Kindergarten is one of the most delightful ages for read alouds–kids are full of wonder, awe, and silliness, and the selection of picture books available to them is enormous. Here are 50 of the best books for kindergarten, including many timeless classics such as Margaret Wise Brown’s Runaway Bunny and new favorites like Help Wanted, Must Love Books.
We hope you enjoy exploring the books on this kindergarten book list as much as we do!
50 of the Best Books for Kindergarten
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (2003)
Written and illustrated by Mo Willems
The Pigeon is infamous for his sneaky tactics. He knows how to manipulate you into getting what he wants, and that was just what the bus driver meant when he warned you not to let him drive the bus.
But this fast talking bird knows every trick in the book.
Kids and parents alike will love his hilarious attempts to get you to cave in and the fit he throws when you don't. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus was Willems' first book, for which he won the Caldecott Honor.
Categories: funny, award-winning, animal tale
Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! (2006)
Written and illustrated by Mo Willems
We love the Pigeon so much, we had to add another one of his tales to the list. This one is perfect for bedtime.
Here, he's up to his old tricks, trying to get you to bend the rules in his favor. He's got a new list of excuses up his sleeve, which may be gleefully reminiscent of some things you hear regularly at bedtime like, "First of all, I'm not even tired."
This one is just too much fun to skip.
Categories: funny, bedtime, animal tale
Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity (2007)
Written and illustrated by Mo Willems
You may have noticed we have a thing for Mo Willems, his books are pretty popular around our house. And for good reason! He really knows how to make kids laugh.
Knuffle Bunny Too is the sequel to Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale. It is a perfect book for kindergarteners who are learning to navigate the challenges of friendship, possessions, and sharing.
Trixie, who is now in Pre-K, realizes her classmate Sonya has a bunny that looks just like her precious Knuffle Bunny. After the two girls get into a fight about over the bunnies, the teacher confiscates them and doesn't return them til the end of the day. In the middle of the night, both girls realize the horrible mistake the teacher has committed: they have the wrong bunnies!
A mid-night exchange ensues and leads to a new friendship between the two girls.
Categories: funny, award-winning, friendship
Flora and the Flamingo (2013)
Written and illustrated by Molly Idle
In this wordless picture book, Molly Idle explores the nature of new friendships and how they evolve over time.
Flora is a little girl with a big imagination who strikes up an unlikely relationship with a flamingo. She tries to mirror is peculiar movements and dances, which annoys him greatly. But when he finally extends an invitation to her, and takes her under his wing, they learn to do a new dance together.
Children will find Flora's flamingo imitations amusing and will enjoy making up their own words to the story.
Categories: award-winning, friendship, imagination
Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type (2000)
Written by Doreen Cronin, Illustrated by Betsy Lewin
For over twenty years, kids have loved to read the story of Farmer Brown's typing cows. They find the idea that animals can rise up again their owner and make demands through an old typewriter hysterical.
They also love the wordless ending that implies that in the end, the animals still have Farmer Brown doing their bidding, even though he thought he'd outsmarted them in their negotiations. A quick read, Click, Clack, Moo will give everybody a good laugh.
Categories: funny, award-winning, animal tale
This Is Not My Hat (2012)
Written and illustrated by Jon Klassen
In this darkly humorous follow-up to 2011's I Want My Hat Back, Klassen tells the story of a small fish who has just stolen the hat of a much larger fish. The unreliable narrator tries to to justify his actions while explaining where he's going to hide and why he's going to get away from it.
As the story reaches its dramatic climax, our narrator falls silent and we're left with the book's suggestive illustrations to help us figure out what's happened to him.
Though the consequence of the theft has a certan finality, there is a sense that justice has been served. There's an implied moral that stealing and a lack of remorse will come back to get you, and the book could be a great opener for a discussion on how we can make amends for our mistakes.
Categories: funny, award-winning, animal tale
Wolf in the Snow (2017)
Written and illustrated by Matthew Cordell
Wolf in the Snow is a nearly wordless Caldecott Award-winning book that tells the story of a girl and a wolf who each get lost in a snowstorm.
Each cleverly detailed illustration conveys an escalating series of events in this unlikely tale of friendship and trust.
Even without text, kindergarteners will be delighted with this book and will love retelling the story in their own words.
