Last fall I posted a list of 9 Books Every Girl Should Read. I received some great feedback from people who said, “Hey, what about the books all kids should read?” So here’s my list of books every kid—girl or boy—should read.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
This book truly takes children (and adults) into another world. Once they’ve been to Narnia, they’ll never view this world the same way again.
[The Professor:] Don’t go trying to use the same route twice. Indeed, don’t try to get there at all. It’ll happen when you’re not looking for it. And don’t talk too much about it even among yourselves. And don’t mention it to anyone else unless you find that they’ve had adventures of the same sort themselves. What’s that? How will you know? Oh, you’ll know all right. Odd things, they say—even their looks—will let the secret out. Keep your eyes open.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Harper Lee has a gift for creating three-dimensional characters that come to life on the pages of this book. Thanks to Scout, the ultimate precocious narrator, and Atticus, the ultimate quiet hero, this book manages to tell a winsome story about a weighty topic.
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
This book is pretty much philosophy disguised as a children’s book, yet it still holds up as an engaging story in its own right.
Here I am, footsore and hungry, tramping away from it, tramping southward, following the old call, back to the old life, the life which is mine and which will not let me go.
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
I read this book countless times as a kid, and each time I hoped in vain for a different ending. Tear jerker though it may be, Rawls paints an endearing picture of a boy who doesn’t have much going for him other than his determination—but that proves to be enough.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
Beatrix Potter once said, “There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they’ll take you.” That’s precisely how you feel when you read her stories—like something delicious is about to happen.
A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson
This is the book that taught me to love poetry even before I could understand it. (Not that I get it all that much now. . . .) My dad would read these poems to me from a picture book with lush illustrations, and I remember wishing I could somehow climb into the pages.
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
“Why did you do all this for me?” [Wilbur] asked. “I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.”
“You have been my friend,” replied Charlotte. “That in itself is a tremendous thing.”
Can you imagine a more poignant portrayal of friendship than that?
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
As delightful as the movie is, it doesn’t come close to the charm and fantasy of the book. I should note that the book is decidedly creepier than the movie, but I was so taken by the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, the Cowardly Lion, and the other characters who became my friends down the yellow brick road that I didn’t mind too much.
The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
My mom read this series to my brother, my sister, and me when we were kids. It’s one of those rare series that is accessible for a broad range of ages and can be enjoyed by both boys and girls. I didn’t want anything bad to happen to my parents, but just in case, I felt like Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny prepared me for life in an abandoned train car, should the need arise.
What were your favorite books as a kid? What’s missing from this list?
Happy reading to you, whether you’re young, or young at heart!
Julie Chen says
My kids & I have LOVED Julie Andrews’ “The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles”. It is a “Narnia” type of adventure & will captivate their imagination & train them to “see” more of the world around them. You would love it.
Ooh, that sounds fun! Thanks for the tip, Julie!
This is a great list. I loved Charlotte’s Web and the Boxcar Children. I would also add (at various ages):
Adventures of Tom Sawyer/Huckleberry Finn
Choose Your Own Adventure Books
The Indian in the Cupboard
Caps For Sale
Anything by Louis Sachar
I loved the Corduroy books too! Great list, Blake.
Holly H. says
Anne of Green Gables; it was probably on your girls’ list, but I think even boys would appreciate it. And perhaps some Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys. I had a more modern book (written in the ’80s) of short mystery stories that had Nancy Drew team up with the Hardy Boys. I haven’t read it, but I think A Wrinkle in Time should also be on the list.
Anne was one of my best friends as a kid–I read that series so many times it’s falling apart. 🙂 I had A Wrinkle in Time on the girls’ list, but it should probably go on here too.
bIG a says
Paddle to the Sea
Thanks for this list.
I’ll have to check that one out!
Stephanie Draper says
My Dad used to read to me and my brothers and we loved Stig of the Dump and The Hobbit.
Ooh, good ones!
Such a great list! my favorite you listed was “a child’s garden of verses”, which we have SO loved reading and re-reading with ours. I might also add The Little House on the Prairie. Every child in this country should know about The Long Winter. Thanks, Steph!
Yes, love the Little House books! (Plus, she had a great name…)
dANIEL rISCHE says
Some books for kids I like:
-Thank You Bear By Greg Foley
-I second the recommendation for Courdory-I loved that book!
-Ohh The Places You’ll Go by Dr Seuss
-My sister loved all of the -Berenstain Bears books
-Choose your own adventures books!
-I personally loved-Matt Christopher sports books
Thanks for the list!
Fun ones! I see a trip to the library in our future…
This is a great list! I would add “To Race a Dream.” Not a very popular one but worth reading!
Oh yeah, how could I forget? Best horse book ever!