100 Children’s Books Everyone Should Read in Their Lifetime
Blossom a love for books and reading early in your child's or grandchild's life, and they'll reap the rewards for a lifetime. These 100 books are a great place to start when building a library and helping young ones explore literature and life.
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Ages 0 to 2: Goodnight Moon
A sweet little bunny bids everything around him goodnight—from the clocks to his socks, from the mittens to the kittens. The precious tale in Goodnight Moon is a classic and easy read for young readers. It’s also a great way to tuck into bed every night, saying goodnight to anything and everything including the room and to the moon. These 17 children’s books are a delightful read for adults, too.
The Real Mother Goose
All of Mother Goose’s greatest rhyming stories, from The Cat and the Fiddle to Humpty Dumpty, are in the collection of The Real Mother Goose. Parents and grandparents alike can share in the fun of reliving this classic tales and sharing them with a new generation of readers.
Guess How Much I Love You
Little Nutbrown Hare wants badly to show his daddy how much he loves him. But Big Nutbrown Hare can reach higher—and show more love—than his little boy. As much as Little Nutbrown Hare can love, his father can love just as much. While your cooing baby is very unlikely to understand the words of Guess How Much I Love You, your heart will know it’s sharing an important message: you are loved.
Pat the Bunny
Pat the Bunny, a classic touch-and-feel book, will stay busy with little readers from pre-reading days until they’re old enough to read it on their own. There’s a lot to feel and explore—the bunny’s soft fur and daddy’s scratchy beard—which is perfect for little ones just growing accustomed to holding and exploring new sensations.
Follow your imagination—and the instructions on the page—for an interactive book adventure. There’s no larger lesson, but Press Here is a great way to get little readers involved in holding books, listening to instructions, and learning to anticipate what comes next. Check out these great books to read as children (or as an adult).
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes
Is there anything more precious than your baby’s fingers and toes? In Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, Mem Fox celebrates those silly little appendages and the joy they bring baby when she explores and plays with them. The beautiful picture book is also easy to hold for those little hands and it’s sure to get much love as your bundle of joy—and those little fingers and toes—grow bigger and bigger.
The Snowy Day
The first snowfall—of your life or of the winter—is a magical day, no matter your age. Capture that delightful experience and relive every frosty detail in The Snowy Day. This simple tale relies heavily on the beautiful illustrations to share the awe and striking beauty of a snow-capped world.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
The little caterpillar wakes up with quite an appetite in this classic by Eric Carle. He eats everything his little squirmy body can find. The reader experiences a beautiful journey with captivating illustrations and an early lesson in counting as The Very Hungry Caterpillar prepares himself for a magical transformation.
Ages 2 to 4: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Everyone has bad days, but Alexander’s always seem worse. Alexander knew his day was off to a terrible start the moment he woke up and realized he had gum stuck in his hair. But it seems for Alexander, when it rains, it pours with more bad things. Rich illustrations turn Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day into an adventure for young children and pre-readers. Here are more tips for raising an emotionally intelligent child.
And Tango Makes Three
This is the story of two male chinstrap penguins (Roy and Silo) who live in New York’s Central Park Zoo. They’re given a very special honor when they’re selected to hatch a fertilized egg, a new member of their little family. A touching story of love and family, And Tango Makes Three also manages to teach a little science, too.
Are You My Mother?
When baby bird pops out of his protective shell, his mother—gasp!—is gone. Little does he know, she’s off to gather food so he has something to eat, but that doesn’t stop him from going on a search for her. In Are You My Mother?, baby bird meets all kinds of great mothers—a kitten, a dog, a hen, even a Snort—but none are the right one for him. He won’t stop until he finds the mother that’s meant for him. Every adult needs to read these 27 classic children’s book quotes.
Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business
In a contest of wits and wagers, the peddler must do his very best work to outsmart a pack of rascally monkeys who stole his caps. Caps for Sale is designed for early readers, filled with colors, patterns, and repetition.
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
When the bus driver takes a break, a daring pigeon takes his place behind the wheel. But should you let the pigeon drive the bus? The pigeon will plead and beg to get the opportunity, but you get to help decide his choice as you work through this humorous and high-spirited book. These 25 children’s books are entertaining for everyone.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
Race your way through the alphabet, learning as you go, with a delightful story of letters climbing a coconut tree. A great pick for early readers, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. has been a classic favorite since it was first released in 1989. Rounded corners and thick pages make it a delight for little hands, too.
