If there’s one thing that has helped me keep my sanity while being cooped up over the past two months, it’s our daily book time and seeing my kids deepen their love of reading.
Because I’ve been getting lots of requests for book suggestions, I thought I’d share a few of our very favorites from our shelves (newly reorganized, thanks to quarantine angst)!
I’ve found a lot of joy in sharing some of my favorite books with my kids as family read alouds and I’ve also found a lot of joy in my children getting wrapped up in a book and leaving me alone for several minutes at a time without asking for snacks. (I’ve been a homeschooling-work-from-home mom forever but this whole no breaks thing has taken it to the next level of insanity.)
Caveats: My kids are 1, 7, 8, and 11. I’m going to be sharing books they’ve loved that I have read myself or that come highly recommended but I cannot guarantee that every book will be right for your family. I also don’t have recommendations for teens because I’m not there yet with my kids.
My almost 7yo and my 8yo have just over the past six months launched into more advanced books from beginner reader series like Owl Diaries, Sophie Mouse, and Fairy Ponies (all of which I find rather uninspiring). So it’s a brave new world of good books! But if some of the titles are too advanced for your young readers (and some of them are a little bit beyond my girls’ ability, too!) use them as family read alouds or listen as audiobooks from your local library app.
I am just very much of the mind that offering high quality books as the main fare of a child’s reading is important–then if a kid wants to check out a Minecraft book from the library for fun, it’s fine because they’re getting fed with the good stuff, too! In other words, children’s books are important. As C.S. Lewis reminds us:
“It is usual to speak in a playfully apologetic tone about one’s adult enjoyment of what are called ‘children’s books’. I think the convention a silly one. No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally (and often far more) worth reading at the age of fifty – except, of course, books of information. The only imaginative works we ought to grow out of are those which it would have been better not to have read at all.”
So here’s some great ideas to get you going!
(All links are to bookshop.org which allows you to shop online and support local bookshops–now more important than ever! You can access this full list over there, too, by clicking here.)
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo (great on audiobook and all-around treat)
Bunnicula by James and Deborah Howe (currently being read and loved by my 7yo but my 11yo son also loved it)
The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Clearly (a huge hit with my 8yo)
Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Clearly (next on the docket for my 7yo)
Coraline by Neil Gaiman (just finished and enjoyed by my 11yo–Gaiman’s work is creepy so use your discretion)
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (definitely creepy but enjoyed by myself and my 11yo son–a retelling of The Jungle Book)
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (adored as a read aloud with my daughters)
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (I loved this one as a child and just found it at a used bookshop!)
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (greatly enjoyed by my 11yo)
From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg (We loved this one as an audiobook.)
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart (This entire series is a delight!)
A Wrinkle in Time Quintet by Madeleine L’Engle (I loved all her books as a child and still love them dearly.)
Danny, the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder (We love these books over here, but we also think these are read best as read alouds so parents can address the racism present in the series while reading them.)
The Giver by Lois Lowry (Just finished by my 11yo who also enjoyed Number the Stars by the same author)
The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald (This one works best as a read aloud in my opinion.)
Redwall by Brian Jacques (I’ve lately had a hankering to read every book in this series that I loved as a kid.)
Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild (Not nearly as well-known as it should be. This book is such a treat!)
The Railway Children by E. Nesbit (All of Nesbit’s books are treasures but this one has a special place in my heart.)
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (I’ve been on a Burnett kick lately because they’re such comfort reads.)
A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter (An absolutely enchanting book!)
Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome (Probably best as a read aloud if you have young readers.)
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (Watching my 8yo finish The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe for the first time is a treasure of a memory!)
On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson
Access this full list here at Bookshop.org
In related news, I’m sharing a 20 minute talk about educating very young children through participation in daily family life as part of the FREE virtual Catholic Homeschool Conference starting tomorrow, June 25th-27th.
If you are a seasoned homeschooler who needs some inspiration or if you were thrown into crisis schooling unexpectedly this spring and are discerning whether homeschooling in the fall might work for you family, this is a great resource! There are 60+ speakers and you can watch from your laptop: just sign up here.
