I have the sweetest memories growing up of my mom and dad reading me bedtime stories. Most memorable to me are The Berenstain Bears, Little House on the Prairie, and Nancy Drew. I cherished that time to cuddle and listen, and love recreating that feeling with my own kids. I am also fond of reading aloud nowadays because for a brief amount of time, the chaos stops and I get to get lost in a world very different from our own with the girls. I’m a big fan of the Read Aloud Revival, a movement that encourages creating meaningful and lasting connections with your kids through reading together. I was even recently gifted the Read Aloud Family Journal and I am looking forward to tracking our literary adventures with it and keeping it always as a memory of our time spent curled up on the couch together.
With Hailey at 6 1/2 and Kaitlyn at 4 years old, I’ve been on a mission to find read aloud books that work for both of them. I research books and I get suggestions from friends in real life and book lovers on Instagram as well. I’ve started keeping track of the children’s authors and stories my girls are into and though the list is long, these are a few authors I’ve really grown to love and wanted to share with you.
Mary Pope Osborne
The Must Read Book: The Magic Tree House
Why My Kids Love Her: Though she has written picture books, biographies, mysteries, novels, retellings of Greek mythology, Norse mythology, medieval stories, mermaid tales, and American tall tales, our favorite books of hers are those in The Magic Tree House series. The brother and sister duo are very relatable. My girls love to imagine themselves being there right along with Jack and Annie, being transported through time into the exciting (and educational) adventures they go on, from the prehistoric land of dinosaurs to the imaginary world of Camelot. There are scattered black and white pictures throughout the book which helps Kaitlyn stay in engaged as well.
The Must Read Book: The Mercy Watson Series
The Runner Up: The Tale of Despereaux
Why My Kids Love Her: A fun fact about Kate is that she lives in Pennsylvania and writes two pages a day, five days a week. I love that because I think it just shows her dedication to writing stories that bring together all ages. Her adventurous tales about Mercy, the “porcine wonder,” are some of the best beginning chapter books I’ve found. The stories are fun and the illustrations from Chris Van Dusen are bright and engaging!
The Must Read Book: Thank You, Mr. Falker
The Runner Up: Pink and Say
Why My Kids Love Her: I believe Patricia Polacco writes in such a captivating way because may of the stories are about her own childhood. Her stories are entrancing and hold our attention easily. She’s clearly a natural storyteller and we have yet to be disappointed by any of her books!
Chris Van Dusen
The Must Read Book: The Circus Ship
The Runner Up: If I Built A Car
Why My Kids Love Him: His books are just a true pleasure to read. Between his rhyming lines that create imaginative and funny stories and his true gift as an illustrator, we haven’t read a Chris Van Dusen book that we haven’t enjoyed yet. The Circus Ship was our first and remains a favorite, but “If I Built A Car” is a great one as well and sparks fun conversations with kids about creating and inventing better versions of ordinary things.
The Must Read Book: Matilda
The Runner Up: The BFG
Why My Kids Love Him: As far as literature that I give my kids access to, Roald Dahl is edgy. He uses words like stupid and twit, but his stories are colorful and twisted (remember the Chokey?!), and his imaginative writing and storytelling pulls kids in with ease. We are currently reading Matilda together and I can’t wait to read his others famous stories like The BFG and Charlie and Chocolate Factory as well.
The Must Read Book: Where The Wild Things Are
The Runner Up: Chicken Soup with Rice
Why My Kids Love Him: Probably best know for Where the Wild Things Are, he also wrote Chicken Soup with Rice, a book I read in the first grade and one that has stuck with me ever since. Take note though, that as you get more into his lesser known work, they are definitely not all sunshine and rainbows. His book “Outside Over There” actually was unsettling to my girls, so stick to his more well known works listed above.
The Must Read Book: Charlotte’s Web
The Runner Up: Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan
Why My Kids Love Him: He authored many beloved children’s classics, many that were inspired by his life of a farm. His animal characters that seamlessly interact with the human world delight my girls!
Margaret and H.A. Rey
The Must Read Book: The Original Curious George
The Runner Up: Curious Georgia Goes Camping
Why My Kids Love Them: I couldn’t leave the creators of Curious George off this list because that silly monkey has been a favorite in our home for years. There is something about his goodhearted antics that draws kids in. We love George’s pure intentions and how they lead him into precarious situations. I’m sure he needs no introduction, but the Curious George books are some of the best for young children.
There are so many others I want to add to the list, like CS Lewis, but I really wanted to stick to authors that are ideal for ages 4-6. I did tease the girls by reading them the picture book version or The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, which is incredibly well done, and now they’ve been begging me to get the real thing. Or next read aloud perhaps?
Like I said, many of my best suggestions have come from other moms and dad, so I’m curious, which children’s authors and books would you recommend for young kids?