If you’re shopping for a birthday or Christmas, browse through our list of the best books for 5-year-olds.
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Today I’m sharing books that my children have adored listening to as five-year-olds. Each of these picture books would make a great birthday or Christmas gift!
Arnie the Doughnut, by Laurie Keller
This is a hilarious book about Arnie, a doughnut who was just baked this morning. He can’t wait to see what happens when Mr. Bing takes him home. Then he learns that Mr. Bing plans to eat him! Arnie is horrified to learn that the other doughnuts have no problem with this. “We’re very popular! We’re delicious!”
Mr. Bing and Arnie agree to come up with something that Mr. Bing can do with him that doesnot involve eating him. Could Arnie be a personal fitness trainer, dance partner, or chauffeur? No, Mr. Bing doesn’t need those things. How about using Arnie as a pincushion, a car air freshener, or a doorstop? None of these work either. We love what they decide on!
Christina Katerina and the Box, by Patricia Lee Gauch
Christina’s mother gets a new refrigerator… and with it, a giant box — a child’s dream! It becomes a castle, a clubhouse, a racing car, a dance floor, and more. Christina’s mother is going crazy and wants the box gone — but Christina always has one more idea. Creative children will love this one.
How Droofus the Dragon Loses His Head, by Bill Peet
Like all of Bill Peet’s picture books, this is a long one, but it’s been a favorite at our house for a long time. Droofus the Dragon is a kind-hearted creature whose wing is damaged and can no longer fly. He finally finds a home at a farm, where he moves giant boulders out of the farmyard for a poor farmer and plows with his giant tail, bringing fortune back to the poor farmer’s family.
Droofus loves his new home… until the king offers a giant reward for a dragon’s head to display on his castle wall. We love the surprise ending!
When Dinosaurs Came with Everything, by Elise Broach
The narrator is bummed that he has to go along with his mom for her “boring errands…” until he learns that today is the day that dinosaurs come with everything! Buy a dozen donuts, get a dinosaur. No sticker at the doctor’s – get a dinosaur instead! His exasperated mother heads home – and the dinosaurs follow. But soon his mother discovers that dinosaurs can be useful – and goes back to the bakery for a few more boxes of donuts!
Monster Manners, by Joanna Cole
Rosie Monster has a problem – she has terrible manners. She speaks politely, smiles at strangers, and plays nicely with her friends. What are her monster parents to do? In the end a family disaster leads her parents to realize that Rosie’s manners come in handy! It’s a favorite from my childhood and still one of my read-aloud favorites today.
The Empty Pot, by Demi
Ping, a little Chinese boy, has a love for flowers and grows them beautifully. One day the Emperor calls all children to his palace. Each child receives some special seeds. After a year’s time, whoever grows the most beautiful flower will become the next ruler. Ping rushes home and tenderly plants and cares for his seeds. But nothing grows. With a heavy heart he brings his empty pot to the palace amidst all the other children’s bright and blossoming flowers. It turns out that the Emperor had given each child cooked seeds that should not grow, and Ping’s honesty is rewarded.
One Potato, Two Potato, by Cynthia DeFelice
Mr. and Mrs. O’Grady are a dear old couple – poor, but content. Mr. O’Grady digs up one potato from their garden each day. The two “call it breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and consider themselves lucky to have it.” But one day, when he digs up the last potato, Mr. O’Grady also discovers a giant kettle. It’s a magic pot – that doubles anything you put into it. This is a truly wonderful story that you’ll want to read again and again.
The Quiltmaker’s Gift, by Jeff Brumbea
This is a story about a king who has everything money can buy; he has rooms filled to the ceiling with gifts from his subjects. But it’s never enough. Now he wants one of the breathtaking quilts sewn by the talented quiltmaker. But her quilts are not for sale; they are given only to the needy.
The king threatens the woman’s life until he finally agrees to her terms: for every gift he gives away, she’ll sew a new patch on his quilt. This is an extraordinary story that you must see for yourself. I love, love, love this book!
The Curious Garden, by Peter Brown
This is a magical story that my kids can’t put down. Liam is a curious boy living in a drab, gray city. One day, he finds a few dying plants growing through an old railroad track. Liam waters and prunes the plants until they grow into a lush garden that overtakes the entire city. By the end of the book, greenery covers the rooftops and pops up in the most unexpected places. We notice something new every time we read the book.
George and Martha, by James Marshall
In my opinion, the George and Martha books – about a pair of best friend hippos – are some of the best in children’s literature. We adore the goofy illustrations (with just the right subtleties) and the simple yet hilarious story lines. Here’s one: every time George visits his friend Martha, she cooks him split pea soup. He eats it out of kindness to his friend, but he just can’t stand it. Finally, one day, he pours the soup into his shoes to avoid eating it. But Martha sees him. George feels terrible until Martha says, “Why didn’t you tell me? I don’t like to eat split pea soup either. I only like to make it!” And they enjoy cookies instead.
More of our favorite books!