30 Must Have Children’s Books {According to an English Teacher}

Some of these titles may be found at local bookstores :: Garden District Book Shop, Octavia Books, Tubby & Coo’s and Blue Cypress Books. If you wish to shop online, Amazon affiliate links are embedded below.

30 Must Have Children’s Books {According to an English Teacher}

As a former elementary school teacher, current literacy curriculum director, and mom to an avid reader, I know my way around a library. A love for reading is a gift you can give to your child that will carry them far in life (and ensure they have great company along the way.)

At our house, we have about 200 children’s books, yet I rarely buy a new book. These are nearly all gifts, gift card purchases, books our moms saved from our childhoods, the “cast offs” of friends, or library books.

New Orleans Libraries: A True Treasure

Have you visited a New Orleans library lately? There are branches scattered around town with convenient hours, weekly story times and wonderful children’s collections. We hopscotch between the Children’s Resource Center (it’s close), the Latter branch (also close and a library in an old New Orleans mansion? That’s just cool) and the new Keller branch (a beautiful facility with a separate and enclosed children’s room). You can easily request titles online and have them sent to your branch of choice.

Bookstores are fun, of course! If you can successfully convey the difference between a library and a bookstore to your child (trust me, you want to establish that difference before you go for the first time), visiting the bookstore for fun is a great outing. You can browse, see other books in a favorite series, and sneak in a read or two in the children’s area. You might also let your child do a special chore to earn book money. Or ask for gift cards for holidays and spread them out through the year. We recently went to Barnes & Noble with a $25 gift card and after a really enjoyable 45 minute visit, left with three books and money remaining on our card.

If I am buying, I’ll admit my favorite shopping source is Amazon, followed by BarnesandNoble.com.

Whether you are looking to loan or buy, here are 30 children’s book recommendations in case you are in need of ideas.

Must Have Mardi Gras Books

Must Have Board Books (for the youngest of readers)

Favorite Series

Classic Children’s Books and Authors

Books Guaranteed to make Mommy Cry!

Books that will make Mommy Laugh!

Great Grandma Books

Stories that Teach

Louisiana Favorites

And since we still love fire trucks A LOT…

Some Great Fire Truck Books

For those of you with a child who has a real life interest (be it dancing, football, fire trucks or something more obscure), don’t forget to check out the juvenile non-fiction section at your local library. I felt like we struck gold when we found the fire truck section!

What are some of your favorite children’s books?


  1. we love books at our house too! Before Andrew was born, I was gifted a huge collection for him from my older sister who is a first grade teacher. We also signed up for The Imagination Library when Andrew was born and he gets a free book once a month until he turns 5! Sadly, that program isn’t available in Jefferson or Orleans Parish, but we have gotten some of Andrew’s favorites through that program.

    Some more favorites are The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Little Blue Truck, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Hands Hands Fingers Thumbs, A Mud Pie for Mother, Goodnight Nola, Happy Jazzfest, One Dat Two Dat are You a Who Dat?, Happy Birthday to You!, Little Engine That Could, Llama Llama Red Pajama, and many more!

  2. My son is an avid reader also!

    We really enjoy the “Little Blue Truck” books, they have a nice lesson and are short and to the point. Also enjoy the rhyming and illustrations.

  3. I love this! We always take Thatcher to the “book fair” at his school, and boy your point about the difference between the library and a store is so true. He literally couldn’t hold anything else when we went! Good thing grandma was with us 🙂

  4. Thanks for this list! I’m constantly looking for more book suggestions for our addicted to reading almost 2yr old. Our bookshelf is nearly full but we can always squeeze in a few more. A few favorites other than those already mentioned are Sometimes I like to Curl Up in A Ball, Giraffes Can’t Dance, and Llama Llama Red Pajama.

  5. Great list! Thank you for sharing … books make the GREATEST gift. I have a 30 year old niece who cherishes and still comments on the books she received from me as a toddler. No better gift to pass on than the love of reading.

  6. Great list – I’ll have to check some of these books out!

    Our kids also love the picture books by Doreen Cronin, David Macauley (the same guy who wrote “The Way Things Work”), Karma Wilson, and Peter Sís.

  7. I also love the Pigeon books (Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!), New Orleans Mother Goose, and The Book With No Pictures, which encourages parents to read to their kids and is really fun and entertaining!

  8. Also, just as an FYI – the “Polar Bear” and “Brown Bear” books are done by Bill Martin. Eric Carle does the “Very” books (Very Hungry Caterpillar, Very Busy Spider, etc.). Both series are great for small ones!


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