Fiction Books for Children

November 7, 2005 | 78 comments
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Despite appearances to the contrary, we here at Times and Seasons do not spend all our time debating the finer points of church doctrine, history, culture and theology. A lot of the time, we talk about our kids. And since raising kids–and in particular, finding good books to read to them and with them–is something a lot of our readers can relate to, we thought we’d open the blog up to some discussion and recommendations of that topic. First up, a guest post from my wife, Melissa Madsen Fox, who besides being a great consumer and critic of youth fiction, also maintains a blog where she reviews much of the same. Take it away, Melissa!

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First, a confession: I love reading children’s books. Someone once asked me if I read so many children’s books so I could “screen” them for my children. I, very unabashedly, said, “No. I think the best writing out there is for children.” That kind of dead-ended the conversation. I admit that I’m bit of an oddity: I’m neither a children’s librarian, a grade-school teacher, or a children’s writer. I’m just an avid reader who happens to love children’s literature.

That being said, I have several disclaimers before I jump into my favorite books. First, this is in no way a comprehensive, or even thorough list. There is just not enough time out there for me to read everything. And I have some self-imposed limitations to what I read: I’m usually not a fan of really long novels, and I don’t like books with excessive violence, sex or foul language, though I will tolerate a some of each. Also, I rarely read Church books. There are many reasons for this, availability being one the main one. Outside of Utah, LDS fiction is pretty hard to get. Granted, we now live an hour from Nauvoo where there is a church bookstore, so the availability has increased. But I also hate buying books I don’t like. There’s nothing worse, for me, than to buy a book and hate it. That’s what libraries are for. You check it out, you don’t like it, you take it back, no money down the drain. And outside of Utah, it’s pretty rare to see Mormon fiction in a library. Plus, I have had bad experiences with the Mormon fiction I’ve read. It seems to me that children’s fiction in the Church is more about reinforcing doctrine and values than about telling good stories. I’d love to be proved wrong; nieces have told me that they’ve enjoyed the Tennis Shoes Adventure series, but since I can’t check them out, until someone lends them to me, I probably won’t be reading them.

My main goal when I read is to find good stories. I love a story that drags me in, captivates me and then leaves me with a good ending. If any one of those is lacking, I probably won’t be that thrilled about the book. I also have to admit that my mood and what I’ve most recently read effects what I think about any particular book.

Before I get started, let me recommend my favorite book-idea place: the Chinaberry catalog. They usually have great books, and even take the time to divide them up by age group, with recommendations for both read-aloud and read-alone. It’s a great resource, even if you don’t purchase the books from them (which I try to do, once in a while, just so they keep sending me the catalog).

Oh, and one final thing: I have a much more thorough list of all the books I’ve read (and I don’t just read youth fiction, though I do read a lot) at my blog, if you’re interested. And since there’s a lot more traffic here than I get, I’ll pose the same request that I pose there: I’m always looking for recommendations of good books to read. Please pass some along!

Picture books:

Infant/Toddler–I believe you can never start reading to your baby too soon. I love all the books with baby faces, and Tara Hoban’s Black/White and White/Black for infants. But I also love it when my children get to the point when I can start reading them “real” books. My first rule of toddler books is: if I can’t stand to read it five times in a row, it’s not a good book. That being said, the ones that I still like, even after reading them to three children:

* Miss Mary Mack, Mary Ann Hoberman and Nadine Bernard Westcott
* Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See?, Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle. I also love most of Eric Carle’s other stuff, but especially The Very Busy Spider
* We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury
* anything by Sandra Boynton, but especially Blue Hat, Green Hat, which goes by “Oops!” in our house and Barnyard Dance, which even my 9-year-old likes to “dance” to.
* Goodnight Gorilla, Peggy Rathman

Preschool–the same rule for toddlers holds here. I look for books that are wonderful to read over and over, which is why I hate the Berenstain Bears books, even if my kids like them. Some favorites from our personal library (there are tons more at the public library!):

Sweet, quiet books:
* The Fairy Went a-Marketing, Rose Fyleman and Jamichael Henterly
* Noah’s Ark, Peter Spier
* Dance Tanya, Patricia Lee Gauch and Satomi Ichikawa
* Sleepy Bears, Mem Fox and Kerry Argent

Silly Books:
* Bunny Cakes, Rosemary Wells
* Lottie’s New Beach Towel, Petra Mathers
* If You Give a Pig a Pancake, Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond. I know there are other “If You Give” books, but this is my personal favorite.
* Click, Clack, Moo–Cows that Type, Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin

Books that sound great when read aloud:
* The Maestro Plays, Bill Martin Jr. and Vladimir Radunsky
* Where the Wild Things Are, Marurice Sendak
* Madeline, Ludwig Bemelmans
* What Can You Do With a Shoe? Beatrice de Regniers and Maurice Sendak

Older Kids–don’t let them kid you; even older kids like a picture book now and again. A plug for the Caldecott books: they really are wonderful.

* The Tale of Custard the Dragon, Ogden Nash and Lynn Musinger
* The Stinky Cheese Man and other Fairly Stupid Tales, Jon Sciezka and Lane Smith. To be honest, I love all their books; we just happen to own this one.
* Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Judi Barrett and Ron Barrett
* So You Want to Be President?, Judith St. George and David Small
* Owl Moon, Jane Yolen and John Schoenherr
* Mailing May, Michael O. Tunnell and Ted Rand
* When Jessie Came Across the Sea, Amy Hest and P.J. Lynch
* Paul Revere’s Ride, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, illustrated by Ted Rand. Here is a book that pretty much sums up what makes a good picture book: you can put whatever text you like and if the pictures are wonderful, kids will eat it up. My oldest, when she was 4, loved hearing this book, if only because the pictures are so captivating.

Chapter Books:

I think when to read a particular chapter book to your child is really a personal decision. You know your child best, and what that child can handle. My oldest didn’t want anything to do with the Narnia series or Wizard of Oz; both were too scary. My second has eaten them up, the Wizard of Oz being her favorite book. I haven’t allowed my oldest to read past the fourth book in the Harry Potter series (though reading the fifth is under negotiation), mostly because of her tendency to be terrified.

I’m not going to list Harry Potter, the Little House series or Narnia; I think they’re a given as good read-aloud books. I could go on and on in these lists, but I’ll limit myself to 10.

