Candy Reading List: Best Picture Books Ages 3-9

It’s challenging to read to my younger kids (ages 6 and 9) at bedtime lately because we’re out late several nights a week at games or other family events.  I’ll forgo it a few days until a wave of guilt and longing washes over and draws me back to the pillow, head-to-head with them, telling tales.

Picture books have become a favorite for those summer nights when you don’t want to commit to a chapter book. I’m picky about the books we take on because we read them multiple times. We love a compelling story and beautiful or funny illustrations with details that allow us to discover new things each time we read it. Even 9-year-old Aden likes these entertaining books, which are great for girls and boys.

Zen Shorts/Jon J Muth

One in a series of Zen books that are so simple in their storytelling yet carry powerful messages that reach both kids and adults. The Impressionist watercolors illustrate Stillwater, a giant Panda who befriends some neighborhood kids and teaches lessons through stories and experiences. Each parable challenges readers to examine how we react to the world around us.

Giraffes Can’t Dance/Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees

I’ve brought this book to read to my kids’ classes at least 6 times over the years because it combines eye-catching illustrations with a sweet life lesson. Gerald the Giraffe can’t dance like all his jungle friends, which makes him an outcast with low-self esteem. He overcomes the teasing with help from a wise old cricket who teaches him to groove to his own beat.


Bear Wants More/Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman

This series of Bear books are always on my go-to list because of their adorable art, poetic storytelling, and amusing plot twists at the end.  In this one, hungry Bear is looking for food and gets help from many furry friends. The “Bear Wants More!” rephrase gets kids really into the story because they know what to expect and love to repeat the line.  It’s fun to follow the creature characters from book to book.

A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee/Chris Van Dusen

This one’s a gem! Mr. Magee and his dog Dee’s wild adventure in the woods never gets old. The artwork is vibrant and fun with amazing details but it’s the clever, lyrical words that make the story sing.  The surprises and danger keep my boys hooked, no matter how many times we’ve read it.

When we’re not reading these, I want to tackle Harry Potter with 9-year-old Aden. I’ve never read the series and have purposely avoided the movies so I could discover the stories with my kids.  Aden is set on reading the Percy Jackson series, but that doesn’t interest me as much. Please tell me in the comments which series you would read first.

4 responses to “Candy Reading List: Best Picture Books Ages 3-9

  1. I’m new to this blog but seems interesting

  2. I’m thrilled that you included ‘Bear Wants More’ on your list. Thanks for the mention!
    As for Harry Potter or Percy Jackson? It’s definitely Percy Jackson in our house. He wins by miles!

    • Thanks so much for commenting Ms Chapman! We are huge fans of all your books. I have another list coming next month that will include” Sakes Alive A Cattle Drive” too! Thanks for Percy tip– will give it a whirl. Please keep reading CarpoolCandy!

  3. Zen Shorts is one of our favorites – I love Stillwater – he has so much to teach us!