I am a huge fan of reading. And I love that my children have inherited my love for reading as well. But how do you foster a love for reading? And when facing the rows and rows of books at Barnes and Noble or your local library, how do you decide which ones are the best? I’ve decided to compile a list of my all time favorite children’s books from newborn to high school age. And for the record, I Love You Forever will NOT be on this list! Damn that book to the darkest spot of book hell. (I’m not crying in a corner thinking about that stupid book!)
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Let’s just get this out of the way. Green Eggs and Ham should be on every child’s bookshelf and read to them often. This story teaches children to always try new things. And just because it looks or smells weird, try it anyways! It might be amazing. Buy it. Read it. And when you get tired of it, find it in the hundreds of different languages it is translated to and read that until you vomit! Just kidding about the vomit part (kinda) but this book is great for teaching children to read as well. It has 150 words that are repeated multiple times giving children the chance to gain confidence while learning the phonetic and grammatical rules of English.
What do you get out of it? Nothing really. Just quality time with your kid and if you are a decent story-teller, some awesome laughs from your baby.
This is by far my favorite Dr Seuss book! Not only is it fun and playful like the other Seuss books, but it is inspiring. I always got a little boost of confidence after every time I read it to my kids. Children need reassurance that they can conquer the world, even if they are only two feet tall. And Oh, The Places You’ll Go! is jam-packed with reassurance and encouragement.
What will you get? A boost of confidence yourself. This book touches lives at every age.
I honestly can’t think of a reason to own this book and read it every night, other than it is fun and plays with the English language in different ways. Children love this book, I think mostly because they get to watch their superhero parents get tongue-tied over the weird words Dr Sues has created. To me that teaches children that it’s ok to make mistakes and be silly. They are going to stumble and fall lots of times throughout their learning process, and if they don’t see adults stumbling they will build a complex about mistakes. Teach your kids that it’s ok to screw up, but to never give up. Let your kids laugh at you, it’s healthy.
What will you get? A good laugh with your children and an opportunity to be silly. Those are the best memories for a child.
This is definitely a little boy book. It was my husband’s favorite children’s book. He says that it opened his mind to the possibility that anything can happen and help foster his love of reading. I personally don’t remember enjoying this book as much and took away how much trouble can happen if boys are in charge. I guess it’s a perspective thing though. But, nevertheless, it is a classic that should be added to your collection.
What will you get? I’m not too sure. But you will have fun, so I’ll go with memories.
This is another of my husband’s favorites and one that I also consider a boy book. We all know the story teaches perseverance and the rewards you will receive if you never give up on your dreams. This is a lesson that all children need, I just think that little boys need the constant reassurance of this lesson more so than girls ( I think I read this story to my daughters once, and my husband said this was the story he read constantly). But, again, another classic that makes up your babies collections.
What will you get? A headache. Just kidding. Another drop of encouragement that you’re doing great. You are the engine and parenting is the hill. Climb that bad boy and shout it through the mountains that you knew you could!
This was one of my favorite books as a child and I read it to my daughters when they were younger. It is about a little girl mouse that wants to figure out why her sky is pink with yellow flowers, but the sky in her books was blue. She makes an adventure through the bedroom that she lives in to the window and investigate. It is a fun hipsteresque Toy Story like adventure that teaches children to be aware of their surroundings and always seek the answers to their questions. Children need to be encouraged when they ask questions, and they need to know that it is ok to find the answer. This book is a great example of how to ask a question and find the answer.
In return? You will get a fun story that is rarely heard of. Copies of this book are going for almost $40 on eBay! But you can get a copy online for less that $10.
This is just a silly, fun book about Grover, the lovable fury friend from Sesame Street. He becomes terrified of the “monster” at the end of the book and he tries to stop us from getting there, making a very big mess along the way. I looooooooved this book as a child! My children would laugh and giggle at the voices I would make and the pure silliness of this story! There really isn’t any life lesson, at least not one that is obvious after the hundredth time of reading it. It’s just a good quick bedtime story that is full of laughs and happy thoughts before bed.