Read aloud:
* The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum. There are others, some of which I’ve read. But the first is the best.
* Secret Garden and/or The Little Princess, Frances Hodgson Burnett. Get the editions illustrated by Tasha Tudor, they’re priceless.
* The Indian in the Cupboard, Lynne Reid Banks
* The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkein. I probably would have loved this book as a kid had someone read it aloud to me.
* All-of-a-Kind Family, Sydney Taylor. A great book about a Jewish family. One of my first exposures to Judaism as a kid.
* Anything by E. Nesbit, but especially Five Children and It or the Railway Children
* Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery. Her other books in the Anne series are good, too, but for older readers.
* The Mixed-Up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg. But her other books are really good too.
* The Tale of Despereaux, Kate Dicamillo. This book is really meant to be read aloud; I didn’t really like it at all until we listened to it on CD.
* Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Robert C. O’Brien. So much better than that old cartoon.

Read alone: Again, use your judgement. I think most kids tendencies are to read books they can, rather than books that are geared toward their age level. I was reading Agatha Christie at age 13, and was proud that I could. I regret that now: there are so many books I could have read that I missed out on. I enjoy series because there’s always one more adventure to go on with the characters I already love; my favorites are the Prydian series by Lloyd Alexander and The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper. The Newbery list is also a great source for chapter books.

* Holes, Louis Sachar
* anything by Robin McKinley, especially if you’re a girl. My favorites
are Beauty and The Blue Sword. I also like Hero and the Crown, but that’s for young adult readers.
* Bud, not Buddy and/or The Watsons Go to Birmingham — 1963, Christopher Paul Curtis
* The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin
* Wrinkle in Time and Wind in the Door, Madeline L’Engle
* The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth Speare
* Ella Enchanted, Gail Carson Levine. Though this one is also really fun to read aloud. Don’t watch the movie. It sucked.
* anything by Roald Dahl, but especially Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The BFG
* Because of Winn Dixie, Kate Dicamillo
* Tuck Everlasting, Natatlie Babbitt

Youth Fiction:

Ah, my favorite. It’ll be hard to limit myself to 10, so I’m allowing myself 15. I don’t go for the angst-ridden ones, though I have liked several coming-of-age books. Oh, and don’t forget the “classics” like Little Women and Treasure Island.

* Crispin, Avi.
* The Goose Girl, Shannon Hale
* The Giver, Lois Lowry. The Messenger, which is kind of a sequel to The Giver is also good. I found Gathering Blue to be a bit weak, though.
* Jacob Have I Loved, The Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson. Wonderful, beautiful tear-jerkers.
* The Bronze Bow, Elizabeth Speare
* Just Ella, Margaret Peterson Haddix
* Jackaroo, Cynthia Voight. I would recommend Dicey’s Song and Homecoming, too.
* Quest for a Maid, Frances May Hendry. Actually, I like historical fiction in general. Ann Rinaldi has written several excellent books, as have Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler. An Acquaintance with Darkness (Rinaldi) and The Ghost at the Tokaido Inn (Hoobler) are both excellent.
* Things Not Seen, Andrew Clements
* The House of the Scorpion, Nancy Farmer
* Shadow Spinner, Susan Fletcher
* Standing Tall and Sticks, Joan Bauer. She generally writes “coming of age” books, and fairly well, too. These two are my favorites.
* Pirates!, Celia Rees
* Stargirl, Jerry Spinelli. He won a Newbery for Maniac Magee, which is good. But I like this one better.
* Point Blank, Anthony Horowitz. If you even think you’d like Artemis Fowl, you’d love this one. However, I can only recommend the first one (there’s a whole series), because after that, unless you’re a 13-year-old boy, it gets kind of old.

Happy reading!

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78 Responses to Fiction Books for Children

  1. meems on November 7, 2005 at 7:33 am

    Great list! You mentioned several of my favorites. I also love Bridge to Terabithia and I recently read “Midnight Magic” by Avi which was a really fun read. Harriet the Spy has been a long time favorite. For younger kids, I basically like anything by James Marshall (so funny), and there’s a great version of Rapunzel with beautiful illustrations by Paul O. Zelinsky. Big fan of Jan Brett books – especially Christmas Trolls and Who’s That Knocking On Christmas Eve. Oh yes, and speaking of Christmas – Polar Express, of course!

  2. lyle on November 7, 2005 at 9:07 am

    Side question:

    I’ve been thinking about compiling a complete library of the caldecott & newbery books for a “childrens” library for my kids. Are the awards deserved in terms of being worth reading for a kid? are there any you know of that you would leave out?

    thanks,
    lyle

  3. Sue on November 7, 2005 at 9:41 am

    Lyle – we have a lot of the Caldecotts for the 2-6 range, and for the most part, they are terrific books – only a few clunkers.

    My book buying secret is to buy them in lots on eBay. I’ll buy 40 books for $20…

    Russell, you picked some GREAT books – some of our favorites. My toddlers also adore anything Dr. Seuss, Harold and the Purple Crayon, and anything by Mo Willems – Knufflebunny and Don’t Let the Pigeon Ride the Bus are books we read over and over and over again.

  4. Russell Arben Fox on November 7, 2005 at 9:50 am

    Sue, just a quick note: my wife Melissa wrote this post. I’ll let her answer Lyle’s question about the Caldecott and Newbery books; we’re slowly but surely building a complete collection. But I completely second your recommendation of Dr. Seuss, especially the early stuff (If I Ran the Zoo is my all-time favorite). And we only recently discovered Knuffle Bunny, and are we glad we did! A complete charmer.

  5. Allison on November 7, 2005 at 10:16 am

    Great list, Melissa! We own several of the ones you’ve mentioned, and have read most of the others. I especially love Peggy Rathman. She also wrote a book called “The Day the Babies Crawled away” that’s great for toddlers up to school-age kids. We got it for our (then 3-year old) daughter when her baby brother was born; the hero of the story is a small boy who saves a bunch of babies who crawl away from their parents at the fair. The illustrations are all silhouettes and full of funny details, and the story is rhymed.

  6. Allison on November 7, 2005 at 10:19 am

    By the way, anyone else read The Tale of Despereaux? I thought it was well-written, but much darker than I expected. It kept our interest on a long car trip, but depressed the whole family for hours.

  7. Melissa Madsen Fox on November 7, 2005 at 10:31 am

    lyle — Yes, the awards are deserved in being worth reading for the kids. Though, as you go back in time, not only do the books get harder to find, they also aren’t as interesting for today’s readers. Caldecotts are given for the illustrations, so there have been times when the pictures are nice, but the story hasn’t resonated all that well with our kids. The most recent one, Kitten’s New Moon (I think) is a prime example. Personally, I think they gave it to Keven Henkes because he’s written some wondeful books in the past. But we don’t like Kitten’s New Moon all that much around here.

