What should my 5 year old be reading?
At 5 years old, kids are on their journey to learn how to read. But sometimes you have reluctant readers. Or you don’t know what books to find to get them excited about reading.
In this article, you’ll find the best books for 5 year olds to turn your child into an avid book lover. Keep scrolling and you can grab a free printable, plus see helpful tips for improving and keeping your child engaged too.
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Best Fiction Picture Books for 5 Year Olds
First, we start with fun story books that preschool, kindergarten, and first grade students adore.
1. We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins (Ages 3-5)
Have you ever thought about eating a classmate? Penelope Rex is eager to make new friends on the first day of school. The only problem is that humans are delicious!
Read this silly story to find out how Penelope learns to make friends instead of eating them.
2. The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister (Ages 2-6)
*International Best-seller and Modern Classic
A beautiful but lonely rainbow fish decides to share his shimmering scales with new friends. He learns that giving can make you happier.
See how these beautiful watercolor illustrations and shiny foil scales quickly draw readers into the award-winning book.
3. The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper (Ages 3-7)
A stranded train is unable to find an engine to help it over the mountain. Until the Little Blue Engine comes along. In this classic storybook for 5-year-olds, readers discover the true power of positive thinking.
“I think I can, I think I can.”
See The Little Engine That Could here >>
4. Click, Clack, Moo, Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin Illustrated by Betsy Lewin (Ages 3-8)
Cows that use a typewriter? When Farmer Brown’s farm animals decide to go on strike, he has to figure out how to reach a compromise to take back his farm! See this cute story here >>
5. How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long Illustrated by David Shannon (Ages 4-7)
*New York Times Bestseller
Sail into an adventure as Jeremy goes from a boy building a sandcastle to a real pirate off to bury treasure. Will he decide that living a pirate’s life is better than his own? Read to find out about his exciting adventures on the high seas.
6. The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree by Stan and Jan Berenstain (Ages 2-5)
Join the Berenstain bear cubs as they bravely go on a spooky trip through an old tree. Will they awaken the Great Sleeping Bear? Rhyming text will take children on a fun and spooky adventure along with the bear cubs!
7. Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae (Ages 4-8)
Gerald’s one wish is to be able to dance. It seems no matter what he tries, he’s just too clumsy! Poor Gerald is sad and discouraged until he discovers that maybe he CAN find his rhythm. He just needed a different beat.
Colorful illustrations and rhyme make Gerald the most loveable giraffe.
8. Curious George Goes to a Chocolate Factory by Margret and H.A. Rey (Ages 4-7)
When Curious George visits a chocolate factory, things are bound to go awry!
Follow this always inquisitive character as he goes behind the scenes to see how chocolates are made. And causes a little trouble along the way.
9. Franklin’s Bad Day by Paulette Bourgeois Illustrated by Brenda Clark (Ages 3-8)
What happens when your best friend moves away, and nothing seems to be going right? Children will relate to Franklin’s many troubles AND see how Franklin figures out how to turn his bad day around.
Franklin books are always enjoyable and relatable to young readers.
10. Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld (Ages 4-7)
Bestselling BFF’s, Stick and Stone rescue each other from tough situations and teach us the true
meaning of friendship. With kindness and compassion, Stick and Stone make this book “a perfect ten.”
11. Can I Be Your Dog? By Troy Cummings (Ages 3-7)
*New York Times Best Seller (& Featured on the Today Show)
Arfy is a dog that needs a home. He writes thoughtful letters to everyone on Butternut Street, but no one wants a dog. Will this sweet dog be able to find a place to belong?
Readers BEWARE! You may find yourself planning your next pet adoption after finishing this heart-warming story.
See Can I Be Your Dog? here >>
12. How Do Dinosaurs Learn to Read? By Jane Yolen Illustrated by Mark Teague (Ages 3-5)
*Popular How Do Dinosaurs Books series
Learning to read can be overwhelming, but both parents and children will be laughing at the antics of the dinosaurs in this funny book as they navigate the challenge of learning how to read.
