The Ultimate Bucket List of Books to Read for Kids

Updated: July 7, 2020
From picture books and graphic novels to fantasy and cultural immersion, these books are bestsellers, cult classics, and subtle expose’s that will leave your kids chuckling, impacted, and appreciating the value of a good book.
The ultimate list of books for kids to read before they are teens

One of the very first places we turn to when we need to explain ideas to kids or to push the limits of the imagination is a good book. While we consider some kid’s books as classics found in any home library, others are newer releases well worth a place in your child’s mind. If you are looking for memorable and impactful books to read for kids before they become teenagers, we’ve put together the perfect list.

More: An Age-by-Age Guide to The Best Historical Fiction Books for Kids

This article covers the ultimate bucket list of 108 books for children, early readers, and elementary through tween-aged kids. From picture books and graphic novels to fantasy and cultural immersion, these books are bestsellers, cult classics, and subtle expose’s that will leave your kids chuckling, impacted, and appreciating the value of a good book.

Great Reads by Age Group

Anyone with kids knows that age groups assigned to books are a guide. Many elementary students still find joy in reading picture books and easy chapter books, while many tweens are happy to leaf through graphic novels intended for younger audiences. That’s the beauty of books!

Children's Books & Young Readers

The Peter Rabbit Classic Collection by Beatrix Potter

A board book box set with five classic, adventurous tales of bunnies, frogs, and mice.

Purchase it here.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

A board book that teaches the days of the week with a quirky little caterpillar.

Purchase it here.

Goodnight moon by Margaret Wise Brown

A board book about a poetic, gentle bedtime routine of saying goodnight.

Purchase it here.

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

Harold’s Purple Crayon Adventure: 6 Picture Book Box Set.

Purchase it here.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

A book about a little boy’s wild rumpus adventures in his imagination.

Purchase it here.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

A book about the adventures of a little boy in the city on a snowy day.

Purchase it here.

Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney

A book about the first day of preschool.

Purchase it here.

On Meadowview Street by Henry Cole

A book about learning to appreciate nature in the suburbs.

Purchase it here.

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don Wood

A book about a little mouse worried that the big, hungry bear will take his strawberry.

Purchase it here.

Dream Friends by You Byun

A book about friendship and an imaginary friend.

Purchase it here.

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

A board book gift set with The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child.

Purchase it here.

Peaceful Piggy Meditation by Kerry Lee MacLean

A book about learning how to calm your mind and emotions.

Purchase it here.

The Thank You Book by Mo Willems

An Elephant and Piggie book about being grateful.

Purchase it here.

Thank You, Octopus by Darren Farrell

A book about funny thank you’s and no thank you’s.

Purchase it here.

One Love by Cedella Marley

A book based on the Bob Marley song One Love, adapted by his daughter. A little girl transforms a neighborhood for the better.

Purchase it here.

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

A treasury book of original stories about a little girl’s adventures in Paris.

Purchase it here.

The Sign of the Seahorse by Graeme Base

A scansion and rhyming comic saga about underwater adventures of the coral reef.

Purchase it here.

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

A poetry collection of funny and profound stories.

Purchase it here.

Sofia Valdez, Future Prez by Andrea Beaty

A book about a little girl’s persistence and changing a community for the good.

Purchase it here.

The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss

A book about a naughty cat and his adventures in the home of two kids.

Purchase it here.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett

A book about crazy food weather in the tiny town of Chewandswallow.

Purchase it here.

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt

A book about some fed up crayons and their hilarious letters to their kid owner.

Purchase it here.

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

A classic Seuss story about the importance of protecting the environment.

Purchase it here.

Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin

A set of three books based on a silly, cute cat who just keeps getting cooler and cooler.

Purchase it here.

Animalia by Graeme Base

A book about a whimsical journey through the alphabet with animals and beautiful illustrations.

Purchase it here.

Stuart Little by E.B. White

A book about the adventures of a little mouse.

Purchase it here.

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

A book about a stuffed rabbit who was once loved by a little boy.

Purchase it here.

Magic Treehouse books by Mary Pope Osborne

A collection of 28 books about two kids and a magic treehouse that takes them on historical adventures into different lands and stories.

Purchase it here.

