Tag: chapter books

200+ Children’s Book Reviews

200+ Children's Book Reviews

I love reviewing connecting people with books almost as much as I love reading them. That’s one reason I review so many books here on my blog. And since I’ve started doing my Kidlit Karma project, I’m doing a lot more reviews.

Just one problem: it’s not that easy to find things here on the old blog.

So if you need, say, a nonfiction book for a tween – sure I’ve got it. …Somewhere… Something had to be done.

Now I’ve created a master page for all my book reviews. Yay!

It’s sorted in two ways:

  1. Ages and stages – this includes age ranges like baby, child, tween, teen, and adult. It also includes stages like early reading.
  2. Topics – Jump here to get a collected list of all STEM, nonfiction, diverse books, and books for writers. Within each topic they’re sorted by age to make things easy.

So, go forth and find a book to read!

 

CHECK IT OUT

Kidlit Karma Reviews: June 2018

June 2018 Kidlit Karma book reviews with Katherine Rothstein

At Katherine Rothstein Photothe end of 2017, I made a pledge. I challenged myself to review good books every month in 2018, particularly books that haven’t gotten as much love as I feel they deserve. I call it Kidlit Karma because I’m aiming to spread the love for books that I love.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I moved into a new house earlier this month. Lucky for me my critique partner and fellow kidlit writer, Katherine Rothstein, has agreed to share her summer kidlit reading list for this month’s review. You can follow her on Twitter at @krothsteinslp2.

Take it away Katherine!

 

 


It’s officially summer!  Whether you hit the beach, lounge in your hammock, or float around the pool it’s the perfect time to read a good book. I am a speech pathologist, kidlit lover, and mommy of two. My daughter is one eager reader and enjoys reading everything from the back of a shampoo bottle to novels. My son has particularly high standards, and he prefers a read with humor and loads of action.  One thing they have in common…they both LOVE funny. Determined to keep them reading all summer, I’ve strategically created a book exchange with their friends, designed enticing book displays throughout the house, and even tucked a book or two under their pillows.  Here are a few of our favorites:

 

PICTURE BOOKS

I am a huge advocate of rhyming books for all ages but especially for children under six years old and emerging readers.  Rhyme is an essential phonological awareness skill that is necessary when learning to read.  Our brain best learns new words and information by classifying into categories. If a child can read Cat, they should also quickly learn Hat, Bat, Fat, Mat, Rat, and Sat.  Plus, rhyming books are fun to read aloud!

 

MONSTERS NEW UNDIES by Samantha Berger and Tad Carpenter

MOSNTER'S NEW UNDIES book cover

MONSTER’S NEW UNDIES is adorable!  Your tush will fall in love with this sweet little monster on a search for new undies.

Get MONSTERS NEW UNDIES on Amazon

 

FROG ON A LOG by Kes Gray and Jim Field

FROG ON A LOG book cover

Every animal has a place to sit and conveniently, each animal’s seat rhymes with that animal’s name. But Frog does not want to sit on a log. “It’s not about being comfortable,” explains the cat. “It’s about doing the right thing.”

Get FROG ON A LOG on Amazon

 

ONE BIG PAIR OF UNDERWEAR by Laura Gehl and Tom Lichtenheld

ONE BIG PAIR OF UNDERWEAR book cover

ONE BIG PAIR OF UNDERWEAR will show you that it is fun to count and share, and it all starts with one big pair of underwear.

Get ONE BIG PAIR OF UNDERWEAR on Amazon

 

EARLY READERS

Here are two that are laugh out loud funny. They teach a basic concept of opposites. They also offer fun and colorful illustrations to capture the attention of non-reading listeners.

 

STEVE AND WESLEY: THE ICE CREAM SHOP by Jennifer E. Morris

STEVE AND WESLEY: THE ICE CREAM SHOP book cover

Get STEVE AND WESLEY: THE ICE CREAM SHOP on Amazon

 

THE LONG DOG by Eric Seltzer

THE LONG DOG Book cover art

Get THE LONG DOG on Amazon

 

GRAPHIC NOVELS

These are a hit with my reluctant reader.  They have more text than early readers, deeper plots and fun illustrations to support the story.  Best of all, they are hilarious!

 

THE BAD GUYS series by Aaron Blabey

THE BAD GUYS #1 book cover art

A wolf, a piranha, a snake and a shark make up this Bad Guy team.  They plan and execute missions to support their new image of being good. Full of humor to make any kid chuckle.