13. The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes and Vanessa Brantley-Newton (Ages 3-6)
Going to school can be scary, but with the right mindset, you can conquer all and become King of Kindergarten!
Follow along with the young boy in this story as he does just that! This bestselling book will help even the most anxious kiddo take on the challenge of kindergarten with enthusiasm.
14. Me and My Dragon by David Biedrzycki (Ages 4-8)
Would you like to have a dragon for a pet? In this humorous story, a boy envisions life with a perfect pet dragon. With a dragon as a pet, always keep a fire extinguisher handy and NEVER feed him broccoli!
15. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (Ages 3-7)
*Classic book for 5 year olds
When Peter Rabbit doesn’t heed the warning from his mother to stay out of Mr. McGregor’s garden, he has to make a tricky escape! After being chased and getting lost, he finally makes his way home.
This classic has been around for over 100 years and is a must read for all children!
16. Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev (Ages 4-8)
*“A sunny, smart, tongue-in-cheek tale.” —The New York Times Book Review
Follow along with a boy and his beloved pet elephant as they are turned away from the pet club
meeting because there are Strictly No Elephants allowed.
On their way home, they encounter a girl with a pet skunk and decide they can make a special club of their own. This book teaches the true meaning of friendship.
17. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault (Ages 4-8)
#1 Best Seller (and great for reviewing the alphabet!)
“Skit skat skoodle doot flip flop flee!” Kids will get to know all the letters in the alphabet and be rhyming along in no time with this timeless classic. “I’ll meet you at the top of the coconut tree!”
See Chicka Chicka Boom Boom here >>
18. Truman by Jean Reidy (Ages 4-8)
*Award Winning Best Books Ages 3-5
Truman the tortoise lives with Sarah in the city. One day Sarah puts on her backpack and gets on the number 11 bus. That’s when Truman gets worried about his friend and decides to bravely take on an adventure of his own.
Follow this heartwarming tale of devotion and friendship.
19. The Bath Monster by Colin Boyd (Ages 4-9)
Where does the dirty water go after your bath? The bath monster drinks it of course! Follow along with Jackson as he decides there is no such thing as the bath monster. And stops taking baths.
But if the bath monster doesn’t get any dirty water…. Jackson may be next!
See The Bath Monster here >>
20. The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn (Ages 3-7)
*Great book for kindergarten separation
While school is about to start for Chester the raccoon, he’s scared and doesn’t want to go. To help, Chester’s mother shares a family secret called the kissing hand. The simple gesture helps Chester know that she’ll always be with him.
21. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch (Ages 0-6)
*Classic 4-5 year old book
Love You Forever is an anthem for every parent to read to their child. Watch as one mother holds, cares for, and loves her baby unconditionally as he grows into an adult. Even when he drives her crazy.
This is a sweet book to read before bed. See these night time stories for more ideas at bedtime.
22. The Box Turtle by Vanessa Roeder (Ages 3-5)
*Editor’s Pick for Best Books Ages 3-5
Terrance is a turtle in search of the perfect shell. When he finds a cardboard box, he loves it! But then another turtle points out that it’s a little weird and has Terrance questioning too.
This is the incredibly sweet story of a turtle who realizes it’s ok to be different. Especially when you’re being yourself.
See The Box Turtle Here >>
23. Troll and the Oliver by Adam Stower (Ages 3-7)
In this quirky book, we meet a boy named Oliver, and a troll who really wants to eat him! The troll tries every day, but Oliver is just too clever. Until Oliver celebrates too early and gets….eaten.
Luckily, the troll finds that Oliver doesn’t taste very good. And they opt for eating cake together instead.
24. The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson (Ages 3-7)
*From the Creators of the Gruffalo
In this epic adventure, a tiny snail meets a humpback whale. The two travel far and wide. The snail is delighted to see so much of the world! Until the whale swims too close to shore…
Will the snail be able to save her friend?
25. The Wonky Donkey by Craig Smith (Ages 2-5)
This hysterical read-aloud will have everyone laughing! Enjoy the song as it builds up and ends with quite the winky wonky donkey.
26. The Story of Ferdinand by Munroe Leaf (Ages 2-6)
*The inspiration behind the movie!
