50 Books for Curious Kids to Discover: From Bugs to Outer Space

50 book recommendations for curious kids on kid-favorite topics like dinosaurs

Whether your child is reading on their own or you are reading aloud with them, consider giving kids the chance to choose books. Reading for pleasure means kids will read more and feel empowered to make their own choices when learning. Reading about things they are curious about—whether it’s dinosaurs, the subway, or the imaginary worlds of fairies—can lead to engaging conversations, questions, and hypotheses about how the world works. 

How to Help Kids Choose Books

It can be a good first step for very young children to think about their interests on your next trip to the library. What have they been asking you about lately? What made them sit up straighter on your last walk around the neighborhood? With a topic in mind, see what books you can find online together. Then, seek out age-appropriate books with this in mind. Librarians and local bookstores are fantastic resources for kid-favorite recommendations! 

Encourage older kids to explore new books by following where their curiosity leads them. One fascinating book (or YouTube video or trip to a museum) can spark an interest in so many others. A few questions can help jump-start their thinking: “Do you want to read something silly or serious, make-believe or real? Should we read about a person or a faraway place?” There are non-fiction books full of paleontology facts, biographies about the people that study them, and sweet stories about friendship within a topic like dinosaurs.  

A Learning Tip for Storytime

Use this tip from our learning scientists next time you sit down to read aloud together: before you start reading, ask your child what they already know about the book’s topic. This practice is “activating.” It prepares children to use what they already know when they read new books. Imagine a little folder (or file cabinet, really) in your child’s head. The more they learn, the more information they can stuff inside their folder. When kids read new things, they dip back into their folder, using their background knowledge to understand what they’re reading and adding in the information they pick up along the way. 

Ahead are books to add to your library list, organized by kid-favorite topics: the ocean, animals, dinosaurs, bugs, and outer space. You’ll find stories about inspiring scientists, brave kids, fact-filled encyclopedias, folk tales, and books that use these topics to make counting fun. With our Printable Bookmark, kids can make a list of books they’ve read and ones they want to read next! Keep the learning going in the HOMER Learn & Grow app with stories and lessons on all of these topics. 

Kids’ Ocean Books That Feel Like a Day at the Beach

These ocean-themed books introduce kids to animated aquatic animals, a groundbreaking scientist, how it feels to try something new, and the story of kids in one South Carolina town who volunteered to help save sea turtles.  

 

Mister Seahorse

By Eric Carle

For ages 0 – 3 years

 

Very Last First Time

By Jan Andrews, Illustrated by Ian Wallace

For ages 5 – 9 years

 

Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist

By Jess Keating, Illustrated by Marta Álvarez Miguéns

For ages 4 – 8 years

 

The Pout-Pout Fish

By Deborah Diesen

For ages 0-4

 

Big Book of the Blue

by Yuval Zommer 

For ages 3 – 5 years

 

The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor

 by Joanna Cole, Illustrated by Bruce Degen  

For ages 4 – 8 years 

 

Swimmy 

By Leo Lionni 

For ages 3 – 7

(also available as a read-aloud story in the Learn & Grow app!) 

 

This is Not My Hat 

By John Klassen 

For ages 4 – 8 

 

Whale Snow 

By Debby Dahl Edwardson, Illustrated by Annie Patterson 

For ages 4 – 8 

 

Deep in the Ocean 

By Lucie Brunellière

For ages 3 – 5 

 

Follow the Moon Home

By Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson, Illustrated by Meilo So

For ages 5 – 8

 

Hello Ocean 

By Pam Muñoz Ryan, Illustrated by Mark Astrella 

For ages 3 – 7 

 

Animal Books for Kids Who Love Fur, Feathers, and Fins

From family dogs to nocturnal owls to a family of penguins, books about animals are perennial kid-favorites, and there’s one for every stage and interest. Fables starring animals with big personalities and relatable relationships help kids learn social-emotional skills. In contrast, the sheer number of animals on Earth means they are a great way to learn about the alphabet. In the HOMER app, find animal story videos  kids can read along with like Duck on a Bike and Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type

 

From Head to Toe 

By Eric Carle

For ages 0 – 4 

 

Grumpy Monkey 

By Suzanne Lang, Illustrated by Max Lang 

For ages 3 – 7 

 

Giraffes Can’t Dance

By Giles Andreae, Illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees 

For ages 2-9

 

The Lion & the Mouse 

By Jerry Pinkney 

For ages 1 – 8 

 

Some Pets 

By Angela DiTerlizzi, Illustrated Brendan Wenzel

For ages 3 – 6 

 

Little Owl’s Night 

By Divya Srinivasan 

For ages 0-3 years 

 

The Walrus and the Caribou

By Maika Harper, Illustrated by Marcus Cutler

For ages 5-7

 

Over and Under the Snow

By Kate Messner, Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal 

For ages 5 – 8 years

 

What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? 