What will you get? If you read it with excitement, the greatest memories with your child!! This book is vividly remembered by anyone that it was read to as a kid! And another opportunity to be silly.
This is a fun series written at a 9 year old’s level. It deals with the middle child emotions and parents that are involved to the extreme. This is my youngest daughter’s favorite series (ironically she is the middle child) and it helps her cope with the feelings she gets from trying to compete with an older sister and a new baby (which is translated from “because I can.”)
What’s in it for you? Not much. But they are fun books and will bring up memories of your own sibling drama. It’s a fun, easy read that helps children during the learning phase and helps build confidence.
I cannot stress how important fairy tales are to children, boys and girls alike. They learn how to deal with the world around them and how to cope with loss or hurt. There is an entire study, headed by Bruno Bettelheim, that if a child requests the same fairy tale to be read to them, they need that lesson and comfort the story has to offer. And I’m not talking about the Disney watered down versions. I mean the stepsisters-chop-off-their-feet-to-fit-the-slippers versions! The world isn’t going to sugar coat itself for your kids, why should you sugar coat the world for them? Read Grimms’ Fairytales!
What do you get? Help with your own coping skills and a chance to hear fairy tales you probably never heard of. There are thousands of tales and an opportunity to explore every favor of life.
This is an amazing story about what being a little brat will get you and how much of a difference your attitude will do for your life. I loved the movie when I was younger and learned that it was book in high school. I wish that my mother had gotten it for me when I was a kid. I’ve read to my children and we were able to discuss bad behaviors addressed throughout the story and make parallels to their own behaviors. I think every parent needs a “don’t be a little shit” book, and this is it.
What’s in it for you? For me it was a chance to talk about bad behaviors with my kids and find better solutions. Plus it’s a classic.
I read this in fourth grade and it has stuck with me forever! It is the story of a family that drank from a magical fountain. They meet a little girl looking for adventure and a man in a yellow suit threatening to expose their secret. This story talked to me about love, family, bonds, and loyalty. Plus it has one of my most favorite epilogues ever written. They made it into a movie, however it missed the romance and adventure of the book. Alexis Bledel was extremely deadpan and I just wasn’t impressed with the movies turnout. Read the book!
For you? A real love story, not that stupid Twilight abusive shenanigans they are pumping into kids nowadays.
Another book I read in fourth grade, and I’m so happy to hear that it has been made into a movie. This is a story of a little girl who has bounced through the foster system and become angry and bitter because of it. She finally meets an old woman who teaches her that it is ok to open up after you’ve been hurt and giving people a chance to love you. I think this is an important story for children that might have gone through some type of heartache or loss. It helps show the effects of negative and positive coping skills. Plus it’s a fun story of a runaway foster kid that likes to beat people up lol.
What’s in it for you? Another opportunity to talk with your kid about bad behaviors and how to cope with life.
This is a “big boy book” that I happened to love. It was about a boy that crashed on a remote island while traveling to his shared visitation with his father. The boy must learn to survive on his own and work through the anger and hurt he felt after his parent’s recent divorce. I think I connected with this book for the same reason as Gilly Hopkins; its a story about a troubled kid, and at the time I was dealing with my own parent’s divorce and court ordered visitation and the feeling of being forgotten or unloved. Regardless, this is a fun adventure book of a little boy in the open woods with his hatchet.
What will you get? A fun story with excitement and adventure. And a chance to talk with your child about any separation anxiety they may be having, or anger they might feel towards a divorce or strife within your family.
This is a Young Adult novel that takes the story of Sleeping Beauty and twists it to fit the life of a young girl that survived a Nazi Extermination Camp. Most children from 4th-8th grade will read a Holocaust novel. However, this one is set in present day, where a young girl seeks the truth of her grandmother’s childhood and why she says she is the Briar Rose of her story. It is a respectful parallel between the fairytale and the events of the Extermination Camp in Germany. If you’re looking for a book that discusses that horrific time in history, but your tired of the Anne Frank Diary, this is definitely the book to check out!
For you? A well crafted retelling of the Holocaust and Sleeping Beauty. A different approach to opening up the discussion of acceptance of other people.
