Best Children’s Books for ages 0 to 5

Bright Beginnings Booklist. Staff recommendations for Babies, Toddlers, Preschoolers, . Compiled by the Children Services Staff at Monroe Public Library

MMonroe County Public Library | 303 E. Kirkwood Ave., Bloomington, IN 47408 | (812) 349–3050

Recommended books for babies (0–23 months)

  1. Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

Lift the flaps to see what animals are sent from the zoo to a child who wants a pet.

2. I’m a Little Teapot! by Annie Kubler

Chubby babies dance along to this traditional song.

3. Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton

Clap and laugh along as silly barnyard critters have a hoedown.

4. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin

A rollicking rhyme with colorful pictures by Eric Carle introduce familiar animals.

5. Touch and Feel: Fire Engine by Andy Crawford

Explore fire engines through color photos and a variety of textures.

6. Where Does Maisy Live? by Lucy Cousins

Lift the flaps and discover where Maisy and friends live in this colorful board book.

7. Roadwork by Sally Sutton

Big machines work hard and make lots of sounds in this sturdy board book.

8. Look at You! A Baby Body Book by Kathy Henderson

Bright illustrations capture different babies as the text describes all the things they can do with their bodies.

9. Maisy Goes to the Library by Lucy Cousins

Maisy and her friends explore all the fun things to do at the library.

10. This Little Chick by John Lawrence

Rhyme and make the sounds of all the barnyard critters in the little chick’s farm.

11. Animal Noises by Stephen Cartwright

Simple illustrations depict familiar animals and the sounds they make.

12. Baby Faces by Margaret Miller

Babies will enjoy these close-up pictures of baby faces with different expressions.

13. Freight Train by Donald Crews

Follow along as a colorful train whizzes through cities, tunnels, and bridges.

14. Trucks, Trucks, Trucks by Peter Sís

A little boy gets lots of help from all kinds of trucks!

15. Whose Baby Am I? by John Butler

Name the parent of each adorable animal baby as you turn the page.

16. Look at Baby’s House! by Peter Linenthal

New babies will love to focus on these black and white illustrations that tell a simple story.

17. My First Songs by Tomie dePaola

Gentle illustrations accompany a variety of traditional songs.

18. Five Little Ducks by Ivan Bates

One by one, five little ducks wander away from their mother until her lonely quack brings them all waddling back.

19. Spot’s First Shapes by Eric Hill

Using simple illustration and textures, Spot the puppy explores basic shapes.

20. Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill

Spot is nowhere to be found. Lift the flaps to find Spot, so that he may have his dinner!

21. Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora

Try and guess who is playing peek-a-boo with this cheerful toddler.

22. My Colors = Mis Colores by Rebecca Emberley

Colorful illustrations introduce babies to name colors in English and Spanish.

23. I like it when — , by Mary Murphy

Cuddle together as you read this book about sharing moments throughout the day.

24. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

Send your baby off to sleep with this classic book that gently bids goodnight to all the things in a child’s room.

25. Hush Little Baby by J. Brian Pinkney

Beautiful traditional lullaby in which a father promises the world to his restless baby daughter.

26. Playtime Rhymes for Little People by Clare Beaton

A collection of traditional nursery rhymes that will get your toddler laughing and playing.

27. Busy Barnyard by John Schindel

Colorful photos show barnyard friends in sweet, humorous situations.

28. The Pigeon Loves Things That Go! by Mo Willems

Laugh along as Pigeon reacts to all of his favorite vehicles — even a hot dog!

29. I Kissed the Baby by Mary Murphy

All the animals are happy about the arrival of the new baby.

30. Clap Hands by Helen Oxenbury

Gentle pictures of babies doing favorite movements.

31. White on Black by Tana Hoban

New babies will love focusing on the high contrast black and white illustrations, while you talk about each object. of this book.

32. Peek-a-Moo by Marie Torres Cimarusti

Giggle along as barnyard friends play peek-a-boo in their own special way.

33. Silly Little Goose! by Nancy Tafuri

Laugh along as a goose tries lots of silly places to build a nest.

34. Tomie’s Little Mother Goose by Tomie dePaola

Familiar rhymes are joined by sweet pictures in this gentle introduction to Mother Goose.

35. You and Me, Baby by Lynn Reiser

Bright color photos depict babies and their mothers engaging in playful, loving moments.

36. I Went Walking by Sue Williams

Following along as a small boy wanders around a farm. Guess who he might meet next!

Recommended reading for toddlers (2–3 years)

1. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems

A wild and wacky pigeon begs the reader to let him drive the bus.

