Quality literature for the 0 to 3 set and beyond
This page originally only covered English-language literature for kids 0 to 3, but I've now added a bit more, though in less detail.
Somehow time got away from me and I now have teenagers.
Quality literature for the 0 to 3 set
Books for tiny kids pretty much divide into two categories: ones that are
complete drivel or at least anemic (and which often come in big series),
and those that have redeeming
virtues as pieces of literature. Here are some of the good ones. I
sometimes threatened to throw out all the other kids books we own, but I have
to confess that my children's opinions of which books to obsess over
don't always match up with my judgements as shown below.
- Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban, or other Frances books
- Most Dr Seuss books, such as The Lorax or Green Eggs and Ham
- But not the Hippopotamus, or many other books by Sandra Boynton
(Hippos Go Berserk; One, Two, Three)
- Selma by Jutta Bauer
- Marsupial Sue by John Lithgow
- The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
- Who Said Moo? by Harriet Ziefert and Simms Taback
- Jamberry by Bruce Degen
- The Magic Bubble-Pipe by Stella Farris
- Over in the meadow adapted by Paul Galdone
- Where are you, Little Zack by J. R. Enderle and S. G. Tessler
- Little Blue and Little Yellow, by Leo Lionni (also others, like A Color of His Own)
- Joshua's Counting book, Once upon a potty, etc. by Alona Frankel
- Corduroy by Don Freeman
- Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault
- Goodnight Max by Rosemary Wells
Ones to avoid:
- All Clifford books
- All Spot books
- Books by Lucy Cousins (inter alia, Maisy books)
- Most Max books (excluding Goodnight Max above)
- Bob The Builder books (but the kids love them...)
Quality literature for the 4 to 6 set
There are many, many wonderful picture books for slightly bigger kids. A few of my favorites were:
- The Father who had 10 Children by Bénnédicte Guettier
- Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae
- Olivia by Ian Falconer
- The Trouble with Elephants by Chris Riddell
- Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth
- A Blue So Blue by Jean-François Dumont
- Little Kiwi Looks After the Egg by Bob Darroch. (It seems like you can still only buy the Little Kiwi books from New Zealand, though there are used copies on Amazon. This was one of my kids' all time favorites.)
- The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. I still can't read to the end of it without crying, so I guess that means it's a good book.
- Koala Lou by Mem Fox. She's been held by USCIS, so she deserves your support!
Literature for the 7 to 9 set
At this stage my kids (both boys) only wanted to read books about small animals with martial tendencies, which mainly come in many volume series.
If that's not your thing, I've got nothing for you. If it is, well, they really loved:
- The Redwall series by Brian Jacques (primus inter pares)
- The Catwings series by Ursula Le Guin
- The Mistmantle Chronicles by M. I. McAllister
- Warriors by Erin Hunter
- Gaurdians of Ga'hoole (Kathryn Lasky)
They read thousands of pages of these books and have been great readers ever since. It was lucky that they learned to read,
because, personally, I got a bit bored of these books after the first 5 or 6….
Literature for the 10 to 12 set
There were a few truly great books that we read as a family during this period. Two of them are:
- Wonder by R. J. Palacio
- Bluefish by Pat Schmatz
Teenagers these days want to read dystopian fantasies. It's not something you can influence. Things like Ready Player One.
They tell me Old Man's War is a good series.
Christopher Manning --
Sep 22, 2004; updated Feb 29, 2018.