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site
Every night, after they’ve done their work, the hardworking trucks and tractors at the construction site turn in to rest for another day of work. You’ll meet Dump Truck, Bulldozer, Cement Mixer, and more with detailed illustrations that the littlest truck lovers and tractor fans will appreciate.
Llama Llama Red Pajama
Baby Llama loves his Mama, and he gets sad when she goes away. Mama tucks Baby Llama in, and he knows he should sleep. Instead, he worries about Mama and starts to whine. When Mama doesn’t come back, he worries—and whines—even more. Introduce your young readers to rhyming in Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney with this infectious and reassuring story of Baby Llama and his Mama.
Make Way for Ducklings
Mrs. Mallard wanted to bring her flock of eight ducklings to live in Boston’s serene Public Gardens. The problem was, however, that she had to get them through the treacherous streets of one of America’s busiest cities. In Robert McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings, Mrs. Mallard manages to get Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, Quack, Jack, Kack, and Lack to their new home, but not without several adventures and close calls first.
Olivia knows what she likes—red sunglasses, tutus, and tiaras—and what she doesn’t—naps, primarily. She’s a determined, strong-willed piggy who is skilled at making the most out of every moment of the day, from the time her eyes flutter open until her mother tucks her in at night. Her adventures are daring and exhausting, but they’re certainly a ball of fun—if you can keep up.
The Day the Crayons Quit
Duncan, a prolific color, opens his box of crayons to find that they’ve all left—they’re on strike! Blue is so much more than the sky and the water, it wants you to know. Beige is not less important than brown, thank you very much. Yellow and orange aren’t on speaking terms—they’re fighting over who’s the real color of the sun. Clever and imaginative, The Day the Crayons Quit is an adorable read for kids and parents alike. Make sure to teach your children about differences with these kids books about race.
Dr. Seuss’s Beginner Book Collection by Dr. Seuss
Dr. Seuss is quite simply the most beloved children’s book authors of all time. This assemblage, Dr. Seuss’ Beginner Book Collection, features favorites like The Cat in the Hat and Oh, the Places You’ll Go! and the other the classics of the magical, whimsical world of Seuss.
The Little Engine That Could
A little engine is asked to perform the biggest job of its life—hauling a train of toys over a mountain and to children who are eagerly awaiting them on the other side. The Little Engine That Could highlights the power of determination and its catchphrase, “I think I can, I think I can,” shows that when you set your mind to it, you can do anything.
The Paper Bag Princess
Everything in Princess Elizabeth’s life is dandy, until a big dragon shows up, burns down her castle, and steals her Prince Ronald. Not one to faint and fade away, Elizabeth pops a paper bag on her head and sets off to rescue Donald in a hilarious tale of bravery and cunning smarts.
The Story of Ferdinand
While other bulls snort, butt heads, and dive at one another, Ferdinand would rather smell the flowers and experience the world from under his favorite cork tree. The Story of Ferdinand is proof you can be different, peaceful, and kind while making a big difference in the lives of people around you. These books all revel in the beauty in being different.
Ages 5 to 7: Amelia Bedelia
Giggles are proof positive no one can resist the charm of the lovable new maid, Amelia Bedelia. A delightful blend of humor and wit, the clever Amelia fumbles her way through the fiddly English language, wondering questions like “How can I sit UP when I’m sitting DOWN?”
The Complete Tales of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
Mischievous Peter Rabbit, along with his three sisters—Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-Tail—are always looking for ways into Mr. McGregor’s glorious vegetable garden. His poor mother, Mrs. Josephine Rabbit, tries desperately to protect her furry faction from the farmer’s fury. Close calls and scary situations are plentiful as Peter and his crew run from cats, switches, badgers, and more.
Bread and Jam for Frances
Can you ever have too much of a good thing? Frances is going to find out in Bread and Jam for Frances. All she wants for every meal is bread and jam. Her parents, seeing a moment for a great lesson, let her have it. At breakfast, lunch, dinner, even snack time, Frances is having bread and jam. Will Frances ever get too much bread and jam? You’ll have to read to find out.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
The town of Chewandswallow was a lot like any other town—except for one very important part, the weather. Instead of drops of water, soup and juice fell from the sky. Storms of cheeseburgers and hot dogs blew through, and mashed potatoes piled up where snow should be. In Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, the townspeople love their delicious life until things start going terribly—dangerously—wrong.
