Introducing children to a lifelong love of reading is one of the joys of parenting (or playing an essential role in any child's life). If you're looking for some great books to add to your child's shelf, check out these 19 kindergarten-level children's books below, from the educational to the just-for-fun.
Educational Books for Kindergarteners
Sure, you could give your young reader a coloring book of ABCs or a picture book of colors, but why not make things a little more interesting, with stories that will teach them an essential academic skill while also treating them to plot lines and concepts that will expand their minds?
These books aren't your average educational books for kindergartners. All of them will prepare them to move on to chapter books (and most are available either as printables or on Amazon so that you can get them in your child's hands asap!).
If your beginning reader is also learning more complicated shapes beyond the average stars and squares, give them this book that introduces a range of lovely, illustrated shapes that go beyond the norm and exposes them to Muslim culture, art and architecture.
This fun book introduces your child to the ideas of weight and comparisons, both of which are mathematical concepts that they'll need as they get into first and second grades. (And you may just learn a little about weight and animals yourself!)
An alphabet book series like no other, this tale follows a very bad kitty through a series of misadventures. You'll undoubtedly recognize your own cat's behavior (if you have one) in Bad Kitty, and your child will learn the alphabet four times over with just one reading.
Sure, it sounds a bit complicated, but this book designed for young children isn't. The whole family will be intrigued by this book, though, with its easy-to-understand nautical codes and flags, accompanied by alphabet lessons and even lessons on morse code.
Independent Reading Books for Kindergarteners
By kindergarten, many children are well on their way to reading. They're learning to recognize certain words on sight, they're learning how to sound out difficult words and while they can't read entirely on their own just yet, they're getting there. Help them along with books that challenge them just enough.
Independent reading books for kindergarteners should include many sight words, use short words plus short sentences and provide reading clues, like relevant illustrations or rhyming and patterns (the Dr. Seuss books are a good pick for this).
Here are a few books to add to your budding reader's book list (just make sure to stick around in case an extra bit of help is required!).
This book is uncomplicated and contains simple words. A hot dog wants to cool off, and the range of terms your child can expect to sound out is simple, such as "cat," "cold" and "mom."
If you find your child mixing up letters in similar words ("mop" versus "map," for example), hand them this book that follows the adventures of a pig and a pug.
Not only is it adorable, this story includes a lot of rhyming and patterns, making it easy for your child to get the hang of the words.
Just-for-Fun Books for Kindergarteners
Sometimes, you don't necessarily want to learn anything — you just want to have a good time. These kindergartener books deliver that good time, plus they're secretly educational (hint: almost all books for kindergarteners are!). Whether the book teaches your child some fun new words or just shows them what a diverse cast of characters looks like, these books tick all the boxes in a fun way.
This book follows the adventures of a fun-loving little girl and her grandmother as they move to the seaside and meet a reclusive sailor. Cute and heart-warming, it teaches some valuable vocabulary words as well.
Who doesn't love a fresh take on an old classic? This Little Red Riding Hood retelling follows a little girl on her way to visit her aunt, as she comes across a hungry, very suspicious lion. The colorful, whimsical illustrations are just the icing on the cake for this fun book.
While this book does say a thing or two about self-control (a helpful cautionary tale for any kindergartener), it's lovable all on its own, without the extra messaging. It follows an adorable dinosaur as they accidentally eat their classmates.
This book is another retelling of a classic story, in this case, that of The Little Red Hen. While your early reader may not be able to relate to the trials and tribulations of the classic red chicken, they're sure to fall in love with the adorable Ruby, who's out to build a cool fort, with or without the help of her brothers.
Who doesn't love dragons, and who doesn't love tacos? This book is fun and filled with both. You and your child will both be giggling your way through this quick read.
New Classic Books for Kindergarteners
You can't go wrong with a classic — but we all know the nursery book basics, from Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to The Very Hungry Caterpillar to Where the Wild Things Are. What about the new classics? What books became popular with generations of millennials and Gen Z-ers, many of whom now have their own kindergarteners? Make sure you have these can't-miss new classic books on your child's bookshelf.
This beautifully illustrated book is a heartwarming tale of remembering you're loved even in scary situations and is definitely one to have on hand if your child is feeling a bit worried about going to school or meeting fellow classmates for the first time.
Funny and filled with delightful illustrations, this book follows a group of cows and other barnyard critters that get bossy, demanding better treatment in exchange for milk.
