Let's Play!: Books for Young Children

Young children love to look at books about their favorite activity — playtime! These books show lots different kinds of fun activities and toys, including those from diverse cultures. And who knows? These books might just spark an idea or two for a new game!

Related resources

For more books on this topic, see the following:

Celebrate My Hopi Toys

My Hopi Toys
Illustrated by: Emmett Navakuku
Age Level: 0-3
Language: English, Hopi

"We know how to count. One lighting stick. Two dancing sticks" Celebrate my Hopi Toys written in Hopi and English by Hopi language teacher Anita Poleahla introduces counting skills to children with patterned text and colorful illustrations of Hopi toys by Hopi artist Emmett Navakuku.


Illustration of Corduroy the Bear
Age Level: 0-3

Corduroy, a teddy bear, comes to life to search for his lost button after the store closes. Though he doesn't find the button, he does find friendship in this enduring tale.

Dragonfly Kites

Two brothers flying kites
Illustrated by: Julie Flett
Language: Cree

Dragonfly Kites is the third book in Tomson Highway's magical Songs of the North Wind trilogy. Like Fox on the Ice and Caribou Song, it has a bilingual text, written in English and Cree. Joe and Cody, two young Cree brothers, along with their parents and their little dog Ootsie, are spending the summer by one of the hundreds of lakes in northern Manitoba. Summer means a chance to explore the world and make friends with an array of creatures. But what Joe and Cody like doing best of all is flying dragonfly kites.

In the Leaves

In the Leaves
Age Level: 3-6
Language: Chinese

Xiao Ming and his friends are spending an autumn day on a farm, and it is the perfect place for him to show his friends how draw different Chinese characters for words such as "grain" and "fire." The colorful, gentle illustrations, created by cut-paper collages, will appeal to young children. This book is one of a four-part series by the author about Chinese characters related to the different seasons.

Kite Flying

By: Grace Lin
Age Level: 3-6
Language: English

The young narrator describes how she and her family each contribute to a handsome kite which they then enjoy flying. Signature illustrations show traditional Chinese kite designs combined with an author's note about kite history. The result is the celebration of an ebullient family tradition that readers may want to take up themselves!

Looking for Bongo

Age Level: 3-6
Language: English

Where could Bongo be? Help a young boy find his beloved toy — and figure out how he got lost to begin with. The boy knows Bongo was right there with him this morning—but suddenly, Bongo is missing. He asks his whole family if they've seen the stuffed toy.  "Yo no sé," says abuela, "I don't know." When he finally finds Bongo, the boy is thrilled — and he sets a trap to catch the Bongo thief. Eric Velasquez's detailed, expressive illustrations follow the boy's investigation throughout his home, giving a glimpse at a warm, multi-generational family.

Lucía the Luchadora

Lucía in her lucha libre outfit
Illustrated by: Alyssa Bermudez
Age Level: 6-9, 9-12
Language: Spanish vocabulary featured

Lucía zips through the playground in her cape just like the boys, but when they tell her "girls can't be superheroes," suddenly she doesn't feel so mighty. That's when her beloved abuela reveals a dazzling secret: Lucía comes from a family of luchadoras, the bold and valiant women of the Mexican lucha libre tradition. Cloaked in a flashy new disguise, Lucía returns as a recess sensation!

New Words, New Friends

Illustrated by: Diego Jimenez Manzano
Age Level: 3-6
Language: English, Spanish

New Words, New Friends is a storybook resource for teachers, librarians and parents to teach young children who speak different languages how to learn and play together. This heartwarming story of friendship that grows under the guidance of a nurturing and mindful teacher is the backdrop for an intentional social story on building communication skills for children in culturally and linguistically diverse preschools, story hours, or child care programs.

Niño Wrestles the World

Age Level: 6-9
Language: English, Spanish vocabulary featured

Señoras y Señores: It's time for Niño to take the stage against his lucha libre foes, including La Llorona (the crying ghost woman), El Extraterrestre (the alien), and El Chamuco (the demon).  Niño has all kinds of tricks up his sleeve, and he definitely looks the part in his mask and underwear. Then comes a foe that would terrify the most experienced wrestler — his twin sisters! Join Yuyi Morales in this playful tribute to the popular tradition and its devoted fans. Winner Pura Belpré Illustrator Award.

Peek!: A Thai Hide-and-Seek

Young girl hiding behind a leaf
Age Level: 3-6

The playful rhyming verses in this story from Thailand follow a game of hide-and-seek between a father and daughter as it moves from the house to the yard to the nearby streams and lush jungle. Vivid illustrations are done in watercolor and cut-paper collage.

Rafi and Rosi

Rafi and Rosi playing on the beach
Age Level: 6-9
Language: Spanish

Three short stories present three adventures shared by Rafi and Rosi, young tree frogs who live in Puerto Rico. Rosi knows that her older brother is magic; not only can he find things in the sand, he can also make the sea shine! But it is Rosi's magic that finds Rafi's lost pet hermit crab. Cheery, colorful illustrations enhance the humor of this engaging duo.

Rosa Rides Her Scooter

Age Level: 3-6
Language: English

Let’'s find out which toys Rosa and her friends are playing with today! An important series that celebrates inclusivity, promotes gender equality and embraces the uniqueness of every child.

Sky-High Guy

Age Level: 3-6
Language: English

Jack and Guy, his action figure, don't always play with Jack's little brother, Gus. When Guy gets stuck in a tree, however, the brothers cooperate to get him down. Inventive play is portrayed by white lines over crisp, realistic photographs.

Take Me Out to the Yakyu

Take Me Out to the Yakyu
Age Level: 3-6
Language: English

You may know that baseball is the Great American Pastime, but did you know that it is also a beloved sport in Japan? Come along with one little boy and his grandfathers, one in America and one in Japan, as he learns about baseball and its rich, varying cultural traditions.

The Great and Mighty Nikko

Illustration of boy in lucha libre mask
Language: Spanish vocabulary featured

Nikko loves bedtime. That's because his bed turns into a magical wrestling ring for the masked luchadores that he loves. His mom, of course, doesn't believe Nikko, but she just can't see what Nikko sees. And to prove his point—zoosh! Here comes luchador numero UNO with a golden mask and a silver cape. Oh, wow. Number TWO wears an orange mask with yellow flames. And so it goes until TEN luchadores are jumping on Nikko's bed. That's when the Great and Mighty Nikko puts on his mask, taking on all ten wrestlers at once and defeating them soundly.

The Way Champs Play

Diverse children playing outside
Illustrated by: Kamala Nair
Age Level: 3-6, 6-9

In a rhythmic celebration of sport and play, four-time Grand Slam champion and tennis superstar Naomi Osaka shares key steps to becoming a true champ, including being kind, working as a team, doing your best, and most importantly, having fun. Inspired by Osaka’s game-changing program Play Academy, which instills confidence in and provides resources to young girls through sports.

Want to Play? (Confetti Kids)

By: Paula Yoo
Illustrated by: Shirley Ng-Benitez
Age Level: 3-6
Language: English

It’s a warm, sunny day, and the gang heads to the neighborhood playground to play. What should they play? Henry wants to play basketball, and Padma wants to play Follow the Leader. Finally Pablo comes up with a great idea: to play pretend. It’s a game that everyone can do easily. They can pretend to be archaeologists, astronauts, and explorers. There’s no limit to what they imagine they can be!