My kids have always been readers. From before they could read, we looked at and read books together. One of my favorite pictures of my kids is a photo of three of them lying side-by-side in a bed, each with a different book to read.
Trips to the library were a big deal, almost an adventure. Perusing the books on the shelves was like going exploring – you never knew what you might find!
Sometimes we would go to the library with carefully thought-out lists of specific books, authors, or subject matter; other times, we would wander the shelves, looking for anything that looked interesting. I used to think we should take our wagon with us on our library trips – books are heavy! (We could easily bring home 100+ books at a time!)
Anyhow, after all those library trips, book searches, and book-readings, I thought I would share some of our favorites with you. I am sure I have forgotten many of them, but maybe some of these suggestions will inspire you or your kids to discover some new favorites.
Preschool or Early Readers
- Madeline books – Ludwig Bemelmans
- Babar – Jean De Brunhoff
- Little Bear books – Else Holmelund Minarik
- Oliver and Amanda Pig – Jean Van Leeuwen
- Frog and Toad – Arnold Lobel
- Mr. Putter and Tabby books– Cynthia Rylant
- The Story about Ping – Marjorie Flack
- Make Way for Ducklings – Robert McCloskey
- Books by Cindy Szekeres
- Syd Hoff books
- Peter Spier books
- The Bears on Hemlock Mountain – Alice Dalgliesh
- A Fish out of Water – Helen Palmer/P. D. Eastman
Middle Elementary/Upper Elementary Readers
- Paddle to the Sea – Holling C. Holling
- Ramona and Beezus series, Henry Huggins books – Beverly Cleary
- The 3 Investigators – Various Authors
- The Great Brain – John D. Fitzgerald
- Soup – Robert Newton Peck
- Tall and Proud – Vian Smith
- Trailblazer books – Dave and Neta Jackson
- Brady, George Washington’s Breakfast, and many others (historical fiction, biographical) – Jean Fritz
- Lois Lenski
- Ginnie and Geneva series – Catherine Woolley
- My Side of the Mountain (and others) – Jean Craighead George
- The Case of the Baker Street Irregular: A Sherlock Holmes Story – Robert Newman
- Orphan Train Adventures – Joan Lowery Nixon
- The Door in the Wall – Marguerite De Angeli
- The Marvelous Inventions of Alvin Fernald – Clifford B. Hicks
- Homer Price – Robert McCloskey
- Old Mother West Wind – Thornton Burgess
Middle School and Beyond
- Redwall series– Brian Jacques
- Princess Academy – Shannon Hale
- The Mysterious Benedict Society books – Trenton Lee Stewart
- Alex Rider series- Anthony Horowitz
- Chronicles of Narnia – C. S. Lewis
- Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze – Elizabeth Foreman Lewis and William Low
- Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution – Ji-Li Jiang
- Anna and the King of Siam – Margaret Landon and Margaret Ayer
- Historical Fiction books – G. A. Henty
- Hatchet – Gary Paulson
- Island of the Blue Dolphins and other historical fiction titles – Scott O’Dell
- The Master Puppeteer – Katherine Paterson
- The Trumpeter of Krakow – Eric P. Kelly
- Otto of the Silver Hand – Howard Pyle
- A Murder for Her Majesty – Beth Hilgartner
Other Books Worth Checking Out
- Favorite Poems Old and New – Helen Ferris. My mom had this book when we were growing up; then, I got a copy. Now some of my kids have their own copies.
- Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim’s Progress – Oliver Hunkin. This is a simplified version of the classic story, with illustrations, for kids.
- Go In and Out the Window: An Illustrated Songbook for Children – Dan Fox. The illustrations in this songbook are prints of artwork from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Resource Books and References
- Honey for a Child’s Heart – Gladys Hunt
- Honey for a Teen’s Heart – Gladys Hunt
- Let the Authors Speak – Carolyn Hatcher – This book does not give descriptions of books; instead, it lists the titles based on their historical setting. Books are listed by centuries, by location, by title, and by author. Also, the author provides a suggested reading level for each book as well. This is a great resource when planning historical unit studies or looking for books to supplement your history studies.
- The Read-Aloud Handbook – Jim Trelease
- Redeemed Reader – redeemedreader.com
Things to Remember
Many of these authors have written many books. So, if you read one you like, look for more titles by the same author.
As with any list of books, always use your own judgment and discernment. We all do not have the same criteria or standards for book selections, and that’s OK.
I have read almost every book on this list. I will not guarantee that every book listed here is politically correct, or culturally acceptable to everyone. That is why we have individual discretion and freedom of choice.
I can guarantee that I have forgotten scores of titles that we have enjoyed over the years. Sorry, but I did not keep lists of all our favorite books!
Feel free to add your suggestions to the list!
Check out the other posts here about reading: