List Of Great Books That All Children Should Read

International Children’s Book Day

SPEND TWENTY MINUTES A DAY READING TO YOUR CHILD

International Children’s Book Day is always celebrated on April 2nd. Why April 2nd? Because that is Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday! And what better day to choose for celebrating children’s books than the birthday of the beloved collector of fairy tales, which so many of us read as children?

There are more days set aside for reading and books, including Library Week and numerous Book weeks, but this celebration is just for children’s books.

What a wonderful way to revisit old favorites and discover new books for children:

A day to inspire a love of reading.
Discover
  • What makes a book a classic
  • Why parents should read to their kids
  • Lists of great books according to age groups
  • Short reviews of recommended books for children, with convenient affiliate Amazon links.

Classic Children’s Books

Don’t miss these beloved books

Before I had my own children there were many books that I loved as a child: Dr. Seuss Stories,The Secret Garden, Oliver Twist, Nancy Drew Mysteries. But after having children I found myself reading many I had somehow missed.

When looking for quality books for my children I discovered Good Night Moon, Ping, Lyle the Crocodile, Amelia Bedelia, Anne of Green Gables, The Laura Wilder stories, The Boxcar Children, The Girl of Limberlost, and so many more classics. I hope as you journey through this page you will find your own favorites to share with your children.

What Makes A Classic?

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Meg, Jo, Beth and… Poster at Allposters.com

Why a book should be on a must-read list for children? What makes it a classic? This involves a certain recipe of factors, not unlike those for “big people”, the same basic ingredients are baked into memorable children’s books.

  1. Great characters. Just like any great book, it starts with characters that reflect the inner life that humans experience in some way, a complete picture of personality with hopes, dreams, fears, and quirks. We ought to be able to identify them, even if not identifying with them.
  2. There should be action, plot, and purpose. Even if the purpose is just a time to enjoy silliness, a great book has momentum that holds our interest.
  3. Pictures. For some children’s books the secret ingredient is the illustration.
  4. Ability to capture the imagination and affections. The best books capture our imagination and make us love the characters and the stories. Inspiration to dream and do, to believe we understand better than before we were immerse in the pages.
  5. Longevity. Something that lasts from generation to generation. Some messages, characters or events carry through many generations. They touch our humanity. Classic literature does this very well.

Great Children’s Books Should Be Accessible

You can go to the library, and you should, but nothing replaces the home bookshelf of well loved favorites. They are ready for reading anytime 🙂

A reading nook, a shelf of beloved books, encourages parents to read to their children. It places reading in a place of importance, and makes the books themselves accessible to kids.

Why Read With Your Children

Experts Give Their Advice On The Subject

According to experts, if you read to your children regularly it will help develop their own love of reading, help them master language skills and learn to think logically. They will experience reading as something fun! It will also foster their relationship with you and encourages communication skills.

Reading together builds an academic foundation with basic speech skills and basic knowledge in how to read a book. Children are likely to do better in school, later on.

The Children’s Reading Foundation recommends 20 minutes a day

Reading to children fosters the habit of reading, it will encourage a lifelong love of reading books and helps to build a superior vocabulary. It can take only minutes a day, but what important minutes those can prove to be. Reading Is Fundamental website

link:10 reasons from the Early Moments website

My ‘Great Book’ Choices

FOR OLDER CHILDREN

  • Oliver Twist
  • Little Women
  • The Phantom Tollbooth
  • The Hobbit
  • The Last Of The Mohicans
  • Treasure Island
  • At The Back Of The North Wind

FOR YOUNGER CHILDREN

  • If You Give A Mouse A Cookie
  • Runaway Bunny
  • Beatrix Potter Books (The Tale of Peter Rabbit)
  • Corduroy
  • Cat In The Hat

This is my short list of books for Child Book Day.

The Silver Skates
Hans Brinker

 

 

Not on many lists today, but it is ideal reading for celebration of an International Children’s Book day. Filled with Dutch cultural information and a heartwarming story. ‘The Silver Skates’ is one of those great books that has fallen from the reading lists of many. That should not be. It is a story that has important lessons, as many of the old classics do, creates a time and place which weaves understanding into the fabric of today’s world. Many of the earlier works of children’s literature attempted to give children a window into other cultures, along with universal character traits that make up the best of our humanity.

That is why they still make worthwhile reading today.

A Good Book

Makes the Best Gift

 

Are you familiar with some of the old favorites like “Wind In The Willows”? An English tale set on the banks of a river in England, all the characters derive from animals one might find along the Thames.

With much of the charm found in “Winnie The Pooh” or the Beatrix Potter stories, but for a child a few years older, this is one of the books I discovered in the quest of building my own children’s exploration of good literature.

