Best Books For Babies Up To Teens

J.K. Rowling has almost single-handedly encouraged millions of children to read, read, read. Now it’s time to keep that momentum going beyond Harry Potter and Hogwarts. And it’s also important to consider the little readers in your life whose bedtime stories require a little less heft but just as much entertainment value.
By Elizabeth Weiss McGolerick

When it comes to the books that should be on every child’s bookshelf, turn to the oldies but goodies. The following stories have stood the test of time and will continue to do so, encouraging a love of reading. Most of them should be on your local bookstore shelves or available online, but what’s even more fun sometimes is visiting a used bookstore. Hunt through their hodge-podge collection and the delicious scent of aged paper to see what favorites you might find from your own childhood.

FOR BABIES AND TODDLERS

  • Belly Button Book, by Sandra Boynton
    For the little folks who are obsessed with this silly body part, this board book from beloved Boynton has the belly button taking center stage. It’s filled with delightful language and priceless illustrations to tell the tale of hippos and their “bee-bo’s.”
  • Never Tease a Weasel, by Jean Conder Soule
    The be-kind-to-animals message is cleverly conveyed through unforgettable illustrations, rhymes that beg to be read aloud, and wacky suggestions for the right and wrong ways to show affection for another creature.

FOR PRE-SCHOOLERS

  • Curious George Takes a Job, by H.A. Rey
    This funky monkey gets into mischief and learns some important lessons with the Man in the Yellow Hat. Kids will adore the illustrations and the shenanigans that George manages to get into. And there are so many other installments of George – but this one is the standout of the bunch.
  • Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelmans
    Adventurous and tough Madeline inspires children to be brave in the face of things people are usually scared of… and to understand that sometimes it’s OK to need Mom and Dad and some special love and attention.

FOR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL KIDS

  • The Mr. Men and Little Miss Books, by Roger Hargreaves
    From jolly Mr. Greedy to the irresistible Mr. Messy, from silly Little Miss Scatterbrain to mischievous Little Miss Naughty, dozens of books are dedicated to Hargreaves’ endearing characters and all their gifts and flaws. These small paperback delights are colorful enough to keep the smaller child’s attention and challenging enough for the older ones as they sharpen their reading skills.
  • Flat Stanley, by Jeff Brown
    A perfectly normal boy until the day he wakes up flat as a pancake, Flat Stanley’s life turns into an adventure of the finest sort. Even though he’s a bit challenged by his shape, Stanley doesn’t let that stop him from saving the day. This book has inspired millions of children to create their own Flat Stanley’s who travel around the world.

FOR TWEENS

  • Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Superfudge, by Judy Blume
    Telling the story of Peter Hatcher and his pest of a brother, Fudge, these two books accurately represent the exasperation and humor that can come from true sibling rivalry. Other Blume books to consider for your tweens – Just as Long as We’re Together and Are You There God? It’s Me Margret.
  • Ramona the Pest, by Beverly Cleary
    Starring the one and only Ramona Quimby, Ramona the Pest is the first in a series of books that follow energetic, puckish Ramona as she makes her way through school and manages her family. Also recommended is Cleary’s Socks, the tale of a beloved pet cat who is suddenly “replaced” by baby Charles William and retaliates with lovable antics and cringe-worthy misdeeds.

FOR TEENS

  • Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
    This classic, enchanting story will never leave you once you’re introduced to the March sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. This is a story of humanity and family, love and loss, courage and fear – relevant, unforgettable, a masterpiece of American literature.
  • Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll
    Nonsensical happenings, curious language, outrageous characters – this timeless celebration of Alice’s adventures will spark every imagination one way or another. The version to have in your collection is that with the masterful and detailed illustrations by John Tenniel that so carefully match the text.

Whatever books you buy for you children, encourage a love of reading and respect for the written word. Technology may be expanding, but there is nothing that can replace that childhood memory of being read to before bed, or snuggling up with a good book on a rainy day. These are the tales that stay with you forever – and that’s a good thing.



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