This is the story of a young bull named Ferdinand. He’d rather sit and smell the flowers than fight in the bull ring. Until one day, he gets the chance to enter the ring..
27. Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel (Ages 2-6)
*our family favorite!
Tikki Tikki Tembo has an extraordinarily long name as is the tradition for first born sons. But when his long name gets him in trouble, it will be up to his little brother to save him. Will he be able to say his name?
This is truly a book the entire family will enjoy.
28. The Little Red Hen by Paul Galdone (Ages 3-6)
No one agrees to help the little red hen as she plants wheat, and nurtures it until it’s ready to harvest. One day she is ready to bake bread and no one wants to help. Will she share the bread?
Read this Kindergarten favorite for sequencing story events!
29. A Collection of stories for 5 year olds by Parragon Books
*unique collection of enchanting stories
Add this book to your 5-year-olds library. It features fairy tales, nursery rhymes, and classic stories short enough to read at bedtime. Collect the entire series for ages 1-5.
30. Awesome Jokes That Every 5 Year Old Should Know! By Mat Waugh
“What’s the best way to stop sleepwalking?”
Answer: sprinkle Legos on the floor!
“Why do giraffes have long necks?”
Answer: Because they have smelly feet!
If your 5-year-old loves to laugh, this is a must-have book! Enjoy lots of jokes accompanied with fun illustrations.
31. The Best Kind of Bear by Greg Gormley (Ages 2-5)
32. Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne Lang (Ages 2-5 year old books)
Jim the Chimpanzee is grumpy! His friends try to make him feel better, but it just doesn’t help. This book reminds us that maybe sometimes it’s okay to be grumpy!
33. The Smart Cookie by Jory John and Pete Oswald (Ages 4-8)
Cookie is surrounded by smart pastries in the bakery. She longs to be a smart cookie. Will she discover what makes her special?
<<Find The Smart Cookie here! >>
34. Charlie Makes a Splash! By Holly Robinson Peete (Ages 4-8)
Charlie loves adventures in all types of water. Because of his autism, Charlie may explore the world in a different way, but it can still be wonderful! Read this book about the adventures of Charlie and his sister.
35. So Much Snow by Kristen Schroeder (Ages 3-7)
On Monday, it starts to snow.
How high will it go?
Snuggle up and read a wintery book from the perspective of several forest creatures during a snowstorm.
36. The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Mac Barnett (Ages 4-8)
*New York Times Bestselling author & Debut of a new Fairy Tale Series
What happens when three Billy goats Gruff decide to cross a bridge with a hungry troll beneath it? Read The Three Billy Goats Gruff which is the first of a new series of fairy tales written and illustrated by a bestselling author and illustrator.
Book Series for 5 Year Olds
These are the best books for 5 year olds that also fit into a larger collection of books. Book series can be crazy helpful when you’re trying to get kids hooked on reading.
If they love one, they’ll love them all!
37. Pete the Cat Set by Eric Litwin (Ages 4-8)
#1 Best Seller
Join the fashionable and groovy Pete the Cat in three different adventures. Catchy phrases and colorful illustrations will have your kids eager to take part in all of the stories of this musical and cool, blue cat.
38. Henry and Mudge, The First Book by Cynthia Rylant (Ages 4-7)
*Ready to Read Books for 5 Year Olds
In the first book in this popular series Henry is feeling a bit lonely. It all turns around when he meets a new lovable companion, Mudge.
39. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff (Ages 4-8)
*#1 Best Seller
Introduce your little one to Mouse and discover what can happen if you give a mouse a cookie! With rhythmic text, funny adventures, and bright illustrations, young children will ask to read this classic story again and again.
Other favorites from this series include: If You Give a Moose a Muffin and If You Give a Pig a Party
40. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly by Lucille Colandro (Ages 2-6)
This book is a favorite in the best-selling “Old lady series.” Now the crazy lady is swallowing…animals! Follow along with the original song as she fills her home full of pets in this zany twist.
