Top 20 Book List

Finding great books to read is never an easy task. Here you can browse our list of suggested reading: jump to either our list of top 10 picture books, or top 10 chapter books.

 

Top Ten Picture Books

1. "Llama, Llama Red Pajama" by Anna Dewdney

A hilariously rhyming story of Little Llama Llama and what happens when his Llama Mama takes too long to wish him good night. Kids and adults will totally relate to this situation, and the simple, bouncy text is a perfect read-aloud.
Other great bedtime books: "How do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?" by Jane Yolen
 

2. "Bunny Days" by Tao Nyeu

A collection of three very short stories about the haphazard misadventures of a group of bunnies. The whimsical drawings in this book are a perfect match for the quirky storyline.
Other simply illustrated books: "Kitten’s First Full Moon" by Kevin Henkes, "The House in the Night" by Susan Marie Swanson
Cover art for BUNNY DAYS
 

3. "Pinkalicious" by Victoria Kann

An absolute favorite among little girls. This is the story of Pinkalicious, the little girl who loves pink cupcakes sooo much that one day she eats too many and turns...bright pink. You’ll have to read the story to find out how Pinkalicious gets back to her normal color.
Other fun books for girls: "Flat Stanley" by Jeff Brown, "A Very Fairy Princess" by Julie Andrews, "Fancy Nancy" by Jane O’Connor
 

4. "Bones: Skeletons and How They Work" by Steve Jenkins

Compare the skeleton of a snake to a mouse to a frog to a human being. Steve Jenkins’s illustrations are simple and make the information fascinating for anyone from toddlers to adult. If your child is interested in nonfiction about animals, Jenkins’s books are the best.
Other nonfiction picture books: "The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps" by Jeanette Winter; "All the Water in the World" by George Ella Lyon
 
5. "Not a Box" by Antoinette Portis
Anyone who’s ever had an adventure in a cardboard box will love this story. The main character insists throughout the book that what she’s using is not “just” a box--it’s a race car, it’s a mountain. The simple line drawings are fun and you may even get some good ideas for your own next imagination game.
Not a Box
 

6. "The Eleventh Hour" by Graeme Base

Part “I Spy” game, part work of art, part mystery story. Using clues cleverly hidden in the artwork, the reader must decide who ate the birthday feast!
Other puzzle books: "39 Clues" by Rick Riordan (and others), "Puzzle Island" by Paul Adshead
 

7. "Paper Bag Princess" by Robert Munsch

When Prince Ronald is kidnapped by a dragon, Princess Elizabeth must rescue him! What she doesn’t know is that Prince Ronald is a real jerk. A funny twist on a classic fairy tale theme.
 

8. "Edwina the Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct" by Mo Willams

This is laugh out loud funny. The title says it all: when Reginald von Hoobie-Doobie sets out to convince Edwina the Dinosaur that she should be extinct, the results are hilarious and might even teach a lesson about getting off your high horse.
Other funny animal books: other Mo Willams books, "Tacky the Penguin" by Helen Lester, "Sylvester and the Magic Pebble" by William Steig, Sandra Boyton Books
Edwina, the Dinosaur Who Didn't Know She Was Extinct Cover
 

9. "Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel" by Virginia Lee Burton

A classic picture book about Mike, his steam shovel Mary Anne and their race to finish the town hall basement diggings. Kids love the sound effects Mary Anne makes and the message about perseverance is valuable.
Other classic picture books: "Make Way for Ducklings" by Robert McCloskey, "The Story About Ping" by Marjorie Flack, "Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Brown
book cover
 

10. "Jumanji" by Chris van Allsburg

You may have seen the 90s movie with Robin Williams, but you may not know that the original picture book won a Caldecott. Monkeys, lions, and great black and white illustrations--you’ll love revisiting the story.
Other Caldecott winners: "Kitten’s First Full Moon" by Kevin Henkes, "Ox-Cart Man" by Barbara Cooney, "Rapunzel" by Paul Zelinsky
Jumanji
 

