Five is an interesting age for a child as there’s so much happening with them. Your little one is probably ready to ride a bike, tinkering with simple art & crafts, and some are even learning to tie their cute tiny shoes. Then there’s the new school life and friendships.
At this tender age, some tots are already reading independently, while others are yet to read. In either case, it’s never too early or too late to encourage your child to read. Getting your preschooler interested in reading is the best gift you can give as a parent. More so, it’s a brilliant way for your little one to start building their vocabulary, learn new things, and blow off some steam.
Literacy and developmental experts also agree that reading helps spark curiosity, improves your kid’s cognitive skills, and create pleasant memories, especially when you read together. As your preschooler grows, you’ll need to get them the best books for 5-year-olds, helping promote their love of reading and stories.
Looking for the best books for 5-year-olds? From classic page-turners by beloved children’s book authors to impressive new releases, here are the 31 best books for 5-year-olds every parent should get right now.
1- One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish (I Can Read It All by Myself)
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- A simple yet utterly silly book.
- Provides a perfect beginning reading experience.
- Combines exuberant illustrations with easy-to-decode words.
- Introduces young readers to fantastically funny creatures.
- Highly collectible Party Edition is a fun way to learn to read and rhyme!
One of Dr. Seuss’s best books for 5-year-olds, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish is incredibly funny, fun, and easy to read. It features Dr. Seuss’s classic silly rhymes, opposites, colorful scenes, counting, and much more, making it the perfect choice for practicing early readers.
Your child will be introduced to a lively cast of characters that include the winking Yink, the singing Ying, and the bumpy Wump. Their antics will make your kid giggle from cover to cover. You’ll love that this classic picture book encourages your little one to read all on her own, using colorful illustrations and simple, rhyming words.
2- Bink and Gollie Series by Alison McGhee and Kate DiCamillo
Bink and Gollie
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Bink and Gollie is a classic chapter book that’ll help streamline your little one’s transition from shorter picture books. The stars of the book are … well, Bink and Gollie, a funny duo. Gollie is very short while Bink is very tall.
There are 4 titles in the series, but Best Friends Forever is bound to be the funniest and perhaps the best of the bunch. Don’t be surprised if this book makes you laugh at the pair more than your tot. The whole series is hilarious and each title is a little zany, with striking illustrations by Tony Fucile.
3- Life is Magic by Meg McLaren
Life is Magic by Meg McLaren (2016-03-03)
Originally published in 1838, Meg McLaren’s Life is Magic is brilliant and delightfully entertaining, so much so that it has remained one of the best books for 5-year-olds for nearly two centuries. The book follows the tale of Magician Extraordinaire Monsieur Lapin and his clever rabbit assistant, Houdini.
This charming story will keep you and your little one on the edge of your seats as it’s packed with humor, passion, and warmth. This is a tale about teamwork and helping out friends, a perfect read for budding magicians. The beautiful illustrations are a bit quirky with witty details that add nicely to the visual narrative.
4- Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
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Waking up to find gum in his hair is just the beginning of a terrible, no good, very bad day for Alexander. The next thing he falls courtesy of a poorly-placed skateboard then his favorite sweater becomes drenched in water. To add insult to injury, there’s no snack in his lunch.
Let’s face it; everyone will immediately identify with this story, especially your clumsy kid. Like it is not hard enough being a kid, right? Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is definitely one of the best books for 5-year-olds that shouldn’t be missing in your children’s library.
5- The Book with No Pictures by B.J Novak
The Book with No Pictures
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As the title clearly says, this book has zero pictures. Naught. Nil. But don’t let that bog you down; B.J Novak’s The Book with No Pictures is one of the most brilliant and the best books for 5-year-olds ever written.
Rather than use illustrations, the reader (aka you) has to say funny-sounding works like blurf or blork. As such, your child has to use her imagination and creativity to fill in the gaps. You will read the words out loud over and over again without getting bored. That’s because the book is evergreen and always funny.
6- Fox at School by Edward Marshall
Fox at School (Penguin Young Readers, Level 3)
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Rated among the best books for 5-year-olds, Edward Marshall’s Fox series is a timeless children’s book that you probably loved as a child. It is just so hilarious to watch a Fox who thinks he’s fully in charge flop over and over again. Being the main actor in the school play is by no means easy, but being left in control of the entire class is even trickier.
Fox thinks the task at hand is going to be easy peasy. But does he really have what it takes? The stylish and colorful illustrations by the author’s brother, James Marshall, put the book right over the top.
