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Carnivals: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about carnivals?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to carnivals. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about carnivals.

Our list includes picture books and chapter books. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.

When it comes to children’s stories about carnivals, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Forest of Stars to popular sellers like The Carnivorous Carnival to some of our favorite hidden gems like The Magic Misfits.

We hope this list of kids books about carnivals can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book!

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The Magic Misfits
Written by Neil Patrick Harris & illustrated by Lissy Marlin and Kyle Hinton
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

From award-winning actor, Neil Patrick Harris, comes the magical first book in a new series with plenty of tricks up its sleeve. When street magician Carter runs away, he never expects to find friends and magic in a sleepy New England town. But like any good trick, things change instantly as greedy B.B. Bosso and his crew of crooked carnies arrive to steal anything and everything they can get their sticky fingers on. After a fateful encounter with the local purveyor of illusion, Dante Vernon, Carter teams up with five other like-minded illusionists. Together, using both teamwork and magic, they’ll set out to save the town of Mineral Wells from Bosso’s villainous clutches. These six Magic Misfits will soon discover adventure, friendship, and their own self-worth in this delightful new series. (Psst. Hey, you! Yes, you! Congratulations on reading this far. As a reward, I’ll let you in on a little secret… This book isn’t just a book. It’s a treasure trove of secrets and ciphers and codes and even tricks. Keep your eyes peeled and you’ll discover more than just a story–you’ll learn how to make your own magic!)

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Story Orchestra: Carnival of the Animals
Written by Katy Flint & illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
Discover the magical world of Carnival of the Animals in this musical reimagining of this celebrated suite for children - push the button in each breathtaking scene to hear the vivid sound of an orchestra playing from Camille Saint-Saëns' score.
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I Won a What?
Written by Audrey Vernick & illustrated by Robert Neubecker
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

The hilarious and heartwarming story of a boy who tries to win a goldfish and winds up with FAR more than he bargained for . . .

A young boy wins a humongous new pet at the carnival, and before long, they become fast friends. But his parents are skeptical. After all, Nuncio doesn’t even fit in the house! Will the gargantuan goldfish have to go? Or will the family find a way to give him the home he deserves?

Fans of Sparky will flip for this whale of a tale from Audrey Vernick, author of Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? and featuring illustrations from Wow! City! illustrator Robert Neubecker.

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The Carnivorous Carnival
Written by Lemony Snicket & illustrated by Brett Helquist and Michael Kupperman
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Everybody loves a carnival! Who can fail to delight in the colourful people, the unworldly spectacle, the fabulous freaks?

A carnival is a place for good family fun—as long as one has a family, that is. For the Baudelaire orphans, their time at the carnival turns out to be yet another episode in a now unbearable series of unfortunate events. In fact, in this appalling ninth installment in Lemony Snicket’s serial, the siblings must confront a terrible lie, a caravan, and Chabo the wolf baby.

With millions of readers worldwide, and the Baudelaire’s fate turning from unpleasant to unseemly, it is clear that Lemony Snicket has taken nearly all the fun out of children’s books.

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Little Elliot, Big Fun
Written & illustrated by Mike Curato
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Elliot the little elephant is terrified when his friend Mouse introduces him to the carnival, but Mouse helps him to have fun.

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  • Ms. Sue Has No Clue! - With more than 12 million books sold, the My Weird School series really gets kids reading!

  • Forest of Stars - In this mysterious and mesmerizing fantasy novel, perfect for fans of Splendor and Glooms and Circus Mirandus, a windswept girl who can float among the stars searches for her long-lost father at a shadow-filled carnival. Kassner’s writing dazzles . . . a tale of hope, courage, and friendship. –Newbery Honor winner Ingrid Law Left all alone after her mother passes away, twelve-year-old Louisa LaRoche watches the sky for her father. Long ago, a powerful gust of wind swept through town, stealing him away on the wings of his untamed magic–the same magic that stirs within Louisa. As if she is made of hollow bones and too much air, her feet never quite touch the ground. But for all her sky gazing, Louisa finds her fortune on the leaf-strewn street when she spots a gleaming black-and-gold invitation–a ticket to the Carnival Beneath the Stars. If her father fits in nowhere else, maybe she’ll find him there, dazzling crowds alongside the other strange and wonderful feats. Only, soon after she arrives, a tightrope act ends disastrously–and suspiciously. As fate tugs Louisa closer to the stars, she must decide if she’s willing to slip into the injured performer’s role, despite the darkness plucking at the carnival’s magical threads. In The Forest of Stars, Heather Kassner weaves a spectacle of wondrous magic, unexpected friendship, and dark secrets. Featuring illustrations by Iz Ptica.* Irresistible. – Kirkus Reviews, starred review Like the carnival at its heart, this story is richly magical and delightfully eerie. –Cassie Beasley, New York Times bestselling author of Circus Mirandus

  • Isadora Moon Saves the Carnival - Fans of

  • Secret Sabotage - Carolyn Keene’s iconic girl detective Nany Drew’s cases are more mysterious than ever with three-book arcs!