The House at Pooh Corner
Everyone is home in the Hundred Acre Wood with A.A. Milne’s most beloved characters, Winne the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Owl, Kanga, Roo, Eeyore, and of course, Christopher Robin. Their adventures are a delight, and their affection for one another is contagious. The House at Pooh Corner and all of Pooh’s adventures are classic, timeless, and unforgettable. Take a peek at more classic options with these best children’s books ever written.
Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile
In the retelling of this popular African folktale by Won-Ldy Paye, the vain Mrs. Chicken tries to convince the crocodile they are sisters in an attempt to avoid becoming the large-toothed reptile’s dinner.
“In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines…” One of those little girls, Madeline, is the bravest and most outgoing out of the bunch, but that doesn’t always work in her favor. Miss Clavel, the school’s headmistress, tries to curb Madeline’s antics but leaves plenty of room for Madeline’s big personality and curious mind to blossom.
Miss Nelson Is Missing
The kids in Room 207 misbehave quite a lot. In fact, they almost never listen to Miss Nelson, their kind, good-natured teacher. One day, Miss Nelson is missing. In her place comes the vile and cantankerous Miss Viola Swamp. Soon, the kids realize their wicked ways may have run off Miss Nelson, and they surely miss their caring teacher. What can they possibly do to get Miss Nelson back?
Mr. Popper’s Penguins
Life at 432 Proudfoot Avenue is pleasant, if not boring, so Mr. Popper starts to dream about seeing the world. After he writes a fan letter to Admiral Drake at the South Pole he receives a surprise package and hysterical hijinks ensue.
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble
How lucky is Sylvester! On his way home, he stumbles across a magic pebble, but just then, a lion jumps out at him. Sylvester is shocked into making a wish, but it’s not the kind you make with a genie—no piles of money or endless supply of candy here. Instead, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble is a story of consequences and overcoming obstacles so you can get what you really want—your family. These 10 children’s books can get you through some of life’s toughest moments.
The Complete Adventures of Curious George
No kid’s library is complete without a few tales of the well-meaning, trouble-causing little monkey, George. From riding a bike to flying a kite, The Complete Adventures of Curious George are a riveting read for young book lovers who are as prying and inquisitive as little George himself. George does all the things, good and bad, so many of us are curious about, but he also pays the price—broken bones and an arrest by the police make an appearance. It’s fun to live the adventure; it’s helpful to realize the consequences.
Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon
Little Molly Lou Melon has buck teeth and a voice like a bullfrog and a wise grandmother who encourages her to stand tall and celebrate her faults. After Molly Lou Melon moves to a new town and goes to a new school she realizes the full wisdom of her granny’s words. Find out 12 more books that encourage kids to be nice.
Where the Wild Things Are
In this brilliant and mesmerizing story, Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak, you get to live some of the biggest dreams of childhood—magical creatures in a far-off land who just want to have a good time with some splendid monsters who aren’t very scary at all. Psst…It’s still just as wonderful as when you were a kid.
She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World
Both boys and girls should read this book to brush up on their her-story, that doesn’t always make it into classic history books. Former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton penned this children’s book which features the true-life stories of Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Sonia Sotomayor, and more.
Ages 8 to 10: The Classic Treasury of Aesop’s Fables
From The City Mouse and the Country Mouse and The Tortoise and the Hare, Aesop’s Fables are the stories of every childhood. This book is filled with 20 classic fables, each told with colorful animal characters, like a two-timing fox and a sly wolf. They delight and entertain with their wildly adventurous stories, but each story is imbued with simple truths and lessons that children and adults alike can learn from.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass
Stumble down the rabbit hole and follow Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as she encounters unforgettable characters including the Cheshire Cat, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, and, of course, the Queen of Hearts. Perhaps Alice is living in a dream—a petite piece of cake make that read “Eat Me” make the young girl grow exponentially. Or perhaps it’s a fairytale about the trials of growing up. Either way, it’s a delightfully adventurous ride.
Anne of Green Gables
In the Anne of Green Gables eight-book series, Anne is summoned to Prince Edward Island in Canada to live with her foster parents, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, who expected a boy but come to adore Anne for her wit, personality, and quirky imagination. A feminine yet independent thinker, Anne is a great role model for generations of young, strong girls.