7- The Baby Tree by Sophie Blackall
The Baby Tree
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“Where do babies come from?” is one big question that most parents dread to hear. But it is likely to be popped by a five-year-old, which is where Sophie Blackall’s The Baby Tree may come in handy.
The Baby Tree is about a young boy who can’t stop wondering where he came from. He goes on a questioning spree, asking his grandpa, mailman, teacher, nanny, and eventually his mom & dad. He won’t stop until he gets the right answer. Aside from its age-appropriate message, the book is vivid, fun, and funny. You will appreciate that it takes other related questions about same-sex parents, child adoption, and much more.
8- The Good Egg by Jory John
The Good Egg
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Jory John’s The Good Egg is fun, easy to read, and heartwarming. It’s no surprise the book was named one of the Best Books of the Year 2019 by Amazon and has been a #1 New York Times bestseller. From the brains behind the kids’ favorite The Bad Seed, this book is about an egg that discovers sometimes it is okay not to be Grade-A perfect.
Definitely one of the best books for 5-year-olds, it handles well the themes of self-discovery, self-love, and learning to live with imperfections. It’s a great read for fans of Humpty Dumpty.
9- Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes by Eric Litwin
Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes
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It can be difficult for a shy preschool to adjust to her new school life. New experiences, friendships, and changing relationships with parents can be stressful for her. As a parent, you need to work earnestly to build your child’s social skills, confidence, and ability to cope with changes. We think Eric Litwin’s Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes can be instrumental in this journey.
The book features two of children’s favorite things: cats and rock & roll. The star of the book is Pete, a kitty who dreads going to school alone. However, by focusing on his school shoes, he is able to power through the day. What makes it the best book for 5-year-olds is not only the message but also its inspirational art by James Dean.
10- A Narwhal and Jelly Book Series by Ben Clanton
Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea! (A Narwhal and Jelly Book #1)
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If your preschooler has a thing for sea creatures, then she will flip over A Narwhal and Jelly Book. Ben Clanton has really mastered the art of weaving stories that are captivating yet simple enough to be grasped by young minds.
Each book in this undersea-themed series is doubly great for beginner readers who want to transition from short picture books to slightly longer chapter books. It doubles as a stylish graphic novel that’s split into 3 charming tales. Adventurous, loyal, and funny, the Narwhal and Jelly make this one of the best books for 5-year-olds – certainly a joyful read for everyone.
11- Crocodiles Need Kisses Too by Rebecca Colby
Crocodiles may not look, sound, or even behave like us. They may not be the cuddliest of the animals. Regardless of their “lumpy, bumpy” exteriors, crocodiles are worthy of affection and kisses, too! This wonderfully-written children’s book teaches the little ones that all creatures — be they slithering snakes, menacing crocodiles, roaring tigers, or even prickly porcupines — need a little love, just like us.
With beautiful underwater, snowy, and jungle backgrounds in soothing blues and greens, Penelope Dullaghan’s illustrations are simply gorgeous and captivating. Overall, Crocodiles Need Kisses Too is fun and easy to read thanks to the rhyming words. You’ll love reading it out loud to your youngster.
12- A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams
Nothing beats close family ties, especially during times of uncertainty and crisis. After an accidental fire gut down their lovely house, the young girl and her entire family set out to purchase a nice & comfortable chair for their mom who works long hours at a local diner.
The gang must save enough for the purchase, but it’s their collective effort and sense of togetherness that really triumphs. A Chair for My Mother is a truly heart-warming book that will teach your young one several lessons, including patience, joyful endurance, and the importance of family ties. It ranks among the best books for 5-year-olds.
13- Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Maurice Sendak’s Where Wild Things Are is a masterfully put-together book for 5-year-olds and older kids — and teachers’ favorite pick. The book details the tale of Max, a boy who is sent to his room for being naught and making mischief in his wolf costume. There are essentially two tales woven into one in this timeless book.
On the one hand, there’s Max’s magical adventure in which he tames the wild things that scare with their terrible claws, roll their terrible eyes, and gnash their terrible teeth. He is not only made the king of wild things but also joins in their brouhaha prior to returning to his bedroom. Preschoolers will love how the tale is beautifully narrated in the author’s illustrations.
14- How Do You Dance? by Thyra Heder
From the creator of famed Fraidy Zoo, How Do You Dance? is a whimsical classic about different styles of dancing. Well, how do you love to boogie?
This book is a cheerful look at self-expression, self-love, and how dancing can factor into expressing how you feel. On the surface, it’s a wonderful look at the several different ways you can choose to dance, from bouncing around to snapping your fingers to bopping. There’s no wrong style.
