The Greatest Gifts We Can Give Our Children


Of all the many things lobbed at us as parents, we are told a long laundry list of what we should give our children. From the esoteric to the practical, it is promised that if we but give our child … time, morals teaching, discipline, music lessons, the right school, no school, good examples, the best *you name it*… if we only give that, our child will be happy and successful.

We all want our children to be happy and successful. And it is there that we are hooked into the method, the gift, the lifestyle, whatever it is that has promised us this holy grail of parenting.

But the harder truth is that it is a recipe of many things, that translate as love and guidance, which become tools and guideposts for the hardest truth of all: that each child must make his/her own way through life. Just as we all must.

Are There No “Must-Have” Gifts?

That is not to say that some tools and ingredients in life are not imperative. Just because people may compensate and manage without a good start in life does not mean it is fine to ignore their inclusion.

What Should We Give Our Children?

Here is the short list:

  • Love and Security
  • Training in life skills and good character examples
  • Education, love of reading, love of learning

The methods are many, and none of these requirements in life demand lots of money.

If we give these things to our children, to the best of our ability, they can face the world well prepared. Even if we fail in some of the most important  ways, the resilience of the human race shows that often they can make up for the lack. For children, it is very important to see that the parents made the effort: that they tried their best on behalf of the child.

Is This A Secret Shortcut?

I wonder if instilling a love of books isn’t a secret shortcut to the twin efforts of training and having a love of learning? After all, great literature is a way to pass on important values, cultural traditions, and an appreciation of good character through the power of storytelling. It also teaches the ability to think about the big questions of life and engage critical thinking patterns.

All this starts at an early age with reading.

I’m Biased

As one who loves to read books, I have to say I am biased about their impact. Literature has always spoken so much to me, and certain fiction has molded my thinking in life long ways. I believe in its power to do so for others, including our children.

If we want to change the culture, providing time tested writings is surely one powerful and efficacious way to do it.

What Books Ought To Be On The Shelf?

Start with a list of classic children’s selections I collated. (That page includes info on why reading is so important, creating a reading nook, and the best of the classic books that my own children loved).

These are 20 great character-building books

For various age groups:

  1. Aesop’s Fables, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney -very young readers
  2. The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats-very young readers
  3. James Herriot’s Treasury For Children, by James Herriot -very young readers
  4. The Courage of Sarah Noble, by Alice Dalgliesh – 3rd to 4th grade
  5. Stuart Little, by E.B. White – 3rd to 4th grade
  6. Caddie Woodlawn, by Carol Ryrie Brink – 3rd to 4th grade
  7. The Bears on Hemlock Mountain, by Alice Dalgliesh – 3rd to 4th grade
  8. The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings – 3rd to 4th grade
  9. Brighty of the Grand Canyon, Marguerite Henry – 3rd to 4th grade
  10. Treasures of the Snow, by Patricia St. John – 3rd to 4th grade
  11. Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery – 5th to 6th grade
  12. Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell – 5th to 6th grade
  13. Cheaper by the Dozen, by Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr. – 5th to 6th grade (especially boys)
  14. Old Yeller, by Fred Gipson – 5th to 6th grade (especially boys)
  15. Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe – 5th to 6th grade (especially boys)
  16. Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson – 5th to 6th grade (especially boys)
  17. Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls – 5th to 6th grade (especially boys)
  18. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott – 5th to 6th grade (especially girls)
  19. The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings – 5th to 6th grade
  20. The Chronicles of Narnia (all 7 books), by C.S. Lewis – 5th to 6th grade


15 Important Books for Older Children to Adult

  1. The Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan
  2. David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens
  3. Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens
  4. A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens
  5. Ben Hur, by Lew Wallace
  6. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank
  7. The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom
  8. The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas
  9. Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift
  10. Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
  11. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
  12. The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas
  13. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  14. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  15. 1984 by George Orwell
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List Of Great Books That All Children Should Read

International Children’s Book Day


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.
  • 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

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


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


  • 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.


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


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


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.



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.


Cute 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.

Peter Rabbit And Friends, Beloved Beatrix Potter Characters

Who hasn’t heard of Peter Rabbit? For those who love the many faces of the charming animals who people her stories, Beatrix Potter left a legacy of her stories and their illustrations for generations.