Top Ten Chapter Books

1. "Tale of Despereaux" by Kate di Camillo

The story of a mouse, a princess, an evil rat, and soup. This book is charming as either a read aloud but also simple enough for most elementary-aged readers to tackle on their own.
Other great animal tales: Watership Down by Richard Adams, The Rescuers by Margarey Sharp, Silverwing by Kenneth Oppel
 

2. "Battle for Castle Cockatrice" by Gerald Durrell

You may not see this book in too many bookstores anymore, but it is hilarious, adventurous, clever and satisfying. Penelope and her cousins travel to the magical land of Mythologia to battle the evil Cockatrices, with the help of a talking spider, a sea serpent, and some ferocious weasels.
Other quirky fantasies: The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson, The Borrowers by Mary Norton
Front Cover
 

3. "The Phantom Tollbooth" by Norton Juster

Milo is a boy who is always bored, until he finds a magical tollbooth that transports him to the magical land of Dictionopolis. There he learns he must set out on a quest to rescue the beautiful princesses Rhyme and Reason. The funny wordplay in this book will entertain adults while the unique characters will keep kids reading.
Other classic chapter books: The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
 

4. "Who Was..." series by various authors

It can be hard to find good non-fiction for kids. These illustrated mini-biographies of the famous, ranging from King Tut to Steve Jobs to Harriet Tubman, are fun for kids to read and informative.
Other nonfiction series: "Magic Treehouse Fact Trackers" by Mary Pope Osbourne, DK Biographies by various authors
Who Was Mark Twain?
 

5. "Royal Diaries" series by various authors

For those readers who enjoyed the American Girls series but are looking for a more challenging read, the Royal Diaries series is perfect. Each fictionalized diary in the series offers an insight into what life might have been like for the royal when she was about thirteen or fourteen. Subjects include Elizabeth I, Anastasia, Marie Antoinette, and others.
Other historical fiction: "Dear America series" by various authors and Carolyn Meyer books
 

6. "Escape to Witch Mountain" by Alexander Key

Growing up in a detention home, Tony and Tia are different: they are telepathic and can move objects with their mind. The story gets tense when a man named Lucas Deranian shows up claiming to be their uncle, but something isn’t quite right. Way better than any of the Disney versions of the book.
Escape to Witch Mountain by Alexander Key
 

7. "Ranger’s Apprentice" by John Flanagan

Young Will has been chosen as a ranger’s apprentice--a warrior, a protector of the kingdom. And the evil exiled Morgarath is waiting to take his revenge... Great adventure for 11-14 year olds.
Other adventure stories: Garth Nix’s Keys to the Kingdom, Beyonders by Brandon Mull, Eragon by Christopher Paolini
The Ruins of Gorlan
 

8. "Among the Hidden" by Margaret Peterson Haddix

If your child likes the idea of a story about a futuristic society gone wrong, but you don’t want them reading Hunger Games, "Among the Hidden" offers an excellent alternative. It is the story of a hunger-stricken futuristic society where third children are not allowed, and one third child’s defiance of government authority. Exciting action as well as thought provoking.
Other futuristic adventures: "Maze Runner" by James Dashner; "Uglies" by Scott Westerfield, "The City of Ember" by Jeanne DuPrau
 

9. "Straw into Gold" by Gary Schmidt

Why did Rumplestiltskin want the queen’s baby? This fairy tale retelling is calm but full of literary surprises.
Other great fantasies: "The Prydain Chronicles" by Lloyd Alexander, Gail Carson Levine’s "The Princess Tales"
 

10. "Bunnicula" by James Howe

A vampire rabbit who sucks the juices out of vegetables, a paranoid cat who reads too much and a dog who just wants to be left alone--the zany cast of characters in this story is laugh out loud funny, and sure to be popular among any readers who like animal stories.
To Also Read: "Dr. Doolittle" by Hugh Lofting, James Howe’s "Sebastian Barth" mystery series