While the illustrations are rather simplistic, this book's words are hilarious. A mischievous little pigeon does all he can to try to get the reader to agree to let him ride the bus in this fourth-wall-breaking book by a Sesame Street writer.
This book is a good pick for those with children who are feeling particularly anxious about bedtime. If you're sleep training, you'll for sure want to add it to your pre-bedtime roster.
Books for Kindergarteners on Important Topics
While many of the classic books for kindergarteners are great, a lot of them don't touch on important, timely topics that your child may be wondering about right now. Things like climate change, politics, poverty, race and more all impact your child, and there's never a too-early time to start introducing them to issues and helping them form their own world views. These must-read books can help.
Based on a real-life child's experiences at the women's marches of 2017, this book follows a child's journey and her mother preparing for a similar demonstration. It introduces the concept of peaceful protesting for what you feel is right while putting love at the message's forefront.
If you're working to break down gender stereotypes and barriers in your home and teach your child that gender doesn't generally matter, you'll want to grab this book instantly. Timely and relevant, it's sure to spark conversations among your family, whether you have young girls or young boys in your household.
Sure, it's not the most intellectual issue out there, but it is an important one, especially this year. Reinforce the habit of hand-washing in your household with this fun book that turns a potentially dreaded chore into a fun activity.
Teaching Kindergarten Reading and Literacy Skills
If you're working with your child on their kindergarten reading and literacy skills at home, apart from, or ahead of, their in-classroom kindergarten experience, there are a few things you should know about a typical child's reading level at that age.
What should my child know before kindergarten?
Most kindergarteners are four or five years old. It's typically expected that they'll have some reading comprehension skills, but it's definitely not expected that they should be fully reading on their own before they walk into the classroom for the first time.
In general, your preschool child should be able to recognize most of their letters, know a few sight words, know the alphabet song and get the general gist of reading. For example, when you read a book with them, they should know that you're sounding out individual letters to make the words on the page, which, in turn, creates the story.
Usually, children can pick up on these concepts simply through regular reading with them.
What should my child know by the time they finish kindergarten?
By the time they finish kindergarten, however, your child should be able to read single-syllable words, know all letters and sounds, be able to write all of their letters (both lowercase and uppercase), know the differences between consonants and vowels plus understand more complex literary concepts. These more complex literary concepts usually include things like the idea that a story is different from a poem or recognizing a story's theme.
How can I help my kindergartener learn reading and literacy skills?
One of the best (and easiest) things you can do for your child as they learn to read in kindergarten, or even before, is to simply read aloud with them — and let them see you reading, too. While most children enjoy reading with a parent, if they're hesitant, they're more likely to enjoy the process if they see you enjoying reading on your own time. They may even decide that they want to mimic you and level up their independent reading skills.
Beyond this, see how you can incorporate language skills into your daily life. Point out words while you're at the grocery store. Sound out words while you're reading to them versus flying through a new book just to get them into bed.
A good rule of thumb for independent reading? If your child attempts to read a book on their own and they make five errors on one page, the book is likely too difficult for them. But don't get frustrated! Every child learns at their own pace. The important thing is to try, making reading part of your child's life and go from there; if you have further worries, talk to your child's educators.
Studies have found that the most significant academic readiness indicator in PreK little ones is simply exposure to books. If you give them this, they'll be well ahead of their peers. Currently, almost 60% of children are not prepared for school when they begin kindergarten, and more than 60% of children do not have a developed reading proficiency by the end of third grade. If you can avoid this for your child, they'll enjoy a solid foundation for the rest of their academic career. They'll be on to reading graphic novels and Harry Potter before you know it!
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19 Books Kindergarteners Need To Read:
- Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets: A Muslim Book of Shapes by Hena Khan
- How Much Does a Ladybug Weigh? by Alison Limentani
- Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel
- Alpha Bravo Charlie: The Complete Book of Nautical Codes by Sara Gillingham
- Hot Dog by Molly Coxe
- Pig and Pug by Laura Marchesani and Zenaides A. Medina Jr.
- What This Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig by Emma Virjan
- Swashby and the Sea by Beth Ferry
- Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion by Alex T. Smith
- We Don't Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins
- The Little Red Fort by Brenda Maier
- Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin
- The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
- Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin
- Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems
- Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
- Love is Powerful by Heather Dean Brewer
- Pink is for Boys by Robb Pearlman
- Germs vs. Soap by Didi Dragon