Thursday, July 10, 2008

Some Recommended Books for Reading--Part #1

Thanks to IlanaDavita who asked for this list. By no means is this list comprehensive, nor anywhere near approaching comprehensive. To list all the good books that exist printed in English would take far more room than any of us has on our computers. Many of the works listed appear in the National Endowment for the Humanities compilation of "classical" literature for children. The endowment list has no works published after 1960; I included works published after that time; perhaps not yet classics yet but good reads for children nonetheless. The list is divided into three parts for ease of presenting it, but there are no hard and fast borders between the divisions; books in one list, recommended for one age group, may be suitable for members of a different age group. The first section is entitled Literature for Children with no attempt on my part to divide out by age appropriateness. As you browse through you will find some works that are more appropriate for younger children and some for older children. When in doubt, ask a librarian.

DISCLAIMER: Parental discretion is advised. Not all children are able to handle all kinds of works just because they are the age that a book says it is appropriate for.

Literature for Children (Kindergarten through 6th grade approximately):

Aesops Fables
Amelia Bedelia (series) by Peggy Parish
Anne of Green Gables (first in a series of books, all recommended) by Lucy Maud Montgomery
A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
Ben & Me by Robert Lawson
The Betsy, Tacey and Tibb series by Carolyn Haywood
Black Beauty (and the rest of the series) by Anna Sewell
The Black Stallion by Walter Farley
The Book of Nonsense by Edward Lear
Born Free by Joy Adamson
The Borrowers (and the rest of the series) by Mary Norton
The Cabin Faced West by Jean Fritz
Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
Call it Courage by Armstrong Sperry
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling
The Cat in the Hat (and all the others) by Dr. Seuss
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
Cheaper By the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth
A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Chronicles of Narnia (series) by C.S. Lewis
Cinderella by Charles Perrault
The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh
The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden
Curious George (series) by H.A. Rey
Doctor Doolittle (series) by Hugh Lofting
The Door in the Wall by Marguerite De Angeli
The Enormous Egg by Oliver Butterworth
Ernestine G. Carey by Frank B. Gilbreth
Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Grimm's Fairy Tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates by M. Mapes Dodge
Heidi (series) by Johanna Spyri
Henry Huggins (series) Beverly Cleary
Homer Price by Robert McCloskey
House at Pooh Corner (and all the Pooh series) by A.A. Milne
Invincible Louisa by Cornelia Meigs
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
Just So Stories for Little Children by Rudyard Kipling
Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
King of the Wind (and all her other books) by Marguerite Henry
Lassie Come Home by Eric Knight
Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik
The Little House on the Praarie (series) by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Little Men by Louisa May Alcott
Madeline series by Ludwig Bemelmans
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
Mary Poppins (series) by Pamela L. Travers
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Viginia Lee Burton
Miss Hickory by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
Misty of Chincoteague (and all her other works) by Marguerite Henry
The Moffats (series) by Eleanor Estes
Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
Mrs. Pigglewiggle by Betty MacDonald
My Friend Flicka by Mary O'Hara
Old Yeller by Fred Gipson
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
Pippi Longstocking (series) by Astrid Lindren
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (and series) by Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Story of Babar (series) by Jean de Brunhoff
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
The Strawberry Girl (and other works by her) by Lois Lenski
Stuart Little by E.B. White
The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene DuBois
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong
Where the Sidewalk Ends (and many others) by Shel Silverstein
Where the Wild Things Are (and others) by Maurice Sendak
White Fang by Jack London
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much ProfK!

BrooklynWolf said...

Any list of good children's literature must include Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth. Truly an incredible book for youngsters.

The Wolf

Orthonomics said...

ProfK-You are providing a tremendous service here. I see a lot of books I liked as a kid (Wizard of Oz, Anne of Green Gables to name too).

When my printer is working again, I will have to print out this list and make a file.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

I wonder if you would include Shel Silverstein's "ABZ" book on the list...

ProfK said...

Re "ABZ" this is what a Canadian reviewer had to say about the book. "Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book is a primer for adults only. Described as the classic "you won't want your children to read," it covers the alphabet in a strange and twisted way. Shel Silverstein's creation is sure to keep you laughing through your ABCs and is a delightful satire on traditional primers you had as a kid."

How "delightful" it is is a question of taste, but the book is not for kids, hence my not listing it individually in the list. Plenty of authors who wrote both for children and for adults, which is why parents have to take care when their kids go book hunting.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

ProfK: Perhaps I should have included a smiley. I'm well aware of the book (my father in law kept buying it, and my mother in law kept throwing it away!)

Its definitely a book for adults.

However, if we're discussing Silverstein books, I'm not sure the book, "The Giving Tree" is a healthy book for kids.

It teaches a morality of "give till you have nothing left" which goes beyond the realm of being unselfish.

Anonymous said...

Don't mean to be disrespectful but if you can put up a list like this then why can't all the schools who ban English works instead? I imagine it took a little time to find everything but shouldn't that also be part of a school's job?

ProfK said...

"It teaches a morality of "give till you have nothing left" which goes beyond the realm of being unselfish."