    As for Newbery awards, it’s usually a fair bet that they’ll be good. There have been a couple I haven’t liked, but not many. Sometimes, though, I like the honor books more. For a overview of what I’ve read see here (1922-1980) and here (1980-present). Hopefully, that’ll help.

  8. Bryce I on November 7, 2005 at 10:34 am

    This is a fun post. No time right now for specifics, but I maintain a blog of the books we read aloud to our children. I occasionally include posts on books my kids are reading on their own, or book lists of favorite books.

    Here it is: 500by12.

    Some specific posts of interest:

    Back in August, Allison asked for recommendations for books that 5 to10 year-old boys might enjoy. >Here’s my list.

    A post on Newbery award winners. If anyone is looking for a simple list of the medalists and honor books, I have one. Newbery books often make better read-alouds, in my opinion, because it’s easier to talk with your children about the books that way. They’re not necessarily books kids will really get into. The awards represent adult judgments about literary quality, not kid judgments of readability.

    I wholeheartedly recommend anything by Bill Peet and Sid Fleischman, among others.

  9. Melissa Madsen Fox on November 7, 2005 at 10:34 am

    Everyone — thanks for all the additions and suggestions; we do have quite a few of the ones you’ve suggested. I tried to limit it to our favorites, but after writing this post, kept going around saying, “Oh! I forgot…” I guess that’s what comments are for.

    Allison — you know, we weren’t depressed by Despereaux. I hated it when I first read it, but when we got it on CD to listen to in the car, we really enjoyed it. I think it ends up with a “happy” ending, doesn’t it? What depressed you about the story?? Just curious.

  10. Melissa Madsen Fox on November 7, 2005 at 10:37 am

    Bryce, thanks for the links; any new source of recommendations…

    I’ve read The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman and it totally rubbed me the wrong way. What specifically would you recommend?

  11. Allison on November 7, 2005 at 10:41 am

    Despereaux ended happily enough, it was everything preceding the ending — the red string, dark deeds, revenge, child abuse, guilt, hopelessness, etc. I think if we’d stopped listening before the last fifteen minutes or so, I’d still cry thinking about it. Still, it was a good book, and I was very impressed by the guy reading it (no time to look it up now).

  12. Melissa Madsen Fox on November 7, 2005 at 10:44 am

    True, it was pretty harsh in the telling. But, I think Dicamillo was going for an old fairy tale style when she wrote it. The Grimm fairy tales aren’t all that uplifting, in spite of what Disney’s done to them.

  13. Elisabeth on November 7, 2005 at 10:52 am

    These are all wonderful books. I also loved “Where the Red Fern Grows” and “Summer of the Monkeys” (both by Rawls) and “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry”. Great post!

  14. annegb on November 7, 2005 at 10:52 am

    I love to read young adult fiction because they are usually well written and without the crap.

    Many of the titles you mention are like old friends. I used to read to my kids all the time. Those were the best times.

  15. Sue on November 7, 2005 at 11:00 am

    Allison, we LOVE Peggy Rathman too! My 2 and 4 year old daughters love “The Day the Babies Crawled Away.” I gave it to my mom, and her kindergarten class loves it as well.

  16. Dan Richards on November 7, 2005 at 11:01 am

    One of my favorite old Newberry winners is Adam of the Road, (1943). I think I probably read it 10 times during elementary school and junior high. It’s a wonderful glimpse into Medieval England through the eyes of an 11-year-old boy. Like many Newberry winners, there’s a coming-of-age element, together with some adventure and excitement. I haven’t heard it read aloud, but I imagine it would be captivating at the right age (8-14, probably).

  17. Sue on November 7, 2005 at 11:08 am

    Oh, “Summer of the Monkeys” – Elisabeth, I loved that one!

    A great read alone series for younger kids – the Mrs. PiggleWiggle books – oh, how I loved them as a kid! Also, SuperFudge, the Ramona books, the Boxcar children… As annegb said, these books are truly old friends, and I can’t wait to introduce my children to them.

    For youth some of my favorites are the Anne of Green Gables series, “Island of the Blue Dolphins,” “Wrinkle in Time,” the Narnia books – I’d better stop, I could go on forever.

    Thinking about this, I’m feeling so nostalgic for that FEELING I used to get when I read a great book – that kinda magical feeling of a new world opening up – of losing yourself in this fantastic new world the author has created. Hard to find that in adult fiction.

  18. Sue on November 7, 2005 at 11:17 am

    Oh Melissa, I read your list more carefully, and you already posted most of the youth fiction books I suggested – oops! I love this post though! (And now I’m over on Amazon buying “must have” books for our library.)

  19. Melissa Madsen Fox on November 7, 2005 at 11:30 am

    annegb– I totally agree. That’s the main reason I mostly read youth fiction. Adult fiction is too, well, adult for me. I like having the good story without all the other “stuff” getting in the way. (That, and many times, I don’t find the adult book I read to actually have a good story…)

    “I’m feeling so nostalgic for that FEELING I used to get when I read a great book – that kinda magical feeling of a new world opening up – of losing yourself in this fantastic new world the author has created. Hard to find that in adult fiction. ”

    I couldn’t agree more.

  20. Bryce I on November 7, 2005 at 11:50 am

    Melissa MF–

    What didn’t you like about The Whipping Boy? That was a great story.

    Try the McBroom books — classic American tall tales. They tell the story of a farmer with a one-acre farm that has super rich soil. so they plant in the morning and harvest in the evening. We own By The Great Horn Spoon as well, but I haven’t gotten aroudn to reading it yet.

    One of my favorite picture books of all time is Peggy Rathman’s Office Buckle and Gloria.

    Dan Richards, many, many people have recommended Adam of the Road to me. I’ll have to get it (I checked it out of the library last month, but didn’t have time to read it).

    I read Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth every year. I’ve probably read it twenty times.

  21. gst on November 7, 2005 at 12:40 pm

    The other day I found a copy of a book about a gorilla called Julius. I don’t recall the author. I quite enjoyed it. My 2-year old was ambivalent.

    I’ve only started reading children’s books in earnest in the past 2 years. I’ve come to dislike Seuss, and I doubt his credential. I do, however, enjoy Curious George books. He is one curious monkey.

    I’m looking forward to when my daughter can enjoy with me the books I remember reading with my dad–Narnia stories, The Hobbit, parts of Don Quixote. Up to this point, together we can only manage the simpler books, and watching Deadwood and Rome on HBO.