A happy moment for Peter and his Robin friend.

The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends

Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle
Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle is one of my personal favorites

Familiar with the adventures of Peter Rabbit? Does chamomile tea conjure up memories of this story of a bad little rabbit who ate rather too many lettuces and fell in with Mr. McGregor and his cat? Then possibly you have as much love for these tales as I.

Would you like to know more about some of the protagonists of Beatrix Potter’s endearing writings?

Having a great love for these little books of the nursery set, it seemed that sharing the beloved, charming characters of the Beatrix Potter books would be an enjoyable endeavor. Come along to visit the denizens of the English countryside, and the visitors to the Victorian dollhouses, as well as those who might be found in gardens or behind the wainscoting! Their cute little clothes and daring adventures still entrance us, as we read their stories to yet another generation of enthralled children.

Peter Rabbit

The World of Beatrix Potter: Collectible Peter Rabbit by Kids Preferred
The World of Beatrix Potter: Collectible Peter Rabbit by Kids Preferred An adorable stuffed Peter who is very true to his character. Loveable in his little blue coat.

I will tell you a secret: I would love one of these to put on a shelf because I have never really outgrown stuffed animals or Miss Potter’s stories.

A bad mouse?

Miss Potter’s Pet Character

For Beatrix Potter, personally, this was her favorite of all her many story books. Inspired by the story she had heard of a poor tailor, John Pritchard, Potter sketched the actual shop of local lore. The finished story, illustrated with watercolors, was given to Freda Moore, daughter of her former governess and companion Annie Moore.

Interestingly the legend of the local tailor happened during Potter’s lifetime, but for the story she set the time and costuming in the 18th-century. This story was published in 1903.

For us, once we began collecting the Beatrix Potter tales we wanted the entire set. Each illustration is so charming and the tales are full of surprising insights and humor.

Peter Rabbit First Edition

original bookcover

A Set of Peter Rabbit and Friends Books

For loads of good reading

The World of Peter Rabbit (The Original Peter Rabbit, Books 1-23, Presentation Box)
The World of Peter Rabbit (The Original Peter Rabbit, Books 1-23, Presentation Box)

Twenty three of your favorite little books of Beatrix Potter tales in a keepsake box.

Under The Gate and Into MacGregor’s Garden

The naughty rabbit is at it again, but will he learn his lesson this time?

Lovable, Memorable Characters Prove Popular – They have been collectible in many forms

I like reading books to my children that I enjoy, too. There are so many great classics that we don’t need to be bored!

Many modern children’s books bore me. I don’t see any reason to waste time with those when there are so many fantastic choices. Of those, Beatrice Potter’s rate highly with their witty writing, detailed and artistic illustrations and flights of fancy into a world where animals are very like you and I.

We  started out with the ‘Peter Rabbit’ storybook, just like many, do. The stories don’t patronize children, and the illustrations that Miss Potter created continue to charm today’s crop of children. There are insights, just enough misbehavior for the story plots to move along and bring in the humor.

These stories proved to be some of the best loved bedtime stories in our house.

It wasn’t long before other stories, and then whole collections of her character’s adventures peopled our bedtime story hour.

Miss Potter

Miss Potter
Miss Potter

Renee Zellweger does a great job in a lovely film. I liked the inclusion of the quirky illustrated characters she interacts with. I imagine that the very Victorian Miss Potter did the same.

The Life Of Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter had no children of her own, having married late in life, but she sent letters to the young children of a former governess with the engaging characters of her stories and drawings that became the beloved books read for night times, naps and during reading hour. Generations of children have loved the stories for their inclusion of real risks,dangers, and admonitions,as well as the amusing responses they might well identify with.


Beatrix Potter was born July 28, 1866 as Helen Beatrix Potter into a privileged British family. Her parents were well to do Middle class merchants, and her father was a barrister. She and her younger brother were educated privately with governesses, and they managed to collect quite a menagerie of small animals, from which her drawings and observations later lead to the realistic creations of her stories.

Like many wealthy British families of Victorian times, Beatrix Potter’s vacationed in Scotland, where she and her brother freely roamed the countryside. This was in contrast to the very restricted home life revolving around her parents and her mother’s demands.

