20 Best Kindergarten-Level Books to Read (Beginner Readers)

The first days are difficult everywhere—the joy or dread of starting school. The anticipation of making new friends, wondering if you’ll miss home too much, and thinking about making an excellent first impression are all emotions that children can relate to. 

20 Best Kindergarten-Level Books to Read (Beginner Readers)

The characters in these stories have felt similar emotions, from worrying about fitting in with the new kids to learning about honesty and finding good friends. Kids are curious creatures that abound with unbridled energy and endless questions, and we have curated this list to ensure the kids get the best out of these stories. 

The Cat in The Hat by Dr. Seuss

The Cat in the Hat [Paperback] [Aug 24, 2016] Dr. Seuss

Often praised and included as one of the best Children’s books to exist, the Cat in The Hat tells the story of a tall cat who is described as wearing a red and white-stripped top hat and a red bow tie, who shows up at the house of two kids with his two companions while their mother is away at work. 

The story’s progression will keep children involved, especially the cat’s antics as he tries to entertain them with items from his red box, which ends up being extremely chaotic. The children spot the mother in the window and attempt to clean everything before she enters. 

The story is designed to teach children about trust, responsibility, how to manage expectations and the value of honesty to oneself and parents, all lessons kindergarteners must learn. The book also serves as a tool for vocabulary development for the children. 

Swashby and the Sea by Beth Ferry

Swashby and the Sea

Lovable, warm characters, an ever-expanding vocabulary, beautiful themes, and numerous chances to review sounds help kids understand the meaning of words. These are the reasons we have included this book on this list. 

We follow Captain Swashby, described as a reclusive sailor who retires and enjoys his quiet life by the sea until his life is upended by the move of an energetic girl and her grandmother next to his house. They quickly form a friendship in the shortest time and have multiple adventures. Students can follow the story, especially as they learn new words and enjoy the experience of the two pairs.

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold

All Are Welcome

A tone-setter for the academic year, All Are Welcome is the perfect picture book to engage young kids as they learn more about school. This book celebrates diversity, even as it teaches young kids the meaning of words. 

In this book, we journey with the kids through a typical school day, where everyone is welcomed with open arms. We see kids from all walks of life and watch them learn and grow together—the perfect book to broaden kids’ minds. 

Fern and Otto: A Story About Two Best Friends by Stephanie Graegin

Fern and Otto: A Picture Book Story About Two Best Friends

All Fern, a large brown bear, wants to do is have his lunch and a nap, while Otto, a tabby cat finds this lacking and wants to search for story fodder. On their journey, they meet different fairytales unknowingly to them. They encounter a tortoise and hare racing. They refuse porridge from a girl with golden locks. For every person or creature they meet, readers slowly realize the unknown truth about Fern and Otto, and identifying these stories also contributes to the overall enjoyment of this story. 

The adventure of Fern and Otto ends when they see a gingerbread house, and Otto decides that they’ve had enough adventure for the day. This book is guaranteed to ensure that the kids get some pleasure and learn the critical lesson of having friends and, most importantly, having friends who encourage adventure. 

Pink Is for Everybody by Ella Russell

Pink Is for Everybody

Pink is for Everyone is expertly written by the great Ella Russell, A beautiful antecedent for learning self-expression and the beauty of uniqueness for kids. A group of kids gets stuck in a room on a rainy, gloomy day until they discover the pink treasure chest in the corner. While the kids explore the chest, a grumpy cat stands behind them in an attempt to teach the kids about acceptance of oneself.

The theme of Pink Is for Everybody is crucial as it showcases and celebrates the color pink and lessons beyond normal gender expectations. The book emphasizes the need for creativity, the acceptance of self, and the respect and acceptance for others who may not have the same preferences. 

The Little Red Fort by Brenda Maier 

The Little Red Fort

In a modern retelling of the famous folktale of The Little Red Hen, we meet little Ruby, who is described as a girl brimming with ideas. One day, she gets an idea to build a fort even though she has no idea how to. She invites her brothers, who laugh at her because she doesn’t know how to make it. But she promises them she can learn. 

When she finally builds the fort, and everyone wants to play in it, she has the last laugh. The Little Red Fort is a perfect story about resilience and the power of grit. The kids learn an important lesson about disregarding public opinion and ensuring that dreams are completed. It is also an excellent pointer for kids that they can achieve anything if determined.

Elmore by Holly Hobbie


It is hard to make friends generally, but it is more challenging when you are a porcupine covered in spikes. Elmore requires friends but suffers numerous heartbreaks and rejections and is discouraged that he cannot find any friends who will look past his points. 

A fantastic story from the incredible Holly Hobbie, Elmore shines through in its honesty about making friends when others can’t see past your physical appearance. It teaches kids the importance of not judging a book by its cover and introduces newer communication methods. 

The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld

The Rabbit Listened

Taylor, the main character, expends effort to create a building from his blocks and is extremely happy with the results. He is later devastated when some flying birds destroy his structure. After the event, various creatures attempt to console him over the loss he feels. The snake and the chicken all offer him some advice, but until the Rabbit comes, we can see that Taylor does not feel better. 

The Rabbit Listened is about the importance of empathy and kindness—an insightful look into emotions and what an ideal starting point for the expression of emotions can be. It is a heartwarming picture story guaranteed to arouse young readers’ feelings and teach important lessons while expanding their vocabulary.

The Bear and The Moon by Matthew Burgess

The Bear and the Moon

The Bear and the Moon is an excellent introduction to the themes of disappointment, loss, and forgiveness. A kind book filled with relatable characters and told from the perspective of The Bear when a balloon floats into his life. We watch the pair navigate the gift’s meaning while discovering a new friendship. 

