Books For Children

Doctor-Recommended Books for Children

Reach Out and Read’s providers have been distributing books and literacy guidance for more than 20 years. In that time, they’ve developed a list of some of the best books for each age group of children, as well as lists of books specifically targeted for certain communities.

List courtesy of Reach Out and Read National.

Download the Annotated Book List for Children. (PDF)

Young Infants: Up to 12 months
  • Snapshot Soft-to-Touch Board Books: DK Publishing
    Colorful photos capture the expressions and moods of a group of babies as they engage in familiar activities. Padded covers and durable pages make these books a perfect choice for little hands. Truly beautiful books for infants.
  • Chunky Board Books: Random House
    Infants and toddlers will immediately reach for these easy-to-hold board books.  Designed for even the smallest hands, these books hold up to the pulls and tugs of babies.  The Sesame Street books in this series are very popular.
  • Wee Pudgy Board Books: Putnam
    These durable board books fit easily into small hands and with its delightful photos of babies, they are a good choice for the youngest babies and toddlers.  The “Soft as a Kitten” book is especially popular with babies.
  • Babyfaces Series by Roberta Grobel Intrater: Scholastic
    Babies love to look at other babies, and these adorable and candid photos of babies are sure to please both parents and children.  Favorite books are “SMILE!” and “Peek-A-Boo!”.
Young Toddlers: 12-24 months
  • The Talk About Series by Debbie Bailey, photo illustrated by Susan Huszar: Firefly Press
    This series of multicultural board books is ideal for a wide age range of children. Children love the colorful photos and simple, easy to follow text. These books are also available in Spanish.
  • Snapshot Concept Board Books: DK Publishing
    Bright color photos of familiar objects attract the attention of all children. Parents, using these durable board books, have the opportunity to talk about colors and counting with their children. Appropriate for infants, toddlers, and young preschoolers.
  • Zoo’s Who Board Books by Alan Benjamin: Simon & Schuster
    Wonderful photos of a wide variety of animals in these small board books will fascinate babies. Children will enjoy learning the names of the animals and making animal noises as they look at the photos.
  • My First Look at Books Series: Random House
    Adults and young children are drawn to these colorful pages filled with familiar and interesting objects that encourage verbal interaction. A sturdy book, perfect for toddlers’ enthusiastic handling.


  • Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown: HarperCollins
    A familiar and beloved bedtime classic, children love having this book read over and over at bedtime. Children enjoy memorizing the simple, repetitive, and rhyming text and saying the familiar words along with their parents.
Toddlers: 24-36 months
  • Snapshot Big Picture Paperbacks: DK Publishing
    Full of oversize photos of everything from trucks to animals, these books speak to the interests of young children. The text is simple, and the concepts familiar to children. These books are a great choice for reading aloud!
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle: Putnam
    This classic depicts with witty text and great illustrations the increasing appetite of a metamorphosing caterpillar. The beautiful butterfly is glorious to behold. Children love to memorize this book!
  • Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow: Houghton Mifflin
    No more jumping on the bed! What happens when those five little monkeys just won’t stop jumping on the bed? Read to the end and find out who’s the biggest monkey of all.
  • Truck by Donald Crews: Greenwillow
    This wordless picture book appeals to children fascinated by vehicles. The beautifully-illustrated pictures take readers on a journey filled with interesting sights. A great book for toddlers and older children.
  • Freight Train by Donald Crews: Mulberry Books
    For every child who loves trains, this wonderful book uses vivid illustrations and simple text to name the cars and show the train in motion. A Caldecott Honor Book, this book is fun for all ages.
  • Where’s Nicky by Cathryn Falwell: Clarion Books
    Nicky is playing a familiar hide-and-seek game and readers are invited to find him! The first book in a series of Nicky stories, it is illustrated with bright colors and interesting objects.
  • Mary Had a Little Lamb by Sarah Josepha Hale, photo-illustrated by Bruce McMillan: Scholastic
    Really nice photos of an African American girl and a real little lamb, doing all the things mentioned in the poem. Easy rhyming reading, familiar words, a familiar tune behind them to keep things moving along, and lots of cuddly animals. This would work for toddlers and older children as well.
  • Rain Feet by Angela Johnson. Illustrated by Rhonda Mitchell: Orchard Books
    A young black child in bright yellow rain gear, explores his neighborhood by jumping and stomping in puddles. This sturdy board book will appeal to adventurous toddlers!
  • Jump Frog Jump! by Robert Kalin: Greenwillow
    Young children love the action and simple rhyming of this animal story. It’s a cumulative tale (this is the turtle that ate the snake who swallowed a fish… ) and one that children will love to recite along with you.
  • Over in the Meadow by Ezra Jack Keats: Viking
    Over in the meadow is where all the animals are swimming, diving, buzzing, and more. This charming verse is a perfect bedtime story with its gentle story of animal mothers and their offspring.
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr. Illustrated by Eric Carle: Holt
    A favorite book with rhythmic text and brightly colored, it’s filled with familiar animals with a review of all the animals at the end. Children will love the appealing predictable rhyme.
  • Early Morning in the Barn by Nancy Tafuri: Mulberry Books
    A newly-hatched chick explores the barnyard with all its sights and sounds of farm life. The illustrations are fresh and endearing and children will enjoy naming the animals as you turn the pages.
  • Have You Seen My Duckling? by Nancy Tafuri: Mulberry Books
    This charmingly-illustrated book features an independent young duckling, whose mother searches diligently for him throughout their woodland home.
Preschoolers: 3-5 years
  • Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans: Viking
    “In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived 12 little girls in two straight lines” and the best-loved one is Madeline! A favorite of children for decades, the story of an adventurous little girl is perfect for children 4 years and older.
  • Animal Tracks written and illustrated by Arthur Dorros: Scholastic
    A guessing game format is used to explore the animal community in the forest. Children can become detectives in their own backyards by using the directions in the book for making track tracings and looking for animals.
  • A Pocket for Corduroy by Don Freeman: Viking
    Corduroy, a little bear, gets lost at the Laundromat but the happy ending reunites Corduroy with Lisa, the little girl who loves him. A story as heartwarming as the first book, Corduroy, when Lisa and corduroy first meet.
  • Jamaica Tag-Along by Juanita Havill: Houghton-Mifflin
    Jamaica, a little girl upset about not being included in her big brother’s basketball game, is building a sand castle when a younger boy asks to play with her. This time Jamaica is the older child-what is she going to choose to do?
  • Chickens Aren’t The Only Ones by Ruth Heller: Scholastic
    A great first science book, this book is about animals that lay eggs. Set to rhymes with captivating illustrations, children learn about different animals and the kind of eggs each lays.
  • Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Caroline Binch: Dial
    A little girl with a strong imagination, imagines herself right into the lead role in her school’s production of “Peter Pan,” even though some classmates say Peter Pan can’t be a girl, or can’t be black. Grace is an unforgettable girl!
  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats: Scholastic
    A beautiful book about the simple pleasures of playing in the snow and coming home to a warm house. A perfect book to read together on a winter’s night.
