According to a study published in Pediatrics, children who have been read to during the earliest stages of their lives by their parents showed significantly greater activation of the brain. In addition to this remarkable physical effect, books teach children about relationships, personalities, and what is good and what is bad in the world they live in. The best books for 6 year olds can help.
While fantasy books encourage imagination and free play, fairy tales fascinate kids and help them distinguish between what is real and what is not. With that said, we’ve compiled the best books for 6 year olds to attract them to the world of books and to help them develop the habit of reading in the long run.
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From highly praised books by Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal, XpressReviews to New York Times Best Sellers, our list covers the 50 best books for 6 year olds to make them love reading even more. We’ve made sure that the topics vary, touching different aspects of a child’s life, such as expression of nature and animal love, friendship, mystery, family values, and, of course, humor and fun! You can be sure that all these books will be beneficial to your child’s cognitive development and emotional intelligence.
1. If Animals Kissed Good Night
The charming illustrations in this book by Ann Whitford Paul paint a perfect picture of how certain animals kiss their offspring goodnight. This book instills into the little one the names of various animals, their baby’s names, the sound they make, and their body parts.
2. I’ve Loved You Since Forever
This book by Hoda Kotb is an excellent depiction of a parent’s devotion to their child. It illustrates that the parent and child share a special bond that extends to before childbirth. The book incorporates simple text and heartwarming pictures of animals and babies.
3. The Wonderful Things You Will Be
Emily Winfield Martin’s rhythmic writing exhibits all the beautiful things that parents think about their children. This book embodies artistic and humorous illustrations that captivate both children and adults alike.
4. God Gave Us You
Lisa Tawn Bergren depicts a tale of a charming young polar bear cub who asks her mother a question of great importance—where did she come from? The mama bear’s response reassures all the little ones and communicates the exact message that they want to hear.
5. 365 Bedtime Stories and Rhymes
This story-time treasure from Cottage Door Press incorporates over 50 well-loved stories and rhymes, much to the delight of the little ones. It allows a different story to fill the wild imagination of the children every night before bedtime, making this one of the best books for 6 year olds.
6. Grumpy Monkey
Jim, the chimpanzee’s friend, cannot comprehend why he is in a bad mood when it’s so beautiful outside. The moral of this book by Suzanne Lang is that sometimes it’s okay to feel down, as long as you aren’t hurting someone in the process.
7. Where the Wild Things Are
Maurice Sendak’s award-winning picture book delineates the story of Max, a naughty boy who is sent to bed without his supper by his mother. Max then imagines running away to a land of Wild Things where everything is the total opposite of what he expected.
This goofy picture novel by John Patrick Green revolves around the lives of two alligators who happen to be InvestiGators. These InvestiGators have a case on their hands, which they solve with the help of their Very Exciting Spy Technology.
9. Ronan the Librarian
The sister duo Tara Lubbe and Becky Cattie came up with the hilarious tales of Ronan the barbarian who somehow became a librarian when he found a book somewhere.
10. Ways to Make Sunshine
Ryan Hart, a pure spirited girl, has a lot on her mind. The money around the house is tight; therefore, complications arise daily. This book by Renee Watson beautifully depicts the story of this young Black girl who knows how to make sunshine out of setbacks, landing easily on our list of best books for 6 year olds.
11. Our Friend Hedgehog
This book by Lauren Castillo depicts the life of a hedgehog who lives on a small island with only her stuffed dog, Mutty. Her life is completely changed when a great storm blows Mutty away. If she wants Mutty back, her only option is to embark on a dangerous quest.
12. We’re Different, We’re the Same
This book by Bobbi Kates features Elmo and his Sesame Street friends and teaches young children and adults alike a vital lesson: although we might look different on the outside, deep down we are very similar.
13. I Am Enough
This book by Grace Byers is a lyrical ode that teaches children the significance of self-love, respecting others, and treating others with respect. Furthermore, it conveys the message that our existence has a purpose.
14. Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
Dr. Seuss’ well-known book’s hilarious verses and illustrations depict the ups and downs that occur in life. It encourages the readers to find the success that lies within and never to give up. A list of best books for 6 year olds simply wouldn’t be complete without Dr. Seuss!
15. The Day You Begin
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson reminds us that feeling different is entirely acceptable. Sometimes, we all feel like outsiders, yet we are brave enough to deal with the situation. If we reach out to others, we’ll find that they will gladly meet us halfway.
16. The World Needs More Purple People
Renowned actress Kristen Bell and director Benjamin Hart try to instill into the reader that Purple People are exemplary as they bring their family, friends, and communities together. They are kind and speak up for what’s right.
17. Hair Love
This book by Matthew A. Cherry portrays the story of Zuri’s hair, which has a mind of its own. It curls and coils in whichever way it wishes. Daddy then steps in to style it one day, but he has a lot to learn.
18. When God Made You
Children long to find their place in the world. Through playful rhyme, this book by Matthew Paul Turner assures them they are deeply loved in every sphere of life, so as to help them spread their wings and fly.
19. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
In this humorous picture book by Mo Willems, a pigeon springs up to take the place of a bus driver when he takes a break from his route. But this pigeon is quite special indeed.
20. Julian Is a Mermaid
This exuberant picture book by Jessica Love flawlessly illustrates how Julian reacts when he notices three women dressed spectacularly. Julian wishes to dress like the three women but contemplates what the others would think of him. This is one book that should absolutely be on any list of best books for 6 year olds.
21. Dog Man
This story by Dav Pilkey of a part-dog, part-man crime-biting canine is quite exhilarating. The three-book boxed set is quite appealing to readers and explores positive traits such as empathy, persistence, kindness, and self-importance.
22. We Don’t Eat Our Classmates
This is a story of Penelope Rex by Ryan T. Higgins. It’s her first day of school, and she is excited to meet her new classmates. But for her, it’s quite hard to make new friends, as they are so darn delicious.
23. Bob Books
Bob Books by Bobby Lynn Maslen are explicitly written to build the little one’s reading skills. They incorporate colorful illustrations that make reading even more fun. Children will love each of these twelve books that are filled with drama, fun, and humorous stories.
24. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
Another classic by Dr. Seuss, this book incorporates silly rhymes that leave every child giggling. It includes simple words and illustrations that encourage children to read all by themselves.
25. NarWhal: Unicorn of the Sea!
NarWhal the narwhal and Jelly jellyfish share an unusual bond. They might not have much in common, but they do like to party, eat waffles, and embark on adventures. This book by Ben Clanton is about two friends as they discover the whole ocean together.
26. How Martha Saved Her Parents from Green Beans
This book by David LaRochelle illustrates Martha’s hatred for green beans. When some mean green beans kidnap Martha’s parents, it is up to her to save her parents and prevent the evil veggies from taking over her town.
27. Uni the Unicorn
The magical story by Amy Krouse Rosenthal depicts the life of Uni the unicorn, who is told that there is no such thing as little girls. But he believes there is a girl out there, waiting to befriend him. This book reminds us that even the wildest of the wishes can sometimes come true.
28. Ada Twist, Scientist
Ada Twist, a scientist, has always been curious. Like her classmates Iggy and Rosie her mind has always been full of questions. This book by Andrea Beaty conveys an essential message that even if things don’t go according to plan, it’s important to continue thinking through the problem and remain curious.
29. Iggy Peck, Architect
In another great story by Andrea Beaty, we meet Iggy Peck. Ever since Iggy was a baby, he has built towers, buildings, and bridges. This skill of his comes in handy when his class is stranded on an island during a picnic.
30. Zoo in the Sky
This tale by Jacqueline Mitton takes you on a journey where you get to see Little and the Great Bear, a scaly dragon, the Great Dog, and many other animals.
31. Pete the Cat
Pete the Cat is an interactive experience for kids by James Dean. It’s a story about a cat who goes walking down the street wearing his brand-new white shoes. As he treads, his shoes change color as he steps in a pile of strawberries and other fruits.
