Book Recommendations

Here are 300+ books for kids of all ages, recommended by teachers, parents, read-aloud experts, our readers, and reading expert Dana Gaskin Wenig.

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Picture books and early readers


Each Peach Pear Plum, by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

Who Sank the Boat?, by Pamela Allen

Rosie Revere, Engineer, by Andrea Beaty

Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelmans

The World According to Humphrey, by Betty Birney

Dear Zoo, by Rod Campbell

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle

The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy, by Lynley Dodd

The Gruffalo, The Snail and the Whale, by Julia Donaldson

Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman

Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley

Koala Lou, The Magic Hat, by Mem Fox

My Little Sister Ate One Hare, by Bill Grossman

Where’s Spot?, by Eric Hill

The Story of the Little Mole Who went in Search of Whodunit, by Werner Holzwarth

Rosie’s Walk, by Pat Hutchins

Rascal the Dragon, by Paul Jennings

Love the Baby, by Steven Layne

Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, by Betty MacDonald

Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid, by Megan McDonald

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, by Bill Martin, Jr., and Eric Carle

The Salamander Room, by Anne Mazer

I Need a New Butt, by Dawn McMillan

Hey Grandude!, by Paul McCartney

Ashraf of Africa, by Ingrid Mennen

Kiss! Kiss! Yuck! Yuck!, by Kyle Mewburn

Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin, by Lloyd Moss

Harvey Potter’s Balloon Farm, by Jerdine Nolen

Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl, Mick Harte Was Here, by Barbara Park

Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb, by Al Perkins

A Different Pond, by Bao Phi

Charlie Parker Played Be Bop, by Chris Raschka

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, by Michael Rosen

Skippyjon Jones, by Judy Schachner

Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak

Bartholomew and the Oobleck, Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Seuss’s ABC, by Dr. Seuss

“Could Be Worse!”, by James Stevenson

Wombat Stew, by Marcia Vaughan

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst

The Elephant and the Bad Baby, by Elfrida Vipont

Owl Babies, by Martin Waddell

Rise of the Earth Dragon (Dragon Masters #1), by Tracey West

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, by Mo Willems

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, by Linda Williams

I Went Walking, by Sue Williams

Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao, by Kat Zhang

Grades 2-3


The Wild Robot, by Peter Brown

The Enormous Egg, by Oliver Butterworth

Frindle, by Andrew Clements

The BFG, by Roald Dahl

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo

Kenny & the Dragon, by Tony DiTerlizzi

The Giants and the Joneses, by Julia Donaldson

Half Magic, by Edward Eager

The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling

Elvis and the Underdogs, by Jenny Lee

The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis

All About Sam, by Lois Lowry

Junie B. Jones Has a Peep in Her Pocket, by Barbara Park

Treasure Hunters, by James Patterson

Max and the Midknights, by Lincoln Pierce

Electrical Wizard: How Nikola Tesla Lit up the World, by Elizabeth Rusch

Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor, by Jon Scieszka

The Teacher from the Black Lagoon, by Mike Thaler

The Fiery Salamander, by Colin Thiele

Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White

Max and the Midknights: Battle of the Bodkins, by Lincoln Pierce

Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor, by Jon Scieszka

Grades 4-5


Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, by Jonathan Auxier

Gregor the Overlander (the first book in the Underland Chronicles), by Suzanne Collins

Fourth Grade Fairy, by Eileen Cook

Because of Winn-Dixie, by Kate DiCamillo

Out of my Mind, by Sharon Draper

Harris and Me, by Gary Paulsen

Harry Potter and the Sorcer’s Stone, by J. K. Rowling

The Green Ember (book one in the Green Ember series), by S. D. Smith

The Shadow Club, by Neal Shusterman

Dodger and Me, by Jordan Sonnenblick

Grades 6-8

On My Honor, by Marion Dane Bauer

Funny in Farsi: A Memori of Growing Up Iranian in America, by Firoozeh Dumas

The Legend of the Wandering King, by Laura Gallego Garcia

This Side of Paradise, by Steven Layne

Henry’s Freedom Box, Ellen Levine

Touching Spirit Bear, by Ben Mikaelsen

How Angel Peterson Got His Name and Other Outrageous Tales About Extreme Sports, by Gary Paulsen

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, by Alvin Schwartz

Donuthead, by Sue Stauffacher

The Last Book in the Universe, by Rodman Philbrick

Eragon (book one in the Inheritance Cycle), by Christopher Paolini

The Mailbox, by Audrey Shafer

Unwind, The Schwa Was Here, by Neal Shusterman

Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli

Around the World in 80 Days; Journey to the Center of the Earth, by Jules Verne


Grades 9-12


Counterfeit Son, by Elain Alphin

The Underneath, by Kathi Appelt

The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball, by John Coy

Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens

Sum: Forty Tales from the After Lives, by David Eagleman

The Princess Bride, by William Goldman

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf, by Ambelen Kwaymullina

Inside Out and Back Again, by Thanhha Lai

The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch

The Light in the Forest, by Conrad Richter

Bruiser, by Neal Shusterman


Poetry and rhymes


Thanks to author Meghan Cox Gurdon for allowing us to share her poetry recommendations.

