100 books like The Terrible Two

By Jory John, Mac Barnett, Kevin Cornell (illustrator)

Here are 100 books that The Terrible Two fans have personally recommended if you like The Terrible Two. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Matilda

Megan Carle Author Of Walk Away to Win: A Playbook to Combat Workplace Bullying

From my list on bullies being put in their place.

Why am I passionate about this?

It’s taken me a while to feel comfortable calling myself an expert on workplace bullying. I mean, just because you experience something doesn’t necessarily make you an expert, right? What I am, though, is passionate about the subject of workplace bullying within the larger context of organizational health and workplace culture. I’m passionate about it because I experienced a workplace whose culture devolved into hostility, toxicity, and workplace bullying. I'm one of the 80 million US workers who have been affected by workplace bullying. That’s the size of two Californias or one Germany. And, it means one in two workers are contending with something that is known as “the Undiscussable.” So, let’s discuss it. 

Megan's book list on bullies being put in their place

Megan Carle Why did Megan love this book?

Matilda—both in prose and musical form—is one of my favorite stories about bullies getting what’s coming to them, and the victim emerging with a better life.

Matilda’s parents and older brother are terrible people; her schoolmates and headmistress are not any better. But Matilda has a champion—an ally—in her corner: her teacher Miss Honey. With the confidence and support that just one friend brings, Matilda stands up to all the others.

She speaks up for herself and won’t let the bullies get away with their bad behavior. In doing so, she charts a happier course for her life—an end result to which anyone who’s being bullied can aspire.

By Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Matilda as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Puffin Audiobooks presents Roald Dahl's Matilda, read by Kate Winslet. This audiobook features original music and sound design by Pinewood film studios.

Matilda Wormwood is an extraordinary genius with really stupid parents.

Miss Trunchbull is her terrifying headmistress who thinks all her pupils are rotten little stinkers.

But Matilda will show these horrible grown-ups that even though she's only small, she's got some very powerful tricks up her sleeve . . .

Kate Winslet's award-winning and varied career has included standout roles in Titanic, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Finding Neverland, Revolutionary Road and The Reader, for which she…


Book cover of Can I Play Too?

Andrew Wald Author Of A Surprising Friendship

From my list on friendship and diversity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a psychotherapist working with individuals and couples since 1974 and have had over 57,000 sessions. How people relate to one another has been a fascination of mine since I was a youngster growing up in a suburb of Chicago. I believe that we are “wired” for relationships of all kinds and it takes a conscious effort to see the best in each other for them to thrive. Differences can be the spice of a relationship, not the division of them. My book, my practice, and my life focuses on those concepts. In 2012, I co-authored a popular book on relationships, Togetherness: Creating and Deepening Sustainable Love.

Andrew's book list on friendship and diversity

Andrew Wald Why did Andrew love this book?

This simple, sweet, picture book, like others in the Elephant and Piggy series, deals with different animals who are trying to solve a problem together. I liked the book because it portrays how differences don’t matter when you care about another. To show how differences can be overcome and not be reasons to divide is wonderful, especially when the concept is shown to the very young reader.

By Mo Willems,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Can I Play Too? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

Perfect for children just learning to read, this highly original book is told entirely in speech bubbles with a repetitive use of familiar phrases. From the award-winning author of Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
Gerald is careful. Piggie is not.
Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can.
Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to.
Gerald and Piggie are best friends.

In Can I Play Too? Gerald and Piggie meet a new friend, Snake, who wants to join in a game of catch. But don't you need arms to catch...? Mo Willems creates another hilarious escapade starring the…


Book cover of Narwhal

Steve Breen Author Of Sky & Ty 1: Howdy, Partner!

From my list on graphic novels for young readers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been an editorial cartoonist and author of children's books for years, and I've always wanted to try my hand at a graphic novel. I'd want to explore this art form even if I didn't have kids. Editorial cartoons deal with serious, heavy issues. Comic strips can get monotonous, and picture books tend to skew young. Graphic novels for kids, however, are 'Goldilocks' projects for me—just right. They allow you to imagine incredible adventures for your characters, they give you an excuse to incorporate wacky humor, and the format provides a chance to have fun with art and design. What's not to love?

Steve's book list on graphic novels for young readers

Steve Breen Why did Steve love this book?

This is a fantastic book for kids for many reasons, but most of all, I love the positivity! Clanton beautifully captures the essence of friendship through the charming relationship between Narwhal and Jelly.

