The 24 Books Kids Should Read Before Leaving Elementary School

Get a list of board books, early readers and chapter books that all elementary-aged kids should read before moving on to middle school.

Walking into a library or bookstore can sometimes be overwhelming to parents and kids alike with so many great books to choose from among the packed shelves. New parents might wonder where to start while parents with older kids might want to make sure they are reading books that stimulate their imaginations and fuel their appetite to read more and more books.

So, readers in metro Detroit and Ann Arbor came together to vote on a list they feel every child should read.

Use this list to start checking off the books that will help your kids fall in love with reading and hopefully build a passion that will last the rest of their lives — and be one they pass on to their own children one day.

Board Books

  • Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
  • Make Way for Ducklings, Robert McCloskey
  • Pat the Bunny, by Dorothy Kunhardt
  • Little Blue Truck, Alice Schertle
  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Bill Martin Jr. & John Archambault
  • The Monster at the End of This Book, Jon Stone
  • Press Here, Herve Tullet

Early Reader

  • The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein
  • Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak
  • If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Laura Numeroff
  • Llama, Llama Red Pajama, Anna Dewdney
  • The Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss
  • The Snowy Day, Ezra Jack Keats
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter
  • Guess How Much I Love You, Sam McBratney

Chapter Books

  • The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett 
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
  • Beezus and Ramona, Beverly Cleary
  • The BFG, Roald Dahl
  • Harriet The Spy, Louise Fitzhugh
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Jeff Kinney
  • Nate the Great, Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
  • The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster 
Metro Parent Editorial Team
Metro Parent Editorial Team
Since 1986, the Metro Parent editorial team is trained to be the go-to source for metro Detroit families, offering a rich blend of expert advice, compelling stories, and the top local activities for kids. Renowned for their award-winning content, the team of editors and writers are dedicated to enriching family life by connecting parents with the finest resources and experiences our community has to offer.

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