There’s nothing quite like settling in your kids and a good book. We’ve created the ultimate list of 100+ exciting tales your kids have got to read before they turn 12. How many new titles can you add to your nighttime reading list? Scroll down to see them all.
1. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
Travel between universes and go on an adventure that digs into the meaning of family bonding and friendship. Note to sensitive bookworms: The plot can get dark and teems with unsavory characters. Ages 10 & up.
2. Cuddly Critters for Little Geniuses by James and Susan Patterson. This follow-up to the Patterson's best-selling first book (Big Words for Little Geniuses) takes kids on an animal journey that leaves the cows, chickens and sheep in the barnyard. From swimmers to flyers and beyond, kids will discover the sloth, the wombat, the tarsier and much more. Charming illustrations complete the equation, making this book a must-have bookshelf addition. Ages 3-6.
3. The Ramona Quimby Books by Beverly Cleary
Short of simply writing “anything ever written by Beverly Cleary” we’re going to be choosy by adding her star novels featuring Ramona Quimby. Spend a few years hanging out with Ramona, Beezus, Howie and the other regulars on Klickitat Street. Ages 8-12.
4. Lola Plants a Garden by Anna McQuinn
Proving books can be a point of inspiration, young bookworm Lola decides to grow a garden of her own after reading a garden themed poem. With her Mommy in tow, they head to the library to research before choosing seeds and flowers and then get down to planting. What a great book for growing imagination! Ages 2-5.
5. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
"Once there was a tree ... and she loved a little boy." It only takes one read for this story of unconditional love to stick with your munchkins forever. Read it before bedtime or have them tackle it on their own. Ages 5-7.
6. Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai
The story is based on Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai’s childhood wish to have a magic pencil that would “make everyone happy,” and could “erase the smell of garbage from her city.” This book explores every person's power to change the world through strength of character and determination. Looking to inspire social change in your kids? Try some of these recommended books. Ages 5-8.
7. Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt
Written by mom Dorothy Kunhardt, this classic lets hands-on tots get interactive with fur, sandpaper, mirrors and more. There's even an app version for the iPad and iPhone that comes with background music and sound effects. Ages 18 months & up.
8. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalk
This clever picture book, released in 2015, will leave your kids in stitches as they read compliments and legit complaints written as an epistolary to young Duncan from his crayons. It seems they’ve unionized and won’t go back on duty until Duncan listens to their concerns, which he does in the most colorful and creative of ways! Ages 3-7.
9. Firefly Hollow by Alison McGhee
A magical tale set around an endearing friendship between a cricket, a firefly and a vole who team up to make history and help a young boy find his place after a mysterious loss in his life. Poised to become a classic, this is one the whole family can enjoy—especially those who love baseball and underdogs who overcome the odds. Ages 8-12.
10. The Girl with a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague by Julia Finley Mosca
This story introduces readers to Raye Montague, a hidden mastermind who made a huge impact in the U.S. Navy. When she was growing up in the 1940s, Raye decided to become an engineer. A culture of sexism and racial inequality challenged her plans but never deterred her from accomplishing her dream. Ages 5-10
11. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
Harold and his big imagination take a purple crayon out for a walk under the moon one night. As he draws his own adventures, he comes across a pie-only picnic, a monster guarding an apple tree and a friendly policeman who finally points him in the right direction—back home to the comfort of his own bed. It’s a classic for a reason. Get the scoop on more classics to read with your sidekick here. Ages 4-7
12. Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld
Fans of Toy Story and Cars are not going to get enough of this one. Complete with catchy rhymes for smooth read-aloud flow, old-fashioned illustrations and machines with personality, Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site will be sure to cement going to bed as something to look forward to. Ages 1-3 (& up).
13. The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles
This is a beautifully illustrated and well told true story of the six-year-old Ruby Bridges who, in 1960, was the first African-American to attend an all-white school. Children will relate to the emotions and courage throughout the story. It’s an excellent example of connecting kids to history in a way they won’t forget. Ages 5-9.