  22. Kaimi Wenger on November 7, 2005 at 12:40 pm

    Thanks for many good recommendations.

    And perhaps it’s a sign that I’ve bought into the evil commercialized culture, but my kids love the Junie B. Jones series. I think that it’s pretty funny, too.

  23. Amira on November 7, 2005 at 12:40 pm

    I’ll have to try some of your youth suggestions, Melissa. I’ve read all the others you recommend, but only about half the youth ones.

    I very much like E.L. Konigsburg, Joan W. Blos, Felice Holman, Susan Cooper, and Natalie Babbit. I love Goodnight Mr. Tom, The Pushcart War, and Where the Broken Heart Still Beats.

    I will never be able to read Twenty and Ten, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, The Search for Delicious, or Tuck Everlasting without hearing my mother’s voice as she read them out loud to me many years ago.

  24. Melissa Madsen Fox on November 7, 2005 at 12:41 pm

    I don’t think I remember the book well enough to say what I didn’t like about Whipping Boy. I think it just rubbed me wrong. It may have been one of those books (and there have been quite a few) that I don’t like or get primarily because I’m an adult (and didn’t get around to reading it when I was a kid).

    I’m glad someone brought up Phantom Tollbooth; another one I forgot.

  25. B on November 7, 2005 at 12:50 pm

    Michael Chabon’s Summerland is a great “chapter book” that adults will enjoy, too.

  26. polly on November 7, 2005 at 12:56 pm

    Great books. here are a few that my family loves. Anything by Corneila Funke, The Thief Lord, Dragonrider, but especially
    Inkheart. Inkheart is even better if you are well read. Eragon is great for older teens. For older teen girls I liked Sorcery and Cecila or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot, and it’s sequel The Grand Tour. These are a kind of Jane Austen meets Harry Potter. As you can see we tend towards the fantasy.
    Polly

  27. Bryce I on November 7, 2005 at 12:58 pm

    We like Junie B. Jones at our house, Kaimi.

    I recently read Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones so I can go see the movie by Hayao Miyazaki. The book was good fun, although I don’t think really young kids will understand the fundamental premise of the book. I can’t wait to see the movie.

  28. Eric S. on November 7, 2005 at 1:10 pm

    Youth category:

    His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman. The Goden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass. Recommend for anyone with kids who are creative and critical thinkers. Not good for parents who want to raise unquestioning robots (there are, unfortunately, more than a few of these in the church, though not so many here at T&S).

  29. WillF on November 7, 2005 at 1:12 pm

    I’m surprised no one has suggested Lemony Snicket’s fine, yet harrowing accounts of the lives of the Baudelaire children. But then, they are rather dreadful and depressing. Probably not content primary children should ever be subjected too, especially if one would ever want to see a smile on their faces again. No, in fact I regret ever mentioning them on this forum, as reading them may induce sobs comparable to those of a child who just found out his sibling ate half his Halloween candy.

  30. WillF on November 7, 2005 at 1:19 pm

    Oh, and you will also be devestated to find out that the illustrator, Brett Helquist, is a BYU grad:

    http://www.lemonysnicket.com/artist.cfm

  31. Bryce I on November 7, 2005 at 1:31 pm

    Every parent should get a copy of Jim Trelease’s book, The Read-Aloud Handbook. It’s filled with great suggestions for books to read, but mostly it’s a great treatise on the importance of reading aloud to you children, even after they’re capable of reading to themselves.

    Some more books:

    In addition to the marvelous Prydain Chronicles, Lloyd Alexander also wrote the Westmark Trilogy (“Westmark”, “The Kestrel”, “The Beggar Queen”) which is just as good, if more modest in scope.

    For children’s books, I really like Nancy While Carlstrom. The essential book is Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear (illustrated by Bruce Degen). Anything by Audrey and Don Wood is good too (The Napping House, Heckedy Peg, King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub, Sweet Dream Pie, and The Big Hungry Bear are all favorites at our house.

    Another favorite picture book author is Kevin Henkes (“Chester’s Way”, “Julius, the Baby of the World”, “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse”, and “Chrysanthemum” are in regular rotation at our house). I haven’t read any of his stuff for older kids.

    The picture book author that I respect the most is Arnold Lobel. No one else can tell a beautiful story with humor and heart with such simple words (Frog and Toad books, “Mouse Tales”, “Mouse Soup”, “Owl at Home”).

    William Steig, who recently passed away, is another wonderful picture book author/illustrator (he’s not exclusively a children’s author, but that’s the stuff I know) (Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Caleb and Kate, The Amazing Bone, Doctor DeSoto, Pete’s a Pizza).

    I’ve really enjoyed the Lemony Snicket books. I haven’t tried them with my kids yet, and I haven’t seen the movie.

    I haven’t read many of them myself, but my daughter loves anything by Dick King-Smith (Babe: the Gallant Pig, Lady Lollipop, Clever Lollipop, Sophie’s Tom, The Schoolmouse, A Mouse Called Wolf, and many, many more)

  32. Allison on November 7, 2005 at 1:32 pm

    WillF, ha! Actually, the Lemony Snicket books have also been road trip listening favorites for us. And Helquist’s illustrations are great. Another favorite book on CD was A Barrel of Laughs, A Vale of Tears by Jules Feiffer. The whole family liked it, and when I read other books aloud to my girls now, they like to comment on whether or not Tom from that book would feel at home in the book we are reading (the answer is almost always no).

    I don’t think anyone’s mentioned Caralyn and Mark Buehner’s books The Escape of Marvin the Ape or Fanny’s Dream here, but they’re great picture books from fellow USU grads. We like to find all the animals hidden in the clouds and elsewhere.

  33. Allison on November 7, 2005 at 1:35 pm

    Bryce, thumbs way up on Arnold Lobel, especially Uncle Elephant and Owl at Home, and William Steig. I didn’t realize he had died.

  34. TMD on November 7, 2005 at 1:37 pm

    A few that should also be mentioned–

    illustrated:
    Almost anything by Graham Base or Tony de Paola ,
    ***Maragret Hodges’ St. George and the Dragon*** (a Caldecott, it’s got everything for little boys: a chivalrous knight, a dragon, a healing stream and appe tree, a fair princess, and the most wonderful pictures)

    not-so-illustrated:
    Johnny Tremain
    James Howe’s Bunnicula series (funny pets!)
    The Hardy Boys (at least, the older ones: I remember reading some 60 of them between 3rd and 4th grade). Artistic integrity they lack, but they were great fun!