  • Leo The Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus: Scholastic
    Leo, a baby lion, is anxious to grow up and everyone is watching for signs of “blooming”.
  • The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate The Wash by Trinka Hakes Noble: Dial
    Children love this wild tale of a child’s class trip to a farm and the unexpected animal found there!
  • Curious George by H.A. Rey: Houghton Mifflin
    A timeless classic, this story of a mischievous monkey appeals to all children. George, like a small child, is so curious that he sometimes can’t help but get into trouble exploring his world. Join George and the Man in the Yellow Hat in his many adventures!
  • Gregory, The Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmat: Scholastic
    Gregory, a young goat, doesn’t like to eat goat food! His parents fuss and fret about Gregory odd eating habits but when his parents come up with a clever plan, it’s not long before Gregory is eating shoes and tin cans just like his parents! A humorous look at eating and trying new foods.
  • Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? by Dr. Seuss: Random House
    The remarkable Mr. Brown can make marvelous sounds and you are invited to do so too! Amazing noises from the pop of a cork to the boom of thunder are just a few of the noises Mr. Brown can do!
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst: Simon & Schuster
    Any child who has had a frustrating day, when nothing seemed to go right, will understand just how Alexander feels. This humorous story about Alexander’s day when everything goes wrong shows children that everyone has hard days.
  • A Chair for My Mother by Vera Williams: Scholastic
    A touching and compelling story of a mother and child struggling to overcome a family house fire. The daughter saves up money to buy her mom a chair. This book has received numerous honors and is a great choice for reading aloud.
Multicultural Books
  • This Is the Way We Go to School by Edith Baer, illustrated by Steve Bjorkman: Scholastic
    Children all around the world go to school in different ways, on skis in Norway, by train in Kenya, by bicycle in China. The drawings are charming, the rhyming narrative easy to read (“Carlos takes the town in stride/Luz prefers the countryside.”). Maps of the world and extra information available at the end of the book for children who want to know where the various scenes are set.
  • Saturday at the New You by Barbara E. Barber. Illustrated by Anna Rich: Lee & Low
    Saturdays are special because it’s the day that Shauna helps Momma at her hair salon, The New You. And it’s Shauna to the rescue when a problem arises with one of the customers.
  • The Mud Pony retold by Caron Lee Cohen. Illustrated by Shonto Begay: Scholastic
    In this retelling of a traditional Skidi Pawnee folktale, a young Native American boy longing for a pony makes one out of mud, falls asleep, and dreams his pony is alive. Upon waking, he finds his pony is his spirit guide in life. Beautiful illustrations document the boy’s growth into adulthood.
  • The Legend of The Blue Bonnet by Tomie De Paola: Putnam
    A Comanche legend about a little girl’s sacrifice and how she is remembered each year when bluebonnet flowers of Texas bloom in the spring.
  • The Legend of The Indian Paintbrush by Tomie DePaola: Putnam
    A captivating retelling of a Great Plains legend. A young Native American Indian artist has a dream vision that is fulfilled as the story unfolds.
  • Josephine’s Imagination: A Tale of Haiti by Arnold Dobrin: Four Winds
    An atmospheric and delightful story set in the Haitan marketplace. The young daughter of a broom seller, creates dolls by turning several of her mother’s brooms into dolls. These are magic dolls and chaos soon follows!
  • Everybody Cooks Rice by Norah Dooley: Scholastic
    As Carrie looks for her brother to fetch him home for supper, she tastes a little of each of her neighbors’ delicious meals – Haitian, Vietnamese, Puerto Rican, Indian, and more – and discovers that they all cook with rice. Recipes included!
  • Li’l Sis and Uncle Willie by Gwen Everett and Paintings William H. Johnson: Hyperion
    The life story of African American painter William H. Johnson is illustrated with his paintings from the Smithsonian. This book is an excellent source of African American culture and history.
  • Anancy and Mr. Dry-Bone by Fiona French: Little, Brown
    Anancy and Mr. Dry-Bone are traditional characters from African and Caribbean folktales. Anancy, a trickster, competes with wealthy Mr. Dry-Bone for Miss Louise’s hand in marriage. Who will win her over? This richly-illustrated book is full of suspense and humor.
  • Family Pictures written and illustrated by Carmen Lomas Garza: Children’s Book Press
    Warm illustrations and touching descriptions of the author’s grandmother’s house, a fair in Reynosa, and a birthday party, draw the reader into life in Mexico.
  • Iktomi and the Boulder by Paul Goble: Orchard
    An exciting Plains Indian story about Iktomi, a popular character in Indian folklore, who is making mischief again. Iktomi’s foolish ways will intrigue young children!
  • Joshua’s Masai Mask by Dakari Hru. Illustrated by Anna Rich: Lee & Low
    After having adventures with a Masai mask given to him by his uncle, Joshua discovers the joy of just being himself.
  • Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara Joosse: Scholastic
    A beautiful rhyming story with descriptions of Inuit life and arctic animals, this tale of a mother’s love appeals to all children
  • Zora Hurston and the Chinaberry Tree by William Miller. Illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu:Lee & Low
    The true story of author, Zora Neale Hurston, who as a young girl, learned about hope and strength from her mother.