14. Pinkalicious by Victoria Kann
It's a modern fairytale that could have inspired Katy Perry's entire career. After reading about a girl who turns blushing-red from eating too many pink cupcakes, your princesses and princes will be happy to eat their greens. Filled with bright colors, humor and a surprise at the very end, Pinkalicious is a great energetic read for pink fiends. Ages 5-7.
15. Chameleon's Colors by Chisato Tashiro
Chameleon wants to stop changing colors, but Lion, Hippo, Elephant and all the other animals of the jungle would love to change their stripes. But the chaos that ensues with these colorful coats, soon makes Chameleon very grateful with his own skin. Your tiny animals will love the bright colors and patterns, but may not like how the entire jungle chases Chameleon at the end. Ages 4-8.
16. The Bee Book by
Get ready to learn all about one of the hardest-working creatures out there: the honeybee. Kids will learn how bees talk to one another, the life of a queen bee, and what a worker bee actually does. Discover how much bees matter, why they're declining, and what everyone can do to help the bee population. Ages 5-8
17. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Jacqueline Woodson’s novel, written in verse, chronicles her life growing up in the Civil Rights era. Caught between two worlds, one black and one white, one New York and one South Carolina, each of the book’s poems weaves in another strand of her life’s history, as she tries to both find and define her place in the world. Ages 10 & up.
18. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
Looks like Alexander’s got a case of the “Mondays.” He’s got gum stuck in his hair; he gets the hump seat on the ride to school; He’s served lima beans at lunch. What else could go wrong? Find out when you read this classic kids book. Ages 6-9.
19. Llama, Llama, Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
Infectious rhymes make this book an ideal and memorial bedtime tale for your sleepers. On top of the amazing artwork and detailed facial expression of the baby llama, Llama, Llama, Red Pajama also teaches kids patience and reassurance that mom is not far away. Ages 2-5.
20. Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems
With Dad in charge, a trip to the laundromat is blissful fun until Trixie leaves her Knuffle Bunny behind. New Yorkers will especially love the black and white photos of Brooklyn, which are paired with colorful illustrations. Get your mini-me's favorite toy ready, they'll be asking for it after the last page. Ages 2-5.
21. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
There's no sugarcoating friendships and mean girls when it comes to Harriet the Spy. When Harriet's friends find her notebook with all the truthful but awful things about them, Harriet has to find a way to mend her friendships. It's a lengthy, but great, beginner's read into the world of novels. Age 9 & up.
22. The Princess in Black series by Shannon & Dean Hale
Princess Magnolia may live the frilly life of a typical pink-ified princess, but her alter ego, the Princess in Black, lives the life many little girls dream of—fighting monsters to save sheep in this beginning reader chapter book series. But don’t worry, she does typical princess things too, like throw a rocking party and vacation at the beach. It’s all in a day’s work for this power girl! Ages 5-8.
23. On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman
It turns out you weren’t the only one celebrating on the night your sweet baby was born. In this magically illustrated tale, kids discover all the other creatures and elements from the natural world who lauded their arrival. From the polar bears who danced until dawn to the smiling night moon and the whispering wind and rain, everyone in this book is excited to meet this newly-minted one-and-only you. Ages 1-4.
24. The Junie B. Jones Series by Barbara Par
If you’ve got a kid with sass (or were a kid with sass!) this is the series for you. Start with Junie B.’s adventures in kindergarten and read along as she progresses through school dealing with all the typical issues, like a stupid, smelly school bus, friend jealousy, tooth loss and more. Ages 6-9.
25. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd
For cuddlers who are embarking on their first night alone, Goodnight Moon is a perfect fit. Everything (mostly) rhymes in this story as Bunny says goodnight to everything around him. Ages 2-6.
26. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Got a pre-teen who hates reading? Hand her Harry Potter. Praised for inspiring kids to read, the Harry Potter series is an entirely new world to explore. And thanks to Rowling's penchant for being extremely detailed, things from the book have become real-life—Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans, anyone? Of course, read the books before watching the movies. Ages 11 & up.
