The best kindergarten books

1 authors have picked their favorite books about kindergarten and why they recommend each book.

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Our Diversity Makes Us Stronger

By Elizabeth Cole, Julia Kamenshikova (illustrator),

Book cover of Our Diversity Makes Us Stronger: Social Emotional Book for Kids about Diversity and Kindness

This story is told in bouncy rhyme and teaches children an important message of self-love and acceptance of others. Most importantly, the message of the book is genuinely charming and heartwarming. The rich and engaging illustrations in this book are a joy to look at and perfectly fit with the theme of this book. I especially appreciate the variety of characters shown in the book: every gender, ethnicity, and body type is showcased beautifully. 

Who am I?

I’m a British author who specializes in writing about diversity and inclusion. I’ve always been a firm believer in equality for all, and I think diversity is such a vital subject for children to learn. It’s so important to teach children to love themselves and treat others how they would want to be treated, even if they are different than you. I believe a little bit of love goes a long way. I hope you enjoy my list of children’s books about diversity and share in my passion for children’s books that champion love and acceptance for everyone.

I wrote...

Family Means...

By Matthew Ralph,

Book cover of Family Means...

What is my book about?

Family Means… is a charming and heartwarming children’s picture book about family, diversity, inclusion, and the joy of everyday life. Every family is special, and this book celebrates all forms of living together: no one is left out. The types of families represented include nuclear/traditional families, adoption families, blended families, multiracial families, stepfamilies, single-parent families as well as LGBT families.

Each page starts with the words Family means… and shows different types of families in various everyday situations.

Snaily Snail

By Chris Raschka,

Book cover of Snaily Snail

This is the sweetest little book. It’s super short with only 15 pages and only a simple sentence on every other page but the illustrations are adorable!! It’s about a snail and the narrator loves the snail. Each page reiterates their love and the illustrated snail is full of movement and character. I love the art style. It’s brushy and rushed but accurate and full of energy. I love the rhythm of the simple sentences. It’s fun and cute and perfect for reading aloud to a little. You can read it over and over and it never gets old.

When my daughter was afraid to go to kindergarten I would read it to her every day and tell her that I loved her like snaily snail. The last page says, “I love you when I work. I love you snaily snail!” and that really hit home for me because I…

Who am I?

I'm not really an expert on anxiety other than being an adult who suffers from it. I thought I was normal and everyone felt the way I did until I started looking for books to help my daughter with her panic attacks and I realized I have it too! I've since been diagnosed and lead a pretty great life with the help of therapy and medication. What parents share with their children during nightly story reading or on the couch to read a few books is very bonding and intimate. I think that's the best time for kids to ask their parents questions and share their emotions. My goal is to help those conversations happen.

I wrote...

It's Not About You, Little Hoo!

By Brenda Ponnay,

Book cover of It's Not About You, Little Hoo!

What is my book about?

This is a story of a little anxious owl who thinks everything is his fault. His friends run off, he thinks they don’t like him, his bike doesn’t work, he thinks he’s a bad bike rider, he gets picked last for the soccer team, he feels rejected… but his father, Papa Hoo, tells him gently why each scenario is actually not about him at all. His friends had to go home for dinner, his bike needed a tune-up, and somebody has to get picked last. Not everything is personal. 

As an adult I was excluded accidentally from a group trip and it hurt my feelings. The more I sat with these feelings, I realized they came from childhood feelings of being left out. I wrote this children’s book to help other anxious people like me. 

Planet Kindergarten

By Sue Ganz-Schmitt, Shane Prigmore (illustrator),

Book cover of Planet Kindergarten

In this brilliant book, the author draws parallels between the first day of kindergarten and a space mission – it turns out the two are not that different, after all. There are gravity issues in kindergarten as well, with kids trying hard to stay in their seats, and hands flying up. There’s the equivalent commander in the teacher, mission control in the principal, crewmates, experiments, and a flight plan! Peppered with space lingo, this charming book is double the reading pleasure, with its combined introduction to space and kindergarten. I am all set for kindergarten now. Can’t wait! Again, a great read for little humans.

Who am I?

