Don't Waste Your Money is supported by our readers. When you purchase an item through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The Best Children’s Book

Last updated on July 2, 2019

We looked at the top 10 Children's Books and dug through the reviews from 69 of the most popular review sites including Good Reads, Thought Co., Addison Reads, Line Up The Books, Hygge Stories, Baby Librarians and more. The result is a ranking of the best Children's Books.

Best Children's Book

Why Trust The DWYM Score?

DWYM is your trusted product review source. Along with our in-house experts, our team analyzes thousands of product reviews from the most trusted websites. We then create one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in a category.

Our Picks For The Top Children's Books

Show Contents
Our Take
Experts Included
Pros
Cons
  The Best Overall
10.0

Shel Silverstein

The Giving Tree

Overall Take

Shel Silverstein’s "The Giving Tree" is a unique tale that shares the lesson of being selfless and helping others as much as possible. The story teaches young children how to be happy when giving to others without expecting anything in return. However, it can also be seen as a story... Read More

Experts Included
DWYM Entertainment Experts plus Good Reads, Medium, Common Sense Media, Michigan Law Review, Mental Floss, This Is My Truth Now. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Target.
Pros
" Some see selfless love as beautiful, even if it's taken to an extreme. It's easy to imagine the tree as a mature, patient mother dependably being there for her child throughout his life."
Cons
"Many argue it’s a dark tale about a boy who never really learns his lesson, even in the end when goes back one final time to ask for one more thing — a place to sit before he dies.Yes, that’s..."

Robert Munsch

Love You Forever

Overall Take

"Love You Forever" by Robert Munsch is a heart-melting story that will make any parent or caregiver cry. About a mother’s undying love for her son, this book is filled with vivid imagery and a lovely rhythmic sound. The book is a fixture in many parents’ reading lists for their young children.

Experts Included
DWYM Entertainment Experts plus Good Reads, Simplemost, Little Tots Learning, Critter Critics, Spaghetti Book Club. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Target.
Pros
" "

Maurice Sendak

Where the Wild Things Are

Overall Take

"Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak is an engaging tale about how children deal with big emotions. When Max is filled with anger over being sent to his room, his imagination creates a whole other world for him to explore. The story and dreamlike illustrations help children to... Read More

Experts Included
DWYM Entertainment Experts plus Good Reads, Powell’s, Thought Co., Kid’s Book Review, Committee For Children, Fantasy Book Review. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Target.
Pros
" This book, for me, epitomizes the pursuit of imagination. Your kids won’t forget this classic book, either."
  The Best Value

Craig Smith

The Wonky Donkey

Overall Take

"The Wonky Donkey" by Craig Smith is sure to make readers of all ages laugh out loud. It is a captivating read, thanks to the funny sounds, repetitive rhythmic phrases and hilarious illustrations.

Experts Included
DWYM Entertainment Experts plus Good Reads, Kirkus Reviews, Weekend Notes, Awfully Big Reviews, Bookish Bug, Kid’s Book Review. Along with user reviews from Target and Amazon.
Pros
" This a funny story that kids love reading, it’s also a song. The book comes with a CD that will really get the laughs going."
Cons
"though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well."
Don't just take for granted what one reviewer says. Along with our own experts, DWYM analyzes the top expert reviews of the leading products and generates a score you can actually trust.
17

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the children's books available to purchase.
10

Products Analyzed

We then selected the leading and most popular products to review and score.

View All Product Rankings

69

Expert Reviews Included

Reviews from our DWYM category experts and analysis of some of the most respected sources including: Good Reads, Thought Co., Addison Reads, Line Up The Books, Hygge Stories.

76,851

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including Amazon, Toppsta, Target.

Our experts reviewed the top 10 Children's Books and also dug through the reviews from 69 of the most popular review sites including Good Reads, Thought Co., Addison Reads, Line Up The Books, Hygge Stories, Baby Librarians and more. The result is a ranking of the best of the best Children's Books.

DWYM is your trusted roduct review source. Our team reviews thousands of product reviews from the trusted top experts and combines them into one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in their category.

The Best Overall

Shel Silverstein The Giving Tree

Expert Summarized Score
8.3
6 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
9.6
3,263 user reviews
The DWYM Expert Take

Shel Silverstein’s "The Giving Tree" is a unique tale that shares the lesson of being selfless and helping others as much as possible. The story teaches young children how to be happy when giving to others without expecting anything in return. However, it can also be seen as a story about a boy who never learns his lesson, and keeps taking from the tree without appreciating its gifts.