15- The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
Ferdinand is unlike other boisterous bulls. He’s a gentle giant who loves to smell flowers and relax under the shade of the cork tree rather than show off in the bullfighting ring. But in an unlikely turn of events, the tender-tempered Ferdinand is chosen to be the bullfight in Madrid. What a quagmire for the sweet-mannered bull, right?
With impressive illustrations by Robert Lawson, The Story of Ferdinand is a charming tale that pays homage to humility, self-acceptance and coming of age. The lesson is clear: there’s nothing wrong with loving your unique self. It’s for this reason that teachers and parents alike say this is one of the best books for 5-year-olds.
16- The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
You can never have too many books that preach love and affection. The Kissing Hand is among the best books for 5-year-olds that cut this niche and will pull at your heart every time you read it with your little one before bedtime.
Your child probably has a boatload of questions about life, love, and the world around us. This book has some of the answers about feelings and the secret of kissing a hand. It’s an ideal read about the beautiful bond between a mom and their child.
17- Truman by Jean Reidy
If you’re looking for the best books for 5-year-olds about courage and making it through the first day of preschool, look no further than Jean Reidy’s Truman. Truman, a pet turtle, becomes increasingly nervous and lonely after her friend Sarah goes to kindergarten. The longer the day drags on, the more worried Truman gets.
This book is a delightful and heart-warming story of boldness and courage when faced with new life changes. Both Sarah and her pet turtle are thoughtful and serene friends – and their time away says a lot about the feeling of solitude, friendship, and the sweet fruits of adventure.
18- The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
Another cult favorite by the famous Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat is hands down one of the best books for 5-year-olds that shouldn’t be missed in your children’s library. The evergreen verse story with silly rhymes is still as fresh and enchanting as when it was originally released back in the late 1950s.
The cheerful Cat arrives uninvited and impromptu only to leave the house in total chaos. Who will get in trouble for the mayhem? Probably Sally and her brother. The beginner readers will recognize the kids’ horror and indulge in the havoc Cat wreaks on the house. Most importantly, they’ll love the unexpected ending in which the cat showcases his clean-up prowess (and saves the day!)
19- Tomorrow I’ll Be Kind by Jessica Hische
Jessica Hische’s Tomorrow I’ll be Kind was a huge hit in its debut year and is already among the best books for 5-year-olds you can buy right now. It’s a great way to kick off the new year on a positive note.
A wonderful sequel to Jessica Hische’s Tomorrow I’ll Be Brave, the book is a warm-hearted cue for preschoolers to be more compassionate with others. From one page to the next, it inspires us to always treat people with kindness and love.
20- Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin
Here are strange cows that know how to type, but the upset Farmer Brown is all up in arms to make them stop. The mischiefs of the typing cows, the oddness of the farmer, and the frustration of the farmer add to the thrill that this book will provide children.
Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type is especially the best book for 5-year-olds who seem to get in trouble every other day for their rebellion and shenanigans at home or preschool – just like the typing animals! As a parent, you will laugh out your lungs with every turn of the page.
21- Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion
Harry the Dirty Dog loves to do everything unless it involves taking a shower or getting a bath. Every time Harry knows he’s about to get a bath, he dashes out and runs into an energetic, dirt-filled adventure all over the place.
However, he is disheartened when his own family couldn’t recognize him because of the dirty dog he has gotten. What will he do to restore his place as the family’s favorite dog? The gloriously done illustrations by Margaret Bloy Graham brings the tale of Harry the Dirty Dog and his world of adventure to life. In our humble opinion, Harry the Dirty Dog is one of the best books for 5-year-olds you can purchase today.
22- Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! By Mo Willems
This is the best book for 5-year-olds whose parents are afraid they may get swindled by unscrupulous door-to-door salespeople. The persuasive and slightly manic star of the book is nothing short of entertaining and unforgettable.
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! offers lots of interactive opportunities and a chance for your little to learn a thing or two about self-confidence as well as dealing with everyday frustrations. Young readers will certainly find some thrill at annoying the bus-loving period with every turn of the page.
23- Just Like Me by Vanessa Newton
So this one might be more age-appropriate for tweens and teens but most parents laud it as one of the best books for 5-year-olds and 6-year-olds, as well. If you’re a proud parent of girls, then this is a must-have book. It’s actually an anthology of short stories that highlight girls from all walks of life – girls who love, girls who give back, girls who feel empowered, and girls with big ambitions.
From the bustling cities to the idyllic countryside, all kinds of girls from different backgrounds share their dreams, thoughts, and triumphs. Authored by the creator of Grandma’s Purse, Just Like Me will charm your little one’s heart every time she reads it.
