I’m not a scholar. I don’t have a PHD in anything. Mensa wouldn’t take me even if I begged them to. But I am certain of one thing. Books make you smarter. End of story.
So if you’re looking for a great way to entertain kids this summer vacation, print out this list, hit your local library and make a game out of it. Can they read every last book on this list? If they do, the reward is they’ve read my very favorite collection of children’s books. They are awesome. And books really can be one of life’s greatest teachers. Many of these are for junior high and older, but for the most part they span preschool to high school. Some of these books I’ve read over and over, and many I began reading to my kids before they were able to themselves.
They are in no particular order of awesome, although there’s a lot of awesome in this one list. Is your favorite on the list? Did I overlook any classics? Do you agree that reading to or encouraging them to read themselves is one of the absolute greatest gifts you can ever give your kids?
1. The BFG by Roald Dahl
2. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
3. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
4. The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary
5. From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
6. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
7. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
8. Ramona Forever by Beverly Cleary
9. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O’Brien
10. Freckle Juice by Judy Blume
11. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
12. Lemony Snicket: A Series of Unfortunate Events
13. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson
14. Harry Potter by J.K. Rolling. All of them. 😉
15. The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling
16. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
17. Sounder by William H. Armstrong
18. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
19. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
20. Holes by Louis Sachar
21. Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
22. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
23. Rules by Cynthia Lord
24. Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
25. Ivy & Bean by Annie Barrows
26. Stuart Little by E.B. White
27. The Giver by Lois Lowry
28. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
29. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming
31. The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies
32. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
33. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
34. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
35. Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan
36. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
37. The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White
38. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
39. Matildaby Roald Dahl
40. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
41. The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
42. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
43. The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
44. Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
45. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch
46. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
47. Charlie & the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
48. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
49. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
50. Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
51. Are You My Mother? by P. D. Eastman
52. Sounder by William H. Armstrong
53. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
54. Dicey’s Song by Cynthia Voigt
55. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
I love to read and I love when my children read. My daughter reads to her 6 month old baby. Books are awesome. Through them we travel to places we may never see in person.
You did forget a favorite of ours – Robert McCloskey. Some of his titles are One Morning in Maine, Blueberries for Sal, and Make Way for the Ducklings. My children are all teens or adults but we still discuss Blueberries for Sal every summer when we go pick blueberries. And our trip to Maine several years ago brought on a discussion of One Morning in Maine. Fun memories created with children and to create with grandchildren!
You forgot 3 of my favorites: The Little House series, My Side of the Mountain, and The Babysitter Club series.
YES The Little House books! They belong on this list of course, especially from Mavis, the suburban pioneer 😉
It could take the place of the second time Sounder is listed, lol 🙂
Oh, oh, this is a great list, but a couple of my favorites aren’t on there. You would like these, as well: Summer of the Monkeys and Caddie Woodlawn. Sorry, the authors escape me right now, but in all the years of reading to my students, my 5th graders loved these two books. Read them, you must!
Lord of the Rings (we give it to them on their 13th bday) and The Ranger’s Apprentice series are favorites around here. Oh, and the Mysterious Benedict Society — what a great book!
But you have listed many of my favorites as well, and my kids like them as well.
Lisa Millar says
I have to re emphasise the Rangers Apprentice series by John Flanagan… it really is fantastic. I bought the first few for my nephew and it has influenced the whole family into a new hobby of archery!!! lol
Um…17 & 52 are the same. 🙂
Redwall by Brian Jacques. And all the books in that series. Great books. Wind in the Willows meets The Lord of the Rings.
Madam Chow says
Gone Away Lake
Return to Gone Away
A Little Princess
The Secret Garden
Madam Chow says
Harriet the Spy
The Long Summer
Some great choices listed but Anne (with an “e”) of Green Gables is my absolute favorite.
I have always been an avid reader. The child continuously reading in the backseat of the car and even while walking through stores. Yet I haven’t heard/read 2/3 of the books on this list. Partly my fault, partly that some are new since my childhood, and partly that some I have are not in the list. Where is Little House, Green Gables, the babysitters club? I’ll look into those I haven’t read, while sticking by those I have.
I have read and loved many from your list. One I would add that was particularly important to me is My Side of the Mountain. I read that book over and over.
Also, Enders game was a book that I read many times in high school. Maybe I’ll pick it up again this summer. It’s fun to see what books have been instrumental to different people.
Dale Ann says
Wonderful books on your list Mavis!!
Two other awesome children’s books are “Mandy” and “The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles” written by Julie (Andrews) Edwards (yep…Mary Poppins!)
plus the book “David and the Phoenix” written by Edward Ormondroyd
and “Knee Deep in Thunder” written by Sheila Moon
And for the horse lovers a must are Walter Farley”s Black Stallion series and Marguerite Henry’s books such as “Misty of Chincoteague”! :0D
Lisa Millar says
So many great books on that list!!
I grew up with lots of older books… Enid Blyton and Biggles etc. (I now love to collect them in their original publications!!)
The Rangers Apprentice series by John Flanagan is a must read…
Two of the most gorgeous books ever are “Freckles” and “A Girl of the Limberlost” By Gene Stratton Porter… written in the early 1900’s, but truly heartwarming stories.
Don’t read the Limberlost one if you are hungry… some of the most mouthwatering descriptions of food are inside… I don’t even understand what some things are, but it makes my stomach growl anyway!! 🙂
Becky Mitchell says
I love a lot of these books! Sadly, I knew the unsung hero of my childhood would not be here – John Bellairs. “The Mummy, The Will and the Crypt” and “The House With a Clock in it’s Walls” are two of my favorites. He was and is still one of my very favorite authors. Maybe that’s okay because he’s like this cool secret, and I always give away copies to new readers. Plus, Edward Gorey drew most of his original book jackets.
Looks like I’m going to have to check out The Ranger’s Apprentice, too. 🙂
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson is a must-read for any 3rd-4th grader. Don’t base your opinion off the movie – the movie wasn’t nearly as heart-wrenching and thought-provoking as the book!