Throughout his life, the horse, Black Beauty, has many owners; some were wonderful; some caused great damage. This story is meant to instruct how we should treat the animals we care for, as well as the humans around us. These 10 books influenced the lives of very famous people.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
If you can’t handle a whirling ride down a chocolate river, or if turning into a giant human blueberry is far too great a fear for you, avoid Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl at all costs. But if the tale of five grand-prize winners who have a brilliant chocolate factory all to themselves is exactly the adventure you crave, dive in. This classic tale is delicious, adventurous, and oh-so-fun.
You’re never too old—or too young—to learn about love and devotion through the story of Charlotte’s Web. When Wilbur, a runt of a pig, is set to be auctioned off, he’s saved by a little girl named Fern and her father, who ships little Wilbur to live in Zuckerman’s barn. There, Wilbur makes a friend for a lifetime, a barn spider named Charlotte, who makes saving Wilbur from an untimely end her life’s work.
Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective
Idaville has a star detective, Encyclopedia Brown. He’s known to solve neighborhood mysteries, unearth baffling clues, and solve the trickiest of crimes. But there’s one catch—Encyclopedia Brown, or Leroy Brown as his parents know him, is only ten years old. For every budding detective, the adventures of Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective are a wonderful way to explore, think, and investigate.
Esperanza had a beautiful life with an amazing family in Mexico. Then tragedy strikes, and Esperanza and her family are uprooted from their native Mexico and forced into a farm labor camp in California. Nothing is the same, and everything seems to be a struggle. But beautifully brave Esperanza finds a way to rise above to save herself and her family.
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Life on America’s frontier seems exciting to Laura Ingalls. Her family is packing up from Wisconsin, traveling by covered wagon, and moving to wide open Kansas. Soon, however, the adventure meets reality when the family has to work to make a living, build a house by hand, and gather their own food Just when it seems like things are humming along, life in the Little House on the Prairie is threatened by more change.
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
Fifteen-year-old Sam Gribley is miserable. In his tiny New York City apartment, Sam feels cramped, crowded out by his family. He runs away and leaves the city for his family’s farm in the Catskill Mountains. Armed with an arbitrary assortment of tools—a ball of cord, an ax, $40, a penknife, and some flint and steel—Sam finds a way to survive and thrive among nature, animals, and the trials of living alone in My Side of the Mountain. That is, until a blizzard comes and threatens everything he’s built.
When Pippi Longstocking moves next door to siblings Tommy and Annika, they soon realize she is like no neighbor they’ve ever had before. She has crazy red hair, tamed by pigtails, no parents to make her mind, and her horse lives on her porch. It’s almost too much for the mind to bear, but Pippi’s adventures are full of lessons, like how to stand up for people who can’t stand up for themselves.
The Bad Beginning: Or, Orphans!
Turn back if you’re easily frightened. Look away if villains haunt your dreams. Move forward if you think you can stomach a tale of threats and plagues, uncomfortable clothing and warts. The Bad Beginning: Or, Orphans! is the first book in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events with dreadful Count Olaf and his three orphaned nieces and nephew, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny. Olaf wants to finish off the siblings so he can inherit their fortune, but he manages to make a big mess. Thankfully, we get to watch the mess unfold and laugh at the shenanigans.
The Borrowers—Homily, Pod, and their 14-year-old daughter Arrietty—are just like your family except for one small detail: they’re tiny. They live a happy life beneath the floor of an old English country manor. One day, Pod is spotted upstairs by the humans who live above them. Now that their secret is out, can the Borrowers stay?
The Boxcar Children
The Alden children, ages 6 to 14, are orphans. Now they’ve been told they must go stay with their grandfather. However, the Aldens believe their grandfather, whom they’ve never met, is cruel, so they run…and make their home in a boxcar. Circumstances beyond their control put them face to face with their grandfather, who is actually a wonderfully kind man. The first book in The Boxcar Children series introduces you to each Alden child; the other books in this engaging collection feature the kids solving mysteries together.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Hugo holds a lot of secrets in his small, private world inside a Paris train station. A clock keeper, thief, and an orphan, Hugo has gone undiscovered for many years, but that’s all jeopardized when a peculiar young girl and an angry old man find out about Hugo’s life and most prized possessions. In The Invention of Hugo Cabret, unlock a mystery and discover many secrets as Hugo discovers his own story.