32. Penny and Her Marble
When Penny found a marble in Mrs. Goodwin’s front yard, she picked it up, dusted it off, and took it home with her. But did the marble really belong to Penny? Find out in this book by Kevin Henkes, one of the best books for 6 year olds.
33. Madame Badobedah
When a very old lady with bags stuffed with coins and jewelry arrives at the Mermaid Hotel, Mabel’s parents, the owners of the hotel, are suspicious of her. The moral of this story by Sophie Dahl is how first impressions can sometimes be quite contrary to reality.
34. Magnificent Homespun Brown
This book by Samara Cole Doyon incorporates vivid illustrations and encourages the reader to embrace his/her natural skin color. In addition to that, it includes a carol that promotes the message of self-care and self-love.
35. Fox and Rabbit
An easy-going fox and an anxious rabbit make a somewhat unexpected but perfect pair when planting a tree in their own backyard or searching for hidden treasure. There’s nothing that this duo can’t do when together in this great book by Beth Ferry.
36. Stella Endicott and the Anything-Is-Possible Poem
Stella Endicott is enthralled when her teacher asks the class to write a poem. Stella comes up with a beautiful poem, but her irritating classmate insists that her poetry is a bunch of lies. They both end up in an argument and then sent to the principal’s office in this tale by Kate Dicamillo.
37. Peter & Ernesto: Sloths in the Night
This book by Graham Annable features the lives of two sloths who love the jungle. They are aware of how jungles can be dangerous at night. When their friend goes missing, they gather their trustees and embark upon the quest to find their friend.
38. The Magnificent Makers: How to Test a Friendship
This is a story of two best friends who love science. When a magic portal to the Science Space opens at school, they set out to explore it. This book by Theanne Griffith covers scientific topics that a child learns in school every day.
39. Real Pigeons Fight Crime
Crime-fighting pigeons are real. They secretly protect your neighborhood and fight crime all the time. Beautifully illustrated, this gem of a comedy by Andrew McDonald is hilarious and leaves the reader in a fit of tears.
40. Paolo, Emperor of Rome
This picture book depicts the life of Paolo, a dachshund who is trapped in a hair salon in Rome. When he escapes one day, he goes and lives life the way he always dreamt it. This book by Mac Barnett, landing comfortably on our list of best books for 6 year olds, will leave readers cheering for the little creature.
41. Baloney and Friends
In this graphic novel series, Greg Pizolli introduces Baloney and his friends, who engage the reader as they perform some questionable magic. They encourage the reader to give them a boost when they are feeling down. This highly interactive book will undoubtedly be entertaining for your little one.
42. This Way, Charlie
This tale by Caron Levis about Jack and Charlie is heart-warming. Jack likes to remain distant from the rest of the animals at the Open Bud Ranch, but when Charlie arrives, a powerful friendship begins between the two.
43. Everyone’s Awake
This cleverly rhymed picture book by Colin Meloy depicts the story of a household and their simple goodnight routine that leaves not just the little one but the entire family in stitches with laughter.
44. Charlie & Mouse Outdoors
This hilarious book by Laurel Snyder features Charlie and Mouse, two inseparable brothers. The duo, along with their family, embarks on a series of adventures in which they do all sorts of mind-blowing stuff.
45. Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History
This inspirational text by Vashti Harrison is an essential book suitable for all ages. It features true stories of forty pioneering black women in American history and their will to never give up.
Lupita Nyong’o, an Academy Award-winning actress, wrote this book about Sulwe, who has the skin color of midnight. In this picture book, she tries to instill in the children the importance of self-esteem and self-love, and encourages them to see their own unique beauty. The incorporation of these lessons make this one of the absolutely best books for 6 year olds.
47. All Are Welcome
This book by Alexandra Penfold portrays life in a school where everyone is welcome. In this school, the children are allowed to wear hijabs, parkas, and yarmulkes. The moral of this book is that diversity should be celebrated.
48. The Giving Tree
This beautifully written and illustrated book by Shel Silverstein is a masterpiece. It includes the story of a tree who ends up being a shade provider and apple bearer for a boisterous little child.
49. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Do-It-Yourself Book
This book by Jeff Kinney enables your child to write his/her own version of the Wimpy Kid journal. It encourages the little one to draw Wimpy-Kid-style cartoons and comics inside and will entertain your little artist for hours.
50. The Racehorse Who Learned to Dance
Charlie’s racehorse, Noddy, has won the Derby against all the odds and even bested a bunch of kidnappers. But he faces his biggest challenge yet. Will Charlie and Polly be able to teach Noddy how to gallop? Find out in this exciting book by Clare Balding.
More Books for Children
- 30 Unforgettable Books Every Parent Should Read To Their Kids Before They Grow Up
- 15 Children’s Books Best Read on an iPad
- Why Reading Is So Important For Children
I am a parent of three children aged 8, 6, and 6. Like many parents, I struggle with knowing the right balance of activities for them. I don’t want my kids to miss out on opportunities to play sports and participate in activities that will enhance their lives and help them grow as individuals. However, I also don’t want them to become overscheduled kids, to the extent that they get worn out and stressed out.
There is a balance in providing activities for our children and overscheduling them. The tendency for the latter is prevalent these days. Our lives — and the lives of our kids — are increasingly overscheduled and overworked. Thus, we need to understand the dangers of having overscheduled kids and how to prevent this from happening in our own families.
Table of Contents
What’s Wrong with Overscheduling Your Kids?
1. Overscheduling Can Burn Out Our Kids
When our kids are on the go and scheduled to the max from a young age, their potential to get burned out before reaching high school is quite high. The New York Times reported some research on burnout and found that burnout with kids relates to their workload, along with their parents’ propensity to experience it. This means that overworked children are more likely to get burned out than others. Similarly, overscheduled parents tend to have overscheduled kids more often than not.
When a person is burned out, they feel overwhelmed and exhausted by what others expect them to get done daily. Children who are involved in too many activities with little to no downtime have a high chance of experiencing burnout. When parents place too many expectations on their kids, they also have an increased potential to burn out.
If you get the sense that your child is feeling overworked or overwhelmed by their daily activities, you need to know which ones can be cut back. If they have too many activities outside of school work, for instance, then that is one area that likely needs to be downsized.
An overworked child will present various symptoms like moodiness, irritability, crankiness, despondency, anger, stomach aches, headaches, rebellion, etc. Cutting back their activities will help to relieve their stress and reduce the said burnout signs. If your kid has severe burnout symptoms, though, then professional help from a pediatrician or therapist for children should be sought.
Downtime is key to helping relieve burnout. If children don’t have free time during the day to have any rest, they are more likely to become burned out than others. Downtime means unorganized free time to do what they enjoy or relax. Cut back your kids’ extra-curricular activities if they don’t have downtime in their schedule.
Here are more tips on creating downtime for the children: How to Create Downtime for Kids.
2. Overscheduling Kills Playtime and Creativity
Kids need time to be kids. When their schedules are filled every day with activities like organized ballet, soccer, and music lessons, and they only take a break for dinner and bedtime, then they are overscheduled. They need to have free time after school to relax and play. When they don’t have that and proceed from one scheduled activity to the next, they are missing out on playtime.
Playtime is crucial to child development. If they cannot get enough time to play, then their ability to develop their creativity decreases. The Genius of Play explains that there are six major developmental benefits that children get from playtime:
- Social skill development
- Cognitive development
- Physical development (i.e., balance, coordination)
- Communication skills
- Emotional development
If children don’t have time to play because they are always on-the-go, then they are missing out on the developmental benefits of play.
Children need downtime after school so that they can unwind, play, and decompress. Research from the Journal of Early Childhood Development and Care showed that kids need to play to deal with anxiety, stress, and worry. Playtime provides an outlet for them to manage these emotions in a healthy manner and helps with the development of their creativity.
Children need free time to play every day. Fifteen minutes at recess is not enough. They need time for it after school, at home, outside of the constraints of scheduled activities.