  35. TMD on November 7, 2005 at 1:38 pm

    apple tree, that is. Not an appe tree (whatever that is), certainly not an ape tree

  36. Andrea Wright on November 7, 2005 at 1:40 pm

    Melissa, thanks so much for your recommendations. I’m familiar with several, but can’t wait to check the rest out. Have you read any of Richard Peck’s books, I believe one of them is called, “A Long Way from Chicago”? I really enjoyed that one and the follow-up which I can’t remember the name of. Anyway, I loved your post!

  37. Liesl Buskirk on November 7, 2005 at 1:51 pm

    We thoroughly enjoyed reading the Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne to our 4-year old. What a great way to introduce kids to a wide variety of places and ideas.

  38. Melissa Madsen Fox on November 7, 2005 at 2:34 pm

    Sheesh, I run to Wal-Mart…

    Amira, as always, great suggestions that I’ve never even heard of…

    #29 — “His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman. The Goden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass. Recommend for anyone with kids who are creative and critical thinkers. Not good for parents who want to raise unquestioning robots (there are, unfortunately, more than a few of these in the church, though not so many here at T&S).”

    I read the first two, and while I enjoyed The Golden Compass, I found the Subtle Knife to be a bit grating. I never even bothered with the third. I’m not sure it has much to do with creative thinkers; he’s pretty harsh on religion and authority in general, though.

    Andrea — Have you read any of Richard Peck’s books, I believe one of them is called, “A Long Way from Chicagoâ€?? I

    No. I’ll have to check them out.

    We have read Junie B. Jones, and like it (sort of). I prefer to let my kids read those and the Magic Tree House books by themselves, when they get old enough. Our oldest plowed through both entire series in a year. She still reads the Magic Tree house ones, and she’s nine.

    I don’t like Lemony Snickett, the books, which is why they didn’t end up on the list. The movie was okay. I just find them to be a bit over the top for my taste.

  39. M L on November 7, 2005 at 3:14 pm

    I tend to be a bit old school, since my mother read us the Reader’s Digest “Weekly Reader” books as children. My favorites include No Children, No Pets, David and the Phoenix, Follow My Leader, Dangerous Island, Rising Arrow, The Pink Motel and Gift of the Mikkado. David and the Phoenix was recently republished and can be found on Amazon. The others are more difficult to find, but all well worth reading.

    I second the William Steig recommendations. For those living in Virginia, there is a company (Von Holtzbrinck Publishing) which has an annual book sale. You must get on the invite list, but during that sale, they sell returns from their distribution outlet in Orange at 10% of the cover price. We filled our daughter’s bookshelves with a wide variety of children’s books for relatively little money.

  40. Anna on November 7, 2005 at 3:39 pm

    A number of my favorites have already been mentioned, but one really fantastic book fewer people seem to have heard of is The Diamond in the Window, by Jane Langton. Hard to describe, but it involves two children working to solve a family mystery through riddles and dreams. I read it aloud to my little brothers several years ago, and they loved it too.

  41. Loyd on November 7, 2005 at 3:51 pm

    The Great Brain series.

    I’m not sure how many of you may have read these, but they are available in most large bookstores and libraries. The author John D. Fitzgerald tells the story of his older brother Tom who was intelligent beyond his years, using his ‘great brain’ for conning and saving the citizens of his small town. Written from his Catholic perspective, John gives an interesting picture of life growing up as a Catholic in a small Utah Mormon town near the end of the 19th century. ZCMI, the town’s bishop, Mormon vs. everyone else competitions, and all other bits of life are included in the books.

    Fitzgerald also wrote another reminiscience geared for adults, Papa Married a Mormon, which tells of his growing up with a Catholic father and Mormon mother during this time.

  42. Bryce I on November 7, 2005 at 3:54 pm

    I love the Great Brain books, Loyd

    Another favorite author: Robert McCloskey. Make Way for Ducklings, Blueberries for Sal, and One Morning in Maine are beautiful picture books, and Homer Price and Centerburg Tales remain two of my favorite books even as an adult.

  43. Mark B. on November 7, 2005 at 4:25 pm

    I haven’t seen anybody mention Beverly Cleary–maybe my eyes are going bad. But any of the stories of Ramona and Beezus and their adventures are great stories.

    Don’t miss Mark Buehner’s first book (he drew the illustrations, somebody other than his wife Cara wrote the story): Taxi Dog.

    And, I’ll second the recommendation of the Frog and Toad books. Great tales like the one with the funny swimsuit and the one on Willpower.

    And, Don’t Don’t Don’t forget A.A. Milne. Throw out the horrid Walt Disney versions of those stories, and read all the Winnie the Pooh stories as the master wrote them.

    Great tearjerker books: Sylvester and the Magic Pebble (which someone menitioned above) and EB White’s masterpiece Charlotte’s Web..

    Back to the younger set. Does anybody ever read A Fly Went By anymore?

  44. Mary on November 7, 2005 at 4:42 pm

    Loyd, I love the Great Brain books, especially The Great Brain at the Academy.

    This is a great list and I’d like to add Gary Paulson to the list. Hatchet and Dogsong were some of my favorite books growing up.

  45. Dan Richards on November 7, 2005 at 4:58 pm

    Some of the current favorites at our house are the “Froggy” series by Jonathan London. Froggy is the amphibian equivalent of my scatterbrained, fun-loving four-year-old. The books are pretty silly (a big plus for the four-year-old crowd), but Froggy learns some life lessons along the way. The series includes “Froggy Gets Dressed,” “Froggy Goes to School,” “Froggy Goes to Bed,” “Froggy Eats Out,” and “Froggy Learns to Swim.”

  46. Bryce I on November 7, 2005 at 5:00 pm

    Mark B., thanks for reminding us of Beverly Cleary, who provided me with many hours of reading pleasure as a kid. Thanks also for bringing up A.A. Milne.

    I’ll quibble just a bit about the Disney versions of the Winnie-the-Pooh stories. The stuff that is not based on the books is can be truly execrable, but the adaptations of the orignial source material is quite respectful of its origins, and does an admirable job of capturing the spirit of the books, if not the exact flavor. That the characters live in the world of books is foregrounded quite nicely at points in a way that would never be done today (Tigger slides down the words in the book after bouncing high in a tree; the gopher who comes to excavate Pooh from Rabbit’s door mentions several times, “I’m not in the book!”)