Categories: award-winning, courage, imagination, nature
We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga (2018)
Written by Traci Sorell, Illustrated by Frané Lessac
Otsaliheliga is a Cherokee word used to express gratitude. In this colorful book, debut author Traci Sorell shares a year in the life of her Cherokee family.
Through the graceful storytelling and joyful illustrations, We Are Grateful takes us through the seasons and the rituals and routines that come along with each. The Cherokee community's love of nature and family is evident, as is their regular expression of attitude. Cherokee words are presented on most pages, both phonetically and written in the Cherokee syllabary.
Categories: award-winning, other cultures
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble (1969)
Written and illustrated by William Steig
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble is a touching and emotional tale of a young donkey who finds a magic pebble that grants the wish of whoever is holding it.
Unfortunately, he runs into a hungry lion moments after discovering it and, in a panic, wishes he was a rock. The pebble falls to the ground and poor Sylvester is stuck as a rock for months while his poor parents mourn for their only son.
This is another timeless classic that perfectly captures the love of family and the deep devotion of parents to their children.
Categories: award-winning, relationships, animal tale
Hello Lighthouse (2018)
Written and illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Sophie Blackall's lovely book about a lighthouse keeper and is family transports readers to a different time and a different way of life.
A new lighthouse keeper moves into the lighthouse and starts fixing it up. He fishes from his window, drinks tea, and writes letters to his wife. Eventually she joins him and they navigate the adventures of lighthouse life together, saving shipwrecked sailors from the sea, coping with illness, and celebrating the birth of their first child.
A letter from the coast guard's office brings news of change and the family must adopt a new lifestyle, while still holding onto their love of the sea and the lighthouse.
Categories: award-winning, educational
Written and illustrated by Janell Cannon
Stellaluna is a baby bat who gets separated from her mother after an owl attacks them. She lands in a birds nest and is taken in by the mother bird who is raising her own three babies.
While the family of birds is kind to her, they're not very accepting of her differences and they try to make her fit in with them by acting like a bird.
As she grows, she isolates herself more because her unusual habits make her feel so inadequate with the birds. While hanging from a tree in the middle of the night, she is approached by a group of fruit bats who help her understand who she truly is.
She and her bird family are not able to fully understand the differences between them, but they know that they're friends, and that's what matters. This book has strong themes of friendship and learning to appreciate our own individualities. It would also be an excellent addition to a unit study on bats.
Categories: award-winning, friendship, diversity, animal tale, nature
Frog and Toad Are Friends (1970)
Written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel
Frog and Toad are Friends has been a childhood favorite for over fifty years. This classic tale of friendship is as heartwarming as it is funny.
Frog is upbeat and always wants to have new adventures, while Toad is more reserved and prefers to stay home and sleep when possible. The book contains five vignettes of their lives and each one portrays new aspects of their friendship. After Toad makes Frog spend a morning helping him look for a lost button, he goes home and sews buttons all over his jacket before giving it to his friend the next day to make it up to him. When Toad tells Frog he's never received a letter before, Frog immediately goes home and writes him a letter thanking him for his friendship, then sits with him for four days waiting for it to arrive.
At a time when kids are really struggling to learn what it means to be a true friend, we will do well to offer them Frog and Toad as an early example of what friendship can be like.
Categories: funny, award-winning, friendship, animal tale
How to Spot an Artist: This Might Get Messy (2020)
Written and illustrated by Danielle Krysa
This hilarious and encouraging book takes children on an important mission to discover artists. What they realize along the way is that anyone is an artist if they want to be. In fact, as the book points out in its somewhat predictable conclusion, YOU (the reader) are already an artist. It then offers a list of art projects they can do right away.
The author encourages kids to see themselves as artists and to explore their full potential. Kids will love how the whole book, including the fonts, is a work of art in itself and that the book as a conversation between the author and the reader. Parents and teachers will (hopefully) appreciate the warning about art bullies, the people who shut young artists down with hurtful words.
Categories: funny, self-discovery, non-fiction
One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree (2016)
Written by Daniel Bernstrom, Illustrated by Brendan Wenzel
When a sneaky snake drops down from a eucalyptus tree and gobbles up a little boy, he has no idea who he's up against.
One after another, the boy convinces the snake to eat every succulent creature who catches his eye. From deep within the snake's belly, the boy tells his captor, "There is room, still more room, so much more to enjoy."