Who doesn’t like space? I love learning about space! Tip: Picture books are easier to comprehend compared to graduate courses – there’s only so much of Newton-Euler dynamics, inertia tensors, eccentricity vectors, etc. one can handle. Plus, there are no nasty mind-boggling equations in picture books. I mean, do you really want to calculate the maximum flight path angle and the true anomaly at which it occurs? Or solve Kepler’s equations for hyperbolic eccentric anomaly? No, right? Always stick to the picture book if you have a choice! I mentioned some fun picture books (fiction and non-fiction) with amusing or complementing illustrations that helped me on my journey to understanding space. Enjoy!

I wrote...

Simon's Skin

By Nidhi Kamra, Diane Brown (illustrator),

Book cover of Simon's Skin

What is my book about?

Simon thinks his skin is bo-rring. Simon doesn't like boring. So, he tries on different skins, and to his surprise, each comes with its own challenge. Simon soon makes a pleasant discovery about his own skin. This book is about a little boy who discovers he is perfect the way he is.

Ira Sleeps Over

By Bernard Waber,

Book cover of Ira Sleeps Over

I discovered this book at a library storytime when I was five. The kids were invited to wear their pajamas, making it feel just like a sleepover! I was the perfect age for this story, as I had just made my first best friend in my kindergarten class and was starting to do sleepovers for the very first time. Revisiting this story as an adult, I'm struck by how well it captures the intensity of what should be a very simple decision: bring a teddy bear to a sleepover or not. The author understands how high the stakes are in childhood friendships, where one moment of embarrassment can feel like the end of the world! 

Who am I?

I feel passionate about the topic of friendship because I haven’t been a great friend to all the people that have mattered to me. I’ve learned the value of friendship by making a lot of mistakes. I’m very lucky to be in my 40’s, have an amazing family, and still have a few individuals that I’ve known my entire adult life, who I still talk to on a regular basis. These people are really good friends, because, to be honest, they’ve seen me at my worst, and still love me. I consider myself a wealthy man, in no small part because of my friends. 

I wrote...

A Friend for Yoga Bunny

By Brian Russo,

Book cover of A Friend for Yoga Bunny

What is my book about?

In his second outing, Yoga Bunny finds a new friend... Bear! Bear is nervous about her birthday party and Bunny shows her how he uses yoga to feel more relaxed. He then invites her to do yoga with him and some other animals the next day. When she doesn’t show up, Yoga Bunny is sad at first, but then let's go and wishes her the best. I hope this will show young readers an important aspect of friendship: we can’t always fix our friend’s problems, and they won’t always do what we want. But if we stay open and respect what they’re going through, everything will turn out for the best.

My Sister, Daisy

By Adria Karlsson, Linus Curci (illustrator),

Book cover of My Sister, Daisy

This is a heartwarming and sensitive story of a change in a family when a younger brother announces a new gender identity. She is a girl. There's an author's note, telling us this is based on a true story. And the bright darling illustrations add to this needed picture book for all children.

Who am I?

I was a passionate elementary school teacher for thirty-five years. Now retired, I am grateful that my writing allows me to continue communicating with children. I am always working to improve my craft, help other writers, and embrace my author life. When I am not in a critique group or at my computer I might be doing yoga or biking. 

I wrote...

Some Daddies

By Carol Gordon Ekster, Javiera Mac-Lean Álvarez (illustrator),

Book cover of Some Daddies

What is my book about?

With a "windows-to-the-world" cover, Some Daddies is a marvelous celebration of family love and a fun-filled exploration of what daddies do and are. Every daddy is different—and that makes them even more special! Readers will get a glimpse of the endless possibilities masculine love offers. With energetic and captivating art, it's the perfect gift for a new dad, Father's Day, or any occasion for parents and educators to read with their kids.

Lena's Shoes Are Nervous

By Keith Calabrese, Juana Medina (illustrator),

Book cover of Lena's Shoes Are Nervous: A First-Day-Of-School Dilemma

Lena isn’t worried about the first day of kindergarten - but her shoes are. In this clever story we see various parts of Lena’s wardrobe taking on various personalities, possibly mirroring parts of Lena’s own personality. Her outgoing blue dress is ready for a new adventure, her friendly headband wants everyone to work together, of course, her fearful footwear wants to stay home. But when Lena threatens to wear her slippers to school, will her shoes muster the courage to march forward? A creative and witty book about facing your fears.

Who am I?

