There’s nothing like finding a good book that will help catapult your child into the classification of “reader.”  There’s also nothing like having a good list of recommendations for good books to go from. Because if you’re like me, sometimes you get stumped on that one. So here you go: my list of  the best books for young readers.

Lucy reading a book

The best books for youth

My children are not bookworms by any stretch of the imagination. But oh how I have worked my tail off to miraculously change that.  It has always been a continual work in progress, but I want so much to give them the gift of reading. So I always have my ears open for any new recommendations.

And through the years we’ve found some pretty incredible reading material.

And I love when books leave you with some great material for deep discussions even with younger kids.

The books below with the “**” are the ones that have made me cry I love them so much 🙂

A Little PrincessA Little Princess: Classic Edition with Illustrations by [Frances Hodgson Burnett]

Not much better than this book that will mesmerize kids of all ages in my opinion.

Harry PotterHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by [J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré]

Not much more to say about this series other than
can you even believe that imagination?
Lucy is reading this series for I think the fourth time.

Tuck Everlasting

Tuck Everlasting - Kindle edition by Babbitt, Natalie, Maguire, Gregory.  Children Kindle eBooks @

Lots to think about in that one!

Elle read this one with her book club when she was young,
and they all adored it. Lu really likes the whole series.
The Tale of Despereaux book cover

This one was highly recommended by my brother Josh years ago.
Oh my word it’s a good one….chock full of so much symbolism and beauty.


Shawni reading "Heidi" with Claire and Lucy

We read this before visiting my brother in Switzerland
and it quickly made it’s way to the top of our favorites. SO MANY good lessons!

**Chronicles of Narnia

Lucy reading the Chronicles of Narnia

Lu and I have read this whole series together I think three full times.
And my dad read it to us kids growing up too so it’s extra sentimental.
It is an incredible series packed with so much to
talk about and so much beauty and symbolism!
We love the book AND the movie for this one.
Teaches so many things about inclusion and love and friendship!
Maybe I’m old-fashioned but is this just the best book in the whole wide world?
Oh the things it teaches through the endearing stories!!
I guess I’m not the only old-fashioned one since it has
nearly 28,000 five-star reviews on Amazon. Yow!

Princess Academy (a little bit cheesy but hey, if my kids love it, I love it too!)
(one of the best of the best)Because Of Winn-Dixie - Booksource

I had forgotten how much I LOVED it. It makes me cry and has so many good messages.
I think Gloria Dump, with her tree full of bottles and wise words,
came out on top as my favorite character this time around.
Shawni reading with Grace and Claire
We read this one in one sitting and it is so full of
lessons on inclusion and love and the beauty of self-confidence.
Lucy reading "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"
  This one got Lu through China…I think she read it a few times.
Love Roald Dahl’s imagination!
Rules |
I love books that teach about acceptance and inclusion,
and that take you into the story of someone else to
create empathy and emotional intelligence.
This one hit home to us since it centers around a family with a child with special needs.
Probably a favorite for every one of my kids. So many good life-lessons in that one too!
Again, not the most literary make-you-cry books,
but I think this series has turned more girls into book-lovers than can be counted!

**Ida B.

Ida B: . . . and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly)  Save the World book coverSo, so good…especially if you listen to it as recommended by my amazing-reading-sister,
the narrator is awesome)It is packed with things that are so real
…and so great to talk through.

The Giver

Number the Stars

Number the Stars: Lois Lowry: 9780547577098 -

I love historical fiction. This book is a beautiful way to teach kids
about compassion in the midst of the horrible Nazi regime.

Others I loved reading with Grace:  Frindle, No Talking (I love Andrew Clements…anything that will keep my kids excited about reading), and we read The Homework Machine with all the cousins crowded around this summer.  Not the most amazing literature, but I thought those were mighty entertaining.

Claire and I are deep into Anne of Green Gables right now and are loving it.Anne of Green Gables book cover

Oh the things you can learn from the adventures of others! I love Anne’s passion for life.
We are planning on a movie night to watch that classic when we’re done.

Understood Betsy is along the same lines as Pollyanna and Anne of Green Gables, and it has some of the best messages!

Last time I wrote about books for youth someone sent me this great article. Lots of good information in there to motivate kids to start really reading, but even more to kick me into gear being a better reading model (at the end).

I love to read, and I’m so grateful for my own book club to push me to read more.

Check out my favorite children’s books too!

And so many other favorite books sprinkled into this blog!

Happy reading!  Please add other ideas to get young readers reading and other book suggestions if you have some because Heaven knows I’m certainly not the expert.

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  1. I love your list!!! I added a few of your titles to our list to read. Thank you! One thing that has created a love for reading in my children is book club. I have 3 daughters and I have set up a different mother daughter book club for each of them. They love socializing with other girls their age and their moms. I am careful that book club night is a date night for that daughter and myself. The girls are excited to choose a book, host and celebrate around the book they chose. The enthusiasm of their peers has been wonderfully contagious! It encourages me to read what they are reading and sometimes read them as a whole family!

  2. Make sure you get around to reading The Hundred Dresses. You can probably knock the whole thing out in one afternoon if you don'thave too many interruptions. I have been reading it since elementary school but it is still one of my all time favorites. Makes me cry every time.

  3. I had a friend suggest a book to me and I decided to read to my kids instead of me just reading it. It's called 'Wonder' and I recommend it to every family. It was amazing and had half my family in tears at one point. Such a good reminder of loving one another despite our differences. You HAVE to read it with your family!