27. Thunderboy, Jr. by Sherman Alexie
Even if you don’t’ have a “jr.” in your family, your kids will relate to Thunder Boy’s overwhelming desire to change his name. In a compelling and humorous way, he works his persuasive magic on his captive audience, making a strong case to change his name to “Not Afraid of Ten Thousand Teeth”… or how about “Full or Wonder?” It’s easy to see why this recently published book has earned its place on seven best book lists! Curious to read more books about indigenous people? Here are 12 to help you out! Ages 4-8.
28. Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
By popular children's author Judy Blume (Are You There God, It's Me Margaret), Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing is an entertaining read about Peter, a nine-year-old boy, who learns how to get along with his lil' brother Fudge. Ages 9 & up.
29. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Candy lovers who will get a sugar high from all the delectable descriptions in Roald Dahl's arguably most famous work. When Charlie Bucket gets the most coveted golden ticket to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, a tasty adventure that'll stretch kids' creativity like everlasting gum. Ages 8-12.
30. Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara M. Joosse
A gorgeously illustrated picture book that answers the question every kid wonders about—mama, will you still love me if I … With thoughtful reassurances this Inuit mother lets her daughter know that yes, even when she puts lemmings in her mukluks or pours water onto the fire, she will love her always and forever, dear one. Ages 2 & up.
31. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Who knew a hole puncher was an inspiration to one of the most famous children's books in the world? Kids will delight in reading (and counting) all the treats that the caterpillar combs through while learning about metamorphosis. Plus, there's almost nothing as much fun as poking your finger through the holes of each food. Ages 2-6.
32. Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesa Cavallo
Don’t let the title fool you: this recent collection is appropriate for boys and girls, anytime, day or night. Beautifully illustrated, the book contains the life snapshots of 100 heroic women, told in a voice that kids can relate to. Ages 4-101.
33. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
Princess Elizabeth has a very nice life until a dragon burns it all (including her clothes) to the ground and takes off with her prince. Follow along as the spunky and brave protagonist dons a paper bag and rescues the prince (who turns out to be a dud) instead of waiting to be rescued herself. This classic children's book has a strong feminist message and is a lot of fun. Ages 4-7.
34. Elephant & Piggie Series by Mo Willems
Pink and grey may become your sidekick's favorite colors after getting through this early reader series. The comic book style sets it apart from most children's' books, with Piggie's speech in pink and Gerald's (the elephant) in grey. Ages 3-5.
35. Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business by Esphyr Slobodkina
This humorous story of a peddler chasing after mischievous monkeys for his hats will have your teeny rascal holding their stomach in stitches. A twist on the saying, "Monkey see, monkey do," Caps for Sale is a timeless read-aloud with repetitive sentences that invite listeners to join in. Ages 4-8.
36. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr and Eric Carle
Does your toddler have the makings of an Eye-Spy pro? Designed to help tykes associate colors and meaning to objects, Carle's memorable illustrations along with Bill Martin Jr.'s sing-song text will really get their search gears kicking. Ages 2-5.
37. Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper
As Mazie listens to the tale of her great-great-great Grandpa Mose, she learns about the history of African American freedom that started in the cotton fields when Texas slaves finally learned they were free—two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. It moves through other Civil Rights milestones before Mazie heads off to celebrate freedom with her own family. Interested in reading more about the history of African Americans in America? Put some of these on your reading list. Ages 6-9.
38. Diary of A Wimpy Kids Series by Jeff Kinney
Originally a web series that was brought to life by popular demand, Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a fictional middle schooler's musings of his daily adventures. Just like a kid's diary, the series' books are filled with hand-written notes and simple drawings to go along with the text. Ages 8-12.
39. Holes by Louis Sachar
Wrong place, wrong time, but nevertheless extremely lucky—Stanley Yelnats IV's time in Camp Green Lake will have you0 campers swallowing the book whole. Ages 8-12.