Someone said there is an element of Frog and Toad with these two characters, and I agree. Delightfully simple illustrations and relatable stories teach important lessons about acceptance, teamwork, and celebrating differences.

By Ben Clanton,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Narwhal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

Narwhal is a happy-go-lucky narwhal. Jelly is a no-nonsense jellyfish. The two might not have a lot in common, but they do they love waffles, parties and adventures. Join Narwhal and Jelly as they discover the whole wide ocean together.
A wonderfully silly early graphic novel series featuring three stories. In the first, Jelly learns that Narwhal is a really good friend. Then Narwhal and Jelly form their own pod of awesomeness with their ocean friends. And finally, Narwhal and Jelly read the best book ever -- even though it doesn't have any words...or pictures!
Ben Clanton showcases the joys…


Book cover of Chirri & Chirra

Billy Aronson and Jen Oxley Author Of Melia and Jo

From my list on best friends.

Why are we passionate about this?

Besides creating inventive best friends Melia and Jo, Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson created problem-solving best friends Peg and Cat, stars of Peg + Cat picture books and the PBS TV series which airs around the world. While creating those sets of best friends Jen and Billy became best friends themselves, brainstorming together, learning together, singing and dancing together, sharing pizza, inspiring and supporting each other, and laughing together many times a day. So yeah, they know a lot about best friends. 

Billy's book list on best friends

Billy Aronson and Jen Oxley Why did Billy love this book?

In Chirri and Chirra, Japanese author and artist Kaya Doi captures the magic of best friendship with gorgeous colored pencil illustrations and a dream-like tale. When twins Chirri and Chirra head off into the woods for a bike ride they find themselves in a wonderland that blends the strangeness of Lewis Caroll with the sweetness of Goodnight Moon. Along the way they stop to enjoy chestnut coffee, clover blossom tea and jelly sandwiches, all served by forest animals. They swim in a lake, nap under a tree, and ride on to a cozy hotel just in time for a forest animal concert that lights up the night of the girls’ perfect day.

By Kaya Doi, Yuki Kaneko (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Chirri & Chirra as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first book in a completely charming series by a well-known Japanese author and illustrator, Chirri & Chirra introduces two girl characters who go on wonderful adventures together through the natural world. Vibrant, lively, and astonishingly sweet in a pure, unsentimental way, these pages present us with relatable children, small animals, lots of food, atmosphere, and many mysteries.

Born in Tokyo, Japan, Kaya Doi graduated with a degree in design from Tokyo Zokei University. She got her start in picture books by attending the Atosaki Juku Workshop, held at a Tokyo bookshop specializing in picture books. Since then she has…


Book cover of Imaginary Fred

Billy Aronson and Jen Oxley Author Of Melia and Jo

From my list on best friends.

Why are we passionate about this?

Besides creating inventive best friends Melia and Jo, Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson created problem-solving best friends Peg and Cat, stars of Peg + Cat picture books and the PBS TV series which airs around the world. While creating those sets of best friends Jen and Billy became best friends themselves, brainstorming together, learning together, singing and dancing together, sharing pizza, inspiring and supporting each other, and laughing together many times a day. So yeah, they know a lot about best friends. 

Billy's book list on best friends

Billy Aronson and Jen Oxley Why did Billy love this book?

Can imaginary friends count as best friends? Totally. Imaginary Fred is a brilliant riff on imaginary friendship, told from the point of view of the imaginary friend. When imaginary Fred befriends non-imaginary Sam, the two have so much fun that Fred panics he’ll be replaced by a real kid (again!). But when real Sam brings home his new friend real Sammi, Sammi befriends Fred too…and her own imaginary friend Freida becomes Fred’s total B(I)FF! The book is quirky/funny, but really moving too. Everybody gets a best friend.

By Eoin Colfer, Oliver Jeffers (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Imaginary Fred as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF CHILDREN'S BOOK OF THE YEAR, IRISH BOOK AWARDS
An extraordinary collaboration between Irish Children's Laureate, Eoin Colfer, and picture book superstar, Oliver Jeffers!

Sometimes, with a little electricity, or luck, or even magic, an imaginary friend might appear when you need one. An imaginary friend like Fred...

Fred floated like a feather in the wind until a lonely little boy wished for him and found a friendship like no other.

The perfect chemistry between Eoin Colfer's text and Oliver Jeffer's artwork make for a dazzlingly original colour gift book.