2. RRRalph by Lois Ehlert

Meet Ralph the dog and his amazing vocabulary! Bright, bold illustrations.

3. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr.

In an alphabet chant, all the letters race one another up the coconut tree.

4. She’ll be Coming ‘Round the Mountain by Jonathan Emmett

A silly new version of the traditional American folk song.

5. The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear by Audrey Wood

Little Mouse worries that the big, hungry bear will take his freshly picked, ripe, red strawberry for himself.

6. All in a Day by Cynthia Rylant

Illustrations and rhyming text pay homage to a new day, with promises for the future.

7. Mama Cat has Three Kittens by Denise Fleming

While two kittens copy everything their mother does, their brother naps.

8. Love Waves by Rosemary Wells

Sweet, reassuring text describes feelings of love while the parent is away at work.

9. There are Cats in This Book by Viviane Schwarz

The reader lifts the flaps and follows the cats as they play with yarn, boxes, and fish.

10. And the Train Goes — by William Bee

As passengers board, they add to the sound of the train, which goes “Clickerty click.”

11. Please, Puppy, Please by Spike Lee, Tonya Lewis Lee

Two toddlers have fun with their puppy.

12. Whose Mouse Are You? by Robert Kraus

A lonely little mouse uses his wits in order to bring his family back together.

13. Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson

On a cold winter night many animals gather in the cave of a sleeping bear.

14. Maisy Takes a Bath by Lucy Cousins

When Tallulah comes to visit at bathtime she decides to join Maisy in the bath to play.

15. Good Night Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

A sleepy zookeeper is followed home by all the animals he thinks he has left behind in the zoo.

16. Book! by Kristine O’Connell George

A small child discovers the magic of books for the first time.

17. Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star by Jerry Pinkney

Glorious illustrations follow a dream-like story set to this familiar tune.

18. George, the Dragon and the Princess by Christopher Wormell

Find out how a timid mouse defeats a loathsome dragon.

19. I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! by Karen Beaumont

Set to a familiar folk song, a child adds paint in surprising places.

20. Who Hops? by Katie Davis

A funny book that lists creatures that hop, fly, slither, swim, and crawl, as well as some others that don’t.

21. Bark George by Jules Feiffer

When When George’s mother asks him to bark, some surprising sounds come out.

22. Birds by Kevin Henkes

Fascinating colors, shapes, sounds, and movements of many different birds.

23. From Head to Toe by Eric Carle

Bold illustrations encourage the reader to follow the movements of various animals.

24. I Can Do It Too! by Karen Baicker

A little girl displays confidence as she helps a younger family member.

25. Is Everyone Ready for Fun? by Jan Thomas

Chicken’s visitors jump, dance and wiggle on his couch — which is too tiny for them!

26. Alphabeep: a Zipping, Zooming ABC by Debora Pearson

Describes a vehicle for every letter of the alphabet.

27. Mr. Gumpy’s Outing by John Burningham

Mr. Gumpy accepts more and more riders on his boat until the inevitable occurs.

28. Time for Ballet by Adele Geras

Tilly, who loves ballet, plays the part of a cat in her dance recital.

29. Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems

After Trixie and her daddy leave the Laundromat, something important turns up missing.

30. Mother Goose Picture Puzzles by Will Hillenbrand

Delightful illustrations encourage your toddler to predict words in these traditional rhymes.

31. Over in the Meadow by Olive Wadsworth

A tender song that describes the activities of various animals from one through ten.

32. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen

A family embarks on a bear hunt in this traditional chant.

33. Twenty-Six Letters and Ninety-Nine Cents by Tana Hoban

Color photos clearly and simply introduce the alphabet, money, and the counting system.

34. Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino

Rhyming text in which a young llama asks his friends if their mamas are llamas.

35. Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Jim Aylesworth

While three bears are away, Goldilocks sneaks into their house and makes mischief.

36. Go Away Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley

Cut-out pages reveal a monster piece by piece, until the reader tells him to go away!

37. Ella Sarah Gets Dressed by Margaret Chodos-Irvine

Despite advice from her family, Ella Sarah insists on her own outfit.

38. Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert

Bold illustrations depict the life of butterflies.

39. My Car by Byron Barton

Sam describes in loving detail his car and how he drives it.

Recommended reading for preschoolers (4–5 years)

  1. Chicken Little by Rebecca Emberley

A retelling of the classic story of Chicken Licken, who has an acorn fall on his head and runs in a panic to his friends Henny Penny, Lucky Ducky, and Loosey Goosey, to tell them the sky is falling.

2. A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip Christian Stead

Amos McGee’s, an elderly zookeeper, enjoys the rewards of his kindness to his animal friends.