Reminiscent of other classic books such as The Mitten and There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree will have children squealing with delight as it approaches its explosive finish.
Categories: funny, nature
I Dare You Not to Yawn (2013)
Written by Hélène Boudreau, Illustrated by Serge Bloch
"Quick! Close your mouth! Especially if your eyes feel droopy, your shoulders feel sloopy, and your mouth feels like it wants to stretch open wide to let out a great big yawny yaaaaawn," or before you know it, they'll be putting you to bed!
This comical cautionary fable offers excellent advice to kids on how to fight the urge to yawn, lest they be sent to bed prematurely. Between the exaggerated drawings and the narrator's urgent warnings, kids will have a blast with this one.
Categories: funny, bedtime
Swashby and the Sea (2020)
Written by Beth Ferry, Illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
Swashby is retired sea captain who just wants to be alone in his little house on the beach, with only his friend, the sea, to keep him company. When a vibrant little girl and her granny move into the house next door and disrupt his peace, he does everything he can to try and make them go away.
But the sea, which has always provided everything he needed, seems to know that Swashby needs something she can't offer: human friendship. So she meddles just a little and pushes Swashby outside his comfort zone. And what he discovers there is something beautiful--that neighbors can become family in the most unexpected ways.
Kids will love deciphering the missing letters in the messages written in the sand and the grumpiness of the old man, which can only be softened through the relentless joy of a child.
Categories: friendship, nature
Little Bear's Valentine (2003)
Written by Else Holmelund Minarik, Illustrated by Heather Green
Else Holmelund Minarik's Little Bear books have delighted children since 1957. Unlike most of the series, which was illustrated by Maurice Sendak, this one is illustrated by Heather Green, who revives the beloved characters beautifully.
This sweet book highlights the special relationship Little Bear has with his mother. After receiving an anonymous Valentine's Day card, Little Bear spends the day visiting all of this friends and trying to figure out who his secret admirer is. When he returns home, he realizes it was his mom all along and that she's invited all his friends over for a special party.
He and his mom share a special moment where they express their love for each other. I'm not going to lie, I tear up a bit when he gives her his valentine–the most beautiful one of all. If you enjoy this one, I'd recommend the whole series to you. They're all just as precious.
Categories: animal tale, relationships
The Word Collector (2018)
Written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Some people collect stamps. Some collect bugs. Others collect rocks.
Jerome collects words. All kinds of words: words that jump out at him and pop off pages, short and weet words, multi-syllable words that sound like little songs. He organizes his words into a well-sorted stack of collections, until one day he falls while carrying them all and the words get all jumbled together.
That's when he realizes the true beauty of the words: the infinite ways he can combine them to delight people, show empathy, and communicate his ideas. Ultimately, he realizes that the best thing he can do with his word collection is to share it with all the other children.
As kindergarteners get introduced to the world of spelling lists and vocabulary journals, we do well to introduce them to the power of words early so they develop an understanding of and appreciation for language as their own budding vocabularies start to explode.
Categories: following one's passion
Time for Bed (1993)
Written by Mem Fox, Illustrated by Jane Dyer
This book is a classic bedtime favorite, not just for kindergarteners but for all young children. We've been reading this to our little ones since the earliest days of bedtime stories, and it never loses its sense of beauty and peace.
The book follows all the animal babies as their parents put them to sleep and whisper sweet bedtime words into their little ears. The full-page illustrations are beautiful, and though little ones will probably relate to the snake and the pup who don't want to sleep, they'll still be yawning by the end of the story.
Categories: bedtime, animal tale
Regards to the Man in the Moon (1981)
Written and illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats
When Louie's friends laugh at him because of his pop's junk collection, his pop tells him, "All a person needs is some imagination! And a little of that stuff can take you right out of this world."
Louie takes the words to heart and he and his friend Susie set off in search of adventure. Pretty soon, all the other kids want to come to, but their imaginations aren't quite as strong. Louie and Susie encourage them, and pretty soon, they've got the whole neighborhood lining up to play.
Categories: imagination, friendship
My Green Day: 10 Green Things I Can Do Today (2020)
Written and illustrated by Melanie Walsh
My Green Day by Melanie Walsh is a perfect Earth Day read. It contains ten activities kids can do at home and school to decrease their environmental impact.
