At the age of six, most kids are starting to embrace independent reading. However, experts still suggest that you continue to read out loud to your little one since children’s interests and reading abilities do vary greatly at this age.
When you read aloud to your kiddo, be sure to incorporate a wide range of stories, authors, and formats to best encourage their blossoming love for reading. That said, the most suitable books for 6-year-olds should include a combination of picture books, graphic novels, nonfiction, early chapter titles, and a few longer chapter books with more complex storylines & well-formed characters.
When it comes to finding the right set of books for your 6-year-old, veteran librarians and children literature experts recommend that you use the so-called “5-finger test.” It’s not a complicated technique and, best of all, works better than basing your decision on the child’s grade level.
To conduct the test, just pick a book you’re interested in, open a random page, and have your kiddo read it aloud. If the page has more than 5 words that your kid has difficulty reading aloud, then that book isn’t suitable for her. In that case, you should opt for a title that is a little easier for your child to read independently.
As far as subject matter goes, an ideal book for a 6-year-old should be the one that they like reading the most, regardless of how silly or mundane the storyline might sound. Any nook that a growing reader likes to read over and over again is likely going to make them an avid bookworm for life.
To help narrow down your choice, however, we’ve done the legwork and rounded up a list of the 29 best books for 6-year-olds you shouldn’t miss out on in 2023 and beyond. They include early chapter books, easy-reader favorites, books to read together, longer chapter books, and even classics by authors loved by actual growing readers.
1- Bink and Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee
Bink and Gollie
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Children who liked James Marshall’s dynamic hippo duo of George and Martha will definitely like the funny pair of Bink and Gollie. American veteran authors Alison McGhee and Kate DiCamillo outdid themselves with this funny, tender, and heartwarming story about friendship and acceptance of our differences.
Bink & Gollie are an awkward pair of friends; one is very short and energetic while the other is very tall and lanky. Your little one will not only laugh so hard but also love seeing their friendship grow stronger.
It’s essentially a three-part story, in which each part is a little quirky and relatable to children at this age. You’ll find the format and text to be simple and minimal, while the colorful illustrations by Tony Fucile really bring the story to life. It’s this unique combination that makes Bink and Gollie one of the favorite books for 6-year-olds.
2- I’ve Loved You Since Forever by Hoda Kotb
I've Loved You Since Forever
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There’s nothing stronger and more touching in a child’s life than a parent’s love, and I’ve Loved You Since Forever couldn’t make it clearer. This book by Egyptian American broadcaster and author Hoda Kotb is a fantastic portrayal of a parent’s love and dedication to their little one.
The book highlights the fact that a kid and mom share a distinctive bond that lasts well beyond childbirth or adoption. You and your kid will appreciate how the book uses plain words and sincere illustrations by Suzie Mason to drive the point home in a fun and heartwarming way. New parents teeming with love and affection for their tots should definitely use this book to express how they feel.
3- How Do You Dance? by Thyra Heder
How Do You Dance?
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Here’s another favorite book for 6-year-olds by the New York Times bestselling author of Alfie, The Bear Report, and Fraidyzoo, Thyra Heder. It’s a playful and interactive picture book that encourages growing readers to shake, bounce, bop, and boogie!
Thyra Heder has one message for kids: there’s no wrong way to dance. At its core, How Do You Dance? takes a rather jolly and comical look at all the different styles of dancing, from bouncing around, jiggling, stomping, and snapping your fingers, to wiggling and even bopping.
This book is an excellent look at the importance of expressing your personality through everyday actions, like dancing. That, no matter how you do it, a dance should help reflect your feelings.
4- The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day by Stan and Jan Berenstain
The Berenstain Bears' Moving Day
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If you could use a little help preparing your children for a move, here’s one of the most useful books for 6-year-olds. As we all know, even the best relocation can be stressful for kiddos torn from their favorite people. Some parents go above and beyond, spending oodles of money & time, trying to prove to kids that the move will not “change anything.”
Frequent emails, social media, visits, and phone calls may help, but sometimes there’s nothing quite heartwarming as a good book to soothe a kid. One such great book is The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day by Stan and Jan Berenstain. It offers multiple lessons on how to cope with a move and deal with separation anxiety.
5- Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne Lang
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Easily one of the best books for 6-year-olds, Suzanne Lang’s Grumpy Monkey follows the hilarious tale of Jim, a chimp who is always in a foul mood. This is a picture-perfect read for growing readers who are struggling to cope with changing emotions and confusing feelings either at home or in school.
