17 Best Books for Five Year Olds for Teachers and Parents to Buy

Do you have a kindergartner in your life? Check out this list of the best books for five year olds to fill up your home or classroom library.

Reading to a child and giving a child a chance to enjoy good books at an early age is a key predictor of later reading success. When a child enters kindergarten, they are primed to learn how to read; this is the perfect time to put fun and colorful books in their hands. By age five, most young readers are ready to read simple books with sight words and easy-to-sound-out vocabulary. Children at this age appreciate colorful illustrations and still enjoy being read to. Most are not ready for chapter books, except as read-aloud, but some are ready to read independently. 

If you have a five-year-old in your life, choosing engaging books and books on their reading level is a meaningful way to spark a lifelong love of learning. This list of the best books for five-year-olds includes New York Times bestsellers, Caldecott honor books, and plenty of fun, colorful and humorous stories to enjoy with the kids in your life. You might also enjoy reading the best Roger Hargreaves books for kids!

Here Are The Best Books for Five Year Olds

1. Pete the Cat: Rocking in my School Shoes by Eric Litwin

Pete the Cat: Rocking in my School Shoes by Eric Litwin
A book cover shows with a blue cat wearing red shoes and playing a red guitar

Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes could help if your five-year-old is having some first-day-of-school jitters. Pete the Cat will move and groove his way to school with his cool, red shoes. This picture book by Eric Litwin takes the reader through all of the hot spots of the school, like the library and the lunchroom. Plenty of rhyming words in the sing-song style of the Pete the Cat books make it an enjoyable read, and the illustrations by James Dean feature a character many young children already know and love. Because Litwin is a musician, you can also download a song based on the book when you purchase it.

“Here comes Pete, strolling down the street, rocking red shoes on his four furry feet.”

Eric Litwin from Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes
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Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes: A Back to School Book for Kids
  • Hardcover Book
  • Litwin, Eric (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 40 Pages - 07/26/2011 (Publication Date) - HarperCollins (Publisher)

2. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
A book cover of The Gruffalo showing a make-believe monster and a small mouse on a path

When a brave little mouse strolls in the woods, he meets up with several woodland creatures that would love to eat him for dinner. He outwits them by telling them of an even scarier creature who lives in the deep, dark wood, the Gruffalo. After telling of the Gruffalo’s terrible tusks, claws, teeth, and jaw. The little mouse starts to wonder if he is, in fact, real.

This classic children’s book has sold 13.5 million copies worldwide, has been made into a film, and has a stage musical for kids performed on Broadway. It was once named the favorite bedtime story in England as well, making it worth adding to your bookshelf. Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo is perfectly illustrated by the art of Axel Scheffler. For younger tots, check out our list of the best books for two year olds.

“A mouse took a stroll through the deep, dark wood. A fox saw the mouse and the mouse looked good. Where are you going to, little brown mouse? Come and have lunch in my underground house.” “It’s terribly kind of you, Fox, but no – I’m going to have lunch with a gruffalo.”

Julia Donaldson from The Gruffalo
The Gruffalo
  • Donaldson, Julia (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 26 Pages - 01/27/2005 (Publication Date) - Dial Books (Publisher)

3. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff
A book cover with a mouse in blue overalls eating a cookie

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is a delightful picture book that is a fun story about a little boy who gives a mouse a cookie, only to find that he needs a glass of milk to go with it. Soon you will be sharing your entire day with the little mouse, only to find the story come full circle as the mouse asks, yet again, for a glass of milk and a cookie.

This is the first book in the “if you give” series, which has multiple similar tales featuring the words of Laura Numeroff and the pictures of Felicia Bond. Kids love the silly adventures of the little mouse and his new friend, and the sequencing of the different things the mouse asks for makes it an enjoyable read.

“If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of milk.”