The actions in this book are simple enough for kids to understand and implement. They also serve as a great reminder to parents that taking action doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Small steps like buying free-range eggs, composting our food scraps, and buying only as much food as we need can go a long way in conserving the world’s most precious resources.
Parents will also appreciate the reminders about wearing sweaters when we’re cold instead of turning up the heat and taking shorter showers!
Categories: educational, non-fiction, nature
A Perfect Day for Digging (2014)
Written by Cari Best, Illustrated by Christine Davenir
"In the spring when trees unfreeze and grass grows green and pansies say, 'Please plant me,' Nell and Rusty cant wait to dig in dirt just right for digging." But Nell's neighbor, Norman, hates getting dirty. He'd rather just watch from the sidelines and keep his nice clothes clean.
Nell and Rusty's exuberance is hard to resist though. They dig holes, smell the fresh spring soil, bore tunnels, chip-chop the clumpy soil, and discover hidden treasure. Before long, Norman is rolling up his sleeves to get in on the action.
A delightful ode to getting one's hands dirty, this would be the perfect book to read as an intro to a unit on gardening.
Categories: friendship, nature
The Pout-Pout Fish and the Can't-Sleep Blues (2018)
Written by Deborah Diesen, Illustrated by Dan Hanna
This is the perfect read-aloud for kids who have a hard time falling asleep at night. It would also fit in well with a discussion of developing your own habits and routines.
Mr. Fish can't get to sleep. All the other see creatures tell him what works best for them. One by one, they fall asleep as he looks in an increasingly frustrated state. He wants to go to sleep but nobody else's tricks work for him.
Finally, Miss Shimmer explains to him that he well only find success if he finds what works for him. He needs to trust himself to be his own guide. When he follows her advice, he's able to develop a bedtime routine that works best for him and he falls right to sleep.
This story is so relatable, even for grown-ups. We're so often faced with conflicting advice, and though all of it seems to work for everyone else, none of it seems to work for us. Teaching kids how to identify this common conundrum and discover their own best strategies earlier is a wonderful idea.
Categories: bedtime, animal tales
The King of Kindergarten (2019)
Written by Derrick Barnes, Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
The King of Kindergarten is a delightful introduction to school life, painting it in a rosy hue that is as vivid as the book's remarkable illustrations.
The protagonist of this story is a little boy starting his first day of kindergarten. His parents have filled him with so much excitement and confidence about the day, he feels like he's going to be king of his classroom. He carefully picks out his own outfit, eats a huge stack of pancakes, and rides the big yellow carriage to a grand fortress.
He bravely introduces himself to new friends, battles fire-breathing dragons, and shares his favorite dessert.
This is a really touching book that will put a positive spin on school for any little ones who are having a hard time adjusting to the idea.
The Snowy Day (1962)
Written and illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats
This book is so special, it makes me–someone who seriously dislikes snow–wish for a snowy day just so I could go out and have half the adventures its protagonist, Peter, has.
Peter wakes up to the first snowfall of the year, immediately dons his snowsuit, and runs outside into the snow. He marvels over the different tracks he makes, builds a snowman, makes snow angels, and slides down a heaping mountain of snow.
As a keepsake from his special day, he stows a snowball in his pocket before returning home, and is sad to find it gone when he checks before bed. But fortunately, the next morning he gets another snowy day.
Keats' spare writing and simple, colorful collage illustrations let Peter's wonderment speak for itself. Keats was committed to portraying diverse communities in his books, and The Snowy Day was one of the first books to feature a non-caricatured African American protagonist. It won the Caldecott Medal in 1963.
Categories: award-winning, diversity
Keats's Neighborhood: An Ezra Jack Keats Treasury (2002)
Written and illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats
Lest I include a half dozen of his separate titles on this list, I will instead recommend this anthology of Ezra Jack Keats' beloved childhood stories.
This beautiful collectible book features such favorites as The Snowy Day, A Letter to Amy, and Jennie's Hat. Interspersed with the stories are short essays from four of the most important children's writers and illustrators sharing their thoughts on Keats and his legacy.
Children will not only delight in the stories, but they may also be excited to see images of some of the original drawings that didn't make it into the books as well as earlier drafts of final works.
Categories: award-winning, diversity, anthology
Lemon the Duck (2008)
Written by Laura Backman, Illustrated by Laurence Cleyet-Merle
Based on the true story of Lemon the Duck, this tale follows a teacher and her students who hatch chicks in their class.