Wind In The Willows is perhaps better known to the children of England, but it is a classic tale of camaraderie and quirky personalities that children on this side of the pond have come to love.

The Wind In the Willows
The Wind In the Willows

Delightful, wonderful characters who lead a long line of adventures on the river. You will love the wild, oddly lovable, Mr. Toad …and Rat, Mole, Badger… the entire gang.

GO AHEAD AND BUY A SET

You can’t go wrong to start your home library with series sets of books for your children. When an author, and their illustrators, get the formula right expect clamor for continuing the series.

This extends the pleasure of reading about favorite characters, or delving into new adventures. So look for a series of books by an author and work your way through them, savoring the details. This makes these books ideal for birthday and Christmas giving, stretching the discovery of fine writing year after year.

Look For These Authors, And Their Collections

FOR TOTS:

Five beloved Beginner Books by Dr. Seuss includes ‘The Cat in the Hat’, ‘One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish’, ‘Green Eggs and Ham’. Children love these rhyming texts, silly stories, and humorous drawings.

There is a reason Dr. Seuss has been beloved for generations of young readers and listeners. Made for reading aloud and for beginning readers.


Peter Rabbit, Et Al

Beatrix Potter animal characters and the engaging stories are illustrated with beautiful and memorable watercolor pictures. Just recently a son of mine mentioned how he had remembered some of the plots and scenes well into adulthood.
I, personally, have always considered these books to be top notch reading entertainment for children.

Beatrix Potter Story Characters

 

Books for Very Young Children – Beautiful pictures and edifying text.

The Runaway Bunny
The Runaway Bunny

 

 

Books that appeal to the very young have lots of illustration, but they are also books that comfort or entertain them.

Runaway Bunny and Goodnight Moon are both books with beautiful illustrations which follow the way a child thinks to provide a comforting end to the day. They make great night time reading.

‘If You Give A Mouse A Cookie’ is so well loved it has spawned an entire set of similar books, but the original is always my favorite. As a parent, and now a grandparent I never tire of reading it. Droll illustrations and the cutest story line of slippery slope events makes this a book you and your children will have fun reading together.

 

 

More Than Fifty Years Old, But Still Modern

Cat In The Hat and Corduroy are two books that have stood the test of time. I remember them in my own library as a child and reread them often to my children when they were small. That makes them classic, doesn’t it? I’d say so, when joined by millions of readers spanning several generations who also love these books!

Goodnight Moon Big Book
Goodnight Moon Big Book

 

 

Harry the Dog

A Harry the Dirty Dog Treasury: Three StoriesA Harry the Dirty Dog Treasury: Three Stories

This collection of fine books were some our family enjoyed over and over again. Winnie the Pooh is loved for the tender and humorous stories and characters, and I prefer the original drawings over the Disney renditions. I own the hardback collection of stories and carefully brought it out for reading together, while another copy of stories was for the rough and tumble handling of everyday.

Harry the Dirty Dog is a darling book that isn’t so well known nowadays, but well worth the purchase. You and your children will love Harry.

Ten Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed (Classic Books With Holes) is an interactive book, and I find that young children are delighted with this type of reading entertainment.

Clifford doesn’t need to be introduced, does he? A super popular series of many books starring the huge red dog.

The Very Best “I Can Read” Books

You will adore Frog and Toad

Wittily written, Frog and Toad have engaging illustrations and delightful little stories.
Frog and Toad Book Set: Frog and Toad Are Friends; Frog and Toad Together; Days with Frog and Toad; Frog and Toad All Year
Frog and Toad Book Set: Frog and Toad Are Friends; Frog and Toad Together; Days with Frog and Toad; Frog and Toad All Year

Arnold Lobel is one of those authors who “gets it” that children deal with real emotions and understands how important friendship is. Frog and Toad are two of his most delightful characters, who draw you into their circle while they tackle situations together, from fears and scary things to a day of being down in the dumps.

 

Elementary Age Readers Will Love These Mysteries

The Boxcar Children Bookshelf (The Boxcar Children Mysteries, Books 1-12)

Book 1-12 in a cute case makes a wonderful birthday or Christmas gift for a young reader.

Boxcar Children

How cute! A boxcar bookcase with twelve of the Boxcar Children mysteries. Room for 32 such books, The Boxcar Children have adventures that early readers are eager to follow through a series of mysteries. There are educational materials created for these books=great for Homeschoolers.

Get Your Boys To Read Books: Encyclopedia Brown to the Rescue!

Girls and boys love these books! Because there is an age when they can’t get enough of these mystery style stories, this is a great choice for ages 8-10. Books that center on ideals of equality and justice, with a dash of ingenuity and fun.
Encyclopedia Brown Box Set (4 Books)
Encyclopedia Brown Box Set (4 Books)

A set of four mysteries.