40. The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood
This is a lovely re4itation of the quiet things in life: “coloring in the lines quiet,” “right before you yell, ‘SURPRISE!’ quiet,” “bedtime kiss quiet.” The tone and gentle illustrations (featuring porcupines and teddy bears and other humorous animals) make it just right for settling down before sleep. Ages 3-8.
41. The Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley
After their parents disappeared, sisters Sabrina and Daphne Grimm were passed from one foster home to the next. Until a grandmother they thought died long ago comes to claim them, and the story she tells them changes their lives forever! Living among the Everafters (we have a feeling you’ll recognize them all), they solve a different fairy tale mystery in every book. Ages 8-12.
42. El Deafo by Cece Bell
Introduce your kids to a new kind of superhero with Cece Bell’s autobiographical graphic novel, El Deafo. Losing her hearing at age four, and getting a Phonic Ear to help her hear separated Cece from her classmates, family and friends. But once she figures out she gained some “super” abilities too, she finds her place in the world. Ages 8-12.
43. Schomburg: The Man Who Built A Library by Carole Boston Weatherford
Afro-Puerto Rican immigrant and hero Arturo Schomburg was a law clerk with a passion: he collected books, letters, art and music from Africa and the African diaspora. Find out how he turned his passion into the curated “Negro Division” collection at the New York Public Library in 1905 when you read this picture book replete with little-known history. Ages 9-12.
44. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena
It all starts with a question—“Nana, how come we don’t got a car?”—and the story of young C.J. and the wisdom his grandma imparts is off and running, just like the bus they ride down Market Street after church on Sundays. This simple story about the perspective only grandparents can give their grandkids won the Caldecott Honor award in 2016. Ages 3-5.
45. No, David! by David Shannon
The story behind this story is almost as cute as the book itself. When he was five, author David Shannon wrote a book about how he broke all of his mother’s house rules. This is the re-telling of that story. It’s a simple one where David keeps getting into trouble, as curious kids are want to do, and his mother keeps reminding him, “No, David!” Ages 4-8.
46. James and The Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
A magical peach takes James and six talking garden bugs on a wildly unforgettable journey from England to New York. The book is slightly frightening and keeps your bookworms on edge, but Dahl keeps the action tame. Just be prepared for a peachy request for the juicy fruit (or pop in the Disney film). Ages 8-12.
47. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
With only 338 words and beautiful illustrations, Sendak's chronicle of Max and the Wild Things will stick with your lil' king long after they've grown out of their tantrums. Reign over curious monsters, and find comfort in a bowl of soup with this classic story. Ages 4-8.
48. Curious George Stories by H. A. Rey and Margret Rey
Munchkins all over relate to Curious George's inquisitive nature. Where does this go? What does this do? This brave and lovable monkey tackles his imagination while undoubtedly delighting your critters' own mind. Ages 4-8.
49. The Fun Jungle series by Stuart Gibbs
For any kid who wished they lived at Disney World, this story’s for you! Teddy Fitzroy’s parents work with exotic animals at the world-renown theme park—Fun Jungle—one as a photographer, the other a biologist, which puts Teddy and his mystery-solving sidekick Summer at the center of things when animals go missing. Currently, there are four books in this entertaining series by Stuart Gibbs. Ages 8-12.
50. The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Despite not having a single clue what Turkish Delights were, our mouths were watering for some right at the beginning of C.S. Lewis' most famous work. Pick The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (or start from the beginning of The Chronicles of Narnia with The Magician's Nephew) for a truly epic tale of good versus evil. There's magic, talking animals, complex characters and a huge battle at the end. Ages 8 & up.
51. There’s a Wocket in My Pocket by Dr. Seuss
Sometimes we all feel quite certain there’s a jertain in the curtain ... this classic, wonderful, whimsical book of rhyme encourages young readers to get creative and silly with language. Ages 2-3.
52. Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
In a story about overcoming the obstacles life throws at you, this book by Pam Munoz Ryan stands out. Forced by circumstances, Esperanza and her Mama trade a pampered life in Mexico for the life of Mexican farm workers in California during the Great Depression. As uplifting as it’s the title, this is a must-read for older kids. Ages 8-12.
53. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Enter the vibrant and mysterious world of The Secret Garden, where orphan Mary is sent to a lonely mansion in Yorkshire and learns about kindness and friendship. Age 8-11.
54. Stone Soup
This folktale hails from many countries, but the core message of cooperation and kindness remain the same. Read this story while boiling away, it really does make a clever recipe. There are dozens of variations available. Ages 4-8.
55. Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist by Jess Keating
A hot-off-the-presses release, this non-fiction picture book details the important moments in Dr. Eugenie Clark’s most interesting life, from her first shark encounter at the local aquarium when she was a kid, to the many important scientific discoveries she made throughout her career. Want more books about girls and women doing great things? Check out these books featuring powerful female voices. Ages 4-8.
56. My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith
What makes your little one happy? Reflect on the joy of simple things, like holding hands, drumming and the smell of warm bannock baking in the oven (psst … it’s a type of fry bread) as you turn the pages of this brightly illustrated board book. A gorgeous vehicle for an oft-needed reminder! Ages 2-4.
57. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Explore a tranquil winter wonderland with Peter, an African-American boy who dons a rather iconic red suit. Keats' illustrations have a humble and peaceful aura that makes us eager for winter. Ages 3-5.
58. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
This seven-year-old French girl will have your maestros claiming how much they love their bread, butter and most of all, each other. Madeline's chic outfits and polite behavior will have you saying, "Oui," whenever this story is pulled from the shelves. Age 3-8.
59. Forest World by Margarita Engle
This newly released novel follows Edver as he travels from America to Cuba to visit family he barely knows, including an older sister Luza. The two work together trying to get their mother to visit, and get mixed up in some serious business while they’re at it. A blending of culture, technology and time, this book is an engaging read for older kids. Ages 10 & up.
60. Wonder by R. J. Palacio
Fifth-grader Auggie Pullman is about to enter Beecher Prep for the first time. But unlike most of the kids there, he’s never been to school with his peers because of a birth defect that kept him from attending a mainstream school. What challenges will Auggie face? Your whole family will marvel at this debut novel by author, R. J. Palacio. Ages 8-12.
61. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
There's a statue in Boston Public Garden of McCloskey's mother duck and her eight ducklings. Your fluffy waddler is going to want to visit the Boston park after seeing all the popular spots on paper. Ages 6-8.
62. Corduroy by Don Freeman
Everyone loves teddy bears, and there's no furry friend more lovable than Corduroy. This small teddy bear in overalls, waiting to become someone's best friend, is a classic story for all generations. Ages 3 & up.
63. A Series of Unfortunate Events Books by Lemony Snicket
A 13-book series not for the faint of heart: if fire, threats, nefarious plots or uncomfortable clothing throw you, this is not the collection for you. As the introduction warns you, “Proceed, but cautiously.” Ages 8-12.
64. The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by John Scieszka
For those who know that the truth is out there, you’ve gotta get your hands on The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. Told by the Big Bad Wolf (from the comfort of his jail cell many years after the incident) he proclaims his innocence and insists it was all a misunderstanding. Ages 5-8
65. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
Written using only a variety of 50 words, Green Eggs and Ham is a great pre-reading book that even we enjoy perusing through again and again. The pickiest toddlers might even learn a thing or two about trying anything once. Ages 3-7.
66. The Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen and Kevin Hawkes
A lion in the library should cause chaos, but not in this case! This charming story teaches kids to follow the rules but also helps to develop their own judgment on when it's okay to break them. Ages 4-8.