Always drawing, Beatrix Potter developed her art and became expert in drawing fungi, she also sold a few of her imaginative drawings, and was convinced to submit her children’s drawings and stories to a publisher. A ladies companion and former governess who remained in her friendship was Annie Carter Moore, to whose children Beatrix had sent some of her letters with the characters and their escapades. It was Annie who convinced her to publish her children’s stories.

Potter did not receive immediate success in her endeavors, either as a mycologist or as an author, but she had determination and grit, which continued to inspire her to submit her work until she received a certain measure of success. Her drawings of imaginary animal creatures and her amusing stories caught on and she began to find a return of success and income for her efforts.


Beatrix Potter was not to so easily find happiness in her personal life. She and her publisher had fallen in love, but her socially upwardly mobile parents, especially her mother, sought a better match matrimonially; one which would leave their middle class beginnings behind. Though Beatrix held her ground, and was informally engaged, her beloved Norman Warne died of leukemia only one month after they had begun their unofficial engagement.

Potter became increasingly successful and independent, publishing many books and merchandising them cannily. She later in life would meet her husband, William Heelis who was her solicitor (lawyer), and passionately involve herself in sheep farming with the focused determination she used in all her endeavors in life.


She continued to write, to create art for her own pleasure, and keep quite busy with her country life of farming and becoming a respected leader in her community.

She died December 22, 1943 at Castle Cottage.

About Her Gardening Life

Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life: The Plants and Places That Inspired the Classic Children's Tales
Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life: The Plants and Places That Inspired the Classic Children’s Tales

Detailed and Humorous


The Best Known Characters: Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, and Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle

Among other beloved animal personalities


Probably the best known, and maybe best loved of all Potter’s storybook characters.Many toys, books, and children’s items celebrate Peter.


Peter’s relative and sidekick in getting into scrapes and eating too many onions.


Peter isn’t alone in the hearts of those who have read the stories, who can forget his caring and practical mother and well behaved sisters?



From a picture letter that Beatrix Potter sent Norah Moore, comes the lovable and impertinent squirrel who tangles with the quite serious Owl, Old Brown. Before getting the full story ready for printing, (which combined an earlier story letter about squirrels with this one), much time was given to drawing squirrels including her pet squirrel kept in a large birdcage.

Mrs Tiggy-Winkle – A terribly tidy hedgehog


Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle was based on real characters: both the persona of a real washerwoman, and Beatrix’ own pet hedgehog.

Of her washerwoman, Katie MacDonald, Potter writes,

“Kitty MacDonald, our old washerwoman … Kitty is eighty-three but waken, and delightfully merry … She is a comical, round little woman, as brown as a berry and wears a multitude of petticoats and a white mutch. Her memory goes back for seventy years, and I really believe she is prepared to enumerate the articles of her first wash in the year ’71”

  • A mutch is “The close linen or muslin cap of an old woman.”

Cushion - Tapestry Fabric, French, Elegant & Fine - (Artist, Beatrix Potter) - Mrs. Tiggy Winkle
Cushion – Tapestry Fabric, French, Elegant & Fine – (Artist, Beatrix Potter) – Mrs. Tiggy Winkle

On of the funniest and leaving an impression for her caricature of a washerwoman who rather disconcertingly turns into a normal hedgehog and runs away. A wonderful mix of the real and the fantasy in this story. It has an Alice in Wonderland quality to it.

by Beatrix Potter (1866—1943) – Internet Archive scan of The Tale of Two Bad Mice, image taken from this PDF version

Making Away With Lucinda’s Pillow

mice thieves
Internet Archive scan of The Tale of Two Bad Mice, image taken from this PDF version, the relevant text for this illustration is “With Tom Thumbs’s assistance she carried

A Bad Mouse

Warne’s niece and her dollhouse.



She was one of a pair of mice who moved into a doll’s house one day. They prove a bit destructive, and the tale is, thus, of “Two Bad Mice“. Dressed up in skirts and apron, this delightful mouse and her story originated in a real life encounter with mice who had been trapped within a cousin’s home.

Inspired by her publisher’s Christmas gift of a doll’s house for his niece, this popular story was born as she wrote about the two rescued mice over the winter of 1903.

The development of the illustrations were from drawings of actual objects, Warne’s constructed doll house (from photographs), his niece’s policeman doll, and two dolls that Warne made a gift of to Beatrix.