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

A book about a boy who goes on a crazy adventure on a peach with a group of talking insects.

Purchase it here.

Higglety Pigglety Pop! Or, There Must Be More to Life by Maurice Sendak

An award-winning story about a dog named Jennie who seeks a meaningful experience in life outside of his cozy, convenient home.

Purchase it here.

Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel

This book celebrates the power of friendship between Frog and Toad in five short stories.

Purchase it here.

The Wind and the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

This book showcases four animal friends going on an exciting adventure and lived to tell all of their stories.

Purchase it here.

Ordinary People Change the World books by Brad Meltzer

The first four short books of the NYT bestselling series that teaches the true stories of Abraham Lincoln, Amelia Earhart, Rosa Parks, and Albert Einstein.

Purchase it here.

Ramona Quimby series by Beverly Cleary

The Ramona Collection Volume 1 follows a little girl named Ramona and her experiences with her sister, going to school, and being a kid.

Purchase it here.

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

This book is about a girl who has to rebuild friendships after her spy notebook, filled with hurtful words, goes missing.

Purchase it here.

Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder

This nine-book box set tells the real story of the author’s childhood as an American pioneer.

Purchase it here.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater

This book is about the adventures of a house painter and his penguins.

Purchase it here.

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

This Newbery Honor Book is about friendship, love, life, and a pig dealing with the death of Charlotte, his spider friend.

Purchase it here.

Mary Poppins by Dr. P.L. Travers

A book about the fantastical adventures of a magical nanny in London.

Purchase it here.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

This book is a French classic about a little boy who loves, loses, and loves again on a journey from planet to planet.

Purchase it here.

When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin

This book is Chinese folklore about a journey to find a magic stone to save the protagonist’s grandmother.

Purchase it here.

The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo

A Newbery Medal-winning book about a brave mouse, a covetous rat, a serving girl, and a princess named Pea.

Purchase it here.

Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

​The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh is a collection of the classic Pooh stories about friendship and love.

Purchase it here.

Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling

All seven Harry Potter books are together in a series, featuring a saga about wizards and magic.

Purchase it here.

Dog Man books by Dav Pilkey

A box set of the first six Dog Man graphic novels about a dog cop who is part man, part dog, and all hero.

Purchase it here.

Kingdom of Wrenly books by Jordan Quinn

The first four chapter books include an enchanting kingdom and the magical adventures of Prince Lucas and Clara.

Purchase it here.

Zoey and Sassafras books by Asia Citro

These books follow the adventures of Zoey and her cat, magical animals, and problem-solving using science.

Purchase it here.

Mercy Watson to the Rescue by Kate DiCamillo

​For early chapter book readers, this comical book series is about a portly, good-natured pig and her owners.

Purchase it here.

One Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes

This Newbery Honor book from 1945 is about a Polish girl who eventually builds friendships after being bullied for wearing the same dress every day.

Purchase it here.

The Wonderling by Mira Bartok

This book is about the adventures of Arthur, a shy fox foundling with only one ear and a desperate desire to belong.

Purchase it here.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

A book about a boy’s adventures and mishaps in Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory.

Purchase it here.

Upper Elementary (9+)

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

A series about the misadventures of three orphans.

Purchase it here.

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

A book about a boy who looks different, kindness, and trying to fit in.

Purchase it here.

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

A Newbery Medal-winning novel about two best friends in the fifth grade and their experience with love and loss.

Purchase it here.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A classic story about an orphan girl who finds a key to a secret garden.

Purchase it here.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

This 12 book set follows the hilarious adventures of a “wimpy” kid.

Purchase it here.

Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson’s Journal by Jeff Kinney

A book about a new perspective on the Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

Purchase it here.

Bone: Out from Boneville (Book 1) by Jeff Smith

A graphic novel about an unlikely hero who saves a town from evil. Also comes in a ten book series set.

Purchase it here.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

This National Book Award and Newbery Honor winner is a book of vivid poems about what life was like growing up as an African American in the 60’s and 70’s.

Purchase it here.

One Crazy Summer Series by Rita Williams-Garcia

These three award-winning books, including One Crazy Summer, are about the humorous stories of the Gaither sisters.

Purchase it here.