67. Little Kunoichi, The Ninja Girl by Sanae Ishida
She trains in a secret ninja school on a secret island. But, truth be told, Little Kunoichi has lots to learn about being a skilled ninja. She trains shugyo style, with determined enlightenment, alongside her friend Chibi Samurai, in preparation for the schools’ Island Festival. Ages 3-7.
68. Charlotte's Web by E. B. White and Garth Williams
Many of us can credit Charlotte's Web for teaching us the words "humble," "radiant" and "salutations." Remember to prepare tissues for this story of love, friendship and community. Ages 8-11.
69. Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich
Set in 1847, the story follows the day-to-day life of Omakayas, better known as “Little Frog,” after she was orphaned by a Small Pox outbreak and was eventually taken in by an Ojibwa family. Your kids will love hearing her tales of tanning moose hides, picking berries and even encountering bear cubs in vivid detail. Ages 8-12.
70. The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
For anyone who’s ever felt they weren’t creative enough, this uplifting story was written for you. Vashti, a young artist, turns a simple dot she drew out of frustration into a prolific installation all her own. Ages 4 & up.
71. The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
All timid bull Ferdinand wants to do is sit under his cork tree in the shade and smell the flowers. But a case of mistaken ability leads Ferdinand to the bullfights in Madrid, where he comes face to face with the Banderilleros, Picadores and the brave Matador who, try as they might, just can’t get him to fight. Ages 3-5.
72. Who's Driving? by Leo Timmers
Figure out who is driving what vehicle! Is it the rabbit, the snake, the pig or any of the other adorable animals that trot through the pages? Timmers' book is a guessing game and story all in one. Ages 2-5.
73. Olivia the Pig Series by Ian Falconer
Featured on stamps, TV shows and even on an iPad app, Olivia the Pig is one of the most beloved characters of children's stories. Olivia's love for life will rub off on even the quietest of kids. Ages 3-5.
74. I Stink by Kate & Jim McMullan
It’s hard to pick just one of these books, told from the POV of the machine and detailing a night on the job. In I Stink we find a belching dual-op garbage truck. We’re also fans of I’m Dirty (backhoe), I’m Cool (a Zamboni) and I’m Brave (fire truck). Get them all! We won’t stop you. 4 & up.
75. I Dissent, Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy
A non-fiction picture book that walks kids through the life and accomplishments of the Notorious RBG, readers will learn tons about this famous sitting Supreme Court Justice. From her early life New York to her days in law school where she was one of nine women in a program of over 500 men, to the fact that according to her family, she can’t cook a pot roast to save her life, little tidbits of inspiration are scattered throughout this easy-to-read bio. Ages 4-8.
76. Love the World by Todd Parr
The latest bright and boldly illustrated book by Todd Parr, Love the World sends a message of positivity to young readers everywhere. With Parr’s trademark simplicity, the author invites everyone to love—the world, your face, your space, your walk … and the list goes on. Ages 3-6.
77. Click, Clack, Moo, Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin
A book that answers the question, what would happen if farm animals could communicate, this fun romp details a long-coming standoff between Farmer Brown and his cows. Their demand? Blankets to keep them warm in the barn at night. The hilarious back-and-forth negotiations will leave you and your kids LOL-ing during story time. Ages 5-7.
78. Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel
Sledding in winter to eating ice cream on hot summer days, Frog and Toad are best friends who go on leisurely adventures. These five poignant short stories are an ideal start for new readers. Ages 4-8.
79. Old Turtle by Douglas Wood
If illustrations are your kid’s jam, put this picture book on your bookshelf. In it, Old Turtle explains the nature of creation and God through a series of wise and spiritually focused answers. Simply beautiful storytelling. Ages 4-8.
80. I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
Have you seen my hat? Gentle bear is on the lookout for his missing red cap, and guess where he finds it? This is one of those books that doesn’t require words on every page to tell the story and will leave your kiddos guessing and giggling. As fun to read for grown-ups as for littles. Don’t miss: This Is Not My Hat and We Found a Hat. Ages 4-8.