Even when it is so darn gorgeous and lively outside, Jim can’t seem to understand why he’s in a terrible mood. With evocative illustrations by Max Lang, the message of this soon-to-be classic is that sometimes it is alright to feel down. That’s as long as you are not troubling others while at it. Fans of Judith Viorst’s sensation Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day will definitely love this one.
6- Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty
Ada Twist, Scientist
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Ada Twist, Scientist is a fantastic picture book about young and upcoming scientists. It is actually the 3rd installation in Andrea Beaty’s New York Times bestselling STEM-themed The Questioneers series includes Iggy Peck, Architect (2007), Rose Revere, Engineer (2013), and Sofia Valdez, Future Prez (2019). All of them are highly recommended by experts as great lead-out-loud books for 6-year-olds.
Ada Twist experiments often and questions practically everything. You will love how the book highlights kids from minority communities in STEM and the intimate presentation of scientific processes in a language that children understand. This great read from Andrea Beaty will keep young readers excited about STEM right from a tender age.
7- Star in the Jar by Sam Hay
Star in the Jar
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If your little one has already developed a liking for outer space, this charming book from Sam Hay will likely tickle her fancy. Illustrated by the award-winning animator & illustrator Sarah Massini, Star in the Jar is a class-act bedtime storybook about getting a lost star home.
For fans of galactic films like E.T., this plotline will sound familiar and enjoyable. There are only a couple of sentences on each page, which makes it an excellent read for kids of different ages, from three through at least eight. However, the storyline is so satisfying and enchanting that parents say it’s one of their favorite books for 6-yeards. The fairy-tale ending sure makes for wonderful dreams.
8- I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child
I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato (Charlie and Lola)
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This tongue-in-cheek title might sound silly, but it’s one of the best-rated books for six-year-olds by both teachers and parents. It’s a classic picture book in Lauren Child’s beloved Charlie and Lola series about a fussy eater who learns to view food in a whole different way. If you often have to deal with fussy eaters at dinner time, this is a must-have on your child’s reading list.
Like most kids her age, Lola is a fussy eater who won’t cabbage. As a matter of fact, she isn’t fond of eating mushrooms, potatoes, carrots, baked beans, or even peas. And, even more concerning, she’d “not ever never” eat tomatoes. Does this sound like someone at your dinner table?
9- Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik
Little Bear (An I Can Read Book)
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- I Can Read
Part of the kids’ favorite An I Can Read series by Else Holmelund Minarik, Little Bear is about a young bear and his ever-loving mama bear. With an engaging storyline, stunning illustrations, and an easy-to-follow plot, it’s easy to understand why Little Bear has remained a classic book for preschoolers
It’s a great choice for both new and growing readers who are learning to read on their own. This book is also an excellent title for reading aloud to your little one. The combination of Minarik’s simple yet beautiful texts and Maurice Sendak’s utterly beautiful illustrations is everything you can dream of in a good book for any 6-year-old.
10- If Animals Kissed Goodnight by Ann Whitford Paul
If Animals Kissed Good Night
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One of the best-selling books for 6-year-olds in the poetry for learning category, If Animals Kissed Goodnight is, without a doubt, Ann Whitford Paul’s best work so far. The delightful illustrations by David Walker paint a vivid picture of how various animals would kiss goodnight their children.
Parents and teachers alike appreciate how this preschool favorite teaches kids about the names of several different animals and those of their offsprings. It also instills into children the basics of popular animals, including their body parts and the sounds they produce. Don’t be surprised if this book turns out to be your child’s bedtime must-have.
11- The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
If you’re after good diversity books for 6-year-olds, The Day You Begin is what you’re looking for. This heartening yet moving book is a creation of Pura Belpré Illustrator Rafael López and the National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson.
This #1 New York Times bestseller makes for an excellent lesson on embracing our differences and finding the confidence to interact and connect even when you are feeling alone, defeated, and scared. This incredibly influential book also explores issues like race, love, self-discovery, and more in a heart-warming way.
12- Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae
Another thrilling book from New York Times bestselling author of Be Brave, Little Penguin, and the Sir Scallywag series, Giles Andreae, Giraffes Can’t Dance is a touching story of finding confidence and being true to yourself.
If you want to teach your kiddo about the beauty of self-confidence and never giving up, this is one of the best books for your 6-year-old. It narrates the story of Gerald the Giraffe who wants to dance more than anything in this world. However, with his thin legs and feeble knees, the camelopard finds it extremely difficult to do so.