Get BAD GUYS on Amazon

 

NARWHAL AND JELLY series by Ben Clanton

Book cover for NARWHAL AND JELLY: THE UNICORN OF THE SEA

Narwhal and Jelly are awesome friends with big imaginations.  This book has real fun fish facts and a waffle who battles a robot.  Yep, all that excitement packed into 65 pages!

Get NARWHAL AND JELLY: THE UNICORN OF THE SEA on Amazon

 

MIDDLE GRADE

Okay, so these two favorites do not check the funny column, but they are sure to make you smile.  And, who can resist a heart-warming story of friendship between a dog and their person?

 

CHESTER AND GUS by Cammie McGovern

Book Cover Art for CHESTER AND GUS

Chester wants to be a service dog but fails his certification.  A family adopts him in hopes that he will be a companion to their 10-year-old son with autism. Chester is lovable, smart and determined to find a way to connect with Gus and find his fit in this family.

Get CHESTER AND GUS on Amazon

 

BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE by Kate DiCamillo

Book Cover Art for BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE

There is a reason this book has received so much attention.  The author has a way of making the characters come to life. A brilliant story about forgiveness and friendship.

Get BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE on Amazon

 

Have a fun summer and happy reading!

 

 

 

 

Kidlit Karma Reviews: May 2018

Kidlit Karma May 2018 with Guest Melinda Johnson

At the end of 2017, I made a pledge. I challenged myself to review good books every month in 2018, particularly books that haven’t gotten as much love as I feel they deserve. I call it Kidlit Karma because I’m aiming to spread the love for books that I love.

Melinda Johnson Author

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I’m deep into packing to move to a new house in a couple of weeks. Lucky for me, my friend and fellow author, Melinda Johnson, has agreed to post this month’s reviews.

 

Melinda’s most recent book, SHEPHERDING SAM, is a middle grade novel about a boy named Sam and a corgi pup named Saucer. Sam and Saucer will be returning later this year in a sequel novel.

 

SHEPHERDING SAM cover art by Melinda Johnson

You can learn more about Melinda’s books and see pictures of her real-life corgi puppy on her website.

 

Take it away, Melinda!

 

 


Minnie and Moo: I Can Read Books by Dennys Cazet

Have you read the Minnie and Moo books by Dennys Cazet? They’re not new, but you can find them easily in your public library or online. The snort-out-loud funny adventures of these two very human cows should be part of everyone’s better childhood memories.

Best enjoyed on a battered sofa with someone nearby who likes to hear the funny bits read aloud, these stories show Cazet to be master of the art of using simple language well. The books are humorous on two levels, making them as much fun for an adult reading them to small children as they are to the early readers who venture into their pages independently.

Minnie and Moo are proud members of the I Can Read Books collection, in which they bear a level 3 “Reading Alone” rating. The type is large, there is space between lines of text, and there are usually 4 – 8 lines of text per page. Around the words are wonderfully silly illustrations of Minnie and Moo, providing color and extra humor, and supporting comprehension of the story.

One of my favorite things about the humor in these books is how well it plays to the readers’ developmental age. Minnie and Moo are much smarter than the average cow, but not so smart as the child reading about them. They get into crazy situations because they are fearless and imaginative, but they misunderstand or ignore commonsense things that young readers will pick up easily. In the many happy hours I’ve spent reading and hearing about these books, I’ve seen over and over again that a child will laugh hard when she “gets it” and the cows don’t. For example, in one of our favorites, Minnie and Moo and the Musk of Zorro, the two cows find what they believe to be Zorro’s secret weapon buried in a trunk in their barn.  They begin by getting a word wrong (“Mama, it’s not the musk of Zorro, it’s supposed to be the mask!”), and it goes downhill from there.

“LOOK!”

Minnie took a spray can out of the trunk.

“Oh, Minnie,” said Moo.

“Could it be?” Minnie asked.

Moo looked at the can.

“What does it say?” asked Minnie.

“Hmm,” muttered Moo, “something about armpits.”

Minnie pushed the spray button.

The can hissed and filled the air with a sweet smell.

“The musk of Zorro!” Minnie gasped.

Belly laughs ensue, but there is also an empowering satisfaction in knowing why it’s funny. Children in the early reader stage are still figuring out how humor is made. As every parent knows, the first years of joke-making are often as confusing to the joker as they are to the audience. Children are used to laughing, but also to being uncertain why other people are laughing with or at them. It is easy to understand what Minnie and Moo get wrong, so the child can laugh hard and confidently. And from an adult perspective, Dennys Cazet’s ability to pull off that humor in ways that are constantly fresh and imaginative but never exceed the necessary reading level is impressive. I also appreciated his ability to be funny at a child’s level without descending into potty humor or inviting readers to laugh unkindly at the character’s expense.