81. The Mercy Watson series by Kate DiCamillo
Mr. & Mrs. Watson don’t have any children, but they do have Mercy, the porcine wonder, and she keeps them just as busy. You can always count on wild romps in these early chapter books by Kate DiCamillo, like Mercy’s hankering for buttered toast that requires a fire department response, or her search for buttered popcorn that leaves an outdoor movie theater in shambles. Ages 6-9.
82. The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
With the release of The Lightning Thief, author Rick Riordan proved what English majors have known for generations—myths are some of the coolest stories around! Follow the adventures of ADHD high schooler Percy Jackson as he diligently works to figure out who stole Zeus’ lightning bolt (in the first book), and then keeps Kronos from taking over the world (throughout the rest of the series). Ages 10-14.
83. Press Here by Herve Tullet
A totally interactive book that asks readers to press dots, move the book around and all manner of things making each page a surprise. Watch as each page brings multiplying dots and more. It’s funny and clever. They’ll read it on repeat. Ages 2-6.
84. My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
This classic and Newbery honor book was first published in 1940, starring Elmer Elevator. Elmer packs his bag (with two dozen pink lollipops, rubber bands, chewing gum, and a fine-toothed comb) and heads out on a rescue mission to save a flying baby dragon. Ages 4-8.
85. Clementine by Sara Pennypacker
Clever, creative and not-so-common third-grader Clementine lives in an apartment building in the city with her artistic parents: she’s like a modern-day Ramona Quimby who tackles all the big issues: being sent to principal’s office, getting a new sibling, having a best friend who is opposite of her, and more. There are more books in the series too! Ages 7-10.
86. The Mysterious Benedict Society books by Trenton Lee Stewart
For any fans of the A Series of Unfortunate Events, this excellent collection features genius orphans battling an evil villain. Older kids will love trying to solve brainteasers and mysteries. Ages 10 & up.
87. Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
Sometimes being special makes you feel like an outsider. But when the Rainbow Fish learns to share his gift with others, he makes friends easily. This classic from your childhood is another good one to share with your little bookworm. Ages 4-8.
88. The Cricket in Time Square by George Selden
This 1961 Newbery Honor Book was likely required reading for parents when they were kids. Share the story of these New York City dwellers with your kids: Tucker the Mouse, Chester Cricket, Tucker and Harry Cat, who meet in the subway and explore the city like no one else can. Ages 6-9.
89. The Spooky Old Tree by Stan & Jan Berenstain
Simple rhymes and repetition make this Berenstain Bears book a good one for beginning readers. The illustrations make the larger-than-life spooky old tree come alive, as the three bears make their way across alligator-infested waters, through a creepy hall and over a great sleeping bear, before finally landing safely back at home with Mama Bear. Ages 2-5.
90. Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
This Newberry Award winner is set in Flint, Michigan in 1936, and centers around the story of Bud Caldwell, a 10-year-old orphan. After escaping an untenable foster situation, Bud and his friend Bugs head West in search of his father, Herman E. Calloway, a musician. What Bud learns and who he finds, in the end, will keep you turning the pages of this novel. Ages 8-12.
91. Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
This best-selling book about a little girl with big dreams has equally fun spin-offs (Iggy Peck, Architect and Ada Twist, Scientist). The illustrations support the theme with a blocky font and grid background, and the bouncy rhyme begs to be read aloud. The awesome hook here is that Rosie is the great-niece of the famous Rosie the Riveter and is determined to follow in her aunt's groundbreaking footsteps. Ages 4-8.
92. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
This engaging story about a gorilla in captivity and his friendship with a baby elephant is unique in so many ways. Not only is it told from the Ivan the gorilla’s perspective, but it draws readers in with humor and a touching friendship between two unforgettable characters. Ages 8-12.
93. Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin
One of several books by the dynamic duo of author Adam Rubin and illustrator Daniel Salmieri, you’ll find yourself suggesting this one for story time again and again. Dragons love tacos, but they can’t eat spicy food. When your house burns down, lesson learned. Right? We also love Secret Pizza Party and Robo-Sauce by this duo. Ages 3-7.
