Best Kids’ Books: A List

My only New Year’s resolution this year has to do with homeschooling.  When I feel that urge to push through more curriculum . . . don’t.  Take a deep breath, and pull back.  Finish the lesson another day.

How totally Zen of me.

As a necessary consequence of this new strategy, I have drastically increased “free reading” time.  This in turn increases our library visits.  This in turn increases my desire to find great kids’ books.  I find myself scanning the shelves for titles or authors that sound vaguely familiar.  Hence this post.

Probably, better lists already exist.

I don’t care.

The following list ranges from Kindergarten to about 6th grade reading level.  Enjoy.

1.  Virginia Burton’s books.  We had “The Little House” when I was little, so perhaps that is why it’s my favorite.  They are all good, though.

2.  Harry the Dog.  Awesomeness, especially the way he patiently puts that blow-hard opera singer in her place.

3.  Junior’s Adventures, by Dave Ramsey.  Chik-Fil-A introduced me to this series, by putting a free book (Careless at the Carnival) in my son’s meal.  It was a wordy little thing, and I figured he would hate it, being only three years old at the time.  I was wrong.  He loved it, and demanded repeated readings.  Same goes for the other Junior books.  These stories convey abstract concepts (like debt) in a way that even young ‘uns can understand.

4.  Curious George.  I know, duh.  Oh, how a curious little preschooler loves to realize he isn’t the only one who accidentally gets in trouble.  The important thing is to realize that there are authentic George stories and later, inauthentic stories.  For the older reader is another interesting story:  The Journey That Saved Curious George : The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey.

5.  The Sneetches and Other Stories, by Dr. Suess.  I know, everyone knows Dr. Suess.  However, my anecdotal experience has taught me that many folks have never heard of The Sneetches, Too Many Daves, or What Was I Scared Of?

Are you among the ignorant?  If so, remedy this deficiency!  Top-notch comedy lies within.  Who among us can resist a name like Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate?  Who among us can top dramatic oration like this:

“And there I was!  Caught in the Snide!  And in that dreadful place . . .  Those spooky, empy pants and I . . . Were standing face to face!”

6.  Speaking of top-notch comedy, Two Frogs is brilliant.  As a British import, the book’s price is not cheap.  There are worse ways to spend your money, however.  The story begins with two frogs in the middle of a large pond.  One of the frogs is holding a stick.  “What’s that for?” asked the other frog.  “For protection,” said the frog with the stick.  “This stick is to beat off the dog . . . “

7.  What’s Smaller Than A Pygmy Shrew?  This book does a fantastic job of bringing perspective to microscopic levels.  Even a thick gal like me can understand.

8.  Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing series, by Judy Blume.  Older brothers sure can relate to the narrating character in this series.

9.  Anything from Roald Dahl.  James and The Giant Peach is my favorite.  What is yours?

10.  Anything from Beverly Cleary.  From Socks to Ribsy to Ralph the Mouse, cuteness abounds, and the kiddies are happy to read about it.

11.  Ted Bell’s books.  These books are for the older reader.  We have only read Nick of Time, but boy howdy was it well received.  The plot is both exciting and historically enlightening.

12.  One Hundred Hungry Ants.  This book is another that I dismissed as forgettable.  I was wrong.  Not only does it teach math, but it also captures a child’s imagination.

13.  Ten Timid Ghosts.  I have no idea why this book was so popular in my house.  All I can say is, the boys loved it.  As in, they wore it out.  The book shows how things that seem scary may not be so bad, after all.

14.  Jan Pienkowski’s stuff is great.  We have a couple of her pop-ups.  Just don’t let preschoolers handle her pop-ups without supervision.  They are too fragile.

15.  Pippi Longstocking.  I appreciate any story that puts a positive spin on the sad case of an orphaned child.  Kids appreciate it, too.  They don’t exist for our amusement alone, after all.

Add more to my list!  Just comment below.

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18 thoughts on “Best Kids’ Books: A List

  1. Bob 26 January 2012 at 1:21 am Reply

    My kids loved The Great Brain books by John D. Fitzgerald, the Henry Reed books by Keith Robertson, and the Ike and Mama books by Carol Snyder. They also loved the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, the Redwall books by Brian Jacques, and almost anything by Dick King-Smith.

    • nooneofanyimport 28 January 2012 at 9:25 pm Reply

      Wow. The only familiar bit you named was CS Lewis. I have the Chronicles, and I’ve been waiting, waiting, waiting, for Older Son to be interested, but not yet. My darling child has been singularly uninterested in fiction (both writing AND movies) for most of his life. He has preferred reference books regarding whatever is his latest obsession. A good part of homeschooling this year is the way I’ve been able to focus on fiction stories and finally get him interested reading chapter books.

      I’ll be using your list as a reference in the future, thanks for it. This post was a great idea; I get lots of good tips.

  2. rogueoperator 26 January 2012 at 7:21 am Reply

    Piers Anthony is great. I’d also add E.B. White. Don’t tell anyone, but I liked the Margaret Weis books as well.