Watership Down by Richard Adams

A story about an epic journey of survival, humor, and folk history with rabbits as the main characters.

Purchase it here.

Bunnicula Series by James Howe

 

A series of humorous mystery books based on a strange bunny accused of being a vampire. 

Purchase it here.

Goosebumps Series by R. L. Stine

The first ten books in a very long series of scary adventures, each book different. 

Purchase it here.

The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden

A book about Tucker, a streetwise New York City mouse and making friends with a cricket and a cat.

Purchase it here.

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit

A book about a young girl who finds a family secret and the possibility of living forever.

Purchase it here.

Anne of Green Gables Series by L.M. Montgomery

Classic books about a spirited red-head orphan girl who finds a family and learns to make friends in a small town.

Purchase it here.

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

A book about a boy and his little brother and the hilarious frustrations of having a sibling.

Purchase it here.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

A book about boredom and finding adventure in another mysterious land.

Purchase it here.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

A classic book with stories about a girl going on adventures through a rabbit hole.

Purchase it here.

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

A book about basketball and a boy who finds his rhythm on court with his rap beats.

Purchase it here.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

All five books are in this set about a boy and his thrilling adventures with Greek gods and monsters.

Purchase it here.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

A story of the adventures in space time of three kids, searching for a scientist who disappeared.

Purchase it here.

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

An award-winning book that tells the story of the author’s childhood experience as a refugee of Vietnam to Alabama. 

Purchase it here.

The Jedi Academy series by Jeffrey Brown

A hilarious graphic novel series about humor, frustration, and awkwardness of middle school Jedi Academy.

Purchase it here.

Fish Girl by David Wiesner and Donna Jo Napoli

A graphic novel about a young mermaid who was caught and put into a boardwalk aquarium.

Purchase it here.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

A book about the unexpected true friendship of a caged gorilla and a baby elephant.

Purchase it here.

New Kid by Jerry Craft

A winner of multiple awards, this graphic novel is about starting over at a new, low-diversity school and struggling to fit in.

Purchase it here.

Young Adults and Middle School

PAX by Sara Pennypacker

Animal fiction.

Purchase it here.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. by Judy Blume

Coming of age fiction.

Purchase it here.

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

Funny middle school fiction.

Purchase it here.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

Fantasy.

Purchase it here.

Eragon Inheritance series by Christopher Paolini

Fantasy.

Purchase it here.

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Survival fiction.

Purchase it here.

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Cultural coming of age fiction.

Purchase it here.

Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson

Coming of age in poverty.

Purchase it here.

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

Coming of age through race.

Purchase it here.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Basketball and cultural fiction.

Purchase it here.

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow

A bi-racial coming of age fiction.

Purchase it here.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Racial coming of age.

Purchase it here.

The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich

History, Native American fiction.

Purchase it here.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

History, Mexican-American fiction.

Purchase it here.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

History, colonial witch hunt fiction.

Purchase it here.

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

History and racism, fiction.

Purchase it here.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Dystopian society fiction.

Purchase it here.

Redwall Series by Brian Jacques

Animal fantasy.

Purchase it here.

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

Coming of age with pets fiction.

Purchase it here.

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Historical German biography.

Purchase it here.

How I Magically Messed up My Life in Four Freaking Days: The Tale of Bryant Adams by Megan O’Russell

Fantasy magic.

Purchase it here.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Survival coming of age fiction.

Purchase it here.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Cultural, animal fiction.

Purchase it here.

An Italian Adventure: It Will All Make (Less) Sense When You Grow Up by Gaia B. Amman

Italian culture, coming of age fiction.

Purchase it here.

I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World by Malala Yousafzai

Pakistani/Asian history, biography.

Purchase it here.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

Dystopian society fiction.

Purchase it here.

March: Book One by John Lewis

Graphic novel, civil and human rights.

Purchase it here.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Holocaust fiction.

Purchase it here.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series by Ransom Riggs

Fantasy thriller fiction.

Purchase it here.

Smile, Sisters, and Guts box set by Raina Telgemeier

Comedy, coming of age graphic novel memoir.

Purchase it here.

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

History and survival fiction.

Purchase it here.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Pirate adventure fiction.

Purchase it here.