(Blog post written in 2012, yet the book recommendations are updated from time to time.)

The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet serenity of books.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow~

Among the earliest pictures of Drew, our oldest, is one of his daddy cradling him in the hospital. Both look a tad worn out from the ordeal of birth. In one hand, his daddy holds a book: The Poky Little Puppy. (An appropriate title for one born a week late.) Daddy is reading to his day-old son. A son who is soaking in the sound of his daddy's voice. A son who is building a very basic foundation for appreciating the delightful rhythm and cadence of the written word.

There are many little ways to enlarge your child's world. Love of books is the best of all.
~Jacqueline Kennedy~

From that moment we continued to develop a library of children's books in our home. Over the course of the next fourteen years, our library grew substantially. I consulted friends, book lists and books about books, hoping to find the best literature for my growing family. Their reading appetites are insatiable at times, and I'm always excited (and relieved!) when I find a new title for someone to enjoy.

Which is why I've developed this page. A number of my readers have asked for book recommendations, and I am always eager to share my suggestions. I know how much I appreciated hearing, "Have your kids read . . . ?" from a friend.

To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.
~Victor Hugo~

My main blog page keeps a record of the books that my kids are currently enjoying. This page is an attempted compilation of our favorites. I'll continue to add to the list as they grow and we encounter new titles.

We read to know we are not alone.
~C.S. Lewis~ 

The sections are divided as follows: Board Books, Little Golden Books, Picture Books and then Chapter Books. The chapter book sections have been further divided by grade level. My kids didn't necessarily read them while in that grade level, so it's kind of my best guess as to where a title might land. Your child might enjoy a book sooner or later than the listed level.

Another great piece of advice that was given me long ago is to read the name of the author and illustrator to your child each time you read them a story. This keeps the names lodged in your (and your child's) memory bank, and when you're at the library you'll know to head toward the "R" section when your kiddo begs for another Curious George book.

Throughout my list you'll see an asterisk (*) from time to time. This indicates that there are a number of books in a series.

Finally, if you have books to add to our growing list, please include them (and the suggested age level, if possible) in the comments section for our family and others to enjoy. Most of the books we've read have come at the recommendation of others, so your contributions are invaluable. Thank you!

All right, my friends. I think that's all the intro required. Ready to read? Let's go!

Oh, magic hour, when a child first knows she can read printed words!
~A Tree Grows in Brooklyn~


I've already started to set aside boxes of treasured books and toys for my someday grandchildren. A few board books I couldn't bear to part with. Have you read Barnyard Dance yet? The donkey gets me every time. Please read it. Immediately. Here are a few other titles I've stashed away: 

Boynton, Sandra
     Barnyard Dance
     But Not the Hippopotamus 

Brown, Margaret Wise
      Big Red Barn
     Goodnight, Moon

Carle, Eric
     From Head to Toe

Fujikawa, Gyo
     Betty Bear's Birthday

Martin, Bill
     Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
     Chicka Chicka Boom Boom 

McBratney, Sam
     Guess How Much I Love You

     The Wheels on the Bus

Shaw, Nancy
     Sheep in a Jeep

Walsh, Ellen Stoll
     Mouse Paint

Wescott, Nadine
     Skip to My Lou

Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.
~Emilie Buchwald~


I am a collector of Golden Books. Of course I couldn't list them all, so I listed the titles that all four of my children have consistently enjoyed over the years. One of my favorite illustrators, Eloise Wilkin, has worked on a number of Golden Books. Her charming depictions of life in the 50s through 70s is sublime.

Baby Dear
Best Little Word Book Ever
Doctor Dan, the Bandage Man
Goodnight, Little Bear
I Can Fly
My Puppy
Scuffy the Tugboat
Seven Little Postmen
The Bunny Book
The Fire Engine Book
The Happy Man and His Dumptruck
The Little Red Caboose
The Little Red Hen 
The Poky Little Puppy
The Saggy, Baggy Elephant
The Shy Little Kitten
The Tawny Scrawny Lion
The Three Bears
Where Did the Baby Go?