    • nooneofanyimport 28 January 2012 at 9:22 pm Reply

      I’m afraid to admit that I have never heard of Piers or Weis. I’ll have to remember them for future reference. A quick Google peek at their biblios make me think of another great author, Madeleine L’engle. That Wrinkle in Time book captured my little imagination; think I read the series.

      Oh, E.B. White, yeah! Thanks for reminding me of another good one.

  3. Freedom, by the way 26 January 2012 at 7:13 pm Reply

    My son went through The Goosebumps stage around 4th grade. (We all like watching the old TV series shows–on DVD when you can find them) I loved The Borrowers books and of course, Laura Ingle Wilder’s Little House series.And you can’t go wrong with Mark Twain.
    For 6th grade boys–The Outsiders. Awesome book.

  4. Country Thinker 27 January 2012 at 11:05 am Reply

    My little guy likes the Golden guides – all of them, but Fishing is his favorite. Fiction and non-fiction blur for an (almiost) 5-year old, as he imagines himself out on the ocean reeeling in a sailfish.

  5. SDH 28 January 2012 at 3:42 pm Reply

    Ahh….a challenge. Since I have not read all these books, this cannot be the definitive list.

    Yes, I am a narcissist.

    I’ll post some suggestions after a period of reflection.

    p.s. I hope Mom is feeling better. (I’m narcissistic, not soulless.)

    • nooneofanyimport 28 January 2012 at 9:14 pm Reply

      ha ha ha, I’m gonna have to check out that link to see what I am. I know just what you mean though: the minute I post a definitive list, folks start adding stuff I’ve never even heard of.

      I am glad to get more ideas. It beats aimless scanning at book spines.

      Mom has gone home now! So she is doing better. It sure is a process, overall. Surgery is never fun; it’s hard to believe some folks volunteer to get it for cosmetic reasons.

      And oh! The Berenstain bears is a good addition. The Bears’ Picnic was one of my favorites as a kid.

      cheers bud.

    • mom 31 January 2012 at 1:32 pm Reply

      Mom is doing a lot better. Thanks for asking. Just being home makes a big difference.

      • SDH 3 February 2012 at 7:44 pm Reply

        Familiar surroundings make everything more bearable. I’m glad you’re feeling better.

  6. SDH 28 January 2012 at 7:55 pm Reply

    Some of the books I liked as a kid in addition to the ones mentioned above are:

    - The Berenstain Bears
    - All the Dr. Seuss especially The Digging-Est Dog and Hop on Pop.
    - of couse, the Curious George books
    - Uncle Wiggily
    - The Peter Rabbit books
    - The Hardy Boys
    - Encyclopedia Brown
    - The Mad Scientist Club books
    - Bruno and Boots books
    - The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle
    - I first read Tom Sawyer and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn when I was about 10.
    - Treasure Island
    - The Hobbit
    - The Dark is Rising
    - Chronicles of Narnia
    - I can’t remember when I first read Watership Down, but it probably before Grade 6.

    My youngest is in grade 6 and he’d add:

    - Harry Potter
    - Ranger’s Apprentice
    - Pendragon
    - Lord of the Rings

    He was also big into Goosebumps a couple of years ago.

  7. thatmrgguy 28 January 2012 at 10:37 pm Reply

    This isn’t a book of fiction, but it was interesting for me when I was in sixth grade. I don’t remember the author, but the book was called “The Restless Earth.” It’s about volcanoes and earthquakes, basically a geologic history of Earth.

  8. [...] NoOneOfAnyImport: Best Kids’ Books: A List [...]

  9. Digital Night 1 February 2012 at 4:47 pm Reply

    I loved many on your list and in your suggestions.

    - I second the Great Brain series.
    - Anything by Lloyd Alexander (I fell in love with his chronicals of Prydain series in third grade. I would recommend the Westmark series for a sixth grader.)
    - For early teenager fiction Megan Whalen Turner’s Atolia series is always a fun read.

    Thanks for a fun list.

  10. Morty'sMom 2 February 2012 at 1:17 pm Reply

    Harry is my go-to baby gift for any new parent. It’s well-done and pretty wholesome, plus it sets children up for a love of dogs!

  11. nooneofanyimport 2 February 2012 at 3:26 pm Reply

    Mr. G, Digital Night, thanks for commenting and offering the additional book ideas. I’ll have a hard time running out of book now.

    Morty’s Mom is right. Harry the Dog is downright adorable.

    Mommy! I love it when you actuallty comment.

    And oh dear, I’ve thought of more that really must be added:

    The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson. Don’t go watching a movie or play version. Nothing is funnier than the picture painted with the author’s own words, especially in the beginning when one of those awful Herdman boys brings their mean cat into show-and-tell. My robust reading of that bit had older son gasping for breath, he was laughing so hard.

    A Little Princess, by Frances Burnett. More of a girl book, couldja guess, but it can’t be omitted. So, so so so good.

  12. Helen 6 April 2012 at 10:28 pm Reply

    Judy Freeman is a former children’s librarian that has put together several awesome reference books on the best books for kids. The older versions are titled Books Your Kids Will Sit Still For. The recommendations go up through about 6th grade. It covers fiction and nonfiction. It has been one of my best homeschooling resources. I picked up the old copies cheap on Amazon.

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