94. The Quickest Kid in Clarksville by Pat Zietlow Miller
Alta is the quickest kid in Clarksville, Tennessee, just like her idol, Wilma Rudolph, who went on to win three medals in the 1960 Olympics. Even though Alta has holes in her shoes and faces her toughest competition yet (a new girl with new shoes), she knows she can win, just like Wilma. From foot races to the big parade in Wilma’s honor, Alta shows what it means to be a true champion. Ages 5-8.
95. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
It’s hard to not keep putting Dr. Seuss books on this list, but The Lorax holds a special place in the library of children’s books. In true Seussian genius, the greater issue of deforestation and industrialization is told in jolly, lulling rhymes. The best part is the message at the end: kids can help! Ages 6-9.
96. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
An important work of historical fiction, Lois Lowry’s Newberry Award winner offers young readers a glimpse into the Holocaust. Centered around two families living in Copenhagen during WWII, one Jewish, one not, the story chronicles the way a family helped rescue their Danish Jewish neighbors from being sent to a Concentration Camp. Ages 10-12.
97. Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
When a young fruit bat is separated from her mother, a bird family takes her under their wings to raise her. It doesn’t take long to see her bat behavior is different from that of the daytime adoptive family. But one night, Stellaluna is reunited with her bat family, but she learns that differences really make us all the same. Ages 4-7.
98. The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak
Comedian B.J. Novak has written a book that is, not surprisingly, guaranteed to make kids laugh, mainly because it makes parents say ridiculous things. Designed to be read out loud by a grown-up, kids will request you read it again and again, even though it actually has no pictures. Ages 5-8.
99. Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
A Newberry Medal and National Book Award signal the significance of this debut novel by Vietnamese writer Thanhha Lai. Loosely autobiographical, the story follows Ha and her family during the Vietnam War, when they are forced to sail to America (Alabama to be specific) after the Fall of Saigon. The free verse style will capture your kid’s imagination as much as the compelling story will. Ages 8-12.
100. Firebird by Misty Copeland
Written by famous ballerina—Misty Copeland, the book shares Copeland’s time-tested formula for success: hard work, perseverance and believing in oneself. With stunningly fluid illustrations that make the characters dance off the pages, this inspirational story will get young readers motivated to try whatever piques their interest. Ages 5-8.
101. The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani
In 1947 India, 12-year-old Nisha is not sure where she belongs as a half-Muslim, half-Hindu in her country. When her father decides to leave Pakistan, Nisha and her family become refugees and embark on a long and challenging journey to find a new home. The hopeful and personal story of this family is told through Nisha's letters to her mother. Ages 8-12.
102. Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle
Who doesn’t love the sing-song-y rhymes of this toddler fave about a little blue truck, his animal friends and the need to slow down every once in a while? Blue and the farm animals he meets along the way help a big dump truck get unstuck from the mud with a bit of teamwork and a chorus of moo’s, baas and beep beep beeps. Ages 4-7.
103. Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
This adorably illustrated wordless picture book about a tired zookeeper and a mischievous gorilla puts kids in the narrator’s seat. They’ll have to pay close attention to the illustrations to get the full, hilarious story here. If books that put your kid to sleep are what you’re looking for, try these. Ages 1-3.
104. Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin
This touching story of a young girl with Asperger’s and her beloved dog, Rain, is set against the backdrop of a fictional hurricane that floods Rose’s rural town. During the storm, Rose’s dog disappears and her quest to find him brings her closer to friends, classmates and family. Ages 9-12.
105. One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
One Crazy Summer is the story of three young sisters who set out from New York to spend a month in California with their poet mother. The year is 1968, and they soon find out the summer they have envisioned is far from the one they experience during their stay. This award-winning book is a fantastic snapshot of a moment in America’s history. Ages 8-12.
What other books would you add to this list? Tell us in a comment below.
—Allison Sutcliffe & Amber Guetebier