BOOKS FOR BABIES
Some of our family’s favorite board books for babies that bring many giggling memories to mind are:
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See? by *Bill Martin
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by *Eric Carle
Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt
Where’s Spot by Eric Hall
Plant the Tiny Seed by Christie Matheson
I thought I saw a Dinosaur by Lydia Nichols. (Author’s with a * next to their name we love everything by.)
Babies and toddlers are learning about their new world through ALL their 5 senses! So choosing books for babies is about finding age-appropriate books that can to handle the wear and tear of little hands and mouths. Let them have fun interacting with the book: pulling, poking, feeling, and even chewing on. As babies grow and develop into toddlers, they love books with textures (such as touch-and-feel books) books with flaps to lift, holes to poke fingers through and repetition.
Reading Reframe TIP: Reading these books together is more about building your bond with your baby than reading. So the best books for babies are those that spark their curiosity and interaction with the book. This short reading time together can give you a glimpse into seeing the wonder of the world through their little eyes. Ask questions about the pictures, have fun. Remember reading together is about building your relationship so when you’re connecting to each other, smiling or laughing, you’re doing it “right” even if you’re not reading the words…”Reading” together is much more than reading the words on a page: Any positive interaction with the book or spontaneous play that springboards from the book, all count as “reading” together.
BOOKS FOR TODDLERS
(1-3 YRS) *we love everything by this author
Some of our family’s favorite board books for toddlers include:
Blue Hat, Green Hat by *Sandra Boynton
Freight Train by Donald Crews
“Owl Babies” by *Martin Waddell, “Whose Mouse are you” by Robert Kraus, “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” by *Bill Martin and John Archembault, “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown
Goodnight Gorilla” By *Peggy Rathmann.
Toddlers are a combo of finding their independence while also needing reassurance that “Mommy/Daddy will come back”. Choosing the right books for toddlers can meet both of those needs with BOTH parent and child enjoying this reading time together! Simple stories with repetition and rhyming words (including nursery rhymes) are best to capture the curiosity of toddlers. Hearing the predictability and rhythm of the language, also helps them develop language skills. (So when they ask you to read that one book…over and over and over, remember their little developing brain is creating new language synapses each time!)
+Connecting through the story TIP: Once you’ve read their favorites a bunch, pause and let them finish the last word in a sentence. i.e. Brown Bear Brown Bear What do you __? This not only builds their confidence and budding language skills, but equally important, this predictability of knowing what comes next in the story, creates security and stability within your relationship and for their little developing nervous systems.
Remember Good Children’s literature offers thoughtfully chosen wording and characters, with illustrations that tell as much of the story as the words do.
BOOKS FOR PRESCHOOLERS
Some of our family’s preschool favorites include:
10 Minutes ‘Till Bedtime by *Peggy Rathmann, The Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear by *Audrey and Don Wood, Whistle for Willie by *Ezra Jack Keats, Cordoroy by Don Freeman, Muncha Muncha Muncha by Candace Fleming, Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina, You and Me Little Bear by *Martin Waddell and Max’s New Suit by *Rosemary Wells (We love everything from these authors with a *next to their name)
Curious preschoolers enjoy picture books with clever stories that capture their imaginative problem solving skills and budding sense of humor. These books, written by real children’s Literature authors, offer engaging stories with endearing characters, relatable simple plots, and beautiful illustrations that encourage children and parents to have fun sharing the story. Additionally, books that promote social-emotional learning (SEL), such as books about feelings and friendship, can be a helpful tool for preschoolers developing social skills and empathy (See more in books by topic).
+Fun Interactive TIP: Have fun capturing your preschoolers natural curiosity and sense of humor by asking them to find hidden or funny repeating patterns in the illustrations. i.e. In 10 Minutes ‘Till Bedtime – Can you Find “Goodnight Gorilla” in this story (Also by the same author – Peggy Rathmann?) Can you find the hamster with underwear on his head? or the one that is kicking the soccer ball on Officer Buckle? They love finding these silly hamsters on every page!
“GOOD CHILDREN’S STORYBOOKS ARE DOORWAYS
To build relationships. To feel seen. To find words for feelings and experiences.
To learn. To laugh. To love.”
BOOKS FOR THE EARLY SCHOOL AGE
Some of our family’s favorite stories for early school age include:
Chrysanthemum by *Kevin Henkes, The Day the Babies Crawled Away by *Peggy Rathmann
Dragons Love Tacos” by Adam Rubin, “When you are brave” by *Pat Zeitlow Miller, “A Bad Case of Stripes” by David Shannon, “Falling for Repunzel” by Leah Wilcox, The Cow who climbed the tree” by Gemma Merino, “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs” by Jon Scieszka, The Three Pigs by David Weisner, George and Martha by *James Marshall, Red Riding Hood By James Marshall, “Where the Wild Things Are” by *Maurice Sendak, and “The Mercy Watson” Series by *Kate DiCamillo (We love everything from these authors with a *next to their name)
This age is excited about so many simple “big kid” parts of life like starting school and learning to read! These budding readers love storybooks that offer new twists on known stories, relatable or silly characters, witty dialogue, and life lessons. This daily reading routine can build excitement for learning to read while also re-centering -both parent and child- at the end of a busy day; to go to bed happy and rested, ready for the next day.
+LEARNING TO READ MYTH: reading to your child when they are learning to read will make them not want to learn to read. Fact: Reading to your child in a fun enjoyable way will make them want to learn to read because they associate this reading time with happy, loving time with you, and fun and interesting stories! Having an enjoyable reading routine with kids encourages excitement about learning to read and learn on their own, knowing they won’t have to give up this special bonding, close time with you when they do learn to read. (My teenage son and I still look forward to reading together because we love talking about the story and connecting at the end of a long day:)
BOOKS FOR DEVELOPING READERS
(7-9 YRS) *we love everything by this author
Some of our family’s favorite storybooks for 7-9 year olds include:
“Somebody Loves you Mr Hatch” by Eileen Spinelli, “Island of the Skog” by Stephen Kellogg, “I am Every Good thing” by *Derrick Barnes, “Amos and Boris” by *William Steig, Dancing Hands” by Margarita Engle.
