Top Books for 5 Year Olds

Books are capable of taking us to foreign places, teaching us new things, and helping us to empathize with characters that might think and behave differently than we do. Children’s imaginations are always constantly running wild, so why not give them somewhere to direct that creative energy and curiosity? Around the age of five, children are starting to be able to sound out basic words for themselves. Reading with your child statistically yields greater academic success and higher reading comprehension skills. Try one of our ten favorite books, all listed below. Some of these classics are such fun that we think you’ll enjoy them, regardless of if your little one is reading along!

Last Updated:
By Angeline Mirenda:

We know you want your children to flourish and be challenged. That’s why we’ve recently reviewed the content on this guide and replaced any products that we felt weren’t getting the job done. Check out the new book we’ve added, “Ten Magic Butterflies.” It’s a fun and colorful story that also helps children with basic mathematics!

Criteria Used in Evaluation of The Best Books for 5 Year Olds

1. Appropriate age for book

It is very important to select books for the child that have the correct content for their age. If the books are too advanced for your reader, then he or she will be discouraged that they cannot read or understand the content. In contrast, by choosing books that are below the child’s reading level, they will be bored and not interested in the book and not want to read it. All of the books reviewed here are appropriate for the average 5 year old child, so they should be able to read, interact, and understand the messages of the stories they withhold.

2. What will the book teach the child

Most of the books listed will teach sentence structure and ending punctuation, plus some if not most of the parts of speech in use. Some of the books teach through repetition, while others do it songs and rhyme. Life lessons like making friends and respecting others are taught in these books as well, which are important to start with the young reader.

3. Has the book been proven effective in learning

These featured stories all have well-known authors that are professionals at writing children books with the young reader in mnd. Dr Seuss has been circulating for many many years, with many adults having fond memories of their childhood books. Naturally, as parents today, we want to hand down that familiarity to our own children to enjoy and treasure. These trusted authors have much to teach children with their cute, fun stories using beautiful illustrations to drive home the points they want to make. Many of these books are permanent mainstays in public and school libraries because they are so good at educating and entertaining our little ones.

4. Will the book be exciting enough to read multiple times

All of these books listed are great additions to your child’s library to read over and over throughout their young years. With fantastic illustrations to look at while reading or being red to, your five year-old will enjoy these books many times, discovering new things each time. The stories are interesting enough for multiple reads, sometimes even in the same day.

5. Empathetic Protagonists and Valuable Themes

Books are stories, and narratives are how we learn a lot of lessons in life. It’s not just letter sounds and rhyme schemes your child is absorbing when they pick up a book; it’s the message and themes presented as well. Relatable protagonists are a key element to many children’s stories. Whether the main character is a human, animal, or animated object, they need to possess traits that we the readers, and especially children, will feel connected to and understand. Diversity and representation help them to feel heard themselves, as well as to recognize and listen to others that might be different than they are. As such, we tried to provide options for books with themes centered around kindness, compassion, sharing, self-confidence, and other important moral principles. Reading stories together about things like standing up for yourself and showing compassion to others even when they might not seem like the deserve it gives you the chance to have important conversations with your child about the ways in which we all conduct ourselves in the world.

A Closer Look at Your 5 Year Old’s Language Development

Choosing the right book for any kid requires an understanding of their unique developmental skills. It is clear that no two kids are alike. Some can read like adults as early as 3 years old while there are also some that may already be teens yet do not have the faculties for reading yet. The language development of children is inherently tied to their early childhood experiences as well as the overall maturity of their cognitive structures.

Looking at an ‘average’ 5 year old child’s language development, there are several areas that are worth noting. These are as follows.

  • Language sounds 

Five year old kids already understand that sounds make words. Your child may already be able to identify words that begin with the same sound as well as words that rhyme. For instance, your kid may already be fond of playing simple word games or rhyming games blurting out cat, bat, hat, mat, and fat. He or she also knows that the sentence, “Mommy makes marshmallows” have words that begin with exactly the same sound. They also know the sounds of the different letters that make up the English alphabet and they can almost always associate these sounds with the corresponding letters. That is why it is important to keep on teaching kids the letters of the alphabet including how each one sounds. This is critical as 5 year olds can learn to combine these different sounds to form words. For instance, putting together “c”, “a”, and “t” produces “cat”.

  • Vocabulary

By this stage, children are now learning to use connecting words as well as words that explain. For instance, they already know when to use the words “but” and “when”. They also know words that help them explain what they feel such as “upset”, “confused”, and “delighted”. By this age, your kid may already be showing signs of knowledge about the relative position of things such as the use of the words “between”, “below”, “above”, and “behind”. They can also start using words that attempt to explain how their brain is working, such as “remember” or “don’t know”. He or she is also beginning to understand and use more action words so he or she can explain himself or herself a lot better. The thing is that 5 year old kids generally understand more words than they actually can use.

  • Comprehension and understanding

The level of comprehension of 5 year old kids greatly varies and is largely dependent on their vocabulary and mastery of the language sounds. Some kids already fully understand certain words and they can use these exceptionally well. However, most kids at this stage do not fully comprehend yet complicated ideas such as “at the same time” or “likewise”; although they will already begin understanding some figures of speech such as “couch potato” or even “pull one’s leg”. The great thing about a five year old is that he or she can now follow simple directions even if it requires more than two steps to accomplish the task. As long as the direction is structured in a manner that the kid understands, he or she will be able to follow multi-step directions. However, kids of this age typically perform the action of the first word that they hear first. So, you have to be especially careful when constructing your sentences and make sure to put the word that you want your kid to listen to ahead of the other words. For example, instead of saying “Before we go, get your jacket first” you may want to say “Get your jacket before we go.”