Written and Illustrated by Steven Jenkins and Robin Page 

For ages 4 – 7

 

Mrs. Peanuckle’s Bird Alphabet 

By Mrs. Peanuckle, Illustrated by Jessie Ford

For ages 0 – 3 

 

And Tango Makes Three 

By Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, Illustrated by Henry Cole

For ages 2 – 5 

 

Arf! Buzz! Cluck!: A Rather Noisy Alphabet 

By Eric Seltzer, illustrated by David Creighton-Pester 

For ages 2 – 4 

 

Delightful Dinosaur Books for Kids That Are Larger Than Life

Suppose there is a future paleontologist in your house. In that case, books from National Geographic and The Smithsonian are go-to’s for dino-related facts. Still, they don’t sleep on books illustrating the funny friendships and laugh-aloud bedtime antics of T. Rexes. For dinosaur stories toddlers and preschoolers can listen to, HOMER dinosaur story videos include favorites like Danny the Dinosaur and Pterodactyl Tuxedo.

 

National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Dinosaurs 

By Catherine D. Hughes and Franco Tempesta

For ages 4 – 8 

 

My Visit to the Dinosaurs

By Aliki

For ages 4-8

 

Dinosaur Dance! 

By Sandra Boynton

For Ages 1-5

 

How Do Dinosaurs Count To Ten? 

By Jane Yolen, Illustrated by Mark Teague

For ages 3 – 5 

 

How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? 

By Jane Yolen, Illustrated by Mark Teague

For ages 3 – 6  

 

Tiny T. Rex and the Impossible Hug 

By Jonathan Stutzman, Illustrated by Jay Fleck 

For ages 3 – 5 

 

Colorful World of Dinosaurs 

By Matt Sewell 

For ages 5 – 12 

 

Dinosaur A-Z: For Kids Who Really Love Dinosaurs!  

by Roger Priddy 

For ages 3-6

 

 

Bug Books for Kids That Can’t Get Enough Creepy Crawlies

Bugs are fascinating for little learners – colorful bugs are easy for them to spot and even hold, whether you’re in the countryside or the city. The books in this list use bugs as a vehicle to practice counting, explore their backyard, learn about a classic folk tale, lean into the creepiest bug facts, and learn how to be a good (not grouchy!) friend. For more even bug stories (that don’t require a trip to the library), check out the HOMER library of Bug story videos. Kids can read along while learning about their favorite insects. 

 

Big Book of Bugs

By Yuval Zommer  

For ages 3 – 5 

 

Insect Detective: Read and Wonder 

By Steve Voake, Illustrated by Charlotte Voake 

For ages 4-8 

 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar 

By Eric Carle

For ages 0- 4 

 

A Beetle Is Shy

By Dianna Hutts Aston, Illustrated by Sylvia Long 

For ages 5 – 8 

 

Hi! Fly Guy

By Tedd Arnold

For ages 4-8

(also available as a read-aloud story in the Learn & Grow app!) 

 

Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti 

By Gerald McDermott 

For ages 4 – 7 

 

Are You a Bee?

By Judy Allen, Illustrated by Tudor Humphries 

For ages 5 – 8

 

In the Tall, Tall Grass

By Denise Fleming 

For ages 0-4

 

Space Books for Kids That Will Take Them to Another World

Books about outer space invite kids to wonder, dream big, and develop a love of science, math, and technology. These books dig into the mysteries about other planets, phases of the moon, stories of brilliant astronauts and engineers behind NASA discoveries; they also make counting down a blast!

 

Our Stars Paperback 

By Anne Rockwell 

For ages 4-7

 

The Mysteries of the Universe: Discover the Best-Kept Secrets of Space

By Will Gater 

For ages 7 – 9

 

My First Book of Planets: All About the Solar System for Kids

By Bruce Betts PhD

For ages 3 – 5 

 

The Ultimate Book of Space

By Anne-Sophie Baumann, Illustrated by Olivier Latyck

For ages 5 – 8 

 

The Astronaut With a Song for the Stars: The Story of Dr. Ellen Ochoa

By Julia Finley Mosca, Illustrated by Daniel Rieley

For ages 5 – 10 

 

How to be an Astronaut and Other Space Jobs

By Dr. Sheila Kanani, Illustrated by Sol Linero  

For ages 5 -9 

 

On the LaunchPad: A Counting Book About Rockets

By Michael Dahl, Illustrated by Derrick Alderman and Denise Shea

For ages 4 – 8 

 

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race

By Margot Lee Shetterly, Illustrated by Laura Freeman 

For ages 4 – 8

 

She Caught the Light: Williamina Stevens Fleming: Astronomer 

by Kathryn Lasky, Illustrated by Julianna Swaney 

For ages 4 – 8 

 

Moon: A Peek-Through Picture Book

By Britta Teckentrup

For ages 3 – 7 

 

Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth

By Oliver Jeffers  

For ages 3 – 7 

 

 

Happy reading! To keep the learning going, try the HOMER Learn & Grow app for kids ages 2-6, where grownups can personalize the experience by choosing all the topics a child can’t wait to explore.