As parents think about how to set their children on a path toward success, reading should be a priority. It’s a critical component of daily life, from a simple task list, to navigating road signs, to negotiating the purchase contract on a new home. As a young student, children must learn to read in order to understand and succeed in other subjects, including science, history and math.

Make Books a Part of Children’s Daily Life

Read aloud to babies and toddlers so they hear and start to identify individual sounds. Find books about subjects that interest your children, whether it’s sports, games or cooking. And make books available in the home.

Great Books to Read Aloud with Your Youngest Children

Dear Zoo

Summary. In this well illustrated book, the narrator receives many different animals from the zoo. All of them must be returned for various reasons. That is until the zoo finally gets it right and sends the perfect pet. Kids lift the flaps to discover a different animal on each page.

Reviews. This book receives rave reviews from parents who enjoy reading to their kids. Children as young as 6 months love to flip the flaps to find the animals. The content is simple and easy for toddlers to follow and it has great pictures.

by Rod Campbell

Grumpy Monkey

Summary. Jim Panzee the chimpanzee is in a terrible, no good, bad mood. His friends make lots of suggestions, but instead of cheering him up, it overwhelms Jim and he has a meltdown. Maybe Jim just needs a day to be a grumpy monkey.

Reviews. This humorous book is a great way to introduce emotions to young children. Kids love the colorful illustrations and the funny facial expressions on the animals. It also helps teach a good lesson.

by Suzanne Lang

Giraffes Can’t Dance

Summary. A sweet tale of Gerald the giraffe who longs to dance with the other animals, but stumbles over long legs and knobby knees. Encouraged by a kind cricket, Gerald learns to accept his individual style and reach for his own dream.

Reviews. This is a wonderful, heartwarming tale of developing self confidence. Written with a sing song rhyme, it’s a fun book to read aloud with children.

by Giles Andreae

Baby Monkey, Private Eye

Summary. Baby monkey has a job. He’s on the hunt for lost items: jewels, pizza, spaceships and other treasures. This beginner reader book is a blend of picture book, graphic novel, and beginning reader.

Reviews. Filled with amazing illustrations and a cute story, readers have very positive reviews of this children’s book. The youngest children benefit from repetition and older kids enjoy the clues and silly adventure.

by Brian Selznick

Sloths Don’t Run

Summary. This book tells the story of a funny, unlikely running adventure for a sloth and a moth. These cute rainforest creatures learn the meaning of courage and hard work.

Reviews. Written in rhymes, this story is great for young children. It’s a great gift for a child’s first birthday and to read aloud with your children.

by Tori McGee

The Gruffalo

Summary. A quick thinking, sly mouse tells the tale of an imaginary creature to avoid being eaten by a fox, owl and snake.

Reviews. This is a fun, enchanting read aloud book that kids want to hear over and over. The high repetition helps children memorize the words and when to turn the pages.

by Julia Donaldson

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Little Blue Truck

Summary. This little blue pickup truck is enjoying a drive down a country road. He gets stuck trying to help a large dump truck out of the mud. It’s tough going until his animal friends lend a hand.

Reviews. The sing song narrative and cute story makes this a great read aloud or gift for a baby shower. Parents and kids love the characters and vibrant illustrations.

by Alice Schertle

Room on the Broom

Summary. Animals find items lost by a witch while taking a ride on her broom. They want a broom ride in exchange for returning her things. They all have to support each other when disaster strikes.

Reviews. Many reviewers buy this beloved book multiple times for kids, grand kids, and gifts. It’s a favorite for the colorful pictures and unique witchy tale.

by Julia Donaldson

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

Summary. Pigeon dreams of driving the bus. When the regular driver has to take a break, Pigeon begs and pleads to drive.

Reviews. Reviewers love the author Mo Willems and enjoy this new series. Children love the pictures and engaging with the story to make sure Pigeon does not get behind the wheel to drive the bus. It’s a great gift for a baby shower and fun to read aloud with little kids.

by Mo Willems

Little Owl’s Night

Summary. Little Owl explores the night watching his friends’ activities and the moon rise. As day approaches, Mama Owl explains the wonders of daytime, but Little Owl falls asleep.

Reviews. Reviewers love the illustrations and peaceful story. It’s a great book to read to little children at bedtime. The illustrations are lovely and the sweet story of a young owl exploring the night helps ease children’s fears of the dark.

by Andy Runton

Breathe like a Bear

Summary. Breathe Like a Bear is a collection of 30 mindful exercises that help kids learn to manage their bodies, breath and emotions to feel calm and focused anytime, anywhere.

