Reading is a pretty big hobby in our household. I love to read, my oldest is a reading machine, my youngest craves story-time, my husband is the audio book king, plus my middle daughter is just starting to read on her own and definitely inherited our book devouring genetic. So to say I was excited to write this post would be a huge understatement! There are so many great books out there that it was hard to narrow them down to a list especially when dealing with stories that range in readership from toddler to potential book club guru. Run to the library or hit up the provided links in this article for quick purchase, either way get to reading these stories because they are all phenomenal in their own way.
The following three recommendations came to me because all of my kids loved them as little ones, and they are also all interactive. The authors of these children’s books know how to engage youngsters, and my worn copies of all three are proof that they can jump start a reading habit in most children.
So Big! (Sesame Street) (Sesame Beginnings) Board book by Anna Jane Hays: It is an absolute fact that all kids love Elmo. This book follows a very young Elmo through some simple actions that little kids will find hilarious and also mimic during story time. It is basic and it is sweet and the pop-out Elmo at the very end is always a huge hit with the toddlers.
Press Here by Herve Tullet: My college roommate gave my daughters this book when they were quite little because it had been such a hit with her own kiddos. And even after years of ownership, this hard cover book has a lot of staying power. It is a fun story that talks to the reader and tells them to push, rub, press, and shake dots on the sheet before turning to the next page. My three-year-old thinks it is magic, and it kind of is because the story can hold even the smallest child’s attention all the way to the ending.
Fisher-Price Little People Lift the Flap Book: My aunt and uncle have been great about giving my kiddos these larger sized Fisher-Price Lift the Flap Books. We have “Let’s Go to the Farm” and “Halloween is Here” and both have seen a lot of love and use over the years. Toddlers enjoy lifting the flaps to see what is hidden within the story, and these books go beyond just reading and can make for some fun hide and search games to keep kiddos engaged.
SkippyJon Jones by Judy Schachner: SkippyJon Jones is one of my family’s favorite characters. He is a Siamese cat who wants to be a chihuahua. He has a HUGE imagination and it gets him into trouble whenever he dons his cape and mask to enter his closet and dream of dog days with his imaginary gang of pups called “Los Chimichangos”. The books are fun to read for adults, and can be purchased with an audio CD included (which I recommend). These stories are great because they are somewhat demanding of the young reader due to a lot of dialogue, some sarcasm, and longer story-lines. However, preschoolers can handle these books and I think they love them because they are so different and a bit more elaborate. The drop-ins of Spanish terms are also a big hit. “Mummy Trouble” and “Class Action” are among my kid’s favorites, but all are great. (Trust me, I know because we own them all!)
Otis the Tractor Books by Loren Long: Otis, the little red tractor, is a kind character with a strong work ethic. He pretty much melts your heart. The illustrations within the pages are gorgeous and Otis is a friend to all on his working farm. Lots of animals are involved as background characters in these books and each story has Otis being kind, making good choices, and showing a high moral ground that we all should strive for in the real world. These books are great for girls, boys, animal lovers, farm kids, and more. We have all the Otis books, but currently “Otis & the Tornado” and “Otis & the Kittens” are among my son’s bedtime favorites.
This is where it gets tough to narrow down books. Kids can read at such a variety of levels and there is so much out there on the shelves. My daughter is in third-grade and working her way through the Harry Potter series, but it also seems like just yesterday she was reading Llama Llama Red Pajama every single night. No matter if they are reading independently or snuggling up with mom or dad to hear a chapter get read aloud at bedtime, here is a good variety for all.
Ball Park Mysteries by David A. Kelly: My mom and dad got my oldest hooked on this book series that follows two cousins, named Mike and Kate, who visit ballpark stadiums with Kate’s sports writing mom. Each book takes place at a specific MLB field and a mystery always ensues. Red Sox fans will love knowing that Book #1 takes place at Fenway (sorry Yankees, you are in second with Book #2).
Lunch Lady Graphic Novels by Jarrett J. Krosoczka: Comic books are so popular and my girls love this series that have ten books in it. The novels center around three students and a lunch lady who fight crime within the school. Enemies include a cyborg substitute teacher, evil librarians, or even bake sale scoundrels. Lunch lady’s sidekick, Betty, makes spy gadgets and every story plot is hilarious. These books could turn struggling readers into interested readers with the fun illustrations and entertaining plots.
The Sherlock Files Series by Tracy Barrett: Okay, so my daughter and I love mysteries. She started reading these books after finding them at the library, and I quickly joined suit. They are a different kind of whodunnit in that the stories center around a brother and sister who are descendants of the great detective Sherlock Holmes. They move to London, join a secret society of detectives, and befriend Dr. Watson’s great-great-great grandson. The young sibling duo go on to solve very old cases that come from Sherlock’s original crime notebook. Four books are in the series and all are fun reads, with no harsh violence.
Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper: I hesitate to even classify this book as young adult, because I think every person on the planet should read it. My daughter’s second grade teacher read it to their class, and I applaud her for it. Every day my oldest girl would come home talking about the main character (Melody) and how cool she was and what was happening in her world. My daughter loves to read, but this book really resonated with her. I finally got my hands on it and read all 295 pages during a plane ride home from Vegas. The book is about a girl genius who has cerebral palsy and cannot speak or walk. She has struggles, that as a parent (and a human being) made me so sad. However, my daughter saw how the struggles made Melody strong and an amazing character. So much about empathy and acceptance is taught in this book. It is engaging to read and see how Melody navigates classroom life and proves to others (with some technological assistance) that she is not a shell, but a person with a lot to say. If I had read this before my daughter, I probably would have wrongly assumed she could not handle it. Well, she and her classmates probably handled it better than me. They saw a bigger message and were so accepting of the character. My daughter wanted to be Melody’s friend because she found her fascinating.
Life As We Knew It (Last Survivors, #1) by Susan Beth Pfeffer: For lovers of all things apocalyptic, this series is a great read. My husband just downloaded it as an audio book and I read it awhile ago and still think about the story. Book #1 centers around a girl named Miranda and the aftermath surrounding her town and family once a moon is hit by an asteroid and disrupts Earth’s gravitational pull. Life changes drastically as electricity becomes no longer available, food shortages erupt, and people must adapt to a new type of dated living that does not include cell phones, television, or automobiles. Book #1 is told in journal entries and takes place in a smaller community. Book #2 (The Dead and the Gone) takes the same catastrophe only it is told from the point of view of Alex who lives in New York City. Book #3 (This World We Live In) has Alex moving from the city and meeting Miranda’s family. It takes place one year after the asteroid and is just as intriguing as the first two books. While writing this post, I discovered there is a 4th book called The Shade of the Moon! I plan to put it on hold at the library ASAP.
Happy Reading to all! What books do you enjoy reading with your kiddos? What young adult novels have you perused because they know no age limits? We all want to know, so leave us a comment or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org