Life Doesn’t Frighten Me, by Maya Angelou

What the Ladybug Heard, by Julia Donaldson

Orange Pear Apple Bear, by Emily Gravett

17 Kings and 42 Elephants, by Margarety Mahy

A Child’s Garden of Verses, by Robert Louis Stevenson

They All Saw a Cat, by Brendan Wenzel

Beastly Verse, by JooHee Yoon


Dana’s 25 favorite picture books


Flat Stanley (the original), by Jeff Brown

Stellaluna, by Jannell Cannon

Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney

Jabari Jumps, by Gaia Cornwall

Fairy Tales, by E. E. Cummings

Garfield (comic series), by Jim Davis

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge, by Mem Fox

Corduroy, by Don Freeman

Millions of Cats, by Wanda Gág

Stormy, by Goujing

The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats

The Owl and the Pussycat, by Edward Lear 

Frog and Toad, by Arnold Lobel

Owl at Home, by Arnold Lobel

In a Jar, by Deborah Marcero

Shy Willow, by Cat Min

Little Bear, by Else Holmelund Minarik

Thunder Cake, by Patricia Palacco

The Bee Tree, by Patricia Palacco

Rechenka’s Eggs, by Patricia Palacco

Caps for Sale, by Esphyr Slobodkina

The Bear That Wasn’t, by Frank Tashlin

Putting the World to Sleep, by Shelley Moore Thomas

The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams

Nurse Lugton’s Curtain, by Virginia Woolf

From Dana: 25 middle-reader chapter books / series


The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate illustrated by Patricia Castelao 

The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill

Each Tiny Spark, by Pablo Cartaya

James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl

The BFG, by Roald Dahl

Into the Wild, by Erin Hunter

Fire and Ice, by Erin Hunter

Forest of Secrets, by Erin Hunter

Comet in Moominland, by Tove Jansson

Finn Family Moomintroll (series), by Tove Jansson

Moominland Midwinter, by Tove Jansson

The River Bank (Sequel to The Wind In the Willows with female characters!), by Kij Johnson 

Nancy Drew (series), by Carolyn Keene

Hello Universe, by Erin Entrada Kelly (Author) Isabel Roxas (Illustrator)

The Wrinkle in Time Quintet, by Madeleine L’Engle

Show Me a Sign, by Ann Clare LeZotte

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin, MD

The Poet’s Dog, by Patricia MacLachlan

Wildwood, by Colin Meloy

The Borrowers (series), by Mary Norton

Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, by Robert C. O’Brien

Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling

Holes, by Louis Sachar

A Series of Unfortunate Events, by Lemony Snicket

Other Words for Home, by Jasmine Warga

From Dana: 25 Young Adult chapter books/series

A note from Dana: 

As a parent and former bookseller, I’m aware of a transitional period when young people may not want their parents to know what they’re reading, and some parents don’t want to know what the young adults in their lives are reading. This is a time when older children or young adults can comprehend more and more of what they read, and content becomes an issue, either for the young person, or the parents. 

With this in mind, perhaps a useful approach for is this: invite your young adult child to read to you from whatever book they choose. That way they can skip the parts that might upset you, the way you’ve done that for them all these years.

The truth is, reading is not just about entertainment and learning, it’s about freedom. Teens often want to read content (books that address depression, suicide, sex, drugs, divorce, illness, family and community violence, etc.) that their parents are not ready for them to read. It’s normal for parents to try to protect their kids. Some parents think kids will read about these things and take them as a road map. I think it’s much more likely that when content is over the young reader’s head, they will either won’t absorb it until they are ready, or they will ask questions about the content. Great.

If a reader of any age wants to read on a certain topic, no one will be able to stop them. The question is, don’t you want to be there for them while they read what they need to read. Shouldn’t we be there for each other? Wherever you stand on this issue, please consider approaching the read aloud topic with young adults with sensitivity and the intention to learn something from them. Have fun!