41. Who is the Mystery Reader (An Unlimited Squirrels Book) by Mo Willems (Age 4-8)
Zoom Squirrel has a new superpower from a mystery reader. Will he find out who the mystery reader is? Enjoy this new beginning-reader series from beloved author, Mo Willems.
Good 5 Year Olds Books for Girls
These books highlight fun things like unicorns and mermaids. The kinds of things 5 year old girls adore. (But of course, boys may love them too!)
42. Never Let a Unicorn wear a Tutu by Diane Alber (Ages 3-6)
*#1 Best Seller
What happens when you give your unicorn a tutu? Enjoy vibrant illustrations and a fun and entertaining story about a girl and her unicorn.
43. I am a Super Girl! by Kelly Greenawalt (Ages 2-5)
This book is aimed for little girls learning to read. It features easy-to-read text, colorful illustrations, and silly humor to keep your 5 year old girl engaged all the way through. Watch as Truly saves the day in her rocket boots!
44. How to Catch a Mermaid by Adam Wallace (Ages 3-6)
*# 1 Best Seller
Could you catch a mermaid? Discover how difficult it proves to be with the amazing traps and silly humor in this fun book.
45. Fancy Nancy and the Quest for the Unicorn
*Includes over 30 stickers
Nancy and Bree begin an epic quest to find a unicorn. And, of course, it’s extra fancy! See what the girls find as they follow a strange trail of glitter…
Best Books for 5 Year Old Boys
These books for 5 year old boys help them celebrate cool things about being a kid. (And of course, girls may love these books too.)
46. Dear Boy,: A Celebration of Cool, Clever, Compassionate You! By Paris Rosenthal (Ages 2-6)
#1 New York Times Best Seller
This heartwarming book makes every boy feel special for being just the way he is. Its gentle flow and beautiful illustrations make it an easy read that will leave your boy reaching for his dreams.
47. Jurassic Park Little Golden Book by Arie Kaplan and Josh Holtsclaw (Ages 2-5)
*A great age-appropriate version
Dinosaur fans will love this Little Golden Book adaptation of Jurassic Park.
48. The Boy with Big, Big Feelings by Britney Winn Lee (Ages 3-7)
The Boy With Big, Big Feelings is great for kids experiencing anxiety and big emotions. The easy read helps kids (and especially boys) realize that instead of trying to stuff their emotions deep inside, these feelings are normal and ok to express.
49. Attack of the Underwear Dragon by Scott Rothman (Ages 3-6)
*Editor’s Pick Best Books Ages 3-5
This book has fire-breathing dragons, brave knights, and….
Cole hopes to become a great knight like Sir Percival. But his skills are tested when a dragon in his underwear comes to take over the kingdom. Will Cole prevail?
50. Dinotrux by Chris Call (Ages 2-5)
*Popular Netflix TV series
Craneosaurus, Garbageadon, Tyrannosaurus Trux….meet the Dinotrux! In this book, travel back in time to when Dinotrux ruled the world! This first book in the series is great for kids that love dinosaurs and trucks!
Non Fiction Books Good For Ages 4-6
Next, these good 5 year old books help kids learn more about the world around them.
51. My Encyclopedia of Very Important Things by DK (Ages 5-9)
Curious young minds will find the answers to all of their questions in this encyclopedia full of fun information, pictures, and games. Read hundreds of interesting facts written in a manner easy to understand for young readers.
52. National Geographic Readers (Level 1/ Ages 4-6)
*Perfect for any beginning reader!
Curious kids will love to learn about butterflies, polar bears, koalas, and MORE in this 6-book set. Vivid photographs and easy-to-understand text give readers a close-up look at each intriguing topic.
53. Mighty Machines in Action, Dump Trucks by Emily Rose Oachs (Ages 5-8)
What are the many jobs dump trucks have?
Your machine loving child will find the answer to this question and more in this book filled with easy-to-understand facts about dump trucks.
54. Invisible String by Patrice Karst (Ages 3-7)
*Best books for 5 year olds about death
This bestselling children’s book explores the unbreakable bonds that flow from generation to generation. In it, a mother explains how we’re all connected through an invisible string. Her kids can’t help their curiosity. They want to know more.