One of the chicks doesn't develop properly and never learns to stand up on her own. The teacher and her students give her special care and devise different ways for her to live a full life.
Eventually, they develop a harness that allows her to muck around in the grass and catch worms. This is a fun story of a group of kids persevering and working together to help a creature in need.
Categories: friendship, animal tales, compassion
Strega Nona (1979)
Written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola
Strega Nona is a sort of witch doctor who helps her fellow villagers with their personal and physical problems. She has a magic pasta pot that makes past when she sings to it and stops when she kisses it.
Her assistant decides to try out the pot but doesn't realize he doesn't know how to make it stop. Before she can return and stop it, pasta noodles overtake her whole house and start to spill out into the town. As his punishment, Strega Nona makes him eat all the pasta.
The original story and the series of Strega Nona books that follow it are some of the most popular modern folktale picture books in America.
Categories: funny, award-winning
It's Duffy Time! (2012)
Written by Audrey Wood, Illustrated by Don Wood
From the creators of Silly Sally comes a story of their own beloved pug, Duffy.
It's Duffy Time! follows the sweet dog through his day, which is marked by several naps including his Late Morning nap, his Early Afternoon nap, and his Before Dinner nap.
Don Wood's illustrations of Duffy are off the chart adorable–he's especially striking in his pirate hat–and Audrey Wood has perfectly captured life from the perspective of a happy canine.
Categories: funny, animal tale
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (1989)
Written by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault, Illustrated by Lois Ehlert
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is a hilarious tale featuring a cast of letters. Kindergarteners will take absolute delight in this fact.
Not only are the protagonists an alphabet full of lowercase letters, they're also troublemakers. They climb up a coconut tree for a little gathering only to have it keel over under their collective weight. They are rescued by some capital letters and then their injuries are described in detail (H and I are all tangled up, J and K are about to cry, L is knotted like a tie, etc.)
Once they are down, the mischievous characters head back up the tree once more.
All I can say is, just try to get away with reading this book only once. It's not happening.
Categories: funny, imagination
The Runaway Bunny (1942)
Written by Margaret Wise Brown, Illustrated by Clement Hurd
The Runaway Bunny is a sweet, sweet story about a little bunny who wants to run away and his mother, who is determined to find him.
The little bunny first posits the idea to his mother, telling her, "I am running away," to which his mother replies, "If you run away, I will run after you. For you are my little bunny."
He decides to test her, telling her he'll become a fish, a rock on a mountain, a flower, a bird, a sailboat, an acrobat, or a little boy to get away from her. For each of his suggestions, she has the perfect answer: she'll be the fisherman, the mountain climber, the gardener, the tree, the wind, the tightrope walker, or the little boy's mother. No matter what, she will be right there with him.
Finally, he gives up and says, "Shucks, I might just as well stay where I am and be your little bunny." And so he did.
Cue the tears running down every mother's face as they cuddle up with their little ones in their rocking chair.
Categories: relationships, bedtime, animal tales
A Home in the Barn (2018)
Written by Margaret Wise Brown, Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
This gentle barnyard tale was published for the first time in 2018, more than sixty years after the author's passing. Brought to life by Caldecott Medalist Jerry Pinkney, A Home in the Barn is the story of horses, cattle, cats, hens, pigs, and mice taking shelter from the winter weather in a cozy barn.
As the temperatures plummet, everyone huddles inside and finds comfort in the warmth of the barn and each other's body heat.
It's a beautiful book for kindergarteners who love animals or are doing a study on barnyard animals.
Categories: animal tales
Kaia and the Bees (2020)
Written by Maribeth Boelts, Illustrated by Angela Dominguez
Kaia's family keeps bees, but there's a problem. Kaia is terrified of them. The kids in her neighborhood don't know that, of course, because Kaia talks to them like she's totally brave. But the twisty feeling she gets in her stomach when she says this makes her wonder...does she want to be a liar or does she actually want to be brave?
She tries to overcome her fear, but it isn't until she sees that the bees need her that she's able to summon her courage.
A fantastic introduction to the important role of pollinators, Kaia and the Bees is a fantastic book about facing our fears to be part of something bigger than ourselves.
Categories: courage, educational
In the Woods: Who's Been Here? (1998)
Written and illustrated by Lindsay Barrett George
On an autumn day, William and Cammie take a walk through the woods and find an empty nest, a cocoon, gnawed bark, and other signs of unseen animals and their activities.
