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?
Theme: Biography Henri Matisse
Best for: 4 to 6
“If you were a boy named Henri Matisse who lived in a dreary town in northern France where the skies were gray, and you wanted color and light and sun, what might you become?” The images and wonder of Matisse’s imagination come to life in a beautifully crafted children’s book.
Theme: Historical Fiction Biography
Best for: 9 to 12
“He passes the hammer to me, and I heft it in my hands. It fits my palm perfectly, and it feels good…It seems to be speaking to me, begging to be used, ready to be of service.” So many themes in one book – father/son, developing a written language, Native American struggle. Yet it all holds together beautifully.
Theme: Coming of Age Fairytale
Best for: 9 to 12 girls
“The first time I tried my hand at magic, I grew roses out of my nose. This was not my intention… Magic is unpredictable, finicky, and dangerous, especially in the wrong hands.” This children’s book is best thought of as a modern-day Grimm’s fairytale. It has all the elements of Grimm stories, including the grim part…
Best for: 8 to 10
“Inside the world of humans is the world of imagination, and the only way you can get there is through the door of your mind.” In this very imaginative children’s book, the second in a series, we journey with the main character, a young girl, into the world where stories live…
Theme: Power of Imagination
Best for: 8 to 12
“The power of the imagination is a magnificent thing. Here, whatever you can imagine, you can make real.” If you ever wished to have a children’s book which is fun yet compelling page-turner, this is good place to start…
Theme: Math Riddle
Best for: 5 to 8
“Aziza learned all there was to know. But her favorite subject was numbers. And her favorite game was riddles.” This is a simple and enjoyable way to present numbers and riddles to young children who are already showing signs up interest in numbers.
Theme: Self-confidence, Dragons
Best for: 8 to 12
“It was Vasilisa’s doll that did all the cleaning, dusting and laundry at night while Vasilisa slept in her room here. A couple of times, I tried to stay up long enough to catch the doll at it…” Dolls that clean houses, a dragon that lives in the basement, and a school for humans and magicals… a perfect recipe for delight.
Theme: Be Yourself
Best for: 6 to 9
“Blue Jay Girl had a good family who loved her, and a little dog of her own. He was called Kiyu. Until now, her life had always pleased her. But today she was the very saddest girl in the village.” This small children’s book is a great addition to Native American folk literature. It reads like an oral story that has been converted to a children’s book.
Best for: 11 and up
“To make a tomahawk for your son, you needed the stone blade, and the wooden shaft, and time. In my father’s day, there was still time…” I couldn’t put this historical fiction book down. From start to sad ending, the trauma of the battle for land in early America is a compelling read…
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.