The Best Children's Books You Need to Read Aloud Tonight

Did you know Shrek was a book first?!

best children's books
Bright & Early Board Books + Mariner Books + Harpers Collins

Reading before bed is a cherished time for most parents and we've rounded up the best children's books ever (from classics to obscure-but-amazing picks) to make it even better. And while, sure, these stories are technically for kids, you're going to love them too.

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Drawn and Quarterly
'Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip'
$24.95
$17.99 (28% off)

Tove Jansson's Moomin series isn't super well-known in the United States, but these whimsical stories are an absolute staple in Sweden. (You guys, there's an entire theme park.) These comic books are particularly A+ thanks to Jansson's delightful illustrations. 

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Hyperion Books
'Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!'
$16.99
$11.19 (34% off)

Mo Willems' pigeon books — about a sassy, but lovable, bird who's determined to do big things — are a complete and utter delight to readers of all ages. But Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus might be the best in the series and is a joy to read out-loud to little ones.

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Harper & Row
'The Giving Tree'
$17.99
$14.39 (20% off)

If you can get through The Giving Tree without crying we'll be truly impressed. This story — about a young boy's touching friendship with a tree — is one of the most emotional kids' books out there. It's beautiful in its simplicity, and is a great read for people of all ages. 

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Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
'Strega Nona'
$7.98

Tomie dePaola's classic tale of a woman and her magical pasta pot is amazing for two reasons: 1. It's about pasta, so enough said. 2. The drawings are a retro blast from the past, making it one of the best illustrated books of all time. 

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Grosset & Dunlap
'The Story of Ferdinand'
$4.99

The Story of Ferdinand — an uplifting tale about a bull struggling to belong — is one of those books that you read as a kid and are still obsessed with as an adult. Which probably explains why so many celebs have Ferdinand tattoos ... looking at you, Lena Dunham!

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Bullseye Books
'The Phantom Tollbooth'
$7.99

The Phantom Tollbooth was published in 1961 and still holds up as one of the most imaginative children's books ever written. It's a complicated story full of adventure and magic, ideal for late elementary school-aged readers. 

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Little, Brown and Company
'Malala's Magic Pencil'
$17.99
$9.98 (45% off)

If you'd like to get your child a book by a Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala's Magic Pencil is a powerful choice. Filled with beautiful illustrations, Malala tells the story of her childhood in Pakistan, where she advocated for young girls' education. It goes without saying that this one is hugely inspiring.

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CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
'My Father's Dragon'
$4.58

My Father's Dragon is the first in an incredible three-book series about a boy who goes on a quest to rescue a dragon — and meets a bunch of wild and wonderful friends along the way. Fun fact: This one is being made into a movie on Netflix in 2021.

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Square Fish
'Shrek!'
$7.99

That's right, Shrek the movie is based on a book — and it's hilarious. The stories are actually pretty different, but the book is even better than the movie (as hard as that is to imagine). Consider this an absolute must-read. 

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Chronicle Books LLC
'A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo'
$7.20

This sweet and incredibly lovable story is about Mike Pence's real life rabbit Marlon Bundo and his same sex relationship with another cute rabbit named Wesley. The book teaches kids that love is love — and all proceeds go to  and .

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Bright & Early Board Books
'Are You My Mother?'
$4.49

You know this one! Are You My Mother? is one of those stories every kid reads at some point, and for good reason: It's precious, heart-warming, and teaches children reading fundamentals.

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HOUGHTON MIFFLIN HARCOURT
'Amos & Boris'
$7.99

What could be better than a book about a mouse becoming BFFs with a whale and setting out on an adventure atop his back? Nothing, which is why Amos & Boris is on this list. 

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HMH Books for Young Readers
'Tacky the Penguin'
$6.99

Tacky the Penguin is one of those obscure books that deserves to be on way more bookshelves. We can all see a little of ourselves in Tacky, a penguin who marches to the beat of his own drum and ends up saving the day thanks to his unique personality. 

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Harper Collins
'Where the Wild Things Are'
$7.59

Obviously, Maurice Sendak's most famous book has to be on this list. Where the Wild Things Are is an incredible fantasy story about a boy named Max who goes on an epic dream adventure to a land filled with fierce monsters. The story perfectly captures childhood imaginations.

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HarperCollins
'Julie of the Wolves'
$6.99

Let's just say this book won the Newbery Medal for a reason: Julie of the Wolves (which is best suited for upper elementary schoolers) is about an Inuit girl in Alaska who flees her home life and befriends a pack of wolves in the wild. It's an emotional roller-coaster so prepare your kids — and yourself.

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Mariner Books
'The Little Prince'
$8.50
$1.99 (77% off)

Antoine de Saint-Exupery's classic tale about a lonely prince and his beloved flower never gets old. It's one of those stories that'll make you cry from its sheer beauty, and it teaches children a valuable lesson in empathy. 

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Scholastic
'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone'
$10.99
$8.89 (19% off)

Would any list of best kids' books be complete without Harry Potter? Not so much. While the later books in this genius series border on YA, the first book (Sorcerer's Stone) is perfect for kids in 4th grade and up. Slytherin House forever, just sayin'.

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Harper Collins
'Charlotte's Web'
$7.99

This book will fully make you re-think your fear of spiders. And while it's a little dated, it still teaches kids lessons about friendship, love, and sacrifice. Plus, your child will think twice next time they try to squish a bug after reading this. 

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Harper Collins
'Frog and Toad'
$26.65

Frog and Toad is, at its very cute core, a story about friendship and love between — you guessed it — a frog and a toad. And helpful fact: The simple language makes the book great for emerging readers.

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Harper Trophy
'Little Bear'
$4.95
$3.99 (19% off)

Another classic from Maurice Sendak that's also perfect for developing readers, Little Bear is about a baby bear who loves his parents, chills with his friends, and uses his imagination all day long. He sets a great example to us all!

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