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, ) and others are new gems like Nova’s favorite book. I get such a kick out of the quirky nature of books and Lola’s been obsessed with 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

  • 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.

  • “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 🙂

  • 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.

  • 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.


  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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)

  • 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.

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

  • 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:)

  • 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. =)

  • 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. 🙂

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.”

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