Kids love to read books and have books read to them. Every night
before the kids go to sleep my husband or I will read them a
“night-night” story. Okay, so things don’t go as planned sometimes and
the book reading gets nixed, but at least five out of seven days we read
books together. One of their favorite activities is to go the book
store and stroll around the children’s section. My five-year-old
daughter heads straight to the science area and looks at dinosaurs and
skeletons. My 3-year-old son usually heads straight for the Thomas the
Train table and plays with the trains. After he’s had his fill, he
searches for anything about Spider-Man and Thomas.
There are so many children’s books out there, it’s difficult to
choose just one. Here’s my small list of age-appropriate books, divided
into age/grade groups:
Baby to Preschool-aged
This is a crucial time in your child’s life; they are developing on
so many levels and are very open to different types of books. For this
group, choose books that are based on your child’s favorite character
(like Dora or Diego). You can also choose books that have themes your
child can relate to: going to bed, eating a meal, playing outside, etc.
Books that have simple, rhyming stories are also good.
Goodnight, Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd: An
endearing classic book about a bunny who says goodnight to everything
around him. The book’s tone is rhythmic and soothing.
Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak: Due to his
antics while wearing his wolf costume, Max is sent to his room. His
imagination grows while in the confines of the four walls and he
discovers a new world of mysterious and strange monsters.
The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein: Silverstein’s beloved story about a boy and a tree and of unconditional love.
Guess How Much I Love You, by Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram: Little Nutbrown Hare tries to prove he loves Big Nutbrown Hare more.
Kindergarten through 2nd Grade
As your child’s sense of self and vocabulary grow, choose books that
will support your new reader. Look for books that are 50 pages or less.
Rhyming and science books are always appropriate, as well as non-fiction
books about famous historical figures.
Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson: Little Harold uses his purple crayon and his imagination to draw in his environment.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin, Jr., John Archambault, and Louis Ehlert: An entertaining rhyming book that teaches ABC’s.
The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn: Anxious about school,
Chester the raccoon only wants to stay home with his mom. She introduces
him to the Kissing Hand by opening his hand and kissing it. Chester’s
mom assures Chester that she will always be with him, no matter where he is.
Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls: Billy wishes with
all his might for a pair of hunting dogs. When he finally gets the
dogs, his life is turned around and he can’t imagine his life without
them. This is a love story that will intrigue your children. There is
also a theme of loss in this book, so this is an emotional book and a
good way to introduce your children to the life cycle.
Good Night, Gorilla, by Peggy Rathmann: The adventures of a mischievous gorilla through beautiful illustrations.
Grade 3 through Grade 5
Introduce your child to more challenging books that will support your
child’s reading skills. Books that have characters that are your
child’s age or are experiencing similar issues are great choices. Books
under 200 pages will keep your child motivated and excited to read on
The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis: Through a
breathtaking series of seven books, Lewis introduces your child to a
surreal world. Four brothers and sisters delve into a journey of talking
animals and the struggle between good and evil.
Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White and Garth Williams: The heartwarming story of the friendship between a lonely pig and a motherly spider.
Ramona the Pest, by Beverly Cleary: This book chronicles the
busy Kindergarten life of Ramona Quimby. Guaranteed to elicit laughs
from your child.
Anastasia Krupnik, by Lois Lowry: Anastasia Krupnik is a 10-year-old who must deal with her mother’s pregnancy and a new life with a sibling.
Grade 6 through Grade 8
Continue to enforce your child’s independent reading by introducing
them to stories that are magical and forces them to rely heavily on
Eragon, by Christopher Paolini: The first book in Paolini
series, Eragon tell the story of a young boy named Eragon and his
discovery that he is a dragon rider with special talents. In this
journey, Eragon meets Saphira, his brave warrior dragon.
The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan: An amazing story of a
12-year-old who discovers his true name is Perseus and he is actually
the son of the god Poseidon. His father has been accused of stealing
Zeus’ lightning bolt and Perseus is determined to clear his father’s
name of the crime. This is Riordan’s first book of the series.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,
by J.K. Rowling: As the very first Harry Potter book, Rowling made a
splash when she introduced the world to the timid and shy orphan, Harry
Potter. Having lived with his aunt and uncle for many years, Harry is a
young boy who must endure meanness from his relatives. But suddenly, a
letter arrives and tells Harry that he has been accepted into the
Hogwarts School. As Harry discovers a new world of magic and wizardry,
he comes closer to his arch nemesis, Voldemort — the man who killed
Harry’s parents and also tried to kill Harry, although Harry escaped.
Frankenstein (The Modern Prometheus),
by Mary Shelly: Delve into the macabre world of Victor Frankenstein,
who becomes obsessed with reanimation. Frankenstein hopes to create a
creature in the likeness of man, but instead of the beautiful creature
he imagined, Frankenstein is horrified at the creature’s ugliness. A
chilling story that introduces themes of identity, love, loss, and the
dangers of greed and power.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick: With a mix
of vivid illustrations and magical words, Selznick introduces his
audience to a 12-year-boy who has lived without fan-fare all his life.
Caught by an old man at a toy booth for attempting to steal, Hugo’s life
is turned upside-down and his life depends on a notebook, a key,
drawings, and messages from his dead father.
Obviously, this list is just a tiny percentage of the books out
there, but it gives you an idea of the types of books that are
appropriate for your child. If you have any doubts, talk to your child’s
teacher about your child’s reading level and about reading-level
appropriate stories. Whatever book you choose, always take the time to
read to your kids. If your child is older and can read independently,
continually encourage them to go to the library or bookstore with you to
choose books for them to read. There is a life outside of TV and video
games; you just need to take the first step with your child.