And thus could make an excellent starting place for a discussion of the book with a child. A child needs to learn that it is okay to disagree with what a book says, and to call into question parts of a book. What are the dangers of believing every word you read? Is what this book says a way that we as frum Jews (or just as plain people) want to live? How would things have been different if the tree didn't give its all?

Books aren't just for "eating"--they are for "digesting" as well.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

And thus could make an excellent starting place for a discussion of the book with a child.

I agree with you that in the proper setting, the book could be useful for a meaningful discussion.

However, within the scope of summer reading, I wouldnt have time to discuss every single book with my kids. I'd prefer some books to not need a discussion around them.

Regardless, thanks for the list!

Anonymous said...

Can I put in a good word for Sherlock Holmes, Mark Twain, and Diana Wynne Jones? I believe many, if not most of their works can be enjoyed by 6th graders. I did.

Anonymous said...

Also, Jean Craighead George and AVI.

I know the list can't be comprehensive, so I'm submitting authors I believe deserve to be on there. "My Side of the Mountain" is a classic children's book, won awards, and is also a perennial favorite. "Julie of the Wolves" is also great.

AVI has written some great books like "The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle" and the Beyond the Western Sea books.

Oooh, and Sterling North! His animal stories are just plain old fun for children of all ages... and I still like them.

I'm very sorry you posted this list. I won't be able to think of anything else the rest of the day.

ProfK said...

Holmes and Twain appear on the next list--question of space more than anything else. Re Wynne Jones, I haven't read any of her works other than Charmed Life--are the rest as well written? I also pretty much kept to the "before 1960" rule with a few exceptions. Wynne Jones wrote later. But yes, if you have a young "fantasy fan" I would recommend this author.

Anonymous said...

OK, last one, really, but was Roald Dahl neglected on purpose?

ProfK said...

The NEA list puts Dahl with the junior high group so I followed their lead and he will be on that list.

miriamp said...

I currently have one child working his way through Narnia and another started on the Borrowers (and both are hungrily searching for more "approved" series). Going into 6th and 5th grade, respectively. I was gratified to see many series I enjoyed as a child, yet hadn't yet been reminded of, (I'm sure my daughter would enjoy the Heidi books, for example) so thank you!

Anonymous said...

An idea of how to use this list although it's coming a little early: Chanukah presents. Why not books instead of yet another toy or electronic game? Thanks for finally labeling your postings so I can find this one again when I'll need it for gift giving.

Anonymous said...

Most useful information I've ever gotten from a blog. My children and I say thanks.

Orthonomics said...

Oops, two not too. That was early in the morning.

Great to see all of the comments and recommendations. Brings me back a number of years to summer when I camped out on the couch reading.

Anonymous said...

You left off A Wrinkle in Time by L'Engle. I do not recommend Amelia Bedlia. The kids loved it (before they could read) but I got awfully tired or reading them. I loved The Enormous Egg but I think it may be dated. I couldn't get any of my kids (all 4 are good readers) past the first page of it.

ProfK said...

Reading of all things is definitely not one size fits all. There is also the problem when children are too young to read for themselves. A book has to appeal not only to the children but to the adults reading it. Such books are referred to as "cross over" books. It doesn't always happen that way, as your experience was with the Amelia Bedelia books, and your kids' experiences with The Enormous Egg. It might not be someone else's experience with the same book. The list is only suggestions of where to look, not proscriptions of what must be read.

Orthonomics said...

I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I loved Amelia Bedilia as a kid and love reading it to my kids now.

ProfK said...

I might add in here that there may also be not only an age factor re Amelia Bedelia but also a gender factor.

Anonymous said...

I have found the following books to be particularly interesting to middle readers 4th-6th Grades and I have used them personally in my classes in both middle of the road Yeshivish and MO schools so they have been properly vetted:

Pedro's Journal
Kensuke's Kingdom
Shipwrecked At the Bottom of The World
From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil Frankweiler
The Westing Game
The Cabin Faced West
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh
A Cricket in Times Square
Ben and Me

Picture Books I love:
Ten Minutes to Bedtime
Libraries Take Us Far
The Inside-Outside Book of Libraries

Anonymous said...

Oh, also, great great picture book:
You Can't Take a Balloon Into The Metropolitan Museum of Art, part of a series

the apple said...

What about Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi, any of the Dear America series, and The Diving Bell by Todd Strasser?

Anonymous said...

Wonderful resource:
The American Library Association website has a link to their "Notables Book Lists" for children. These are lists of books, software, and videos that come out each year. A team of hand-picked librarians from across the country choose the best of the new crop and then publish their picks according to three age levels. This is a veritable treasure trove of good literature. I tend to stick with the historical fiction because it tends to be less of a problem for Orthodox kids. You still have to vet the books, but it is a good starting place if you want good, new choices for books, software, and videos.

Anonymous said...

Before 1960 does cut out quite a bit. The Indian in the Cupboard series, Running Out of Time by Margaret Haddock...

As for Diana Wynne Jones - most of her books are as good as Charmed Life. A few, like Hexwood, leave the reader with his/her eyes crossed and saliva dribbling down the chin, but most (Chrestomanci books, Howl's Moving Castle, Archer's Goon, The Dark Lord of Derkholm, Year of the Griffin) are fun and playful and well written.