There are 16 Minnie and Moo books, by my best count, and I have not yet read all of them. To give you a taste of their delightfulness, here are three that are favorites in our house.

 

Minnie and Moo and the Musk of Zorro

Cover for MINNIE AND MOO AND THE MUSK OF ZORRO

Plot: Inspired by the legendary hero, the best bovine friends reinvent themselves as Juanita del Zorro del Moo and Dolores del Zorro del Minnie. Armed with a lipstick sword and a can of something they’ve never seen before, they defend the barnyard with more enthusiasm than success.

Favorite quote: “Moo, listen to me—” “Listen to the world,” said Moo. “It cries out for heroes!” Moo turned and ran toward the barn. “Follow me, Dolores,” she called. Minnie sighed. She threw up her arms. “Juanita!” she shouted. “Wait for me!”

Get MINNIE AND MOO AND THE MUSK OF ZORRO on Amazon

 

Minnie and Moo and the Potato from Planet X

Cover for MINNIE AND MOO AND THE POTATO FROM PLANET X

Plot: Spud, an alien who looks like his name suggests he would, crashes his space ship in the field next to Minnie and Moo. Minnie and Moo help him repair and refuel, and the farmer’s tractor will never be the same again.

Favorite quote: “My name is Spud. I am from the planet X. I make deliveries for Universal Package Service. As your double eyeballs can see, my UPS space truck has crashed. I must have another ship and five gallons of space fuel. You must help me. We must go fast.”

Get MINNIE AND MOO AND THE POTATO FROM PLANET X on Amazon

 

Minnie and Moo Wanted Dead or Alive

Cover for MINNIE AND MOO WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE

Plot: Minnie and Moo think their farmer has money trouble. They set out to help him, but they don’t know much about money, and they know even less about banks. It doesn’t help that they look exactly like a pair of notorious bank robbers.

Favorite quote: “Look at those posters,” said Minnie. “Those people are WANTED.” “Of course,” said Moo. “They are favorite bank shoppers. Remember when the market named Mrs. Wilkerson Shopper of the Year? They put her picture up.” “But Moo,” said Minnie. “Look at that poster. The Bazooka Sisters don’t look like Shoppers of the Year…”

Get MINNIE AND MOO WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE on Amazon

Big List of Books to Give to Kids, 2017 edition

It’s that time again! Time for me to gush about some of the books I read this year in the hopes you will buy some.

Lucky for you, that makes gift giving easy. Books make great gifts for kids and with so many new and classic books, you can find something for every kid.

I’ve broken down the book recommendations into helpful categories. These let you find books that are appropriate for the age and reading ability of the child. If you want to get into the nitty-gritty of how children’s books are classified, check out this post.

For independent readers, this guide will help you determine if a book is appropriate.

You can also check out the lists for 2015 and 2016.

BOOKS FOR BABIES AND EXPECTANT PARENTS

Baby Loves Aerospace Engineering cover

No one is too young for a book! Nothing says love more than cuddling up in the lap of a grownup and listening to a story. And since reading to children is the number one best thing you can do to promote school success, you’re also making an investment in their future success. These books have stiff, durable pages perfect for the littlest readers.

Baby Loves Aerospace Engineering

Besos for Babies

Goodnight Jesus (You just knew that was coming, right?)

 

FIRST PICTURE BOOKS

Marta Big and Small Cover

These picture books are perfect for kids that are ready to graduate from board books. They have shorter texts (to match short attention spans) but big humor. These are a great fit for preschool through lower elementary.

Marta Big and Small

Sophie’s Squash and the sequel Sophie’s Squash Goes to School

Bitty Bot

Stick and Stone

Water Song

 

PICTURE BOOKS FOR KINDERGARTEN – ELEMENTARY

Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake cover

These texts are a tad longer. Perfect for the slightly older kid that still loves picture books.

Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors

Nothing Rhymes with Orange

Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast

Charlotte and the Rock

Great Now We’ve Got Barbarians

READ ALOUD CHAPTER BOOKS FOR PRESCHOOL AND KINDERGARTEN

Kids can begin listening to chapter books as young as preschool or kindergarten. These books have short chapters and pictures can help ease the transition. They’re also free of mature or scary content.