Ensure that your child has time to play after school. This is especially important for young children who greatly benefit from playing. Limit organized activities so that your child is not scheduled every day and can play after school. If they have an activity every hour, then it doesn’t allow for playtime.
3. Overscheduling Causes Stress and Pressure
When kids are overscheduled because their parents are so intent on having high-performing children, then they will feel stressed. Parental pressure upon a child to do well in academics, music, multiple sports, and religious studies is a reality for many kids. The children scheduled in all of these activities can often feel stress and pressure, especially when they are expected to succeed in all of them.
It is hard enough for kids to be good or succeed at a single activity. For a parent to overschedule their child and expect superior performance in various activities, that is a recipe for a stressed-out child.
Parents should not schedule kids in multiple activities with the expectation of superior performance in all. They should also consider the child’s interests. If the child is not interested in one activity, then they are likely to feel stressed and pressured to do it.
For example, if Suzy has been taking piano lessons for four years, and she no longer enjoys learning the instrument, then perhaps it is time to take a break. If Suzy is forced to continue with the lessons and daily practices, then she may feel pressured to continue performing simply because her mom wants her to do so. This can lead Suzy to resent her mother for forcing her to keep on doing something that she doesn’t like anymore.
Let your child help in selecting the activities that they get involved in. Also, put a cap on the number of activities they are doing. If they have a different activity every weekday, then they are likely overscheduled.
Kids need downtime and time to play, too. If they need to do a new activity every day, that downtime is diminished, considering the time at home or outside of the scheduled activities is limited. This limited time is then filled with homework, mealtime, and bedtime prep. Eliminating activities several days a week will allow the child to have some time to play freely. The younger the kid is, the more time they need playtime. As they get older, they can take on more activities; however, under the age of 13, playing daily is a must for children.
4. Healthy Eating Falls by the Wayside
Any parent who’s busy chauffeuring multiple kids to different activities after school knows how tempting fast food can become. Fast food, however, leads to less healthy food choices. French fries and hamburgers — the staple combo in most fast-food joints — cannot help your child thrive nutritionally.
When families are overscheduled, they tend to go for easy and quick meals. When rushed, many of us make poor food choices because we aren’t taking the time to think about a meal’s nutritional value and a balanced diet for our children.
5. Family Mealtimes Become a Thing of the Past
When we are taking our kids to sports and other extra-curricular activities that fall during dinnertime, the family often misses out on sharing a meal at home.
This is true in our own home. There are certain nights of the week that we have practices, and so we either eat together early (if possible) or eat separately, depending on what our schedules allow.
There is so much value in having family dinners. It provides an opportunity for family members to discuss their day, including their work and school activities. It is a time when technology is set aside so that everyone can truly focus on communicating with one another and catching up on what is happening in each other’s lives. When a kid’s activities are scheduled every evening, then that family time at the dining table gets lost. Dinnertime becomes a thing of the past as we overschedule kids and ourselves.
Try learning more about family time here: How to Maximize Family Time? 13 Simple Ways You Can Try Immediately.
Assess our schedule during the week to ensure that there’s always time for dinner with the family. Make it a point to establish a dinnertime schedule for the evenings that you do not have prior engagements scheduled. Remember: the time that you have with your kids under your roof is fleeting. Before long, they will be grownups and start living on their own. You need not dismiss or minimize the opportunity to bond with your children over meals.
Having family mealtimes also allows you to make excellent food choices. This way, parents can create balanced and healthy meals and teach their children about the importance of eating good food for their bodies.
How to Turn Things Around?
1. Fix the Displaced Ambitions
Parents with overscheduled kids often mean well. They want their children to succeed, so they give them every chance to make it happen. They sign them up for various lessons, sports, and activities that may help the kids find success in life.
In other cases, the parent probably didn’t get such opportunities when they were young and felt that they missed out on many things. Hence, they provide those missed opportunities to their kids during their own childhood.
Carla is an example of such a parent. Carla always wanted to take dance and ballet classes as a child. She heard her friends talk about dance classes and performances, and they would even bring recital photos to school, showing their beautiful, detailed costumes. Carla wanted to be in those dance classes and learn ballet and have the opportunity to perform in a beautiful costume in front of an audience. Unfortunately, her family could not afford to give her that opportunity.