24- Not Now Bernard by David McKee
Typical of today’s ever-busy parents, Bernard’s mom and dad are just too busy to pay attention to their little boy’s nightmare. They never listen to him and repeatedly fail to heed his call even when he’s apparently eaten by a monster that lives in their backyard.
Interestingly, Bernard’s parents don’t seem to notice that the monster has been living in his room. Or has Bernard become a monster and they are oblivious? Not Now Bernard is a rather funny dark humor that can be interpreted in more than one way. It’s the best book for 5-year-olds who are struggling with the feeling of aloneness and apparent neglect by their busy parents.
25- The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
Can you imagine a scenario in which a box of crayons goes on strike? Fun, hilarious, and downright easy to read, The Day the Crayons Quit is a subtle reminder of the small trials and tribulations that youngsters go through. The #1 New York Times bestseller is one of the best books for 5-year-olds for when they feel left out or frustrated.
The book follows an amusing story of crayons that are simply fed up with being mistreated and misused, so they decide to call it quits. It’s a kids’ favorite for its clear message of healthy expression of frustrations and the humorous storyline; the lesson on the importance of teamwork is a bonus. Parents and kids alike will appreciate how Oliver Jeffers’ colorful illustrations bring this funny story to life.
26- How to Babysit a Grandma by Jean Reagan
If you’re looking for the best books for 5-year-olds who spend most of their time with the grandparents, Jean Reagan’s How to Babysit a Grandma is a worthwhile buy. Make sure to get How to Babysit a Grandpa too to complete the set.
Illustrated by the brilliant Lee Wildish, the book is some sort of an instructional manual for the little ones who want to look after their grandmas and grandpas. You will be impressed by how Jean Reagan switches the babysitting responsibilities from babies to adults. It’s an incredibly entertaining book that celebrates the bond between grandparents and their grandkids.
27- Rabbit and Bear: Rabbit’s Bad Habits by Julian Gough
Hilarious, delightful, and cheeky, Rabbit’s Bad Habits is the first book in Julian Gough’s famed Rabbit and Bear series. We wouldn’t be shocked if this remains one of the best books for 5-year-olds for many, many generations. It’s a nostalgic buy for today’s parents and a great read for the little ones.
The diaper jokes, wow-worthy illustrations (by Jim Field), and humor are as fresh today as they were when the book was first published. It covers a range of classic themes of the quest for knowledge, truth, honesty, and friendship. Once your kid is hooked on the book, make sure to have others in the series handy — The Pest in the Nest, Attack of the Snack, A Bite in the Night, and the latest, A Bad King Is a Sad Thing.
28- If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff
Check any preschool classroom or library, and you won’t miss this classic, and that’s by no accident. Laura Numeroff’s If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is a pretty catchy read that appeals to young minds for many years. It’s the perfect book for helping young readers learn about accountability, which makes it one of the best books for 5-year-olds.
The hungry mouse, a peculiar storyline, and immersive illustrations by Felicia Bond make this a staple that shouldn’t be missing in any children’s book collection. It’s well-written and a joy to read, so expect your child to request to read it over and over again.
29- Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
Is any list of the best books for 5-year-olds ever complete without this classic about the tale of edible weather? Judi Barrett’s Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs needs no introduction. That’s partly thanks to the blockbuster 2019 film of the same name and directed by Chris Miller and Phil Lord.
Originally published in 1972, the book’s storyline is quirky yet surprisingly easy to follow. The tale of falling meatballs and flapjacks is one that only the duo of Judi Barrett and Ronald Barrett could do justice.
30- Vinny Gets a Job by Terry Brodner
Rated one of the best books for 5-year-olds three years in a row, Vinny Gets a Job by Terry Brodner is also one of the funniest entries on this list. It stars Vinny, a plaid-suit-cladding cat who can’t seem to hold onto any job he gets.
The clever play on words and the relatable characters make this a lovely book for bedtime reading. It’s one that you will re-read many times over. Fans of Peggy Parish’s Amelia Bedelia series will feel right at home with this book.
31- There’s a Bear on My Chair by Ross Collins
Admittedly, Ross Collins is more of an illustrator than an author, and this clearly shines through the masterfully-rendered illustrations in the book. What’s more – the rhyming text and eccentric characters are sure to keep your tot entertained and interested from cover to cover. We love how Ross Collins emphasizes some words and that the text is bigger, helping young readers stick to the story.
There’s a Bear on My Chair follows the story of a mouse who finds a bear sitting on his tiny chair. Now the mouse is left with nothing to sit on. Where will he sit? With a silly storyline and goofy illustrations, this may be the best book for 5-year-olds you can get this year.