Elementary Teachers Share Their Favorite Children’s Books

I’ve asked some elementary teachers from Kindergarten all the way through 5th grade to share their favorite children’s books of all-time.   Keep reading to see what teachers chose as the best children’s books!

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Teachers in Grades K-5 Choose Their Favorite Books of All-Time~ buggyandbuddy.com

These teachers have been reading children’s books almost daily for years, so I know it was hard for them to narrow down their list of favorites. Keep on reading to see which books made the cut as their favorite children’s books! (This post contains affiliate links.)

This article was originally posted on June 10, 2013.

Elementary Teachers Share Their Favorite Children’s Books

Cheri~ Kindergarten

1. Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin

This is an awesome book for younger children.  It comes with a song that is very catchy where your child/student will be singing a long and eventually be able to retell the story.   This book also teaches colors and has a great moral.

2. Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin

Another book written by Eric Litwin similar to the origninal Pete the cat.This one teaches numbers with a subtraction element.


3. All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon

This picture book is awesome and has great illustrations. It’s very poetic and implies that the world is all of us and we need to take care of it.


4. All Fancy Nancy books  by Jane O’Connor

I haven’t read all of these; however, I do like that they teach all kinds of vocabulary and even explain it. Girls tend to like these books as the main character is rather “girly”.


Kelly~ 1st Grade

1. I Don’t Want to Go to Bed! by Julie Sykes

This story has repetitive text and bright illustrations. It has some great messages- it is best to follow instructions to start with, and that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. The kids always like the bush baby!


2. Counting Crocodiles by Judy Sierra

This one is fun! It has rhyming text without being mind numbing. The crocs in the story are very zany, and I love the tricky monkey. The kids and I love saying ‘sillabobble sea’ most of all. The kids like counting the crocs at the end!


3. Little By Little by Amber Stewart

I read this the first week of school and display it where it can be easily referred to all year.  It reinforces my message that you don’t learn to read overnight, but by taking small steps toward your goal, working hard and never giving up. The kids really seem to get it.

Felicia~ 1st Grade

1. Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Aweibel


2. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

Leslie~ 1st Grade

1. Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes


2. Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes


3. Owen by Kevin Henkes


Dianne~ 2nd Grade

1. Tough Boris by Mem Fox


2. Koala Lou by Mem Fox


3. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch


 Jan~ 3rd Grade

1. Frindle by Andrew Clements

A story that has fun with words. Kids at this age like words. This story builds on this and allows them to think about derivative of words and even how they could create a word and think about its use.


2. The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynn Reid Banks

A great read-aloud with characters that really come alive within the text. Great vocabulary development. Children love the plot and predicting what will come next.


3. The Castle in the Attic  by Elizabeth Winthrop

A great follow-up to Indian In the Cupboard. I like to compare and contrast characters, setting, and plot between this book and the book above.


Paul~ 4th Grade

1. By the Great Horn Spoon! by Sid Fleischman

This is a really incredible depiction of the California Gold Rush. The two main characters, Jack and Praiseworthy, are constantly coming up with clever ways to get themselves and their friends out of trouble. Kids learn about the Gold Rush even though they just think they’re reading an entertaining book.


2. The BFG by Roald Dahl

The BFG is a really nice story about a friendly giant and his friendship with a little girl.  Roald Dahl’s language throughout the entire book is hilarious, and the storyline is very heartwarming.


3. Bandit’s Moon by Sid Fleischman

Also centered around the Gold Rush, Bandit’s Moon tells about the infamous bandit, Joaquin Murrieta. The story shows things aren’t always as they appear, as Joaquin turns out to be a caring man who was wronged. It doesn’t take long before you’re cheering on the ‘bad guy’.

 Moya ~ 4th Grade

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin 

 I like to begin the year with this book as my read aloud. It has short chapters and beautiful illustrations. It appeals to both boys and girls.The kids love it while we’re reading it together, yet it is not a book they often choose to read on their own.
I have many girls who are always asking me for new series books. These are two of their favorites:


 There are other books in the series but these are the two I have. I encourage the girls to read the actual fairy tale before reading these books.
Another series my girls like is The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley.

I think the girls like these because they are related to fairy tales, but set in modern time and there is a lot of adventure and mystery.

The Fairy Tale Detectives (The Sisters Grimm, Book 1) by Michael Buckley


Kristy 5th Grade Teacher & Reading Teacher


1. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

Level: Preschool
I love the pictures that go with the simple rhymes of this classic children’s story. I have read this “bedtime” story to my own kids so many times.


2. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

Level: Ages 8 & Up
A wonderful book to read aloud. A touching story about a vain, cold-hearted china rabbit who learns the feeling of loss and love.


3. Because of Winn-Dixie  by Kate DiCamillo

Level: Ages 9 & Up
A heartwarming book about loneliness, friendship, and love. One of my favorite authors.


4. Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

Level: Ages 9 & Up

An endearing story about a boy and his dog, and how the boy struggles with writing poetry to deal with a loss.

Also, a good book to introduce kids to poetry.

Abbi~ K-5 Computer & Literacy Teacher

1. Holes by Louis Sachar (Newbery Medal winner, 1999)

I discovered this novel, about a terribly unlucky boy named Stanley Yelnats who gets sent to a boys’ camp where he must dig holes in the desert, while I was teaching a loveable class of fourth graders. This novel seemed to fit their age group as a possible read-aloud choice, so I set out to read it first. I could not put it down! It was a huge hit with my class, and the humor and suspense stayed with my students long after the final pages.


2. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (Newbery Medal winner, 1995)

Some of the best books lead you to places you’d never go on your own, while others comfort you with their familiarity. This book was a combination of both for me. It’s about a young girl named Sal who, along with her eccentric grandparents, sets off on a cross-country journey to her mother, who left them a long time ago. The characters were so authentic to me that I couldn’t help but be reminded of my own crazy grandparents, which made me love these characters all the more. A touching read, and it’s sure to keep you thinking and feeling all the way through. This book led me to many other fantastic books by Sharon Creech; it’s always a pleasure (and never a guarantee) to discover that in finding a new favorite book you’ve gained a new favorite author.


3. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis

This happens to be the book that broke my “single topic reader” rut when I was in elementary school. I was a voracious reader, but I only read books about horses. Ever. Then one time, while on vacation and having just finished the last horse book I brought, my parents handed this book to me. I started reading and was swept away. It’s no wonder this is described by many as “an instant classic”! The story blends fantasy and reality with ease, and quickly draws the reader into the suspense and intrigue of Narnia. For those who want more they can delve into the rest of the series, but it’s also a great stand-alone book. We tried to read it aloud to our first grader, but he got a little scared. By the time he was in second grade and his teacher read it aloud to the class he was super excited about it and he really liked it. (By the way, it’s about four siblings who find a magical world, Narnia, through the back of an unused, forgotten cupboard in an old house! They have many exciting adventures there!)


4. The Hiccupotamus by Aaron Zenz

I absolutely love to read this book for my kids’ bedtime! It’s about a hippo with a crazy case of the hiccups and the elephant, centipede, and rhinoceros try to help him find a cure. The crazy, complicated rhyming pattern makes it a fantastic read-aloud choice, and the pictures are hilarious! And parents, don’t forget to check out the last page of the book with all the characters’ bios.

Did you see any of your favorites on the list? What children’s books would you add?

If you liked this post, be sure to check out our full list of children’s book sets!



Elementary Teachers share their favorite books of all time! (Popular children's books for grades kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth, and fifth.) ~ BuggyandBuddy.com


  1. Great list! and yes we do see a lot of our favs on there! I would love to read The Indian in the cupboard and looking forward to reading Where the mountain meets the moon! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks. I needed this information for my little son. I’ll check these books to use them to teach him reading in English.
    I’ll follow you on Facebook as “Turn on your English”

  3. After 40 years of teaching, sadly I have retired. For visiting children my home, I keep books of all reading levels and different interests. Many books on your list are familiar. I would add Many Moons, Where the Red Fern Grows, and The Composition to the fifth grade list. Your idea will be helpful for parents as well as teachers.

    • Thank you, Judy. 40 years~ wow! You must have touched many lives throughout your career! Thank you for the additions. I fondly remember Where the Red Fern Grows.

  4. what a great resource. I hope to find a few new books for my kids soon from the list!

  5. This is such a great idea for a post! I really enjoyed reading the list 😉 The Indian in the Cupboard- brings back memories! I loved that book!

  6. What an amazing collection of book! Many are new to me! Your description leave me wanting to read them all.

  7. SUCH a fantastic list. I’ve loved so many of these over the years! I must say, I do think my favourite years for reading to my boys were when they were pre-teens. I LOVED “Holes”. That was one of our all-time favourites! Loved “Island of the Blue Dolphins”, The “Lemony Snicket Series”… Oh, I could go on and on, but YES, so many of the books in your round up were favourites of ours as well.

    • Oh, thanks so much for sharing your favorites, Jackie! I can’t wait until my kids are ready for those big chapter books~ so many great ones!

  8. What an awesome list!

  9. Just bought a few of the books on your list. I couldn’t read Our Tree Named Steve without crying, a very good book. And my preschooler, Nico, LOVES Counting Crocodiles. I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve read this aloud to him, and he loves reading along with me now. This is a fun rhyming book for kids. Counting Crocodiles is “right up there” with his other favorite rhyming books, Hot Rod Hamster, and Happy Birthday Hamster.

    As far as chapter books, I also agree that Where the Red Fern Grows would have been a great addition to the list. Esperanza Rising is also a good selection for 4th/5th grade level. Another one of my favorites is A Wrinkle in Time. This was one of the best books I read when I was 10 or 11, and still a favorite. So many books to read! Looking forward to reading more on this list you’ve shared with us! Thank you Chelsey!

    • Thanks for sharing, Kristy! Our Tree Named Steve was a new one to me too. So glad to have been introduced to it. I love all your suggestions~ I’m thinking I’m going to have to do a follow up post with everyone’s additional suggestions in the comments!

  10. This is an amazing list! Thanks for linking up to the After School Linky Party. I’ll be featuring this tomorrow. Stop by to check it out and share more of your great ideas!

  11. Wonderful list. I will guess the is not, yet, complete. I came from Pinterest to get more ideas for my Skinny Scoop List.

  12. Many of my favorites on here! Owen, Chrysanthemum, Frindle, Indian in the Cupboard, Holes, Alexander, Pete the Cat. And some new books I need to add to my “read these” list. Thanks for compiling this!

  13. Such a fantastic book list! Thanks for sharing with After School Link Up!


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