Published 1972
Theme: WWII refugee
Best for: 9 and up

“Next morning before school Anna ran into Papa’s room to see him. The desk was tidy. The bed was neatly made. Papa had gone.” Neither overly melodramatic nor depressing, this is an excellent look at the life of a WWII Jewish refugee family…

Published: English: 2018 (original: 1945)
Theme: Imaginative Tale
Best for: 6 to 9

“At first Moominmamma was frightened too, but then she said soothingly: “It’s really a very little creature. Wait, and I’ll shine a light on it. Everything looks worse in the dark, you know.” This is wonderful way to be introduced to the family of Moomintrolls, since it is the story where they first came to life…

Published in English: 2003
Theme: Courage and Loyalty
Best for: 8 to 10

“Do the stars care if you play for them?” I wondered. I asked Nonno and he said he believed they did. So we sat around the fire, took out our flutes and played a little song for the stars.” This is a classic fantasy children’s book, one that easily transcends time and place.

Published: 1977
Theme: Creating Home
Best for: 6 and up

“The cave was full of chattering animals who’d been lucky enough to find this haven. There were several mice that Abel and Amanda knew, and a family of toads they had once met at a carnival.” In this classic Steig children’s book, we meet a mouse who learns the value of home while being stranded on an island, and surviving very well.

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: 1982
Theme: Overcoming Bullies
Best for: 8 to 10

“Dreams,” he said, “is very mysterious things. They is floating around in the air like little wispy bubbles. And all the time they is searching for sleeping people.” If you are in need of a cheerful happy ending story, as a children’s book BFG is perfect…

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: 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: 1967
Theme: Faery
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’…

Published: 1998
Theme: Fantasy
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.

Published: 1975
Theme: Loyalties
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.

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: 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: 1975
Theme: Historical Fiction
Best for: 12 to 14

“Why, people ask, why did Leonardo da Vinci choose to paint the portrait of the second wife of an unimportant Florentine merchant when dukes and duchesses all over Italy and the King of France as well, were all begging for a portrait by his hand? Why, they ask, why?” This is quite a lovely way to introduce older children to the world of Leonardo da Vinci, and his painting of the Mona Lisa, and history of the Renaissance.

Published: 1972
Theme: Cultural Survival
Best for: 9 and up

“Miyax pushed back the hood of her sealskin parka and looked at the Arctic sun. It was a yellow disk in a lime-green sky; the colors of six o’clock in the evening and the time when the wolves awoke.” Part of the fifth grade Waldorf curriculum, this authentic story allows a glimpse into a world where people were one with wild nature.

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: 1976
Theme: Myths and Magic
Best for: 9 and up

“Something was coming, Peter knew it, and he was pretty sure he was going to be involved in it. Against his skin the Key felt hot. There was no vibration as yet but… Peter was afraid and yet he couldn’t take it off.. he was drawn to it.” This is a challenging book to read, but it is worth putting the effort in, as it takes us into the myths and magic of the Welsh people, traveling back in time, and merging with the present…

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: 1956
Theme: Survival, War
Best for: ages 9 and up

“The family pig, the three ducklings, and the little stone mill to grind the rice for the baby sister– these they have saved from the mud house of the family of Tien…Besides these they had saved absolutely nothing, except Beauty-of-the-Republic, Tien Pao’s baby sister.” It’s never easy to read a story about war, even if it’s packaged in a children’s book. Yet there’s no denying that it is important to help children understand just how difficult war can be.

Published: 1942
Theme: Imagination
Best for: 5 to 8

“Why not use what you already have: your own i-ma-gi-na-tion? It can do any kind of magic – anywhere-at any time. All you have to do is use it.” From the very opening, where the author kindly addresses the reader, I knew I was in the hands of a master writer…

Published: 1959
Theme: Magic of Goodness
Best for: ages 9 and up

“Just ’cause magic never happened to you, it doesn’t meant it isn’t lurking around still, waiting to turn up when you least expect it!” With an unusual turn from Eager’s other magic books, like Half Magic, this children’s book puts magic squarely in the realm of human activity…

Published: 1948, republished 1998
Theme: Imagination, Kindness
Best for: 5 to 8

“He’s got a long tail and yellow and blue stripes. His horn and eyes and the bottoms of his feet are bright red, and he has gold-colored wings.” This children’s book is all about imagination, with a capital I. Just trying to picture the vividly-colored dragon takes all of my imaginative skills! There’s nothing scary about this book…

Published: 1949
Theme: Dragons
Best for: ages 9 and up

“The next day the dragon moved to the neighboring village of Quercetum… He ate not only sheep and cows and one or two persons of tender age, but he ate the parson too. Rather rashly the parson had sought to dissuade him from his evil ways.” I was delighted to come across a 50th anniversary edition of this short and funny children’s book by Tolkien. It’s a terrific and funny dragon tale…

Published: 1958
Theme: Early Reader
Best for: 5 to 8

“If you can count,” said the big, hungry alligator, “maybe you will count my teeth. I have always wanted someone to count my teeth. I will open my mouth wide. Then you two can get in and count all my teeth. All the way to the back of my mouth.” In this easy reader, a young girl has the ideal way to deal with her two young cousins who are pinching, and fighting, and biting. Tell a tale about crocodiles…

Published: 1961
Theme: Early Reader Book
Best for: 5 to 8

“One spring day, when Mother Bear was little, she found a baby robin in the garden. A baby robin, too little to fly. “Oh how sweet you are,” she said, “Where did you come from?” “From my nest,” said the robin…” When a child can pick up a children’s book and read it on their own, it’s as big as learning to ride a bike. The “I Can Read” series is perfect for new readers…

Published: 1911
Theme: Animal Myths
Best for: 3 to 5

“Danny Meadow Mouse sat in his doorway and looked down the Lone Little Path across the Green Meadows. Way, way over near the Smiling Pool he could see Old Mother West Wind’s Children, the Merry Little Breezes, at play.” Here’s a must-have children’s book for Waldorf parents of young children (3 to 5). Perfect short bed-time stories, this classic collection unfolds little stories about why the mouse has a short tale, or why the chipmunk has pockets in his cheeks…

Published: 1964
Theme: Overcoming Bullies
Best for: 8 and up

The Pushcart War started on the afternoon of March 15, 1998, when a truck ran down a pushcart belonging to a flower peddler. Daffodils were scattered all over the street. The pushcart was flattened, and the owner of the pushcart was pitched headfirst into a pickle barrel. The theme of standing up to bullies comes in a NYC setting of pushcarts versus trucks, with humor all the way through.