Our Top Picks in Books
Book Suggestions for Kindergarten to Grade 2
Mandy by Julie Andrews Edwards
Mandy, a ten-year-old orphan, dreams of a place to call her own. Escaping over the orphanage wall to explore the outside world, Mandy discovers a tiny deserted cottage in the woods. All through the spring, summer, and fall, Mandy works to make it truly hers. Sometimes she “borrows” things she needs from the orphanage. Sometimes, to guard her secret, she even lies. Then, one stormy night at the cottage, Mandy gets sick, and no one knows how to find her – except a special friend she didn’t know she had.
The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps by Jeanette Winter
This picture book biography tells the story of the famous zoologist Jane Goodall, whose gift of observation led to years of studying chimpanzees.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is about a boy named Alexander, who gets out of bed to face a day that seems to grow increasingly worse with each passing minute. He just cannot wait for his nightmare of a day to end!
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Matilda is a child prodigy who defends her teacher against the terrible school principal Mrs. Trunchbull. Children love learning about Matilda and her extraordinary powers.
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
A lovely tale about Chester Raccoon, who wants desperately to remain home with Mom at the beginning of his first year of school. Despite her promises of new friends, fun, and experiences, Chester remains unconvinced. She then offers her own helpful idea, a time-honored family tradition. Excellent story for reluctant new students who miss their moms in those first beginning school days.
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
“Once there was a tree…and she loved a little boy.” So begins the story of unforgettable perception, beautifully written and illustrated by the gifted and versatile Shel Silverstein. This book follows the life of a female apple tree and a boy who are able to communicate with each other. Every day the boy would come to the tree to eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunk…and the tree was happy. However, as time passes he starts to make requests of the tree. After entering adolescence the boy wants money; the tree suggests that he pick and sell her apples, which he does. After reaching adulthood, the boy wants a house; the tree suggests he cut her branches to build a house, which he does. After reaching middle age, the boy wants a boat, the tree suggests he cut her trunk to make a boat, which he does, leaving only a stump. Each such stage of giving by the tree ends with the sentence “And the tree was happy.” In the final pages, the boy (now a shriveled old grandpa) meets the tree once more. The tree sadly states that she has nothing left to give, as her apples, branches, and trunk are gone and only a stump remains. But the boy wants only “a quiet place to sit and rest,” which the stump can provide. This is a tender story, touched with sadness, aglow with consolation. Shel Silverstein has created a moving parable for readers of all ages that offers an affecting interpretation of the gift of giving and a serene acceptance of another’s capacity to love in return.
Memoirs of a Goldfish by Devin Scillian
This book is sure to bring out the giggles in students as they follow the story about a goldfish who loves his solitary life. But one day things start to get a little crowded in his goldfish bowl as he is joined by a snail, guppies, a crab, Mr. Bubbles and Cha-Cha the angelfish. Fed up with having so many intruders, Goldfish screams for all of them to get out of his bowl. As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for, as Goldfish suddenly finds himself alone in a very small bowl. It was nice for but a few minutes, but time away from his companions has him thinking whether living a solitary life was a good decision.
Elephant and Piggie Book Series by Mo Willems
This delightful series written by children’s author Mo Willems chronicles the adventures of Gerald the Elephant and his best friend, Piggie.
Jigsaw Jones Mystery Series by James Preller
This series of books follows Jigsaw Jones, Private Eye, as he analyzes clues and solves mysteries.
Fire Engines by Anne Rockwell
A colorful, well-illustrated nonfiction book where children learn to identify specific words in the story. Children enjoy learning about the red and yellow fire engines.
Goldi Rocks and the Three Bears by Corey Rosen Schwartz & Beth Culton
This fractured fairy tale takes the classic “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” and mixes it with the pop culture show “The Voice” to get a very updated, amusing new story that The Brothers Grimm would applaud. It all kicks off when The Three Bears, who really know how to rock in their family band, decide they need a singer. When they go off to audition possible candidates, Goldi comes along, lets herself into their music studio, and falls asleep on Baby Bear’s keyboard. When she awakes, and lets out a perfect “high C” at the sight of the Bear Family, they begin to wonder if they’ve found what they’ve been searching for.
Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats
This story is about a boy who longs to whistle so he can call his dog.
How Far Will I Fly by Sachi Oyama
This story is about a little boy asking typical young questions of his grandmother.