Loss of any kind is challenging, yet this book provides a softer landing for its readers. It shows the reality of grief and teaches emotional and social skills while also offering ways to soothe and manage the feelings of loss and the guilt that follows. 

Lubna and Pebble by Wendy Meddour

Lubna & Pebble

A heartwarming and excellent story about the importance of sharing, especially in times of need: we see Lubna, who meets a young boy who might need her best friend, Pebble, more than she does. 

In a selfless and heart-tugging moment, we see Lubna give this unknown boy her greatest treasure to aid him when he arrives in the World of Tents, believing that Pebble will also provide him with the peace and listening ears he needs. Lubna and Pebble is an emotional and stirring tale about a young girl’s act of friendship that we can all learn from.

Time for Bed, Old House by Janet Costa Bates 

Time for Bed, Old House

We can all relate to the fear of visiting and sleeping in a new place far from home. Isaac, who is visiting his grandfather for the first time, is anxious and a little disorganized over sleeping in a new place until bedtime. 

His grandfather’s bedtime routine consists of moving from room to room, switching off the lights, and saying goodnight to each room. A fun story, Time for Bed, Old House has some fun twists and lessons that everyone could benefit from. 

Becoming Vanessa by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Becoming Vanessa

A classic story of our innate need to belong, feel special, and be accepted, Vanessa is a little girl just starting school. On her first day of school, she ensures to dress brightly and promises to make new friends. All of those crumble after she sees everyone else is dressed differently, and to make matters worse, Vanessa’s full name is too difficult to pronounce. The next day, she decides to fit in by dressing plainly and asking for a name change. 

When her mother explains the meaning of her name, Vanessa regains confidence and decides that her classmates should see the honest Vanessa. An inspiring story about confidence and how much better the world would be if little kids everywhere were loved and had their questions answered genuinely. 

Love is Powerful by Heather Dean Brewer

Love Is Powerful

For six-year-old Mari, following her mother to a women’s march is a dream come true. She isn’t sure that anybody will read her placards, but people do. As Mari and her mother create these signs, we are reminded again about the power of speaking up. 

This is a true story about Mari’s experience at a women’s march in 2017 with her mum. This story will teach the kids how powerful words can be when used correctly. 

If You Take a Mouse to School by Laura Joffe Numeroff 

If You Take a Mouse to School

This is a one-off book from the “If You Take” series by Laura Joffe; this story follows our energetic little mouse as he undertakes numerous adventures—a great addition to ensure that the kids giggle and learn new words and directions. 

What happens when our resident Mouse finally goes to school and runs school-related errands? A sure laugh-out-loud book to get the little ones going. 

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Where The Wild Things Are: Book and CD

A classic tale about growth, survival, and anger, the titular Max is troublesome and plays a lot of pranks. One day, he causes massive harm and is sent to bed without food. That night, his bedroom undergoes a magical transformation, and he gets transported to an island called Wild Things. He becomes popular there and is named the King. 

This story is excellent for teaching resilience and the ability to stand up in the face of your fears. It also highlights anger as a valid emotion and how kids can learn to manage it. 

The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes

The King of Kindergarten

Kindergarten is a significant milestone, and for the kids who feel afraid in unfamiliar spaces, this is a fantastic pointer story to quell their fears. The hero of our story is also starting kindergarten and is determined to make a mark. 

Afterward, he can’t wait to tell his parents all about his eventful day. The King of Kindergarten is an excellent starter for the first day of school, as kids can relate to the emotions felt by our little heroes. 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The Very Hungry Caterpillar's First Summer (The World of Eric Carle)

One of the most popular books on this list with millions of readers, it follows a caterpillar that is always hungry and eats everything in sight. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a hilarious and comical tale that will also help with counting as the kids follow the adventure of our caterpillar.

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

Green Eggs and Ham

“Do you like green eggs and ham?” Another iconic book from the great Dr. Seuss, this book provides a simple yet unique outlook on vocabulary training while giving a fun rhyming story. 

Follow Sam as he asks significant questions about why you can enjoy his favorite snack anywhere and anytime. 

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

The Snowy Day

An engaging story about Peter’s first snowfall and its endless possibility, this book highlights the wonders and hope of a child with little worries. 

The Snowy Day was first banned on its release because it focused on an African American boy as the main character in a time when characters were exclusively white. It was later unbanned and has become an endearing tale for kids everywhere.

100 Things I Know How To Do by Amy Schwartz

100 Things I Know How to Do

Our final item on this list is an empowering book about learning the power of independence and showcasing all the things children in kindergarten can do independently—a great starter for kids to know about potential and how to manage expectations. 


The validation of emotions, especially for kids, is essential. This list carefully collects the best books to teach kids in kindergarten about the importance of honesty, and important themes like loss, dealing with disappointment, and how to communicate effectively and listen.

These books also help with vocabulary development to ensure that as kids enjoy the stories, they also learn to read. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What life lessons can kids learn from these stories?

Kids can learn about the power of listening effectively from stories such as The Rabbit Listened. In All are Welcome, kids can learn the importance of extending grace to those with different preferences. We have curated these stories to enable kids to develop their vocabulary, have fun, and learn life lessons.

Can these stories be read aloud for interactive purposes?

Most of these stories are selected for teachers to read to kids, and though it allows for interaction, this may present itself as questions asked by kids. For a list of read-aloud books for kindergarten, we have a separate list.

What are the themes of this list?

We have tried to include some of the best books for kindergarteners. Books that they would enjoy and ask questions about. This list highlights books dealing with recurring themes of expressing oneself, accepting others, and dealing with others fairly and respectfully. We also included texts by authors that talk about diversity and inclusiveness. There is something for everyone. 

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Daniella Okorobie