My two and four-year-old have heard a lot of counting books the last few weeks! We’ve been working to find the best of the best – and these books have been perfect for reading alongside our preschool math curriculum. I hope you’ll find new favorites in this list of counting books for toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergartners. If you’d like to jump to a particular section of this list, just click on a link below:
- Counting books for toddlers
- Books about counting 1-10
- Books about counting 1-20
- Books that teach counting backward
- Books about counting past 20
- Books about skip counting
Counting books for toddlers
Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons, by Eric Litwin
My now six-year-old fell in love with Pete the Cat books, and now my youngest, age 2 1/2, loves them as well. While the book has a lesson beyond math (that you shouldn’t sweat the small stuff), the book also gives great practice with very simple counting. Preschoolers will also enjoy the beginning subtraction lesson.
Five Little Ducks, by Jose Aruego and Ariane Dewey
While this book is no longer my toddler’s favorite, he enjoyed it many (MANY) times as a one-year-old. “Five little ducks went out one day, over the hills and far away. Mother Duck said, ‘Quack, quack, quack, quack,’ but only four little ducks came back.” And on it goes until all the ducklings leave, only to return at the end of the book with their new families.
I love that this is a singing and rhyming book, which makes it extra appealing to young children.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle
I’m don’t think that this timeless classic needs an introduction, so I’ll just say that it’s a wonderfully engaging book that teaches the days of the week and basic counting. The die cut holes in the pages make it easy for kids to count along.
Fish Eyes, by Lois Ehlert
I feel bad saying this, but I’ve never been a big fan of Lois Ehlert’s books. Her books are extremely popular, but the illustrations are a little too bright and busy for me. That said, my toddler (age 2.5) really loved this book. Each page features 1-10 fish with a cut-out hole for each fish eye. My Two liked putting his finger into the hole on each page, and I counted aloud as he did so. Definitely a good choice for teaching basic counting from 1-10.
How Do Dinosaurs Count to Ten? by Jane Yolen & Mark Teague
I absolutely love the brilliant dinosaur books by Yolen and Teague, and this board book is no exception. We count from 1-10 through a series of gentle rhymes. “Dinosaur counting starts with one. One tattered teddy bear just for fun. Two big balloons tied to the bed, three toy trucks painted blue, green, and red.”
Daddy Hugs 123, by Karen Katz
I recommend this book for babies and young toddlers, as more advanced listeners will be bored by it. It’s a very sweet book in which a father plays with his baby at bedtime; my Two loved it, but my Four groaned whenever her little brother requested it!
1 Hunter, by Pat Hutchins
This is such a perfect book! Each page features a determined, funny-looking old hunter who is out looking for animals. My kids had fun guessing which animals were hiding (and would make their appearance on the next page). The ending had us laughing out loud.
One Spotted Giraffe, by Peter Horacek
This is a gorgeous book and highly recommended for young listeners! I’m hesitant to recommend a pop-up book to toddlers, but it’s pretty sturdy as pop-ups go, and my Two loved this book. Each page features a beautiful illustration featuring one or more animals. Children turn the number flap to see a pop-up version of the featured number in the design of the animal. HIGHLY recommended!
My First Counting Book, by Lilian Moore
Garth Williams’ illustrations have made this book (first published in 1956) a favorite for generations. Toddlers and young preschoolers will enjoy the rhythmic text and the timeless illustrations. I like that the objects are large, making it easy for a toddler’s chubby finger to point to each one.
Over in the Meadow, by John Langstaff
We love any version of this classic counting song, and I highly recommend Langstaff’s vintage version (1957). Make sure you find the tune on Youtube, because the book isn’t nearly as fun if you don’t sing it!
Books about Counting to 10
Stack the Cats, by Susie Ghahremani
This book is SUCH a delight! It’s beautifully simple while teaching advanced math concepts at the same time. One cat sleeps, two cats play, and three cats STACK. I like how the author has different stacks of cats depending on the number (“Nine cats agree to three, three, and three”). The illustrations are stunning and adorable at the same time, and the book is both fun and educational. HIGHLY recommended!
Count the Monkeys, by Mac Barnett and Kevin Cornell
This is a hilarious book that was a big favorite of my Four and Six. They laughed as we kept turning pages to count monkeys … only to find other animals instead. On the first page, we find a king cobra, who has scared away the monkeys. On the next page we find two mongoose who have scared away the cobra, followed by three crocodiles, and so on. Older preschoolers will appreciate the hilarious pictures and unique humor. (Spoiler alert: the monkeys don’t appear until the final page!)