  4. Got to love Walk Two Moons. When I was student teaching, my master teacher was reading this book to her students and couldn't hold in the tears at the very end. So I read it, and yes, very touching, good book. Come to think of it – I need to read it again….

    As a young teen (12-13) I really liked a book called Summer of My German Solidier (takes place in 1940s Arkansas – a young Jewish girl befriends an escaped German POW). That book really stuck with me for a long time. And of course, my preteen (9-12) years were filled with Babysitter's Club – LOVED that series so very much! Really got me reading at that young age!

  5. I love hearing about the current books available for kids. As a bookworm myself, I look forward to passing along this passion to my children. Here are a few ideas that both worked for me as a kid and that I plan to do with my daughter when she's older:

    Start by stocking the bookshelf at home and then actively teach her how to navigate a library and bookstore. Even as an adult, the options out there can be overwhelming. Online book lists and book clubs seem like another great way to introduce kids to good reads before they have the confidence maybe to choose and dive into a book on their own.

    Series, series, series!!! I love book series even to this day. And there are so may great series out there for all ages (Bernstein Bears, Little House, Ramona, Babysitters Club, and on and on). It's even fun to make your own series – for instance read one author for a while such as Judy Blume or read books of a certain theme. I do this even as an adult. It was great as a kid because I was familiar enough with the story/theme to get really excited about the next book.

    The hardest part is always opening the cover and taking that first step, but once your hooked then your hooked!

  6. What a great list! Some of those are on a wishlist because I want to own them, not borrow them from the library. 🙂 We are currently reading the Little House series. My kids are patiently (ha!) waiting for when Laura and finally Almanzo meet. 🙂 We also read Stuart Little (the first movie is excellent, too) and Trumpet of the Swan. Have you read any of Roald Dahl's books? He's hilarious! My kids really liked Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The BFG and Matilda. I was introduced to his books when I was in 5th grade.

    Anyway, there's my two cents. 🙂

  7. We had a little book club last summer and I enjoyed it a lot! We discovered some Newberrys that are some of my new favorites. Bud, Not Buddy and Moon Over Manifest. I love The Graveyard Book but it is a little scary, probably best for older kids or teens.

  8. i love the hundred dresses! i am a 3rd grade teacher and this is the first book i read at the beginning of every year (well, my only two years teaching i have!). it is leads to great discussions about bullying, the forms it takes, and how to stand up for what you believe in. thanks for sharing this list!

  9. Rules was required reading for my 5th grader and I DID NOT think it was appropriate for that age. Very angst filled book. It also has the main character talking to her friend and her friend's parents are separated. The friend says of her mom, "I wish she wouldn't give up so easily–it's not like he had an affair or anything." So be prepared to discuss marital infidelity if you read it. The book left my daughter in a funk for a good 3 days after she read it. I think she was trying to process all the negative emotion in it.

    We've loved all the Little House books, The Moffat Series (same author as 100 Dresses, I believe), Sign of the Beaver, Birchbark House, Stone Fox, Midnight Rider–and so many more.

    Oh–the Christmas Doll is a wonderful Christmas read for sisters–you MUST read that with your girls!!!

  10. This is fantastic! As a New Zealander and a school librarian, we quite often read more British based stuff!
    Some of my favourite authors are Louis Sachar (Holes etc),
    Sally Grindley and Deborah Ellis write very topical stuff on war, leprosy, ADHD , poverty (lots of their titles are school have to read books). I highly highly recommend Michael Morpurgo – British legend with stories such as "War Horse". ( a movie last year.)
    Two New Zealand authors I recommend are Margaret Mahy and Joy Cowley.
    I have ordered a couple from your list to read at home!

  11. I love a lot of the books on your list. I have one to add, that you might enjoy. "The Hiding Place" by John Sherrill, Elizabeth Sherrill. It's the story of Corrie Ten Boom.

  12. Checkout the Muirwood series by Jeff Wheeler. The first book is The wretched of Muirwood. It kept myself, my teenage son, and teenage daughter enthralled! It has a strong female heroine,supports great values, is filled with action, has just a touch of romance and is written by my Bishop/heighbor! He just signed a book deal this past summer and has a second seies coming out in Feb. He's fantastic!

  13. Love your list. I highly recommend Star Girl by Jerry Spinelli. It is all about being yourself no matter what others think. LOVE it! I read it to my Jr. High students and even the boys liked it…but it is definitely more of a girl book.

  14. Andrew Clements has a series called "Benjamin Pratt and The Keepers of the School" that my kids love! There are 3 books in the series so far, and the rest aren't out yet. We listened to them on CD on a road trip from UT to CA, and it kept everyone from age 4 to adult entertained and wanting more! It's a mystery about a kid who finds clues hidden in his school, a school that is maybe going to get torn down soon…. really fun!

    Also,my kids loved "The Half-a-moon Inn" by Paul Fleischman, as a read-aloud. I'd say "Ok, let's stop there for tonight" and they would cry out "NOOOO!" Then I'd read more, because I didn't really want to stop either.

    One fun idea I got from a friend about reading aloud, is that when she is ready to stop reading, but the kids want her to read more, she calls out "plan B!" and the kids know that if they brush her hair, give her back rubs, or foot rubs, that she will read longer. That'd work for me– I'll read for hours if someone is rubbing my feet or back!

    Thanks for all your great ideas and recommendations!

  15. I also love the website the literate mother. I think they have good honest reviews and tell you exactly what you are getting into before reading a book.

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