Published: 1950
Theme: Overcoming Handicaps
Best for: 5th grade and up, classroom/home school

“…he would learn all the ways of knighthood. He would learn how to be of service to his liege lord, how to be courteous and gentle, and at the same time, strong of heart.” This Newberry Medal winner is a well-crafted historical fiction children’s book set in medieval England, complete with knights, plagues, and cloistered monks…

Published: 1990
Theme: Survival, Resilience
Best for: Classroom use, Home School, grade 5 and up

“Everyone in our tribe had two names, the real one which was secret and seldom used, and one which was common, for if people use your secret name, it becomes worn out and loses it’s magic.” This work of historical fiction, about a young girl left alone on an island, chronicles the ways she managed to survive..

Published: 1961
Theme: Wisdom
Best for: 10 and up
Five Stars

“Of course there are a few of us whose feet never reach the ground no matter how old we get, but I suppose it’s the same in every family.” This timeless classic is so filled with humor and wisdom that each reading makes it feel new. A must-have…

Published: 1923
Theme: The Unseen World
Best for: All ages

“The Being passed very near her mountaintop, moving slowly, as to unheard holy music. But as he passed, he turned his face and looked down at Gentian, standing still and small on the mountain top. She …was lost in awe.” This unusual book defies categories. It isn’t fantasy, the way most people understand fantasy. The closest word I can use to describe it is mystical. There is something very true about the book…

Published: 1942
Theme: Independence
Best for: 5- 8

“In front of the boxcar, a pretty little brook ran over the rock, with a waterfall in it.” The book leaped off the shelf when I was in the library, and the title sounded so familiar, that I had to take it home and read it. However, I read it before I even got home…

Published: 1960
Theme: Friendship
Best for: 8-10

Here’s a delightful children’s book that is just plain fun to read. The imagination delights in the possibility of a cat, a mouse, and a cricket, all good friends, living in the subway of New York City. It is as if we are totally in their world, and it is a wondrous one…

Published: 1942
Theme: Adventures of Childhood
Best for :9-12

The four children’s books of The Melendy Quartet: The Saturdays, The Four-Story Mistake, Then There Were Five and A Spiderweb for Two, are a wonderful and timeless collection. The children of the family are folks you’d definitely like to meet…

First Published 1910
Theme: Resilience
Best for: ages 9 – 12
Five Star

“Of course, there must be lots of Magic in the world, but people don’t know what it is like or how to make it. Perhaps the beginning is just to say nice things are going to happen until you make them happen.” The power of nature to heal, the power of friendship to encourage, and the power of determination all combine in this classic…

Published 1908
Theme: Friendship
Best for: Any Age
Five Stars

“At last over the rim of the waiting earth, the moon lifted with slow majesty till it swung clear of the horizon and rode off, free of moorings…”The lyrical nature of the writing alone would be enough to rave about the book. But that’s just the beginning…

Published 1979
Theme: Fantasy
Best for: Boys age 11-12

Almost written like a classic morality play, this amazing children’s book weaves a message about selfishness and pride without ever appearing terribly heavy-handed. The fantasy elements of the story, a boy finding himself in a story being written as he appears in it, brings the reader far away from the real world.

Published 1973
Best for: 12 years and up
Theme: Fantasy
Five stars

After reading A Wind in the Door, I understand why the fantasy genre in a children’s book is so addicting. With skillful writing, such as L’Engle brings, you lose all sense of what is possible and what is not possible, or, as the teacher says in this book, What is real?…

by Arthur Ransome first published 1930. Imagine reading an exciting children’s book where perhaps many of the terms don’t make any sense, but it doesn’t matter in the least. As I follow the children’s adventures on their sailboats on a lake, I’m right there, even if I don’t know starboard from — what is the opposite? The adventures, and the well developed characters of the children and others is so entrancing, that details don’t really get in the way…

Published 1988
Theme: Animal Intelligence
Best for: ages 6 and up
Five Stars

“Mrs. Jane Tabby could not explain why all four of her children had wings.”In four small children’s books, Ursula Le Guin has created a very endearing set of cat characters with personality, adventure, and wisdom. This set of stories…

by E. B. White, published 1945. “Very good advice, Albert, but advice and law are not the same. Law is much more solemn than advice. Law is extremely solemn. Anybody else thing of a law for the world?”It’s not hard to believe that E. B. White started as a contributor of humor to the New Yorker. His writing style even in his children’s books is filled with that New Yorker sly humor that makes you chuckle. That’s for the adults. For the children, he’s just downright silly and gets away with it in great style. Stuart Little is a smiling, chuckling book all the way to the unexpected end. A great piece of writing by an iconic writer…

Published 1955
Theme: Imagination
Best for: Under 11

The series of five children’s books by Norton, beginning with The Borrowers, and continuing with the Borrowers Afield, Aloft, Afloat, Avenged…, are in a group by themselves. The imagination that Norton brings to the tales of these little people that live in houses, off the the lost items of humans, is so creative, that it seems like it must be true…

by E. B. White, published 1970. What could be more fantastical than a swan who can’t make his trumpeting sounds and so carries a trumpet. This wonderful image seems to real because E. B. White makes it so. The wonderful descriptions of nature, the lovely relationship between the boy Sam and the swan, and the feeling of life in the wild all create such a vivid experience that one forgets that perhaps a swan carrying a trumpet is make-believe..

by Frances Hodgson Burnett, first published 1905. “Perhaps there is a language which is not made of words and everything in the world understands it.” A Little Princess is one the best children’s books I’ve read so far. It turns out I’m not alone in my assessment, as it continually rates in the top 100 lists among teachers, education associations, and others. Illustrating through example the power of kindness and good thoughts, this book is a masterpiece…

first published 1957

“When he was about two years old, and had been a Cat About Town for some time, glorious in conquests, but rather too thin for comfort, the Fur Person decided that it was time he settled down.”When a friend loaned me this book by May Sarton, my first reaction was “I didn’t know Sarton wrote children’s books.” After reading it, my first thought was, “Is this really just for children?” as I loved it as an adult, especially a cat-loving adult. However, there is no doubt that it does meet the needs of children…

by Arthur Ransome, first published 1931. No author of children’s books gives children’s imagination the place of honor in the same way that Arthur Ransome does. Throughout the entire book, we live within the imaginative world that the four children (and their two friends) have created for themselves…