No. 1 Car Spotter

Winnie the Pooh and while you’re at it read about the true story behind the fictional bear in Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear

BOOKS FOR NEW READERS

Is That Wise Pig cover

These books are great for kids that are still learning to read. These are arranged from easiest to hardest. Choose the one that seems just right or a little ahead of where your reader is currently.

Is That Wise Pig? and Jan Thomas’s other books are always a big hit with my kids.

 

Ballet Cat: What’s Your Favorite Favorite?

Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea

 

BOOKS FOR KIDS THAT DON’T LIKE TO READ

Catstronauts: Mission Moon cover

Comics and graphic novels have been the gateway to reading for many kids. Apparently, I didn’t read many graphic novels this year, but what I lack in numbers I make up for with quality. I love all the books in this series (and stalk Drew Brockington’s twitter to find out when there will be more).

Castronauts: Mission Moon

 

BIG BOOKS FOR BIG KIDS

Wonder cover

The one category where I read significantly more than in any previous year: middle grade. Middle grade is the term for upper elementary to middle school readers. I tried to thin down this list. I really did. But…. I can’t. #sorrynotsorry To help you sort through, I’ve added the genre of each but these should be taken with a (large) grain of salt.

Wonder – Realistic

Book Scavenger – Realistic/Mystery

Refugee – Modern Historical Fiction

Amina’s Voice – Realistic

The Metropolitans – Fantasy/Historical Fiction

The Mysterious Benedict Society

The Girl Who Drank the Moon – Fantasy

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library – Mystery

The First Rule of Punk – Realistic

The League of Beastly Dreadfuls – Fantasy

The Detective’s Assistant – Historical Fiction/Mystery

The Case of the Missing Moonstone – Historical Fiction/Mystery

 

YOUNG ADULT

The Hate U Give cover

There is only one book on this list, but it was the most powerful book I read all year. If you’re only going to read one YA novel all year, let it be this one.

The Hate You Give

 

TRUE STORIES FOR TRULY AWESOME KIDS

Over and Under the Snow cover

It’s a great time for people that love nonfiction. There is some terrific nonfiction out there right now. This list was just as hard to thin down as the middle grade novels. After each book, I’ve listed the age category. PB = picture book and can range from preschool to upper elementary. MG = middle elementary to middle school. YA = middle school to teen.

Over and Under The Snow – PB

I’m Trying to Love Spiders – PB

Kate Warne: Pinkerton Detective – PB

Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World about Kindness – PB

Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code – PB

Spot the Mistake: Lands of Long Ago – PB

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, A Young Civil Right’s Activist  – older PB

Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower – MG

Hidden Figures Young Reader’s Edition – MG or YA

Bomb: The Race to Build – And Steal – The World’s Most Dangerous Weapon – YA

Radioactive! How Irene Curie and Lise Meitner Revolutionized Science and Changed the World – YA

Blood, Bullets, and Bones: The Story of Forensic Science from Sherlock Holmes to DNA – YA

 

Still looking for inspiration? Check out these 500+ Great Kid’s Books.

Note: I get no compensation for making these recommendations. I just really, really like books.

Help! How Do I Find Books for My Child?

HELP! How do I find Books for my Child-

Having a child that loves books is a wonderful thing. But often in the next breath, parents lament “how do I find books for my child?”

Kids in middle to late elementary seem to inhale books. Parents often find that keeping their child supplied with books is an impossible task. How can a parent tell if a book is going to be appropriate? Is it the right reading level? Will there be content that is too mature?

Mature content is especially a problem if your child reads above their grade-level. A child may be capable of reading a book but not have the emotional maturity to handle it. Imagine a sensitive 8-year-old reading the death scenes in the Hunger Games.

So what’s a parent to do?

Most of us can’t quit our day jobs to read children’s novels full-time. (Even if we would like to.)

I’ve gathered together some resources to help you wade through it all.

Help! How do I find books for my child?

First, you can check out lists of book recommendations. I read widely, and every year I made a list of my favorite books from the year. Check out the lists from 2016 and 2015.

2016 Big List of Books to Give to Kids

Big list of books to give to kids

Second, I also have a Pinterest board full of book recommendations. Need ideas for a 2nd grader? Or books set in Asia? Or adventure books for girls? Books for reluctant readers? Scroll through, and you’ll probably find something.

500+ Great Kid's Books to Read

Ok, but how can I tell if the reading level is right?

If your child’s reading-level is different from their grade level, then recommendations for their grade may not be a good fit.

The Accelerated Reader website lets you search for books. It tells you the reading level and word count for each book. Not every book is listed, but most often I can find what I need. Let’s look at a recent favorite of mine: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

Screen Shot of THE HATE U GIVE from Accelerated Reader page

The ATOS level is the grade level. In this case, this Young Adult book is readable to a student who is in the 9th month of 3rd grade.