Tale of Mr. Tod, Tommy Brock

Tommy Brock
Tale of Mr. Tod, Tommy Brock

Jeremy Fisher – A Gentleman Frog

The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher was originally written as a letter to a child in 1893 while Potter was summering on the River Tay. “I should like to do Mr. Jeremy Fisher … I think I can make something of him”

Biographer Linda Lear writes that Miss Potter “wanted to do a frog story for some time, because it was amusing and offered the opportunity for the naturalist illustrations she delighted in ”

miss potter
Miss Beatrix Potter

Her Letters Tell Tidbits

Her Character Products Are Everywhere

Darling illustrations

From her bright mind and observing eye came the charming illustrations for her books, and Beatrix Potter created numerous characters that impress with their lack of pretentious Victorian manner and detailed with her astute eye and somewhat irreverent humor.

From the sweet rabbit sisters to the more sinister Mr. Tod, the characters all have the talented hand of Beatrix Potter unfailingly giving them life and personality. They make wonderful decor for children’s rooms and baby nurseries (but I doubt we ever really outgrow them).

Know All of Them? – How big of a fan are you?

Who is this?
Who is this? Remember his name?

Are you familiar with all the Beatrix Potter story characters?

Are you familiar with all the Beatrix Potter story characters?I know and love them all

Beatrix Potter Character Christmas Ornaments – Festive Decor with Cute Beatrix Potter Characters

Beatrix Potter Hanging Christmas Ornaments (A20954)
Beatrix Potter Hanging Christmas Ornaments (A20954) Such a darling set of ornaments which could begin a fairy tale theme or add to a pink and blue color scheme.

Jemima Puddle-duck

The World of Beatrix Potter: Nursery Jemima Puddle Duck by Kids Preferred
The World of Beatrix Potter: Nursery Jemima Puddle Duck by Kids Preferred Jemima- she is lovable, but a silly goose…don’t you think?

Charming Nursery Characters

The watercolor palette, endearing drawings, and beloved stories make Potter’s animals ideal for decorating a baby nursery. There are so many items emblazoned with Peter and all his friends.

It is easy to find gifts for birthdays or Christmas, combining books and stuffed animals, and so many other types of things. Figurines, even cupcake stands, or a salt and pepper set! No matter what our age, if we love her characters we can find gifts to treasure.

What Item To Decorate?

That is the only question!

Beatrix Potter illustrations are darling on all sorts of products, from T-shirts to plates and children’s banks and fabrics.


Stamps and many other products have Potter’s illustrations and characters created at Zazzle.

Desire baby clothes and nursery decor? Target has offered a complete line in the delicate colors, with beloved protagonists of the tales. I saw them there, and thought the set was a darling way to do up a baby’s room.

But don’t forget the books! As sweet as the watercolors are, it is the memory of the funny little stories that give this childhood set of nursery friends their long lived popularity

The Lake District – Hilltop Farm


Her Home At Hill Top

Hill Top was purchased by Beatrix Potter in 1905 with royalties from her first few books.

Scenes and details of her books were inspired by the family’s visits to the Lake District. She visited her new home as often as she could, but never for more than a few days at a time due to her busy life, nevertheless she produced sketches of the house, garden, countryside and animals for her books.

Visit Hill Top Farm, see the home which is now a museum in the National Trust.

Another View of Hill Top and Jemima!

Jemima is dressed up for her adventures in front of Hilltop House


I Spy, A Book Of Picture Riddles

good books for children

Entertainment In A Book

This was one of those extraordinary discoveries that lead to as much enjoyment for the parent as for the children they are intended for- makes reading time a real joy. Great gift for a child.

I Spy picture book
photo of the original I Spy book

How many roadtrips did you take as a child? And did you prevent boredom with games of “I Spy”, trying to find something red or gray with white stripes? Well, that is exactly the idea used creatively to expand the I Spy books into a brainteaser game that manages to entertain both adults and little children. There are clever, gorgeously photographed pictures filling this immensely popular set of books for playing I Spy with your children (which you will want to do, even though they could do it on their own).