    But I’ll agree that there’s nothing like reading the stories for yourself. In fact, I don’t even like reading them aloud that much, because I can’t ever communicate the effect of the occsional capitalized phrase that is used to such great effect.

    Talk of Milne reminds me that there hasn’t been much talk of poetry for children yet. Other than A.A. Milne, RL Stevenson, Jack Prelutsky, and Shel Silverstein, any suggestions?

  47. Jonathan Green on November 7, 2005 at 5:23 pm

    Melissa, I like your “sounds great when read aloud” category. I recommend “Dionsaurumpus”.

    Whenever I fly, I treat myself to a young adult fantasy novel or two, as there is no better way to keep from replaying a bad interview over and over than to lose yourself in a book. Unfortunately, I have an unerring ability to pick pure drivel off the shelf but not recognize it as such until the page after the last one I read before purchasing it.

  48. Mark B. on November 7, 2005 at 5:36 pm

    For “sounds great when read aloud” . . . beware the Jabberwock my friend.

  49. Russell Arben Fox on November 7, 2005 at 6:06 pm

    Bryce (#47): “In fact, I don’t even like reading them aloud that much, because I can’t ever communicate the effect of the occsional capitalized phrase that is used to such great effect.”

    True. But I adore reading A.A. Milne out loud, for a couple of reasons. First, because I love forcing myself to respect the sort of rhythm and grammar which Milne took to be proper; when I do it right, an accent comes out almost without my being aware of it, and I sound ever so much WASPier. Plus, while you can’t convey his capitalization while reading, you can convey his wonderful sentences and paragraph stops, which are so much fun.

    Incidentally, thank you for reminding Melissa about The Phantom Tollbooth up above, since it is, after all, only the greatest English-language children’s chapter book in the history of the whole universe.

  50. Ana on November 7, 2005 at 7:09 pm

    This is fantastic! So many new additions to my list, and so many I could second, third, etc.

    Some more favorite picture book author/illustrators in our family are Gyo Fujikawa and Richard Scarry. Fujikawa’s ABC is a treasure and was reprinted several years ago by Barnes & Noble. She also did a gorgeous Child’s Garden of Verses that is out of print but worth looking for. And her board books Babies and Baby Animals are perfect for reading to the youngest audiences. Very soft and sweet. I really appreciate her gorgeous illustrations of children of different ethnicities.

    Scarry’s fairy tales nursery rhymes are still the versions I remember most — Red Riding Hood will forever be an orange calico cat in my imagination! His I Am a Bunny is my favorite book about Seasons. And I can’t say enough good about Cars and Trucks and Things That Go. It occupies us for a long time to look for Goldbug, and his sense of humor in that book is akin to what you see in old Sesame Street episodes — various jokes are in there to make it fun for the grown-ups.

    We are just about through with Lloyd Alexander’s The Book of Three in our nightly chapter-book reading (the kids’ reward for being still during family scripture study!) and they’re enjoying it quite a lot. We get laugh-out-loud moments at Gurgi’s constant focus on food (I identify with him in a sad way) and I’m enjoying seeing Taran mature from a bumbling and immature kid into a leader who can trust his own judgement. I have wild little boys with high tolerance for scary material, so we’re hoping to go on in the series, but we might have to take a break and get The Phantom Tollbooth! I forgot how much I loved that when I was a kid! We’ve also had a great time with Encyclopedia Brown,

    As a kid I was absolutely crazy for anything by Zilpha Keatley Snyder — The Egypt Game, Eyes in the Fishbowl, etc. I haven’t opened these up again yet with my kids, though.

  51. Ana on November 7, 2005 at 7:11 pm

    Oh, I almost forgot a very fun and easy chapter book that my kids adored — My Father’s Dragon.

    And that should have been “fairy tales and nursery rhymes” up there. How embarrassing …

  52. Melissa Madsen Fox on November 7, 2005 at 7:12 pm

    Poetry: Edward Lear (“The Owl and the Pussycat” guy) and Lewis Carroll. Our children love to hear Lear’s poetry (especially “The Pobble Who Has No Toes” and “Calico Pie”, and always get a kick out of the of the other Carroll poems. Russell’s mom gave us a Poetry for Young People series (here’s an example over at Amazon) that is not only priceless, but woefully underused in our house.

  53. loydo38 on November 7, 2005 at 7:15 pm

    Mary, Bryce, or any other Great Brain fans…

    Have you read Papa Married a Mormon? I found a copy of it on my mission a few years ago. It tells the story of the struggle their parents had being Catholic and LDS and the battles that ensued among the family and kids. Though John remained strongly Catholic, Tom (the great brain) refused to go to any Catholic services, served an LDS mission in Asia and later married in the St George temple. My boyhood hero served a mission! How cool is that?

  54. b bell on November 7, 2005 at 7:19 pm

    The Great Brain is an amazing series. I loved int growing up and will intro it to my boys when they are older. The Great Brain ended up going on an LDS mission to somewhere in Asia if my memory serves me right. I could never figure out why the Great Brain was a Mormon and went on a mission and his brother was a Catholic.

  55. gst on November 7, 2005 at 7:37 pm

    What is a “chapter book”?

  56. Russell Arben Fox on November 7, 2005 at 7:45 pm

    B (#54): as a couple of people mentioned up above, the book to read is Papa Married a Mormon. In the Great Brain books, the story is that the whole Fitzgerald family is Catholic–that is, Gentile–in the southern Utah town of Adenville (it was probably based on St. George at the turn of the century; the author John D. Fitzgerald himself was born in 1907). It makes for a lot of fun stories. In fact, Fitzgerald’s father was Irish Catholic, and his mother Scandanavian Mormon, and the children grew up influenced by both religions. Only one actually followed his mother’s faith however: Tom, the “Great Brain” of the books, who John says was called to serve a mission in China. The GB books are mostly fiction, but if you read them closely, you can occasionally see some give-away Mormon details slip out from the boys’ mother and from her brother Uncle Mark.

  57. Liz O. on November 7, 2005 at 7:49 pm

    Poetry… I am fond of the one told me in childhood — Little Orphant Annie, by James Whitcomb Riley. (you remember: an’ the gobble-uns will git you if you don’t watch out!) Perfect for October nights! That and Raggedy Man, and The Frost is on the Punkin.

  58. Russell Arben Fox on November 7, 2005 at 7:49 pm

    gst: “chapter book” isn’t a very precise term; basically, it refers to books with perhaps some pictures and usually short enough chapters that they can be read easily by either young readers or by their parents reading to them. But admittedly, the line between a chapter book and a straight ahead “novel” (whether one written for children or adults) isn’t a very definite one.