This series… I personally dislike science fiction, aside from Doctor Who. I had to read Ender’s Game in high school and I became obsessed with it! It’s a futuristic world where the children go to a space camp (literally) and learn to fight “boogies.” The plot twist is absolutely amazing! It deals with all of the typical social issues of children, especially one that doesn’t fit in and is subject to extreme bullying. Ender was the third child, which is only “government issued” during this time. So he is tormented, not only by the kids at school, but his brother as well. Another how to cope book, but a must read for any child that loves aliens, adventures, and sci-fi-fi fighting.
What will you get? The best sci-fi-fi story ever! Not much else, but you will have something awesome to connect with your kid and open lines of communication as they grow older.
I am putting this here because some can and some can’t. I personally CAN NOT get through these books! However, I respect them enough to place them on my list of books to read to your children. JRR Tolkien wrote them as a bedtime story to his son, and I have known countless parents that have read them to their babies as bedtime stories. If it suits you, it tickles me to death! They are beautiful stories full of description and magic that will lull your precious babies to sleep on the wings of the giant eagles that get there at the last minute and I think mountain giants playing dodgeball. (I honestly have no idea. Like I said, I tried!)
For you? That depends on what kind of person you are. For me, a burning desire to throw the book across the room. However, it is a beautiful story that will lull your babies into a perfect dream world. And it’s a classic. So yeah…
I’m adding this only because I added Tolkien as a bedtime story. Beowulf is an Anglo-Saxon epic poem that was originally performed by bards in castles. I was assigned this in college and struggled almost instantly, trying to comprehend what I was reading. After talking with my professor about my issues, he suggested I read it out loud to my kids. My children loved the story, and I got an A on my paper. Win/win for everyone. It’s an epic about a viking hero that saves a town from an evil monster and his mother. He grows to be an old man and dies in a battle with a dragon. Its broken up into several parts and easy to read over several nights. Much like fairy tales, it has its own lessons that are unique to the person hearing it.
And you? This is a lost treasure that not too many have read. It is a beautiful story and will expand both your minds to something new. (The link is to the best translation copy)
This is a five book series that focuses on a young boy and girl who must protect reality from a villain in the imaginary world, Foo. Foo is the land where all dreams are made and Sabine wants to escape Foo and take over reality. The entire series is fun and witty, and can be enjoyed by adults and children equally. The story teaches children the importance of their imagination and fighting for what’s right. I absolutely love this series and I recommend reading it, even if you don’t have children.
For you? A fun story that you can share with your children. It is full of great laughs at any age. Plus you will get a decent reminder of the power your imagination and dreams hold.
I think JK Rowling has made every Children’s book list since the publishing of her first book. But I feel that her story is more important now than it was when we were kids. Harry faces an evil villain that wants to segregate, destroy, and corrupt the world under his rule. They face corrupt governments and educators, fake mews, and families turning against families based on where they stand in the chaos. Our children need the hope and guidance to stand up to this tyranny and never falter in their kindness and charity to the world they live in. If you read nothing else to your child, read the Harry Potter series. Or at the very least, let them read it for themselves!
It’s Harry Potter. It should be on everyone’s bucket list to read. Plus you will get the same lessons of questioning everything.
This series comes in two parts and should be treated as such. The first half is meddle school age and address many issues that they go through during that age. Rick Riordon draws from the Iliad and The Odessy for his storyline, making it easier for children to grasp the epic poems when they are older (or help parents figure out what the hell they read in High school). The second series is high school aged and again, address the social issues that they experience. The second half is very dark and deals with death and depression. I strongly suggest these two series, however I encourage you to save the second half for when they are older. But it is a great series with the classic lessons of Greek Mythology.
And what’s in it for you? A really fun story and some awesome laughs. I read them before my children and enjoyed them greatly! A good read even if you don’t have kids.
This is way more than 20 books! But it is a great start to your children’s library that they can take with them as they grow older. I know there are millions more, and I would love to hear what your favorite books were as a child, and what you enjoyed reading with your kids.
Be sure to share this list on your favorite social media site for others to build their library! Like and comment with your favorite books or must haves on your shelf! Enjoy!