Now that you have been able to determine your child’s reading level, take a look at this list for all of the best reading books for kids. Not only am I sharing a variety of books along with their reading level, but there is something for everyone; from preschoolers to kids in the 5th grade!
The Best Reading Books For Kids (Of All Ages)
You’re standing in the library overwhelmed with a little one pulling on your leg while you’re just trying to find appropriate books for your older kids actually to read. Why is finding a book for a kid have to be so hard?
I’ve been there more than a few times, and this is absolutely frustrating. Most of the time, I grab whatever is on display, cross my fingers, and hope for the best. We found a few family favorites that way, but mostly, we just found a bunch of stinkers.
I also realized that randomly choosing books without looking at the assigned age and reading level wasn’t helping my kids. I wanted them to enjoy learning how to read at a level they could understand. Ultimately, I wanted them to be challenged but set up for success at the same time.
That’s why I wanted to put together this comprehensive list of the best reading books for kids; from preschool through fifth grade!
That way, you never have to stand in the library wildly guessing what your kids should read again.
Tip: Before diving into this reading list, I highly recommend looking at this post to learn how to identify your children’s reading levels. I have included the reading level for each book I shared! So figuring out your child’s reading level first will help you choose the right book for them.
The Best Reading Books For Early Elementary
Early elementary books are some of my favorite books for kids; I enjoy reading them to my littles. Books at this level should be fun to read! Let’s get started.
For this age, I wanted to find books that children would enjoy and fun for adults to read. At this age, parents need to read books to them, so parents should enjoy themselves too.
You’re A Crab! A Moody Day Book By Jenny Whitehead
GR: Level K
This book deals with days when you don’t feel pleased. You know, days where you feel cranky. Not only does this book help your child deal with those moody feelings, but it also introduces them to a lot of underwater creatures.
Don’t Let The Pigeon Books By Mo Willems
GR: Level I
This series of books started with “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!” and it was instantly a childhood classic and classroom favorite.
Good news! If your child falls in love with this book, there is an entire series of books about the Pigeon that they will surely love.
Hair Love By Matthew Cherry
GR: Level K
This story is about a little girl named Zuri and her father. While Zuri’s mother is away, her father has to do her natural, curly hair. “Hair Love” teaches young black girls to love their natural hair while celebrating the relationship between fathers and daughters.
Kindergarten To First Grade: Guided Reading Levels A-I
These books are a collection of easy readers for your child as they start learning to read all on their own. Although it is still beneficial for children to be read to, taking turns reading pages could be one way to encourage your child to start reading at this stage.
GR: Level A-D
These are great for very early readers who are just learning to sound out words and blend sounds. The stories are not super exciting, but the practice is what is important. The characters are endearing, though!
Elephant And Piggie Series By Mo Willems
GR: Level H
Mo Willems hit out of the park again with his Elephant and Piggie series. These are geared toward early readers, but the stories are fun for anyone.
All by Myself By Mercer Mayer
GR: Level E
You probably remember the Little Critter books from your childhood; Mercer Mayer’s books are truly timeless. You can celebrate your child’s growing independence by reading a story about Little Critter’s growing independence.
Second And Third Grade: Guided Reading Level E-Q
Many children can start reading on their own with little to no help at this age and grade level. With these reading books for kids, it’s helpful to let them try sounding out the letters and giving them a chance to figure out before stepping in and helping.
Branches Books are a favorite in our house with the twins! They’re devouring these series of books and are passing them along and finding all their friends love them too.
Dragon Masters (there are 3 books in the series)
GR: Level I
In the first book in this fully-illustrated series, 8-year old Drake is snatched up by King Roland’s soldier and taken to the castle. He is to be trained as a Dragon Master. At the castle, he is joined by three other Dragon Masters-in-training. The Dragon Masters must learn how to connect with and train their dragons–and they must also uncover their dragons’ special powers.
The Last Firehawk (there are 3 books in the series)
GR: Level I
A terrible darkness is spreading across Perodia. Thorn, a powerful vulture, is using dark magic (and his dark army of spies!) to destroy the magical land. A young owl named Tag may be the only one who can save it! Tag dreams of one day becoming a brave warrior, but he is small . . . In this first book, Tag and his best friend — a squirrel named Skyla — meet the last firehawk. Together, the three friends learn about a magical stone. Could this stone be powerful enough to defeat Thorn?
Stella and the Night Sprites (there are 2 books in the series)
GR: Level I
Meet the night sprites–mischief-making fairy-like creatures that only Stella can see! Stella is upset when she finds out she needs glasses. But then it turns out her new glasses are magic! When she wears them, Stella can see the sparkly night sprites.
Silver Pony Ranch: Sparkling Jewel (there are 3 books in the series)
GR: Level I
Tori is super-excited to spend the summer at Gran’s ranch–where there are lots of beautiful ponies! But she is NOT excited to share a room with her younger sister, Miranda. Miranda likes everything pink, and she loves puppies. Tori does not like pink, and she loves ponies. Tori soon falls in love with a rowdy pony named Jewel and she wants to ride her. But Gran says that Jewel is TOO rowdy. Will Tori and Jewel ever get to ride together? And when one of the ranch’s puppies goes missing, can Miranda and Tori find the puppy and bring him back home?
The Fly Guy Series By Tedd Arnold
GR: Level I
In this series, a boy named Buzz has a pet fly. These books are filled with good information and stories, along with some gross humor that kids love.
