Beloved Books

Book recommendations from our readers and bloggers.

Whether you have overflowing bookshelves but are always on the lookout for something new, or are at a loss for how to build a better home library for your kids, check out the following list of books and series recommended by our social media followers, writers and local professionals.

“[My grandson] loves the Sandra Boynton books! I suspect it’s the flow of the words as well as the bright colored illustrations of animals. I don’t know if this is Callister’s favorite, but I’m hooked on the fun rhythm of the Llama books…I’ve saved Callister’s hands-down favorite for last, “Wonderpants to the Rescue!” No matter what else is going on, he will stop his action for this book. I’m pretty sure it’s the dog that pops through a cutout in each page that mesmerizes him.”—Diane Morrow-Kondos, Grand Life blogger.

“’Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever.’ It’s a classic! I remember going through mine over and over when I was little. I still have it, but the cover is taped…because of going through it so much. Ha! Now, my 18-month-old has the new version and loves it, too!”—Dusti J.

“I love the Llama Llama books, the No David books, the Little House series, Ramon books (really just about any Beverly Cleary), Judy Bloom books, Junie B. Jones books…I’ll stop now. We just love books in our house!”—VaNessa B.

“I liked to read books to my kids that had fun-sounding words and lots of easy-to-animate noises. For this reason, our family really enjoyed “Giraffes Can’t Dance,” “I Love You Stinky Face,” “Click Clack Moo-Cows that Type,” and all of the Dr. Seuss books when they were very young. These books all seemed to have great, imaginative plots and vibrant illustrations, as well.”—Stephanie B.

“Ferdinand!”—Toni L. K.

“Little House on the Prairie series were my fave as a child!”—Alissa S.

“Oh, you may as well ask me which of my children do I love the most. Having shelved, sold, and story-timed, for nearly 30 years, I have a long list of favorites. But one or two titles…how about if I begin with Henry and Mudge and the Happy Cat (#8 out of 27 other Henry and Mudge titles) by award-winning author, the brilliant and talented Cynthia Rylant. I adore nearly every one of the more than 100 titles she has penned in her decades-long career. She has board books, picture books, early readers, and was the recipient of the 1993 Newberry Award for the beautiful, Missing May. All of her stories capture small moments and real-life scenarios, peopled with complex yet relatable characters who are thoughtful and kind. I always recommend the Henry and Mudge series to parents with young boys, as it is sometimes difficult to find children’s books which provide little boys with quiet, conscientious, and just plain Nice, male characters. I recommend Henry and Mudge and the Happy Cat, both because I like cats and I appreciate Ms. Rylant’s gentle humor and her nuanced handling of how children cope with life’s little, everyday disappointments. With succinct, simple language, she manages to capture ordinary, precious but fleeing moments; while successfully introducing children to plot development, dialog, and often odd, but identifiable, characters. There are no machines or extreme adventures. No superheroes or magic amulets. Just an ordinary people (or pigs or dogs) and in Henry and Mudge, a small boy named Henry, his big dog Mudge, and their loving family. (If you have a girl and are looking for a strong female character, try the spin-off series, Anne and Snowball, featuring Henry’s cousin, Anne, and her cat, Snowball.” –Sarah Munson, Children’s Expert at Magic City Books

“I grew up reading The Boxcar Children series and Nancy Drew. Recently, I discovered the Enola Holmes series by Nancy Springer and am sad that I didn’t get to grow up with it! Enola Holmes is Sherlock Holmes’ much-younger sister; the series is well-written, with interesting imagery, and an eye-opening insight into what life might have been like for young women growing up in late-1800s England.”—Tara Rittler, Spaghetti on the Wall blogger

“I love Terry Pratchett’s Wee Free Men books and Megan Whalen Turner’s Thief of Attolia books.” –Christi T.

“For YA, I’d recommend the Hunger Games series!” –Alissa S.

From Victoria McArtor, poet and cofounder of MUSED. Organization, and April Guest Blogger at TulsaKids:

Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss

Age: 0-100
I read this book every year on my birthday, and each year, there is a stanza that knocks my socks off; something new I need to hear; or something my mind is finally ready to pay attention to. Reading this to your babies, having your toddlers read it to you; or diving into critical thinking questions with teenagers will help them identify and navigate their trajectory.

A Bad Case of the Giggles: Poems That Will Make You Laugh Out Loud by Bruce Lansky.

Age: 2-5
The pictures are just as funny as the poems — which encourages kiddos to foreshadow.  I ask young readers to look at the image and anticipate what the poem will tell. (Sometimes they come up with better poems than in the book!)

A Poke in the I by Paul B. Janeczko and illustrator Chris Raschka.

Ages 4-12

Using concrete poetry as its medium, Janeczko’s playful book places emphasis on the visual effect of words. Ask kiddos how the placement and the size of letters convey meaning even better than the written word can. Then, turn this in to a lesson of introspection – how does our image convey meaning without us trying? If you want a book that encourages us to stretch your mind past the typical poem structure and translation, this is the ticket.

After All, I’m Just a Ball by Cari Garfield

Ages 4-7

Do you have a kiddo who loves sports? If so, they will love the personification in “After All, I’m Just a Ball.” These short riddles make equipment come alive. Relating creative and critical thinking to a fun activity — like playing sports — is a good way to help children forge connections between everyday activity and poetic possibility.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

Ages: 1-8 +

A classic tale of selfless love and giving, this is a parable of the importance of love. Especially for middle schoolers who are making the transition between selfishness and empathy, reminding them about the benefits of altruism is pivotal. Ask them to identify random acts of kindness they commit — like the tree that gives us oxygen or the river that gives us water and asks for nothing in return.

Categories: Books and Literacy