Tree of Birds by Susan Meddaugh
This story is about a boy who finds an injured bird and helps to heal it. He then meets up with the rest of the flock. The ending is somewhat of a cliffhanger.
Corduroy by Don Freeman
This delightful story tells us about a stuffed bear sitting on a toy store shelf waiting for the child who will become his friend. The story is full of imagination and gives us a lovely picture of friendship and acceptance.
Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel
This is a great book that is part of a series of short stories about friendship. Frog always looks happy, while Toad always has a grumpy look on his face. Although Frog and Toad have very different personalities, they remain best friends. This story encourages children that no matter what obstacles get in the way to always stay true to their friends. Children can relate to the characters in this book. From writing letters to finding lost buttons, Frog and Toad are always there for each other. The book shows children how friends rely on each other and share many different experiences together.
Click, Clack, Moo, Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin
This is a funny book about typing cows! Farmer Brown notices sounds coming from the barn. He hears, click, clack, moo. Then the cows leave him notes using the typewriter. They demand better working conditions and stage a strike. The typewriter ends up with another group of animals at the end of the story. I wonder what they will demand?
The Crayon Box That Talked by Shane DeRolf
Although there are many different colors, the crayons in a box realize that Yellow hates Red, so does Green, and no one likes Orange! Can these crayons quit arguing and learn to cooperate? Throughout the story, the crayons discover that when they get together they can appreciate each other and make a complete picture! This story talks about achieving harmony through diversity. Readers will understand that when we all work together, the results are more colorful and interesting!
There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly by Simms Taback
This is an amusing book for children in Kindergarten through 2nd grade. The story is a different take on a cumulative tale of a well-known poem. Some of the pages contain a die-cut hole where the old lady’s stomach should be. During the story, the hole grows bigger to accommodate the increasing gastro-population of animals.
Book Suggestions for Grades 3 and 4
Whatever After series by Sarah Mlynowski
This series by author Sarah Mlynowski follows the adventures of brother and sister, Abby and Jonah, who travel through a magic mirror in their basement that leads them into fairy tales.
Upside Down Magic series by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle and Emily Jenkins
This series is about a group of students whose magic always seems to go wonky.
The Great Pet Escape (Pets on the Loose) series by Victoria Jamieson
Pet Hotel series by Kate Finch
Shelter Pet Squad series by Cynthia Lord
Baby Mouse series by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
Squish by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
Knights of the Lunch Table by Frank Cammuso
Amelia Rules! by Jimmy Gownley
Henry Reed, Inc. by Keith Robertson
“This very funny story is Henry’s straight-faced journal of his summer activities. Henry, who has an interest in nature and a talent for making things happen, established the firm of Henry Reed, Inc., Research, and with neighbor Midge as an ally, engaged in a series of projects usually profitable to them, but often hazardous to the adults involved.” ALA Booklist.
Big Nate: In a Class by Himself by Lincoln Pierce
Supremely confident middle-school student Nate Wright manages to make getting detention from every one of his teachers in the same day seem like an achievement.
Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol
Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective is the first of many books of a fantastic series! Whenever 10-year-old Leroy Brown’s father, the Chief of Police in Idaville, has a difficult case, Encyclopedia always manages to solve it at the dinner table! His talent leads him to decide to open his own detective agency.
My Dog May Be A Genius by Jack Prelutsky
Laugh-out-loud collection of poems by our nation’s first Children’s Poet Laureate, Jack Prelutsky, and illustrator James Stevenson.
The Wishful Penny by Jennifer Young
This is a historical fantasy following the journey of a 1943 U.S. penny. It begins at her birth in a mint and follows her and her coin friends for 50 years.
The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau
A story of a greedy king and the lessons he learns about the value of giving. Nice tale for children in their search for developing moral perspectives in life.
Who Was Albert Einstein? by Jess Brailler
Everyone has heard of Albert Einstein, but what exactly did he do? For instance, do they know that he was expelled from school as a kid? Finally, here’s the story of Albert Einstein’s life, told in a fun, engaging way that clearly explores the world he lived in and changed.
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywait
Poor Duncan just wants to color. But when he opens his box of crayons, he finds only letters, all saying the same thing: We quit! The author creates a colorful solution in this playful, imaginative story that will have children laughing and playing with their crayons in a whole new way.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a satirical realistic fiction novel by Jeff Kinney. It is the first book in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. The book is about a boy named Greg Heffley and his struggles in middle school.
Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
The Spiderwick Chronicles is a series of children's books by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black. They chronicle the adventures of the Grace children, twins Simon and Jared and their older sister Mallory, after they move into the Spiderwick Estate and discover a world of faeries that they never knew existed.
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket)
A Series of Unfortunate Events is a series of 13 children's novels by Lemony Snicket (the pen name of American author Daniel Handler) which follows the turbulent lives of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire, after their parents' death in an arsonous house fire. The children are placed in the custody of their distant cousin/Uncle Count Olaf, who attempts to steal their inheritance. After the Baudelaires are removed from his care by their parents' estate executor, Mr. Poe, Olaf begins to doggedly hunt the children down, bringing about the demise of a multitude of characters.
Bunnicula by James Howe
Bunnicula is a children's book series written by James Howe featuring a vampire bunny that sucks the juice out of vegetables. Alternatively, Bunnicula is the main title of the first book in the series, published by Atheneum Books in April 1979. The story is centered on the Monroe family and their pets and is told from the perspective of their dog Harold. The Monroes find a bunny at the theater where they were watching a Dracula film. Because of this, they name him Bunnicula. Their cat Chester, however, is convinced Bunnicula is a vampire and attempts to get Harold (the dog) to help save the Monroes from the perceived menace.
Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin
Rose Howard is a girl obsessed with homonyms…in fact, she has a few odd quirks and obsessions, all symptoms of her high-functioning autism. Aside from Uncle Weldon, Rose gets little understanding from those around her, including her single father. When her father brings home a lost dog, Rose decides to name her Rain, since she was found in the rain and “rain” has two homonyms: reign and rein. When her father lets Rain out in a horrible storm and she becomes lost once again, Rose is willing to leave the safe, familiar routines that help her feel in control in the wide world to bring her back. Readers will root for Rose, who finds strength and empowerment through her unique way of looking at the world.
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
This novel tells the story of a pig named Wilbur and his friendship with a barn spider named Charlotte. When Wilbur is in danger of being slaughtered by the farmer, Charlotte writes messages praising Wilbur (such as “Some Pig”) in her web in order to persuade the farmer to let him live. A timeless tale of friendship, loyalty and bravery.
Shiloh by Phyllis Naylor
This story is about a boy who struggles with right and wrong in his effort to save a dog.
The War with Grandpa by Robert Kimmel Smith
This story is about a boy who is forced to give up his room because his grandpa is moving in. There are touching and funny situations involved until the problem is solved.
Lafcadio, The Lion Who Shot Back by Shel Silverstein
In this book by a classic author, we read the story of Lafcadio, a lion who wins fame, success, and lots of marshmallows. Through it all, Lafcadio and the rest of us start to think about what he’s lost. This timeless story gives children and adult readers so much to think and talk about.
Third Grade Angels by Jerry Spinelli
Third Grade Angels is a funny story that children can relate to. The rhyme around school is, “First grade babies! Second grade cats! Third grade angels! Fourth grade rats!” George is a third grade student who is determined to earn the first halo. George’s teacher holds a competition every month to see which student deserves to be awarded “the halo.” In order to win the halo the student has to be the best behaved. George quickly finds out that it isn’t always easy to be good. Students will also love Spinelli’s, Fourth Grade Rats.
Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
This story is about a baby fruit bat who lands in a bird’s nest. The mother bird accepts Stellaluna as long as she acts like a bird. Stellaluna in turn acts like a bird. Stellaluna gets a chance to show her siblings what she is really like. They wonder how they can be so different, but feel so alike. Children will be able to make a connection about being different, but being accepted for who they are. It is a wonderful story about acceptance and friendship.
American Wei by Marion Hess Pomeranc.
This story is about a young Chinese immigrant. When Wei loses his first tooth while going to his family’s naturalization ceremony, many soon-to-be Americans join in the search for his tooth. They all end up rushing to be on time for the ceremony. It is a story of pride and celebration for Wei and his family. He wonders if the Tooth Fairy will come and visit this new citizen? This story provides some basic facts about the naturalization process, easy for children to understand.
The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka
You’ve heard the tale of the three little pigs, well…you need to hear the other side of the story told by the Big Bad Wolf. The wolf finally gets to tell his side of the story. He tries to set the story straight by telling how he came to be “big and bad.” This story is from the perspective of Alexander T. Wolf and will get your child thinking that there can be two sides to every story.