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The 100 best-ever children’s books, as chosen by our readers

From the magic of Beatrix Potter to Malorie Blackman's game-changing dystopias, we asked you to share the stories that inspired your love of reading as a child.

A picture of several different children's books on a pink to blue ombre background; each book has a bright yellow shadow

18.  Elmer by David McKee (1968)

We said:  A nursery favourite featuring a wonderful elephant of many colours. Elmer and all his differences have subtly taught generations of children that it's ok to be different. 

You said:  It teaches us to be ourselves and embrace our quirks. 

thosedarkpages, Instagram

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Where to start with Terry Pratchett’s books

46. Further Doings of Milly-Molly-Mandy  by Joyce Lankester Brisley (1932)

We said:  Venture to the quaintest nooks of rural England with Millicent Margaret Amanda (or Milly-Molly-Mandy, for short), always on a fun escapade in that notorious pink-and-white striped dress.

You said:  I loved M-M-M, the tales of the haberdashery shop and making a tea cosy from bits of the family’s old clothes and the booby prize of a little white rabbit. Simple and evocative of a bygone age.

NichollsTanya, Twitter

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67.  Lulu and the Flying Babies by Posy Simmonds  (1988)

We said : Who wouldn’t feel slightly put-out that their new, younger sibling is getting all the fuss? And that instead of playing in the park, Lulu has to walk around a museum because her little brother is cold. Boring! But then Lulu is whisked away by two cherubs on a magical adventure through the museum which turns out, isn’t so dull after all.

You said:   Lulu and the Flying Babies  mainly because Lulu was chubby and nosey, which gets her into trouble. It reminded me of myself!

Stacey Wing, Facebook

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The best books to gift your grandchildren

93.  Lord of the Flies by William Golding  (1954)

We said:  When a group of boys become stranded on an island, a line is drawn between order and chaos, relating to many of today's problems with unstable governments. Golding's popular novel has been adapted into two films, one in 1963 and 1990.

You said: It was published the same year I was born. I actually thought it was real, it wasn't, was it? It's pretty damn close now that I have aged a bit and am maybe a tad wiser. 

MCR_Author, Twitter

Books ranked in no particular order. Some answers edited for clarity and style.

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30 Best Story Books For Kids

by mumslittleexplorers · February 8, 2023

Looking for children’s story books? Here we have put together a list of 30 of the best story books for kids that your children are sure to fall in love with. These fun children’s books are some of my family favs and some we have been reading for years. They make great bedtime stories for kids too!

Best Story Books for Kids

Reading Children’s Story Books

Reading story books is one of the best things you can do with your kids, whether it be kids story books or even kids magazines . Finding the right books is so important. There is such a huge range of children’s story books that it is easy to feel overwhelmed.

Here we have put together a huge list of the best story books for kids. It includes the most popular kids story books of today along with some of the classics that never get old.

Make sure to check out our other lists too:

  • Best board books for babies and toddlers
  • Best book sets for kids of all ages

30 Story Books for Kids

Our favourite story books for kids from toddlers to pre-schoolers.

1. We’re Going On A Bear Hunt

Author: Michael Rosen

To kick of our list of the top story books for kids we start with a classic. The story follows a group of brothers and sisters as they traverse the landscape in search of a bear.

There are obstacles in their way and they need to overcome them but what happens when they stumble upon the exact thing they’re looking for?

Find it online: Amazon AU — Amazon US

2. The Snowy Day

Author: Ezra Keats

Originally written in 1962, The Snowy Day hasn’t lost its appeal over the years. This is a wonderful story book for kids about the innocence and wonder of young children. The book tells the tale of a little boy called Peter who experiences snow for the very first time.

3. Goodnight Tiger

Author: Timothy Knapman

A great bedtime story for kids, Goodnight Tiger starts as the tale of a little girl trying to sleep. It quickly turns into her trying to help her animal friends sleep though. This is an adorable, easy to follow picture book for kids that is paired with some great brightly coloured illustrations.

4. Claris: The Chicest Mouse In Paris

Author: Megan Hess

A fun rhyming tale and dreamy illustrations make the Claris series an absolute must story book for kids and youngsters. This series tells the tale of quite possibly the chicest mouse in the world. Claris is brave, stylish and about to follow her dream of moving to Paris but she must use all of her talents to overcome some obstacles when she gets there.

5. Wombat Stew

Author: K Vaughan, Marcia

An Australian classic if ever there was one. Wombat Stew has been loved by generations and the quirky little rhyme is easy to remember for even really young kids. This story of the wily fox and much loved wombat is an absolute must in any Australian house with little ones.

6. Possum Magic

Author: Mem Fox

Another classic Australian story, not only featuring adorable possums but also full of quintessential Aussie food and locations. Take a trip around Australia with Grandma Poss as she tries to break her magic spell and make Little Hush visible again.

Find online: Amazon AU — Amazon US

7. Monkey Puzzle

Author: Julia Donaldson

Little Monkey has lost his mummy and butterfly wants to help but it doesn’t quite end up being so simple. Monkey puzzle is a heartwarming story that parents will love reading with their kids about Little monkey’s journey through the rainforest to find his way back to mum.

8. The Tiger Who came To Tea

Author: Judith Kerr

Published over 50 years ago, this classic children’s story book has been loved by millions around the world. Sophie has an unexpected guest at tea time who proceeds to eat and drink everything he can find in the house. It’s a beautiful story that has truly stood the test of time.

Everybody has a special talent, some are just slightly harder to find. Read the story of Zog the clumsy dragon as he tries to earn himself a gold star. If you have girls, the sequel “Zog and The Flying Doctors” is another great read to show that girls can be anything they want to be!

10. Room On The Broom

Another Julia Donaldson classic story book for kids that is full of beautiful illustrations, fun characters and an entertaining rhyming story that little ones will love. Follow the witch and her trusty cat as they fly around on her magic broomstick and discover some new friends along the way.

11. The Day The Crayons Quit

Author: Drew Daywalt

This is a truly quirky and creative little story book for kids about a boy, called Duncan, who goes to use his crayons, only to find that they have all quit! Each crayon has its own reason for leaving but how will Duncan resolve things? This book is funny, clever and has great illustrations as well. 

12. The Snail And The Whale

Yet another beautifully illustrated and wonderfully told story from Julia Donaldson. Follow the snail as he befriends a whale and takes a trip around the world. Along the way, he’ll find that even small things can make a huge difference. It’s a great story about not being afraid to follow your dreams.

13. Hairy Maclary From Donaldson’s Dairy

Author: Lynly Dodd

Hairy Maclary is a wonderful series and where better to start than the very beginning?! Full of wonderful characters that are sure to amuse youngsters. These rhyming stories are a joy to read for kids and adults alike.

14. Welcome To Country

Author: Aunty Joy Murphy

A wonderful Welcome To Country from a respected elder that is also beautifully illustrated by a talented indigenous artist. This book would make a wonderful addition to any young readers library, not just as a bedtime read but also as a way to help little ones respect Australian culture.

15. The Gruffalo

Probably the most well known of all Julia Donaldson’s story books for kids, The Gruffalo is loved by kids the world over. Follow the mouse into the deep dark wood and enjoy discovering how he outwits everyone along the way.

16. Thelma The Unicorn

Author: Aaron Blabey

Thelma dreams of being someone else but, when her dream finally comes true, it’s not quite what she imagined it would be. This isn’t just a funny and enjoyable read for little ones, it can also be a gentle way to encourage self acceptance in little ones. Plus the illustrations are great!