  • Bread, Bread, Bread by Ann Morris: Mulberry
    A multicultural tale of the meanings, traditions and uses for bread around the world. Photos highlight a variety of cultures and practices. This is the perfect book for exploring the richness of the world around us!
  • Abiyoyo by Pete Seeger, illustrations by Michael Hays: Simon & Schuster
    Pete Seeger’s famous South African ballad about a boy and his magician father as they struggle with a giant terrorizing their village. Young readers will enjoy seeing the boy and his father working to defeat the terrible giant.
  • Dancing Teepees: Poems of American Indian Youth selected by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve with art by Stephen Gammel: Holiday House
    This collection of traditional and contemporary Native American poetry, including poems such as an Osage prayer and a Hopi lullaby, will capture the hearts and minds of young readers.
  • Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe: Mulberry
    An African Cinderella story, this tale is guaranteed to captivate readers of all ages. Filled with rich illustrations and strong characters, this is a book to treasure
  • Angel Child, Dragon Child by Michele Maria Surat: Scholastic
    Ut, a young child who recently immigrated from Vietnam, struggles courageously to adjust to her new life and new school as she longs for her mother who had to stay behind in Vietnam.
Books available in Spanish
  • My Colors/Mis Colores by Neil Ricklen: Little, Brown
    A beautifully-photographed board book full of brightly-colored pictures of familiar objects with both the Spanish and the English words given for each color. Other books in this series include counting and alphabet books.
  • Is Your Mama a Llama?/¿Tu mamà es una llama? by Deborah Guarino: Scholastic
    A baby llama, looking for his mama, asks other animals along the way for help. This is an appealing book for young children with its depiction of baby animals and its delightful ending.
  • With My Brother/Con Mi Hermano by Eileen Roe: Simon & Schuster
    A young boy describes his life with his older brother and the time they spend together. An enjoyable look at one boy’s loving relationship with an older sibling.
  • Is it Dark? Is it Light? by Mary Lankford: Scholastic
    Two young children, curious about their world, ask questions about what they see. A great book for learning opposites and names of things.
  • Taking a Walk/Caminando by Rebecca Emberly: Little, Brown
    An exciting walk in a neighborhood full of sights and sounds. Children will enjoy following the familiar words and recognizing familiar sights from their own neighborhoods.
  • Arroz Con Leche: Popular Songs and Rhymes from Latin America selected and illustrated by Lulu Delacre: Scholastic
    Children’s songs and rhymes from Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Argentina, presented in Spanish with graceful English translations, are illustrated with cheerful scenes of children at play. Instructions for the games are also included.
  • Abuela’s Weave/El Tapiz de Abuela by Omar S. Castaneda. Illustrated by Enrique O. Sanchez. Searched by Aida E. Marcuse: Lee & Low
    A girl in Guatemala learns about family tradition from her grandmother as the words and soft watercolors transport readers to a small Guatemalan village market.
  • Bein’ With You This Way/L’Alegria De Ser Tu Y Yo. By W. Nikola-Lisa. Illustrated by Michael Bryant: Lee & Low
    A playground rap that introduces young readers to the idea people can be different and the same.
Alphabet Books
  • Guinea Pig ABC by Kate Duke: Dutton
    A troupe of appealing guinea pigs illustrate the alphabet to the delight of readers!
  • Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert: Harcourt
    With luscious and lavish illustrations, the author covers the alphabet from apricots to zucchini. There is even a glossary of fruits and vegetables in back for hungry readers to savor!
  • The Butterfly Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta: Charlesbridge
    Butterflies flutter on the pages as readers learn the alphabet and discover fascinating facts about butterflies.
  • The Dinosaur Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta: Charlesbridge
    It’s an A-Z delight of dinosaurs! Learn dinosaur names and facts in this informative alphabet book.
  • The Icky Bug Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta: Charlesbridge
    The ickiest looking bugs creep and crawl through the alphabet to the delight of young readers!
Counting Books
  • Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang: Puffin
    This brightly-illustrated book is perfect for bedtime reading. A young girl and her father count down to bedtime using objects in her bedroom.
  • Fish Eyes by Lois Ehlert: Harcourt
    This counting book, with its gorgeous tropical fish and deep blue background, is a showstopper! The “see-through” fish eyes will delight children as they learn to count.
  • Feast for 10 by Cathryn Falwell: Houghton Mifflin
    A lively counting book about a family shopping and preparing a meal together. Rhyming sentences that count up to 10 (“five empty cans/six pots and pans”) are a delight to recite and the colorful scenes will appeal to everyone.
  • Joe Can Count by Jan Ormerod: Mulberry Books
    A little boy counts animals, one to 10, ending up with his very own puppy. A delightful counting book for young children.
  • Mouse Count by Ellen Stoll Walsh: Harcourt
    Clever mice elude a snake in this colorful counting book that counts to 10 and then, as the mice escape, counts down from 10 to 0.


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Illinois Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics