Whether your child is reading on their own or you are reading aloud with them, consider giving kids the chance to choose books. Reading for pleasure means kids will read more and feel empowered to make their own choices when learning. Reading about things they are curious about—whether it’s dinosaurs, the subway, or the imaginary worlds of fairies—can lead to engaging conversations, questions, and hypotheses about how the world works.
How to Help Kids Choose Books
It can be a good first step for very young children to think about their interests on your next trip to the library. What have they been asking you about lately? What made them sit up straighter on your last walk around the neighborhood? With a topic in mind, see what books you can find online together. Then, seek out age-appropriate books with this in mind. Librarians and local bookstores are fantastic resources for kid-favorite recommendations!
Encourage older kids to explore new books by following where their curiosity leads them. One fascinating book (or YouTube video or trip to a museum) can spark an interest in so many others. A few questions can help jump-start their thinking: “Do you want to read something silly or serious, make-believe or real? Should we read about a person or a faraway place?” There are non-fiction books full of paleontology facts, biographies about the people that study them, and sweet stories about friendship within a topic like dinosaurs.
A Learning Tip for Storytime
Use this tip from our learning scientists next time you sit down to read aloud together: before you start reading, ask your child what they already know about the book’s topic. This practice is “activating.” It prepares children to use what they already know when they read new books. Imagine a little folder (or file cabinet, really) in your child’s head. The more they learn, the more information they can stuff inside their folder. When kids read new things, they dip back into their folder, using their background knowledge to understand what they’re reading and adding in the information they pick up along the way.
Ahead are books to add to your library list, organized by kid-favorite topics: the ocean, animals, dinosaurs, bugs, and outer space. You’ll find stories about inspiring scientists, brave kids, fact-filled encyclopedias, folk tales, and books that use these topics to make counting fun. With our Printable Bookmark, kids can make a list of books they’ve read and ones they want to read next! Keep the learning going in the HOMER Learn & Grow app with stories and lessons on all of these topics.
Kids’ Ocean Books That Feel Like a Day at the Beach
These ocean-themed books introduce kids to animated aquatic animals, a groundbreaking scientist, how it feels to try something new, and the story of kids in one South Carolina town who volunteered to help save sea turtles.
Mister Seahorse, By Eric Carle, For ages 0 – 3 years
Very Last First Time, By Jan Andrews, Illustrated by Ian Wallace, For ages 5 – 9 years
Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist, By Jess Keating, Illustrated by Marta Álvarez Miguéns, For ages 4 – 8 years
The Pout-Pout Fish, By Deborah Diesen, For ages 0-4
Big Book of the Blue, By Yuval Zommer, For ages 3 – 5 years
The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor, By Joanna Cole, Illustrated by Bruce Degen, For ages 4 – 8 years
Swimmy, By Leo Lionni, For ages 3 – 7, (also available as a read-aloud story in the Learn & Grow app!)
This is Not My Hat, By John Klassen, For ages 4 – 8
Whale Snow, By Debby Dahl Edwardson, Illustrated by Annie Patterson, For ages 4 – 8
Deep in the Ocean, By Lucie Brunellière, For ages 3 – 5
Follow the Moon Home, By Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson, Illustrated by Meilo So, For ages 5 – 8
Hello Ocean, By Pam Muñoz Ryan, Illustrated by Mark Astrella, For ages 3 – 7
Animal Books for Kids Who Love Fur, Feathers, and Fins
From family dogs to nocturnal owls to a family of penguins, books about animals are perennial kid-favorites, and there’s one for every stage and interest. Fables starring animals with big personalities and relatable relationships help kids learn social-emotional skills. In contrast, the sheer number of animals on Earth means they are a great way to learn about the alphabet. In the HOMER app, find animal story videos kids can read along with like Duck on a Bike and Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type.