17. The Wonderful Things You Will Be

Author: Emily Winfield Martin

A heartwarming kids story book for any parent to read to their little one as a positive story of encouragement and love. Teach children to wonder at all the possibilities that face them with this adorable picture book coupled with whimsical illustrations.

18. The Invisible String

Author: Patrice Karst

A reassuring and beautiful kids story book about how we are connected to the people we love. The Invisible String isn’t just a wonderful story for little ones but it’s also a great tool for parents if they have a child who struggles with separation anxiety. The book has been updated with new illustrations that are colourful and sure to be a hit.

19. Luna Lucy

Author: Lisa Van Der Wielen

A great kids story about Lucy and her dog Neptune who love to look up at the night sky and wonder about all the things it holds. But, one day the moon is not there and she calls for her dad who explains to her about the phases of the moon. Not just a lovely story but also an easy way to teach little ones something new.

20. Pig The Pug

A funny story about a pug dog who is cranky, selfish and greedy. He doesn’t want to share his toys with his friend but soon something leads him to have a change of heart. Kids will love this humorous tale with great illustrations and simple wording.

21. Where The Wild Things Are

Author: Maurice Sendak

A classic story book for kids that many will remember from their own childhood! This is a tale about a boy who acts “wild” and upon being sent to bed early, goes on an adventure to find where the wild ones live. It’s a much loved tale that is brilliantly illustrated and easy to follow.

22. The Very Cranky Bear

Author: Nick Bland

A wonderful story about four animal friends who try to escape the rain and inadvertently end up disturbing a very cranky bear. This rhyming tale follows along as they try to placate the bear. But who will save the day? It might not be who you think!

23. If I Had A Unicorn

Author: Gabby Dawnay

This book is part of the “If I Had….” series and is sure to be a winner with any unicorn enthusiasts. The story follows a little girl who imagines what life would be like with a unicorn for a pet and all the fun things they would do. It’s sure to get a few laughs from kids and parents alike.

24. The Deep

Author: Tim Winton

Whether you’re just looking for a great story or a book to help your little one be more confident in the water, Tim Winton’s The Deep is sure to deliver. It’s a tale about a little girl who is afraid of the deep and what lies under the surface. One day she makes some new friends though and suddenly it doesn’t seem so scary all of a sudden.

25. Mr Huff

Author: Anna Walker

An inspiring story about how we all have good and bad days and a great way to explain mental health to kids in a simplistic way. Mr Huff takes a very adult topic and dilutes it down in an easy to digest way for kids to make a wonderful tale of Bill turning his day around.

26. Grinny Granny Donkey

Author: Craig Smith

A great kids story to share a few laughs with your little ones or a cute book for grandparents to read to the kids. Grinny Granny Donkey is a funny character who is always losing her false teeth and gives great hugs!

27. Macca The Alpaca

Author: Matt Cosgrove

The Macca the Alpaca set is actually a collection of four story books for kids, each as funny and enjoyable as the next. They teach lessons such as the importance of being kind and looking for alternatives but more than that, they are just great stories that kids will love!

28. The Wonky Donkey

Part song, part rhyme, part story book – kids will love turning the page to discover the next funny thing about the donkey in this hilarious book. Written in a way that’s sure to make you stumble over your words, little ones are bound to be in fits of giggles by the end.

29. Back To Sleep

Author: Zoe Foster Blake

A funny bedtime story for kids that flips the usual tale on its head. Finn just wants to go to bed but his parents can’t fall asleep and keep disturbing him for drinks of water, in need of reassurance and more. Follow along as Finn helps one parent just to be woken a few minutes later by the other. The book is relatable for just about any family and kids and adults are both sure to have a giggle at this silly story.

30. Who Sank The Boat

Author: Pamela Allen

This kids story book has been around for generations and still brings plenty of joy to little books. Read along and try to figure out which of the animals sunk the boat and ruined a perfectly good day. Was it the cow? The donkey? The sheep with her knitting? Surely it couldn’t have been the tiny mouse?

More Children’s Books

Hopefully this list of popular story books for kids has given you some ideas for family reading and bedtime stories. Make sure to check out our other lists of books and other educational resources too:

  • Best Magazine subscriptions for kids
  • Popular nursery rhymes
  • Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes
  • Tongue Twisters for kids

Follow Mum’s Little Explorers on  Facebook  for more inspiration!

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Imagination Soup

60 Best Children’s Books of Fairy Tales for Kids

This post may contain affiliate links.

If you’re looking for the best children’s books of fairy tales for kids, find what you need on this big list of wonderful picture books , chapter books , and middle grade books of popular fairy tales for children; magical stories that are filled with humor, suspense, magic, and adventure.

From classic fairy tales from authors such as The Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson to new and original fairy tale books, you can introduce gentle versions of the stories to young children in kid-friendly versions for all ages. And, when they’re ready, you might read the original stories — which, if they’re Brother’s Grimm, are often more distressing and not meant for young children. 

fairy tales for kids

Best Fairy Tales for Preschoolers

  • Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs  by Mo Willems
  • Izmelda The Fairest Dragon of Them All!  by Joan Marr
  • Goldilocks and the Three Bears and the 33 Bears and the Bliim and the Furniture and Lots More  by Allan Ahlberg
  • Red  by Jed Alexander
  • The Tossy-Turny Princess and the Pesky Pea: A Fairy Tale to Help You Fall Asleep  by Susan Verde
  • Who’s the Grossest of them All?  by Susan McElroy Montanari
  • Fairy Tales for Mr. Barker  by Jessica Ahlberg
  • Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas  by Natasha Yim

I think that fairy tales for kids are so important because they develop a child’s imagination and teach important life lessons. (The original fairy tales especially.) Here’s a list of fairy tales, some original and retold, and some updated, and some modified.

And whether you’re reading Hansel and Gretel, Rumpelstiltskin, the Little Mermaid, or The Emperor’s New Clothes, consider how fairy tales were originally used as cautionary tales — not just for entertainment!

Best Children's Books of Fairy Tales for Kids

Best Fairy Tales

For middle grade boys and girls ages 9 to 12.

  • The Land of Stories   by Chris Colfer
  • A Tale of Dark and Grimm   by Adam Gidwitz
  • Snow & Rose  by Emily Winfield Martin 
  • Rapunzel’s Revenge  by Shannon Hale & Dale Hale (graphic novel)
  • Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy  by Karen Foxlee
  • Baba Yaga’s Assistant  by Marika McCoola

Discuss what the stories might be trying to teach kids. Does Goldilocks teach kids not to go into a stranger’s house uninvited? Then, see how they compare to Aesop’s Fables or traditional folktales , also meant to  teach life lessons . For extra fun, see if you can write your own fairytales!

Many picture book channels read aloud fairy tale books  online on YouTube . You can watch those for free. 

I’ve organized the lists into two age group sections to help you find books for the right age group of children. And just remember, the picture books listed aren’t the scary fairy tales that you sometimes find in books for elementary and middle school readers! Finally, I read more newly published books every month and update this list accordingly.

Happy reading!

  • Picture Books (Ages 2 – 8)
  • Chapter Books (Ages 6 – 12)

Fairy Tales for Kids

Picture books.

f is for fairy tale -- fairy tales for kids

F is for Fairy Tale  by Greg Paprocki Starting with A for adventurous, this beautiful alphabet board book features castles, dragons , jewels, a unicorn , and more, with an  alphabet  of  fairy tale  scenes featuring kids, mythical creatures , and animals for each letter all the way to ZZZZZzzzzz.