Reviews. Filled with vibrant illustrations, this book captures the attention of youngsters. It’s great for toddlers and older kids alike. Parents agree this is a perfect book to help kids learn to develop emotional self control.

by Kira Willey

The Word Collector

Summary. Jerome discovers the wonderful beauty and magic of words and starts to collect all the words around him. This thoughtful tale celebrates the joy of finding your own voice and the power of words.

Reviews. Teachers and parents enjoy this story and the illustrations. This is a great read aloud book that encourages children to understand vocabulary and learn to love reading.

by Peter H. Reynolds

The Best Graphic Novels for Early Readers

Cranky Chicken

Summary. Cranky chicken has a cranky eyebrow, cranky eyes, and cranky feet. This chicken is cranky! That is, until he meets a new friend, Speedy the worm. Together they embark on hilarious short adventures.

Reviews. Readers who bought this book for their children and grandchildren comment that it’s a fun-filled book with great illustrations and perfect for young readers.

by Katherine Battersby


Summary. Owly is a kind owl who looks out for the other woodland creatures. However, because he’s an owl he frightens the other animals before having a chance to make friends. Everything changes when he meets Wormy.

Reviews. This book is a wonderful introduction to reading and graphic novels. Children love the beautiful illustrations and the characters.

by Andy Runton

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A Waffle Lot of Narwhal and Jelly

Summary. This is a graphic novel series about a narwhal and his friend, a jelly fish. Filled with adorable artwork and lots of adventures, this book series captivates young audiences and is a great introduction to independent reading.

Reviews. Reviewers agree that this is a favorite among their kids. The stories are silly, funny and educational about maintaining a positive outlook about oneself and others. Many readers recommend this box set as a great gift option.

by Ben Clanton

Cat Ninja

Summary. Raised by a ninja master, Claude is a typical pampered pet cat by day and a secret protector of the city by night. This graphic novel takes kids on amazing literary adventures as the hero main character thwarts evil plans of crooks and robots.

Reviews. Reviews are overwhelmingly positive. Everyone loves the colorful illustrations and great escapades of Cat Ninja. Young readers at all levels read the book over and over again.

by Matthew Cody

Mr. Wolf’s Class

Summary. Mr. Wolf prepares his classroom for his first year teaching at Hazelwood Elementary. He has a lot to juggle as his students bring many unexpected surprises to class. This is the first book in a graphic novel series that is filled with humorous situations and illustrations.

Reviews. Reviewers buy this series for their kids and as gifts. Very positive feedback is centered on the funny, thoughtful artwork and heartfelt stories from the student characters. It’s a great read aloud book as children prepare for the start of a new school year.

by Aron Nels Steinke

Surviving the Wild: Sunny the Shark

Summary. These books are filled with cute artwork and easy to follow stories. Kids will also enjoy learning facts about nature and wildlife. Sunny the whitetip shark gets caught in plastic while searching for her next meal. Young readers will discover planet Earth while reading about Sunny as she tries to free herself before winter sets in.

Reviews. Parents and their children love reading the Surviving the Wild series. Kids learn about science, Earth and wildlife through kid-friendly, age-appropriate stories.

by Remi Lai

Invasion of the Unicorns

Summary. A special agent unicorn goes undercover as a stuffed animal to learn more about life on Earth. Will he be won over by the cuddles and fun snow days before all alien unicorns invade the world?

Reviews. This hilarious book is loved by parents and kids alike. The vibrant illustrations add extra depth to the funny observations of Special Agent Bubble the unicorn. A great read aloud and wonderful gift for new independent readers.

by David Biedrzycki

Sir Ladybug

Summary. Sir Ladybug is an adventurous character who never shies away from a quest. In this first book of a multi-book series, Sir Ladybug and his good friends, a roly-poly bug and a snail, work together to rescue a caterpillar from the hungry chickadee. With a captivating story, clean layout and colorful illustrations, this series is perfect for new independent readers.

Reviews. Reviewers love the artwork and tales of friendship and adventure.

by Corey R. Tabor

Donut Feed the Squirrels

Summary. After burning breakfast, Norma and Belly set out to snatch a large delicious donut from the local food truck.

Reviews. Reviewers were happy after they purchased this book as a gift. Children love the silly characters, watercolor drawings, and funny adventure. With limited words and many illustrations, children develop story telling and early reading skills without struggling with a page full of text.

by Mika Song

Pizza and Taco: Who’s the Best?

Summary. Of the two best friends, Pizza and Taco, who is the best? They both love many of the same things and have the same friends. So these two silly friends set out to determine who should hold the title.

Reviews. A great graphic novel series and a wonderful choice for reluctant readers. It’s particularly fun as a read aloud for young, early readers. Kids simply love all the funny jokes and silly interactions between the characters.

by Stephen Shaskan

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