All parents want to know they’ve provided their children with the best tools possible to set them up for success. One of the easiest ways to start your child on the right track is to build her library with books she’ll read and reread — the classic books that should be in every home.
Don’t forget, you don’t need to spend a fortune to stock your child’s library. All of these books should be on the shelves of your local public library, where you can borrow them as often as you like, for free.
Here’s the breakdown of classic kids’ books, by age.
Babies and Toddlers
This group responds to tactile feedback — that is, things you can touch — and the overall experience of reading aloud. Look for books with an interactive component, that either call for the child to respond to your questions, repeat sounds, or touch things. Some of the best choices for this age group include Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt; Go Dog Go, by P.D. Eastman; Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by John Archambault and Bill Martin, Jr.; and The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle.
Older toddlers who can sit through a whole story are delighted to discover the wide world of books. Make storytime a daily routine, either to wind down before a nap or bedtime, or as a distraction before another fun activity. Great books for this age: Curious George, by H.A. Rey; The Little Engine that Could, by Watty Piper; Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey; and Little Bear, by Else Holmelund Minarik.
As your kids start sounding out words and learning to read, look for books that let them alternate reading and being read to. Good ideas are: Bread and Jam for Francis, by Russell Hoban; Amelia Bedelia, by Peggy Parish; Danny and the Dinosaur, by Syd Hoff; Nate the Great, by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat; and Henry and Mudge by Cynthia Rylant.
Once kids are comfortable reading on their own, they can really explore the world through books. A few time-tested favorites to try: Ramona the Pest and Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary; Charlotte’s Web, by E. B. White; Bunnicula, by James Howe; Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren; and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, by Judy Blume.
Late elementary school students who are looking for more of a challenge can also try books like Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott; A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle; The Black Stallion, by Walter Farley; and Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh.
Make it easy for your child to find the classic books of childhood, and she’ll read and enjoy them for years to come.