The Jungle Book
Step into the magical world of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book with a series of lush, picturesque stories that are rich with meaning and allegory. Set in the British colonial period of India, this book captures the opulent atmosphere of a jungle adventure through the story of Mowgli, an abandoned boy raised by wolves. He encounters problems—like the predator panther—that challenge him as he grows up, and a clever reader catches the parallel meanings for boys and girls who don’t grow up in the wild.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Siblings Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie find a hidden door at the back of a wardrobe in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe that leads them to Narnia. The magical world is frozen in an eternal winter by the evil White Witch. Just as the people of Narnia have given up hope, the siblings, along with Aslan, the Great Lion, bring hope and renewed life—but there is a big sacrifice to pay.
The Little Prince
The story begins as the narrator crashes his plane into the Sahara Desert, where he meets the most peculiar little boy. Over a few days, the two reveal the Little Prince’s story—he lives on an asteroid with a very demanding little rose—and they reveal a lot about the lost art of imagination and creativity, things the Little Prince believes adults just don’t understand.
The Mouse and the Motorcycle
Ralph, a little mouse living in the Mountain View Inn, spots a red toy motorcycle and he wants—no needs—to ride it. When Keith, the little boy to whom the motorcycle belongs, leaves the two-wheeled toy unattended, Ralph makes his move. Ralph soon finds that the freedom the bike gives him also brings him a lot of responsibility—he has to run from an unruly terrier and hide his hot new ride from his curious cousins. The adventure is fun, but are the risks work it?
The Phantom Tollbooth
One day when he was feeling glum, Milo comes home to find a mysterious tollbooth in his apartment. He decides to take the risk and drive through The Phantom Tollbooth and into the Lands Beyond the Tock, where he takes on an adventure with a strange little creature called Humbug. They capture princesses Rhyme and Reason and meet a bevy of creative characters who inspire Milo to love learning again.
The Secret Garden
When her parents pass away, Mary Lennox is sent to live with her reclusive uncle Archibald Craven; he largely ignores the spoiled Mary and leaves her to her own devices each day. No one wants anything to do with the monstrous Mary or her sickly cousin, Colin, who hides away in the large estate. One day, Mary stumbles upon a mysterious garden. With the help of a young boy, Mary begins working on bringing new life back to The Secret Garden, which in turn brings new life to her.
The Secret of the Old Clock (Nancy Drew, Book 1)
The Secret of the Old Clock is the original Nancy Drew mystery that launched a never-ending curiosity for mystery and adventure for many girls and young women. Nancy’s adventures are a page-turning way to introduce your kids to chapter books with a strong, resilient female lead. Don’t miss these books with the strongest female leads of all time—Nancy makes the list.
The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread
Despereaux Tilling isn’t your typical mouse. He loves music, stories, and Princess Pea. Despereaux’s life is intertwined with several other delightful characters in The Tale of Despereaux, namely Roscuro the Rat and Miggery Sow, a sweet serving girl who’s experienced some hardships. The trio of unlikely heroes must muster courage, discover forgiveness, and exude kindness to face their biggest challenge yet.
The Wind in the Willows
The stories of Mole, Badger, Mr. Toad, and Ratty have delighted readers and endeared fans for decades in this classic and timeless tale. Each little animal has its own personality and charms, which equals a story of captivating humor and timeless themes of friendship.
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
For many years, Minli has heard her father’s stories about the Jade Dragon and the Old Man on the Moon; according to her father, they have the answers to life’s biggest questions. In Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, Minli decides to leave home in search of these mythical creatures and ask for help for her family. Along the way, she encounters magical mythical creatures that make the story as exciting as the journey itself.
Where the Red Fern Grows
Deep in the Ozarks during the Great Depression, Billy and his family are dirt-poor. They have very little to their name, and they certainly don’t have enough money to buy the redbone coonhounds Billy so desperately wants. Billy saves up his money for two years, and when he’s saved enough, he walks 60 miles to buy his pups and bring them back. He trains them and turns them into magnificent hunting dogs and—more importantly—his best friends.
August Pullman doesn’t look like anyone else, and up until now, his unique appearance has kept him out of school. Now, August is desperate to feel like an ordinary kid—but of course, he’s anything about ordinary. In Wonder, the reader explores the many sides of a unique child, including his parents, friends, and classmates. The multitude of perspectives helps you understand their reactions—and your own—especially when it comes to accepting things that aren’t familiar to you. Here are children’s books about bullying you should add to your collection.