Boys will find themselves identifying with the main character and seem to especially enjoy the Encyclopedia Brown Mystery books. These are early reading books, so you may read to them or find they pick them up on their own.

For Pre-teen Girls

The Complete Anne of Green Gables Boxed Set (Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, Anne of Windy Poplars, Anne's House of Dreams, Anne of Ingleside, Rainbow Valley, Rilla of Ingleside)
The Complete Anne of Green Gables Boxed Set (Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, Anne of Windy Poplars, Anne’s House of Dreams, Anne of Ingleside, Rainbow Valley, Rilla of Ingleside)

My girls and I loved these enchanting stories full of imagination and life! Anne is spirited and always getting into scrapes, but she manages to win her way into the hearts of those around her…including us.

The characters, particularly of Anne, make for a cult following. Fans take treks to her house in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island to see the real farm and home that inspired the beloved stories. That is the power of good writing!

This book centers around the life of Prince Edward Island in Canada, and manages to take readers back in time while still holding onto the struggles and joys that real teens still encounter. No wonder generations of girls have come to love Anne.

Complete boxed set of L.M. Montgomery’s books- don’t miss this! Young girls are entranced by such stories as ‘Rainbow Valley’, and all of the Anne of Green Gables stories.

Two More Collections Loved By Fans

Movies, TV shows, and lots of related showcases for the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder and C. S. Lewis tells the story of how attached the readers become to these examples of excellent children’s literature.

The characters and plots draw the reader into history, fantasy, and clashes of good and evil. All the makings of what makes a book draw readers for generations.

The Secret Garden

There is something transcendent about the lives of the two unhappy children who find friendship, inner confidence, and the beauty of life in the romantic surroundings of a big Victorian mansion and its secret garden that still speaks to children today. I think that transcendent feature lies within the healing power of nature … no matter what our age or circumstance.

Yes, there are movies, and inexpensive cut-down versions of the book, but this is a book that is best in its original form, with real pages to turn and with enough time given to allow the words to create the spark in the imagination that all great books seem able to do.

Every bookshelf should hold this story of how a long neglected garden opens up the lives of three children with different challenges and stations in life, bringing a love of nature to them and by way of their experience, to us.

An evocative book you will enjoy reading and discussing with your child, which will build a love for gardens and a new appreciation of the wonder of plants. Many gardeners cite this book as being instrumental in their childhood fascination with gardening.

Danish author Hans Christian Andersen understood the fun and fascination of the fairy tales told to children. He is famous for his collection of folk tales that we have been familiar with, as children, for generations.

Another beloved book by this author is ‘The Little Princess’. Young girls enjoy the tale of trials and triumph of Sara Crewe. A Cinderella story set in Victorian times, Frances Hodgson Burnett writes with delightful grasp of what makes a story grab our heartstrings.

The Little House Books For All Ages

The Little House Books (2 Volume Set)
The Little House Books (2 Volume Set)

Laura Ingalls Wilder

We wore through our set of Little House books. A wonderful way to develop a fascination with American history and a love of reading. Laura Ingalls Wilder created books filled with warmth and feeling.

C.S. Lewis

The complete Chronicles of Narnia in one finely illustrated, hardcover book. Every child should have the chance to enter Narnia and make friends with all the wonderful characters of these C. S. Lewis books.

International Children’s Book Day

For The Home Library – Beloved Books

At the Back of the North Wind (Everyman's Library Children's Classics)
At the Back of the North Wind (Everyman’s Library Children’s Classics) A fantasy which, like the Narnia books, has spiritual messages and looks at the conflict of good and evil.

 

The Railway Children
The Railway Children

The triumph of family love and justice as children struggle with the unjust imprisonment of their father, but his final vindication, has been a well loved classic book

Translated

Many of the classic books for children are translated into different languages- making them truly internationally celebrated!

Celebrate A Day For Children’s Books

This day is a perfect opportunity to discover high quality reading books which have stood the test of time. Books that build character, that widen horizons, and engage a child’s imagination. Embark on an adventure of discovery that can result in a full year of reading fun.

Make reading a celebration and help encourage the development of the habit of sitting down with a book.

A special day for emphasizing reading can help offset the modern tendency to ignore book reading in favor of the clamor of electronic entertainment.

This Observation Celebrated

~since 1967

Things To Do – – to observe the day

  1. Why, read a child’s book of course!
  2. Go to the Library with your child
  3. Make a gift of a book to your child today
  4. Make a “children’s hour” to read your child’s favorite books to them.
  5. Don’t have a child? Adopt one for the day and give them a book

More Reading Adventures

There are so many great classic children’s books.
Fantasy Worlds

Besides Narnia and The Hobbit, there is the world of “The Borrowers”, the tiny people who you just know live in your house and account for the little items that always go missing!