Follow along as Gerald learns to dance to his own tune with a little encouragement from an unlikely friend. With high-kicking illustrations and light-humored rhyming text, this story should inspire any kid with dreams of greatness.
13- Ways to Make Sunshine by Renée Watson
Ways to Make Sunshine is the debut book from the Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Author Award winner Renée Watson. This book narrates the story of Ryan Hart, a free-spirited and pure-hearted 10-year-old black girl. She is super kind, ambitious, and a ray of true sunshine for people around her.
Unfortunately, Ms. Hart has to struggle financially because money is right in her family, which opens a whole different set of challenges. It beautifully journals her tribulations and ability to make sunshine out of everyday obstacles. That’s why this title earned a spot in our list of the best books for 6-year-olds.
14- Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Lubin
While classics with a profound message certainly make for excellent books for 6-year-olds, sometimes growing readers just wish to indulge in silly stories to blow off some steam and get the chuckles going. Dragons Love Tacos, the #1 New York Times best-seller by Adam Lubin, is exactly what they need to get laughs rolling. After all, what could be more hilarious than a bunch of taco-loving dragons?
This book is longer and has more complex words than our other favorite picks, so it may be more suitable for 6-year-olds who are ready to read independently. There’s no deep message in this book, but it’s sure to crack your little ones up.
15- Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? by Dr. Seuss
No list of the best books for 6-year-olds is ever complete without an entry from one and only Dr. Seuss. Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? is a sound-frenzy page-turner that your little one won’t be able to put down.
The book features the sound-making maestro Mr. Brown. He can moo like a cow, make buzzing sounds just like a bee, and do owling sounds like an owl. Mr. Brown will also teach your kid how to make an array of peculiar sounds, such as the grum-grum sound of a hippopotamus chewing gum, or pip-pip of a kissing goldfish. This classic encourages kids to embrace creative play while learning to read.
16- We’re Different, We’re the Same by Bobbi Kates
What better team than the Sesame Street gang to teach kids that our differences are only skin-deep? This title from the famous author Bobbi Kates and illustrator Joe Mathieu follows Elmo and his Sesame Street friends, which in and of itself makes We’re Different, We’re the Same one of the most familiar yet insightful books for 6-year-olds.
While your child doesn’t need to have an idea about Sesame Street, this book teaches both parents and growing readers that we’re very much similar inside even though we may look somehow different on the outside.
17- The Chicken Squad by Doreen Cronin
Ever imagined a team of chickens roaming the town, fighting crime, and solving mysteries? Now, meet the Chicken: Sweetie, Poppy, Sugar, and Dirt. These are not your average joe chickens who spend most of their time scratching for bigs, pecking poultry feed, or other things barnyard chickens do.
The Chicken Squad is a team of non-nonsense chickens with a clear mission: fight crime and solve mysteries. But do they have the guts and what it takes? When a panicky squirrel comes to them with a story of an unusual sighting, it’s up to the squad to zero in on the mystery. The Chicken Squad is a delightful book with amazing illustrations by Kevin Cornell; definitely a good read for any curious mind.
18- I Love Myself by Karen Beaumont
Self-esteem and self-confidence are two important virtues that every kid should cultivate from a tender age. Help your child nurture these traits with I Love Myself by Karen Beaumont. With bright, colorful illustrations, witty & fun rhymes, the book is sure to be a regular on your child’s reading routine.
Parents and their little ones will not mind going through this story over and over again. It teaches us that we are perfect just the way we are. That it doesn’t matter if you’re slow or fast; have silky smooth or messy hair. We love that this book is high on imagination and vigor, which is why it landed on our list of the best books for 6-year-olds.
19- The World Needs More Purple People by Kristen Bell and Benjamin Hart
A Purple person asks the right questions. They stand by the truth and speak up for what they deem is right. Not just that; purple people have the urge to bring communities, friends, and families together. They’re also hardworking, kind, and love to laugh, particularly at the jokes of loved ones.
Want to help your little one become a Purple person? Penny Purple is ready to walk you through all the steps you need to become this all-around, good-hearted person. But be prepared to be inspired, to use your inner voice, cajole your curiosity, and be silly!
One of the moving books for 6-year-olds, The World Needs More Purple People is the brainchild of creative director Benjamin Hart and The Good Place actress Kristen Bell. This is one book that you and your kid will not put down once you have started reading.
20- Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
Jessica Love’s Julián Is a Mermaid is already a classic in the world of children’s literature. It’s a popularly recommended book for six-year-olds who want to dream big and feel beautiful in their own skin. It features colorful and fluid illustrations, a dream come true to book for any imaginative preschooler.
This joyful picture book offers a glimpse of beautifully-costumed mermaids that leaves Julián on his way from the pool loaded with dazzle and wonder. One way to look at it is that this book is about a young boy who falls in love with mermaids. On the other hand, it’s about celebrating one’s individuality – after all, the book defies most male stereotypes and expectations.
21- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
If you’re looking for the best books for six-year-olds who are fascinated by the fancy of candy, this masterpiece from multi-award-winning children’s book author Roald Dahl will suffice.
Dahl’s candy-packed and immortal story will ship young minds to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. It also features kids’ favorite characters like Charlie Bucket, Mike Teavee, Violet Beauregarde, Veruca Salt, and Augustus Gloop. With all these up-to-no-good folks, mischief is most certainly going to ensure. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a must-have in your kid’s reading list, especially for summer.
22- The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
All that poor Duncan wants to do is color using his beloved crayons. Just when he thinks he has gotten the hang of it, Duncan wakes up to find all of his crayons have called it quits. Colorful, silly, and hilarious, this story of striking crayons will make you and your little one laugh so hard you might pee a bit.
With impressively bold illustrations and a funny story, this book will become a mainstay feature in your family and bedtime reading. Not one that should miss in a list of the best books for 6-year-olds.
23- All the Colors of Christmas by Matthew Paul Turner
For parents who are shopping for the perfect Christmas book for 6-year-olds, this is it. A diverse cast of kids in All the Colors of Christmas teaches us that the holiday season is all about recognizing and embracing all our differences.
Also, the book shows us that Christmas (and other special occasions for that matter) should be celebrated with loved ones.
24- Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
It’s sometimes hard to believe that this evergreen picture book was originally published back in 1987. It was probably one of your favorite books as a 6-year-old and will remain an instant hit with growing readers for many years to come.
Alexander’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day starts when he wakes up to find sticky gum in his beautiful hair. That’s only the beginning; his day goes downhill pretty fast from then. It’s a great book that any preschooler having a bad day will appreciate and find relatable.
25- The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Even though Kelly Barnhill’s The Girl Who Drank the Moon is often recommended for tweens and even teens, the simple text and rhythmic storyline makes it one of the favorite books for 6-year-old fast-learners who are no longer interested in early chapter books.
The winner of the 2017 Newbery Medal Award, this magical book should be on your child’s bookshelf. It’s about a teen girl named Luna who is filled with magic after taking moonlight rather than starlight. The magic becomes stronger as Luna grows older.
26- The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak
Another show-stealing book that 6-year-olds will find doubly funny is B.J. Novak’s The Book with No Pictures. If you have no idea, B.J. Novak is a talented actor, comedian, and producer known for his role as Ryan Howard in the TV hit series The Office.
Lacking colorful illustrations and meant to be read out loud, this book is prized for its alliterations and onomatopoeia. It’s a good book that helps growing readers expand their vocabulary and encourages them to use their creativity.
27- Dog Man by Dav Pilkey
From the world’s most loved children’s comic Captain Underpants, we present Dog Man. This is a set of three books, all about Dog Man, the dog police who is part human, part canine, and all cop! Comic artist Dav Pilkey has churned out some of the best works in his colorful career, but Dog Man puts him right over the top.
Dog Man is a crime-busting cop dog whose everyday encounters are much more hilarious than what you see in funny cop shows like Reno 911 or Brooklyn Nine-Nine. These books are quite attractive to young readers and explore positive attributes like self-importance, kindness, persistence, confidence, and empathy.
28- Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! By Mo Willems
Masterfully illustrated and charming, Mo Willems’ Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! Is a heartfelt celebration of defiance, persistence, and suave. Well, who would have imagined a pigeon that would do anything to drive a bus?
This decorated classic has been one of the best-selling books for 6-year-olds ever since it was first published in 2003. It also appeals to toddlers and preschoolers up to the age of six. Will you let the pigeon drive the bus?
29- 365 Bedtime Stories and Rhymes by Cottage Door Press
365 Bedtime Stories and Rhymes is a family storytime classic and a treasure trove that brings together more than 50 beloved rhymes and stories, much to the delight of young readers. What makes this Cottage Door Press’s title one of the best books for 6-year-olds is that each story allows kids to let their imaginations run wild.