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 their own.
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 their imagination.
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.
Pic of the Day: Monkey Utensil Holder