The more that you read, the more things you will know. 
The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.
Dr. Seuss


And now the lists grow to be a bit longer! Here again I've compiled titles that most of my children have begged me to read again and again. I also adhere to the words of C.S. Lewis when choosing books for my children: "A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest." So the following books are those not only enjoyed by my children, but by their mother as well.

Anderson, Clarence
     Billy and Blaze*

Awdry, Rev. W.
     Thomas the Tank Engine

Aylesworth, Jim
     The Full Belly Bowl

Barker, Mary Cecily
     The Flower Fairies Books*

Barklem, Jill
     The Brambly Hedge Books*

Bemelmans, Ludwig

Brett, Jan
     The Mitten

Brown, Margaret Wise
     Little Fur Family

Brown, Marcia
     Once A Mouse
     Stone Soup

Burton, Virginia Lee
     Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
     The Little House 

Carle, Eric
     The Grouchy Ladybug

Carlson, Melody
     The Lost Lamb

Carlstrom, Nancy
     Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?

Cole, Joanna
     The Magic School Bus Books*

Daugherty, James
     Andy and the Lion 

D'Aulaire, Ingri and Edgar
     Abraham Lincoln

De Brunhoff, Jean
     The Story of Babar the Little Elephant*

Dr. Seuss
     The Cat in the Hat
     Dr. Seuss's ABC 

Dunn, Judy
     The Little Lamb
     The Little Kitten
     The Little Duck 

Duvoisin, Roger

Flack, Marjorie
     Angus and the Ducks
     The Story About Ping
     Ask Mr. Bear

Freeman, Don

Fujikawa, Gyo
     A Child's Book of Poems

Gramatky, Hardie
     Little Toot

Hall, Donald
     Ox-Cart Man

Henkes, Kevin

Herriot, James
     James Herriot's Treasury for Children

Hoban, Russell
     Bread and Jam for Frances*

Hoberman, Mary Ann
     A House is a House for Me

Hoff, Syd
     Sammy the Seal

Johnson, Crockett
     Harold and the Purple Crayon

Keats, Ezra Jack
     The Snowy Day

Krauss, Ruth
     A Hole is to Dig
     I Can Fly 

Leaf, Munro
      The Story of Ferdinand

Lenski, Lois
     The Mr. Small Books

Lewis, Kim

Lionni, Leo
     Little Blue and Little Yellow

Marzollo, Jean & Walter Wick
     I Spy: A Book of Picture Riddles*

McClosky, Robert
     Make Way for Ducklings
     Blueberries for Sal
     One Morning in Maine

McDermott, Gerald
     Anansi the Spider

McDowell, Josh and Dottie
     The Topsy-Turvy Kingdom

Minarik, Else Holmelund       
     Little Bear*

Mosel, Arlene
     Tikki Tikki Tembo

Numeroff, Laura Joffe
     If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

Parish, Peggy
     Amelia Bedelia*

Piper, Watty
     The Little Engine that Could

Polacco, Patricia
     Oh, Look!

Potter, Beatrix
     The Tale of Peter Rabbit*

Provensen, Alice and Martin
     Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm
     The Year at Maple Hill Farm

Rey, H.A.
     Curious George*

Rylant, Cynthia
     Henry and Mudge*
     In Aunt Lucy's Kitchen*
     When I Was Young in the Mountains 

Scarry, Richard
    Richard Scarry's What Do People Do All Day

Seidler, Rosalie
     Panda Cake

Slobodkina, Esphyr
     Caps for Sale

Smath, Jerry
     But No Elephants

Soule, Jean
    Never Tease a Weasel

Stevenson, Robert Louis
     A Child's Garden of Verses

Tudor, Tasha
     1 is One
     A is for Annabelle 

Udry, Janice
     A Tree is Nice

Winter, Milo
    Aesop's Fables for Children

Zelinsky, Paul O.

