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Building Your Budding Library

Who’s up for a reading challenge? I’ve asked CECPTA parents to share their favorite books for kids. Let’s see how many we can read before the end of the year! On the way to that very exciting list of new books to explore, I want to talk about the importance of reading with your children.

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I cannot emphasize enough the importance of reading with your children. There are a plethora of benefits and no drawbacks. The Importance of Reading to Your Children by The Children’s Bureau lists 7 Benefits of Reading to Children:

  • “Supported cognitive development
  • Improved language skills
  • Preparation for academic success
  • Developing a special bond with your child
  • Increased concentration and discipline
  • Improved imagination and creativity
  • Cultivating a lifelong love of reading” 

Cognitive development is how a person thinks, explores, and gains an understanding of their world. Reading to your children gives them the information they need to understand the world around them and how they belong in it. Listening to you reading “stimulates the part of the brain that allows them to understand the meaning of language and helps build key language, literacy and social skills.” Both of these are crucial for academic success. The more words children are introduced to, the more they will learn and the more they are prepared to read. 

Reading aloud together also develops a special bond with your children. It “gives your children a sense of intimacy and well-being,” which helps foster a feeling of closeness. These “feelings of love and attention encourage positive growth and development.” The stories you read together can also be a platform for discussing similar experiences in real life.

Reading regularly with your children increases their concentration and discipline. Hearing the story gives them something to focus on and an incentive to sit still. Reading also opens a window into other worlds, cultivating their imagination, growing their creativity, and broadening their dreams. Enjoying books together causes your children to link reading and pleasure, developing in them a love for reading and learning that will last a lifetime. 

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

How old should your children be when you start and when you stop reading to them? The answer is that it’s never too early to start, and they are never too old. According to Reading to Children: Why It’s So Important and How to Start by Healthline:


Books with basic images that stand out are best for babies under 6 months old. Babies ages 7 to 12 months may enjoy books with a few words or a short sentence per page. Babies ages 12 to 18 months may like books about children doing the same routine things that they do. They may also appreciate books with familiar characters or animals in them and with “more detailed pictures and a simple story.” As your baby learns to talk, try engaging them when reading by pointing, asking questions, and repeating what they say.

Toddlers (ages 19 to 30 months) like books with “lots of action, pictures, and details. […] Short stories, particularly those with cause-and-effect relationships or a problem that the characters must work to overcome” are great for this age group. Repetition is important at this stage of development, so stories that rhyme or can be sung are perfect. If you pause while you are reading, your kiddo might fill in the blank for you! 

Preschoolers might still enjoy books that are mostly pictures with few words. However, you can start reading more complicated stories and even chapter books with them. It’s beneficial to ask questions while you are reading to see if your child is understanding the story. Reading isn’t limited to books. You can read grocery store labels, street signs, or advertisements. Listening to audiobooks and singing songs together are also great ways to increase literacy. 

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Another great resource for choosing age-appropriate books is this article by Reading Rockets: How to Choose Read Aloud Books: Babies to Third Graders.

You should continue reading to your children even after they can read. Common Sense Media’s article 10 Reasons You Should Read Aloud to Big Kids Too says reading aloud to older kids “builds vocabulary, improves listening skills and comprehension, provides positive modeling, helps with discussing difficult issues, strengthens bonding, and more.”

Here’s a fun website that gives you book recommendation after taking a short quiz: https://readaloudrevival.com/ 

Without further ado, here is the promised list of both new and classic books that are our favorites:

Board Books (ages 0+): 

Little Blue Truck series written by Alice Schertle and illustrated by Jill McElmurry [recommended by Brittany Boldt]

10 Little Ninjas written by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Nate Wragg

More Blueberries written by Susan Musgrave and illustrated by Esperança Melo

Baby Animal Farm written and illustrated by Karen Blair

Say Hello! written and illustrated by Rachel Isidora

Where is Baby’s Belly Button? and other books written and illustrated by Karen Katz

Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert

Baby Beluga written by Raffi and illustrated by Ashley Wolff

Yury the Fury written by Le’yandria Ratomski and illustrated by Ana Oseynn

My Dad is Amazing written by Sabrina Moyle and illustrated by Eunice Moyle

My Mom is Magical written by Sabrina Moyle and illustrated by Eunice Moyle

Hello, World! books written and illustrated by Jill McDonald

Animals and other books by Bright Baby

Little Owl’s Night written and illustrated by Divya Srinivasan

Little Dolphin and other finger puppet books by Chronicle Books

Peek-a-boo Baby by Scholastic

Once Upon a Potty written and illustrated by Alona Frankel

The Runaway Bunny and other books written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd

Pancakes, Pancakes! and other books written and illustrated by Eric Carle

Where’s Spot? and other books written and illustrated by Eric Hill

Picture Books (ages 2+): 

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! written and illustrated by Mo Willems (also the other Pigeon books, the Elephant and Piggie books, and more) [recommended by Sara Mae Hess]

How to Raise a Mom and other books written by Jean Reagan and illustrated by Lee Wildish

Bear Counts written by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman

The Adventures of Taxi Dog written by Debra and Sal Barracca and illustrated by Mark Buehner

Plankton is Pushy written and illustrated by Jonathan Fenske

Aliens Love Dinosaurs written by Claire Freedman and illustrated by Ben Cort

Floss written and illustrated by Kim Lewis

Hand Shadows by Henry Bursill

Kind Ninja and other ninja books written by Mary Nhin and illustrated by Jelena Stupar

