Ah, books! This topic is an absolute sweet spot for me. There.are.so.many.phenomenal.books. The below recommendations are (in my humble opinion) MUST haves for your book library (and make great baby shower and birthday gifts) with favorite books for every Age. Celebrate School Library Month with these favorites.
While each of us have personal preferences on what we like to read, I tried to recommend books that span across different tastes (i.e. my son loved the Magic Treehouse series, my daughter didn’t; but both devoured The One and Only Ivan). Some of us might question books like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but I once read what I considered reasonable advice: let kids read what they like…after all, they are reading! In addition, my best friend’s daughter is dyslexic and these type of books captured her attention and inspired her to read.
So, from zero years to teen years, here are some great reading recommendations and resources that will take you all the way through summer. After reading through these recommendations, please comment with your favorites – we will capture an Austin Moms Blog readers’ list of favorite books!
Top book recommendations by age group
I Know a Rhino by Carl Fuge. Given as a gift for my first born (by a teacher), this became our favorite read. The rhyming (which I can still recite) made it fun to read, with great words and pictures to inspire imagination.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr. Another gift, this book is colorful and the repetition is fun for the kids. Oh the anticipation of turning the page!
Goodnight, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann. This is a “tell it yourself” story with great pictures and such a fun story. The gorilla is so naughty he’s adorable.
Hug. by Jez Alborough: Another “tell it yourself” story that gives you the excuse to dramatically say “HUG” at least 100 times.
Where is Maisy? by Lucy Cousins and Where’s Spot by Eric Hill…because you can’t beat lift-the-flap books!
Go, Dog, Go! By P.D. Eastman: My kids and I are suckers for rhymes, especially quirky ones! This is a good first reader.
Crysathemum by Kevin Henkes: A special book about loving who you are. And believe it or not, was a gift for my 40th birthday!
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch: A good reminder that girls (and boys) are strong and independent.
Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business by Esphyr Slobodkina. Who doesn’t like mischievous monkeys, caps of all colors and repeating, “Caps! Caps for sale!” at the top of your lungs?
Naughty Little Monkeys by Jim Aylesworth: A fun, fast read with naughty monkeys again!
Stick Dog by Tom Watson: This is one of the only books on this list that I haven’t read, but my daughter HIGHLY recommends it (she’s put it my nightstand to read!). So from a 9-year old to her peers, a must read.
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume: What’s a book list without our beloved Judy Blume?! Enough said.
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate: If I had to pick one book out of the entire list, THIS IS IT. It’s tender and heart breaking. A genius book.
Tru & Nelle by G. Neri: Stumbled upon this gem at the Old Quarry Branch library. Phenomenal book that takes a fictionalized look at Truman Capote (In Cold Blood) and Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird) when they were childhood friends in Monroeville, Alabama.
Redwall by Brian Jacques: A great introduction to fantasy! And if you like it, there’s a full series.
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau: A thoughtful adventure series. The movie is good, too.
My Diary from the Edge of the World by Jodi Lynn Anderson: A fantasy that highlights the, “…strange beauty of the everyday marvels we sometimes forget to notice.” My daughter loved it so much that some of her friends are reading it.
I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives by Martin Ganda and Caitlin Alifirenka: A beautiful true friendship story of an American girl and a boy from Zimbabwe that began with a pen-pal letter. Note: The book deals with extreme poverty.
The Giver by Lois Lowry: An interesting (yet sometimes too real) look at a community trying to control everything. Fantastic movie as a follow-up to the book.
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen: A survival story with non-stop adventure.
Best reading resources:
Goodreads is my go-to and is seriously the best resource for book recommendations by age. Just search “books for xx-year old” and a comprehensive list magically appears.
I also recommend the blog, Forever Bookish, authored by a local Austin high school freshman. He has phenomenal book recommendations, reviews and author interviews.
Best “reading together” books
Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lessons by Mitch Albom (I recommend 8+)
Best books to read independently but concurrently with your child (ages 10+)
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
Best book to read at sleepovers to put the kids to sleep (invest in a head lamp!)
Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
God’s Little Devotional Book: There’s a version for girls and a version for boys. I love snuggling up and reading the messages together. It makes for great conversation.
To buy an eReader or not?
Yes! The electronic ink is easy on the eyes (make sure you buy the model with back-lighting). As a ferocious reader, I was hesitant. I wanted to hold the actual book in my hands. But it’s a no-brainer because I rarely buy books anymore! The Austin Public Library offers OverDrive, a way to automatically download eBooks and eAudiobooks with a great selection of kids and adult books. It’s easy and free! All you need is a library card. Also check out the Hoopla app.
Best local book events
Meeting an author is an excellent way to bring reading to life. Check Barnes & Noble and Book People’s Websites for author visits. We’ve seen Judy Blume, Dan Gutman and Gordon Korman at these fantastic places. Also, make sure you put The Texas Book Festival on your calendar on November 4 and 5. It’s the real deal – you’ll get to meet fantastic authors with your kids. We met Lois Lowry, R.L. Stein and Kelly Clarkson!
I’ve also heard about mother-daughter; mother-son book clubs. I love this idea. And this book, The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Shireen Dodson gives you tips on how to organize your own book club.
Well, thank you for indulging me in one of my very most favorite topics. Can’t wait for you and your kiddos to dig your noses into some great reads…and I want to hear your favorites! Happy reading!