Published: 1998
Theme: Gentleness and Bravery
Best for: 6 to 10

“‘A tridrake,’ the dragon repeated. ‘A three-headed dragon.’ Only then did the children notice that the dragon had two other necks, branching off on either side of the first neck, and two other heads… both sound asleep.” This book reads like an old fashioned tale, as each head of the dragon tells of an earlier encounter with a child who trusted and helped the dragon.

Published: 2015
Theme: Friendship
Best for: 5 – 8

“Diva was the gardienne’s dog, which mean that Diva was practically responsible of the whole of 11 avenue Le Play, including the courtyard. It was a very big job for a very small dog.” Hooray! An enchanting first chapter book for children that delights, amuses, is readable, and even stretches our reading muscles to read some French words.

Published: 2015
Theme: Following a Dream
Best for: 7 to 9

“Firefly didn’t know if she should zoom straight up into the air or take shelter behind Cricket. There was no time to think, because with one step of his huge legs, the miniature giant was there.” If you are looking for a message about staying in one place where you belong, this is not the children’s book for that. This is adventuring, a la Wind in the Willows.

Published: 1947
Theme: Childhood Behavior
Best for: 5 to 8

“Pretty soon down the stairs came a terrible old witch with a long black dress, a tall black hat and a big gnarly black cane. Mary Lou was very scared until she saw the sparkly eyes of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle under the black hat.” Everything about this children’s book reminds me of Mary Poppins, and a spoonful of sugar with the medicine…

Published: 2015
Theme: Self-confidence
Best for: girls 8 to 10

“Sadie imagined Jess and Maya calling from the road and asking what she was up to. ‘Oh Nothing much. Just doing magic with a friend. Nobody you know.'” With a little imagination, and the help from the Backyard Witch, “a most magical and mysterious visitor, who always appears just when you need her,” Sadie’s summer, and her own sense of self-worth is transformed.

Published: 2010
Theme: Irish Fairies
Best for: 7 to 9

“Strange, sweet music came from the whistle. The music was both sad and happy. It was full of beauty and hope, pain and sorry. Like the fog over the river, the music seems to blend everything together.” I personally learned a lot more about leprechauns and Irish fairytales after I read this delightful children’s book.

Published: 2005
Theme: First Chapter Books
Best for: 6 to 9

“Mr. Gaskitt was minding the baby. It was his turn. And doing the grocery shopping and opening the trunk and feeling in his pocket for the parking-lot ticket and tying his shoelace… and looking the other way.” Imagine the above sentence written with only 4 or 5 words on a line, and you can see why these first chapter children’s books are great for new readers

Published: 1954
Theme: Space Travel
Best for: boys 8 and up

“Wanted: A small space ship about eight feet long, built by a boy, or by two boys, between the ages of eight and eleven…An adventure and chance to do a good deed await the boys who build the best space ship.” In this delightful early science fiction children’s book, we are introduced to space travel, impossible in 1954, and of course, becoming quite possible only a decade later…

Published: 2015
Theme: Family
Best for: 7 to 9

“Appleblossom’s brothers and sisters move closer to one another as Mother Possum continues: “The first kind of monster is made of metal. They have wheels and bright eyes when they are out after dark. These eyes are blinding.” I liked the possum point of view in this recently published children’s book, that is sprinkled with enticing pencil sketches throughout…

Published: 2006
Theme: Historical Fiction Hero
Best for: 7 and up

“Once there was a boy who could not claim his Father. Kil Dong, as he was called, was the second son of a wealthy and powerful advisor to the king, Minister Hong. But Kil Dong’s mother was not the noble wife of the minister…” This historical fiction, beautifully illustrated ‘graphic’ novel, set in 16th century Korea, tells of the Korean Robin Hood…

Published: 1991
Theme: Deep friendship
Best for: 8 and up

“The egg shook in his hands. The dancing colors froze in place. He heard a scratching sound. Suddenly a single, sharp claw pierced the shell. The tiny talon sparkled like a jewel in the moonlight…” This particular children’s book on the theme of raising a dragon has a lovely simplicity and innocence about it…

Published: 2014
Theme: Parody
Best for: 7 and up

“To the Carpet people, the Carpet was bigger than a forest,… full of cities, towns, small villages, castles, and all sorts of tiny animals in the really thick parts that weren’t swept often…In the village of the Fallen Matchstick, the Carpet-dwellers were preparing to leave.” Here’s a glorious children’s book to discover…short stories written by renowned author Terry Pratchett when he was a teenager!

Published: 1983
Theme: Independence
Best for: 10 and up

“They saw hundreds of horses charging through the forest until the ground rang under their hooves…They’re not frightened- they’re just running winter out of their bodies.” This magical children’s book is like stepping into an ancient fairytale, from who knows where, and who knows when. It has an eternal quality about it…

Published: 2012
Theme: Ice Skating and Nature
Best for: 7 and up

“The first ice came on the sheep pails in the barn- a skim of ice so thin that it broke when we touched it.” Twelve Kinds of Ice is a small, inspiring ode to the beauty and simplicity of ice, ice-skating, children, nature, and simple living.

