It was C.S. Lewis who said, “You can't get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.”. What a true statement. I’m always on the hunt for new books and if you’re anything like me, you are too. So what about some recommendations? My favorite genre far and away is children’s fiction (small wonder that’s what I write) so without further ado, here are my top ten recommendations for children’s books.
The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis
These books are completely ubiquitous in the best way possible. Everyone has heard of Narnia and for good reason. Magic portals to fantasy worlds? Talking animals? Epic battles? Kings and Queens? There’s so much to be enchanted by. What’s more, the books are a beautiful illustration of Christianity. It’s an amazing series to give you a new view of God’s love and give you a new perspective. I’m going to cut off my recommendation here because I could easily rant about the wonderful nature of the Narnia books for more than a single blog post.
Number the Stars, Lois Lowry
It’s not easy to cover World War II in children’s fiction. An author runs the risk of either traumatizing their readers with the heavy realities of the event or oversimplifying the weight of what happened. Lois Lowry doesn’t fall victim to either extreme. Number the Stars approaches World War II through the lens of a young Danish girl trying to protect her best friend from the Nazi regime. It’s an excellent read to introduce kids to some difficult subject matter in a story that manages to shine through with some beautiful hope.
How to Train Your Dragon, Cressida Cowell
We all know and love these movies and honestly, I’m not sure I’m ready for the third movie. I confess I only found these books recently, but oh my word am I glad I did. They are absolutely brilliant. The storyline is vastly different from the course of the movies, but still have that same quirky, heartwarming feel to them. The books start with more episodic adventures but quickly rev up to a story arc that makes you desperate to get your hands on the next book (ask my poor roommate how insufferable I was when the library didn’t have the last book available). Not only do they keep a lighthearted approach to storytelling, but they also face the difficulties of coming of age with understanding and warmth.
A Wrinkle in Time
I’ve never been much of a science fiction person, but this one has always been a favorite. The science fiction elements are in-depth and intense but introduced in a way that keeps the book approachable to the reader. It’s main character Meg is both flawed and relatable between her utter confusion at huge events in the story and her reluctance to be drawn into danger. The journey to recover Meg’s lost father pairs well with Meg’s journey to embrace her own awkwardness and faults, ultimately learning to have confidence in her abilities and those of her friends and family.
Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne
In my opinion, there isn’t a children’s book character out there that can out cute Winnie the Pooh. The Winnie the Pooh books are, in a word, whimsical and in the best way possible. Each chapter is its own contained adventure that bumbles along with the beloved Pooh Bear with a sweetness A.A. Milne is the master of. While the language may be seen as outdated compared to modern books, they are accessible for a myriad of ages. What’s more, there’s plenty of Milne’s fanciful poems sprinkled all over the books.
A Night Divided, Jennifer A. Nielsen
This was another recent find. Perusing the library last year, I went out on a limb and asked a nearby librarian to pick out a book for me and A Night Divided was her recommendation. It’s the story of a young girl whose family is separated by the Berlin Wall and her desperate journey to reunite with her loved ones. I was blown away. There’s heavy subject matter for such a big history topic, but the book handles it deftly and appropriately. The story is so intense and fast-paced I read the book in one sitting. I needed answers! It’s a great look into a huge historical event from the smaller lens of a single family.
The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien
If you want your kids to become as much of a LOTR nerd as yourself, start them on The Hobbit. That’s the approach my parents took when they read the book aloud to me and my sisters when I was six. It’s a charming introduction to Middle Earth and an all too easy way to get sucked into the world of Tolkien. Seriously, there’s no going back after that. The story is one of the best quest stories out there and it’s filled with wonderfully relatable characters and epic adventuring.
Paddington, Michael Bond
This might be the only bear who can give Winnie the Pooh a run for his money. Fortunately, this little bear from Peru is in his own category, so we never have to see the showdown between him and Pooh Bear. Thank goodness. What makes Paddington so charming is the wild misadventures that dog his every move. Every chapter has the reader giving a little sigh of “Oh, Paddington!” and wondering what the little bear will get himself into next. The writing is playful and light and reads with ease, making it easy to get swept along with the little bear from Darkest, Peru.
Redwall, Brian Jacques
Maybe there’s a reason my first book features anthropomorphized animals. I always seem to come back to them in the books I read, and Redwall is no exception. A medieval style epic featuring chosen ones, ancient swords, terrifying villains, and classic heroes, this book has a little bit of everything. Unlike a lot of other animal adventures out there, this one has some slightly more serious tones but avoids getting overwhelming for a juvenile reader. And if you end up liking Redwall, Jacques kept his world going with many more books so you won’t have to leave that world any time soon.
Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson
Disclaimer: If you read this book, you will cry. A lot. So many tears. Or maybe I’m just a wimp, but this book truly is exceptional. The story is the perfect blend between reality and fantasy in Jess and Leslie’s journey to escape from the pressures in their home and school lives. It’s the perfect book to remind kids of the power of imagination and teach them that the true friends we make never really leave us.