Welcome back everyone!
When I was younger, I used to devour books. I would get ten at a time from the library, and read them all within a weekend- I lived and breathed to read. I still love to read, but I definitely can’t keep up with my younger self’s dedication to seeking out new books and series to binge-read (Is binge-reading a term? If binge-watching is, it should be…). As I mentioned in a recent post, I recently re-read a bunch of my old favorite books as I was figuring out which I was ready to part with and pass on to the next generation of young readers. If you’re interested in my list of the best kids’ books, keep on reading!
I would like to clarify that these vary in age-range. I read most of them between second grade and seventh grade, but I read at a higher reading level throughout elementary school, so the books I read in elementary school aren’t very different from what I read in middle school. Some of these recommendations are very basic, but I included them anyway if they were truly some of my favorites, since that’s the topic of this list.
- Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling – What would this list be without the Harry Potter books? I read them starting at the end of first grade, but didn’t finish the later and longer books in the series until second grade. These rocked my world and made me fall in love with the fantasy genre, and every time I go back to read them again I’m reminded of the magic they held in that first read. My personal favorite has always been the Goblet of Fire.
- Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder – This is another classic series that I started in first grade but didn’t finish until later in elementary school. My grandmother adored these books and bought me a box set of the first few for Christmas one year, and I remember being fascinated by them, wanting to experience prairie life for myself. My grandmother has now passed away, and although I haven’t read these in quite a few years, I know that when I eventually revisit them I will be reminded of her.
- The Secret Series by Pseudonymous Bosch – I forget how I stumbled upon this series, but all I know is I loved every minute of it. The humor (especially coming from the narrator) and the mystery are perfectly intertwined, and each book actually gets better rather than worse as in some kids’ book sequels. It’s a fairly intricate storyline in terms of trying to sum it up, but the reveals towards the end of the series are worth waiting for and actually not predictable (I’m bad at predicting events though, so maybe find out for yourself on that one).
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle – I actually didn’t like this book at first. I’m still not the biggest fan of the other books in the series, but I will say this book grew on me more than I ever thought it would. The world Madeleine L’Engle creates is mind-boggling yet completely realistic (funny how that works) and made me appreciate science and theoretical thinking more. I love how the Murry family is relatable in some ways, yet incredibly special in their talent and intellect- it’s the perfect balance and makes you want to root for Meg and Charles Wallace even more.
- Inkheart by Cornelia Funk/e – I got this book in a random store in upstate New York the summer after second grade, looking for a book to read during long car rides on that trip visiting my grandparents. I wish I had the same ability to make words come to life that Meggie does, but reading this book was magical enough. However, I didn’t enjoy the other two books in the trio (Inkspell, Inkdeath) nearly as much.
- The Winnie Years series by Lauren Myracle – This book series isn’t a classic or a series with a complicated plot, but it meant a lot to me as an anxious pre-teen awaiting middle school. It’s a fairly accurate portrayal of late elementary school and middle school, and I went through a lot of the same things that Winnie did. I recommend it for girls who are in the pre-teen age range and just need something light and fluffy to relate to.
- Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech – My mom loved the plot of this book so she read it out loud to me in early elementary school. I think it teaches some important life lessons with a creative manner of events unfolding, and the twist at the end was both unexpectedly beautiful and heartbreaking. It’s a sad one, but the ending only shows how great the beginning of the book/everything leading up to the end is.
- Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass – As someone who’s been having an existential crisis since forever, it made sense I would love this book. When I re-read it a few weeks ago, I cried just as much as I did the first time. I saw a lot of myself in Jeremy, and you’ll enjoy following his journey- it’s a really beautiful storyline.
- A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass – This book is another sad one, but it’s just as beautiful. It follows the story of Mia, an eighth grader with synesthesia (someone in The Secret Series also has synesthesia!) and her discovering what exactly that is and how it relates to her self-identity. I found this book fascinating as it introduced me to something new, but it also managed to be relatable just because everyone struggles with their identity in some way. It perfectly captures those growing pains.
- A Corner of the Universe by Ann M. Martin – Another heartbreakingly beautiful book my mom read to me when I was younger, this story is set in a 1960s summer where a small-town-girl meets her mentally-ill uncle that was previously hidden from her. The ending is abrupt and sad, but twelve-year-old Hattie was all too relatable to me at the time of reading this, and her growth throughout the story is inspiring.
- A Year Without Autumn by Liz Kessler –
- Strawberry Hill by Mary Ann Hoberman – I remember liking this book a lot, but I didn’t even realize how wonderful the plot and the protagonist’s journey was until I re-read it a couple weeks ago. It follows ten-year-old Allie moving cities (to a street named Strawberry Hill) and experiencing the struggles of making true friends as well as anti-Semitism. It clarifies what a true friend is, and it also has a couple cute pictures in my version of the book.
- The Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall – I LOVED this series when my second-grade teacher first introduced me to it. I always wanted sisters (I just have a younger brother) and I envied the Penderwicks’ tight-knit family. It’s a fun read that still touches on life lessons and serious issues like most kids’ books do.
I hope this list helps anyone out who’s looking for good kids’ books! Whether you’re a teacher, parent, or just someone who likes to read and was curious on if we shared the same favorite kids’ books, this list should have something for everyone. Honestly, I enjoy most of the books I read, and I’ll dabble in pretty much any genre if someone encourages me to read a certain book or I’m gifted one. I could’ve included more, but these are the ones that I would re-read again and again and that really stuck out to me. Let me know what your favorite children’s books are/were!