys with big aspirations arrive, the dynamic of the community might change more than Teddy and his friends expected. 

This delightful chapter book about a thoughtful bear is an awesome story for five-year-olds. The calm, sweet narrative teaches an important lesson about relationships, compromise, and treating others with kindness. Lovely illustrations add a fun touch and an adorable quality to the reading experience. 

David McPhail

Jump! Animals and kids love to soar through the air. Identify different characters who love to leap as you work your way through simple sentences describing how and why they do it. 

Jump  is an award-winning beginner-level book that’s perfect for five-year-olds.  This educational pick is a wonderful option for young independent readers. The charming watercolor illustrations will help little readers sort through the corresponding statements to draw conclusions, and the fun characters will provide plenty of entertainment along the way.

Hello Lighthouse
Sophie Blackall

Take a journey to the seaside and watch as the seasons come and go in this beautifully illustrated story. A family tends a lighthouse as time passes, and their duties evolve as the days pass on. The quiet and gentle mood of this narrative will draw you and your five-year-old in.

We love Hello Lighthouse for its expressive and poetic text. The gorgeous complementary illustrations craft a story all about the sights and sounds of the sea. This is a calming and soft story that will teach your child about the functions of a lighthouse and make the best addition to their little library.

Don Freeman

This story of a sweet bear with a missing button is a treasured picture book classic. Follow along as Corduroy navigates an empty department store all by himself, encountering lots of surprises along the way. 

We love Corduroy for its classic illustrations and imaginative plot. A wonderful story about perseverance and adventure, this book is beloved by many. This is an easy reading choice for four-year-olds because it teaches them all about friendship and setting their minds to a goal— and it’s a great pick for nostalgic parents, too.

Visit our page with the complete list of the best books for five-year-olds.

Best Books For Six Year Olds

At age 6, kids begin to read independently with confidence. They can retell stories with and even begin to write and read back their own imagined stories. Our list includes the best books for six-year-olds, including chapter books, books for reluctant readers, and books for independent reading. 

Alyssa Satin Capucilli

Biscuit the golden retriever loves to bark, play, snack, and give kisses. However, this lovable pup does not want to go to bed! This story takes a young reader through sweet little Biscuit’s nighttime routine, which includes just about everything but going to bed! Will Biscuit ever get to sleep? 

We love this “My First I Can Read” book for its repetitive text that helps young readers catch on to its plot. This story full of fun and familiar sounds is an adorable choice for independent six-year-old readers.

The Book With No Pictures 
B.J. Novak

This book has no pictures. What could be fun about that? Turns out, words have more power than you might think! 

This book is a great pick for six-year-olds who don’t like to read because of its innovative style. Written to draw the reader in with its intriguing title, cover, and contents, this book’s message is that you don’t need pictures to have a wonderful storytime. The Book With No Pictures turns the idea of picture books on its head and encourages kids to find joy in unexpected places. 

Ramona the Brave
Beverly Cleary 

Ramona is growing up, and that means she’s becoming more independent. It also means she gets her very own room! With all this independence, things can be scary. Follow along as Romona confronts classmates, faces the intimidating neighborhood dog, and overcomes whatever might be lurking under her bed. 

This classic chapter book is the third in Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series. It is a good choice for six-year-olds with older and younger siblings, who are starting school, and who have a lot on their plate. This relatable story is perfect to be read aloud, and teaches an important lesson about bravery and facing fears.

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
 Mo Willems 

The bus driver is tired and needs a break, but you’ll never suspect who volunteers to take his place. This pigeon is persistent, but he’s not equipped to drive the city bus! Or is he? 

This lively story is a wonderful picture book for six-year-olds. Its interactive nature will engage young readers and the cartoon-style drawings are exciting and fresh. The innovative conversational approach Mo Willems employs in his silly narrative makes this book a great addition to any collection.

The Gingerbread Man
Jim Aylesworth

Run, run as fast as you can! You can’t catch him, he’s the gingerbread man! This spirited little guy is freshly baked and ready for an adventure. As soon as he comes out of the oven, he’s out the door. 

This fairytale is brought to life by Jim Aylesworth in The Gingerbread Man. Gorgeous, detailed illustrations chronicle this cookie’s journey across town. Rhyming refrains and whimsical poetic text tie the tale together. A nostalgic choice for kids and parents alike, this pick will put a smile on your six-year-old.

Check out the complete list of the best books for six-year-olds here.


For more book ideas for babies, toddlers, and young kids check out Elephant Books for additional information about the gift everyone feels good about!

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