Book cover of Sideways Stories from Wayside School

Travis Nichols Author Of A Witch's Last Resort

From my list on friendly freaks, monsters, and cryptids.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a lifelong monster fiend. I love horror and sci-fi, and I especially love stories that really dig into characters and how they smash into each other. My favorite scary books (and movies, etc.) are funny, and my favorite funny books are kinda scary. It can be super healing and empowering to read books about terrible things that are handled with a heaping scoop of empathy and humor and absurdity.

Travis' book list on friendly freaks, monsters, and cryptids

Travis Nichols Why did Travis love this book?

What can I say? It’s the goated friendly freaks book.

This collection of super short connected stories stars one kid per tale. The kids are weird and wild, and something that has really stuck with me my whole life is that some of the kids are rotten and stay rotten. Not everyone needs to grow and change in 120 pages.

Let a character stink. Let a kid be a wet rat. Let a nasty teacher be eaten. Anyway, there’s this incredible way that the author employs a third-person limited POV that gets me every time, even on the hundredth read.

A few illustrators have graced the pages of this all-time favorite. I grew up reading an edition illustrated by the amazing Julie Brinkloe. I also have a copy illustrated by Adam McCauley, which I also really love.

By Louis Sachar, Tim Heitz (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Sideways Stories from Wayside School as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

There has been a terrible mistake. Instead of having thirty classrooms side by side, Wayside School is thirty storeys high! (The builder said he was sorry.) Perhaps that's why all sorts of strange and unusual things keep happening - especially in Mrs Jewls's classroom on the very top floor.

There's the terrifying Mrs Gorf, who gets an unusually fruity comeuppance; Terrible Todd, who always gets sent home early; and Mauricia, who has a strange ice-cream addiction. Meanwhile, John can only read upside down, and Leslie is determined to sell her own toes.

From top to bottom, Wayside is packed with…


Book cover of Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures

S.M. Stevens Author Of Shannon's Odyssey

From my list on adventure with talking animals and a dash of magic.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a girl, I would roll around on the floor with my Labrador retriever, beg my parents for horseback-riding lessons, and dream of being a vet. A proficiency in language and lack of science skills led me to writing instead, but my intense love of animals never waned. I adore adventure stories featuring animal characters and human ones, and some form of communication between them. That’s why I wrote Shannon’s Odyssey which, like many Middle Grade novels, also explores family secrets and the all-important act of forgiveness. It’s not fantasy but contains mystical elements rooted in reality, because who doesn’t want to believe magic exists in our everyday lives?

S.M.'s book list on adventure with talking animals and a dash of magic

S.M. Stevens Why did S.M. love this book?

Clever, comic-book reading, word-loving Flora is more cynical than ever since her parents’ separation. She’s sure her mother loves a shepherdess lamp more than her own daughter. When Flora saves a squirrel sucked up by a neighbor’s vacuum and he returns with super strength and the ability to understand language and write poetry, she finds a kindred spirit. I love this book for its colorful (human and squirrel) characters and subtle exploration of family dynamics. And I love that Flora’s journey, which is emotional rather than physical, isn’t wrapped up with a tidy bow at the end.

By Kate DiCamillo, K.G. Campbell (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Flora & Ulysses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Holy unanticipated occurrences! A cynic meets an unlikely superhero in a genre-breaking new novel by a master storyteller.

It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw it coming - the vacuum cleaner, that is. As for self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, she has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You! so she is just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight and…


Book cover of The Adventures of Captain Underpants

Stephanie Calmenson Author Of Our Principal Is a Frog!

From my list on funny easy-to-read chapter books in a series.

Why am I passionate about this?

I landed my dream job teaching kindergarten in a Brooklyn public school, but it soon ended thanks to citywide budget cuts.  Wanting to continue connecting with children, I made my way into children's book publishing first as an editor, later as a writer.  I've now written over 100 books including Dinner at the Panda Palace (PBS StoryTime book); May I Pet Your Dog? (Horn Book Fanfare); Dozens of Dachshunds (Scholastic Book Club selection); the Our Principal series (S&S Quix books); and The Adventures of Allie and Amy series, written with Magic School Bus author Joanna Cole. I found my new dream job teaching, entertaining, and encouraging children through books.

Stephanie's book list on funny easy-to-read chapter books in a series

Stephanie Calmenson Why did Stephanie love this book?