  59. Josue on November 7, 2005 at 9:24 pm

    I don’t have kids, but I was one not too long ago. And I substitute teach elementary school, so I am starting to get into children’s lit. again.

    I thought I would mention one series that hasn’t been mentioned yet. I really liked the Redwall series by Brian Jaques in my last years of elementary school. Jaques has continued to crank them out and after a while the books start to get the same, and I got too old to care anymore. But I would recommend the first two or three, Redwall, and Mossflower. Maybe Mattimeo. These would be for read aloud (although they are pretty long) or for precocious elementary school readers to read themselves, because many teenagers are too cool to read about talking mice and such. Probably a similar reading level as the Harry Potter books. But I don’t see too many kids reading these books these days, so I’m wondering if the battles of medieval mice and squirrels against rats and ferrets have fallen out of favor in the wake of all the wizardry books.

    Also, I wanted to second the recommendation for My Father’s Dragon. I found this in my school library in 2nd grade and thought it was awesome.

    A couple of incredibly good “youth” books I read recently are Feed (about teenagers in a near future dystopia where people have internet connections wired into their brains and consumer culture has reached its ultimate fulfillment (i.e. when you get hungry, pop-up adds for McDonalds and Applebees go off inside your head)), and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (written from the point of view of an autistic teenager who is attempting to solve the murder of his neighbor’s dog, for which he was blamed).

    Both of these have a lot of explicit language, but in both cases it seems to have a clear cut purpose. In the case of Feed, the author continually showing the breakdown of communication in a culture where slang has overtaken all other language, and even doctors say things like “Dude, hand me the thingy” to their assistants, because everyone can just chat and send images in their heads and have definitions provided by their feeds. In the other book, the character repeats everything that he hears and that is said to him verbatim, and I guess people in contemporary England swear a lot and are pretty mean to strange autistic kids they meet on the subway or wherever. He’s kind of just a witness to everything, and he passes it straight across to the reader in a very literal fashion. I think Feed in particular is an insightful book exploring the problems with our media-saturated consumerist culture. And the other book has great insights into what the world is like for a person with autism.

  60. jp in lv nv on November 7, 2005 at 10:53 pm

    What a great blog! My personal favorites( besides all the ones already listed) are What Can You Do With a Shoe, it is the sweetest picture book, I also love Black Cowboy Wild Horses-Lester and the Birchbark House by Erdrich. These books are excellent stories with a multicultural twist. Reading the Birchbark house after or before Little House on the Prarie has sparked alot of questions and discussion at my house. Thanks for all the new reading material!

  61. jp in lv nv on November 7, 2005 at 11:00 pm

    oops, sorry, forgot my plug for Nate the Great– who doesn’t love Rosamond and her Cats? Dr. Seuss, of course, the Lorax is our favorite!

  62. Allanna on November 7, 2005 at 11:01 pm

    You can’t forget about the YA books that Garth Nix writes. My husband and I both adored Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen. The Ragwitch was good as well (in fact the only work of his that I haven’t enjoyed was Shade’s Children).

    Also, Pat O’Shea’s The Hounds of the Morrigan is a long, but oh-so worthwhile read that incorporates lots of Celtic mythology.

    Lloyd Alexander’s Vesper Holly books (The Illyrian Adventure, etc) are great and have a strong female protagonist.

    And the Lionboy trilogy by Zizou Corder (mother-daughter writing team) is great as well.

  63. Jason Johnson on November 8, 2005 at 1:35 am

    Thanks for the list, so much has been written since I left middle school.

    On read-aloud our greatest discovery was A New Treasury of Children’s Poetry, compiled by Joanna Cole. We picked it up for a buck at a thrift store, and it is one of our daughter’s all-time favorites (she was 3 and is now 4)….Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!…. In a similar vein, Richard Scarry’s Mother Goose collection is great for younger kids, the illustrations are great, and I like the fact that he (they?) didn’t sweeten up the more earthy rhymes. Another great read aloud (or book on tape for car trips), is Kipling’s Just-So Stories. Humph!

    One random book that I loved as a child, and have been able to relocate through the magic of ABE books and Alibris.com was My Mother is the Most Beautiful Woman in the World, by Becky Reyher; a sweet Russian folk story with great illustrations. Also, the Serendipity books: The Wheedle on the Needle, etc – they seem pretty hippy-dippy now, but I liked them as a child.

    I’m glad someone mentioned the great brain books, they were favorites of mine, but I had forgotten about them until I saw them mentioned here. Wouldn’t a wooden key just break off in the lock though? That always bothered me.

    My wife and I were both bookworms and have been scheming to introduce our children to all of our favorites. Some of mine (a boyish list):
    The Soup series by Robert Newton Peck
    Various dog-and-boy stories by Jim Kjellgaard (Big Red, etc.)
    Lloyd Alexander’s Black Cauldron series (seems to be a consensus choice)
    The Education of Little Tree, by Forrest Carter
    My Side of the Mountain, By Jean Craighead George
    Call it Courage, by Armstrong Sperry
    Bones on Black Spruce Mountain, by David Budbill
    Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes
    Also: Old Yeller, and Where the Red Fern Grows.

    Looking back at the list, I see no hints that I would grow up to become a Forester. Nope, none at all.

  64. Sarah on November 8, 2005 at 5:16 am

    I love the Patricia Wrede “Talking With Dragons” books (mostly the first one, though all of them are fun.) I also dug the book about Harriet the Spy’s friend, Sport. Other books on my shelf right now (I like YA fiction better than most new grown-up fiction) are Dicey’s Song (Cynthia Voigt) and Listen for the Singing (Jean Little.) Both are good enough that they’ve accompanied me on every custody transfer and random cross-country move since I bought them (as a teenager, in the early 1990s — actually, based on the printing dates, I probably bought them both while I was in 6th grade, in 1992.)

  65. Tatiana on November 8, 2005 at 7:17 am

    I too love good kids’ books! I have to second and third many of these listed. Our favorite Peggy Rathman is Officer Buckle and Gloria, which we find bed-rollingly side-clutchingly funny. Notice how the people in the background are often failing to follow Officer Buckle’s safety tips.

    (I hope my HTML tags work right.)

  66. Tatiana on November 8, 2005 at 7:46 am

    I give my hearty endorsement to The Great Brain Series along with everyone else. These were favorites of the whole family. My mother read them aloud to my youngest brother and all the rest of the family always gathered to listen.

