Running, jumping, wrestling, riding bikes, playing video games, baking cookies, dancing, drawing with sidewalk chalk… what else are your kids up to these days while they try to entertain themselves and you attempt to have some peace and quiet for a little while? How about reading?
Reading opens up a whole new world for a child. To quote Kathleen Kelly from the movie You’ve Got Mail, “When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does.” You can travel to foreign lands, go back in time to historical events, and take on a new persona as the main character all while remaining in the comfort and safety of your own home (or yard).
Enjoying reading doesn’t always come naturally. But that doesn’t mean one cannot learn to love reading. My love of reading existed from about second grade–about the time I became good at reading chapter books on my own. And, of course, the child who is read to becomes more interested in reading (especially, parents, when you do the voices!)
I thought it would be fun to ask a large group of people what their favorite books were growing up. I put the question out on Facebook and got a wonderful response! The following list is compiled from those recommendations, plus my own experience. I have read many, but not all, of these books. I left off most of the authors’ names to keep this shorter; but added a couple of links to purchase (though I recommend that whenever possible, you support your local independent bookstore!) Please message me if you search for and cannot find a particular book.
I always look for books with good color illustrations at this age, because their vocabularies may be limited, and pictures will help with understanding language:
Series: Bread and Jam for Francis, other Francis books; All those cute Little Golden Books!, Curious George, Clifford
Poetry: A Child’s Garden of Verses (book of poetry by Robert Louis Stevenson) A quick note– don’t forget poetry! It’s so important and influential at these young ages especially.
Stand-alones: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (and similar), Winnie the Pooh (AA Milne version) and The House at Pooh Corner, Beatrix Potter books… Peter Rabbit, Jemimah Puddleduck, etc., Dr. Seuss books, Stellaluna, Goodnight Moon
Series: Madeleine, Raggedy Ann and Andy, Ramona Quimby/Henry Huggins books, Frog and Toad, The Boxcar Children, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Betsy-Tacy (the first couple of books in the series), Amelia-Bedilia, Little Bear, Eloise
Stand-alones: Little Bear, Corgiville Fair (you MUST get the hardcover with color illustrations for this one!), Charlotte’s Web, The Snowy Day
Mysteries: Encyclopedia Brown, Elizabeth Gail, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and Trixie Belden series
Historical fiction: Little House Series, Caddie Woodlawn
Allegory: Narnia series
Other series: The Shoe Books, Mary Poppins books, Redwall, All-of-a-Kind Family; Betsy, Tacy and Tib, The Penderwicks, Grandma’s Attic, Millie, The Moffats
Stand-alones: Charlotte’s Web, Because of Winn Dixie, From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, The Saturdays (and sequels), The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, Homer Price and its sequel, Centerburg Tales, The Jungle Book, Hitty: Her First Hundred Years
Books about horses: Misty, Black Beauty, The Black Stallion
Series: Lord of the Rings, Anne of Green Gables, Harry Potter, Series of Unfortunate Events, Ranger’s Apprentice
Historical Fiction: The Black Arrow, Little Women, The Witch of Blackbird Pond
A Category all its Own: The Hobbit
All of these are historical fiction, not always in the strongest sense of the word, but all give a glance into a different time of life:
Cheaper by the Dozen, Belles on Their Toes, Mama’s Bank Account, The Swiss Family Robinson, The Scarlett Pimpernel, Emma, Pride and Prejudice, and the rest of the Jane Austen books, The Hiding Place, Sherlock Holmes
This list is limited and by no means exhaustive. I know that as soon as I hit “Publish,” more books titles are going to enter my mind and I’m going to regret not listing them here! That’s why I need your comments… what books did you enjoy as a child or teenager that are not listed here? Let me know. And the next time you (or your children) are bored, how about reading?