Published: 2006
Theme: Perseverance through obstacles
Best for: 7 to 10

“Just as Su Shih’s writing followed the laws of nature, do did his rulings, where were just and as brilliant as the sun. He was guided by the ancient Chinese book of wisdom, the Tao Te Ching…” It’s an interesting challenge to create a historical fiction children’s book that young children would be able to take in…

Published: 2013
Theme: Imagination
Best for: 5 to 9

“The hole in space opened again. A voice shouted, “Catch!” and the milk came rocketing through. Fortunately, the milk struck me in the stomach…” The best description for this new children’s book is wacky and fun. It reads like a kid making up a story…

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

“In school, we have lots of rules. At home, there are lots of rules too. I’m learning that with with art, there really are no rules. That’s what makes it so great. Artists like Georgia O’Keeffe, Jackson Pollock and Pablo Picasso created new ways to make paintings… “ I encourage any adult who loves bringing art to children to consider this book. It illuminates the value of bringing a child into the world of creativity.

Published: 2009
Theme: Gratitude
Best for: ages 5 and up

“Minli gaped at the dragon in front of her. It was brilliant red, the color of a lucky lantern, with emerald-green whiskers, horns, and a dull stone-colored ball like the moon on his head. He was half-covered by…the silvery lake of water his tears had formed all around him.” What joy, to find such a superb collection of Chinese folk tales, woven together into one adventure story with a beautiful message about gratitude.

Published: 1918
Theme: Nature Spirits
Best for: 5 – 8

“Ivra was different. Because she was only half-fairy, any human could see her whether his eyes were shadowed or not, if he would only look hard enough…When a human did see her, he was likely not to believe in her. He would just think he was day-dreaming.” Here’s a children’s book that understands and loves the unseen folk: the fairies, the tree sprites, the good witches, and more. Ethel Cook Eliot was a master storyteller…

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

“Each day something new and surprising dripped out of Daozi’s brush. His straight lines splintered into trees. His hooks caught fish. His dots burst into eyes, then pigs and monkeys. From a stroke, a horse’s tail flew by.” This children’s book is exquisite from beginning to end, from front cover to back cover. The story is an imaginative version of the life of the great Chinese artist Wu Daozi…

Published: 2007
Theme: Contentment
Best for: 6 and up

“The Queen could always tell when the King had visited the hermit, for he would be, for a short time, calmer than usual, not straining at his restrictive clothing, not complaining or yawning. She would find him sitting mute on his throne,…gazing placidly around the room.” This children’s book is just pure and simple fun. I found the book in a used book store, and was immediately struck by its beauty…

Published: 2001
Theme: Caring for the Planet
Best for: 8 and up

“She went on to explain that the worm was a person who liked to think about important things like ‘Where has yesterday gone?’ or ‘Why hasn’t God made sardines without bones?’ The trouble is he’s so long that his thoughts don’t easily get to the other end, and that upsets him.” As a confirmed fan of Eva Ibbotson, I was so happy to find another quirky children’s book by her on the library shelves, this one with both fun and seriousness….

Published: 1880
Theme: Healing Power of Nature
Best for: all ages

“Soon all the lively goats came leaping up the mountain, the nimble Distelfinck bounding ahead of the others. Heide was at once in the midst of the flock, which pushed her hither and thither with loud, stormy greetings.” It has been far too long since I re-read the classic children’s book, Heidi, and once I picked it up, it was impossible to put it down…

Re-Published: 1997
Theme: Kindness to Animals
Best for: 5-8

“After a while, with the parrot’s help, the Doctor got to learn the language of the animals so well that he could talk to them himself and understand everything they said. Then he gave up being a people’s doctor altogether.” The fantasy that is outlined in this edited versionis fabulous. Not only can the animals talk, but they do wonderful things for this kind man who takes care of everyone and everything…

Published: 2013
Theme: Curiosity
Best for: 5 – 8

“Suddenly he knew there were mysteries in the word, hidden and silent, unknown and unseen. He wanted, more than anything, to understand those mysteries.” Here’s a treasure – an authentic story about Albert Einstein, written with very young children in mind, accompanied by absolutely magical illustrations. I am so in love with this one…

Published: 1963
Theme: Imagination
Best for: 4 and over

“Dolls are not like us; we are alive as soon as we are born, but dolls are not really alive until they are played with. ‘I want to be played with,’ said Holly… ‘I wish! I wish!'” It is utterly entrancing in each story to be inside the heart and mind of a doll, or the little girl or boy who is taking care of the doll. Each story is unique, each doll is different, and yet …

Published: 2010
Theme: Friendship
Best for: 5 – 8

“Bink,”said Gollie, “the brightness of those socks pains me. I beg you not to purchase them.” “I love socks,” said Bink. “Some socks are more lovable than others,” said Gollie.” This quirky and fun book is a perfect easy reader. It moves fast, has funny lines, and great pictures…