They investigate each clue and ask, "Who's been here?" The subsequent pages reveal a series of woodland animals and their habits. A few of the animals covered include a goshawk, a mud dauber, a snowshoe hare, and the northern oriole. The stunning painted illustrations hint at their activities and an information page at the back of the book gives further explanation into what these animals have been up to.
The illustrations and the connection the two children have with nature make this a lovely story time read; the educational aspect is the cherry on top.
Categories: educational, nature
Dragons Love Tacos (2012)
Written by Adam Rubin, Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri
A boy prepares a taco party of a group of dragons, who, apparently, love tacos. They love all kinds of tacos: huge tacos, tiny tacos, beef tacos, chicken tacos. (There's no mention of vegan tacos...)
The only thing the dragons do not love on their tacos is spicy salsa. Kindergarteners will likely relate well to this dislike!
So, after gathering bucket-loads, pants-loads, and boat-loads of tacos, he invites over all the dragons. But unfortunately, he didn't notice the small print: the mild salsa he used contains tiny green chili peppers. Hilarity ensues when the houseful of dragons get a taste of that spicy salsa.
Categories: funny, imagination
Ada Twist, Scientist (2016)
Written by Andrea Beaty, Illustrated by David Roberts
From the author of Rosie Revere, Engineer and Iggy Peck, Architect, comes Ada Twist, Scientist, a book about a curious little girl who just can't stop asking 'Why?'
Her parents and teacher try to keep up with her, but as she grows, so does her curiosity. She questions everything she encounters: "What does it do?", "When will it?", "Why does it?" One day in grade two, she runs into a problem she can't solve—the source of a mysteriously awful smell. In her quest to find the answer, she goes a little too far and gets into big trouble.
How she gets out of it is both remarkable and inspiring. This is a fantastic book for opening the eyes of young children to what it means to be a scientist, and it might even help them see the budding scientist in themselves. Just be prepared to see a little bit of new writing on your walls after reading this one.
Categories: funny, following one's passions
The Velveteen Rabbit (1922)
Original: Written by Margery Williams, Illustrated by William Nicholson
2012 Lou Fancher adaptation: Written by Lou Fancher, Illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher
No kindergarten storybook collection would be complete without a copy of the timeless classic, The Velveteen Rabbit, the story of a boy whose love turns a toy rabbit into a real one.
The little boy and his toy bunny love each other so much, they're inseparable. The rabbit knows that one day, if he waits long enough, he will become real. But after enduring through a bout of scarlet fever with the little boy, the rabbit is tossed into a garbage bag to be burned.
As he lies in the bag all by himself, a real tear trickles down his face. Where it falls on the ground, a flower grows and a fairy appears. She explains to him that he was real to the boy, because the boy loved him, but now, she would make him be real to everybody.
Categories: friendship, bedtime, animal tales, imagination
Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes (2008)
Written by Eric Litwin, Illustrated by James Dean
The first time I read Pete the Cat to my four-year-old, he surprised me by reciting the entire book in song as soon as I opened the front cover. It turns out he had memorized the whole thing at his preschool. It's just that kind of a book.
Pete is one cool cat. He walks along the street in his swanky white shoes, singing, "I love my white shoes, I love my white shoes, I love my white shoes."
Of course, as all parents know, white shoes only stay white for so long. Pete learns this lesson the hard way when he steps in a pile of strawberries, which turn his shoes red. But does he lose his cool?
Goodness, no! He just keeps walking along and singing his song. This happens to him several more times until he ends up with four mismatched shoes. And the moral of Pete's story is: "No matter what you step in, keep walking along and singing your song...because it's all good." Perfect lesson, perfect illustrations, perfect story.
And if your kindergarteners enjoy this one, there are many other books in the Pete the Cat series from them to groove along to.
Categories: funny, animal tale
A Field Full of Horses: Read and Wonder (1993)
Written by Peter Hansard, Illustrated by Kenneth Lilly
With beautiful illustrations of many types of horses, this book is sure to please any horse-loving young reader. Peter Hansard takes us on a lovely stroll down a winding country lane to a pasture where horses are grazing. Chomping grass, rolling in the dust, getting a rub down, each horse is shown in its natural element, doing the things it loves to do.