  • Using increasingly complex sentences

You will be amazed at how kids of this stage are progressing. Their speech and language development are already advancing at a steady pace. They can now meld two simple sentences into one. They can also structure their sentences either in the active or the passive voice; although you simply cannot expect them to explain the difference between these two. At 5 years of age, children are known to use longer sentences that contain up to 9 words. Some really proficient kids can even do more than 10 while others, 9 may already be asking too much. Additionally, don’t expect your kid to be grammatically correct all the time. Mistakes are bound to occur and it is your job to make sure to correct these early on. What’s worth noting is that 5 year olds can already talk about things within a particular time frame. Their concept of past and future is now beginning to take shape.

  • Storytelling and developing conversational skills

Because of the increasing knowledge of 5 year olds in constructing sentences as well as their inherent skill of conveying their feelings and thoughts, they are now very fond of telling stories. However, it’s either the information they provide is incomplete or simply too much. Their stories may not have meaningful endings or these don’t make sense at all. Nevertheless, they are already appreciative of the ideas of other people and might actually use whatever information they obtain from others to make their own storytelling more convincing. This is very important as it gives them the foundation for developing their conversational skills. This also lays the foundation for their pragmatic skills.

It really is amazing to see what the first 5 years of life can do to a child, especially in terms of his or her ability to communicate. Five year olds are now more talkative than ever and can already express their own views of the world. It is for this very reason that helping them read matters. The things that they read can help them expand their vocabulary and further sharpen their knowledge of grammar and correct English usage.

How to Choose the Right Book for Your 5 Year Old Kid

Reading is a critical component of speech and language development in kids, especially 5 year olds. It provides them with the foundation for the continuing development of the many areas of language including speech sounds, grammatical markers, pragmatic skills, literacy, concept development, vocabulary, questions, and listening skills. But the more important question is how to choose the right book for your 5 year old kid. Here’s how.

  • Always consider your child’s developmental level

Some call it age appropriateness but we prefer to go for a child’s developmental level as an indication of his or her readiness for a particular activity. It makes perfect sense. Since language development is heavily predicated on a kid’s knowledge and skill of speech sounds particularly those produced by the letters of the alphabet, if a 5 year old kid still cannot distinguish the difference between the sound of the letter “C” and the sound produced by the letter “Z”, then it doesn’t make sense to choose a book that requires the reading of words that begin with such sounds. It is thus, imperative that you assess first your kid’s developmental abilities and try to compare it with the requirements of the book.

  • Check what your kid will be learning from the book

It is very important to look at the value of the book, often based on what your 5 year old should be developing. If he or she is having problems with the sounds of letters, then maybe a return to the alphabet is a must. How about something that will expand your kid’s vocabulary and even comprehension?

  • Consider the different genres of books that appeal to 5 year olds

Five year olds can still benefit from toddler books and early preschool literature. They still love bedtime books as well as read-alouds especially if you have a knack for making fun sounds to make the storytelling more engaging than most. Some experts believe that chapter books are now ideal for children of this age as it is neither too long nor too short for their attention span. The important thing to understand is that 5 year old kids love going through stories over and over. So even if they’re done reading, you can expect them to be heading for their books many times over. Here are some books that are just great for kids of this age.

  • Books about familiar objects as well as experiences such as those written in nursery stories and even Mother Goose books.
  • Books that are written in a particular rhythm as well as excellent repetition of words. Rhyming words are important, too.
  • Picture books with excellent character development as well as compelling storylines.
  • If your child is able to read independently, books that are written in a straightforward manner, using words that are very familiar to your kid are important. These are often termed ‘easy readers’.
  • Nonfiction, informational books can also help especially if you have a child who’s particularly interested in something.

Five year old children do not have the language proficiency of school aged children. Not yet, anyway. However, giving them the right books to read to expand their vocabulary and learn about the basics of grammar and sentence construction can help enhance their overall language development.


Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Would these books be okay for older or younger children?

A: If the child is deriving some education, pleasure, or enjoyment from the book, then it is a win-win situation that will encourage learning no matter the age.

Q: Do any of these books come as a set?

A: Certainly the Dr. Seuss books and the Star Wars series can be purchased as a set. You can check with booksellers to see if any of the other authors bundle their children’s books into sets also.

Q: Should a five-year-old child be reading these books on their own?

A: These books are appropriate for the five-year-old to be reading on their own; however, that is largely dependent on the personal reading experience of the child and how often they do read. A child that reads quite frequently will be more advanced than one that does not read often, of course.

Q: Are these books available only from online sellers?

A: No, regular bookstores in your area should carry all of these books as they are quite popular and have been in print for many years, especially the Dr. Seuss books.

Q: What if my five-year-old cannot read these books?

A: With practice these books should be appropriate for any average five-year-old to read. Some of the books may have a few advanced words, but with help from an adult, this should not pose a problem.

Q: What if my child only looks at the pictures, but does not read yet? Would these books be okay for them?

A: Yes, of course. Any reading time or storytelling time with your child is quality time well spent. You may think that your child is not reading the words, but they are sure looking at them while you read them and that is the beginning of reading.

You May Also Like

Books For 2 Year Olds
Books For 3 Year Olds
Books For 6 Year Olds
Books For 7 Year Olds


  1. Beverley B. Swanson , How Can I Improve My Child's Reading?, Article,
  2. Derry Koralek, Ray Collins , How Most Children Learn to Read, Article,
  3. Carina Storrs, This is your child's brain on reading, Article,
  4. Maria Konnikova, How Children Learn To Read, Blog,
  5. Admin, Why Some Kids Struggle, Informative Article,