Laura Numeroff from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
  • For Mac system 7.0 or later (OSX in CLASSIC OS)
  • Interactive book
  • Hardcover Book
  • Numeroff, Laura (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

4. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
A book cover showing four crayons with strike signs

This New York Times Bestselling book tells what happens when a little boy named Duncan wants to color. Sadly, when Duncan opens his box of crayons, he learns they have quit! The funny illustrations from Oliver Jeffers and the hilarious text from Drew Daywalt make The Day the Crayons Quit a must-read, and it won the 2013 Goodreads Best Picture Book of the Year award. The fact that many words are written in the color of the crayon as if they were ransom notes makes this book even more charming.

“Hey Duncan, It’s me, RED crayon. We need to talk. You make me work harder than any of your other crayons. All year long I wear myself out coloring FIRE ENGINES, APPLES, strawberries, and EVERYTHING ELSE that’s RED.”

Drew Daywalt from The Day The Crayons Quit
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The Day the Crayons Quit
  • Funny back-to-school story.
  • Duncan's crayons quit coloring. Crayons have feelings, too.
  • What can Duncan do to appease the crayons and get them back coloring?
  • Contains 40 pages and measures 9.25" x 6.25".
  • Recommended for ages 3 - 7 years.

5. Click, Clack, Moo, Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin

Click, Clack, Moo, Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin
A book cover of three cows, one duck, and one chicken looking at an old-fashioned typewriter

In the “funny things that go on strike” theme, Click, Clack, Moo, Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin is another contender. This book tells what happens when Farmer Brown finds his farm animals have been on strike. The cows have found an old typewriter and use it to demand electric blankets in return for continuing to give milk. The illustrations of Betsy Lewin make this book even more enjoyable as kids wonder what the animals will demand next. This book earned the Caldecott Honor award and a spot on the New York Times bestseller list.

“Farmer Brown has a problem. His cows like to type. All day long he hears Click, Clack, Moo, Click, Clack, Moo. Clickety Clack, Moo.”

Doreen Cronin from Click, Clack, Moo, Cows That Type
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Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type
  • 2000 copyright date. Published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers.
  • Hardcover Book
  • Doreen Cronin (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 02/01/2000 (Publication Date) - Atheneum Books for Young Readers (Publisher)

6. Wacky Wednesday by Dr. Seuss

Wacky Wednesday by Dr. Seuss
Image of Wacky Wednesday book cover showing a little girl watching a shoe with wings flying away

If your 5-year-old has already mastered or enjoyed Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham, introduce them to another fantastic book by the legendary Dr. Seuss. Wacky Wednesday starts with a young girl waking up to see a shoe on the wall. This opens the wackiest day she has ever experienced. There will be plenty of laughter with this book, and it doubles as an activity book as the reader is invited to find all of the wacky things in the illustrations. Like most Dr. Seuss books, this one contains plenty of sight words for young readers to tackle. For older kids, check out our list of the best books for six year olds.

“A shoe on the wall? Shouldn’t be there at all!”

Dr. Seuss from Wacky Wednesday
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Wacky Wednesday (Beginner Books(R))
  • Hardcover Book
  • Dr. Seuss (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 48 Pages - 09/12/1974 (Publication Date) - Random House Books for Young Readers (Publisher)

7. Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae

Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae
A book cover with a yellow and orange giraffe dancing

Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae will capture the imagination of early readers or those listening to the book as a read-aloud. It tells of what happens when Gerald, the giraffe, wants to dance with the other animals at sunset. His long neck and thin legs made it hard, but eventually, he finds a way to dance in his way. The book uses rhyming words, too, which adds to its appeal to little ones. Beautiful illustrations from Guy Parker-Rees make this whimsical book a pleasure to read.

“Gerald was a tall giraffe, whose neck was long and slim. But his knees were awfully crooked, and his legs were rather slim.”

Giles Andreae from Giraffes Can’t Dance
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Giraffes Can't Dance (Board Book)
  • N/A
  • Andreae, Giles (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 03/01/2012 (Publication Date) - Cartwheel Books (Publisher)

8. The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
A red book cover with a bull smelling a flower

Most bulls run, jump, and head-butt, but not Ferdinand. The Story of Ferdinand tells about a bull who would rather sit and smell flowers. Yet when a bumblebee scares him, he turns into the star of the bullfight. Yet, at his heart, he is still a rose-loving, gentle bull, not a fighter. This favorite book by Monro Leaf originally hit the bookshelves in 1936, and today it is a classic, but it is one that today’s five-year-olds should experience.

