Published: 2012
Theme: Kindness and Friendship
Best for: 7 to 9

“The little girl peered out of the carriage and saw two bears lumbering quickly ahead, pulling the carriage through patches of twisting trees and over hills dotted with early blooms.” This book weaves the magical and unreality together in a way that you begin to feel you are reading an old-fashioned fairy tale, which in some ways it is.

Published: 2003
Theme: Survival
Best for: 9 and up

“Until now, except for occasional gut-wrenching pangs of homesickness and loneliness, I had by and large managed to keep my spirits up. But not anymore. My beacon stayed obstinately damp.” I was immediately struck with the clarity, simplicity, and beauty of the writing, and wondered how the tale would unfold…

Published: 2009
Theme: Norse Myth
Best for: 9 to 10

“He clambered onto the bear’s back, holding his crutch with his left hand and clutching the bear’s fur with his right. The bear stood up slowly, making sure the boy was on, then set off at a fast lope…” It’s wonderful to see contemporary authors make good use of imagination and the wealth of possibilities from the Norse stories…

Published: 1955, republished 1960
Theme: Fairy and Other Tales
Best for: 7 to 12

“The Goldfish stopped jumping, because his joy had been damped by doubt. “How can the world be more than I can see?’ he asked the Ship. ‘If I am really in the world, I ought to be able to see it all…'” Each tale in this children’s book is a literary work, complete with sometimes difficult language, almost always a moral, and something to think about…

Published: 2012
Theme: Healing Relationships
Best for: 10 and up

“I felt like I was speaking a part in some out-of-date play. Who in the world calls their grandmother “Grandmother?” But “Grandma” didn’t seem to fit.” This children’s book is about relationships – between parents, children, grandparents, and friends, showing the way that misunderstandings can create distance, and communication can create love and warmth.

Published: 2006
Theme: Adventure
Best for: 11 and up

“This adventure really began on early spring morning when I was fourteen years old. I remember it all so clearly, from the moment I stepped out into the still dark yard and went to unlock the stable door.” Written like a page out of the Celtic past, the adventures of two young lads searching for their dad on a lost island is exquisitely crafted…

Published: 1996
Theme: Curiosity
Best for: 5 to 8

“Once upon a time there was a bat–a little light brown bat, the color of coffee with cream in it. He looked like a furry mouse with wings.” This poetic little fable about animals, and one bat in particular, will be a sweet bedtime story.

Published: 2000
Theme: Easy Reader Bedtime
Best for: 5 to 8

“Once there were three little dragons. They lived in a dark cave. The cave was in a dense forest. The forest was in a faraway kingdom. The poor little dragons were very lonely in their deep dark cave.” A must-have, read-aloud bedtime story that’s perfect for every child…

Published: 2005
Theme: Norse Myth
Best for: 8 to 11

“I had never been in the Great Hall of Asgard before. Even from outside, it was the most amazing building I had ever seen, vaster and grander than I could have imagined possible…” This children’s book is very easy to get through, and would make a nice complement to the third graders after they work with the original Norse myth…

Published: 1939
Theme: Historical Fiction Biography
Best for: 8 – 11

“All of these ill-informed scribblers seemed astonished at Ben’s great fund of information, at his brilliant decisions, at his seeming knowledge of all that went on about him. I could have told them, It was ME.” A biography like this is perhaps the best way to bring history to children without bringing tears of boredom..

Published: 2012
Theme: WWII- Japanese Internment
Best for: ages 10 to 12

“Gila River was where I would turn thirteen, and live with my mama and my sister, while waiting for my papa to be brought bak from Fort Lincoln, North Dakota, where the FBI had sent him…” This historical fiction children’s book adds yet another new piece of history and humanness to the story of the internment of Japanese citizens after Pearl Harbor was attacked.

Published: 1989
Theme: Heroism
Best for: 10 – 13

“…The dream for you all, young and old, must be to create an ideal of human decency, and not a narrow-minded and prejudiced one. That is the great gift our country hungers for…” This children’s book is first and foremost about the courage of ordinary people to do the right thing, even in the worst of times…

Published: 2011
Theme: Greek and Roman Myths
Best for: 9- 12

“Humans have always loved telling stories, and to use them we tell words. Sometimes, however, the words themselves have stories to tell.” This children’s book is a delightful collection of brief stories from Greek and Roman mythology to illustrate the origin of common words and phrases in our vocabulary,

Published: 2016
Theme: Learning Something New
Best for: 6 to 9

“My name is Juana. It is spelled J-u-a-n-a, and it is pronounced Who-Ah-Nah…Bogota is where I am. And where school is and where Mami and my abuelos and Lucas are…” This perfect multi-cultural children’s book introduces us to Juana, who needs to learn English for her trip to the USA, and resists it.

Published: 2016
Theme: Adventure and Chinese Tales
Best for: 8 to 12

“When it is time for you to do something, you will do it..Amah’s words echoed, untying and smoothing the knotted string of Pinmei’s voice. She took a deep breath, and, with a whisper, she started the story.” “Storytellers can make time disappear…” and with this wonderful children’s book, the readers can lose themselves in a magical past…

Published: 2008
Theme: Wildlife in Africa
Best for: 6 to 9

“They came to a halt beside the hut… It had been made out of tree branches and the trunks of saplings, all tied together with twine and then poked firmly into the ground.” The small first chapter book is set in the bush in Africa, and gives wonderful images of African children, wildlife, and insights into baboon behavior.

Published: 2013
Theme: Animal Rights
Best for: 9 to 12

“It was not an easy journey. The yetis had to be sealed up inside the lorry until nighttime, when they found a deserted place to stop and they could come out and stretch their legs and get some air.” This children’s book, perhaps one of Ibbotson’s last, takes on animal hunting directly, making it an abominable thing to do!

Published: 1976
Theme: Native American tragedy
Best for: 12 and up

“Misson Santa Barbara, where the Padres were taking us, was near the Island of the Blue Dolphins…Perhaps if I went there, I could find one who would help me reach the island and bring Karana back.” A wonderful work of historical fiction, this children’s book is a sequel to Island of Blue Dolphins, and also offers a chilling look at the treatment of Native Americans by missions.

Published: 2016
Theme: Children, Poets, and Dogs
Best for: 7 to 10

“I’m a dog. I should tell you that right away. But I grew up with words. A poet named Sylvan found me at the shelter and took me home. He laid down a red rug for me by the fire…” Prepare to have your heart strings plucked by master storyteller MacLachlan, as a dog and two children comfort each other.

Published: 1987
Theme: Historical Fiction
Best for: 9 – 12

“The title ‘Joint Reign’ is a foolishment and emphasizes what I have always contended: that men are more fortunate than women. Joint reign! It is I who inspects, examines, weighs and wrings her brain …” Coming on the heels of an historic election, it is interesting to go back in history and understand more about the obstacles women faced hundreds of years ago.

Published: 2011
Theme: Graphic Novel- Ramayana
Best for: 9 and up

“War, in some ways, is merciful to men. It makes them heroes if they are the victors. If they are vanquished, they do not live to see their homes taken, their wives widowed. But if you are a woman, you must live through defeat…” No matter how you categorize this children’s book, it is a wonderful addition to the re-telling of the Ramayana, from Sita’s point of view.

Published: 2014
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.

Published: 2016
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.