Ages 11 to 13: A Wrinkle in Time
Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time is a fantastical and fanciful journey of discovery and adventure. Follow along as Meg Murry joins forces with some unlikely time travelers to discover the secrets behind her father, a scientist who studied the mysterious wrinkles in time called tesseracts, and his disappearance.
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
The adolescent years are naturally tough. Protagonist Margaret perfectly captures the whirlwind of emotions, questions, concerns, and changes that are normal in the wonderfully whirled up minds of 11- and 12-year-old girls. It’s reassurance you’re not alone and it’s a guide to discovery that all young women could use. These are 10 great children’s books every adult should read again.
The Betsy-Tacy series if a semi-autobiographical story of Maud Hart Lovelace, who grew up at the turn of the 20th century in rural Minnesota. The first book starts when Betsy Ray is turning five years old and meets her new best friend, Tacy; the last book ends at Betsy’s wedding, just as the United States is preparing to enter World War I. Filled with friendships, family, and the questions of growing up, Betsy-Tacy is the perfect series for young women curious about the world both around and before them.
Bridge to Terabithia
Jess Aarons has one goal: be the fastest runner in fifth grade—and he is until Leslie Burke moves into his school. The two make fast friends, even creating an imaginary land, Terabithia, in the words between their homes. Tragedy comes one morning when Leslie crosses the Bridge to Terabithia by herself. Jess must turn to his family and friends to overcome heartbreak and grief.
After Coraline and her family moved into a new house, she discovers an odd little door. When she steps through it, she found a house strangely similar to her own, only instead of her family, she met an entirely different family. A scary, thrilling, and funny story, Coraline is a story of how the clever little girl must outwit the people through the door to return to the life she loves.
D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths
Introduce your young reader to the world of Greek mythology with D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths. The kings, queens, gods, and goddesses of an ancient time have many lessons to share in this beautifully illustrated book filled with mythical creatures, planets, constellations, and a big, beautiful world.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Middle school is tough. Greg Heffley finds it particularly so. Thankfully, he has his sidekick and best friend, Rowley, to help him navigate the hallways and the hang-ups of middle school years. That is until Rowley becomes more popular. Greg hatches a plan to latch onto his friend’s rising star, but that strategy it put to the test—which tries Greg’s friendship with Rowley, too.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
The day you can introduce your young reader to the world of wizardry, Hogwarts, Muggles, and magic is a momentous occasion, The first book in J.K. Rowling’s splendid series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, reveals the mysterious world as Harry Potter uncovers it for himself. The series—and the themes—grow older and more mature as the characters do, so it’s a great way to grow up and grow into a terrific, enchanted world.
Stanley Yelnats is cursed and, in fact, he’s in a long line of Yelnats men who’ve been cursed; it started with his great-great-grandfather. In Holes, Stanley finds himself in a boys’ detention center where he and the other boys spend every single day digging holes—five feet wide and five feet deep. After a few weeks of this practice, Stanley realizes this isn’t just punishment; it’s purposeful. The warden at Camp Green Lake is looking for something. But what?
Island of the Blue Dolphins
Karana is a Native American who’s lived her life alone—her father died early in her life, and her brother is killed by wild dogs. Despite this, Karana manages to overcome her fears, loneliness, and the terror of isolation to find the strength to carry on. Island of the Blue Dolphins is a story of resilience and perseverance.
In Little Women, you’re introduced to Meg, Beth, Jo, and Amy, sisters who live in New England during the Civil War. Their lives encircle one another, as they face illnesses, courtship, love, and loss. It’s a classic story that’s adored by generation after generation of readers.
A tragic accident changed everything about Jeffrey Lionel Magee’s life; in a flash, his parents were gone and he was an orphan. Jeffrey’s aunt and uncle took him into their home, but it wasn’t a home for him, so he decided to run. He ran so much he became famous for his speed and feats. He earned the nickname Maniac Magee, and, more importantly, he ran into a racially divided town and helped show kindness and generosity, things he’s not felt much in his own life.
If you don’t know how to get to Neverland, it’s the second star to the right and straight on ’til morning. And if you can’t fly, don’t worry; J.M. Barrie takes you along with Peter Pan, Tinkerbell, and the three Darling children as they fly away from the rooftops of London to the magical Neverland Island, where boys never grow up.