Other things to note are the Interest Level and Word Count. The language of this book might be understandable by a 3rd grader, but it is interesting to a much older child – 9th to 12th grade. Plus, I don’t know any 3rd graders that wouldn’t balk at the sheer volume of a 95,000-word book.

Compare this to a book like Wonder by R.J. Palacio:

Screen Shot WONDER on Accelerated Reader website

 

Here the book is a bit more balanced: The reading level is later in 4th grade, and the interest level is 4th-8th grade. The length is also better for a 4th grader at 73,000 words.

But how do I know what my child’s reading level is?

You have a few options. You could grab a stack of books that your child read recently, and look them up on the Accelerated Reader website. Get an average of the ATOS level, and you’re good to go.

The Scholastic website also lets you look up books to find their reading level. It uses a different measurement of reading level: Lexile scores. Lexile scores are widely used but don’t translate easily to a grade level.

You could give them a test such as the reading level test on the free website Moby Max. You will need to make an account, but the website is free to use.

Great. Now how do I tell which books are appropriate for my child?

The Common Sense Media web page rates media designed for children. It will flag any mature content. That means you don’t have to read a whole novel to find out there’s a sex scene in chapter 37. Let’s take a look at our two books:

Screen Shot of THE HATE U GIVE on Common Sense Media

At the top, there’s a rating of quality (5 stars) and approximate age appropriateness. The age rating takes into account both reading ability and mature content. As we saw before, The Hate U Give has a low readability level, but the high-interest level bumped it up here. Further down, it breaks down mature content by type. You can click on each to get more information. The “What Parents Need to Know” section, gives you an overview.

Reading over this, I could tell that this is a powerful book that would be perfect for a high schooler or mature middle schooler.

Now let’s look at our other book example.

Screen Shot of WONDER on Common Sense Media

Wonder is a better bet for an elementary school child. The rating of age 11 reflects that there is some minor mature content (bullying and kissing).

 

Though I read a lot of children’s books, I still have to use these tricks to help my kids. Hopefully, now you feel confident helping your child find books. Do you have any tips or tricks to add?

Solar Eclipse 2017 Part 1: Learn About Solar Eclipses

If you’re not living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the upcoming solar eclipse. Which I like to call eclipsapocalypse. (If you do live under a rock, I don’t judge.)

I’ve gathered together some resources so the children (and inner children) in your life can have enjoy the eclipsapocalyse in style. In this first post, we’ll look at resources for learning about solar eclipses. Scroll down for videos and book recommendations.

Later posts will cover viewing the eclipse and hands-on eclipse activities.

LEARN ABOUT SOLAR ECLIPSES

Solar Eclipse diagram

A solar eclipse happens when the moon moves between the Sun and the Earth. The moon blocks the sun’s light and casts a shadow on the Earth. If you’re standing on the part of the Earth where the shadow falls, you’ll see the moon move in front of the Sun and block out the light.

It’s a big deal because full solar eclipses are rare. It’s been nearly a 100 years in In a full eclipse the moon lines up exactly with the sun to completely cover it. Around the area of the full eclipse there’s a much bigger area that will see a partial eclipse. The sun and moon don’t line up exactly, but part of the sun’s light will still be blocked.

Partial eclipse
Partial Eclipse

BOOKS:

You knew there would be books, right?

Eclipses

Eclipses: The Night Sky and other Amazing Sights in Space by Nick Hunter

This book all about eclipses is perfect for younger children.

Looking Up! The Science of Stargazing

Looking Up! The Science of Stargazing by Joe Rao and Mark Borgions

This fun book has a short chapter on eclipses. Perfect for newer readers or as a read aloud to a younger child.

Space Encyclopedia

Space Encyclopedia: A Tour of Our Solar System and Beyond by David A. Aguilar 

My favorite space encyclopedia has sections on eclipses, too.

 

VIDEOS:

This NASA video explains how it works and what it will look like. (Appropriate for young kids to the young at heart.):

If you want to dive deeper into the science of eclipses, this video from Crash Course is great (Appropriate for Adolescents+ (or really nerdy little kids)):

 

Tune in next time to learn how you can see the 2017 Solar Eclipse.

