Recommended: 5 Star Children's Books
My father took all six kids to the library every two weeks, and each of us emerged with a tall stack of books. My mother-in-law is a librarian who has a reading room named after her. So of course the library has been a big part of my children's lives.
But when my first child was a toddler, I found our weekly library trips a trying experience. His mission was to have me read as many books as he could sit through, after which, re-energized, he would race around creating havoc. Finding the time to sift through the books on the shelf so I could find some to take home was always a challenge.
By my second child, I finally stumbled on the strategy of going to the library prepared with a list of the authors we liked. Then I simply had to skim the B's, for instance, and grab everything I could find by Barklem, Barrett, Barton, Bemelmans, Brown, or Burton. I undoubtedly missed a lot of good books, and I still took every opportunity to browse unfamiliar authors, but at least I knew we'd have something satisfying to read that week.
The question, of course, is where do you get the list? Browsing the Chinaberry web site, or friends' bookshelves, are good sources. And here are some lists, broken down by age, to get you started. My deepest apologies to all the wonderful authors whose books I've overlooked here. If there's a book you'd highly recommend, I'd be grateful if you'd drop me a note with the author and title.
PLEASE NOTE: There are three other children's book lists on this website with fantastic books that belong on every child's bookshelf; don't forget to check them out as well:
There are huge numbers of wonderful picture books, too many to list, but here is a small sampling of time tested authors so you can locate them easily.
Stan & Jan Berenstain
Margaret Wise Brown
Virginia Lee Burton
Ezra Jack Keats
Beginning readers love series books with recognizable characters.
Simple Chapter Series:
Marc Brown’s Arthur series.
EIse Holmelund Amark’s Little Bear series.
Lillian Hoban’s Arthur series
Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad series.
Peggy Parish’s Amelia Bedelia series.
Jean Van Leeuwen’s Amanda Pig series.
The simplest way to get your middle reader to take on a new book is to begin reading it to her. When you have to get up to answer the phone or start dinner, she'll almost certainly keep reading.
anything by Clyde Robert Bulla
Ruth Stiles Gannett -My Father's Dragon series
Carolyn Haywood - The Betsy series
Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Treehouse series.
Marjorie Weinman Sharmat’s Nate the Great series.
Jane Yolen’s Commander Toad series.
Harder chapter books and series for the advancing reader (and always good family read-alouds):
Richard and Florence Atwater (Mr. Popper's Penguins)
Natalie Babbit (Goody Hall, The Search for Delicious, etc.)
Judy Blume (Fudge series)
Lucy Boston (Green Knowe series)
Walter Brooks (Freddy the Pig series)
Frances Hodgson Burnett (Little Princess, Secret Garden)
Beverly Cleary (Ramona and Henry Huggins series)
Roald Dahl (the Witches is wonderful but scary for younger kids.)
Meindert Dejong (Wheel on the School)
Edward Eager - anything!
Walter Farley (The Black Stallion series)
Brian Jacques (Redwall series)
Gail Carson Levine (Ella Enchanted, Dave at Night)
C.S. Lewis (Narnia series)
Astrid Lingren (Pippi Longstocking)
Betty McDonald (Mrs Piggle Wiggle series)
J.K. Rowling (My own view of the Harry Potter books is that they are fantastic but not appropriate for kids younger than about eight. I know many will disagree.)
Mary Norton (The Borrowers series)
George Selden (Cricket in Times Square and all the sequels.)
Dick King Smith (especially for animal lovers)
Sidney Taylor (All of a Kind Family series)
E.B. White (Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, although both have challenging endings for many kids.)
Laura Ingalls Wilder (Little House series)
ADVANCED READERS AND FAMILY READ-ALOUD
Susan Cooper (The Dark is Rising)
Tamora Pierce (great heroines for girls)
Robert Louis Stevenson
J.R.R. Tolkien (The Hobbit)
John R.Tunis (Baseball!)