What other experts liked
- Good Reads
The Giving Tree is a great picture book in the sense that it teaches children the meaning of love and how it is a two way street.
- Medium
October 12, 2016 | Full review
Some see selfless love as beautiful, even if it's taken to an extreme. It's easy to imagine the tree as a mature, patient mother dependably being there for her child throughout his life.
- Common Sense Media
The first time I encountered The Giving Tree, my grandson actually did most of the reading. He enjoyed the pictures, understood the plot, and finished the book with a smile. He understood that the tree was happy, even though she...
- Michigan Law Review
Positive interpretations of this story paint it as a parable of unconditional love: When it first hit shelves, The Giving Tree was a hit with Protestant ministers, who applied Christian themes to the book.
- Mental Floss
January 11, 2019 | Full review
For young children, it’s a lesson in how not to be selfish. How to learn the concept of give and take. How to be a friend and not abuse that relationship.
- This Is My Truth Now
What other experts didn't like
But the tree can also be seen as a masochistic female who doesn't know how to set limits.
- Common Sense Media
But according to some critics, the book depicts an abusive relationship, with the tree literally allowing herself to be destroyed to keep the perpetually dissatisfied boy happy while receiving nothing in return.
- Mental Floss
January 11, 2019 | Full review
Many argue it’s a dark tale about a boy who never really learns his lesson, even in the end when goes back one final time to ask for one more thing — a place to sit before he dies.Yes, that’s...
- This Is My Truth Now

The Best Bang For Your Buck

Craig Smith The Wonky Donkey

Expert Summarized Score
9.5
6 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
9.4
5,170 user reviews
The DWYM Expert Take

"The Wonky Donkey" by Craig Smith is sure to make readers of all ages laugh out loud. It is a captivating read, thanks to the funny sounds, repetitive rhythmic phrases and hilarious illustrations.

What other experts liked
- Good Reads
Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung
- Kirkus Reviews
The Wonky Donkey is a delightful children's book that is a lot of fun to read with a child. Each page starts with the statement "I was walking down the road and I saw a donkey, HEE-HAW!" I put a lot of effort into making the funniest HEE-HAW sound that...
- Weekend Notes
November 9, 2018 | Full review
I first came across this story via a YouTube video of a Scottish gran, Janice Clark, reading the book amid gales of uncontrollable laughter to her slightly bemused baby grandson. Her uncontrollable delight in the language and humour of the story is so infectious that I found myself cackling along...
- Awfully Big Reviews
January 18, 2019 | Full review
I laughed so hard I CRIED. The Wonky Donkey has got to be one of the FUNNIEST books of any genre I have ever read. I could not stop laughing at this book. The story, the illustrations, the words. Everything about this book is just HILARIOUS! There is really not...
- Bookish Bug
February 13, 2019 | Full review
This a funny story that kids love reading, it’s also a song. The book comes with a CD that will really get the laughs going.
- Kid's Book Review
October 8, 2010 | Full review
What other experts didn't like
though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.
- Kirkus Reviews

