Excellent Books for Children (and Everyone Else)

Photo by Traci Tessone
Photo by Traci Tessone

he Hubs and I don’t own a lot of dvds, kicknacks, or fancy electronics. We drive small, basic cars and eat out occasionally.

But we do have mountain and mountains of books.

Over the course of our 11 moves, we have downsized our collection only slightly, pausing here or there as we pack the 15th book box to toss a duplicate copy in the donation pile.

And when I do try to purge some of the less-enjoyed volumes, the Hubs always catches me and subverts my attempts: “I LOVE that one! No, no, we might want that someday. You can’t get rid of books!” (in a tone that implies something holy is being desecrated)

So, as we are both avid readers (albeit with differing styles–Hubs starts and finishes one. book. at. a. time. I usually have about 6 going at once, can leave one unfinished for a year before returning to it–or not returning to it–and often read chapters out of order), addicted to Amazon Prime, and evidently can’t part with the extras, we are building a veritable Library of Congress over here in FarmTown.

But, for all our love for books, when I had our first baby, I found myself at a loss for what to read her. My own childhood books (which were mostly great–thanks, Mom) were packed away and baby brain left me helpless at remembering the good ones.

I knew I wanted excellent ones–with engaging stories that reflected goodness and truth and illustrations that were beautiful, interesting, or inspiring. (Too much to ask from a boardbook? Maybe).

Thus, I went on a hunt for quality children’s books to build our kids’ libraries with. One of the best resources I came across was Honey for a Child’s Heart. It gives a great annotated list of recommended books for different age groups.

Read for the Heart is similar and looks fantastic. I will be purchasing it as soon as I pay off my vet bills. (Sigh. A story for another day).

I also checked out a fav writer’s and fellow reader’s recommended book list (both include books for adults as well).


From these sources and my own childhood favorites, I have compiled a short list of lovely books for children:

(In no particular order or age-grouping, though most tend to run on the 5 and under side)

Tom Kitten, Peter Rabbit, etc, by Beatrix Potter (If you like these, Miss Potter is fantastic!)

The Original Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne (To be fully enjoyed by the child, my guess is they should be closer to ten, but I enjoy it enough for both the Bun and I for now).

The Brambly Hedge series by Jill Barklem (Incredible illustrations, sweet stories of mice set in the English countryside. Even the Hubs is a fan).

The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse by Loinda Bryan Cauley

Animalia by Graeme Base (Holy moly, this book is a work of art).

Peek a Boo by Janet and Allan Alhberg (A sweet rendition of the game, it tells the story of a day from a baby’s perspective. I like this British couple’s style).

The Brave Cowboy by Joan Walsh Anglund (Probably Hubs’s favorite to read to the Bun).

Jamberry by Bruce Degen (My own childhood favorite and, often, the Bun’s).

The Golden Egg Book by Margaret Wise Brown (beautifully illustrated, sweet story of a bunny and a duckling)

The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney

It’s Time for Bed by Mem Fox (Love, love the illustrations. We need this one in board book format).

The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear (Little Golden Book version)

You are Special by Max Lucado (True, poignant).

The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones (Makes for fantastic post partum devotional reading, or so I found. Keep kleenexes near. Every story points to Christ).

Here’s to quiet, beautiful moments of reading–with your babies or simply with a cup of coffee.

What’s your favorite children’s book? I’d love to hear!

About Jenn

Jenn is a mommy of three and wife to her best friend. She enjoys good books, dinner guests, elevenses, and proper apostrophe use.

  • Alex Sudan

    We love Margaret Wise Brown’s “The Moon Shines Down”. It goes through each region in the world and talks about the moon shining on the different children in those places. Hallie particularly likes the children in Asia. πŸ™‚

  • Al, that sounds great! I’ll check it out! Sweet Hal…

  • Jennifer Poland

    Love the book list, Jenn! Thanks for the great ideas. I don’t know many people that enjoy reading to their children quite like you! Time to start saving for books…. πŸ˜‰

    • Jennifer, it’s one of my favorite things to do! Especially when we have ones on hand that I like as much as they do. I’ll admit, sometimes I do hide Fancy Nancy when I’m tired of it :).

  • Alan

    Very nice. I like your style.
    Love you

  • As a K-12 school librarian for about 25 yrs, mother of four and grandmother of one (two, if you count my younger daughter’s best friend’s baby girl), I have a list of favorites longer than my arm. However, from my children’s childhood come these faves: Dr. Seuss’s ABC [Lisa’s, but all of us loved it and I can still recite large sections from heart – and Lisa was born in 72], Hand Hand Finger Thumb [Mike’s], Barnyard Banter, and Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book. Pretty sure all but the last one come in board book format. Enjoy!

    • Betty, thanks for the suggestions! My daughter (2 1/2) loves Hand, Hand, Fingers Thumb; will check out the others! Sometimes I think being a librarian would be the best job ever. πŸ™‚

  • Kathryn Wilkes

    Hey Jenn. I am home sick and enjoying reading your blog. Thanks for sharing these treasures. Two other authors with touching themes and lovely illustration to add to your list are Patricia Polacco (especially Thunder Cake and Chicken Sunday) and Nikki McClure (especially Mama, is it Summer Yet?). My kids love them and I enjoy reading them!

    • Kathryn, so fun to see you on here! Thanks for stopping by :). I’m unfamiliar with those, but look forward to checking them out! Think of y’all often and enjoy seeing pics on FB.

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  • Great selections! The book we most love to read to our girls is Miss Rumphius! We began reading it to our oldest when she was really little and she just loves it so much!

    • Thanks for the rec, Tabitha! Will check it out. πŸ™‚

  • Pat Barker

    My whole house is children’s books. I’m waiting for Cindy to come down and take some off my shelves. My favorites were always the Berenstain Bears Collection. There are some board books I love that are really cute Christian books. Melody Carlson did a series of “Beary Patch Bears” such as: “Hi, I’m CRAN BEARY The Fruit of the Spirit is Faithfulness”, “Hi, I’m ELDER BEARY The fruit of the Spirit is Self-Control”, “Hi, I’m LOGAN BEARY…is Kindness”, “Hi, I’m BLUE BEARY…is Goodness”, “Hi, I’m STRAW BEARY…is Gentleness”, and “Hi, I’m MULL BEARY The Fruit of the Spirit is Patience”. There must be more but that’s all I could find. They are truly a blessing.

    • Thanks for the recommendations, Pat! I will check those out, they sound cute. With a 2 1/2 and 1 year old, we could all use more fruits of the spirit around here :).

  • Caitlin

    LOVE this list Jenn!! I am obsessed with children’s literature and though we do not have children yet this is a list I will treasure:)

    • So glad to hear! I know, there’s certain ones I think I enjoy even more than the kids. πŸ™‚

  • Dorothy

    Hi Jenn,
    I found you today through Day2Day Joys. Love this post about reading good books with kids! I thought of someone you might all enjoy, especially with the little guy growing up. Virginia Lee Burton’s books are terrific. She wrote Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel among others. I enjoy reading them and my two boys 6 and 4 enjoy listening (and reading)! Happy reading to all of you!

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