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Beholding Bee
Written & illustrated by Kimberly Newton Fusco
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

In 1942, when life turns sour at the carnival that has always been her home, eleven-year-old Bee takes her dog, Peabody, and piglet, Cordelia, and sets out to find a real home, aided by two women only Bee and her pets can see.

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Monster of Disguise
Written by Joe McGee & illustrated by Ethan Long
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10
The Junior Monster Scouts must save the village from a carnival with a not-so-fun funhouse in the hilarious fourth chapter book of the Junior Monster Scouts series!
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Junie B. Jones and the Yucky Blucky Fruitcake
Written by Barbara Park & illustrated by Denise Brunkus
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Meet the World’s Funniest Kindergartner—Junie B. Jones! It’s Carnival Night, and Lucille has already won a box of fluffy cupcakes with sprinkles on them. But when Junie B. wins the Cake Walk, she chooses the bestest cake of all—the one wrapped in sparkly aluminum foil. How was she to know it was a lethal weapon?

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The Carnival of Wishes & Dreams
Written by Jenny Lundquist
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

In the tradition of Wishtree and You May Already Be a Winner, this hopeful middle grade novel tells the story of three former friends who must come together at their annual town carnival to heal and reconnect after a tragedy.

The small town of Clarkville has seen better days. Ever since the Cohen factory burned down a few years ago, jobs are scarce and unemployment is high. But each year for one night the Carnival of Wishes and Dreams comes to town and everyone gets to indulge in a little wonder and delight. And for three girls who each receive notes asking them to meet the anonymous sender at midnight at the Ferris Wheel, it’s an evening that promises to be truly magical.

Audrey McKinley can’t believe someone would ask her to ride the Ferris Wheel. Everyone in town knows she’s afraid of heights; the last time she rode the Ferris Wheel it ended with her having a panic attack. But ever since her dad lost his job after the Cohen factory burned down he’s been working too little. The carnival gives him a chance for some seasonal work, and she plans to spend the evening checking up on him and making sure he does his job. Maybe she’ll face her fears tonight, after all.

Grace Chang isn’t supposed to go to the carnival. It’s too close to the burned remains of the old Cohen factory—the place where her firefighter father lost his life. And they always rode the Ferris Wheel together, so that’s also something Grace isn’t supposed to do. But since her mom just announced they’ll be moving away from Clarkville the day after the carnival, Grace is sick of only doing things she’s supposed to do. She’ll be at the carnival. And she is definitely riding that Ferris Wheel.

Harlow Cohen is surprised anyone would want to ride the Ferris Wheel with her. Harlow used to be popular. But ever since her grandparents’ old factory burned down and so many people lost their jobs, many of the kids at school blame her—and her rich family—for their own parents’ worsening economic situations. Harlow can never resist a dare, but when a note arrives asking her to meet an anonymous person at the Ferris Wheel at midnight, she’s far from certain it will be a friend waiting for her.

Can these three girls put their differences aside long enough for their wishes to come true? And is it possible to save a friendship that once seemed lost for good?

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Annika Riz, Math Whiz
Written by Claudia Mills & illustrated by Rob Shepperson
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-9

Annika Riz loves math more than anything, so when she hears about a sudoku contest at the local public library, she is determined to win it--maybe then her friends Kelsey Green and Izzy Barr will see that math is just as cool as reading and running. When the school carnival, the biggest fundraiser of the year, comes around, Annika realizes her class booth is losing money by selling their lemonade too cheaply. Annika embraces her math skills, saves the day, and shows her friends that math can be useful and even a bit of fun, too, in Claudia Mills's Annika Riz, Math Whiz.

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  • Charlie's Magical Carnival - This beautiful book, from celebrated children’s author and illustrator Marit Tornqvist, celebrates the ability of children to see their imagined worlds as reality. Explore Charlie’s amazing carnival with lots of fold-out pages and vivid illustrations.

  • Breaking News: Bears to the Rescue - A missing cub, a carnival, and a gang of cat burglars… Hold on to your hats! Best-selling author David Biedrzycki brings back the hilarious bears from Breaking News: Bear Alert, but now they have sleepy bear cub in tow. When the cub goes missing Mama and Papa Bear go on the hunt. Their search takes them to the town carnival where the whole family rides the Ferris wheel, rocks the rollercoaster, and inadvertently foils another dastardly plot by the persistent cat burglars from Bear Alert. Covering the story is intrepid—but bumbling—reporter Chad Newsworthy and the rest of the crew at Channel 3 News.

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