From Head to Toe, By Eric Carle, For ages 0 – 4
Grumpy Monkey, By Suzanne Lang, Illustrated by Max Lang , For ages 3 – 7
Giraffes Can’t Dance, By Giles Andreae, Illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees, For ages 2-9
The Lion & the Mouse, By Jerry Pinkney, For ages 1 – 8
Some Pets, By Angela DiTerlizzi, Illustrated Brendan Wenzel, For ages 3 – 6
Little Owl’s Night, By Divya Srinivasan, For ages 0-3 years
The Walrus and the Caribou, By Maika Harper, Illustrated by Marcus Cutler, For ages 5-7
Over and Under the Snow, By Kate Messner, Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal, For ages 5 – 8 years
What Do You Do with a Tail Like This?, Written and Illustrated by Steven Jenkins and Robin Page, For ages 4 – 7
Mrs. Peanuckle’s Bird Alphabet, By Mrs. Peanuckle, Illustrated by Jessie Ford, For ages 0 – 3
And Tango Makes Three, By Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, Illustrated by Henry Cole, For ages 2 – 5
Arf! Buzz! Cluck!: A Rather Noisy Alphabet, By Eric Seltzer, illustrated by David Creighton-Pester, For ages 2 – 4
Delightful Dinosaur Books for Kids That Are Larger Than Life
Suppose there is a future paleontologist in your house. In that case, books from National Geographic and The Smithsonian are go-to’s for dino-related facts. Still, they don’t sleep on books illustrating the funny friendships and laugh-aloud bedtime antics of T. Rexes. For dinosaur stories toddlers and preschoolers can listen to, HOMER dinosaur story videos include favorites like Danny the Dinosaur and Pterodactyl Tuxedo.
National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Dinosaurs, By Catherine D. Hughes and Franco Tempesta, For ages 4 – 8
My Visit to the Dinosaurs, By Aliki, For ages 4-8,
Dinosaur Dance!, By Sandra Boynton, For ages 1-5
How Do Dinosaurs Count To Ten?, By Jane Yolen, Illustrated by Mark Teague, For ages 3 – 5
How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?, By Jane Yolen, Illustrated by Mark Teague, For ages 3 – 5
Colorful World of Dinosaurs, By Matt Sewell For ages 5 – 12
Dinosaur A-Z: For Kids Who Really Love Dinosaurs!, By Roger Priddy, For ages 3-6
Bug Books for Kids That Can’t Get Enough Creepy Crawlies
Bugs are fascinating for little learners – colorful bugs are easy for them to spot and even hold, whether you’re in the countryside or the city. The books in this list use bugs as a vehicle to practice counting, explore their backyard, learn about a classic folk tale, lean into the creepiest bug facts, and learn how to be a good (not grouchy!) friend. For more even bug stories (that don’t require a trip to the library), check out the HOMER library of Bug story videos. Kids can read along while learning about their favorite insects.
Big Book of Bugs, By Yuval Zommer, For ages 3 – 5
Insect Detective: Read and Wonder, By Steve Voake, Illustrated by Charlotte Voake, For ages 4-8
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, By Eric Carle, For ages 0- 4
A Beetle Is Shy, By Dianna Hutts Aston, Illustrated by Sylvia Long, For ages 5 – 8
Hi! Fly Guy, By Tedd Arnold, For ages 4-8 (also available as a read-aloud story in the Learn & Grow app!)
Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti, By Gerald McDermott, For ages 4 – 7
Are You a Bee?, By Judy Allen, Illustrated by Tudor Humphries, For ages 5 – 8
In the Tall, Tall Grass, By Denise Fleming, For ages 0-4
Space Books for Kids That Will Take Them to Another World
Books about outer space invite kids to wonder, dream big, and develop a love of science, math, and technology. These books dig into the mysteries about other planets, phases of the moon, stories of brilliant astronauts and engineers behind NASA discoveries; they also make counting down a blast!
Our Stars Paperback, By Anne Rockwell, For ages 4-7
The Mysteries of the Universe: Discover the Best-Kept Secrets of Space, By Will Gater, For ages 7 – 9
My First Book of Planets: All About the Solar System for Kids, By Bruce Betts PhD, For ages 3 – 5
The Ultimate Book of Space, By Anne-Sophie Baumann, Illustrated by Olivier Latyck, For ages 5 – 8
The Astronaut With a Song for the Stars: The Story of Dr. Ellen Ochoa, By Julia Finley Mosca, Illustrated by Daniel Rieley, For ages 5 – 10
How to be an Astronaut and Other Space Jobs, By Dr. Sheila Kanani, Illustrated by Sol Linero, For ages 5 -9
On the LaunchPad: A Counting Book About Rockets, By Michael Dahl, Illustrated by Derrick Alderman and Denise Shea, For ages 4 – 8
Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race, By Margot Lee Shetterly, Illustrated by Laura Freeman, For ages 4 – 8
She Caught the Light: Williamina Stevens Fleming: Astronomer, By Kathryn Lasky, Illustrated by Julianna Swaney, For ages 4 – 8
Moon: A Peek-Through Picture Book, By Britta Teckentrup, For ages 3 – 7
Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth, By Oliver Jeffers, For ages 3 – 7
Happy reading! To keep the learning going, try the HOMER Learn & Grow app for kids ages 2-6, where grownups can personalize the experience by choosing all the topics a child can’t wait to explore.