Favorite chapter books: Frog and Toad by *Arnold Lobel, “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White, “The BFG” by Roald Dahl, “The Magic Tree House” series by Mary Pope Osborne, “The Wild Robot” by Peter Brown and “The Tale of Despereaux” by *Kate DiCamillo
Children this age still love to be read story books but are also now interested in reading chapter books with exciting stories and relatable characters. Many of these stories can teach valuable life lessons while helping children gain understanding into their emotions, friends, and the world around them.
+Meltdown Moment TIP: I have read many a story to help calm my child and help them feel heard or talk about how they are feeling; to see another perspective or be a kinder sibling or friend. Check out my parenting tools section in “Stories by Topic” (put Button here) or read a funny story from one of the younger sections that can diffuse the situation with laughter so they can talk about it later.
BOOKS FOR OLDER CHILDREN (9-12)
Some of Our Kid’s favorites include chapter books and middle grade books with more complex adventure stories include: “Holes” by Louis Sachar, “Hatchet” By Gary Paulson, “Because of Winn Dixie” by *Kate DiCamillo, “Peter Nimble and his fantastic Eye” by *Jonathan Auxier, “Chasing RedBird” by *Sharon Creech, “Elijah of Buxton” by Christopher Paul Curtis, “Esperanza Rising” by Pam Munoz Ryan “Harry Potter” series by *J.K. Rowling, “The Percy Jackson” series by Rick Riordan, and “The Hunger Games” series by Suzanne Collins. At this age, tweens enjoy books with relatable characters, fast moving plots with thought-provoking exciting complex themes especially that explore social justice, fairness and social dilemmas.
Non-fiction books that explore topics such as science, history, and nature can also be valuable in expanding children’s knowledge and curiosity, such as “The Human Body: A Visual Encyclopedia” by DK, or “The Story of the World” by Susan Wise Bauer.
+Connecting Tip: This is a pivotal time to keep your reading routine going so that as your child enters their teen years they will have a safe built in time to talk to you about their fears and worries. Let your child take more of the lead in what they choose for you to read together. Let this be a doorway into understanding their interests and fears, even if it’s not your favorite story. +(connect to Meredith’s testimonial)
BOOKS FOR TEENAGERS
Some of our Teens favorites include: “The Giver” series by *Lois Lowry, “The Crossover” by *Kwame Alexander, “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Ware, “Peak” by Roland Smith, “Riyria Revelations” by Michael J Sullivan, “The Boy in the striped Pajamas” by John Boyne, “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak and “Ramie Nightingale” by *Kate DiCamillo.
Fiction books that explore coming-of-age themes, and relationships are important with this age group. These books offer engaging stories with memorable characters, authentic dialogue, and valuable life lessons that encourage teenagers to explore their beliefs about who they are. Additionally, some classic literature, such as “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and “1984” by George Orwell, can spark open ended conversations about the complexities of society and how we treat each other.
Non-fiction books that explore topics such as war, social issues, save the earth and personal development can also be valuable in connecting to your teen as you both expand your knowledge and understanding of the world, such as “The Soul of an Octopus” by Sy Montgomery, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens” by Sean Covey, and “There is no Planet B- a handbook for the make or break years” by Mike Berners-Lee
+Teen Tip: If your teen doesn’t want to read together, Ask your teen what their favorite book they’ve read (or listened to) lately is and read it separately so you can ask about or share your favorite parts from it. Don’t “judge” them by what they’re reading; just let this be a window to understand what they are interested in and why. Keeping this conversation open, neutral and loving will go a long way in showing them they can talk to you about other more serious things like mental health, or relationships.
As children increase their independence you may think your reading aloud days are done but I have found – especially during traumatic events or times of change –that kids crave even more this stable reading routine of connection and comfort. One easy way I’ve found to keep connected to my busy kids during the Summer is picking a book for our family read aloud time a few evenings a week. Even now as the kids are teens, they still enjoy gathering and settling into hear these funny and timeless stories. I Find it interesting that they usually want me to be the reader even though they are all now excellent readers; perhaps it is a comforting thread connecting them to their childhood…
Some of our family’s read aloud favorites over the years have included:
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, The World of Pooh by AA Milne
The Ichabog by J.K. Rowling, The Beatryce Prophesy by Kate DiCamillo
Walk two Moons by Sharon Creech, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
For a fun 5 min readaloud try a Poetry collection: The Complete Poems of Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne, A Child’s Anthology of Poetry Edited by Elizabeth Hauge Sword, Sing a Song of Popcorn: Every child’s book of poems Selected by Beatrice Shenk De Regniers
To choose a family book to read together, look for engaging yet simple, timeless stories with universal themes that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages; Stories that are relatable, inspiring, encourage discussion, or foster love, laughter and learning. This read aloud time can create a safe place to discuss difficult topics and open the door for kids to share their thoughts and feelings in natural ways. +(link to Meredith’s testimonial”
+ReadAloud tip: For this to work everyone needs to have a say. Try listening to an audio book on car trips and if everyone likes that author choose another for your family read a loud. This is NOT a time to force reading “The Classics” (unless your kids actually want to read Moby Dick). If the family is not enjoying the book, just choose a different book. There is no rule that says you must finish a book no one wants to read. If you want this to be safe, happy, connecting family time then the kids need to WANT to hear the book you’re reading 😉 + link to stories by topic