 

 

 

FREE GIVEAWAY! Alexandra the Great: The Story of the Record-Breaking Filly who Ruled the Racetrack

Free Book Giveaway: Alexandra the GreatDeb Aronson is my critique partner and all around great person. She’s also has a fabulous new book Alexandra the Great: The Story of the Record-Breaking Filly who Ruled the Racetrack. This book for ages 9-13 tells the story of Rachel Alexandra’s, the filly that beat the boys and broke records while running her way into our hearts.

I’ve been so excited to share this with you. It’s a great book. Plus horse racing is part of my heritage. I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky home of the Kentucky Derby – the biggest horse race of the year.

The Derby is a big deal there. Horses are everywhere – from statues to subdivision names. It’s such a big deal, that local schools close on the Friday before. And once a year, they hold a month long party all in preparation for 3 minutes of colts racing.

Once in a great while, a filly comes along that can keep up with the colts. Rachel Alexandra didn’t just keep up, she left them in her dust.

So I was very excited to get a sneak peek at the manuscript a few months back. I read it in one sitting! This book tells Rachel’s story – from her troubled birth to her triumphant wins. By the end you’ll be rooting for Rachel just like I was.

And now is your chance to get it for free.

I’m happy to be giving away one copy of Alexandra the Great: The Story of the Record-Breaking Filly who Ruled the Racetrack.

FINEPRINT: The giveaway will be open until April 12th at 8pm Central Time. To enter you must leave a comment on this post and use the rafflecopter widget below. The winner will be chosen at random and notified. If the winner cannot be reached within a week, a new winner will be chosen at random.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Big List of Books to Give to Kids, 2016 Edition

2016 Big List of Books to Give to Kids

I’ve written before with book recommendations for the gift-buying holiday season. Funny thing, though, they keep publishing new books. Also there are still existing books out there that I’ve never read. (Amazing, I know.) Which means, this year I can write a whole new list! 

If you’re not sure what kind of book is best, check out this comprehensive blog post about picking the right book for the kid in your life.

Without further ado, the 2016 BIG LIST OF BOOKS  TO GIVE TO KIDS

 

Goodnight Jesus

Board book for expectant parents and little babies

Babies love books. What’s better than cuddling up with a favorite grownup to read a book? These books have stiff, durable pages and short texts for baby bookworms.

Goodnight Jesus (You just knew this was going to be in there, didn’t you?)

Baby Loves Aerospace Engineering

Llama Llama I Love You

 

Space Walk By Salina Yoon

Books for active babies and toddlers

These books are for babies and toddlers who want to move and do. Built-in actions help squirmy kids focus and sturdy pages help books last.

Space Walk

Goodnight Jesus (Yes, again. Toddlers love kissing the icons on every page. Parents love that the sturdy pages last a long time.)

 

Rain! by Linda Ashman

Picture books for preschoolers

Preschoolers love pictures books. These favorites have short text (for short attention spans) but big humor and adventure.

Rain!

Pipsie the Nature Detective series

Edmund Unravels

Vegetables in Underwear

The Thing about Yetis

 

Snappsy the Alligator by Julie Falatko

Picture books for kindergarten and elementary

I tried keeping this list short. (Really!) It’s not my fault so many awesome books were published this year. For kids with longer attention spans, these books are just plain brilliant

Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be In This Book)

Little Red Gliding Hood

Nuts in Space

A Beginners Guide to Bear Spotting

Space Boy and his Dog

Ada Twist, Scientist A new book in the same series as Rosie Revere!

 

A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond

Read aloud chapter books  for preschool and kindergarten

When your child is ready for something a little meatier, try these classic books. They’re also free of scary or mature content that wouldn’t be appropriate for young listeners.

A Bear Called Paddington and all the other Paddington books.

Stuart Little

 

What This Story Needs is a Pig In A Wig by Emma J. Virjan

Books for brand new readers

These shorter books are light on content but heavy on entertainment. That makes them the perfect place for a new reader to flex those reading muscles.

What This Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig

I Will Take a Nap by far our favorite of the Elephant and Piggie books

In, Over, and On the Farm

Hi! Fly Guy and the rest of the Fly Guy series. This series is more advanced than simple easy readers. Great for kids that aren’t quite ready to jump into reading chapter books.

 

The Story of Diva and Flea by Mo Willems

Short chapter books for less new readers

Kids that are ready to read longer books but aren’t ready for novels will love these shorter chapter books.

The Story of Diva and Flea

Geronimo Stilton series (see also: Thea Stilton series, Cavemice series, Spacemice series, ………)

 

Zita the Space Girl by Ben Hatke

Books for kids that don’t like to read

Most teachers (and authors!) believe that kids that don’t like to read just haven’t met the right book yet. Some kids also get stuck because the books at their reading level just don’t appeal to them. Do you know what almost all kids love? Comics. Know what’s easy to read? Comics. Know what builds reading skills? Reading comics.