The Princess In Black Series By Shannon Hale
GR: Level L
Princesses are sweet and love tea parties and all things frilly- except when they are fighting monsters! These stories show children that princesses can be both girly and strong. This is a great early chapter book for later in the second grade.
Amelia Bedelia Series By Peggy Parish & Nephew Herman Parish
GR: Level J
The newest edition of these books includes Amelia Bedelia as a child. The fun thing about these stories is Amelia has trouble understanding figures of speech. They are good for a few laughs!
Best Reading Books For Older Elementary
Even though your older elementary student is likely reading independently, it is still good to read with them and even read aloud to them. Children who are read to after the age of five actually improve in their reading skills.
Fourth Grade: Guided Reading Level M-T
Here are some of the best reading books for kids in the fourth grade!
The Magic Treehouse Series By Mary Pope Osborne
GR: Level M
A family favorite! These early chapter books follow siblings Jack and Annie back in history to solve mysteries and learn more about each time period. These books can become formulaic after a while, but most kids don’t mind.
Hidden Figures By Margot Lee Shetterly & Winifred Conkling
GR: Level N
This inspiring story is about the lives of the black women who helped make the United States Space Program possible. I think this book is a must-read for every child and parent!
Dog Man Series By Dave Pilkey
GR: Level P
From the author of Captain Underpants comes Dog Man, a crime-fighting book series where our favorite cartoonists George and Harold have created another superhero to fight crime. These books are lots of fun!
Mr. Popper’s Penguins By Richard & Florence Atwater
GR: Level Q
This classic book is a fun read for children and adults. You can rediscover the rise of fame of the house painter, Mr. Popper, and his famous penguins. Don’t be surprised if your kids fall in love with Antarctica all of a sudden!
Fifth Grade: Guided Reading Level Q-W
For the last section of this comprehensive reading list, here are a few of my recommendations for children reading between Q and W levels.
The BFG By Roald Dahl
GR: Level U
If you recently watched The BFG during a family movie night, you should get the book next time you are at the library. Share this classic book with your children as a bedtime story that you read together.
You can even get a little bit of nostalgia while letting your child learn about the BFG, human beans, and troggle-humping!
Inside Out & Back Again By Thanhha Lai
GR: Level U
Newberry Honor Book and National Book Award winner, “Inside Out & Back Again,” tells the story based on the author’s own childhood. Learn about what it was like to flee Vietnam and the culture shock of immigrating to Alabama.
How to Eat Fried Worms By Thomas Rockwell
GR: Level R.
If you have a reluctant reader, the story of this wiggly challenge will get them sucked in for sure. Billy is challenged to eat worms for 15 days. And, if he wins, he gets $50 that he needs for a mini-bike!
I would keep an eye to make sure they don’t follow Billy’s footsteps. 🙂
Frequently Asked Questions About Reading Books For Kids
Now that you have my recommending reading list, here are a few questions I’ve been asked by other parents who visit the site…
Who are some of the best children’s book authors?
Of course, everyone has different opinions on books and authors, but there are a few authors that everyone seems to love. I have my own list of favorite authors that my children naturally gravitate to.
My top ten best children’s authors include:
- Mo Willems
- Ursula Vernon
- Eric Carle
- Roald Dahl
- Judy Blume
- Grace Lin
- Arnold Lobel
- Dav Pilkey
- Cressida Cowell
- Shannon Hale
What if the books are too easy or hard for my child to read?
Finding the right level of difficulty in a book can be challenging! It is encouraged that children read books for pleasure 2-3 levels below their reading level to build fluency without being too challenging.
When reading at home, you want to encourage a love of reading, and you won’t do that if the books are too difficult. If you choose a book that is too challenging for your child, offer to read it with them.
Kids of all ages benefit from their parents reading to them. Yep, even older children!
Research shows that children who are read to after they start reading themselves improve their reading and listening skills.
So, here’s what I would do:
- If the book is too easy, let the child read it anyway. The love of reading is what you want to encourage.
- If the book is too difficult, offer to read it to them or to read it with them, taking turns.
What are some of the best resources to help distinguish the best reading books for kids?
If you need to find the reading level of a particular book, try Scholastic’s Book Wizard website! You enter the title, and you can get the book reading level.
If you are trying to find a new book, you can also get recommendations. The Book Wizard is even a mobile app!
If your child’s school uses the Accelerated Reader program, you can find books using AR Book Find. And, if you are looking for some ways to read books online with your kids, you can look at Storyline Online and Oxford Owl.
Libby app and Overdrive are free digital libraries that link to your library card. You can check out books and get on a waiting list for some of your favorite reads. They even have audiobooks you can borrow!
Never again struggle at the library or bookstore when looking for a new book for your child! With this list and the resources above, you can choose a book in the right reading level for your child and find something they will love to read.
More Resources On Positive Parenting & Screen-Free Kids:
- How To Identify Your Children’s Reading Levels + Which Books to Read
- Safety Tips for Kids: Books to Reinforce Safety Rules for Kids
- Pros and Cons of Homeschooling: Weighing School Options
- 10 Ways to Limit Screentime and Raise Unplugged Kids
- Creating Screentime Rules for Summer (Free Printable)
- 10 Screen-Free Alternatives Before Bedtime
- Printable Screen time Rules Checklist for Kids (PDF)