Published: 2003
Theme: First Chapter Book
Best for: 6 to 9

“And the strange thing was – which Horace noticed- the strange thing was, the baby carriage…was barking.” This “first chapter book” is a treat – it has some humor, as well as unusual elements such as maps and timetables for the reader to follow. It has a simple plot, with an attempt for the story to be a mystery to be solved, but the clues are present on every page.

Published: 2010
Theme: Live your dream
Best for: 8 and up

“He peeked out… and saw that the wind had also possessed his mittens. They looked like ghostly hands waving good-bye in the Chilean sky. Where were they headed? Whose hands would they cover next? ..’Where is the storehouse of lost and found?'” As I put this exquisite children’s book down, I wiped my eyes, and marveled at the quick journey I had just taken into the heart and mind of Pablo Neruda…

Published: 2012
Theme: Boxcar Children prequel
Best for: 7 to 9

“They heard the sound of Papa’s old gray car in the driveway. Jessie and Henry climbed down the ladder and watched Papa walk up to the barn, carrying a cloth sack of nails and some boards for the stalls.” If you have children who are devoted to the Boxcar children series, and want to have a ‘prequel’, MacLachlan’s children’s book is just right.

Published: 2015
Theme: Friendship
Best for: 7 and up

“Dragons weren’t the only ones who were mistreated so the different magicals agreed to keep their powers secret or hide from humans altogether. We’ve done such a good job that most humans consider all magicals imaginary.” I smiled and often laughed out loud as I read this very silly fantasy book, peopled with all kinds of magical creatures, as well as a very admirable 10-year-old girl…

Published: 2007
Theme: Contentment
Best for: 5 to 8

“After drying her eyes on a leafkerchief, Rani kicked off her sensible walking shoes and slipped into the lagoon. of all the fairies, Rani was the only one who could swim, and that was because she had no wings to drag her under.” A true fairy tale about fairies, by a great children’s author, alas, co-opted by Disney, which means dreadful illustrations, but the story and writing are excellent.

Published: 1963
Theme: Diversity is Good
Best for: 5 to 8

“All the other Tatrajanni …had glittering white hair like snow crystals, and the eyes of every one of them, without exception, were the color of light shining through ice: a cool greenish hue.” This book steps out of the mold of Enright’s other books. It is pure fantasy, with an imaginary land, animals, and people…

Published: 1993
Theme: African-American History
Best for: ages 8-11

Sarah looked at Addy. “You is coming to school, ain’t you?” “Momma say I can go,” Addy answered. “That’s good,” said Sarah. “We learn to read and write…You gonna like school. You’ll see.” Written in dialect, an African-American girl’s journey from slavery to freedom unfolds in this series of historical fiction children’s books.

Published: 1992
Theme: Equality in Relationships
Best for: 5 and up

“You will become ruler when I die,” the old king said, “for that is the ancient law that cannot be changed. But you will not wear my crown until the day you marry a woman who is your equal in beauty and intelligence and wealth.” This story has all the classical elements of a great fairy tale: an impoverished girl, tending her goats, who outsmarts a conceited prince, and in the end, rules happily ever after.

Published: 2006
Theme: Belonging
Best for: 8 and up

“Never attack another duck unless. That’s the first rule.” She waddled in a circle around us. “Actually, the first rule is: Don’t get eaten. The second rule is: Never attack another duck unless.” In this lovable version of an old tale, we discover what life is like for the Ugly Duckling when he has to fend for himself.

Published: 1938
Theme: Growing Up
Best for: 8 to 11

“When she had reached the highway, her anger began to turn into a feeling of excitement. Eric’s stories of hitchhiking were still fresh in her mind. I’ll try it anyway, she thought, and stopped at the roadside.” This book is a great antidote to today’s cries of “I’m bored, there’s nothing to do.” We experience the olden days on a farm…

Published: 2013
Theme: Growing up
Best for: Girls 8 to 10

“As she handed me back my most worn-out underwear, I realized she wasn’t going to be at camp with me at all. Not even to help me put my things away…Or tuck me in, under my thin sleeping bag.” In this children’s book, we go away with Eleanor to summer camp, which starts out dreadful, and ends up wonderful. It’s a great book for any young girl going off to sleep-away camp for the first time

Published: 2013
Theme: Baseball
Best for: 5 to 8

“Marty got her love of baseball from her Great Grandma Martha (Gigi), who loved baseball more than anything. Gigi followed the game faithfully and even kept her own scorebook. She taught Marty everything she knew.” This children’s book is all heart, even as it goes about its mission of explaining the rules of baseball to young boys and girls…

Published: 1992
Theme: Folk Tale
Best for: 5 to 8

“Rich you will surely be,” answered the fortune-teller, staring into the crystal ball on the table. “On one condition: that you earn large sums of money.” In this beautifully illustrated children’s book, we laugh aloud as a naive man becomes a fortune teller. The illustrations of Africa are superb.