The Hazel Wood, by Melissa Albert

The Cruel Prince, by Holly Black

Graceling, by Kristin Cashore

Fire, by Kristin Cashore

Bitterblue, by Kristin Cashore

The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende

The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, by By Diana Wynne Jones

A Very Large Expanse of Sea, by Tahereh Mafi

Blood Water Paint, by Joy McCullough

Furia, by Yamile Saied Méndez

We Set the Dark on Fire, by By Tehlor Kay Mejia

Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer

Akata Witch, by Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Warrior, by Nnedi Okorafor

Song of the Lioness Quartet, by Tamora Pierce

First Test, by Tamora Pierce

Page, by Tamora Pierce

Squire, by Tamora Pierce

Lady Knight, by Tamora Pierce

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

On The Come Up, by Angie Thomas

The Sun Is Also A Star, by Nicola Yoon

American Street, by By Ibi Zoboi

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

25 classics (Dana’s favorites)


Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

The Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum

The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle

The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett 

Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

Through the Looking-Glass, by Lewis Carroll

My Family and Other Animals, by Gerald Durrell

Birds, Beasts and Relatives, by Gerald Durrell

The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Graham

The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster

The Earthsea Trilogy, by Ursula K. Le Guin

Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling

The Chronicles of Narnia (series), by C.S. Lewis

Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren 

The Story of Doctor Dolittle, by Hugh Lofting

Winnie the Pooh (original), by A.A. Milne

Five Children and It, by E. Nesbit

Tales of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter

The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Mary Poppins, by P.L. Travers

Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White

Stuart Little, by E. B. White

The Trumpet of the Swan, by E.B. White

The Sword in the Stone, by  T.H. White

The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams

From Dana: 100+ Read-aloud books by OwnVoices and BIPOC authors


A note from Dana: 

I gathered this collection from many excellent websites. I’m sure I missed some important titles, please drop us a line if you have a title for us. Maybe we’ll start a list of recommendations from our readers! The focus of this list is to offer as many picture books, chapter books, nonfiction, poetry, and history books for children, all written by authors with lived experience of the material. Reading books by people with varied life experience helps round out the big picture of who we all are. It helps us see the whole world. 

When I was growing up there weren’t many books featuring characters who weren’t white. I remember A Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats fondly, and one called, One Small Blue Bead by Byrd Baylor. These two books, as much as I loved them, were not written by people who could tell those stories from the inside out. They were not #OwnVoices, but they made me think, opened me up to stories other than my own, and I have never forgotten them. 

This list is, to the best of my ability, all #OwnVoices books, all written by authors who speak with authority about what it is to be Black, to be Indigenous, to be a person of color, to be LGBTQ+. These stories deserve to be savored, and how better to savor them than to read, or listen to them be read, out loud.

Across the Bay, by Carlos Aponte

And Still I Rise: A Book of Poems, by Maya Angelou

A Child’s Introduction to African American History: The Experience, People, and Events That Shaped Our Country, by Jabari Asim, illustrated by Lynn Gaines

Anna Hibiscus’ Song, by Atinuke, illustrated by Lauren Tobia

The Pencil, by Susan Avingaq

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut, by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James

I Am Every Good Thing, by Derrick Barnes

El Deafo, by Cece Bell

Your Name Is a Song, by Jamilah Thompkins Bigelow

Brown Boy Joy, by Dr. Thomishia Booker

More Than Anything Else, by Marie Bradby, illustrated by Chris K. Soentpiet

Grandma’s Purse, byVanessa Brantley-Newton

Ruby Bridges Goes To School: My True Story, by Ruby Bridges

Black Girl Magic: A Poem, by Mahogany L. Browne, illustrated by Jess X. Snow

Imani’s Moon, by Janay Brown-Wood (Illustrated by Hazel Mitchell)

Me & Mama, by Cozbi A. Cabrera

A Day With Yayah, by Nicola I. Campbell

Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood, by Isabel Campoy, Theresa Howell, and Rafael López

All Because You Matter, by Tami Charles

Hair Love, by Mathew A. Cherry (Illustrated by Vashti Harrison)

The Name Jar, by Yangsook Choi

Firebird, by Misty Copeland (Illustrated by Christopher Myers)

Bigmama’s, by Donald Crews

The Watsons Go to Birmingham, by Christopher Paul Curtis

Chocolate Me!, by Taye Diggs, illustrated by Shane W. Evans

Mixed Me, by Taye Diggs, Illustrated by Shane W. Evans 

Magnificent Homespun Brown: A Celebration, by Samara Cole Doyon, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita

Meet Yasmin!, by Saadia Faruqi 

Birdsong, by Julie Flett

Kimotinâniwiw Itwêwina / Stolen Words, by Melanie Florence (Author) Gabrielle Grimard (Illustrator) Dolores Sand (Translator)

Cora Cooks Pancit, by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore 

George, by Alex Gino

Lincoln and Douglass: An American Friendship, byNikki Giovanni, illustrated by Bryan Collier

Call Me Tree: Llámame árbol, by Maya Christina Gonzalez 

Look What Brown Can Do!, by Marie Harris, illustrated by Neda Ivanova

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, by Vashti Harrison and Kwesi Johnson

Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History, by Vashti Harrison and Kwesi Johnson

Happy to Be Nappy, by bell hooks, Illustrated by Chris Raschka

Lullaby (for a Black Mother), by Langston Hughes (Illustrated by Sean Qualls) 

My People, by Langston Hughes, photography by Charles R. Smith Jr.