One of my sisters sent the first “I Spy” book to our family many years ago as a Christmas gift. We had so much fun that I was soon collecting all the editions I could put my hands on. There are versions for holidays and for special themes.
I Spy Fun House: A Book of Picture Riddles
I Spy Fun House: A Book of Picture Riddles
All these books have a similar format, but the genius of them is in the detailed work of composing extremely beautiful and detailed photographs, charming rhyming clues and a range of challenges along the lines of very different themes. I guarantee you will not tire of them and will begin to want to collect them all. All these books have a similar format, but the genius of them is in the detailed work of composing extremely beautiful and detailed photographs, charming rhyming clues and a range of challenges along the lines of very different themes. I guarantee you will not tire of them and will begin to want to collect them all.
I Spy Fun House: A Book of Picture Riddles

I had as much fun as my children

 Quality time with the little ones never was so entertaining
Quality time with the little ones never was so entertaining

When my sister sent us the first “I Spy” book, I sat down with the little ones, then ages four and six, and we opened up the pages to the full color, gorgeous and detailed photographs. Visually the pictures are so rich and such a joy to scan through!
We took our time with the riddles, and some of the clues were obvious and easy enough for the little ones to feel joy and surprise at finding the objects from the cute rhymes.

Some of the challenges were tough enough to perplex even me, but most were just fun for the kids, and we had such a good time!

The first time through a book is always most exciting, of course, but all my children liked not just finding the answers to clues, but examining the interesting collection of things that made up the themed pages. We got addicted to this series of books and they made great gifts for birthday and Christmas for a couple years.

I actually use the same books with my grandchildren, now!

I Spy

…with my little eye…

What Makes The Eye Spy Books So Enjoyable?

  1. They are expertly photographed.
  2. Beautifully arranged, artistically chosen objects are fascinating in themselves.
  3. A range of easy to difficult challenges within each page. Enough successes, and enough to puzzle over, each page of challenges keeps children and their parents engaged.
  4. Everybody wins!
  5. A picture speaks a thousand words, so just looking at the photos makes for an educational experience- one that is lots of fun.
  6. There are plenty of book editions to keep interest high.
  7. These are riddles, and children love riddles, one of the easiest ways to exercise our powers of logic, reasoning, and creative thinking.

A Delicious Christmas Theme – Just the right book for the Christmas season

I Spy Christmas: A Book of Picture Riddles
I Spy Christmas: A Book of Picture Riddles

Get in the holiday mood and spend some quiet time looking for signs of the season inside the beautiful photos. More of Walter Wicks fine photography in this version of the I Spy for Christmas. Co-authored with Jean Marzollo.

Picture Riddles

Picture collages and rhymes to riddle you by, the clear and detailed pictures along with the “I spy” game make an irresistible combination.

Who Loves Fascinating Picture Books? – We Do!

An interesting collections
A sample of the kinds of objects collected for some of the photos
one of the riddle books available
Another edition of the picture riddle fun, this time a “SPECTACULAR”

These are great books for preschooler activities. Picture books that create interest and focus, good quiet time pastimes for children and their parents.

 A Grandparent bookshelf must-have. 

How did the author, Jean Marzollo, come up with this ingenious concept that so many have come to love?

“[We] used the words “I spy” to start every riddle. Those two little words are very powerful because they establish the main character and the story of the book. The main character is the reader – or the child being read to. The story is about the main character becoming a hero by finding everything in the riddle” –Jean Marzollo

Learn about The Photographer


Take Time To Discover Details – Open Your Eyes To See

picture riddles

We giggled with delight when first discovering these books.

It was so much fun to pore over the beautiful, finely detailed, sharply photographed pictures. The way the objects were hidden…. some in plain sight, and the ways we worked together to use our brains to unlock the picture riddles created times that both my children and I will always remember.

I only wish I had discovered these books during the earliest years of our family, before the oldest children had grown up.

These are books to give your grandchildren, and to have on your bookshelves for any visiting boy or girl. Quiet fun for rainy days, too!

One of the great gifts of activities such as these books provide is the exercise of engaging our brains to truly see the details of the world around us. To focus in and discover the beauty, interest, and the peculiarities of our world.

Author Jean Marzollo:

“I wrote this book not knowing what a success I SPY would be. No one knew.”

See The I Spy Book First Hand – Understand the appeal to preschooler and parent alike

Picture Book Riddles

Have you read the I Spy books to your children?

Have you read the "I Spy" books to your children?
Funny Books For Children
If you would like to see some other books that are fun to read with your children, or grandchildren, be sure to look at some of the funniest books for kids.