Ten Black Dots, by Donald Crews
This is a classic that everyone who teaches counting should own. We love the bold, simple illustrations created with a series of black dots. “8 dots can make the wheels of a train carrying freight through sun and rain.” Highly recommended!
Mimi’s Book of Counting, by Emma Chichester Clark
This is a sweet book about a monkey named Mimi and her grandma who count all day long – from one dumpling (Mimi) to ten teddy bears at bedtime. Both my Two and Four liked this one.
Click, Clack, Splish, Splash, by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin
If your child is a big fan of Click, Clack, Moo and the other books in that collection, be sure to get this simple counting and rhyming book featuring the same lovable characters. It’s a quick, cheerful read.
Feast for 10, by Cathryn Falwell
I adore this simple counting book in which a mother takes her five kids grocery shopping, works with them to prepare the meal, and welcomes their grandparents to a special dinner. I love the collage illustrations and the depiction of a big, loving family.
My Very First Book of Numbers, by Eric Carle
The confusing thing about this book is that you’d think it’s for toddlers, since it’s a board book (not to mention it’s called my very first book). But it’s really a better fit for preschoolers. That’s because it has split pages; children need to match the top part of the book (the number) with the bottom part of the book (the object). Think of this an activity book rather than a read aloud, and you’ve got it.
Museum 1 2 3, by the Metropolitan Museum of Art
This is a gorgeous picture book that your preschooler is sure to love. Children count from 1-10 as they search for a certain number of objects in each painting (“How many red buses rush through busy city streets? How many trapeze artists perform for the crowd?”). Kids can also turn the page and find that same number of objects featured in four more paintings. A stunning book!
Anno’s Counting Book, by Anno
This is a beautifully simple book done in watercolor. There are no words – only a single number and gradually more elaborate illustrations on each page. I like that each page has many different things to count (3 buildings, 3 flowers, 3 boats, 3 butterflies, etc.)
Roar! by Pamela Duncan Edwards
Poor little lion cub! He wants to find a friend to play with, but his roar frightens all the grassland animals away. We like the rhythmic text and the endearing illustrations.
One Duck Stuck, by Phyllis Root
My middle boys couldn’t get enough of this rhythmic rhyming book when they were two and four years old. And now my youngest two, also ages two and four, love it as well.
“Down by the marsh, by the sleepy, slimy marsh, one duck gets stuck in the muck. Who can help? As each group of animals comes by to help (from two fish all the way up to ten dragonflies), there’s “no luck. The duck stays stuck in the muck.” But when all the animals work together… “Spluck!” This is one to own, if you don’t think you’ll mind reading it a few hundred times.
Dinner at the Panda Palace, by Stephanie Calmenson
I didn’t actually like this one, but I’m including it because my Four loved it. Mr. Panda greets the animal guests at his restaurant. First there’s one elephant, two lions, three pigs, etc. My complaints are that the book felt too long and didn’t have any numerals in it (I feel like a counting book should promote number recognition, which is hard to do without numbers). However, my Four loved the story and the funny illustrations.
We All Went on Safari, by Laurie Krebs
We enjoyed this beautiful, captivating book about a group of Maasai children who count through the grasslands of Tanzania. I love that the story helped my daughter learn about a different place and culture – and it even includes each number in Swahili (with a pronunciation guide at the end of the book).
Counting Crocodiles, by Judy Sierra
I admit I didn’t like this book the first time we checked it out. The rhymes are somewhat awkward, and the story is odd. But my Four couldn’t get enough of it, and now I love it, too. The book is about a clever monkey who wants to leave her island and cross the Sillabobble Sea to a banana tree. But the sea is infested with crocodiles!
As the monkey counts the crocodiles (“One crocodile with a great big smile, Two crocs resting on rocks, Three crocs rocking in a box,” etc.) the crocodiles make a long row … and the clever monkey runs across their backs to reach the banana tree island. Great book, but I do wish it had numerals in it.
My Granny Went to Market, by Stella Blackstone and Christopher Corr
This is a bright counting book in which Granny travels around the world, collecting souvenirs as she goes – from one flying carpet in Istanbul to ten llamas from Peru. I like the catchy rhymes and the fun geography lesson, but I wish that the book had the numbers in numeral form and not just word form. I also think that the pages are too busy, as it can be hard to find the objects you’re supposed to count. I included this book because it’s a popular one, but it wasn’t our favorite.