BUY ON AMAZON BUY ON BOOKSHOP

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BUY ON AMAZON

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B.Bear and Lolly Catch That Cookie! by A.A. Livingston, illustrated by Joey Chou Best friends, B. Bear and Lolly, are having trouble with their Porridge Perfector inventio n when the Gingerbread Mantips it over and runs away. So Lolly and B. Bear decide to catch the Gingerbread Man themselves. Will your kids love this fairy tale story?

fairy tales for kids

Very Little Cinderella by Heapy & Heap Little Cinderella is a cutie pie who speaks in baby talk and throws tantrums. Her fairy godmother helps her get dressed for the dance. This little Cinderella wears her favorite blue dress and yellow boots (“yello”) and goes on her big blue scooter. A charming new telling of this familiar fairy tale!

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The Baddies by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler This story is about Baddies who like being bad and the little girl who doesn’t let them win. These three Baddies have a contest to see who is the worst of them all. Their goal is to steal a little girl’s hanky. The troll tries to scare the girl, but she’s not scared. The witch’s spell doesn’t work either. And the ghost gets a bedtime story. After their failures, the girl shares her hanky with a mouse who asks for help keeping her mouse babies warm. The frustrated Baddies move away forever.

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Who’s the Grossest of them All?  by Susan McElroy Montanari, illustrated by Jake Parker Goblin sets off through the forest so others can fully appreciate his horribleness. But when he comes to Troll’s bridge, Troll insists that HE is the most horrible creature in the forest. They decide to ask someone else to judge and ask several villagers, including Little Red Riding Hood. Who, as it turns out, is grosser than either Goblin or Troll. (Because of boogers–eew!)

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The Princess Who Had No Kingdom  by Ursula Jones, illustrated by Sarah Gibb Try a new   fairy tale  story about a  determined, beautiful, and intelligent princess  who makes her life excellent despite having no kingdom. And I adore, adore, adore Sarah Gibb’s art! Her illustrations are truly amazing.

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Fairy Tales for Mr. Barker by Jessica Ahlberg (A Peek-Through Story) Just as Lucy sits down to read fairy tales to her dog, Mr. Barker, he takes off. She follows him through the fairy tales and meets Goldilocks, Sleeping Beauty, Jack, the Giant, and more. This is a delightful romp through many classic fairy tale worlds!

Huge List of the Most Wonderful Fairy Tales Books for Children

The Princess and the Giant  by Caryl Hart, illustrated by Sarah Warburton Princess Sophie lives next to a magic beanstalk with a VERY noisy giant  who is so loud he keeps Sophie awake all night. So, brave Sophie is determined to figure out the giants and how to help the giant and fix the problem. Sophie’s a great problem solver and befriends the lonely giant.

fairy tales. forkids

Let’s Tell a Story! Fairy Tale Adventure  by Lily Murray, illustrated by Wesley Robins Pick the  story elements  and craft your own fairy tale stories… Choose something on each page (using the pictures) and invent millions of different stories. Do you want to be a prince, a troll, a princess, a black cat? Then make more choices until you get to the end of your dangerous adventure. 

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Ra Pu Zel and the Stinky Tofu written by Ying Chang Compestine, illustrated by Crystal Kung Ra Pu Zel lives in ancient China. After too much criticism from adults, Pu Zel shuts herself in a tall tower with her dog Bao, getting food via her long braid. Nothing will entice her out of her tower so her father, the emperor, declares that the first person to persuade Pu Zel to leave her tower will have his marriage blessing. Different princes try to lure her out, but they don’t succeed. Eventually, a young chef cooks stinky tofu below the tower, and Pu Zel rushes down to try a bite. She loves the stinky tofu and falls in love with the chef!

More Fairy Tales for Kids

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It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk  by Josh Funk, illustrated by Edwardian Taylor On every page, the narrator interrupts the story to boss Jack around.  Not only is Jack annoyed by the narrator, but he doesn’t like the story since he doesn’t want to be a thief and murderer.  His dialogue with the narrator will crack you up. Finally, Jack stops following the story at the giant’s house in the sky. He befriends the giant, makes him a taco salad, and goes to Cinderella’s house for a party. It’s the perfect updated version of Jack and the Beanstalk with a take-charge hero and curmudgeonly narrator. 

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Izmelda The Fairest Dragon of Them All!  by Joan Marr, illustrated by Lala Watkins Izmelda is a dragon who wants to meet a princess, so she finds one  — but Princess Penelope needs to hurry to get to her class because witches are chasing her. It’s taking forever because Izmelda talks Penelope’s ear off, and that’s when the witches arrive! In a surprising twist, the witches are not scary but loving. Kids will love the hilarious characters and playful fantasy story.

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Cinderella With Dogs!  by Linda Bailey, illustrated by Freya Hartas  I love this unexpected Cinderella remix with  a Fairy Dogmother who is ready to give  Cinderella  a dog-ish makeover ! In this story, Cinderella gets a gown made of an old dog blanket, hair like a poodle, and booties on her feet. She runs to the ball, howling, and meets the prince and his dog-loving family. After the dance, she declines the prince’s marriage proposal and suggests they chase squirrels together.

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The Elves and the Shoemaker (My First Fairy Tales)  adapted by Mara Alperin, illustrated by Erica-Jane Waters Pastel colors and cheerful illustrations make this fairy tale come alive for young readers. Stan and Jan can’t understand why their shoe business is fading. Nor can they figure out who is making such beautiful shoes that help them get more customers. When they see who is helping them, Stan and Jan repay the elves with elf-sized clothing.

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The Cat, the Dog, Little Red, The Exploding Eggs, the Wolf, and Grandma  by Diane and Christyan Fox Absolutely hilarious!  Cat begins to read the story of Little Red Riding Hood to Dog  but she doesn’t get far before Dog starts to interrupt with his ever-so-interesting thoughts about what might happen next… “ How does she fight crime, then? Does she have a cool kind of flying gadget basket? Are they exploding eggs? ” 

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Little Red Riding Hood  illustrated by Ed Bryan I think you’ll applaud this updated short version of Little Red. B ecause Red is the one who  saves herself , not a woodsman, and makes the wolf run far, far away. Go, Red! The illustrations feel fresh and modern, making this picture book an excellent choice for younger readers.

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Sleeping Beauty  by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Erin McGuire Rylant’s version of Sleeping Beauty includes the bigger concept of time, which I really love since fairy tales for kids are meant to explore big concepts.  This is a gentle retelling with serene illustrations.

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Greatest Magical Stories  by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by various This collection of fairy tale stories is like fairy tale’s greatest hits — with stories like Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella as well as some lesser-known stories such as Yoshi the Stonecutter and Tom Thumb. I like that the stories are readable for beginning readers. Speaking of illustrations, each story is illustrated by someone different, which adds bonus depth and uniqueness to each. 

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Little Red Riding Hood and the Dragon  by Ying Chang Compestine, illustrated by Joy Ang Little Red and her grandmother get swallowed by a dragon! But Little Red thinks of antics to do inside the dragon’s stomach like kung-fu and the yo-yo to get the dragon to gag them up. A fun retelling of a famous fairy tale for kids set near China’s Great Wall.

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The Most Wonderful Thing in the World  by Vivian French, illustrated by Angela Barrett The king and queen agree that to win their daughter’s hand in marriage, the suitor must show them the most wonderful thing in the world.  As the suitors all fail with their attempts (jewels, airplane, mermaid) the princess, Lucia, explores the city with a man named Salvatore. Little by little the two fall in love. And Salvatore tells the majesties what he knows is the most wonderful thing in the world — Lucia.

