The Best Books For Every Age!

Today Janssen Bradshaw, co-founder of London Littles who also happens to be passionate about reading and have a graduate degree in Library & Information Sciences is back with another reading post. Today she’s sharing her favorite books for every age group! You can read her 7 tips for reading with kids here.


Favorite Board Books

These are the book you’ll read a million times and they’ll get chewed up by teething babies and probably get completely battered and then you’ll never be able to get rid of them because the worn edges will remind you of reading to your tiny baby.

  1. Barnyard Dance – I am the world’s biggest Sandra Boynton fan. Her books are so catchy with illustrations that just make me laugh. I’ve read this one approximately one million times and I’m still not tired of it.
  2. Piggies – If you twisted my arm, this is probably my all-time favorite board book. On each page there is a set of children’s hands with little piggies on each finger. The details are mind-boggling and it’s the perfect length for a bedtime read (e.g. short).
  3. Caps for Sale – The board book version is a condensed edition of the picture book tale where a cap salesman who keeps all his caps stacked on his head takes a nap under a tree one day while business is slow and wakes up to find that a group of monkeys have stolen all the hats.
  4. Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes – This book came out about eight years ago and was an instant classic – it’s just so sweet. It showcases babies from all around the world with different kinds of homes, climates, and activities, but all have the same ten little fingers and toes.

Pro Tip: Any of these make fantastic baby shower gifts. And it won’t be the tenth copy of Goodnight Moon that they receive.

Favorite Picture Books

I don’t think I read a single picture book between the time I was about ten and when I started grad school in library studies, but after a couple of picture book seminars, I fell in love with picture books and now it’s one of my favorite kinds of books to read. There is just such variety and richness here.

  1. Duck! Rabbit! – This book is like those pictures where you’re asked if you see two women or a vase. Do you see a duck or do you see a rabbit? The off-screen narrators can’t agree, no matter what the duck does. Or is it a rabbit?
  2. The Book with No Pictures – I have never read a book that got more laughter from my children. Because a book with no pictures MIGHT sound boring, but when the words are ridiculous and make parents have to sound like robots or say crazy things, you know it’s going to be a good time (I always change the word “butt” to “bottom” because I’m not afraid of a little parental censorship).
  3. Where’s Walrus? – When Walrus escapes from the zoo, the zookeeper chases after him but can’t find him in any scene because he blends right in. My young children have all gotten a kick out of searching for the walrus on each page (he’s not hard to find, but it’s fun to be smarter than the zookeeper).
  4. Not a Stick – It might look like a stick to you, but with each page turn, you see what an imagination can turn a simple stick into, from a fireman’s hose to an artist’s brush. Check out Not a Box too.

Favorite Early Chapter Books

It’s a magical moment when you start to graduate into these not-quite-picture-books and not-quite-chapter-books. They are perfect as your child’s attention span starts to lengthen but you still want something you can read in one sitting or when you’re looking for something they can read on their own.

  1. Penny and Her Song – Kevin Henkes’ most famous mouse is probably Lily, with her Purple Plastic Purse, but my heart belongs to Penny who is the perfect combination of sweet, creative, and brave.
  2. The Princess in Black – If you think princesses just sit around wearing tiaras, you haven’t met The Princess in Black. She can throw a tea party with the best of them, but when the monster alarm goes off, she puts on her disguise and races off to save the day.
  3. Mercy Watson – This whole series is just really great fun about a pig who lives with an older couple and is obsessed with buttered toast. The audiobook version is fantastic, too.
  4. Tales of Amanda Pig – I grew up on the Amanda Pig series, and I never get tired of reading these sweet and often hilarious family stories to my girls.

Pro-Tip: For the books divided into very short chapters, read the first chapter aloud to get your child warmed up to the storyline and then let them read the subsequent chapters on their own.

Favorite Read Alouds

When your child starts getting ready to listen to longer books, these are my favorites to start with. I usually recommend giving your child a quick overview of the story and characters to help them keep it straight, and then letting them do something with their hands while you read aloud, like Legos or play doh.

  1. Ramona the Pest – I loved these as a child and now as an adult, I’m even more in awe of what a masterful writer of childhood Beverly Cleary is. I’ve read many of these aloud and then we’ve listened to the very excellent audiobook versions of them in the car or at bedtime dozens of times.
  2. The Children of Noisy Village – I never read this book by the author of Pippi Longstocking when I was a child, but we got a copy and I read it aloud to my six-year-old and I couldn’t tell you which of us liked these sweet, old-fashioned stories about a group of children living on neighboring farms more.
  3. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – There’s nothing better than a Roald Dahl book to read-aloud. His language is perfect for really vibrant, animated reading (even if you’re normally a pretty low-key narrator, like I am) and I’ve never met a child who wasn’t delighted by the wackiness of his stories.
  4. Toys Go Out – Three toys have plenty of adventures during the day when their little girl is otherwise occupied. If your child loves the concept of Toy Story, this one (and the two sequels) will be right up their alley.

Favorite Elementary Series

For a voracious reader, series are like magic because it keeps them in books a little longer. And for a reluctant reader, a series is a way to introduce them to one book and then have them feel more comfortable with subsequent installments.

  1. The Boxcar Children – With more than 100 books in this series, you won’t run out anytime soon. And I particularly love what sweet sibling relationships these books model.
  2. Geronimo Stilton – If your child is intimidated by lots of text, these books help ease them in with lots of fun fonts, varied sizes, and colored words. They are also fun, fast-paced books.
  3. A to Z Mysteries – This is a nice long series too, with exciting mysteries and lots of adventures for a little trio of detectives. And when they’re done here, try the Calendar Mystery series by the same author.
  4. Heidi Heckelbeck – When Heidi discovers she’s a witch (which happens at the end of the first book), there are all sorts of new adventures for her as she tries to keep her powers hidden in second grade. I love the big type in these plus the sweet illustrations.

So many good books!



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