These books are aligned with Waldorf Education curriculum and principles. For more information on what I mean by that, please visit this page: What is Waldorf-Aligned?
Best for: 7 – 10
“There was a village once, not very long ago for those with long memories, not very far away for those with long legs. Wootton Major it was called because it was larger than Wootton Minor…” A truly magical yet profound tale of the skeptic world and those who ‘do believe in fairies’…
Theme: Tolkien Fantasy
Best for: 7 and up
“Faerie is a perilous land, and in it are pitfalls for the unwary and dungeons for the overbold…” This collection of shorter stories by Tolkien has something for all ages, including adults who love Tolkien’s fantasy worlds.
Best for 8 and up
“Not every old man with ragged trousers is a bad old man: … a few, a very few, are wizards prowling round on a holiday looking for something to do. This one was a wizard, the one that now walked into the story.” Early on, Tolkien crafted several short novellas out of stories that he made up for his own children, and Roverandom is one of them.
Best for: 9-11
“With a pleased yowl, the griffin chased after the ball again, catching it a few feet from Kate and Michael. Then it came forward and laid the ball at Kate’s feet like a cat presenting a dead mouse..” There’s a real gentleness about this children’s book that actually doesn’t need additional drama or hype…
Theme: First Chapter Book
Best for: 6 to 8
“They sat down for lunch at a cafe. “Bonjour,” said the waiter. “That means ‘Hello'”, Dodsworth told the duck. “Oh well then, ‘banjo’ to you, too,” said the duck.” As a first chapter children’s book, this little book is more than meets the eye, with lovely illustrations, and authentic information about Paris.
Theme: Being yourself
Best for: Third graders
“It was all new and fascinating to Annika. She had never know that baking had so much math in it–so much tasty math!” Here’s a lovely addition to those hard to find interesting first chapter books, which, uncommonly, focuses on the early grade student’s relationship to math.
Theme: Math Biography
Best for: 6 to 9
“You can call me Blockhead. Everyone else does. One day when I was just a boy, Maestro wrote out a math problem and gave us ten minutes to solve it. I solved it in two seconds.” If you have any young children who love numbers, this is definitely a children’s book they should read – a superb biography about Fibonacci.
Theme: Coming of Age
Best for: 11 and up
“Will Sparrow was a liar and a thief, and hungry, so when he saw the chance to steal a cold rabbit pie from the inn’s kitchen and blame it on the dog, he took it – both the chance and the pie…” First and foremost, this is a beautifully written piece of children’s historical fiction literature. The fact that the story and characters are interesting as well is icing on the cake..
Theme: Power of Kindness
Best for: 11 and up
“Africa was hurrying by as if someone were turning the pages of a book too quickly. I was miserable at what I was leaving behind. Even the railway itself has a sad story…I felt my own future would be no better.” This historical fiction for children is full of unexpected turns, and dramatic turnabouts, from living in Africa to exile to England.
Best for: 8 to 10
“Every time a human walks out of a room, something with more feet walks in. Mice, of course, who are only a whisker away. It’s true of the room where you are sitting. It’s truer still of Buckingham Palace.” This lovely tongue-in-cheek children’s book will definitely bring smiles to readers, especially those who can grasp some of the satire.
Best for: 6 – 9
“Marvin sees crumbs under the table, but those are nothing special. The beetles find crumbs all the time. But then he sees something else. Something shiny. Something silver.” My criteria for an good children’s book for emerging readers is that it is not too daunting, and not too dull. This book meets both criteria.
Theme: Freedom of Literary Speech
Best for: 8 and up
“The hover ladders were floating platforms with handrails, book baskets, and ski-boot safety locks that allowed you to float up and retrieve any book simply by entering the book’s call number into a keypad.” The reason I found this particular children’s book compelling is that it offers a very strong message about the importance of books, libraries, and freedom of press.
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.
Best for: 6th grade
“Of all the stupid things he had ever done, this was the worst by any measure. He had completely humiliated his kind father in front of Yoshida – the man upon whom all their livelihood depended.” This compelling children’s book has so much going for it that the best advice is to read it. In fact, that’s what the sixth grade class does in our Waldorf school, and I hope parents read along.
Theme: Raising Chickens
Best for: 9 and up
“Mom says she has no intention of ever being a farmer, even though she knows how to drive a tractor and prune grapes.. But if I’m going to live on a farm, I guess I might as well be a farmer…”This is a totally lovable book, and a very likable heroine, who is trying her best to learn all about chickens, one chicken at a time.
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.
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.
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…
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.
Theme: Fairy Tale adventure
Best for: 9 to 11
“It’s a Story Book. It’s actually pretty rare… My grandfather got this one when he rescued an old woman who used to ride a giant goose… The book writes down any stories you tell it…” First, the recommendation and review by a fifth-grade reader that led me to this children’s book: “I liked how funny May was.”
Theme: Value of Community
Best for: 9 and 10
“Burdock knew perfectly well he was strictly a barn cat. A barn cat, not a house cat, not even a sometimes-allowed-in-the-house barn cat. But Burdock loved warmth more than just about anything…” The banding together of the animals for a common cause – to save themselves from an impending fire- is the heart of this newly published children’s book.
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.
Theme: Adventure and Fantasy
Best for: 9 and up
“A water rat scuttled away as the children felt their way along the narrow passage. It led to a canal, like so many of Venice’s alleys and passages…Someone had painted “Vietato Ingresso” in clumsy letters on the door- No entry.” Once again, I am dazzled by Cornelia Funke and her masterful way of putting characters and plot together that is memorable and exciting…
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
Best for: Girls 9 and up
“This semester you will be taking a very difficult course… You will be learning all about How to Find Your Way…You will be graded on the following: pluck, enthusiasm, spirit of adventure, brilliance, and self-reliance.” The moment I saw the motto of “The Great Rapscott School for Girls of Busy Parents” I knew I’d love this children’s book. Quoting Amelia Earhart, “Adventure is worthwhile in itself,”…
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…
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…
Theme: Best Friends
Best for: 4th grade and up
“I did a play all by my stupid self and I was a blind woman, but it is hard to be a blind woman all by yourself, with no one to talk to but your own stupid self. It doesn’t make a very good play.” Creech’s books often address topics that no one wants to write about for children, and she does it with compassion, and in this case, a great deal of humor…
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…
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…