When Carla gave birth to a baby girl, she had visions of her little one growing big enough to take dance, ballet, and even tap classes someday. She was looking forward to dressing her daughter in dance costumes and watching her take lessons and eventually performing in recitals. When Carla’s daughter Anna was old enough to enroll at a dance class at four years old, she was thrilled. However, after a few months, it became clear that Anna was not enjoying these classes. She would cry before every lesson, begging Carla to let her stay home and not go to class. Her daughter had no interest in learning to dance.
In truth, it happens to many parents. They would enroll their kid in an activity that they wanted to do as a child but never got to try. Unfortunately, a parent’s interest is not always the same as that of their kids’. The child may humor mom or dad for some time and do the activity out of compliance. But if the child does not enjoy it anymore, they will eventually make things clear to their parents.
Parents should listen to their children. If the activity is something that they do not enjoy doing, ask the children what they think they would like to do, and then eliminate activities that they are not into. Similarly, teach them commitment by finishing a program, but don’t enroll them again in the same class if they absolutely do not want to do it.
Let the kids try different activities at a young age. Sometimes they don’t know if they like something until they try it out.
2. Try Clinics of Camps Before Committing
Don’t enroll your child in three sports at the same time to see which one they like or excel at. Doing so will make your kid overscheduled. Instead, you can use the summer break or preseason camps or clinics to try a variety of activities they are interested in.
As an example, all three of my children said that they wanted to do lacrosse. We had already tried soccer, and it was not successful for two out of three of them. They would rather chase butterflies down the field or play tag than actually participate in their games. Therefore, before committing to lacrosse and spending a great deal of money on their gear, I signed them up for a sample clinic. It was a one-day program that intended to expose children to the sport and see if they would perhaps enjoy playing it. I was surprised to find that the three kids enjoyed lacrosse, so we signed up for the season. It was nice to be able to see them try out the sport in a clinic before committing to an entire season.
Most towns and cities have parks and recreation department. This is often a good place to check for clinics and camps for various activities. Our local department even offers art and dance classes. Most of them meet between two and four times total, so the children can get some exposure to the activity before signing them up at a private facility for a more long-term commitment.
3. Take an Inventory of Your Weekly Activities
Often, we do an activity without reflecting on how much we are already committed to doing each week. Before we commit to any more activities, we must be willing to look at everything that each family member does. Every child’s commitment is another responsibility for the parent as well. Parents must take children to and from each practice, so you need to consider the drive time for any activity.
For instance, if each of my three kids signed up for three different activities each week, I would be running myself ragged. Three activities for three kids means taking them to nine activities during the week. That doesn’t include the games that will likely be scheduled on the weekends. Three activities for every child, therefore, is too much for our family.
If some practices overlap on the schedule, then you need two parents or responsible adults to transport the children to different locations. Before you sign them up for multiple activities, you need to factor downtime, stress levels, and your ability to take them to each activity in the equation.
Consider the following before your kids can commit to various activities:
- What is the time commitment for the child each week? Do they have enough energy and stamina for the activities? Do they get enough downtime daily to prevent burnout?
- Is practice time required outside of their scheduled team practices and games?
- How long is the travel time for you as a parent, along with wait time during practices? Do you have time allowances for these activities in your own schedule?
- Does the activity time conflict with other activities on the schedule? Will it eliminate family dinners on a regular basis?
- Does the child really want to do the activity?
- What is the motivation for signing up for the activity?
- Is this activity or commitment going to cause a great deal of stress on the child or other family members?
Check out these time-management tips for parents: 10 Time Management Tips Every Busy Parent Needs to Know.
Get The Kids Active and Involved!
Despite everything, it does not mean that you shouldn’t sign your child up for different activities like sports, music, dance, karate, etc. They are all great activities that can help children develop a variety of valuable life skills. The goal is to enroll them in things that they genuinely enjoy and avoid overscheduling kids by not letting them sign up for too many activities at a time.