The book is full of interesting facts about horses, but not in such details that young ones will lose interest. The front and back covers feature a variety of horse breeds for children to marvel at.
A Field Full of Horses is part of the Read and Wonder series from Candlewick Press.
Categories: non-fiction, educational
Duck on a Bike (2002)
Written and illustrated by David Shannon
While David Shannon has written and illustrated many children's books and is perhaps best known for 1999's No, David and the subsequent series of David books, Duck on a Bike stands out as a favorite in our home.
One day down on the farm, Duck has a wild idea. “I bet I could ride a bike.” He waddles over to where the boy parked his bike, climbs on and begins to ride. As he rides past each of the barnyard animals, he calls out to them in exuberant greeting. Each one responds with the typical barnyard response (moo, baa), while silently harboring thoughts of derision and jealousy toward Duck.
Suddenly, a group of kids ride by on their bikes and run into the farmhouse, leaving the bikes outside. When this opportunity presents itself, the whole crew of farm animals jumps on and takes a spin.
Categories: funny, imagination, animal tale
National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry: 200 Poems with Photographs That Squeak, Soar, and Roar! (2012)
Written by J. Patrick Lewis, U.S. Children's Poet Laureate (Compiler), Photography by various photographers
This vast collection of animal poetry compiled by former U.S. Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis is a delightful read for families or classes. Every page features a stunning close-up shot of an animal, of the quality one would expect from National Geographic. While the poems range from silly to serious to insightful, the photos are all truly jaw-dropping.
Featured poets include J. Patrick Lewis, Dorothy Aldis, Emily Dickinson, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Frost, Rudyard Kipling, Jack Prelutsky, Elizabeth Madox Roberts, Robert Louis Stevenson, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and many more."
Divided into chapters that group the poems by theme for extra resonance, the collection is a mix of old and new, classics, and never-before-published poems.
Categories: non-fiction, poetry, nature, anthology
The Day You Begin (2018)
Written by Jacqueline Woodson, Illustrated by Rafael López
This stunning book from multiple award-winning author and illustrator duo Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López sheds light on that feeling we all have that we don't quite fit in, and what it means to open ourselves up a bit to the world.
In any new situation, it's easy to feel like you don't belong: you don't look right, you don't say the right things, you don't wear the right clothes. It's not a pleasant feeling, and we usually forget (or haven't learned yet) that almost everyone else feels the same way too.
But when we take the first timid steps toward letting people get to know us for who we really are, we find we have more in common with them than we think, and that the things that make us unique? Well, they're pretty special too.
Categories: courage, diversity, other cultures
The Llama Who Had No Pajama: 100 Favorite Poems (1998)
Written by Mary Ann Hoberman, Illustrated by Betty Fraser
Here's another delightful collection of poetry for another former U.S. Children's Poet Laureate. The Llama Who Had No Pajama is a series of 100 fun, silly, irresistible poems that children will love to read again and again.
Covering everything from centipedes to whales, from balloons to windshield wipers, from roller-skating in spring to ice-skating in winter, the poems convey the experiences of childhood with a timeless freshness.
Categories: funny, non-fiction, poetry
Ira Sleeps Over (1975)
Written and illustrated by Bernard Waber
Ira has a dilemma: he's been invited to sleep over at his friend Reggie's house, but he can't decide whether or not to bring his teddy bear. Will it make him look like a baby? Will Reggie laugh at him?
This sweet and hilarious story of growing up (but not too fast) is entirely relatable, even to older kids.
Categories: funny, friendship, courage
Scaredy Squirrel (2008)
Written and illustrated by Mélanie Watt
Scaredy Squirrel never leaves his nut tree. He'd rather stay in his comfort zone than risk going out into the unknown where he could encounter such horrifying sights as killer bees, poison ivy, germs, or sharks.
But never leaving his tree is starting to get pretty boring. He sits there all day with his well-stocked emergency kit. Then one day, the unthinkable happens: he spots a "killer bee" and, in his shock, drops his emergency kit out of the tree.
When he realizes he must leave the tree to retrieve it, he discovers something truly amazing about himself, something that will change his life (or at least his routine) forever.
Categories: funny, award-winning, courage, animal tale
Rain School (2010)
Written and illustrated by James Rumford
In a village in Chad, it's the first day of school. The dry road fills up with children who are nearly bursting with enthusiasm.
