The best children’s books can help young readers make sense of their world, allow them to explore the wonder of their imaginations, and build a lifelong love of reading. Whether you’re a teacher looking for a story to read aloud in class or a parent building your child’s library, consider adding the following children’s books to your collection.
1. Where the Wild Things Are
Written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak
When Max is sent to his room without supper for being a “wild thing,” he sets off on a wondrous journey through a forest of his fellow wild things. Where the Wild Things Are was the 1964 winner of the Caldecott Medal, awarded by the American Library Association to “the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.”
2. The Polar Express
Written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg
The magic of Christmas comes alive in this book about one boy’s trip to the North Pole aboard the Polar Express. This Christmas book was the 1986 Caldecott Award winner.
3. The Cat in the Hat
Written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss
Dr. Seuss is a master of children’s books, and The Cat in the Hat is just one of his many memorable creations. The Cat brings mischief and fun with rhyming wordplay that will draw in young readers.
4. Soul Looks Back in Wonder
Written by various authors
Illustrated by Tom Feelings
Poetry from legendary African-American authors like Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou combines with collages to create a moving work for all cultures. Soul Looks Back in Wonder was the 1994 illustrator winner of the Coretta Scott King Book Award from the America Library Association, intended to honor African-American authors and illustrators of inspirational and educational works.
5. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
Written and illustrated by Mo Willems
When the bus driver has to leave the bus, he asks the reader to help him out, saying, “Don’t let the pigeon drive the bus.” But the pigeon has other plans. Young readers will have fun responding to the pleading of the pigeon while learning how to stand up for themselves along the way. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! was a 2004 Caldecott Honor Book.
6. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
Written by Laura Joffe Numeroff
Illustrated by Felicia Bond
Adorable drawings combine with a lesson in cause and effect for one of the best children’s books. If you enjoy If You Give a Mouse a Cookie you can continue the animal adventures in a line of sequels including If You Give a Moose a Muffin and If You Give a Pig a Pancake.
7. Goodnight Moon
Written by Margaret Wise Brown
Illustrated by Clement Hurd
Goodnight Moon is a perfect toddler’s book for a bedtime story. As the main character says goodnight to his surroundings, so can your little one.
8. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Written by Judith Viorst
Illustrated by Ray Cruz
Alexander is having a horrible day, and he wishes he could just move to Australia to get away from his problems. We all have bad days, and this book can help kids see the humor in these situations.
Written and illustrated by Janell Cannon
When Stellaluna the bat is separated from her mother, she ends up living with a family of birds. In the end, Stellaluna and the birds learn a valuable lesson about acceptance and being true to yourself.
10. The Monster at the End of This Book
Written by Jon Stone
Illustrated by Michael Smollin
Sesame Street‘s Grover implores the reader not to turn the page because he’s heard there’s a monster at the end of the book. The fun of the story comes from Grover’s efforts to keep readers from turning the page and his increasing panic as the end of the book approaches. Can you guess who the monster at the end of the book really is?