Ozma of Oz is less well known than The Wizard of Oz, but it was my favorite of all the L. Frank Baum series. In a Kindle edition with the classic illustrations of John R. Neill. Who does not love the idea of a new head and personality to match whenever one feels like it?

Certain Settings

Where the Red Fern Grows takes place in the Ozarks, and follows the story of a boy and his beloved dogs. The bond between man and dog, the reality of life and loss, are eloquently dealt with in this fine story.

Don’t Miss These Great Children’s Books

Some of the Best Book Choices to Fascinate Older Children

 

The Phantom Tollbooth is filled with play on words and fun characters for concepts that intrigue an older child (age 9-12).

The Phantom Tollbooth 50th Anniversary Edition
The Phantom Tollbooth 50th Anniversary Edition

For intermediate readers, this is a witty and fun book to read. It hones a child’s sense of humor and the ability to see things from more than one perspective. Word play abounds, which incites a reader to develop a love of language.

A Wrinkle in Time is mystery, love, and time-travel all rolled into one! What is not to love about this adventure of Meg and her brother in finding their scientist father, who has somehow disappeared? And meet Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which….

 

 

Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Trilogy - Boxed Set of 4 Books
Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Trilogy – Boxed Set of 4 Books

Eventually you will want the entire set of Tolkien’s classics. Exciting adventure fantasy books. Loving the movies is no excuse to skip the books! This is a case of there being so much more inside the literature than could possibly be included within a movie. But even so, the film versions of the stories create an interest to know more and continue the discovery of the creatures, world, and exciting plots of Tolkien.

 

 

A Girl of the Limberlost [Annotated]
A Girl of the Limberlost [Annotated]

This is not only a touching book, but one that introduces us to a particular time and place. The Limberlost swamp of Indiana is the background for a story of love and relationships.

The Last of the Mohicans (Oxford World's Classics)
The Last of the Mohicans (Oxford World’s Classics)

This is one of my own top favorites, it embodies the noble characters and the villains of early times with a historical background illuminating the complex conflicts of Indian tribes, The English, and the French.

More Than One Day To Celebrate Reading

…because it is so important

There are many special times set a apart during the year, the world over, to encourage reading and a love of books.

A few others, besides the International Children’s Book Day:

  • World Book Day
  • Many different “Book Weeks”, includingAustralia’s
  • Library Week
  • National Read A Book Day

Wyeth: Treasure Island

Discover What’s New In Children’s Literature

Fine books are being written all the time

We all love the classics, but every day new books are being written and published and they might well be a classic some day. Discover exciting new additions to children’s literature.

Amazon has a list, “New Books for Children”, that is categorized for discovery of what’s new and what’s great.

Check the list of Caldecott Winners from 1938 to the present year.

Read the New York Times reviews of new children’s books.

 

A GUIDE GIVES AN OVERVIEW

Because there are so many books which appeal to a wide range of ages, it is not possible to cover all of them in even a book, although there are guides that I found very helpful, especially Honey for a Child’s Heart.

Book Guide to All The Best Books – A huge help for parents who care about their children’s reading habits

Reading the right books, which capture a child’s imagination and inspire their hearts and minds, begins a lifetime of reading adventure.

“Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever” will inspire and guide you to include reading time with your child.

Early in my homeschool endeavor I was looking for great books to give my children and use in their reading program. This guide was priceless! It categorizes books by their appeal to specific age groups and reading ability.

Honey for a Child's Heart
Honey for a Child’s Heart

An entire book dedicated to revealing the great Children’s books to purchase and read with your children, all the way through the high school years when they may be guided to pick up and read the greatest and most wholesome books. You, as I did, may find yourself engrossed in books that you missed as a child from the extensive lists of quality children’s books.

Make a Reading Nook – Create a special space just for reading

Take notes from your favorite bookstore memories, and get a cozy big chair (big enough for two, you and your child) a small bookshelf or two, and a reading lamp. It can be in your child’s room, in a corner of the living room, or anywhere that a quiet space is reserved for those 20 minutes of reading time together.

HOW TO MAKE A READING NOOK

Cute Allposter.com wall art

How To Create A Cozy Reading Nook

  • A small table and chairs,
  • a large comfy chair for reading together,
  • a good lamp for reading by,
  • and a small bookcase are all ideal (as mentioned above),
  • but what about a comfy window seat?

 

IKEA has inexpensive modules that connect to create a low seat and nearby bookcases, snap-on reading lamps and cushions for comfort.

A place free from the distractions of TV and video game is probably best, and you might be surprised to rediscover life outside of electronics.

Even an area on an outside, screened-in, or all season porch may be the place you and your children most like to spend reading time for many months of the year.