"Will they give us a notebook?"
"Will I learn to read like you?"
The questions are never-ending. But when they arrive at school, they are confused to find no school, classroom, or desks–just a teacher. "We will build our school," she says. "This is the first lesson."
This touching book will give school-aged children a glimpse into another culture, one where education is defined not by the building one learns in or the materials they use, but by the knowledge they take away from their experiences.
Categories: other cultures
Help Wanted, Must Love Books (2020)
Written by Janet Sumner Johnson, Illustrated by Courtney Dawson
I love, love, love this debut title from Janet Sumner Johnson.
Shailey is a sassy little girl who knows what she wants. When her dad starts neglecting his bedtime story reading duties after starting a demanding new job, Shailey fires him.
Then she sets out to find his replacement. She posts a wanted ad and starts interviewing applicants, each of whom is a character from a fairy tale, who exhibits some fatal flaw (too many sidekicks, not human, unable to stay awake, poor personal hygiene). She's just about ready to give up when one final applicant shows up at her door and attempts to win her over.
Categories: relationships, bedtime, funny
My Forest Is Green (2019)
Written by Darren Lebeuf, Illustrated by Ashley Barron
In this sweet story, a young, urban-dwelling boy looks out over his balcony and admires "his" forest below. Then he looks inside and admires his collection of nature items and artwork. This, he says, is his actual forest.
We accompany him on a nature walk throug his forest where he observes all the opposites intrinsic in nature–my forest is tall (trees), short (ants), fluffy (feathers), prickly (thorns), and rough (bark). Through it all, he carries his backpack, field guide, and art supplies and he stops frequently to make a picture, a collage, or a rubbing. He uses myriad materials to recreate the beauty he sees in nature through his art.
My Forest is Green will be a lovely accompaniment or introduction to nature walks, and is perfect for any Charlotte Mason-style lessons on nature.
Categories: following one's passions, nature
Little Red Reading Hood and the Misread Wolf (2019)
Written by Troy Wilson, Illustrated by Ilaria Campana
This is a bookish twist on Little Red Riding Hood. Not only does this Red love red, she also–as the title implies–loves reading. Luckily, she's so well-read, she knows just what to do when she runs into terrible situations, like bumping into a hungry wolf in the woods.
Unluckily, her tricks don't seem to deter the wolf until he gets her hands on the treat in her basket: a new book. He's completely infatuated with the "new book smell" and begs her to read it to him.
It's certainly a strange twist on the old tale–Red, the wolf, Grandma and the axman all end up reading stories together on Grandma's bed. But it's funny and well appeal to kids who are starting to grasp the amazing power of books.
Orion and the Dark (2014)
Written and illustrated by Emma Yarlett
Like Scaredy Squirrel, Orion is afraid of pretty much everything: wasps, dogs, sheds, spiders. But mostly what Orion is afraid of is the Dark. He's tried everything to conquer this fear, but nothing has worked so far.
Until one night, when the Dark comes alive and comes in through his window and invites him on an adventure. Together, they explore the shadowy and scary parts of the house, the nooks and crannies where the monsters live. Then they go outside to confront all the scary nighttime sounds.
Ultimately the Dark helps Orion overcome his fears, but not before a trip to the moon.
Funny, clever, and endearing, Orion and the Dark helps shine a new light on bed time fears and will hopefully help kids who wrestle with their own active imaginations at night.
Categories: friendships, courage, bedtime, imagination
We hope you enjoy these delightful read-alouds for kindergarten as much as we do.
Here are a few other kindergarten book lists from some of our fellow homeschool bloggers:
The Best Read Aloud Chapter Books for Kindergarten
This Homeschool House
Kindergarten Books to Read Aloud
The Waldock Way
100 History Books that will Delight Your Kindergartener
Most Important Work
Leave a comment below and let me know which of these books are your favorite, and which ones I missed, and don’t forget to save this post to Facebook or Pinterest so you can find it later.
Sophie Agbonkhese is a writer, homeschooling mother of four, and a recovering overachiever (who occasionally relapses). She is the founder of My Cup Runs Over, a site dedicated to helping busy women simplify and enrich their lives. When she’s not writing or debugging websites, Sophie spends her time reading, dancing, bullet journaling, reading, gardening, listening to audiobooks, and striving fruitlessly to have a clean house for at least five minutes.