One Hungry Monster: A Counting Book in Rhyme, by Susan Heyboer O’Keefe
Lynn Munsinger’s illustrations steal the show in this fun book about hungry monsters who keep a boy awake. This is a good choice for little ones who are impatient during read alouds; the story is quick, and the pictures will keep their attention.
Let’s Count Goats! by Mem Fox & Jan Thomas
Read this book when your child is learning to count objects to ten; it’s good practice. The book doesn’t include any counting words; instead, it has silly rhymes and asks the reader to do the counting. For example: “Here we see a show-off goat playing on the bars. But can we count the rowdy goats careering round in cars?” The pictures are hilarious!
This Jazz Man, by Karne Ehrhardt
I’m sorry to say that my Four and Six both disliked this book. However, I think it’s brilliant (and because I make the book lists, it’s included!). Sing this book to the tune of “This Old Man;” you’ll count to 10 and introduce jazz music at the same time. Try singing this verse:
This jazz man, he plays six,
He plays solos with his sticks,
With a Bomp-bomp! Bubbada-bomp!
Give the man a hand,
This jazz man beats with the band.
Catchy, right? I don’t know why my kids didn’t like it.
City by Numbers, by Stephen T. Johnson
We enjoyed this wordless book featuring photo-realistic paintings of New York City sights. Spotting the hidden number on each page was hard for my preschooler, but my first grader enjoyed the challenge.
Over in the Ocean in a Coral Reef, by Marianne Berkes
You’ll find dozens of versions of the familiar Over in the Meadow rhyme; I choose this variation to include because of its especially clever text and amazing art made from polymer clay. My Four loved it.
One, Two, Skip a Few! by Roberta Arensen
While this book doesn’t teach counting to a specific number, it’s a wonderful collection of old and new counting rhymes. If you teach kindergarten or first grade, I recommend writing one of the rhymes on large chart paper and using it for shared reading.
Ten Flashing Fireflies, by Philemon Sturges
I’m including this book in the section for counting 1-10, but it also features backward counting and would even work for introducing basic addition and subtraction. It’s a lovely, gentle book about a boy and girl who count ten fireflies and collect them, one by one.
Books about Counting to 20
Teeth, Tails, & Tentacles, by Christopher Wormell
What a neat book! Each book features a vivid linoleum-block print to highlight a number from 1-20. Both my kids and I loved the animal pictures. We counted 1 rhinoceros horn, 2 camel humps… all the way up to 20 barnacle shells on a humpback whale. Love it!
Counting Wildflowers, by Bruce McMillan
My Four wasn’t crazy about this one, but I like its simplicity. Each page features 1-20 wildflowers, with the corresponding number in bold print and a series of dots below the picture. This is a great book for reinforcing color names, too.
1 is One, by Tasha Tudor
My Four wasn’t interested in this one, but she was missing out! It’s a lovely vintage book which teaches counting to 20. I love the gentle rhymes and the beautiful artwork.We had a rather dull (very old) copy from the library, which may be why my Four wasn’t enthralled. Try this board book edition.
20 Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street, by Mark Lee
An ice-cream truck breaks down in the middle of the street, causing a pile-up of 20 trucks. We love the interesting story and the beautiful illustrations. If you read this enough times, you may find that your truck-loving toddler starts to count to 20. The illustrations and story are interesting enough for your preschooler, too.
Books about Counting Backward
One Was Johnny, by Maurice Sendak
Somehow I’d never read this vintage book (1962), and I’m glad I discovered it! I like the simple, silly rhyming tale about creatures who enter Johnny’s house while he’s trying to read a book. To get them all to leave, he counts backward. “9 was the robber who left looking pale, 8 was the tiger who chased him to jail, 7 the blackbird who flew to Havana, 6 was the monkey who stole a banana…”
Be aware that this is a great book for teaching rote counting, but not for counting objects on a page.
123 A Child’s First Counting Book, by Alison Jay
This beautiful book (one of my favorites from this list) gives children practice counting up to 10 and then back down again. You’ll appreciate that the book is very simple (making it a quick read) with lots of opportunities for counting on each page (your child will probably discover something new to count each time you read it!). My favorite feature of this book is that the illustration on each page alludes to a popular fairy tale.