If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales.
If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.
~ Albert Einstein~ 


My fourth and youngest is preparing to enter second grade. This means that there are a number of early chapter books that I've read three or four times. They're worth repeating for each child -- regardless of gender -- and don't bore me in the slightest. Such must-read titles include Little House in the Big Woods, Charlotte's Web, Old Mother West Wind, Winnie the Pooh, The Boxcar Children and Just So Stories, to name a few. Here are some more favorites:

Adler, David
     Cam Jansen Mysteries*

Bond, Michael
     A Bear Called Paddington

Burgess, Thornton
     Old Mother West Wind*

Carroll, Lewis
     Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Cleary, Beverly
     Henry Huggins*
     Ramona Quimby*
     Ralph S. Mouse*

D'Aulaire, Ingri and Edgar
     D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths

Dalgliesh, Alice
     The Bears on Hemlock Mountain
     The Courage of Sarah Noble

Flory, Jane
     Peddler's Summer*

Hale, Lucretia
     The Peterkin Papers

Haywood, Carolyn
     B is for Betsy*

Holling, Holling Clancy

Hope, Laura Lee
     The Bobbsey Twins*

Kipling, Rudyard
     Just So Stories

Lattimore, Eleanor Frances
     Little Pear

Lindgren, Astrid
     Pippi Longstocking

Lovelace, Maud Hart

Lowry, Lois
    Gooney Bird Greene*

MacDonald, Betty
     Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle*

MacLachlan, Patricia
     Sarah, Plain and Tall*

McCloskey, Robert
     Homer Price
     Centerburg Tales

McSwigan, Marie
     Snow Treasure

Milne, A.A.
     Winnie the Pooh

O'Brien, Robert C.
     Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

Osborne, Mary Pope
     The Magic Treehouse Series*

Richardson, Arleta
     In Grandma's Attic*

Selden, George
     A Cricket in Times Square

Warner, Gertrude Chandler
     The Boxcar Children *

White, E.B.
     Charlotte's Web
     The Trumpet of the Swan

West, Jerry
     The Happy Hollisters*

Wilder, Laura Ingalls
     Little House on the Prairie*

If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.
~Oscar Wilde~


My Bethie is camped out in this age bracket and has read and re-read a number of favorite books. Those she has chosen to repeat (just for the fun of it) are written by Elizabeth Enright, Laura Ingalls Wilder and L.M. Montgomery. She's also rather addicted to the Nancy Drew books.

Aidan is just now entering this category. He zipped through a few titles (both from this list and the previous) without my prompting (which says quite a bit!): Pinocchio, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Trumpet of the Swan, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, and Henry Huggins.

Drew, although entering high school, still remembers enjoying the titles by Lloyd Alexander and C.S. Lewis. He also recommends The Pushcart War, Detectives in Togas, My Side of the Mountain and Johnny Tremain.

I even have a favorite from this list. Wait. Two favorites: Little Women and Anne of Green Gables. Are you shocked?

Alcott, Louisa May
     Little Women*
     Eight Cousins

Alexander, Lloyd
     The Prydain Chronicles*

Atwater, Richard and Florence
     Mr. Popper's Penguins

Barrie, J.M.
     Peter Pan

Babbitt, Natalie
    Tuck Everlasting

Birdsall, Jeanne
     The Penderwicks*

Brink, Carol Ryrie
     Caddie Woodlawn
     Baby Island

Bunyan, John
     Little Pilgrim's Progress (Edited by Helen Taylor)

Burnett, Frances Hodgson
     The Secret Garden
     A Little Princess

Collodi, Carlo

Curtis, Christopher Paul
     Bud, Not Buddy

Dahl, Roald
     Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

DeJong, Meindert
     The Wheel on the School

Enright, Elizabeth
     Gone Away Lake*
     The Saturdays*

Estes, Eleanor
     The Moffats*

Fisher, Dorothy Canfield
     Understood Betsy

Fitzgerald, John D.
     The Great Brain

Forbes, Esther
     Johnny Tremain

George, Jean Craighead
     My Side of the Mountain*
     Sign of the Beaver

Gipson, Fred
     Old Yeller

Graham, Kenneth
     The Wind in the Willows

Green, Roger
     Tales of the Greek Heroes

Henry, Marguerite
     Justin Morgan had a Horse
     Misty of Chincoteague

Jacques, Brian

Juster, Norton
     The Phantom Tollbooth

Kelly, Eric P.
     The Trumpeter of Krakow

Keene, Carolyn
     The Nancy Drew Books*

Konigsburg, E.L.
     From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

Lang, Andrew
     Blue Fairy Book (and others)

