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Must Read Books for Children

The best books to read from birth to college. These will comfort you, surprise, teach, and entertain you.

These are the books that will stay with you years after you’ve read them. The ones that you will want to pass on – that I want to pass on to my children. Some are new and some are old. All are page turners from the youngest child to the youngest adult.

I’ve added the beginnings of some of my favorite series. You won’t be able to stop at just one book.

They’re not arranged in any particular order – other than how they came to mind. How many have you read? What others are on your list? I could add many more.

The Best Baby Books

for ages 0-24 months

Bright and colorful illustrations, playful interaction, rhymes, and counting make these lovely baby books a gentle introduction to reading.

Goodnight Moon


Pat the Bunny

Little Blue Truck

Where is Baby's
Belly Button?

First 100 Words

Eating the

Sheep in a Jeep

Guess How Much
I Love You

Giraffes Can't

The Poky Little

Where's Spot?

The Toddler Years

for 2 and 3 year olds

Your toddler is growing in independence and will love these stories as they begin to recognize and name numbers, letters, and all the different things around them.

Chicka Chicka
Boom Boom


The Very Hungry

Llama Llama
Red Pajama

Pete the Cat and
His Four Groovy

Dear Zoo

Just Go to Bed

Full, Full, Full
of Love

Best Little Word
Book Ever

Press Here

Pout Pout Fish

The Giving Tree

Related Post>>> Complete Eric Carle Book List with Links to Read Alouds!

Preschool Books

for little ones 3-5

Books that can be enjoyed again and again (and again…) and parts of a series with memorable and humorous characters that you will giggle with into the night.

Now We Are Six

We're Going on
a Bear Hunt

How Do Dinosaurs
Say Goodnight?

The Mitten

We Are in a Book!

Bippity Bop

Where the Wild
Things Are

Dragons Love

Harold and the
Purple Crayon

Last Stop on
Market Street

Room on the

The Gruffalo

Related Post>>> Picture Books Around the World

Primary Grades

for kiddos 5-7

A mix of picture books and chapter books, these lovely stories will encourage children to explore their corner of the world as well as learn about others.

What Do You Do
with a Tail Like

Frog and Toad

The Legend of the
Indian Paintbrush

Thunder Cake

The Story of
Little Babaji

Blueberries for Sal

The Emperor and
the Kite

Nelson Mandela's
Favorite African
Folk Tales

Mr. Popper's

The Wonderful
Wizard of Oz


The Mouse and
the Motorcycle

Alice in

Because of

Charlotte's Web

Related Post>>> 110 Math Literature Books for Early Elementary Grades

Elementary Grades

for big kids 8-12

Bigger kids means bigger ideas, bigger themes, more intense characters and story lines alongside a few lighter titles. Reading aloud or digging into a series independently at this age is so much fun.

A Wrinkle in Time

The Boxcar

Where the
Sidewalk Ends

Harry Potter and
the Sorcerer's


Sarah, Plain and

Tales of a Fourth
Grade Nothing

The Lion, the
Witch, and the

Number the Stars

Pink and Say

Bridge to

Oh, the Places
You'll Go!

Related Post>>> Think Outside the Book: 10 OTHER Ways to Get Your Child Reading

Middle School

for growing kids aged 12-14

A variety of genres with more mature themes with charismatic and interesting characters that young people will identify with.

The Thing
About Jellyfish

The Book Theif

The Lightning


The Outsiders

Poetry for Young

The Westing Game

Diary of a
Wimpy Kid


The Girl Who
Drank the Moon

The Hunger Games


Related Post>>> Vintage Stories for Girls: A Peek into the Past!

High School

for teens 14-18

Older teens can bounce between young adult and mature fiction. These will keep them turning the pages all night.

I Know Why the
Caged Bird Sings

The Great Gatsby

The Bell Jar

The Curious Incident
of the Dog in the

Extremely Loud and
Incredibly Close

The Maltese Falcon

The Glass Castle

The Giver

To Kill a Mockingbird


Looking for Alaska

The Catcher in
the Rye

The Kite Runner

The Crucible

The Secret Life
of Bees


for young adults 18-22

Books that will stay with them for years into adulthood, introduce new perspectives, and inspire young adults.

The Diary of a
Young Girl

Lord of the Flies

The Handmaid's

The Help

Water for Elephants

The Lovely Bones


The Time Traveler's

One Hundred Years
of Solitude

Interview with a

The Poisonwood


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