Zita the Space Girl series

Baby Mouse series

 

Unusual Chickens for the Exception Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones

Big books for big kids

If you’ve got a bigger kid that’s comfortably reading bigger novels, these are the books for you. These books have more adventure and scarier villains suitable to bigger kids.

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer

Nick and Tesla’s High Voltage Danger Lab (Nick and Tesla series)

Maze of Bones (39 Clues series)

George’s Secret Key to the Universe

 

Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick

True stories for truly awesome kids

So far I’ve listed all fiction books. There’s a reason for that. Most kids like a good story the best. Some kids love true stories best of all.

Finding Winnie: The True Story of The World’s Most Famous Bear

Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans

The Camping Trip that Changed America

I am Martin Luther King Jr.

Welcome to Mars, Making a Home on the Red Planet

 

Still looking for inspiration? Check out these 500+ Great Kid’s Books.

Note: I get no compensation for making these recommendations. I just really, really like books.

Big List of Books to Give to Kids

Big list of books to give to kids

The holidays really snuck up on me. I was lured into a false sense of security by the bizarrely warm weather. Now the soul-suckingly cold weather has returned and I just realized Christmas is less than a week away.

If you’re scrambling for last minute gifts for the kids in your life, you’ve come to the right place. Books make amazing gifts for kids. But the kid’s book market can be a bit dizzying.

So let’s make it easy.

Here’s my book gifting guide for kids:

 

Board books for babies

Board book for expectant parents and little babies

Babies love books. They get cuddles and attention from their favorite adults. The get to learn about the world around them. They’re also great for teething….. I recommend board books with stiff, durable pages and short texts for baby bookworms.

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes

Moo, Baa, La La La

Llama Llama Time for Bed

I Love You Through and Through

And of course Goodnight Moon

 

Board books for active babies and toddlers

Books for active babies and toddlers

They’ve just learned how to use their bodies so they want to use those newfound skills. A lot. Don’t fear, in a few short months they’ll want to cuddle again. Until then offer books that appeal to their desire to move and do. Durability is still important while they learn the fine art of turning (not tearing) pages.

Where is Baby’s Belly Button and other lift-the-flap books

Animals: Baby Touch and Feel and other touch and feel books

I Can Do It Too!

 

Picture books for preschoolers

Picture books for preschoolers

Big kids enjoy longer texts and a bit of humor.  These books are tried and true favorites.

Llama Llama Time to Share

Press Here

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus

Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site

Is Everyone Ready for Fun?

 

Picture books for kindergarten and elementary

Read aloud picture books for kindergarten and elementary

Picture books aren’t just for little kids! Even kids that are reading themselves will enjoy these longer picture books. And it’s beneficial, even for kids that are already reading.

Rosie Revere Engineer

The Day the Crayons Quit

Corduroy

Click, Clack, Moo: Cow that Type

If I Built a House

 

First chapter books for reading aloud

First chapter books for reading aloud

Most kids will enjoy some longer, more complex stories when they are in preschool or kindergarten. At least some of the time. These chapter books are shorter with some pictures to help along the listener. They’ve also been chosen to have mild, non-scary content.

Little Bear

Frog and Toad

Mercy Watson to the Rescue

 

Read aloud chapter books for preschool and kindergarten

When your child is ready for something a little meatier, try these books. These classics are much loved in our house. They’re also free of scary or mature content* that wouldn’t be appropriate for young listeners.

My Father’s Dragon

Winnie the Pooh

Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Anna Hibiscus

* I adore Anna Hibiscus. Adore. The characters and stories are hilarious and beautiful. I also adore that the author tackles big issues like poverty, inequity, and race in a way that isn’t scary for young kids. Even my very sensitive 4 year old was able to handle the content in this book. Use your judgement.

 

Books for brand new readers

Books for brand new readers

Reading is a skill. It takes a lot of practice to master. These shorter books are light on content but high on entertainment. That makes them the perfect place for a new reader to flex those reading muscles. The first chapter books for reading aloud are also great for kid’s just starting to read.

I Broke My Trunk and the other Elephant and Piggie books are pure gold

The Cat in the Hat

Fox in Socks

Ten Apples Up On Top

 

Short chapter books for less new readers

Kids that are ready to read longer books but aren’t ready for novels will love these shorter chapter books.

