Best Books of 2013

Preschool to Early Elementary 

Not the age you're looking for? We have more! Click for our list of the best books for Baby, Pre-K to Elementary School, plus best books for Older Kids.

Clumsy Duck by Britta Teckentrup (Sterling Childrens Books, ages 3-6, $16.95)
Like many of humans, poor Duck thinks that he has a personal flaw. He can’t stop tripping over his clumsy, oversized web feet! Luckily, Duck’s dear friend Chick helps him through frustrating attempts to run, hop and jump until they accidentally discover that maybe land isn’t the best place for ducks to use their skills. Perhaps water is the perfect place to gracefully swim and glide. Leave it to good friends to point out the beauty of our “flaws.” – Felicia Barman

Colors for Zena by Monica Wellington (Penguin Young Readers Group, ages 3-5, $16.99)
Consider this “Art 101” for preschoolers as they are introduced to the color wheel and its primary colors of red, blue and yellow. Young Zena wakes up one day to a world with no color, but she and her beloved dog are determined to go on a quest to see where the colors went. Not only do they discover the primary colors, but they also go a step further and mix these colors to see what surprises are in store. – FB

Dig Dogs Dig by James Horvath (HarperCollins, ages 4-8, $15.99)
A great companion to NY Times Bestseller Good Night Good Night Construction Site, construction truck loving toddlers will love the details in this story about construction working dogs who build a city park. The rhyming text follows the dogs as they eat a big pancake breakfast, work with a variety of earth moving equipment, and even excavate an enormous T-Rex bone. The story ends as the dogs relish in a job well done as other dogs enjoy the new park. Check out James Horvath’s follow-up to Dig Dogs Dig, titled Build Dogs Build, to be released in December, as the construction working dogs build a skyscraper. – Kevin Powell

Doug Unplugged by Dan Yaccarino (Random House Children’s Books, ages 3-5, $10.99)
Books and school can open up the world to kids. But for Doug, sometimes only seeing is believing. This young robot unplugs from his information download about cities and flies out the window to investigate. And although he has fun on busy sidewalks and among tall buildings, he is happiest when playing with a new friend and returning home to his parents. Perfect for any kid who needs a nudge to get outside and explore, this colorful book is fun for boys, girls – and robots! – Sherry Crawley

If You Hold a Seed by Elly MacKay (Running Press Kids, ages 3 and older, $16.95)
This lovely book is a whimsical way to teach the cycles and enduring power of nature. The illustrations are unusual; the author/illustrator cuts layers of paper into textured designs and then photographs the scene. If you are looking for a way to reinforce the idea that good things come to those who wait, add this book to your wish list. – SC 

Lion vs. Rabbit by Alex Latimer (Peachtree Publishers, ages 3-5, $15.95)
Bullying is a serious issue. Talking about it with young children can be difficult. Latimer, who lives on the edge of a national park in South Africa, handles bullying in exactly the right way in this entertaining tale: with a silly story, funny illustrations and a lovable hero. If we work together, we can out-smart, out-hop, out-art (yes, that’s a thing) any bully. – SC 

Little Acorn Grows Up by Edward Gibbs (Little, Brown & Company, ages 3-6, $8.99)
When it arrives in a forest, a little acorn encounters many inquisitive animals who constantly ask him, “What will you be?” This wise little acorn already knows his future and promises to provide shelter, warmth, shade, and food for his forest friends. Little do they know that one day, this little acorn will blossom into an enormous tree and fulfill those promises. -FB

Max and the Tag-Along Moon by Floyd Cooper (Philomel Books, ages 3-7, $16.99)
An ideal book for bedtime, this story of a boy’s trip home from grandpa’s house is presented with muted, soft-focus illustrations that a set a peaceful mood. When they say goodbye, Max’s loving Grandpa reminds him that the moon will always shine for him. Max worries when he loses sight of the moon on the car ride home, but later, he sees it through his bedroom window and realizes it was there all along. He knows whenever he sees the moon it will remind him of his grandfather. The message to young readers is that loved ones may be out of sight, but they need not be out of mind. – Dalia Faupel

Odd One Out: In, Out and All Around by Guido van Genechten (Clavis Publishing, ages 3-5, $12.95)
Crabs! Hedgehogs! Snails! This puzzle book will challenge older babies and toddlers – and maybe even parents – to find things over, under and behind. Originally written in Dutch, this large board book will keep kids busy and giggly. And you just might want to dance when you are finished … you have to read it to see why! – SC 

Ribbit! by Rodrigo Folgueira; illustrations by Poly Bernatene (Alfred A. Knopf, ages 3-7, $15.99)
Sometimes it’s hard to fit in and form new friendships, but you can’t blame a pig for trying! A little pink pig surprises a family of frogs one day when he shows up in their pond and only answers with “Ribbit!” when they ask him why he’s there. The frogs can’t figure out if this unwelcome visitor is mocking them or if he’s simply lost. It takes a wise old beetle to point out that maybe this harmless little pig just wants to make new friends. – FB

Rufus Goes to School by Kim Griswell; illustrations by Valeri Gorbachev (Sterling Children’s Books, ages 3-6, $14.95)
Little brothers and sisters can relate to this tale of a youngster who desperately wants to go to kindergarten and learn to read just like older children. The only problem is that Rufus is a pig. Even though he gets himself all of the essentials – a backpack, a lunch box, and a blanket too, the principal thinks that Rufus is only going to cause trouble. After showing up with his favorite book, Rufus finally convinces the principal that he really just wants to read. Who could say no to that? – FB

Spot the Dot by David A. Carter (Ruckus Media Group/Scholastic, ages 3-5, $12.99)
Lift, pull, spin and look! This bright and interactive book will have young children entranced. Manipulate the pages to spot the dot, and learn colors along the way, too. Watch out when you get to the last page – there’s a big surprise! – SC

Tea Rex by Molly Idle (Viking, ages 3 and older, $16.99)
This is a cute must-read if your children are wondering how to conduct a proper tea party in your home … with a Tyrannosaurus Rex as their guest! Of course, they must follow etiquette by taking turns making small talk, serving tasty refreshments, playing music and more. They must also be gracious hosts when this extra-large guest happens to make a mess. Afterward, they’ll be eagerly waiting for their special friend to return the favor and host the next teatime. – FB

The Night Before My Birthday Book by Joni Rubinstein; illustrations by Juana Martinez-Neal (Three Hearts Presents, all ages, $20)
On the eve of a birthday, most children go to sleep with great anticipation of the big day. The vivid illustrations and flowing rhymes tell the story of children who have visions of layer cakes, sweet ice cream, twinkling candles and more. Parents will love this keepsake book, which is sure to become a family tradition on the night before that most important day. – FB