9 Children’s Books About the Circus

For weeks, my kids have been anticipating the opening of Circus — Starring You! at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. We finally got to check it out on opening day and…wow! It’s truly an impressive combination of education and fun, with a healthy dose of silliness and even a little virtual reality!

Books About the Circus

My kids immediately gravitated toward the costumes, but they also enjoyed the wide variety of hands on experiences available in the exhibit; everything from an acrobat’s rings to the strong man’s weights. My oldest tried out the virtual reality tightrope walk and declared it, “Awesome!” It was a little too real for my kindergartner, so he decided to pass.

The kids quickly declared this their new favorite exhibit at the museum, and there was circus talk in the backseat of the car the whole way home. No outing in our home is complete without a read-along, so we’ve also been reading some books about the circus that we love, as well as discovering some new favorites. Here’s what we’ve enjoyed:

9 Children’s Books About the Circus

9 Children's Books About the Circus

Book links are Amazon referral links.

If I Ran the Circus by Dr. Seuss — This rhyming classic tells the story of Morris McGurk’s Circus McGurkus, a wild and wacky circus unlike any other. This super fun read encourages kids to use their imagination and create their own perfect circus!


Harold’s Circus by Crockett Johnson — In this adventure, Harold uses his famous purple crayon to draw a tightrope, which leads him into a circus world. Read this book and then draw your own circus with your purple crayon!


Peter Spier’s Circus by Peter Spier — This beautiful book will draw children in and have them exploring the illustrations for every one of Spier’s perfect details. This book is a less or a read-aloud, and more of a book for exploration. We loved sitting on the couch and pouring through the illustrations together!


Circus Caps for Sale by Esphyr Solobodkina — Pezzo the Peddler is still busy selling caps, but one day, no one is buying. Why? They’re all at the circus! Before long, Pezzo’s caps are part of the show.


Sandy’s Circus by Tanya Lee Stone — This book tells the story of artist Alexander Calder, whose work for Ringing Brothers and Barnum and Bailey has become synonymous with the word “circus.” This book is inspiring for circus-lovers and young artists alike.


Circus by Charles Sullivan — This one can be hard to find, but I have fond memories of looking through this collection of circus-themed art from famous artists. A truly gorgeous book that you should snag if you find it!


Circus by Lois Ehlert — This bright and bold book has simple text and captivating art. It’s sure to be a hit with kids of all ages, and you can have fun recreating your favorite illustrations with construction paper and scissors!


The Painted Circus: P.T. Vermin Presents a Mesmerizing Menagerie of Trickery and Illusion Guaranteed to Beguile and Bamboozle the Beholder by Wallace Edwards — That title is quite a mouthful, but this book lives up to its name. It’s full of gorgeous illustrations and puzzles for kids to solve. My little ones have literally spent hours studying this book and finding all of the magic within.


Paddington Bear at the Circus by Michael Bond — Paddington and the Brown family take a trip to the circus, and, of course, Paddington ends up front and center in the show! This is a fun read-aloud for preschoolers, who will enjoy Paddington’s silly antics.



Circus — Starring You! is open through November 26, 2017 at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. You won’t want to miss it!

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Crystal is an activist, feminist, and mom of three. She loves reading, crochet, and enjoying her family and friends. She lives with her family in Indianapolis.

One thought on “9 Children’s Books About the Circus

  1. Hello,
    My name is Simi Genziuk.
    I am a circus performer and emerging writer. I wrote a children’s non fiction picture book about May Wirth an Australian circus performer who became know as the world’s greatest bare back rider of all time.
    It’s called So She Did The Story of May Wirth. I though it might be of interest to you as it is both feminist and circus, but most of all it’s an inspiring story

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