For a child to read some book, any book, with a few exceptions, is better than reading no book. But it is even better for a child to read a great book that will stay with him or her forever. It is difficult to separate wheat from chaff – many parents and most kids have little more to go on than the front cover. Trial and error can uncover some treasures, but how great it would be if no child missed the literary highlights.
Every list of favorites is idiosyncratic. This one ranges widely, from the early 19th century (The Emperor’s New Clothes) to the 21st (Madlenka), from classics familiar to all (The Wizard of Oz) to obscure long-forgotten gems long out of print (Paddy’s Christmas). The books all share a certain honesty, a respect for the intelligence of their reader.
All are books that I read aloud to my children, or less frequently were enjoyed as we listened together to someone else read. From the birth of my firstborn to the beginning of middle school, reading together was a daily much-loved routine – these were the charmed moments of our day. The picture books included in this blog are ones we read repeatedly, some of them hundreds of times, without them becoming stale. The chapter books are ones that stayed with us long after we closed the covers.
I hope you and the children around you will love these books as much as we did. And I hope you will suggest your own favorites to add to mine.