The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games starts with 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen illegally hunting for game to feed her family. Since her father was killed in District 12’s mining accident, Katniss is the protector and provider for her mother and sister Primrose. This day is no typical day, however. It’s the annual Reaping, the day when the districts must offer up two of their children who will fight to the death against other children as punishment for the rebellion against the Capitol. Young Primrose is chosen, but Katniss volunteers as tribute to replace her. Katniss goes forward in the fight of and for her life.
The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians)
In The Lightning Thief, Percy Jackson and the Olympians must fight their way through adventures with terrifying monsters straight out of Greek mythology who are out to kill the brave Percy. A refreshing character for many boys and girls, Percy has ADHD, dyslexia, and a tendency to find trouble. Still, he’s just come up against his biggest challenge, and if he’s not successful, the world will be in trouble.
Ponyboy is almost certain he has everything figured out. He knows who he can trust—his friends and his brothers—and whom he can’t—the Socs, a gang of rich kids who find pleasure in beating up on “greasers” like Ponyboy and his friends. Still, he knows how to balance all of these things. Then one day, someone takes the attacks too far and he questions everything he believes.
The Tower Treasure (The Hardy Boys No. 1)
The first book in the Hardy Boys series, The Tower Treasure, starts with the young brothers searching mansions and estates to find loot that a dying criminal promised is stored “in the tower.” The mystery grows from there while you join the brothers in a tale filled with twists and turns.
The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963
The Watson kids were a bit peculiar and a bit unruly. So their parents decide the best thing for Kenny, Joetta, and Byron is a summer with Grandma Sands in Birmingham, Alabama, far away from their home in Flint, Michigan. What they can’t know, however, is they’re walking into one of the country’s most pivotal moments in history, the Civil Rights era. A scary event at Grandma Sands’ church leaves the kids reeling and finding the courage to carry on.
The Wednesday Wars
The teenage years are hard, and that’s especially true for Holling Hoodhood, a seventh-grader in 1967. He’s fending off demands from his teacher (she makes him read Shakespeare when his classmates are in religion classes) and requirements from everyone around him (his dad says good behavior is necessary for his success). Naturally, Holling is just feeling a bit overwhelmed and put out in general. This powerful story of growing up, accepting responsibility, and appreciating your role in the world is a wonderful read for anyone feeling just a little bit over it.
The Westing Game
An eccentric millionaire, Samuel Westing, has died. Sixteen people have gathered to hear his will, which left everything the wealthy man had to a virtual stranger, who could possibly be a murderer. Should everyone be suspicious? Perhaps. Westing may be gone, but he’s still playing games.
The Wizard of Oz
Anyone who has seen the movie will love the book. Dorothy’s world is turned on end when a tornado whips through her Kansas farm and carries her and her little dog Toto to an odd and magical new land called Oz. Dorothy just wants to get home, and the only person who can help her, she’s told, is The Wizard of Oz. To meet him, she needs to follow the yellow brick road, but it twists and turns through spooky groves and scary fields. Dorothy encounters strange characters who come to help her tackle her biggest challenge yet—convincing the Wizard to help her.
Jim Hawkins has always wanted a grand adventure, and one just landed on his doorstep: An old pirate dies during a stay at Jim’s parents’ seaside inn, leaving behind a treasure map with the location of buried treasure. Could it be? Jim shows the map to a local squire, and they chart a path for discovery—just as the famous Long John Silver is headed to the same place. Set in the 18th century, Treasure Island is a swashbuckling adventure with mesmerizing details of treasure, scuffles, and exploits.
What if you could live forever? Winnie Foster has that option, her family, the Tucks, have a spring on their land that produces water with magical powers for immortality. Members of the family have chosen to drink from the spring, and they share their experiences of never growing old while watching the world happen around you. Now Winnie must decide what she wants—to live forever or to live a natural life.
A group of wild rabbits has lived a peaceful life in the English countryside, but their rural home is slowly destroyed as man begins to take up more and more space. In Watership Down, the rabbits flee and look for a new home, but the journey is treacherous and filled with predators who want to prevent the rabbits from finding their perfect, safe home. Here are some more of the best children’s books ever written.
Ages 14+: Every Day
A has no family. He has no home either. In fact, he doesn’t even have a body. Instead, every day, A wakes up in the body of another person. He must access the person’s memories and carry on throughout the day as if he is the person whose body he inhabits. This isn’t a happy existence until he meets Rhiannon. Then, he works to get back to her, by whatever means, and convince her to love him—a person that isn’t really a person at all.