L'Engle, Madeleine
     A Wrinkle in Time

Lenski, Lois
     Strawberry Girl

Lewis, C.S.
     The Chronicles of Narnia*

MacGregor, Ellen
     Miss Pickerell Goes to Mars*

Merrill, Jean
     The Pushcart War

Montgomery, Lucy Maud
     Anne of Green Gables*
     Emily of New Moon*

Moody, Ralph
     Little Britches*

Nesbit, Edith
     Five Children and It
     The Treasure Seekers

North, Sterling

Porter, Eleanor

Ransome, Arthur
     Swallows and Amazons*

Sachar, Louis

Salten, Felix
     Bambi: A Life in the Woods

Selznick, Brian
    The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Seredy, Kate
     The Good Master

Sidney, Margaret
     Five Little Peppers and How They Grew*

Spyri, Johanna

Taylor, Sydney
     All-of-a-Kind Family*

Travers, P.L.
     Mary Poppins*

Wiggin, Kate Douglas
     Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm

Winterfield, Henry
     Detectives in Togas

"So please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, 
And in its place you can install, A lovely bookshelf on the wall."
~Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory~


This is a fairly new category since we've only been here for a couple of years. I'd love to have your recommendations on other favorites to add to the list! Drew has particularly enjoyed the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson series' along with the Tolkien trilogy.

Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan
     Hound of the Baskervilles

Flanagan, John
     Brotherband Chronicles

Gray, Elizabeth Janet
     Adam of the Road

Harris, Alex
     Do Hard Things

Kjelgaard, Jim
     Big Red*

Lee, Harper
     To Kill a Mockingbird

London, Jack
     Call of the Wild
     White Fang 

Oke, Jeannette
     Love Comes Softly Series*

Paulsen, Gary

Rawls, Wilson
     Where the Red Fern Grows
     Summer of the Monkeys

Riordan, Rick
     Percy Jackson Series*

Rowling, J.K.
     Harry Potter Series*

Stevenson, Robert Louis
     Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
     The Black Arrow
     Treasure Island 

Tolkien, J.R.R.
     The Lord of the Rings Trilogy* 
     The Hobbit

Twain, Mark
     The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Verne, Jules
     Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
     Around the World in 80 Days

Wyss, Johann David     
     The Swiss Family Robinson

Zusak, Markus
     The Book Thief

That is a good book which is opened with expectation and closed with profit.
~Amos Bronson Alcott~


And a few of my personal recommendations. I decided to stick mostly with fiction on this one.  (You'll also notice some repeats here. I love children's books, too!)  

Claude Monet, "A Woman Reading"

Alcott, Louisa May
     Little Women*
     An Old Fashioned Girl

Austen, Jane
     Pride and Prejudice
     Sense and Sensibility

Bagnold, Enid
     National Velvet 

Bjorn, Thyra
     Papa's Wife*

Brontë, Charlotte
     Jane Eyre

Brontë, Emily
     Wuthering Heights

Collins, Wilkie
     The Moonstone
     The Woman in White

Dickens, Charles
     A Tale of Two Cities
     Our Mutual Friend
     David Copperfield

Dillard, Annie
     Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Douglas, Lloyd
     The Robe

Dumas, Alexandre
     The Count of Monte Cristo

Durrell, Gerald
     My Family and Other Animals

Eliot, George
     The Mill on the Floss

Elliot, Elisabeth
     Through Gates of Splendor
     Shadow of the Almighty
     Let Me Be a Woman
     Discipline, the Glad Surrender

Flory, Jane
     Peddler's Summer

Freedman, Benedict
     Mrs. Mike

Gaskell, Elizabeth

Goudge, Elizabeth
     The Bird in the Tree
     Pilgrim's Inn

Grahame, Kenneth
     The Wind in the Willows

Hardy, Thomas
     Tess of the D'Urbervilles
     Return of the Native

Herriot, James
     All Creatures Great and Small*

Holden, Edith
     The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady

Hurnard, Hannah
     Hinds' Feet on High Places

Gilbreth, Frank
     Cheaper by the Dozen

Fox, John
     The Trail of the Lonesome Pine

Karon, Jan
     At Home in Mitford

Kipling, Rudyard
     Just So Stories

Lee, Harper
     To Kill a Mockingbird

Leroux, Gaston
     The Phantom of the Opera

Lindbergh, Anne Morrow
     Gift from the Sea

Lovelace, Maud Hart
     Heaven to Betsy*

MacDonald, George
     The Fisherman's Lady*

Marshall, Catherine
     A Man Called Peter

Maurier, Daphne

Maxwell, Gavin
     Ring of Bright Water

Milne, A.A.

Mitchell, Margaret
     Gone With the Wind

Montgomery, L.M.
     Anne of Green Gables*
     Emily of New Moon*

O'Hara, Mary
     My Friend Flicka

Orczy, Emmuska
     The Scarlet Pimpernel

Prentiss, Elizabeth
     Stepping Heavenward

Ransome, Arthur 
     Swallows and Amazons*

Rawlings, Marjorie
     The Yearling

Scott, Sir Walter

Shaffer, Mary Ann
     The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Sienkiewicz, Henryk
     Quo Vadis

Spyri, Johanna

Steinbeck, John
     Grapes of Wrath
     East of Eden

Stratton-Porter, Jean
     A Girl of the Limberlost

Struther, Jan
     Mrs. Miniver

Thomson, Flora
     Lark Rise to Candleford

Tudor, Tasha
     The Private World of Tasha Tudor

Vanauken, Sheldon
     A Severe Mercy

Wiggin, Kate Douglas
     Mother Carey's Chickens

Wodehouse, P.G.
     Leave it to Psmith

Wyss, Johann
     The Swiss Family Robinson

I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!
~Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice~

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  1. Great list! =) I love seeing it broken into categories.
    Although I could share a few good books at the older ages, the first would be To Kill A Mockingbird. =)

  2. Thank you for sharing this wonderful list Julianna! I will be on the look out for these books for my nieces and nephews. What a blessing!! - Kim

  3. Thank you for your thoughtful comments, ladies!

    A few more recommendations from other readers:

    1. "The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry and The Big Hungry Bear" by Don and Audrey Wood (picture book)

    2. "Five Minutes' Peace" by Jill Murphy (board book)

    3. "Miracles on Maple Hill" by Virginia Sorensen (Gr. 3)

    4. "Plain Girl" by Virginia Sorensen (Gr. 3)

    Thank you for adding to our list!

  4. Just found your blog through the homeschool classroom. I love it! And I LOVE this list. Thank you! My daughter will be in 3rd grade and has read many of the books in the 1-3 and 4-6 lists, but I had just been thinking that I needed to find some kind of list for the classics that are at the right level for her. You've answered my prayer!!! Many thanks!

  5. Rachel, I'm so glad you've found some helpful information! Thank you for stopping by and sharing with me!

  6. Hey Friend, I will be referencing this list frequently through the summer and beyond. It is great. One I found to be an absolute HIT among my sixth-grade boys back in the day was Harris and Me by Gary Paulsen. It is kind of naughty (which is why they liked it, I think, and why you should read it first--pre-teen boys pee on an electric fence and such:). It is laugh-out-loud funny. City kid moves to his cousin's farm for the summer. It was always one of my first read aloud books of the year. -Lisa A

  7. I'll definitely add that one to my library list, Lisa! I can just picture Drew reading it to Aidan in the near future! Thank you :).

  8. I came to your blog from the Homeschool Classroom. I am loving your ideas.
    One picture book we love is Roxaboxen. I don't remember the author. Your list is fantastic.

    1. Thank you for visiting! You know, I've heard of Roxaboxen, but I don't think we've read it. Thanks for the recommendation. And I'm so glad you've found the list to be helpful. Happy reading!



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