“And for all I know he is sitting there still, under his favorite cork tree, smelling the flowers just quietly.”

Monro Leaf from The Story of Ferdinand
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The Story of Ferdinand
  • classic tale
  • 1964 Publishing
  • hardcover
  • drawings by Robert Lawson
  • Hardcover Book

9. Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin
A book cover showing a red dragon with a mouth full of tacos and tacos on his stomach and wings

Dragons love their tacos, in all shapes and sizes, according to this book by Adam Rubin. Yet Dragons Love Tacos warms that if a dragon gets some spicy salsa, there will be trouble and that trouble will be hot. This book hit the number one spot on the New York Times bestseller list and is quite funny. 

“Hey kid! Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well.”

Adam Rubin from Dragons Love Tacos
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Dragons Love Tacos
  • Hardcover Book
  • Adam Rubin (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 40 Pages - 06/14/2012 (Publication Date) - Dial Books (Publisher)

10. The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper

The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
A book cover showing a blue train racing down a hill with children watching

The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper is a classic book about an anthropomorphic train engine that “thought she could” climb a steep hill, and she did. George Hauman’s illustrations capture the innocence of the 1930s, and this is one of those kids’ books that have stood the test of time, inspiring generations of little ones to do hard things. While there are newer versions with modern illustrations, the classic look of the vintage version continues to engage with readers today.

“Chug, chug, chug. Puff, puff, puff. Ding-dong, ding-dong. The little train rumbled over the tracks. She was a happy little train for she had such a jolly load to carry.’“

Watty Piper from The Little Engine That Could
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The Little Engine That Could (Original Classic Edition)
  • The story of the blue locomotive who exemplifies the power of positive thinking
  • Author: Watty Piper
  • 48 pages
  • Hardcover Book
  • Watty Piper (Author)

11. Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems
A book cover showing a little girl holding a stuffed bunny and walking holding her dad’s hand

Written and illustrated by Mo Willems, Knuffle Bunny A Cautionary Tale tells what happens when a little girl named Trixie loses her beloved stuffed bunny, named Knuffle Bunny, on a trip to the laundromat. The black-and-white photography of New York City and Willems’ colorful illustrations make this book appealing, and your five-year-old will be able to relate to the drama of losing a treasured plaything.

“Knuffle bunny!!! And those were the first words Trixie ever said.”

Mo Williams from Knuffle Bunny
Sale
Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale
  • Autographed and Doodled by the author, Mo Willems. Personally signed by Mo Willems with a drawing of a Knuffle Bunny head directly on the title page. Hardcover
  • Hardcover Book
  • Willems, Mo (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 40 Pages - 09/01/2004 (Publication Date) - Hyperion (Publisher)

12. Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World by Kate Pankhurst

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World by Kate Pankhurst
A book cover showing many famous women with the discoveries that made them famous

If you’re looking for non-fiction books for five-year-olds, consider this inspirational book highlighting several female historical figures. Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World by Kate Pankhurst explores the work of women who you may not have heard of but who significantly impacted the environment. Others, like Anne Frank and Rosa Parks, are women you may have heard of, but the book shows their bravery and the impact they made.

“The women in this book didn’t set out to be thought of as ‘great.” They achieved extraordinary things simply by following their hearts, talents and dreams. They didn’t listen when people said they couldn’t do something. They dared to be different. And some of them couldn’t resist a crazy adventure, or three.”

Kate Pankhurst from Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World
Fantastically Great Women who Saved the Planet
  • Pankhurst, Kate (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 02/06/2020 (Publication Date) - Bloomsbury Children's Books (Publisher)

13. The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
A book cover showing a colorful fish with iridescent scales. 

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister is a New York Times bestseller. It tells of a beautiful fish with iridescent scales thought to be the most beautiful fish in the sea. However, he is also vain, and soon begins to lose his friends. He learns that giving away his sparkling scales and having friends is better than being beautiful and alone. This book won the Christopher Award, the American Booksellers Abby Award, and was a Publishers Weekly and Wall Street Journal bestseller.