The Invisible String is hailed as an incredible tool for coping with anxiety, loss, and grief.
55. Kindness Makes Me Stronger: Children’s Book about Magic of Kindness, Empathy and Respect (World of Kids Emotions)
Explore how much joy you get when you do kind things for others. This easy read is a great way to teach empathy and compassion through storytelling.
*This book is also featured in our best kindness books for kids list!
56. National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Why by Amy Shields (Ages 3-7)
*#1 Best Seller
This great almanac brings the fun of science to our preschoolers. Discover an interactive question and answer structure that helps a child understand the immediate world around them. Questions like…
“How does mushy dough become a crisp cookie?” and
“What makes a car go?”
See Little Kids First Big Book of Why here >>
If your child loves these, don't miss Little Kids First Big Book of Space and Little Kids First Big Book of Dinosaurs.
57. National Geographic Readers: Spiders (Ages 3-6)
Best Learning To Read Books for 5 Year Olds
These are the best books 5 year olds can read themselves. They are all specifically picked to be perfect for early readers.
58. Step into Reading: Big Shark, Little Shark by Anna Membrino (Ages 4-6)
*#1 Best Seller
Big shark is hungry! Will little shark be his snack? Colorful and bright illustrations grab the interest of early readers and give them clues to help decode the story.
59. Bob Books, Set 1: 5 Year Old Books Beginning Readers (Age 4-6)
Young readers will dive into these easy first books and build confidence as they read.
They are short books with simple drawings, making this a great set for your young reader to master! Once your child feels confident with this set, they can graduate to the next.
60. May I Please Have a Cookie? By Jennifer E. Morris (Ages 4-8)
*Great for learning manners too!
Discover this great book with colorful illustrations and simple sentences for kids learning how to read. Alfie is an alligator that desperately wants one of his mommy’s delicious cookies!
After unsuccessfully trying many ways to get a cookie, he discovers the power of the word “please.”
61. Step into Reading: Ice Cream Soup by Ann Ingalls (Age 4-6)
*Simple rhyming text helps cue early readers
A little boy makes an ice cream cake that turns into soup because he adds too many ingredients! This is a great book for children who know their alphabet and are ready to read!
62. I Can Read: Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes (Age 4-8)
*Caldecott Medal Award Winner
Bestselling author, Kevin Henkes gives us another book about Penny. When Penny takes her little sister for a walk, she sees a shiny blue marble on her neighbor’s lawn and puts it in her pocket. But Penny feels bad that she keeps it because it doesn’t belong to her.
Short chapters and fewer words on a page make this more manageable for beginning readers.
63. Waiting Is Not Easy! by Mo Willems (Ages 3-6)
*#1 Best Seller & Award Winning Book
This book is engaging through humor, great for early reading, AND explores a great life lesson. Piggie has a surprise for Gerald. But Gerald soon finds that waiting. Is. Not. Easy.
Will Gerald be able to wait long enough for his surprise?
64. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
65. Go, Dog, Go! (I Can Read It All By Myself, Beginner Books) by P.D. Eastman (Ages 3-7)
This classic beginner reader is perfect for canine lovers! Fun and easy to read, your child will be able to read the words and enjoy the humorous illustrations.
Free Best 5 Year Old Books Printable Pdf!
Print off the list of top 50 books for 5 year olds here!
How can I improve my 5 year old’s reading?
Next, here are quick tips for helping your child improve reading skills:
1. Set up a regular reading routine. Morning story time or book time before bed can work well.
2. Use the books above to help your child find books they’re interested in.
3. Read in other ways. Check out recipes, scan for schedules and weather reports, read emails, and explore street signs. Get creative by reading things other than books.
4. Keep Trying. Sometimes improving takes time. Hang in there!
How do I motivate my child to read?
Getting kids to read isn’t always easy. But it helps when you choose from the fun books above and use the tips in the image below.
Or join our free reading challenge – fun with reading all year long!
To Consider With Best 5-Year-Olds Books For Kids
Making reading a priority in your home will pay dividends for years to come. (Both for you and your kids).
What do you think are the best books for 5 year olds? Leave a comment below.