I am a children’s book creator and a parent. Raising an anxious child can be challenging. Events that many children find fun and exciting can be overwhelming and scary for your child. Seemingly small changes in their daily routine can throw some youngsters into a swirl of emotions that is upsetting to them and to those who love them. When I was searching for picture books to help the young worrier in my life, I looked for books that acknowledged their distressing feelings while giving them some strategies with which to cope with their overwhelming emotions. That premise became the theme of my Maud the Koala book series. 

I wrote...

Much Too Much Birthday (Maud the Koala)

By J.E. Morris,

Book cover of Much Too Much Birthday (Maud the Koala)

What is my book about?

Maud the Koala is excited. Today is her birthday and she is getting ready for her big party, after all, big birthdays are the best birthdays. Right? But Maud’s mother has some concerns when she discovers Maud invited 56 children to her backyard celebration. As the crowd builds, Maud starts feeling dizzy and slips behind a bush to find some peace and quiet. In the shrubbery, she finds Simon who is also overwhelmed by the hubbub. Slowly Maud and Simon reengage with the party at their own pace. Socially anxious children will relate to Maud and Simon as they realize big crowds aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Chicken Soup for the Soul

By Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Amy Newmark

Book cover of Chicken Soup for the Soul: All Your Favorite Original Stories Plus 20 Bonus Stories for the Next 20 Years

As a parent of a child diagnosed with apraxia, you probably have heard, “what’s wrong with him?” at least once. If not, be prepared, because when you hear it and you aren’t ready for it, it can feel like someone knocked the wind out of you. I didn’t only love the Chicken Soup for the Soul books for me, but I also would share the stories I felt were of interest with my boys who both were diagnosed as young children with severe special needs. What these books brought me and my boys was pride, hope, and inspiration that from a rough beginning, there can be a bright future. Actually, in some cases, these stories share it’s due to a rough start that the person ended up becoming a better person.

While my son Tanner was little and I read stories to him from the Chicken Soup for the Soul…

Who am I?

I started as a designer, patented inventor, and creator in the fashion, toy, and film industries, but after the early diagnosis of my young children on the spectrum, both “late talkers,” diagnosed with multiple disorders including apraxia, I entered the world of nonprofit, research, and advocacy. I am the founder of the nonprofit Cherab Foundation where I've been outreaching for over twenty years. I've hosted numerous conferences including the first for apraxia overseen by a medical director from NIH who reviewed my protocol – the use of fish oils as a therapeutic intervention, published research on my patented nutritional intervention IQed Smart Nutrition, and co-authored the book The Late Talker to share my proven protocol and help others achieve the best possible results for their communication impaired children.

I wrote...

The Late Talker

By Marilyn C. Agin, Lisa F. Geng, Malcolm J. Nicholl

Book cover of The Late Talker

What is my book about?

The Late Talker is the first book of its kind, providing effective, practical answers to the questions every concerned parent asks. Written by Marilyn C. Agin, a highly respected developmental pediatrician, and Lisa F. Geng, a mother of two late talkers.

It is a tremendously useful handbook that includes: ways to identify the warning signs of a speech disorder; information on how to get the right kind of evaluations and therapy; ways to obtain appropriate services through the school system and health insurance; fun at-home activities that parents can do with their child to stimulate speech; groundbreaking evidence of the promising and dramatic benefits of nutritional supplementation; advice from experienced parents who've been there on what to expect and what you can do to be your child's best advocate.

Raising a Hero

By Laura Numeroff, Lynn Munsinger (illustrator),

Book cover of Raising a Hero

From the #1 best-selling children’s author of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and If You Give… series, this story follows Max the puppy as he learns to become a service dog. Max is being trained by Sam, a young boy who knows Max can do it – if only he’d figure out how to stay under the table and ignore those delicious-smelling fries! Follow these two as Max works to earn his service vest and become a hero for someone special. An excellent conversation starter about service dogs and what it takes to be a puppy raiser. 

Who am I?

I am a mother, author, teacher, and animal lover. I write humorous picture books focused on gratitude, persistence, and joy. My inspiration for writing I'm a Gluten-Sniffing Service Dog came from my oldest daughter’s painful celiac struggles, which included steroids and hospitalizations. As I researched ways to keep her healthy long-term, without medication, I read more about gluten-sniffing dogs and how amazingly helpful they are for people with severely sensitive celiac disease. Fast forward a few years and now my daughter always has her best friend, Chewie, by her side: the goofiest, sweetest, most lovable gluten-sniffing poodle in town! I hope you enjoy these picture books showcasing disabilities and service dogs.