Snail brings the mail and other Usborne Phonics Readers

Early World of Learning books by World Book

National Geographic Kids series by Scholastic

The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo written by Judy Blume and illustrated by Amy Aitken

Clifford the Big Red Dog series written and illustrated by Norman Bridwell

Berenstain Bears series written and illustrated by Stan and Jan Berenstain

Magic School Bus series written by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Bruce Degen

Amelia Bedelia series written by Peggy Parish and Herman Parish and illustrated by Wallace Tripp, Fritz Siebel, Lynn Sweat, Lynne Avril, and Barbara Siebel

Math Curse written by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith

Bear Shadow written and illustrated by Frank Asch

Miss Nelson Is Missing! written by Harry Allard and illustrated by James Marshall

Corduroy written and illustrated by Don Freeman

Where’s Waldo series written and illustrated by Martin Handford

Young Readers (ages 4+):

The Sneetches and Other Stories written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss [recommended by Sabeen Riaz]

The Word Collector written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds [recommended by Carrie Thomas]

Slumberkins presents Yak (and other Slumberkins series) written by Kelly Oriard with Callie Christensen and illustrated by Noona Vinogradoff [recommended by Kristin Merron]

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl (also Esio Trot, The Magic Finger, Fantastic Mr Fox, and more)

Frog and Toad Are Friends written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel

Little Bear series written by Else Holmelund Minarik and illustrated by Maurice Senda

The Magic Treehouse series written by Mary Pope Osborne and illustrated by Sal Murdocca

Junie B. Jones series written by Barbara Park and illustrated by Denise Brunkus

Encyclopedia Brown series written by Donald J Sobol and illustrated by Leonard Shortall

Cam Jansen series written by David A. Adler and illustrated by Susanna Natti

Nate the Great series written by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and illustrated by Marc Simont

Early Elementary (ages 6+)

The Princess in Black written by Shannon and Dean Hale and illustrated by LeUyen Pham [recommended by Sara Mae Hess]

The Silver Arrow by Lev Grossman

Cog by Greg Van Eekhout

Like Magic by Elaine Vickers

Frindle and other books by Andrew Clements

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books by Betty MacDonald

Matilda by Roald Dahl (also The BFG, Danny, the Champion of the World, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and more)

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

The Boxcar Children series written by Gertrude Chandler Warner and illustrated by Dorothy Lake Gregory, L. Kate Deal, Anne Yvonne Gilbert, Gretchen Ellen Powers, and others

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and other books by Judy Blume

Runway Ralph by Beverly Cleary (also Ramona the Pest, Henry Huggins, and more)

Baby-Sitters Little Sister series written by Ann M. Martin and illustrated by Hodges Soileau

American Girl series

Hank the Cowdog series written by John R. Erickson and illustrated by Gerald L. Holmes

Little House on the Prairie series written by Laura Ingalls Wilder and illustrated by Renee Graef

A Little Princess written by Frances Hodgson Burnett (also A Secret Garden and Little Lord Fauntleroy) with multiple illustrators

Charlotte’s Web written by E.B. White and illustrated by Garth Williams (also the Trumpet of the Swan and Stuart Little) 

Caddie Woodlawn written by Carol Ryrie Brink and illustrated by Kate Seredy

Heidi written by Johanna Spyri with multiple illustrators

Number the Stars written and illustrated by Lois Lowry (also The Giver and Gathering Blue)

Dog Man written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey [recommended by Sarah Mae Hess]

Lunch Lady Series written and illustrated by Jarrett J. Krosoczka [recommended by Sarah Mae Hess]

Baby Mouse written and illustrated by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm [recommended by Sarah Mae Hess]

Upper Elementary (ages 9+): 

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo (also The Tale of Despereaux, Tiger Rising, and more) [recommended by Carrie Thomas]

Princess Academy series by Shannon Hale (also The Books of Bayern series and more)

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

Emmy in the Key of Code by Aimee Lucido

If This Were a Story by Beth Turley

Unplugged by Gordon Korman

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (also The Bronze Bow)

The Chronicles of Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander

The Damar book series by Robin McKinley

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (also  The Old-fashioned Girl, Eight Cousins, and more)

Poppy by Avi (also Crispin: The Cross of Lead, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, and more)

Junior High (ages 12+)

Ground Zero by Alan Gratz

Parked by Danielle Svetcov

The Tillerman Cycle series by Cynthia Voight 

Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer

The Lost Years of Merlin series by T. A. Barron

Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan

Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery (also the Emily series, the Pat series, Magic for Marigold, and more)

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (also A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Meet the Austins, and more)

The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien (also The Lord of The Rings series)

High School (ages 15+)

The Last Silk Dress by Ann Rinaldi (also In My Father’s House, Wolf By the Ears, and more)

A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter (also Freckles, Laddie: A True Blue Story, and more)

The RAF Eagle Squadrons: American Pilots Who Flew for the Royal Air Force by Brigadier General Phil Caine

Watership Down by Richard Adams 

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Note: The suggested ages are just that – only suggestions. Many older kids still enjoy simpler books, and many younger kids can appreciate more complex books.

Here are some resources to find more great reads:







About Author: Faith Webb

Faith was born in New Hampshire and raised in Arlington, Texas. She is a certified math teacher in Texas for grades 7-12 and taught 9th and 10th grade math for a year before becoming a “stay-at-home” mom who does anything but stay at home. She has a son in the purple playgroup and a daughter in both the red and the green playgroups. She enjoys spending time with her husband and kids, reading (both alone and to her kids), playing board games, practicing her ninja-skills, and being outdoors.

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