That Is My Dream!: A Picture Book of Langston Hughes’s Dream Variation, by Langston Hughes

Awâsis and the World-famous Bannock, by Dallas Hunt

Rapunzel, by Rachel Isadora 

My Grandma and Me, by Mina Javaherbin, illustrated by Lindsey Yankey

Daddy Calls Me Man, by Angela Johnson, Illustrated by Rhonda Mitchell

The Wedding, by Angela Johnson, illustrated by David Soman

Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream, by Deloris Jordan and Roslyn M. Jordan, illustrated by Kadir Nelson 

Sweetest Kulu, by Celina Kalluk and Alexandria Neonakis

The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh, by Supriya Kelkar, illustrated by Alea Marley

Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets: A Muslim Book of Shapes, by Hena Khan, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini

Under My Hijab, by Hena Khan, illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel

No Kimchi For Me!, by Aram Kim 

The Paper Boat: A Refugee Story, by Thao Lam

Drawn Together, by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat

Ty’s Travels: All Aboard! (My First I Can Read), by Kelly Starling Lyons

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story, by Kevin Noble Maillard

Alma and How She Got Her Name, by Juana Martinez-Neal 

Hands Up!, by Breanna J. McDaniel

Miami Jackson Gets It Straight, by Patricia and Frederick McKissack (Illustrated by Michael Chesworth)

Goin’ Someplace Special, by Patricia C. McKissack, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

Chasing Space: An Astronaut’s Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances, by Leland Melvin

Don’t Touch My Hair, by Sharee Miller

Saturday, by Oge Mora

Thank you, Omu!, by Oge Mora 

Dreamers, by Yuyi Morales 

From Far Away, by Robert Munsch, Saoussan Askar 

He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands, by Kadir Nelson

The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore, by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson 

Sparkle Boy, by Lesléa Newman  

Sulwe, by Lupita Nyong’o, Illustrated by Vashti Harrison

Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters 

Barack Obama

The People Shall Continue

Simon J. Ortiz

Dear Juno

Soyung Pak and Susan Kathleen Hartung

Priya Dreams of Marigolds and Masala

Meenal Patel

If a Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks

Faith Ringgold

The Field

Baptiste Paul, illustrated by Jacqueline Alcantara

My Brother Charlie

Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete, Illustrated by and Shane Evans

Last Stop on Market Street

Matt de la Peña


Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Loren Long

Hey Black Child

Useni Eugene Perkins, illustrated by Bryan Collier


Jason Reynolds

Tar Beach

Faith Ringgold

The Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom

Teresa Robeson, illustrated by Rebecca Huang

You Matter

Christian Robinson

I Got the Rhythm

Connie Schofield-Morrison and Frank Morrison

I Got the School Spirit

Connie Schofield-Morrison

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race

Margot Lee Shetterly

Counting Descent

Clint Smith

My Heart Fills With Happiness

Ni Sâkaskineh Mîyawâten Niteh Ohcih

Monique Gray Smith

You Hold Me up

Monique Gray Smith

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga

Traci Sorell 

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters

John Steptoe

Celeste’s Harlem Renaissance

Eleanora E. Tate

The Blacker the Berry

Joyce Carol Thomas, illustrated by Floyd Cooper

The Piñata That the Farm Maiden Hung

Samantha R. Vamos, illustrated by Sebastia Serra

Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You

Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by James E. Ransome

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library

Carole Boston Weatherford (Illustrated by Eric Velasquez)

Sumo Joe 

Mia Wenjen 

Venus and Serena: Serving From The Hip: 10 Rules for Living, Loving, and Winning

Serena Williams, Venus Williams, and Hilary Beard

Gone Crazy in Alabama

Rita Williams-Garcia

Each Kindness

Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E. B. Lewis

The Other Side

Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E. B. Lewis

Pecan Pie Baby

Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Sophia Blackall

Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas 

Natasha Yim 

Everything, Everything

Nicola Yoon

Grandpa Cacao: A Tale of Chocolate, from Farm to Family , by Elizabeth Zunon

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