Amelia Bedelia Means Business (Amelia Bedelia Series)

Dinosaurs Before Dark (The Magic Treehouse Books)

Rapunzel Let’s Down her Hair (After Happily Ever After Series)

 

 

Books for kids that don't like to read

Books for kids that don’t like to read

Most teachers (and authors!) believe that kids that don’t like to read just haven’t met the right book yet. Some kids also get stuck because the books at their reading level just don’t appeal to them. Do you know what almost all kids love? Comics. Know what’s easy to read? Comics. Know what builds reading skills? Reading comics. These books may not be high fiction but they’re a lot of fun. And comics have been the gateway to reading for many kids.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Captain Underpants

Star Wars: Jedi Academy

 

Big books for big kids

Big books for Big kids

If you’ve got a bigger kid that’s comfortably reading bigger novels, these are the books for you. These books have more adventure and scarier villains suitable to bigger kids.

8 Class Pets + 1 squirrel/1 dog = chaos

The Mouse and the Motorcycle

The Tale of Desperaux: Being a Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread

The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable (Genius Files series)

The Lightening Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians series)

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia series, book 2)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter series)

The Hobbit

 

True stories

True stories for kids

So far I’ve listed all fiction books. There’s a reason for that. Most kids like a good story the best. Some kids love true stories best of all.

Pluto’s Secret: An Icy World’s Tale of Discovery my daughter wouldn’t forgive me if I left out her favorite book

Mr. Ferris and His Wheel

Separate is Never Equal

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker

The Boy Who Loved Math

Ghandi: A March to the Sea

The Planet Hunter: The Story Behind What Happened to Pluto

Emmanuel’s Dream: the True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu

 

Still looking for inspiration? Check out these 500+ Great Kid’s Books.

Find the Perfect Book for Any Kid

Find the Perfect Book for Any Kid

The holiday season is upon us. Hopefully, you’ll consider gifting the kid in your life with a book or two. But what to get? You can find guidelines online but they’re not the best. A clerk at a big box book store will be even less helpful. Why? Most recommendations are based on a lot of assumptions. 

They assume that all kids learn to read at the same time and with the same skill. They assume that younger kids will only get read alouds and older kids will only read independently.

We can do better.

There are two important things to know.

  1. Reading level is different from comprehension level. By the time children start learning to read, they are already speaking fluently. A 5 year old’s reading level might be “The cat sat on the mat” but their comprehension level will be far higher.
  2. What book category do you you want? Children’s interests and abilities change over the course of childhood. The children’s book industry has created categories to reflect this:
    • Board books are written for babies and toddlers. Example: “Moo, Baa, La La La” by Sandra Boynton.
    • Picture books range from young toddlers to older children. These books are meant to be read aloud by a parent. That means the book is written at a child’s comprehension level. Example: “Rosie Revere Engineer” by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts.
    • Leveled readers or easy readers are for children just learning to read. They have simple sentences and tightly controlled vocabulary. These are written at a child’s reading level. Example: “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss.
    • Chapter books are generally written for older children to read themselves. These are longer, with more mature content. There are categories within chapter books, as well. First chapter books are for newly minted readers. Middle grade books are for older elementary kids. Young adult books are for middle and high school students.

Age ratings on easy readers and chapter books assume that a child is going to read the book themselves. A book that is rated for an older child often is suitable for read loud with a younger child.

Adults often feel that kids are too old for read alouds once they can read. Just the opposite. Reading above a child’s reading level builds comprehension skills and vocabulary.

Plus reading is just plain fun.

But be aware: content maturity also goes up. A younger child may not be emotionally ready for a book intended for older kids. If you pick a read aloud book rated for older children, take the time to check out a review or two.

So, here’s my guide to finding the perfect book for the child in your life:

  1. How old is the child? How skilled are they at reading? Do they like to read?
    • Older children and more skillful readers usually can handle more difficult books.
    • Not all kids like to read. For these “reluctant readers” shorter, high-interest books are the way to go.
  2. Do you want a read aloud book? Or one to read independently?
    • Very young children can’t yet read.
    • Adolescents and teens probably won’t be interested in a read-aloud if you haven’t built the habit. (Sorry.)
    • Kids in that middle sweet spot can go either way. They can cuddle up for a juicy read aloud chapter book or pick up a shorter book to read alone.
  3. What are they interested in? Once you’ve got an idea of what category you want, you can check out some book recommendations to get ideas. I’ve gathered over 500 recommendations for kid’s books.

Want something easier? Next time I’ll post my book gifting guide.

Do you have favorite books to recommend?