20 Amazing Kids Books (That Your Friends Don’t Already Have)

We are big fans of reading books (or at least browsing through the pictures!) here at our house, and I love giving books to family and friends who have kids as well. One problem with buying books, though, is that you aren’t always sure if they already have a certain book or not and unless you ask (and ruin the surprise a bit) it’s hard to know you aren’t supplying them with a double of something in their library. On that note, we rounded up 20 books that we love that are a little less widely known than a “Cat In The Hat” level classic and they are perfect for gifting or adding to your own kiddo library.

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Some of these older treasures can only be found on the used book market as they are older and out of print (like one of my top favorites, Rabbit’s New Rug) and others are new gems like Nova’s favorite Triangle book. I get such a kick out of the quirky nature of George and Martha books and Lola’s been obsessed with Scuffy the Tugboat for a while now (we even made up a little song about him that we sing when we open the book). Hope these treasures make their way into your gift bag or personal library soon! xo. Laura

  • A few of these treasures took me back to my childhood, especially “But No Elephants” and “Miss Nelson.” I’ve been taking my kids to the library for the past 8 years, and we’ve been buying books for our home library that my kids kept re-checking out. I’d recommend “It’s a Tiger” and “I’m the Scariest Thing in This Castle.”

  • My favorite recently released book is You Are New by Lucy Knisley! Sweet illustrations and a tender message make it a keeper. I’ll be gifting it at a baby shower next month.

  • Just the list I was looking for! My daughter is 10 months old now and I’ve only bought her 5 books. Bad mom, I know… but I myself am a picky reader, so it’s hard for me to buy books for her. Thank you for this recommendation 🙂

    Love from Indonesia!

  • I’ve red corduroy and the tugboat they were both lovely. My favorite less common book it The Book With No Pictures. It’s super silly and my kids all loved it.

  • I almost burst into tears when I saw Corduroy on this list. I can’t remember the last time I saw (or thought of) this book, but definitely remember it from when I was little and immediately added it to the wish list I have for my almost-8-month-old daughter.

  • Does anyone remember the collection of books that But No Elephants and Rabbit’s New Rug were in? I had a bunch of hardcover books like that together. I thought it was “parents” but can’t seem to find a collection online.

    • I think they’re called Weekly Reader. I had a subscription when I was a kid. Rabbit’s New Rug, Pickle Things, Those Terrible Toy Breakers and The Witches Four were some of my favorites. 🙂

  • My mom saved a LOT of books from when I was a kid and it’s so fun to share them with my kids now! I would add Fish Out of Water and Harry the Dirty Dog to your list. =)

  • I literally have all these favorites in my kindergarten classroom!! So good. I also love Addie Meets Max by Joan Robbins and Dogger by Shirley Hughes. Both books I picked up thrifting but have been kindergarten class favorites for the last 8-9 years. A new favorite is His Royal Highness King Baby by Sally Lloyd Jones:)

  • I still have my childhood copies of Rabbits New Rug and But No Elephants! Miss Nelson is a fave too!

  • Rabbits new rug and But no elephants were two of the many books my girls and I knew by heart, even now, my girls are in their thirties and we still recite many a passage from these.

  • Those are some good ones! I’d also add Petunia (about the goose), Bunny My Honey, and Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (actually pretty much anything by Mo Willems)

  • We have 6 of these and I love them so much! I love gifting books to other kids, I refuse to buy more toys! Haha.

  • I remember reading Miss Nelson is Missing. I loved it so much. Great list! You might also want to check out Shirley Hughes. I was obsessed with all of her books growing up but particularly ‘Moving Molly’ & ‘Sally’s Secrets’. Check her out!

  • Gorgeous pics! Would also recommend Zoology and Almost Everything by Joelle Jolivet. Her illustrations are so beautiful and the subject matter is super educational AND fun!

  • These are so cute! I work at a preschool and I think the kiddos would love some of these! Thanks for sharing. Hope you have a great weekend.


  • Strega Nona is one of my all-time faves! Whenever I stuff myself with pasta (which is often) I always think back to the boy in the book after he’s finished eating.

    Miss Nelson is Missing is another great one too! Absolutely loved that series when I was younger.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane for this non-parent. Plus good recs for my friends’ kids.

  • “Rabbit’s New Rug” and “But No Elephants” defined my childhood! I loved those books so much and am glad they’re still being loved many years later 🙂

  • As a childrens librarian I was so pleased so see some of the old favorites on your blog. I would also like to remind your readers that you can find lists of current and past award winning books on the ALA (American Library Association) website.

  • These are so cute! Having good kids books really does matter a lot – I still remember all my favourites from back when I was young! 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

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