Found Dogs, by Erica Sirotich
Oh, my – such a sweet book! On each page we count a group of shelter dogs with simple rhyming text. “1 dog, long and low. 2 dogs, silver and slow…” Then the book counts backward from 10 to 1 as all the dogs are adopted. The illustrations are irresistible!
On the Launch Pad, by Michael Dahl
This is a simple book that counts down from 10 to 1 until the rocket blasts off. Nothing spectacular, but a nice little counting book to add to this list.
Ten Terrible Dinosaurs, by Paul Stickland
Count down from ten as each dinosaur leaves the scene, one by one. My Two enjoyed the bold pictures and simple rhymes.
Five Little Monkeys, by Eileen Christelow
This is a fun favorite featuring the familiar rhyme: Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed. We like the funny twist at the end!
Ten Red Apples, by Pat Hutchins
This book has the charm of a vintage tale but is relatively new (or at least 2000 feels new to me!). It features a catchy rhyme in which we count backward from 10 to 1 as each animal takes an apple from the tree. My Two fell in love with this book, and I cannot tell you how adorable it was when I saw him “reading” it aloud to himself.
Books with Counting Past 20
How Many Snails? by Paul Giganti, Jr.
This is a bright counting book that also gives practice with visual discrimination. On each page, children can count the total number and then a few smaller groups. For example: “How many fish were there? How many fish were red? How many fish were red and had their mouths open?” We liked this one, but it wasn’t a favorite.
Let’s Count to 100! by Masayuki Sebe
This book is ideal for kids who are already counting and like a challenge. On each page, your child will see 100 brightly colored cartoon characters (mice, moles, sheep, elephants, etc.). They can count the 100 objects or do a smaller challenge if they’re not up to counting to 100 on every page (I know I’m not!). Examples of smaller challenges include: “How many cats have striped tails?” and “How many moles are snuggled up with a frog?”
Even though she doesn’t count groups higher than 15 yet, my Four really enjoyed this one.
1-2-3 Peas, by Keith Baker
This is a fun book in which tiny peas count from 1-100. I love how Baker fully illustrates 1-10 and wish he’d done the same for 11-20. Also note that beginning with 20, the peas count by 10 to 100.
Best Counting Book Ever, by Richard Scarry
If you are looking for a quick read, this will not be it. But if you and your child love poring over Richard Scarry’s detailed illustrations and charming stories, this is one to add to your collection. Willy Bunny counts objects to 20, and then counts to 100 by tens.
Books about Skip Counting
Two Ways to Count to Ten, by Ruby Dee
This is a folktale about a peaceful kingdom of jungle animals; King Cheetah must find a wise animal to be his successor. Who can throw a spear so high in the air that they can count to ten before it lands? None of the large, strong animals are successful – but they laugh when the “weak and puny” antelope wants to try. By now you’ve probably guessed that he counts by 2’s and wins the contest. This book would be a great introduction to a skip counting lesson.
How Many Feet in the Bed? by Diane Johnston Hamm
This is a good book to read to preschoolers and kindergartners to teach the concept of counting by 2’s. When Dad wakes up, there are just two feet in the bed. But as his wife and children join him, we count up to 10. This is a cute and simple book.
Toasty Toes, by Michael Dahl
This is a very quick read that introduces counting by tens. We count the toes of beachgoers as they enjoy a day at the ocean. Nothing spectacular, but helpful for teaching a new concept.
One is a Snail, Ten is a Crab, by April Pulley Sayre and Jeff Sayre
This may be one of my favorite counting books of all time. It’s a “counting by feet” book. As in… if you have 2 people, you have 4 feet. If you have 10 spiders, you have 80 feet. The book is just plain fun to read, but it also offers many opportunities for addition and skip counting.
Eggs and Legs, by Michael Dahl
This book’s text and illustrations are nothing special, but it does teach counting by 2’s. Mrs. Hen’s chicks escape the nest with their feet sticking from the bottom of their eggs, and we count by two as the chicks toddle away.
Mooove Over! by Karen Magnuson Beil
As the animals board his bus, the bus driver counts them by two’s. But suddenly a rude cow pushes her way onto the bus, and the driver loses count. The cow demands that all the passengers “mooove over” so she can spread out her things and make herself at home. Finally, the cow is sent off the bus, and the 20 animals all return to their seats. My Four really loved this cute story, and she asked me to read it again as soon as I’d finished it.
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