Overall Product Rankings

1. Shel Silverstein The Giving Tree

Overall Score: 10.0
Reviews Included: 8

2. Robert Munsch Love You Forever

Overall Score: 9.9
Reviews Included: 8

3. Maurice Sendak Where the Wild Things Are

Overall Score: 9.5
Reviews Included: 9

4. Craig Smith The Wonky Donkey

Overall Score: 9.3
Reviews Included: 10

5. Eric Carle The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Overall Score: 9.2
Reviews Included: 8

6. Emily Winfield Martin The Wonderful Things You Will Be

Overall Score: 9.2
Reviews Included: 11

7. Adam Rubin Dragons Love Tacos

Overall Score: 9.1
Reviews Included: 11

8. Giles Andreae Giraffes Can’t Dance

Overall Score: 9.0
Reviews Included: 10

10. Marcus Pfister The Rainbow Fish

Overall Score: 8.3
Reviews Included: 10

Our Children's Book Buying Guide

  • The most important element in choosing the perfect children’s book is the story. What is the book about and how does it relate to your child and your family? “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch is about the unconditional and timeless love between a parent and child, so it’s a very relatable story that many families are familiar with. On the other hand, “The Wonky Donkey” by Craig Smith is about a donkey with three legs and the adventures he has. “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein is about a little boy and his relationship to a tree throughout the course of his life. “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak is a classic about a little boy named Max who wreaks havoc at home while dressed in his wolf costume. He is so naughty that he gets sent to bed without dinner, only to discover that his room has transformed into a mysterious jungle, where he meets some wild things.
  • For some parents, it’s important for children’s books to have important life lessons that they can teach their kids. Reinforcing lessons through books helps children to remember them and embody them. The lesson in Robert Munsch’s “Love You Forever” is about the importance of family. No matter where you go in life or what happens to you, your family will always be there to love you. In “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein, the lesson is somewhat ambiguous. It’s not clear whether the book is about unconditional and selfless giving, as it can also be seen as a story about a boy who doesn’t learn his lesson. “The Wonky Donkey” by Craig Smith finds the humor in all things, while “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak teaches kids how to use their imaginations when they are feeling big emotions.
  • It’s no secret that a child’s attention span isn’t very long. Some children can sit for books that take ten or more minutes to read, while others want to read books that only take a minute or two. “The Wonky Donkey” by Craig Smith is a quick and enjoyable read, while Robert Munsch’s “Love You Forever” and Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree” are a little longer. “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak has under 350 words, but it can take a while thanks to the fanciful illustrations.
  • Consider the format you want to buy your book in. There are many more options than just paperback books these days. Depending on the ages of your kids and the way you like to read, you may choose a different option for format. “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch is available as an ebook, hardcover, paperback, audio CD and board book. On the other hand, “The Wonky Donkey” by Craig Smith is only available as an ebook and paperback. Similarly, Shel Silverstein’s”The Giving Tree” is only available as an ebook and hardcover. “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak can be bought as a hardcover, paperback, multimedia CD and audio CD.
  • Kids can be rough with their books, so price may be a purchasing factor, especially if you have to replace books often. “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch is available for under $10 in hardcover, while Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree” can be found for under $12 in the same format. Paperback versions of “The Wonky Donkey” by Craig Smith are available for under $5 while “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak is available for under $8.

DWYM Fun Fact

Children’s books have been around for several centuries, well before the printing press was invented in the 1400s. In fact, some of the first children’s stories that used both words and illustrations, and were created to be enjoyed by young readers, are Japanese illustrated scrolls that were said to be made in the 12th and 13th centuries.

However, the tradition of storytelling itself dates much further back all across the world. Even though those stories were not written down or illustrated, parents have known the powerful effect stories have on children. Irish folk tales can be traced back as far as 400 BCE, while the tradition of oral storytelling for children reached its peak in Imperial China in 900 AD.

The Children's Book Tips and Advice

Reading to young children is an activity many parents and caregivers love to do. For many families, reading is part of the daily routine. Many caregivers enjoy reading to kids before naptime and bedtime to help them relax and settle down. However, reading can be done at any time of day! It’s a perfect activity for sitting down during playtime or even while at the park or playground. Not only is it useful for bonding with your child, reading has many developmental benefits too.

Did you know that reading to children promotes brain development, social skills and verbal communication skills? Reading helps children to learn new sounds and understand new words within context. Books that are repetitive or have a rhyme or rhythm are particularly beneficial for helping children improve their verbal communication skills. By hearing certain sounds over and over again, children learn to mimic those sounds and words. The tempo of a book can help a child to memorize the lines and repeat them during the story and during playtime.

Books also help to stimulate a child’s imagination and grow their curiosity about the world around them. Stories help children to understand the difference between real and make-believe. Playing pretend is an integral part of growing up, and books help to encourage imaginative play activities. Children often impersonate the stories they learn through reading in their playtime activities. If you read a book about a dog running through the park, you may find that your child pretends she is that dog running through the park herself during her next playtime!

Books also help children understand transformative events, such as the birth of a new sibling or the death of a loved one. Books can help children learn the importance of developmental milestones, such as potty training or drinking from a sippy cup. They can teach children about important life lessons, such as how to share with others or how to take turns with friends. Stories also help children to verbalize complex emotions such as love, anger, sadness and confusion.

It’s never too early or too late to start reading with your child. While there are many developmental benefits to reading, nothing beats snuggling with your little one and reading a story you both love.