    Also there is no substitute for the Original Pooh books by A.A. Milne. Disney destroyed them. The originals are subtle and sweet and completely delightful. I have to concur with this choice by others above.

    Did anyone mention Charlotte’s Web yet? I still can’t read it without crying at the end. This was one of my favorites from my own childhood.

    I probably don’t have to mention Heidi but I will anyway. I loved this story as a child, but as an adult, if anything, I love it more. It’s a powerful story about redemption and the true spirit of God. Get a good translation, though. Several translations I’ve read don’t do it justice.

    Speaking of books that speak to the spirit, older kids may love The Chosen by Chaim Potok. He’s one of my favorite authors, and my niece in high school loved this one by him, probably his best known.

    I have to add my endorsement for The Hobbit by J.R.R.Tolkien. I’ve read the whole Lord of the Rings series at least a dozen times, and enjoy more each time. I’m totally nuts about these books, and would love reading them aloud to kids or anyone who would listen. :-)

    When I was of the age to read YA fiction, I didn’t go for most of what there was available, but I loved Louisa May Alcott. So don’t forget Little Women, particularly for tomboyish young girls who are bored by most girl-fiction. Jo and Louisa May are awesome.

  67. Allison on November 8, 2005 at 9:54 am

    “Notice how the people in the background are often failing to follow Officer Buckle’s safety tips.”
    The background details are very funny. I also like all the safety rules written here and there.

  68. Melissa Madsen Fox on November 8, 2005 at 10:21 am

    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (#60) — saw this one in Chinaberry; they had it for adult readers, so I never even considered it as a a youth fiction book. I’ve found that not all books with young people as main characters are necessarily youth fiction books. Take Scott Card for instance: lots of kids as protaganists, but I don’t think I’d let my kids read the books until they were teenagers, at least.

    There are lots of other good suggestions. (I’ve doubled my “gotta read” book list, thanks!) My 9-year-old loves the Talking With Dragons series, and reads them over and over (it’s second only to Harry Potter!), and there’s a lot of classics that I’ve either forgotten about or never read (like the Great Brain… another “boy book” I disdained as a kid.)

    I do have to admit that I loathe the Serendipity books now, even though I liked them as a kid. I just find them overly preachy and not prone to re-reading. But, I did enjoy them as a child, so perhaps I shouldn’t discount them. Can you still find them? The ones we have are holdovers from my childhood.

  69. Karen R on November 8, 2005 at 11:45 am

    Some of my families personal picture book favorites. “The Seven Silly Eaters” By Mary Ann Hoberman. “The Baby’s Catalogue” ,”Peek a Boo”, and “Each Peach Pear Plum” by Janet and Allen Ahlberg. “The Fortune Tellers” by LLoyd Alexander. And a beautiful story based on a true story from the authors great great grandfather “Pink and Say” by Patricia Polacco

  70. Bryce I on November 8, 2005 at 11:55 am

    My son is always standing on the swivel chair. Of course, he also likes to wear his sister’s bike helmet around the house as well.

  71. Bryce I on November 8, 2005 at 1:03 pm

    Karen R, we love “The Seven Silly Eaters” at our house. Also, I can’t believe you’re the first person to mention Patricia Polacco. I can’t believe I forgot her. Our favorites by her: Chicken Sunday, Christmas Tapestry, Thank You, Mr. Falker, My Rotten Red-headed Older Brother, Just Plain Fancy, Mrs. Katz and Tush, and Tikvah Means Hope. If you haven’t read her, go to your library now!

    We just completed our My Father’s Dragon collection at our house with the purchase of The Dragons of Blueland. They’re great books.

  72. Julie M. Smith on November 8, 2005 at 10:26 pm

    Haven’t read all the comments, but if no one has mentioned Time to Go, Hippo and Maisie (not the mouse!), then we need to add those to the list.

  73. Greg Call on November 8, 2005 at 11:16 pm

    My kids are 4 and 1, so most of my recommendations would be picture books. I will say, relevant to a comment above, that the one book in the Dr. Seuss series that I don’t really care for is The Lorax. It’s too long and too preachy. The Sneetches has just as strong a social message, but it’s carried out much better (not to mention the appearance by the deliciously-named Sylvester McMonkey McBean). Plus, under the same cover there’s room for the Zax and the story of the pale green pants with nobody inside them.

    Other family favorites that haven’t been mentioned above are Alexander and the Terrible…Day, Dick Bruna’s Miffy series, the Max and Ruby series, There’s a Nightmare in my Closet, the Corduroy series, The Giant Jam Sandwich, the Curious George series (though I am tiring of these). We do stories out of a Hans Christian Andersen collection and a Brothers Grimm collection. Another winner is The Value of Courage: The Story of Jackie Robinson, which is a book I’ve been carrying around since I was a kid. My son loves the Thomas the Tank Engine books, but they are generally bad adaptations of the television program.

  74. Jason Johnson on November 8, 2005 at 11:33 pm

    Melissa: I don’t much like the Serrendipity books anymore either, but I had a lot of them when I was a child (lots of Aunts and Uncles in Seattle). As to the question of finding them, I have found that I can locate just about any book through e-bay, Alibris, or abebooks.com – they may be shipped from a bookstore in Mumbai or Muskogee, but they are out there somewhere.

  75. Raine on November 8, 2005 at 11:45 pm

    You absolutely cannot go wrong with “Miss Nelson is Missing.” Very funny; your kids will love it. Another funny one is “Officer Buckle & Gloria.”

    A really excellent chapter book for young readers is “My Father’s Dragon” and the 2 sequels.

    A book I loved when I was about 10 years old was “Mandy” by Julie Andrews (Edwards). You’ll want to read the book while snacking on sugar cookies and tea (you’ll understand why if you read it).

    And if any of you have teenage girls or love a good vampire/romance story, I can guarantee that they will love the new book by LDS writer Stephenie Meyer titled “Twilight”: http://www.bookpage.com/0510bp/stephenie_meyer.html

  76. marta on November 9, 2005 at 1:52 am

    The Borrowers by Mary Norton, and lots of Roald Dahl. My kids especially liked to hear their dad read The BFG aloud because he used a different voice for each character.

  77. EHeath on November 9, 2005 at 10:11 am

    Sorry if someone already posted this. My kids love the Childhood of Famous Americans series. You can find them on ebay and any Barnes and Nobles. We read them out loud to the kids at night before bed and they love them. Ages 8,6 and 4

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