My talk is basically a pep talk of encouragement about how simple homeschooling very little ones can be to show you that you are capable of taking on this journey if you are so led!
You can attend for free with this link, or you can get a VIP pass that allows you lifetime access to all the material so you can take your time watching all the talks and come back for reference. Currently VIP passes are at the early bird price of $47 (50% off) and you can grab one of those here before the price goes up!
Awesome list! Earlier this year, I discovered that a good friend of mine had never read one of my childhood faves “From the Mixed-Up Files..” (which I was SO pleased to see on your list) so naturally I bought it for her.
It’s such a joy!
It’s been a long while since I’ve read, so I’ve forgotten most of the details, but I remember really liking Peppermints in the Parlor by Barbara Brooks Wallace.
The Redwall audiobooks are fantastic.
Erich Kastner’s The Flying Classroom is a classic from Germany that should be better known – excellent as a read-aloud, fun imaginative book with good lessons about character.
Yes, everything by Erich Kastner! (Dot and Anton, Emil and the Detectives, and The Flying Classroom for sure!)
And Astrid Lindgren (The Brothers Lionheart, Mio, Pippi, The Children of Noisy Village…)
I enjoyed reading this post, even though my children are grown. I found some of their childhood favorites, and even some of my old favorites from childhood (The Secret Garden and The Mouse and the Motorcycle!)
And thank you, thank you, thank you for linking to Bookshop!
The Redwall books were my favorite growing up! I’d like to also recommend Kate DiCamillo’s Mercy Watson series of books, they’re great early chapter books and are just hilarious.
Yes! Love this list. I’ve bookmarked a few that you mentioned for future read-alouds for my daughters. Reading has always been a comfort for us, but especially now during covid!
Yes yes yes to Redwall! I’ve offloaded a lot of my old kids books over the years but I still have all my Redwall books in the hopes of introducing my kids to them one day.
My favourite book ever is Le Petit Prince – I think I first read it around the age that your eldest is now. It’s a fun one to start at this age because as you reread it as you get older you start to understand it more and more.
My daughter is still building up to chapter books and I have a few saved for when she’s ready to listen to a longer story. We’re loving the 5-minute books right now as she starts paying attention to longer stories (most of the Disney princess ones are cute, and I do not mind having Ariel as a hook to get her to listen to a longer story). I am saving my Burnett books for when she’s ready.
I also have the Miss Bianca books by Margery Sharp. The Rescuers is based on those novels and they are fun for kids that can handle the occasional villain. I also have many of the Redwall books for a later day and will need to practice a Yorkshire accent when it’s time. I think I was one and a half books in before I could finally understand the moles and then I went back and re-read both books.
Thank you for this list. Even though I an well passed children’s books I like reading them from time to time. My favorites are horse books especially by Marguerite Henry. The Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild is very good but there are others Dancing Shoes,Ice Skating Shoes and more.
Here are some suggestions you and the children may enjoy. All Of A Kind Family. The Moffets, The Little Princess , The Strawberry Girl ,Anne of Green Gables and The Story Girl.
Some many great books I remember as a child! I wish my 10 yo. was more adventurous. He seldom picks up anything new, unless he heard it on audio or I read it to him. His current favorite is All of a Kind Family and the rest of the books in that series.
I can’t do anymore Ronald Dahl after reading a short biography on him. Granted, people’s art isn’t always informed by their personal life, but his work is just strange enough to be flirting with his personal life.
Oh! I am far too late to the party, but can I please make some suggestions…
The brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren is so so so beautiful. Anything by Astrid Lindgren is great, but that one is the best. It’s about death though, so maybe wait till more sensitive readers are ready. Many of her books have been made into beautiful (though very 1970’s) movies that are equally great. We often watch a movie after we finish a book.
Can I also suggest some Dutch books?
“The cat who came in off the roof” Annie M.G. Schmidt (there’s a movie too!)
“The letter for the king” Tonke Dragt
“Crusade in jeans” Thea Beckman