35 Must-Read Children’s Books for Back to School

Today is National Book Lovers Day! Do you know a kiddo who loves books? Or a kiddo who doesn’t love books, but you think they just haven’t found the right ones?

It’s important to read with young children (see here and here). Most of our staff members are parents, so we know first-hand how frustrating it can be to find a new book to read with your kids that will be engaging while still providing valuable literacy, SEL and life lessons. Inspired by the amazing children’s books in our own home—and loads of suggestions by our colleagues—here’s our list of the top 35 children’s books for the little one in your house or classroom.

A GreyHound, A Groundhog. It’s never too early to start teaching kids to value differences between themselves and others (the world is likely to continue globalizing, after all). This story can be a great start.

Not Quite Narwhal. A fun new take on the classic ugly duckling story (approved by Getting Smart’s resident unicorn fan Adam Kulaas, though definitely not a part of #ProjectUnicorn).

Lighter Than Air: Sophie Blanchard, the First Woman Pilot. A tale that, thanks to its illustration, becomes a larger-than-life inspiration based on the first woman hot air balloon pilot.

Incredible You! 10 Ways to Let Your Greatness Shine Through. With all the talk about the importance of social and emotional learning, this book is awesome! It even has a Q&A to help you have conversations with your kids about their feelings.

We Found a Hat. The final entry in an emotionally deep, beautifully-illustrated three part series about friendship and compromise.

This is a Ball. A fun and innovative way to teach kids to challenge authority and established knowledge.

Waiting Is Not Easy. Teaching kids to delay gratification can have a profound impact on their academic and behavioral development.

They All Saw a Cat. In this book, we see a cat through a variety of different animals’ eyes, and come away with a better understanding of how everybody sees things differently.

The Day Crayons Quit. Crayons have feelings. This is a great way to teach those important social and emotional skills.

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole. This one is a bit different than your standard children’s book, and the not-100%-tidy ending might not immediately satisfy some young readers. Be ready for a conversation to discuss lessons that the characters learned.

Little Magic Books. You need to check out this website to understand the cool factor here. This is a combination of a print book and smartphone app that kids (and parents) will love.

Home. People across the world live vastly different lives. This is a great way to start building bridges.

No Matter What. Love, and the power of unconditional love, can be heady topics. This book paints a powerful picture.

Little Blue Truck Leads the Way. Do kids love books that make noises? Um, yes. In fact, so much so that one of our staff member’s kids will only take things to “Show and Tell” at her pre-school that make noise. This book qualifies.

Emma and Julia Love Ballet. A simple, fun story about wanting to grow.

Everywhere Babies. Babies love looking at other…babies! This book has lots of faces for them to look at.

The Little Boy (or Girl) Who Lost His (or Her) Name. Highly personalized book—makes a great gift (although it’s a bit spendy). Google Ventures is interested in this technology—you will get a different book if it’s for a “Vanessa” or a “Vivienne.”

She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World. Can you say GIRL POWER? This book tells the story of 13 powerful women including Helen Keller, Sonia Sotomayor and Harriet Tubman

Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters. A great way to learn your ABC’s.

Press Here & Mix It Up. Invites imagination in kids and adults.

Stuck. When the little boy gets a kite stuck in the tree, a series of silly events takes place. This one is fun.

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site. Kids love learning about their favorite big machines.

Rechargeables: Eat Move Sleep. This one is so good that one of our staff members sent a Facebook message out to her friends–it had her daughter talking about making sure she got enough sleep (!!!), ate her veggies and exercised.

Your Baby’s First Word will be Dada. Jimmy Fallon. Enough said.

Giraffes Can’t Dance. This book rhymes, has great illustrations and teaches kids (and reminds adults) that anything is possible.

Curious Garden. For the environmentally conscious parent and child.

Ladybug Girl. These aren’t exactly new (published beginning in 2008) but they are awesome. We do voices for each of the different characters, and we have the app.

Uni the Unicorn. This is about a unicorn who isn’t sure little girls are real. This one tugs at the heartstrings a bit. Watch the magic light up in your kids’ eyes when you read this one together.

DUPLO Read & Build Books. Build and read. YES!

Made by Raffi. This one is all about accepting all kids where they are at and celebrating individual gifts. A great message for kids (and adults).

Frog and Toad are Friends. A classic story of friendship and being there for one another.

What Do you Do With an Idea? This story inspires children (and adults) to be confident in their ideas, give them space to grow, share them and see what happens next!

Elmer. A great story emphasizing the importance of being yourself and being happy! Bonus: this book is also helpful when you’re teaching colors.

Rosie Revere, Engineer. A book to celebrate all that is the success of failure with a fantastic message: You can only truly fail if you quit.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. a book that is driven by unleashing pure imagination with a highlight of promoting truth and honesty.

What new children’s books would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments below, and if you want to blog about how you inspire learning through books, send an email to [email protected]. We want to hear from you!

For more parent resources, see:

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Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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William Dalmas

I completely agree with what you have written. I hope this post could reach more people as this was truly an interesting post.

Children’s books are published works intended for young readers. However, children and adults alike enjoy reading children’s books.

I hope you can take the time to read my post as well :Benefits of Reading Children’s Books

Child Bookends

It’s important to read with young children. Thank you for these top 35 children's books for the little one in your house or classroom, inspired by the incredible children's books in our own home—and plenty of tips from our colleagues.


Thank you for guiding us. Were can i get all this books in Africa

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