I wrote...

I'm a Gluten-Sniffing Service Dog

By Michal Babay, Ela Smietanka (illustrator),

Book cover of I'm a Gluten-Sniffing Service Dog

What is my book about?

Chewie's nose always knows. That's why he's training to be a gluten-detection service dog for Alice. His job will be to keep Alice from getting sick. But Chewie gets distracted by bugs in the air and pizza on the sidewalk. He must find a way to focus and complete his training―because Alice needs him.

I Am Every Good Thing

By Derrick Barnes, Gordon C. James (illustrator),

Book cover of I Am Every Good Thing

Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James are the award-winning team behind Crown: Ode to a Fresh Cut. Barnes is also the author of The King of Kindergarten and The Queen of Kindergarten. I Am Every Good Thing is a powerful counterpunch to the negative societal messaging Black boys receive throughout their lives. This book celebrates the chi of Black boys; affirms the beauty, spirit, and vulnerability of Black boyhood, and helps create children proud of everything they are: human.

Who am I?

Several months before the Covid-19 pandemic upended the world as we knew it, my life was turned upside-down by reports of suicide rates and attempted suicides doubling for Black children. In fact, during late Fall 2019, Congress established an Emergency Task Force on Youth Suicide and Mental Health. I’d already been reading accounts of Black children ending their lives on social media, and as a writer, decided to leave a legacy of books that helped armor Black children with love as they navigated spaces that would not always welcome their brilliance and beauty. I wanted to help encourage them to embrace life’s joys and to love themselves, always.

I wrote...

Brown Sugar Babe

By Charlotte Watson Sherman, Akem (illustrator),

Book cover of Brown Sugar Babe

What is my book about?

When a little girl has doubts about the color of her skin, her mother shows her all the wonderful, beautiful things brown can be. Brown Sugar Babe is a love letter to the beauty of brown skin and a message of love, acceptance, and pride.

How Rocket Learned to Read

By Tad Hills,

Book cover of How Rocket Learned to Read

How Rocket Learned to Read is a charming easy-to-read picture book based on the joys of teaching and learning. In it, a little yellow bird teaches Rocket, the spotted dog, to read. Rocket begins by learning the alphabet. After that, he picks up little words like “Grrrrrr!” and “Whoosh!.” Little bird helps Rocket move on to words like “fall” and “red,” signaling a change in seasons. When winter comes, the little yellow bird must fly south. Although Rocket misses little bird, he keeps up with his schoolwork by practicing writing his “ABCs” in the snow. When the little bird returns in the spring, Rocket is now splashing in a word he can now spell: “mud.” Best of all he can spell the word “wag,” which is what he does with his tail when the little bird happily returns for the next season of school.

Who am I?

I belong to a family of dog lovers – Oscar, the black cocker spaniel; Buddy, the brown-and-white beagle; Riley, the buff cocker spaniel; Buffy, a black boxer mix, Milo and Max, Golden retrievers. In fact, cavorting with Riley at a San Francisco park was my inspiration for Bark Park. I also love children, especially my grandchildren Connor and Kasey. When Kasey, at five years of age, read my book Bark Park aloud for the first time, my heart swelled with joy! It took me back to my own young daughter Laura whose first all-by-herself read-aloud had been: Go, dog, go!  So it’s only natural for me to combine my two great loves – dogs and children – with these book recommendations.

I wrote...

Bark Park!

By Trudy Krisher, Brooke Boynton-Hughes (illustrator),

Book cover of Bark Park!

What is my book about?

Welcome to Bark Park! Come along and play with all of the dogs at Bark Park in this exuberant rhyming picture book that’s a treat for animal lovers of any age. There are dogs running and dogs sunning, dogs riding and dogs sliding, dogs with a buddy and dogs getting muddy—all before returning home to a bubble bath, a cozy dog bed, and sweet dreams of—what else?—being back at the park. The jaunty rhyming award-winning text is perfect for beginning readers.

Bark Park! is a “canine tour de force” guaranteed to captivate early readers who love their dogs!

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