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Top 35 Books for Young Children

December 9, 2018

Grandma Davis reading to some little folks.

Another Way for week of December 7, 2018 – And a free bookmark.

Our Top 35 Books for Young Children

Some of my grandsons are growing up just like I did: in a home with no TV. My grandsons do see some videos at nursery school and daycare, and their parents share special events with them streaming on a laptop.

But some children grow up in a home without books—or at least no books beyond what they might get with a fast food kid’s meal. Now that is sad.

Our boys love books—all five of them in two families—and yes, I’m including the two-month-old who heard books all nine months inside his mommy. The five-year-olds, although not in kindergarten yet, know many words by sight and by hearing certain books over and over.

If you have children on your Christmas list, books are among the finest gifts you can give. Here, in no particular order, is my top 35 list from my grandsons, and the children and grandkids of friends, starting with books for younger children (0-2), and then for 2-4 year olds. Some of these books are totally new to me! You should be able to find them on Amazon or at any bookstore with a children’s section, staff should be able to help you. Friends and family who created this list: I am very grateful for your help.

Top 35 books for young children

Younger children 0-2:

  1. Snowmen at Night by Caralyn and Mark Buehner (five hidden objects on each page)
  2. Hippos Go Berserk by Sandra Boynton
  3. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd
  4. Pete the Cat by James Dean
  5. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault
  6. Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd
  7. Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle

    Yet another favorite book for grandson James.

  8. Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
  9. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star by Caroline Jayne Church

Older children 2-4: (many of these are series)

  1. No David by David Shannon
  2. The Nut Family by Eric Litwin and Scott Magoon
  3. Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever
  4. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond
  5. Little Critter books by Mercer Mayer
  6. Berenstain Bears by Stan and Jan Berenstain
  7. Clifford the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell
  8. Moonshot by Brian Floca
  9. Oh Were They Ever Happy by Peter Spier
  10. I Went Walking by Sue Williams and Julie Vivas
  11. Chu’s Day by Neil Gaiman and Adam Rex
  12. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
  13. Llama Llama Who’s Your Mama by Anna Dewdney
  14. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Helen Oxenbury and Michael Rosen
  15. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
  16. What if Everybody Did? by Ellen Javernick
  17. Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  18. Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne
  19. Seuss books, numerous
  20. The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone and Michael Smollin
  21. The Giant Jam Sandwich (old) by John Vernon Lord
  22. The Little Engine That Could (classic)

    Listening to a book in story time.

  23. Grimms’ Fairy Tales (classic)
  24. Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina and Ann Marie Mulhearn Sayer
  25. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw
  26. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (Gerald and Piggy series) by Mo Willems, a Sesame Street writer. One friend said, “Anything by Mo Willems is always a hit at our house.” Another said “My girls liked me to read these to them; then my oldest started reading them to her little sisters.” Sue, a grandmother, adds “I really like them, too. They’re quite funny.”

My friend Dennis Benson wrote about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program which gives each child born in her native Tennessee a free book each month for their first year. Niece JoAnn added it now operates as a nonprofit with people and businesses donating to help send more than one million books a month to children all around the world. Impressive!

Our oldest daughter Michelle, reading to her little sisters, Tanya, right and Doreen far left.

[Find Part 1 on reading and children here.]



Any of these books new to you? Which do you plan to check out?


I’m happy to send you this list as a bookmark to save for ideas for birthdays and more. Include a #10 self-addressed stamped envelope. Or send your comments or questions to or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  



  1. Lovely list, Melodie! You and Stuart (Stewart?) are making wonderful memories and instilling a love of reading for a lifetime.

    • Thanks–it is a joy to rediscover old loves in the books we already knew, and also discovering new loves with new books. Best to you!

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