Reading early and often offers a ton of benefits, both for kids and for their parents. Not only does it build language skills, but it also increases the ability to visualize and use imaginative thinking to foster empathy and understanding. Reading also shapes social and emotional development and helps parents and kids bond without distraction — something that often seems increasingly hard to come by. Even just one story at bedtime helps to create a habit that has lifelong benefits.
The titles ahead are a mix of classics and newer works that so many parents have loved reading and sharing over the years. Try to talk to your child about what you’re reading, whether you’re reading together or solo, and see what they think of the book. Not only will this help you to find other future favorites, but it will provide insight into how your child is thinking and growing in other ways as well. Parent tip: If reading isn’t their favorite activity, try setting up a “book picnic” with lemonade and snacks — it works wonders to sell summertime reading.
A version of this article was originally published in June 2017.
0 – 3: ‘Over in the Meadow’
Over in the Meadow by Olive A. Wadsworth features beautiful illustrations by Ezra Jack Keats and a lovely end-of-day rhyming story.
Over in the Meadow by Olive A. Wadsworth, $5.59 at Amazon
0 – 3: ‘In the Night Kitchen’
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak has simple text and comical illustrations. This is a good one for older siblings, too.
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak, $6.36 at Amazon
0 – 3: ‘Hippos Go Beserk!’
Hippos Go Berserk! by Sandra Boynton has plenty of the author's usual sense of fun and silliness.
Hippos Go Berserk! by Sandra Boynton, $5.26 at Amazon
0 – 3: ‘Hush! A Thai Lullaby’
Rhythmic language and lots of animals make Hush! A Thai Lullaby by Minfong Ho a great choice.
Hush! A Thai Lullaby by Minfong Ho, $5.59 at Amazon
0 – 3: ‘Blueberries for Sal’
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey is a classic story of berries and bears and good for reading to older and younger kids together.
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey, $6.39 at Amazon
‘Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?’
The kids won't be able to help but sing along while reading to Bill Martin Jr.'s Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? aloud. The images are beautifully illustrated too!
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr., $6.08 at Amazon
0 – 3: ‘Tails’
Tails by Matthew Van Fleet is a board book with fun rhymes and tails that can be moved around — just make sure kids know to be somewhat gentle or you end up (as we did) with ripped-off tails.
Tails by Matthew Van Fleet, $16.97 at Amazon
4 – 6: ‘The Seven Silly Eaters’
The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman is a fantastic choice for the picky eater in your life, with beautiful illustrations and rhyming text.
The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman, $6.39 at Amazon
4 – 6: ‘Monsoon’
Monsoon by Uma Krishnaswami follows a girl who is waiting for the yearly storm and has gorgeous pictures. Kids love the idea of all that rain!
Monsoon by Uma Krishnaswami, $12.07 at Amazon
4 – 6: ‘Everyone Knows What a Dragon Looks Like’
Everyone Knows What a Dragon Looks Like by Jay Williams is an entertaining story that reminds kids to not judge by appearance, plus it has amazing illustrations.
Everyone Knows What a Dragon Looks Like by Jay Williams, $9.99 at Amazon
4 – 6: ‘Bee-Bim Bop!’
Bee-Bim Bop by Linda Sue Park has a bouncy rhythm plus a recipe for bee-bim bop that kids will actually want to try to cook.
Bee-Bim Bop by Linda Sue Park, $6.39 at Amazon
4 – 6: ‘Chrysanthemum’
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes stars a relatable (mouse) main character who learns to be proud of her unique name.
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes, $4.99 at Amazon
4 – 6: ‘The Rainbow Goblins’
The Rainbow Goblins by Ul de Rico is a fun story of the bad guys getting what they deserve, related with beautifully painted illustrations.
The Rainbow Goblins by Ul de Rico, $15.96 at Amazon
4 – 6: ‘Tar Beach’
Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold takes a loving look back at summer in the city and growing up in 1930s Harlem.
Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold, $6.39 at Amazon
7 – 9: ‘Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing’
Judy Blume's perennial classic Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is just as funny, honest and fresh today as when it was published.
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume, $5.49 at Amazon
7 – 9: ‘Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter’
From Astrid Lindgren, the author of the Pippi Longstocking books, Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter is the story of a girl who refuses to do what's expected of her.
Ronia, the Robber's Daughter by Astrid Lindgren, $5.59 at Amazon
7 – 9: ‘From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler’
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg is the story of a brother and sister who run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and become mixed up in a mystery of artistic identity.
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg, $7.48 at Amazon
7 – 9: ‘The Egypt Game’
In The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, a group of children become fascinated with ancient Egyptian culture, but then strange things start happening. Note: There is some near-violent danger at the end of the book.
The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, $6.29 at Amazon
7 – 9: ‘A Box of Clementines’
The Clementine series by Sara Pennypacker is a fun, first-person gallop through the world of Clementine, an honest and true-to-life modern girl.
A Box of Clementines by Sara Pennypacker, $10.48 at Amazon
7 – 9: ‘Danny the Champion of the World’
Danny the Champion of the World is quieter and more realistic than most of Roald Dahl’s books, but the relationship between Danny and his dad and the way they form and carry out their exciting plan is one of the author's best.
Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl, $7.91 at Amazon
7 – 9: ‘The Hundred Dresses’
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes is a still-timely story about who people are, who they seem to be, and what our treatment of others really means.
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes, $7.93 at Amazon
10 – 12: ‘I Survived’
The historical fiction series I Survived by Lauren Tarshis is exciting and fast-paced. Recommended for more mature readers because of the danger in each.
I Survived by Lauren Tarshis, $41.35 at Amazon
10 – 12: ‘The Mysterious Benedict Society’
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart is a great choice for fans of Harry Potter and/or the Lemony Snicket books.
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart, $6.99 at Amazon
10 – 12: ‘The One and Only Ivan’
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate is a beautiful novel-in-verse series of poems told through the perspective of a gorilla in a run down petting zoo.
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, $5.59 at Amazon
10 – 12: ‘Where the Red Fern Grows’
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls is a classic story of a boy and his dogs — be warned, this one is a tearjerker.
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls, $7.99 at Amazon
10 – 12: ‘The Westing Game’
The Westing Game is a fun and fast-paced mystery loved by generations.
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, $5.99 at Amazon
10 – 12: ‘Bridge to Terabithia’
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson is a lyrical story of two kids who are outsiders until they find each other. This is another one with an emotionally tough ending.
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, $5.29 at Amazon
10 – 12: ‘The Saturdays’
The first in Elizabeth Enright's series of books about the Melendy family, The Saturdays is about how four siblings decide to pool their resources so they can each have a Saturday doing exactly what they want.
The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright, $7.99 at Amazon
Pin this for later and your kids will have plenty of book to choose from later!
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