Published: 2003
Theme: Celebrating Differences
Best for: ages 7 and up

“It’s very easy to accept and love those who are like us, but to love someone different is very hard, and you have helped us do that. You are a seagull, and you must follow your destiny as a seagull. You must fly.” What a beautiful piece of children’s literature this book is. Hopefully no one else in the gym noticed the tears in my eyes…

Published: 1998
Theme: Loyalty and Courage
Best for: Boys 6 and up

“He had promised Joseph he’d protect him. But he didn’t. They were best friends. Best friends were supposed to stick together. Even if it meant being called names…Even if it ruined the sport you loved more than anything in the world. Even then.” This first chapter book delighted me from beginning to end. It places the dilemma of friendship front and center…

Published: 1996
Theme: Letting Love In
Best for: ages 5 and 6

“So she began to name things. But she named only those things she knew she could never outlive. Her car, Betsy, had more get-up-and-go than anything around. Her chair, Fred, had never sagged a day in his life…” Finally, a book that made me reverse my somewhat arbitrary policy of not reviewing picture books! This little illustrated children’s book totally stole my heart…

Published: 2013
Theme: Give and Take
Best for: 5 and up, new readers

“Maggie said, “Let’s go for a ride, Bramble!” Bramble knew about rides. The rider sat in the saddle. The horse did all the hard work.” From the opening line of this little “first chapter book,” I loved it. I’ve been on the lookout for early reader children’s books since I began this website, hoping to help the younger struggling readers…

Published: 1996
Theme: Putting Others First
Best for: ages 6 to 10

‘Now she really did cry, with tears that seemed to burn. The crowds, the lights, the whole mela seemed to be laughing at her as had the nasty fat stall-keeper when he cheated her over the bangle.” Rumer Godden skillfully weaves in Bengali words, as well as vivid descriptions of Diwali, the festival of lights, giving the reader a full picture of ….

Published: 2012
Theme: Accepting Change
Best for: 8 and up

“It’s okay,” Snow says, lowering her head. “I don’t need to marry a prince. I don’t mind living with the dwarfs for the rest of my life.” “No…that is NOT the way your story goes….” What do you get when a 21st century girl and her sister become entangled with the eternal Snow White? A terrific children’s book, with laughs, serious lessons, and a great read for younger children…

Published: 2000
Theme: Heroines
Best for: ages 8 and up

“Burd Janet threw the green mantle around him to shade him from fairy sight. Then she .. took out the earth from her garden. She spread it around the two of them in a great circle of protection against the Fair Folk.” This book is a collection of folk tales where the hero is female. However, this book is for boys as well, since they too need to know that women can be heroes.

Published: 1938
Theme: Dream Big
Best for: all ages

“Mr. Popper soon found it was not so easy to take a penguin for a stroll. He tied one end of the clothesline to the penguin’s fat throat, and the other to his own wrist.” Here’s a delightful, simple, amusing book with nothing possibly true in it. Purely entertaining, with some sweet morals at the end..

Published: 1998
Theme: Kindness, Moderation
Best for: all ages

“I’ve left an important question unanswered. Once Tom walked out of the book, how and why did he come back? The answer to that question is: boredom. It’s not much of a life for a character in a book to be out of the book.” This is one unique, terrific, silly, and somewhat profound children’s book. In Feiffer’s hands, everything becomes just a little bit fantastical, out of the ordinary, and we get swept along believing every word of it…

Published: 1994
Theme: Epic Poetry
Best for: 5-8

“By the shores of Gitche-Gumee, By the shining Big-Sea-Water, Stood the Wigwam of Nokomis, Daughter of the moon, Nokomis” It is so important for children to read and hear stories that have rhythm, repetition, and unusual words. Hiawatha is a great example of this…

Published: 1968
Theme: Fairy Tales
Best for: 5- 8

“The cat sat on the mat. Lots of cats do that, everybody knows. And nothing strange comes of it. But once a cay sat on a mat and something strange did come of it.” What a delight to find a contemporary writer who is able to create wonderful fairy tales. For that’s what this children’s book is: a collection of truly magical fairy tales.

Published: 1971
Theme: Getting along with others
Best for: ages 7 and up

“When Toft got outside in the darkness he stood and waited on the steps. The sky was a little lighter than the mountains, whose undulating contours rose above Moominvalley.” This little book from Finland is a wonder in character studies, and has delightful language.

Published: 2011
Theme: Courtesy
Best for: 6 to 9

“King Arthur covered his eyes with his hands. Sometimes in those early days he wondered what it would take to prove to his knights that courtesy was as important as courage.” In this series, Morris takes some of the same King Arthur legends, but reworks them for a younger audience. Children could read this book cover to cover, and enjoy both the writing and the message.