Photo: Stratford School

As the days begin to grow shorter and our children are staying inside more, now is the perfect time to fall in love with reading books! For as little as 20 minutes a day, children can take a break from their “virtual school day” and spend downtime reading. To help establish the reading habit, parents can model making the choice to read instead of being online. Let your child see you choose to spend time reading a book, magazine, or newspaper. By showing how much you value and thoroughly enjoy the quiet time reading brings, children will see firsthand that being off-line with a good book is time well spent.

It can’t be said often enough, reading to children while they are young helps lay a foundation upon which they will be much more likely to develop the habit of reading as they grow up. So, try to make reading a part of your families’ everyday routine to instill a love of reading at an early age!

Albert Einstein put it best: “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

Here’s our go-to list of books to spark any child’s love of reading:

Grades Kinder to 2nd grade:

School’s First Day of School written by Adam Rex and Illustrated by Christian Robinson.
The first day of school brings a mixture of nervousness and excitement to everyone who is about to start the year; students wonder if they will make any friends, teachers hope they will start the year right, and parents hope their children will have fun learning. Perhaps there is someone else whom we have forgotten about—the school! School’s First Day of School gives us a very different perspective on those first day jitters, and by observing through the school’s eyes we get to see what makes it such a special place in our lives.

Fauja Singh Keeps Going : the True Story of the Oldest Person to Ever Run a Marathon written by Simran Jeet Singh, Illustrated by Baljinder Kaur
After a life in India where he always strived to be stronger and better, Fauja Singh at the age of 81 moved to be with his family. It was in England that he discovered marathon running and began training. After some challenges, Singh became the oldest person (100!) to run a marathon. This is an inspiring story of an extraordinary man who has never stopped trying to become a  better person. The illustrations are lovely—digitally created using drawings and collage pieces. These are exquisitely intricate and provide wonderful images of life in another culture. The book provides information on Singh, a wonderful photograph of him, and a list of his records. There is also a forward written by Singh to young readers.

Grades 3-4

Bo’s Magical New Friend – Unicorn Diaries Book One by Rebecca Elliott
This series is part of Scholastic’s early chapter book line Branches, aimed at newly independent readers. It tells the delightful tale of how Bo (short for Rainbow), makes friends with a new unicorn Sunny. A well-crafted book—each page is full of bright colorful pictures. Since this is a diary, it makes sense stylistically that the words are on lined pages, but it also makes it easier to read. The story is solid, with a little adventure and some light friend drama. This series is a companion to the very popular Owl Diaries by the same author.

The School is Alive!  Eerie Elementary Series written by Jack Chabert and Illustrated by Sam Ricks
Children looking for an exciting and slightly spooky (perfect for Halloween) early chapter book and parent listeners hoping for more than the same old formulaic storyline might want to give this series a try. The plot revolves around the hall monitor, Sam, protecting the students from the evil school. He creates a team of students to help him. In this installment, which takes place during the class play, the stage and props come to life and try to swallow the students. This series keeps the reader’s attention because it has some laughs, some substance, and some thrills.

Grades 5-8

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia
This “Rick Riordan Presents” book combines multiple African American tales and fables within an epic adventure. When Tristan Strong visits his grandparent’s house during the summer, his late friend’s journal is stolen from his room. While trying to regain the journal, Tristan accidentally opens a portal to MidPass, a place with burning seas, haunted bone ships, and iron monsters. To survive and make it back home Tristan must work together with characters who are part of African American Myths and legends, such as John Henry and Brer Rabbit. This book introduces African American folklore to a new generation all while the main character copes with the unexpected death of his best friend, and his most prized possession, the journal. This book is quite long (482 pages) and will keep readers on the edge of their seats, waiting for the sequel.

Genesis Begins Again by Alicia Williams
This Newbery Honor book tells the story of thirteen-year-old Genesis Anderson. With smooth and engrossing prose, debut novelist Alicia Williams takes readers through an emotional, painful, yet still hopeful adolescent journey. Along the way, she references accomplished black activists, athletes, artists, and, notably, musicians such as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Etta James, all in a way that feels natural and appropriate. This book may bring readers to tears as they root for Genesis to finally have the acceptance she desires—but from herself rather than anyone else. This is a beautifully written novel about discovering who you are through those around you.