No list of funny, easy chapter books would be complete without Captain Underpants! This first book in the series introduces us to best buddy mischief makers George and Harold who hypnotize their principal, turning him into Captain Underpants. George and Harold are good kids. Really. I mean it. They just happen to have a mile-long "silly streak".  While not every adult approves of these books because the kids are cheeky, this is humor that gets kids reading. It's an honorable goal with exemplary execution. (Note: Author-illustrator Dav Pilkey was diagnosed as a kid with ADHD and dyslexia. At school, he was sent to sit out in the hallway daily. His success story, shared at the end of the book, is inspiring.)   

By Dav Pilkey,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Adventures of Captain Underpants as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

Laugh out loud with the first Captain Underpants,
the #1 New York Times bestselling series
from Dav Pilkey, the creator of Dog Man!


This edition is a full-colour graphic novel



Fourth graders George Beard and Harold Hutchins are a couple of
class clowns.

The only thing they enjoy more than playing practical jokes is
creating their own comic books.

And together they've created the greatest superhero in the history
of their elementary school: Captain Underpants!

His true identity is SO secret, even HE doesn't know who he is!



The critics are CRAZY about UNDERPANTS!

"Irresistible." - Entertainment Weekly

"Call Pilkey...…


Book cover of Forget Me Not

Kate Foster Author Of All the Small Wonderful Things

From my list on middle grade about neurodivergent kids.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an autistic person and mother of an autistic child and a huge part of my book-loving life is finding characters like us. Up until the last few years that’s not been easy, but this lack of fair representation has driven me to seek out books that shine a spotlight on neurodivergent children, smashing stereotypes and harmful notions that continue to be promoted and adored via mainstream media. Recommending books that portray neurodivergent characters in a way that does more harm than good and reinforces the stigma and treatment of neurodivergent people in real life, so I use my platform to talk about the right books telling the right stories. 

Kate's book list on middle grade about neurodivergent kids

Kate Foster Why did Kate love this book?

Calliope June has Tourette Syndrome and is one of the stars of this dual-POV novel – with Calliope’s chapters told in verse and Jinsong’s in prose.

At times it’s a tough story to read as it doesn’t shy away from Calliope’s struggles and the bullying she experiences at school and at home, but it’s also jam-packed with hope and beauty and small moments that can change a life forever.

I also think this was the first book I read starring and written by someone with Tourette, and it challenged virtually everything I’d ever known about the disability. I read it in an hour several years ago and it still has a firm place in my heart and soul.  

By Ellie Terry,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Forget Me Not as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

Calliope June has Tourette syndrome. Sometimes she can't control the noises that come out of her mouth, or even her body language. When she and her mother move yet again, she tries to hide her TS. But soon the kids in her class realise she's different. Only her neighbour, who is also the class president, sees her as she truly is - a quirky kid, and a good friend. But is he brave enough to take their friendship public?

As Callie navigates school, she must also face her mother's new relationship and the fact that she might be moving again…


Book cover of Gibberish

Jyoti Rajan Gopal Author Of American Desi

From my list on children figuring out their place in the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

As someone straddling multiple cultures, growing up everywhere and belonging nowhere, I know what it feels like to not fit in. I know what it feels like to want to hide parts of yourself so you can fit in. And so, as a picture book writer and a Kindergarten teacher, I'm always looking for books that share stories about children trying to figure out their place in the world. I didn't have those books growing up. What a difference that would have made in my own journey. The books that I picked are unique in the way they portray belonging. I hope you love these gems as much as I do!

Jyoti's book list on children figuring out their place in the world

Jyoti Rajan Gopal Why did Jyoti love this book?

I love Gibberish for the brilliant way that Voh portrays how it feels to be the new kid at school, in a new country, with a new language. It’s a familiar story arc but told in such a unique way! Voh’s use of speech bubbles and emojis to represent the new language as gibberish is such a powerful tool to convey the confusion of the unfamiliar. I love how easily children relate to the text and the images—and in so doing, connect with the new kid. Masterfully done, I highly recommend this!

By Young Vo,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Gibberish as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

It's Dat's first day of school in a new country! Dat and his Mah made a long journey to get here, and Dat doesn't know the language. To Dat, everything everybody says - from the school bus driver to his new classmates - sounds like gibberish. How is Dat going to make new friends if they can't understand each other?
Luckily there's a friendly girl in Dat's class who knows that there are other ways to communicate, besides just talking. Could she help make sense of the gibberish?


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in humour books, funny, and school?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about humour books, funny, and school.

Humour Books Explore 1,921 books about humour books
Funny Explore 1,921 books about funny
School Explore 267 books about school