3. The Human Alphabet by Pilobolus

Dancers join limbs, twist, and grip to form twenty-six letters and accompanying picture.

4. Ten Little Caterpillars by Bill Martin

Illustrations and rhyming text follow ten caterpillars as one wriggles up a flower stem, another sails across a garden pool, and one reaches an apple leaf, where something amazing happens.

5. Noisy Nora by Rosemary Wells

Feeling neglected, Nora makes more and more noise to attract her parents’ attention.

6. Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion

When a white dog with black spots runs away from home, he gets so dirty his family doesn’t recognize him.

7. Tuesday by David Wiesner

Frogs rise on their lily pads, float through the air, and explore the nearby houses while their inhabitants sleep.

8. Mr. Pusskins by Sam Lloyd

Grumpy Mr. Pusskins doesn’t appreciate his comfy home until he spends a naughty evening out on the streets.

9. Pigs in the Mud in the Middle of the Rud by Lynn Plourde

A feisty grandmother in her Model-T Ford struggles to get an assortment of farm animals out of the road.

10. The Wolf’s Chicken Stew by Keiko Kasza

A hungry wolf’s attempts to fatten a chicken has unexpected results.

11. Rattletrap Car by Phyllis Root

Poppa and the children come up with ingenious ways to make the journey to the lake in their rattletrap car.

12. Olivia by Ian Falconer

Whether at home getting ready for school or enjoying the beach, Olivia demonstrates a zest for life.

13. Corduroy by Don Freeman

A toy bear never finds his button, but finds a new friend instead.

14. Move! by Steve Jenkins

Learn about how different animals move.

15. The Gingerbread Man by Jim Aylesworth

A freshly baked gingerbread man escapes out of the oven and eludes a number of pursuers until he meets a clever fox.

16. How do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? by Jane Yolen

Humorous rhyming text describes how a dinosaur does and does NOT eat its food.

17. Duck on a Bike by David Shannon

A duck decides to ride a bike and inspires other animals on the farm to do the same.

18. How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers

Eager to have his own, a boy comes up with imaginative ways to catch a star.

19. On Earth by G. Brian Karas

We are all passengers of the Earth as it spins, tilts and circles the sun. Learn about Earth’s cycles of rotation and revolution, plus how they affect our lives through the days and seasons.

20. Some Friends to Feed: The Story of Stone Soup by Pete Seeger

A poor but clever traveler finds a way to get the townspeople to share their food with him in this retelling of a classic tale.

21. What Happens on Wednesdays by Emily Jenkins

A child describes every event that occurs on a Wednesday.

22. Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee

Twelve people set aside their fears and ride a roller coaster, including one who has never done so before.

23. Pete’s a Pizza by William Steig

When Pete is in a bad mood, his father decides turning him into a pizza might cheer him up.

24. My Garden by Kevin Henkes

After helping her mother weed, water, and chase the rabbits from their garden, a young girl imagines her dream garden complete with jellybean bushes, chocolate rabbits, and tomatoes the size of beach balls.

25. Superhero ABC by Bob McLeod

Humorous Superheroes such as Goo Girl and The Volcano represent the letters of the alphabet from A to Z.

26. Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina

A band of mischievous monkeys steals every one of a napping peddler’s caps.

27. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Max is sent to bed without his supper, sails to the land of the wild things where he becomes their king.

28. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

Harold goes for an adventurous walk in the moonlight with his purple crayon.

29. Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt

Scaredy Squirrel is afraid to leave his nut tree and makes elaborate plans to stay safe — until he is forced to confront the unknown.

30. Lizard’s Song by George Shannon

A big silly bear keeps trying to learn Lizard’s song, until he finds one even better.

31. Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems

Leonardo is a terrible monster — he can’t seem to frighten anyone.

32. “Let’s Get a Pup!” said Kate by Bob Graham

When Kate and her family visit the animal shelter, it is very hard to leave an older dog behind.

33. The Kingfisher Book of Nursery Tales by Vivian French

Read-aloud versions of several favorite folktales, such as The Three Bears and The Billy Goats Gruff.

34. Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert

Vivid pictures and bold text provide an alphabetical tour of fruits and vegetables.

35. Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy by Jane O’Connor

Nancy wants to adopt a special puppy so that she is no longer the only fancy member of her family, but after a day of puppysitting a papillon, she realizes that being fancy is not always the most important thing.

36. Trashy Town by Andrea Zimmerman

Little by little, trash can by trash can, Mr. Gillie, cleans up his town.


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Categories: Book Recommendations, Literature & Fiction

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