Kids love the foil-embossed illustrations that make his sparkling scales stand out. Looking for more children’s books? You might also enjoy our list of the best books for seven year olds.

“A long way out in the deep blue sea there lived a fish. Not just an ordinary fish, but the most beautiful fish in the entire ocean. His scales were every shade of blue and green and purple, with sparkling silver scales among them.”

Marcus Pfister from The Rainbow Fish
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The Rainbow Fish
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Hardcover Book
  • Pfister, Marcus (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 01/27/1999 (Publication Date) - North-South Books (Publisher)

14. Crocodiles Need Kisses Too by Rebecca Colby

Crocodiles Need Kisses Too by Rebecca Colby
A book cover showing two green crocodiles kissing

Crocodiles Need Kisses Too by Rebecca Colby is a sweet story that teaches kids what love is. A young crocodile learns about love from interacting with the other animals in the jungle, and he quickly learns that love comes in many forms. It has an upbeat rhyming cadence, making it an enjoyable book to read aloud with your child. Sweet illustrations from Penelope Dullaghan make this a beautiful book to add to your child’s collection.

“Despite their lumpy, bumpy hide, toothy mouths stretched open wide, just like me and just like you, crocodiles need kisses too.”

Rebecca Colby from Crocodiles Need Kisses Too
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Crocodiles Need Kisses Too
  • Hardcover Book
  • Colby, Rebecca (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 40 Pages - 04/07/2020 (Publication Date) - Viking Books for Young Readers (Publisher)

15. Lift the Flap Fairy Tales by Roger Priddy

Lift the Flap Fairy Tales by Roger Priddy
A book cover showing Little Red Riding Hood picking flowers while a wolf stalks her in the background

Beginning readers aren’t too old for lift-the-flap books, and Lift the Flap: Fairy Tales by Roger Priddy is fun and suspenseful. It follows a little girl who heads out on an adventure with her friends, taking her into the world of several famous fairy tales. The child lifts flaps as they search for their favorite characters and help the story unfold. Illustrations from Victoria Ball are quite beautiful, making this a treasured book for many.

“Tiny little Thumbelina. Lift the petals. can you see her?”

Roger Priddy from Lift the Flap: Fairy Tales
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Lift the Flap: Fairy Tales: Search for your Favorite Fairytale characters (Can You Find Me?)
  • Priddy, Roger (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 16 Pages - 10/04/2016 (Publication Date) - Priddy Books US (Publisher)

16. Can I Be Your Dog? by Troy Cummings

Can I Be Your Dog? by Troy Cummings
A book cover showing a brown dog with white eyes holding a letter in its mouth

Can I Be Your Dog? tells of Arfy, a dog looking for a family. He goes on several adventures as he tries to find someone to fall in love with him. In the end, he finds a surprising adopter. The book showcases his search using written letters, so it provides teachers and parents an opportunity to teach the art of letter writing in addition to a fun story with cute illustrations from the author, Troy Cummings.

“Dear people at Yellow House, Woof! Can I be your dog? I am potty trained, and I have my own squeaky bone. Also: I love to play!”

Troy Cummings from Can I Be Your Dog?

0593380061

17. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
A book cover with a black and white image showing two children and a dog looking off the edge of a path

Where the Sidewalk Ends is a book of whimsical children’s poems accompanied by illustrations from the author, Shel Silverstein. This classic children’s book helps build vocabulary while also inspiring the imagination. For example, in one poem, a boy turns into a TV set, which may cause readers to stop and think about what would happen if they found themselves in such a precarious situation. The black-and-white drawings accompanying the poems add to the book’s appeal. You might be interested in exploring other children’s books, such as these best Astrid Lindgren books.

“If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer. . .
If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!”

Shel Silverstein from Where the Sidewalk Ends
Sale
Where the Sidewalk Ends: Poems and Drawings
  • Hardcover Book
  • Silverstein, Shel (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 176 Pages - 02/18/2014 (Publication Date) - HarperCollins (Publisher)

Author

  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.