The Five Senses: Books For Kids

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

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

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. 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 the five senses, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Little Red Riding Hood to popular sellers like Strega Nona to some of our favorite hidden gems like Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse.

We hope this list of kids books about the five senses can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.

The Rabbit Listened book
#1
The Rabbit Listened
Written and illustrated by Cori Doerffeld
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

This is a beautifully simple but powerful story about coping with failure, empathizing and being a friend who is willing to listen without insisting that people deal with things the way YOU would choose to deal with them. The illustrations are simple on each white background, and the animal comparisons to feelings help bring it to a level where these complex issues and emotions can be better understood by children. In the end, Taylor needs to go through many stages to be able to cope with the trauma of his block tower falling over, and that’s ok. In the end, we can start again!

When Taylor’s block castle is destroyed, all the animals think they know just what to do, but only the rabbit quietly listens to how Taylor is feeling

Little Red Riding Hood book
#2
Little Red Riding Hood
Written by Brothers Grimm and Trina Schart Hyman and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

On her way to deliver a basket of food to her sick grandmother, Elisabeth encounters a sly wolf.

Listen, Buddy book
#3
Listen, Buddy
Written by Helen Lester and illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This little bunny has big ears but doesn’t learn to listen until he has some less-than-desired natural consequences from failing to do so. I quite enjoyed seeing what Buddy “heard” instead of what was really said. You (and your toddler) might relate to this story if you’ve ever talked to someone who doesn’t always listen well, but hopefully any little ones can learn from Buddy’s mistake through reading rather than meeting the Scruffy Varmint! ;)

A lop-eared rabbit named Buddy finds himself in trouble with the Scruffy Varmint because he never listens.

Telephone book
#4
Telephone
Written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jen Corace
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

It’s time to fly home for dinner! In this witty picture book from award-winning and bestselling author Mac Barnett, a mother bird gives the bird next to her a message for little Peter. But passing messages on a telephone line isn’t as simple as it sounds. Each subsequent bird understands Mama’s message according to its own very particular hobbies. Will Peter ever get home for dinner? This uproarious interpretation of a favorite children’s game will get everyone giggling and is sure to lead to countless rereads.

Ella WHO? book
#5
Ella WHO?
Written by Linda Ashman and illustrated by Sara Sanchez
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

Mom . . . there’s an elephant in the living room. It’s moving day—and look who slipped in the door: an elephant! But when a little girl tries to tell her family about their unusual guest, the distracted grown-ups just say, “Ella WHO?” Even as children giggle at the girl’s adventures with the smallish pachyderm, and at the fun, recurring refrain, they’ll relate to the poignant theme about making—and sometimes letting go of—new friends.

  1. Listen, Listen - The Book Snob Mom - The beautiful, crackly illustrations are whimsical and fun, and I love all the different tableaus. This book takes you through all four seasons and the sounds you may hear out and about, encouraging to stop, listen, and be in the moment!

  2. Little Elephant Listens - The Book Snob Mom - A cute, simple book about listening. Little Elephant is quick to be obedient throughout the book, which is excellent (if a little bland), and there’s just a touch of humor at the end. The illustrations are very brightly colored and it’s a very fast read.

  3. What Can I Hear? - A group of babies have fun making noises and listening to things. On board pages.

  4. Why Should I Listen? - When children are caught up by the excitement of the moment, they sometimes forget to listen—and the result might be an accident or an avoidable mistake. This book helps them understand the importance of listening to parents and teachers. Titles in the enlightening and entertaining Why Should I? series of picture storybooks answer questions that younger boys and girls are likely to ask about a wide range of topics. Part of every child’s development consists of asking questions about themselves, their friends and neighbors, and their surroundings. Why Should I? books help them discover good answers. Kids will be attracted by the amusing color illustrations on every page, and parents and teachers will appreciate the note at the back of each book offering further suggestions on answering children’s questions.

Quiet Please, Owen McPhee book
#10
Quiet Please, Owen McPhee
Written by Trudy Ludwig and illustrated by Patrice Barton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

Gorgeously illustrated, this is a wonderful little story about a little boy who talks too much and learns the consequences the hard way. It’s not until he gets some first-hand understanding of what can happen when he listens and gives other people a chance to talk, though, that he realizes that there must be a balance. The mix of actual story and speech bubbles is a fun combination!

Owen McPhee doesn’t just like to talk, he LOVES to talk. He spends every waking minute chattering away at his teachers, his classmates, his parents, his dog, and even himself. But all that talking can get in the way of listening. And when Owen wakes up with a bad case of laryngitis, it gives him a much-needed opportunity to hear what others have to say.

From the author-illustrator team behind The Invisible Boy comes a bright and lively picture book that captures the social dynamics of a busy classroom while delivering a gentle message about the importance of listening.

El Deafo book
#11
El Deafo
Written by Cece Bell
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The author recounts in graphic novel format her experiences with hearing loss at a young age, including using a bulky hearing aid, learning how to lip read, and determining her “superpower.”

Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen book
#12
Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen
Written by Reverend Ana and Howard Binkow and illustrated by Sue Cornelison
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When Howard B. Wigglebottom starts feeling sad about always getting into trouble at school for not listening, he decides to change his ways.

I Have a Little Problem, Said the Bear book
#13
I Have a Little Problem, Said the Bear
Written by Heinz Janisch and illustrated by Silke Leffler
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

The bear has a problem. He asks everyone for help, but no one seems to have time to talk with him. What will it take to get someone listen to him?

Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse book
#14
Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse
Written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from Mom of Boys

This was a very cute story. Lilly was infatuated with her teacher. She thought he was the greatest. She wanted to be a teacher like him when she grew up. She pretended to be him at home, and she even bought a chain for her glasses just like his. Then the unthinkable happened. She had brought something very special to school and wanted to show everyone. Her teacher asked her to wait. She could not. She finally could not handle it and did not listen to her teacher. This caused some trouble and tension between the two of them. She was very very sad because she had really liked her teacher before. The best part is how her family helps her overcome this difficulty and she learns to apologize and to listen.

Lilly loves everything about school, especially her cool teacher, Mr. Slinger. But when Lilly brings her purple plastic purse and its treasures to school and can’t wait until sharing time, Mr. Slinger confiscates her prized possessions. Lilly’s fury leads to revenge and then to remorse and she sets out to make amends. Lilly, the star of Chester’s Way and Julius, the Baby of the World, is back. And this time she has her name in the title - something she’s wanted all along. If you thought Lilly was funny before, you are in for a treat. So hurry up and start reading. Lilly can’t wait for you to find out more about her.

  1. Andi Unexpected - The first in a new middle-grade mystery series, in Andi Unexpected, twelve-year-old Andi Boggs, discovers evidence of her forgotten namesake, a missing relative, which leads her into a family mystery rooted in the Great Depression.

  2. Chimpanzees for Tea! - A silly, fun version of the game “telephone”—in which a grocery list committed to memory goes playfully awry. One day, Vincent’s mother asks him to go to the store to pick up a few items: “a bunch of carrots, a box of rice, some China tea, a big, firm pear, and a tin of peas” to be precise. “And hurry home in time for tea!” she says. Sounds easy enough. Yet distractions are at every turn, causing havoc with Vincent’s memory. All of a sudden, a tin of peas is replaced by a trapeze; a big, firm pear becomes a big furry bear; and a box of rice transforms into a box of mice! Needless to say, Vincent’s mother is in for quite a surprise. Told with a playful rhythm for reading aloud and illustrated with exuberance and great child appeal, this humorous picture book will have kids laughing and asking for repeated readings.

  3. Strega Nona - When Strega Nona leaves him alone with her magic pasta pot, Big Anthony is determined to show the townspeople how it works in this classic Caldecott Honor book from Tomie dePaola. Strega Nona—“Grandma Witch”—is the source for potions, cures, magic, and comfort in her Calabrian town. Her magical everfull pasta pot is especially intriguing to hungry Big Anthony. He is supposed to look after her house and tend her garden but one day, when she goes over the mountain to visit Strega Amelia, Big Anthony recites the magic verse over the pasta pot, with disastrous results. In this retelling of an old tale, author-illustrator Tomie dePaola combines humor in the writing and warmth in the paintings as he builds the story to its hilarious climax.

  4. Mini Myths: Be Careful, Icarus! - After little Icarus and his dad make a bird-shaped kite, Dad warns Icarus to hold on to the string and not let it fly too high. But Icarus disobeys, and soon the kite gets caught in the trees! Dad helps him repair the kite so they can play with it again, and Icarus learns the importance of being careful. Joan Holub’s carefully crafted text is brought to life by Leslie Patricelli’s famously humorous illustrations. Includes a summary of the original Icarus myth.

The Storm Whale book
#19
The Storm Whale
Written and illustrated by Benji Davies
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Every day, in a house by the sea, a little boy watches his father leave for work. One night, a storm washes a small whale onto the beach. The boy discovers the whale is a good listener, and the father discovers the boy is lonely. Together, they return the whale to the sea, and the boy realizes his father can be a good listener, too. Full color.

What's That Noise? Choo! Choo! book
#20
What's That Noise? Choo! Choo!
Written and illustrated by Cocoretto
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-4

What’s that noise? Lift the flap to find out! Perfect for guessing, prediction and memory skills - and simply joining in!

Pokko and the Drum book
#21
Pokko and the Drum
Written and illustrated by Matthew Forsythe
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

From E.B. White Read Aloud honor artist Matthew Forsythe comes a picture book about a tiny drum, an emerald forest, and a frog who dares to make her own music.

The biggest mistake Pokko’s parents ever made was giving her the drum. When Pokko takes the drum deep into the forest it is so quiet, so very quiet that Pokko decides to play. And before she knows it she is joined by a band of animals —first the raccoon, then the rabbit, then the wolf—and soon the entire forest is following her. Will Pokko hear her father’s voice when he calls her home?

Pokko and the Drum is a story about art, persistence, and a family of frogs living in a mushroom.

Sounds book
#22
Sounds
Written and illustrated by Katie Wilson
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-3

Touch, listen, and learn.

The latest addition to the Montessori –inspired Discovery Concepts series, joins the band to learn the sounds a variety of instruments make. From the “OOMPAH” of a tuba to the “CLANG! CLANG! CLANG!” of cymbals, little ones will love reciting each sound. Tactile sandpaper musical notes illustrate each instrument’s output while creative words encourage kids to make the sounds for themselves.

Innovative back matter includes a QR code on the final spread of the book, which when scanned on a smartphone, features a marching band playing all of the instruments featured in the book.

    Did you enjoy our children's book recommendations? Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!

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