Guy Montag’s job is to destroy the most dangerous thing in the world, the printed word. Guy’s life, including his floundering marriage, feels empty until he meets an unconventional young neighbor, Clarisse. She introduces Guy to a world where words and books are powerful. As you’ll see in Fahrenheit 451, this leads Guy to question everything—and run for his life.
Flowers for Algernon
Charlie Gordon is a simple man; he doesn’t have a high IQ, but he has a job and friends. Still, he desperately wants to be smarter, and finally, an experimental brain operation is available. It has only been tried on animals, but Charlie is willing to take the risk. Improvements steadily show up, which makes Charlie very happy, but in Flowers for Algernon, you’ll face a lot of the pain and heartbreak Charlie finds when he is finally able to understand the world better than ever before—and better than everyone around him.
Brian Roberson, a 13-year-old young man, is on his way to visit his father when the single-engine plane he’s in crashes. Brian is suddenly alone—and not very well prepared, save his Windbreaker and a hatchet his mother gave him before he left home. While Brian figures out how to survive, he fights the demons of anger, self-pity, and despair. In Hatchet, both trials—the external and internal—will take all Brian has to survive.
If I Stay
Seventeen-year-old Mia is in a coma after an accident that took the lives of her parents and put her younger brother on the brink of death. She has an out-of-body experience where she must face her past and the relationships in her life to make the ultimate decision: She can stay with her friends and grandparents, or she can move on with the rest of her family. If I Stay is a captivating, haunting story that sticks with you.
The Book Thief
In 1939 Germany, the Nazis are dominant and gaining more power. Death is everywhere. Meanwhile, nine-year-old Liesel Meminger scrapes out an existence on the one thing that keeps her fuel—books. Everything young Liesel needs to know about life, from overcoming fears to making the right decision, she can learn in her books. But eventually, in The Book Thief, the books don’t have the answers.
The Call of the Wild
Experience the wild Yukon, one of Canada’s most untamed territories, through the eyes of Buck, a dog stolen from his home in California. In The Call of the Wild, Jack London captures the story of a tenacious dog, the cruel humans who took him, and the unbreakable spirit of an animal’s love and loyalty for his companion.
Jonas’s lives in a perfect world: There is no pain, no suffering, no sickness, and no hurt and everything is controlled and chosen. You don’t pick paths; they’re chosen for you. When Jonas turns 12, he’s told what his future holds, and he must meet with The Giver, the person in Jonas’s world who controls and holds all the memories, feelings, pains, and pleasures. It’s with that assignment that Jonas realizes his entire world relies on dark secrets, and now, he can never not know it.
The Hate U Give
After leaving a party one night, private-school student Starr and her friend, Khalil, are pulled over by a policeman, who shoots and kills the unarmed Khalil. Starr, as the sole witness, is called to testify in front of the grand jury. The novel highlights many of the hot-button issues of today: the shooting and death of an unarmed black teenager, wealth disparity, police brutality, addiction, and the role of media in shaping the depiction of people. The story is told through Starr’s eyes, which helps younger readers get a better grasp on things that feel too big to handle by even the most seasoned adults. Critics call The Hate U Give a modern-day To Kill a Mockingbird.
Their Eyes Were Watching God
The world simplifies so many things into “good” and bad.” In Their Eyes Were Watching God, author Zora Neale Hurston turns those rifts into humans, applying stories to characteristics long associated with a person’s virtue or vice. The book’s heroine, Janie Crawford, a fair-skinned African American who is fiercely independent and driven, won’t let life’s sorrows, bitterness, and pain turn her into something she isn’t. She continues to love and love again, despite the world’s heaps of hurts. It’s touching—and tough—to live with Janie through this novel, but her story will change so much of how you process the world. Don’t miss these 10 tips from parents of successful kids.
To Kill a Mockingbird
Jem and Scout Finch know the people around them, and they enjoy a simple life in their small rural Alabama town—until a black man is accused of raping a white woman, and everything they know is turned around. Their father, Atticus, is a lawyer who chooses to defend the accused man. He knows what he’s up against—prejudice and pure hate—but he chooses to fight anyway. His children question the world around them as they watch their father fight for something that seems so black and white in the simple eyes of a child. Read on for tips on how to raise a reader.