Fairy Tales for Kids in Chapter Books and Middle Grade Books

This list of fairy tale chapter books and middle grade books contains my favorite choices for reading. The writing is compelling, the stories are enchanting, and you won’t want to stop reading!

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Once Upon a Gorjuss Time Six Classic Tales to Dream By by Santoro Beautiful illustrations and evocative descriptions capture the original  classic fairy tales for kids each Gorjuss shares with us: Little Red, The Little Mermaid, Snow White, Alice, Thumbelina, and Rapunzel. She comments before each story and reflects after each one, also. 

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Whatever After  by Sarah Mlynowski   (ages 6 – 8) series Once upon a time, a regular girl and her brother accidentally fall into a fairy tale story.  And mess it all up. Whoops. We love all these funny mixed-up fairy tales for kids ages 6 to 9!

Join other teachers, parents, librarians, and grandparents who receive my newsletter of book reviews and learning resources.

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Of Giants and Ice  by Shelby Bach (ages 6 – 9) series Rory finds out that her new after-school club, Ever After School, is a fairy tale training school for characters.  In fact, on her first day she fights a real dragon! We learn that all the kids will be assigned their own character in a familiar tale – and the chance to prove themselves. It’s also the beginning of acceptance for Rory – finding friends for the first time and learning about herself. Love it. (First in the series.)

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The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer (series)  ages 8 – 12 Fairy tales come alive when Alex and Conner (brother and sister) find themselves in the fairy tale book given to them by their grandmother (who happens to be THE fairy godmother). Their only way home is for them to find the fairy tale ingredients for a Wishing Spell that will hopefully help them return to their regular home. Finding these artifacts will be dangerous, mysterious, and life-changing. Each book in this series mesmerizes readers with adventure, plot twists, and mystery .

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The Fairytale Detectives (The Sisters Grimm) by Michael Buckley (series)  ages 8 – 12 Sabrina and Daphne move in with their Grandmother Grimm and learn that they and their grandmother are fairy tale detectives for the town which is filled with fairy tale people called Everafters. You’ll see meet a LOT of fairy tale characters in this magical town.  The Sisters Grimm series is suspenseful with lots of secrets, mysteries , magic, and adventure.

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Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel (Tyme #1) by Megan Morrison (series)  ages 8 – 12 Rapunzel is happy living in her castle with everything she needs since Witch takes good care of her. But her life gets confusing and complicated when she follows Jack to the ground, meets fairies who hate the Witch, and visits the Woodmother to save her own life. Could Witch be what they all say? Rapunzel is very confused.

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Storybound by Marissa Burt (series) ages 8 – 12 Una falls into the land of stories of heroes and  villains , but something is very wrong. No new stories are being written. So how did she get written in, and who is she? We read this for a bedtime read aloud book , and my kids and I looked forward to it every night.

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Baba Yaga’s Assistant  by Marika McCoola, illustrated by Emily Carroll  ages 8 – 12 Courageous and adventurous Masha knows Baba Yaga from her grandmother’s stories. After her grandmother dies and her father remarries, Masha decides to become Baba Yaga’s assistant. To pass Baba Yaga’s tests, Masha uses her wits and the stories from her grandmother. She thinks she will fail when she rescues three children from Baba Yaga’s cage but she passes. Excellent storytelling and illustrations kept me enthralled in this not-your-average-fairy tale story.

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Princess of the Wild Swans  by Diane Mahler ages 10+ I loved this middle grade fairy tale story. Princess Meriel’s father marries a witch in disguise who turns Meriel’s brothers into swans. Spoiled Meriel must work for once in her life, weaving nettles into shirts to save her brothers. It’s based on the Hans Christian Anderson story,  The Wild Swans .

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Bluebeard  by Metaphrog Beginning in a small village shadowed by Bluebeard’s castle, this is a richly illustrated graphic retelling of a classic, macabre fairy tale by Charles Perrault.  When Bluebeard invites the starving villagers to his country home, he takes Eve as his wife and imprisons her with magic. The authors skillfully build suspense with every page, which is realized when Eve discovers a terrifying secret room filled with Bluebeard’s dead previous wives and buckets of blood. With the help of her sister and her childhood love, Tom, Eve defeats Bluebird at long last.

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Snow White: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan ages 10+ I adore this reimagined graphic Snow White set in New York City in the 20s. Snow White’s dad is a Wall Street king, her stepmother is a Zigfield Follies star, and her seven small protectors are street kids. It’s SO interesting how Phelan uses this historical setting to animate a familiar fairy tale. The black and white illustrations set the tone for this dark story with a happy ending.

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Melissa Taylor, MA, is the creator of Imagination Soup. She's a mother, former teacher & literacy trainer, and freelance education writer. She writes Imagination Soup and freelances for publications online and in print, including Penguin Random House's Brightly website, USA Today Health, Adobe Education, Colorado Parent, and Parenting. She is passionate about matching kids with books that they'll love.

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100 Classic Children's Books To Spark Young Imaginations

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Blog – Posted on Friday, May 22

100 classic children's books to spark young imaginations.

100 Classic Children's Books To Spark Young Imaginations

They say childhood unfolds mostly inside our heads, forever remembered as a unique and formative time. And if that’s true, wouldn’t we want every child’s imagination to be a space populated by friendly animals, formidable warriors, and the sheer sense of possibility?

Reading the books on this list isn’t just a ticket to a universe of boundless potential; it is also a way to connect little readers to enduring characters and magical stories that have touched generations. Share these tales with the children in your life, and you may even find yourself a little nostalgic for your own childhood!

Without further ado, here’s our definitive list of timeless favorites and incredible reads that are guaranteed to spark young readers’ imaginations.

If you're feeling overwhelmed by the number of great children's books to read, you can also take our 30-second quiz below to narrow it down quickly and get a personalized children's book recommendation 😉

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Picture Books

1. guess how much i love you by sam mcbratney and anita jeram.

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Starting us off on a sweet note is a little tale that will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside. Even without directly saying that the two Nutbrown Hares in the story are father and son, Guess How Much I Love You beautifully demonstrates familial love through its tender dialogue and lively illustrations. Not to mention that Little Nutbrown Hare’s creative ways of expressing his affection are sure to resonate with every imaginative child! 

2. Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees

Gerald the Giraffe is impressively tall, but that comes at a cost: his gangly form stands in the way of his dancing along with the other animals. To help prove the title Giraffes Can’t Dance wrong, a friendly cricket appears just as Gerald is about to give up and imparts this nugget of wisdom: “Sometimes when you’re different, you just need a different song.” As young readers watch Gerald embrace his unique melody, they’re reminded in this children's book about diversity that they, too, can chase even the wildest dreams. 

3. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Sendak’s unusual drawing style may have been ill-received in his early career, but it later became lauded for its ability to capture the untamed wanderings of young minds. And nowhere is this more potent than in his best-known book: after Max has been sent to his bedroom without dinner due to his “wild” behavior, Where the Wild Things Are takes him on an adventure in his own room. But while Max can sail down the river and into the mysterious jungle of his mind as much as he likes to, he never loses complete sight of home. When he needs something imagination can’t provide — like a hot supper waiting for him outside his door — his parents will always be there for him. 

4. If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff

Other than offering adorable (yet realistically messy) illustrations of what it's like to have kids around, If You Give a Pig a Pancake also carries an important message: it’s never too early to get children thinking from a different perspective. As Pig’s demands leap from pancakes to bubble baths, this domestic adventure shows children how silly and ridiculous their random requests might appear to those who look after them. 

5. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd

Goodnight Moon features a soothing bedtime ritual of a young bunny who wishes goodnight to the world. From the bears in the picture frame to the comb on the nightstand, every inanimate object comes to life just so they can send the bunny into slumber. This cozy little picture book is the perfect bedtime story to carry children into their dreams. 

6. Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold

Upon Tar Beach ’s pages of colorful and childlike illustrations float the youthful hopes and dreams of a young girl. From her family’s humble abode — whose rooftop she optimistically calls “tar beach” — she dreams of flying over the glimmering New York skyline and cherishing all the good things the city has to offer. Ringgold balances the nuances of a struggling home life with the irresistible ideas of gliding through the night sky, drawing children into the storyworld and nudging them to think deeper about their own world at the same time. 

7. The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr

This whimsical tale of a tiger who crashes little Sophie’s tea party has been adapted for the theater and for the television screen time and again. The narrative itself is simple: a friendly but hungry tiger rings Sophie’s doorbell just as she and her mother are about to settle down for afternoon tea. They decide to welcome him in, and watch in wonder as he happily enjoys their snacks. It’s a strange setup for adults, but for children, this odd little tale is exactly what their wild imaginations crave. 

8. No Matter What by Debi Gliori

Get ready for another story about parents’ unconditional love for their children. In the snuggly setting of their home, Small comes up with all sorts of scenarios in which Large, his parent, might not love him anymore. He sees himself turn into a ginormous bug, a crocodile, a grizzly bear — but like the title No Matter What sums up, Large will love him regardless of what he becomes. 

9. Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox and Julie Vivas

Wilfrid Gordon lives by an old people’s home, and he forges a particularly close friendship with Nancy, who’s losing her memory. In discovering the many forms that memories can take for each person, Wilfrid gathers up an array of his own mementos — things in which he found happiness and sadness — to help Nancy recover some of her memories. Adorably told and dreamily illustrated, as if the whole book itself is a flashback, Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge captures the fresh mindset of youth, and inspires children and adults to think beyond themselves. 

10. Elmer by David McKee

Elmer is a patchwork elephant whose personality is as vibrant as his skin. While his personality and physical differences often make him the life of the party, Elmer wonders what it’s like to be like the rest of his herd for once. As he figures out a way to tone down his colors, Elmer realizes the importance of his individuality, thereby reminding young readers that they don’t have to change for anyone. 

11. Five Minutes’ Peace by Jill Murphy

Meet another elephant family in Five Minutes’ Peace . Mrs. Large tells her elephant children to take care of themselves so that she can have just five minutes to herself. Turns out, in a house with three elephant children, just five peaceful minutes is a tall order. This perfect portrayal of the continuous buzz of a young family will leave kids giggling at the spitting image (so to speak) of themselves on the pages. 

12. Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers

Not every book to spark imagination has to be other-worldly, as Oliver’s Jeffers’ Here We Are would show you. Jeffers gives an all-round review of what children will encounter on this planet as they mature — going from demonstrating Earth’s place in space to sketching human’s place in nature. He shows them that life is wondrous enough as is, and as they grow up, it’s important to continue approaching the world with care and kindness. There’s a reminder that even adults can benefit from!

13. Zog by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheppler

Zog the dragon has the aspiration that all parents wish their children had: he wants to be the best student at his school. Unfortunately, he’s not blessed with natural grace, and he clumsily stumbles around class trying to earn a star from his teacher. Zog is funny, endearing, and highly imaginative, and makes striving to be a good student an entertaining journey (contrary to popular belief). 

14. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The collage illustration style of this title alone makes it a classic. The jagged pieces of colored paper come together to tell the story of a caterpillar’s metamorphosis. As our caterpillar crawls through the holes in the book, he grows larger and eventually cocoons himself in preparation for his transformation. For many children throughout generations, The Very Hungry Caterpillar has been, and continues to be, how they start to learn about nature and its miraculous processes. 

15. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

Did you grow up in a household that had drawings on the wall? Many parents try to keep this from happening, but most children feel the opposite, so the story of Harold and the Purple Crayon will resonate with us all in different ways. Harold might only have one color at his disposal, but that doesn’t mean that his doodles are limited: he can go on walks in the moonlight and meet dragons and hungry moose. To Harold, there’s nothing from his imagination that he can’t bring to life. 

16. Olivia by Ian Falconer

Who says children’s books can’t be minimalist? Olivia traces the wandering thoughts of Olivia, the household name for young porcine characters before Peppa Pig came along, through simplistic pictures mainly in black-and-white. Those simple design choices act as the perfect background for Olivia’s interests — from fashion to painting — to pop out and draw the readers’ eyes. 

17. Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman and Caroline Binch

Grace is indeed amazing — she’s unafraid to transform herself into just about any character in her favorite stories, from Joan of Arc to Aladdin. But when a school audition comes for the role of Peter Pan and Grace nominates herself, her friends discourage her from going after the part. Luckily, the story’s far from over: Amazing Grace goes on to encourage children to dream far and wide, reshaping themselves without worrying about what other people think. 

18. Clifford, the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell

Emily Elizabeth has a big red dog called Clifford. Beyond having a coat of fur that can be seen from miles away, Clifford is also gigantic . It might seem odd at first, but through the animated drawings of this picture book , Bridwell shows that Clifford is just like any other pet — a loyal, trustworthy, and perhaps a little mischievous friend who will always have their child’s back. 

19. Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff

Speaking of giant friends, Danny has a friend so large he struggles to go outside and play. Danny and the Dinosaur follows the two characters’ day out after their chance encounter at the museum (and isn’t that every child’s dream?). Danny shows the Dinosaur his world, and the Dinosaur tries to help people out as much as possible. The 1950s style is gloriously nostalgic, and the story itself never ceases to entertain. 

20. The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds 

We often think of creativity as some sort of innate ability, rather than something that we work toward. The Dot turns this notion upside down by telling the story of young Vashti’s artistic journey. She begins having little faith in her abilities, but her teacher encourages her to just start somewhere, even with only a dot. When Vashti sees this dot framed on the wall of her teacher’s office, it lights a fire within her and she begins to strive for something better. Eventually, Vashti becomes a great artist and even inspires others who initially doubted their abilities. 

21. The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn, Ruth E. Harper, and Nancy M. Leak

Even the most outgoing boys and girls have days where they just want to stay home with their parents rather than go to school. They’ll see themselves in Chester, a little raccoon who’s reluctant to leave home. When he confesses this to his mother, she kisses his hand and tells him that whenever he misses home, Chester can raise his hand to his cheek and feel the love she has for him lingering there. The Kissing Hand helps us remember that sometimes, all we need for our minds to conjure are realistic and comforting images of home.

22. The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak

Defying all expectations you might have made based on its name, The Book With No Pictures is absolutely the volume to pick up if you want to grab children’s attention. In place of lively images is the conversational tone and hilarious text, which offers kooky directions — one of which requires the reader to state that he’s a robot monkey who taught himself how to read. With or without pictures, there's no book that better embodies an active imagination than this one.

23. The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss

Any list of classic children’s books that doesn’t mention Dr. Seuss is incomplete. So many of his books have become indelible parts of kids’ childhood, and The Cat in the Hat is possibly the most notable among them. If you haven’t already, follow Sally and Conrad’s home adventure with a mysterious and mischievous Cat in his big red-and-white hat! It’s the classic story of children wreaking havoc while their parents are away, before scrambling to fix everything just in time to innocently welcome them back. 

24. Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy by Lynley Dodd

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy has everything you need in a children’s book: spirited illustrations of fuzzy, lovable pets and fun-to-read rhythmic verses. Turning the usual stereotype on its head, the story features a gang of dogs running away from a rugged cat. The story may be simple, but Dodd’s strength lies in the vivacious word pictures that she paints. 

25. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw

Get ready to be dazzled by the intricate drawings and heartwarming story of Love You Forever , which follows the life of a mother and her son who grows up from being a baby to becoming a father himself. Through every stage of his life, whether or not she approves of what he does, at the end of the day, she’ll always hold him and remind him that she loves him. The tearjerker lines come at the end of the book where the mother grows old: now, her son holds her instead. 

26. The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas and Helen Oxenbury

We’ve all heard of the Big Bad Wolf, but have you read The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig ? Beyond inverting the roles of the characters, this charming retelling of the well-known tale also changes up the houses they build — the Wolves, with the help of various other animals, end up surviving the Pig’s wrath by building a den out of flowers. The fragrant blooms remind the Pig of a powerful lesson: that life is about enjoying little pleasant things, rather than sabotaging others.

27. Corduroy by Don Freeman 

Corduroy is about the titular teddy bear in a department store. A young girl’s mother refuses to let her buy Corduroy and bring him home because they don’t have the money — and, more importantly, because he’s missing a button on his overalls. So Corduroy decides to find the missing button himself. In the night, he roams the department store, ducking the security guard in the hopes of one day getting a friend and a home. Little does he know, a happy ending is in store: the girl is coming back for him whether he has that button or not. 

28. Winnie and Wilbur series by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul

Since the publication of the first title in 1987, Winnie and Wilbur has been entertaining children endlessly with its silly stories and vibrant illustrations. Winnie is a witch in the most stereotypical sense of the word: pointy-nosed, wiry-haired, and she wears a pointed cap. But far from being evil, Winnie’s whimsical nature takes her on an array of misadventures with Wilbur, her loyal pet cat. 

29. The Story of Babar by Jean de Brunhoff

Babar is another little elephant children can’t help but love. The Story of Babar is, however, more somber than the other adorable animal tales we’ve seen so far. After his mother is killed by hunters, Babar flees to the city to start a new life. But even amidst the urban glamor, Babar misses his home and family in the jungle. When he decides to return, he receives a heartwarming surprise that the kingdom of his childhood still waits for him. 

30. Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry

What starts out as a simple introduction to life along a country track full of animals turns into much more: a story about kindness and teamwork. The titular character of Little Blue Truck sees a dump truck who got stuck in the mud and tries to help him, although his solo efforts only get them deeper into the muck. Thankfully, Blue has made plenty of friends on his way on the track, and they rally together to help the vehicles roll out of the mud. 

31. A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon

Worried about your children succumbing to peer pressure? Hopefully A Bad Case of Stripes will deter them. Meet Camilla Cream: a young girl who likes lima beans, but won’t eat them because her friends don’t like them. Yet as soon as she begins abstaining from lima beans, she begins to experience inexplicable symptoms — her skin develops multi-colored stripes, and then her body starts taking strange shapes. No doctor can diagnose or cure her, until an old lady gives her the miracle solution: some lima beans to eat. 

32. Eloise by Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight

Eloise lives in The Plaza Hotel in New York, but the fancy city setting doesn’t stop her from messing around. She seems to make her own rules as she goes around discovering the hidden corners of the Plaza, leaving her nanny trailing behind and trying to maintain order. Eloise might give children some dangerous ideas to wreak havoc in their own homes, but can also keep them seated for a while as they are drawn into her story and immerse themselves in her practical jokes. 

33. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

Even though the first edition was printed over a century ago, The Tale of Peter Rabbit remains a staple of children’s literature. This bestseller features the cutest, most endearing bunny you’ve ever seen — the hungry Peter Rabbit. Despite the warning from his mother, Peter enters the vegetable garden of Mr. McGregor to nibble on his goodies. Trouble comes when Peter overeats and is caught red-handed by the angry farmer, whom he now has to evade in order to return to his family.

34. Tuesday by David Wiesner 

Tuesday is an almost entirely wordless picture book about a regular Tuesday — that is, if your regular Tuesdays involve following a group of frogs flying around town on magical lily pads. This playful and atmospheric book takes children on an expedition to explore the nocturnal world, and leaves their imagination roaming by hinting at what’s to come next Tuesday night…

35. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig

William Steig’s Sylvester and the Magic Pebble tells the heartwarming tale of Sylvester, a young donkey with a great fondness for pebbles. One day, Sylvester finds a magic pebble which grants him any wish. Before he can make it home, though, a scary lion appears and shocks Sylvester into making an ill-advised wish. Now a modern classic, the sweet donkey’s emotional story reminds young readers of the importance of family and gratitude.

36. Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say 

Allen Say’s Grandfather’s Journey chronicles his grandfather’s lifelong journey, crossing the globe from Japan to California, in breath-taking watercolor paintings that will stay in children’s minds long after they close this book. It’s a well-crafted, thoughtful exploration of the experience and legacy of migration.

37. Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China by Ed Young

Lon Po Po tells the Chinese variant of the famous Little Red Riding Hood fairytale. In misty, haunting illustrations, readers are introduced to three fearless young girls who unwittingly let a wolf into their home, thinking that their grandmother has returned. In the face of danger, the girls band together in a dark twist that is guaranteed to surprise Western readers. 

38. Tomie dePaola’s Mother Goose by Tomie dePaola

A staple volume on any childhood shelf, Tomie dePaola’s Mother Goose is a collection of well-loved nursery rhymes. Featuring warm and colorful drawings of famous characters like Humpty Dumpty and Little Miss Muffet, this book promises plenty of joy for preschoolers — they won’t realize it now, but these sweet rhymes will linger in the back of their minds for many years to come.

39. The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton

The protagonist of this wholesome book is a little house that finds itself gradually surrounded by an ever-expanding city. While it remains unchanged, the house witnesses the appearan ce of cars, apartment blocks, and subways — all of which are fascinating, until the house finds itself longing for good old birdsong. First published in 1942, The Little House has been accompanying generation after generation as they grow up and experience changes in cities and in the countryside for themselves. 

40. The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth

The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth is based on a story by Leo Tolstoy — and, as this fact would suggest, it asks some pretty philosophical questions by picture book standards. But that’s not to say this beautifully illustrated book is in any way inaccessible. Muth’s young protagonist, Nikolai, learns a lot about living in the present, and readers of any age can glean a bit of wisdom from his wanderings.

41. Millions of Cats by Wanda Gág

Wanda Gág’s Millions of Cats is a classic, if ever there was one. Published in 1928, this is the oldest American picture book still in print, and it isn’t hard to see why! The tale focuses on an old and very lonely couple who decides to adopt a cat, but they soon find themselves spoiled for choice — there are hundreds of cats, thousands of cats, millions and billions and trillions of cats to choose from! 

For elementary readers

42. the lorax by dr. seuss.

Famous as Dr. Seuss’s favorite out of all his works , The Lorax is sadly even more relevant in the present day than it was at the time of its publicat ion in 1971. This colorful, unconventional book addresses the dangers of environmental destruction and warns against greed and consumerism in ways that simultaneously engage and inform children. 

43. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein

With A Light in the Attic , a collection of playful poetic shenanigans, Shel Silverstein will entertain y oung readers until the end of time. Whimsical and utterly wacky in the best possible way, this little book of rhymes will have children laughing in heartbeat. And topping it off are the cute illustrations!

44. Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile by Bernard Waber

Lyle is a happy New Yorker. He loves construction cranes, ice rinks, shopping malls, and especially the Victorian house on East 88th Street in which he lives with the Primm family. Lyle also happens to be a crocodile, a fact that his neighbor , Mr. Grumps, and his cat Loretta have trouble accepting. But Mr. Grumps and Loretta are wrong to judge others without knowing them, and Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile does a wonderful job of sending young readers this message. 

45. A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond and Peggy Fortnum

If you were to find a bear wearing a sign saying, “Please look after this bear” in London’s Paddington station, what would you do? Mr. and Mrs. Brown decide to do exactly what the sign says — they take the bear home and name him Paddington. So begin the adventures of A Bear Called Paddington , prompted by the mishaps and misunderstandings of his new life in Notting Hill.

46. Miss Nelson is Missing! by Harry Allard and James Marshall

A quirky classic published in 1977, Miss Nelson is Missing! is an amusing story featuring a very naught y class whose teacher, Miss Nelson, one day disappears . The children are now faced with the horrible substitute Miss Viola Swamp, who, among other abominable things, cancels story hour! Outraged and over-burdened with homework, the class of Room 207 sets out to find Miss Nelson, going as far as consulting the police in their desperate attempt to regain what they always had but never appreciated.

47. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince is an enigmatic little book for children and adults alike. The titular little prince leaves his tiny planet, on which rests his beloved rose, and journeys to several other planets, eventuall y reaching Earth. Somber, polite, and inquisitive, the prince’s curious travels and remarks make for a heartwarming and poignant tale.

48. Raggedy Ann Stories by Johnny Gruelle

Raggedy Ann reached the American public as a real doll in 1915, then made her appearance in a book in 1918. Ann has now been a moral companion to young childr en for over a hundred years, helping as they learn about life as well as entertaining them. The sweet and wise Raggedy Ann Stories will likely be revisited many times by readers as they grow up.

49. Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne

Thi s silly old bear needs no introdu ction — Winnie-the-Pooh has captured the hearts of many generations, and continues to be loved. Pooh’s adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood are hilarious, sweet, and thought-provoking. For all his silliness, Pooh gives young children a masterclass in friendship with his loyalty, kindness, and optimism. And besides, is it really possible not to empathize with a bear who’s always wondering what it will eat next?

50. Ramona series by Beverly Cleary

Few characters in children’s books have a personality as strong as Ramona Quimby’s, the star of Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series. Fearless, stubborn, intelligent, and creati ve, Ramona’s boundless energy radiates from the pages. Her antics as sh e progresses from kindergarten to elementary school promise a kind of entertainment that never gets old, as demonstrated by the undying popularity of the series.

51. Fairy Tales from Around the World by Andrew Lang and H.J. Ford

Once u pon a time, Scotsman Andrew Lan g compiled folk fairytales from around the world, edited them to make sure they were suitable for young audiences, and then published them as twelve canonical ‘fairy books.’ Fairy Tales from Around the World is a selection of these tales, lavishly illustrated and brimming with magic. We’ve all read the Western classics — now why not discover something new?

52. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White and Garth Williams

E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web is a tender tale of friendship and cooperation. It takes as protagonists Wilbur, a young piglet, and Charlotte, a spider, who live in the same barn. The two develop a strong bond as Wilbur’s life comes under threat and Charlotte tries to prevent this by making the farmers see his value. A heart-rending story that doesn’t shy away f rom the difficult concepts of loss and death, Charlotte’s Web will have a special place in lit tle readers’ hearts long after their first read.  

53. Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

If, in the darkness of a London night, you’ve glimpsed the little figures of children gliding through the air, above countless chimneys an d through the starry night, it’s likely you’ve witnessed Peter Pan, Wendy, and her two brothers on their way to Neverland. If not, you can still join these innocent and free-spirited children on their marvelous adventures with mermaids, pirates, and fairies in Peter Pan the novel, a timeless classic about childhood mischief and innocence.

54. Mary Poppins series by P. L. Travers

P. L. Travers’s Mary Poppins series — another famous classic set in the city of London — follows a nanny by the same name who possesses magical powers. Blown in by the East wind to No. 17 Cherry Tree Lane, Mary Poppins delights the five Banks children with several visits, all recounted in the series that inspired celebrated musical and movie adaptations.

55. Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne

In Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Treehouse series, Jack and Annie travel through time and space on special missions. It all starts on a day just li ke any other, when the two stumble upon a treehouse. Some of the volumes in this series t arget more advanced readers, while others are written for younger children, so there’s a book for everyone, no matter their age!

56. My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

You pro bably don’t need much convincing to pick up a book that features a dragon. And r ightly so, because Ruth Stiles Gannett’s My Father’s Dragon is a delightful story with fantastical elements to pull little readers right in. Elmer Elevator, the protagonist, is here to rescue the dragon — but first he must make his way past tigers, a rhino, and a lion, among other things.

57. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle

“It was a dark and stormy night.” So begins Madeleine L’Engle’s mind-blowing A Wrinkle in Time , a sci-fi adventure for children that many writers credit as the initial inspiration for their writing careers. Siblings Meg and Charles embark on a perilous journey through the cosmos in a n attempt to find their lost scientist father; on the way, they grapple with questions as large as the universe itself.

58. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a well-established classic that has been entertaining little readers with its nonsensical peculiarities since 1865. Dig into this wondrous novel and follow in Alice’s footsteps down a rabbit hole and away into a worl d of wonder, grinning Chesh ire cats, and “mad” tea parties.

59. Nicholas by René Goscinny

René Goscinny’s Nicholas (Le Petit Nicolas) is a hilarious fictional account of life as a child in 1950s France. Accompanied by illustrations from the creator of the famous comic Asté rix , the book details the many antics of the schoolyard and is populated by the distinct randomness of a mismatched set of classmates. These unruly children are sure to earn young children’s affection!

60. The Secret Seven series by Enid Blyton

The Secret Seven series follows a mystery-solving society of seven children: Janet, Jack, Peter, Colin, Barbara, Pam, and George. And let’s not forget their beloved and helpful Cocker Spaniel, Scamper! Privy to in-group passwords and exclusive treehouse meetings, the reader cannot help but relish the passionate secrecy the group maintains.

61. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

For over a hundred years, the story of orphan Mary Lennox and her new life with her uncle in his gloomy Yorkshire manor house has been enchanting little readers. Atmospheric and mysterious, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden is a beautiful and magical novel ab out finding human connec tion where you least expect it.

62. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

No adult is beyond the scrutiny of this Swedish pig-tailed redhead. Pippi may possess superhuman strength — but it’s her bold and completely unapologetic attitude that make her stand out! Astrid Lindgre n’s beloved Pippi Longstocking has achieved iconic status and been translated into more than forty languages. It’s just one of those books everyone needs to read.

63. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

A moving Canadian classic, Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables recounts the adventures of Anne, an orphan girl on Prince Edward Island. In this coming-of- age story, Anne makes a lot of mistakes but also does a lot of growing up, although she never loses her optimism and id ealism. For Anne, the world is a hopeful place, and it’s hard for this feeling not to rub off on her reader.

64. Matilda by Roald Dahl

We’ve all, at some point, stared hard at inanimate objects in an attempt to induce them to move, as did Matilda. A champion of nerds, Matilda is a voracious reader and mathematics whizz, who unfortunately attends a nightmare of an elementary school (with the exception of her sweet teacher, Miss Honey). Roald Dahl’s Matilda is a funny, deeply satisfying book that refuses to treat children as children, thereby providing a perspective that millions of readers appreciate.

65. D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths by Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire

Squabbling gods, vengeful goddesses, brave heroes, strange beasts — the magical, mythical world of ancient Greece has it all. D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths tells immersive stories that have endured since ancient times in a gorgeously illustrated tome following the adventures of deities and mortals alike.

66. The Secret Lake by Karen Inglis 

The Secret Lake follows siblings Stella and Tom, who are transported to their home as it was almost 100 years prior. What unfolds is a page-turning time-travel mystery that leaves readers wishing they could use time-warping themselves to read faster, desperate to know what happens next.

67. The Arrival by Shaun Tan 

The Arrival is a wordless graphic novel that requires no text to sweep you along on a father’s emigration journey. Each drawing is an exploration that evokes endless emotion; he struggles to adjust to his strange new home and feels sad and lost as an outsider. Eventually he begins to find solace in his adopted community, and the powerful images welcome us in along with him.

68. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

The Tale of Despereaux calls itself “the story of a mouse, a princess, some soup, and a spool of thread” — and it weaves a charming tale of how these unlikely things find themselves together. Little mouse Despereaux Tilling embarks on an epic adventure perfect for bedtime reading.

69. Samantha: An American Girl series by Maxine Rose Schur

Samantha Harrington is an orphan who lives with her grandmother on a wealthy estate in 1904 New York, and her lonely life gains sudden excitement when the impoverished Nellie moves in next door. In the Samantha: An American Girl series , readers are transported to a bustling turn-of-the-century household, exploring complicated themes of class differences and gender inequality while pursuing Samantha and Nellie on their rebellious revels.

70. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

The Westing Game is as playfully inventive as its title might imply. Sixteen strangers are invited to the reading of Samuel W. Westing’s will and compete for the chance to inherit his fortune. Soon, the game is afoot — sending you to piece together a thrillingly plotted and knotted puzzle of wordplay, disguise, and intrigue. 

71. Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin

The Village of Clear Sky is a peculiar place with no moon, and young Rendi seems to be the only one to notice how strange it is. The arrival of an enigmatic storyteller soon sweeps him away with the power of her words, and Starry River of the Sky unfurls as an enchanting reimagining of Chinese folktales with vibrantly colored illustrations.

72. The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards

Written by Julie Andrews Edwards — yes, that Julie Andrews — The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles is a fantastical account of four travelers’ pursuit of the curious creature that is the whangdoodle. Professor Savant and three children, Lindy, Tom, and Ben, venture to Whangdoodleland and this new destination explodes with wonder and whimsy.

For middle-grade readers 

73. how to train your dragon by cressida cowell.

The fantasy series that inspired the hit movies, How to Train Your Dragon follows young Viking Hiccup and his dragon Toothless as Hiccup begins his quest to become a hero . These endearing misfits prove their mettle as they soar through the sky and carry us away.

74. Nobody’s Boy by Hector Malot

This largely overlooked French novel (originally titled Sans Famille ) takes its readers on a journey through France along with the orphaned Remi, who becomes a street entertainer. Hector Malot's Nobody’s Boy is a fascinating, carefully-paced journey to the past that offers meaningful lessons about family, resilience, and friendship.

75. Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg 

You’ll never look at board games the same way. Jumanji is a jungle adventure game where anything encountered in the game soon comes to life — including hungry jungle beasts. The story is accompanied by surrealist pencil drawings by Van Allsberg that leap off the page. As the game warns, "Do not begin unless you intend to finish" — but you will have no trouble getting through this thriller.

76. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine is the Cinderella retelling that we all need. Stubborn, intelligent, and driven, Ella proves to be a princess for our times as she defies the “gift” of obedience she’s been awarded. Ella Ench ant ed is more than a sweet tale — it has a serious point to make, and it’s no coincidence that this novel is a massive success with young readers.

77. Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis’s enduring Chronicles of Narnia series follows an array of protagonists who are magically transported to the fantastical realm of Narnia, where they encounter the strange creatures that live there and are called to adventure by the lion Aslan. These masterfully told stories capture the wonder of escaping to new worlds and stepping into fabulous histories.

78. The Witches by Roald Dahl

Imagine you're a young boy training your pet mice in a hotel ballroom, only to discover you're sharing the room with an annual conference of witches on the hunt for children. That’s exactly the position the protagonist of Roald Dahl’s dark tale The Witches finds himself in — but to find out how he gets out of it, if he does at all, you’ll have to read this topsy-turvy book!

79. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Everything about Milo’s life feels woefully dull. That is, until a tollbooth arrives in his room with no explanation. Driving through The Phantom Tollbooth , Milo finds himself in a strange place of loopy logic where language and arithmetic butt heads and he can’t seem to find Rhyme or Reason. Milo’s bizarre ride of wit and wordplay forever shatters any claim that life is boring.

80. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg

Claudia isn’t running away from home with her brother Jamie — she’s running to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. But they soon realize their hiding place is home to more than just paintings and statues. Featuring two young amateur sleuths who uncover all of kinds of secrets and mysteries, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is a work of art in itself.

81. Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz

Doesn’t everyone, at some point or another, dream of being a teenage spy? Fourteen-year-old Alex Rider does not have much of a choice when he is recruited into espionage by M16. But over the course of the Alex Rider series , as he learns to vex villains and navigate webs of intrigue, Alex soon becomes one of Britain’s most brilliant secret agents. James Bond who?

82. The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini

Comprised of four novels set in the fictional kingdom of Alagaësia, The Inheritance Cycle is a saga of the teenage Eragon’s quest to depose the evil King Galbatorix. With the help of his dragon Saphira, Eragon blazes a fiery path to heroism. These novels may be hefty, but they’re still impossible to put down.

83. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

In Little Women , the four March sisters seem to live in their own little world. Alcott brings these characters to life in all their charisma and complexity, making us feel like part of the family (or at least wishing we were). The text richly evokes its Civil War-era setting and makes pointed commentary on the period’s society and politics. Still, its tale of sisterhood and female self-determination is timeless.

84. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Bilbo Baggin is a humble hobbit who just wants to stay safe and comfortable at home… but the wizard Gandalf has other plans. The Hobbit is a fantastical exploration as this reluctant hero is whisked away on a search for treasure. Bilbo strays far from home, and so does the reader who traverses this mythical landscape alongside him.

85. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

The Harry Potter series requires no introduction: the enormously popular saga of the Boy Who Lived is a household name and pure magic. Rowling’s wizarding world has cast a spell on readers of all ages still eagerly awaiting their Hogwarts acceptance letter and imagining what house they would be sorted into. The lengthy novels are jam-packed with unforgettable characters and magical mythology, and readers will fly through them faster than Harry’s Thunderbolt.

86. The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

The impeccably-named Bastian Balthazar Bux is bullied and neglected, leading him to seek solace in books. Soon, he escapes into the world of The Neverending Story , which draws him into the fabled realm of Fantasia. What unfolds is an entrancing metafictional fantasy about an ordinary boy on a soul-searching journey and the imaginative power of reading.

87. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling 

Kipling’s collection of classic stories, The Jungle Book centers on the wild adventures of “man-cub” Mowgli who’s raised in the jungle by wolves. Filled with colorful animal characters like Baloo the bear, Shere Khan the tiger, and Bagheera the panther, the tales are an immersive exploration into the thrills and perils of the jungle and of growing up.

88. Redwall by Brian Jacques

The peaceful mice of Redwall are under siege from an army of rats — and they are willing to do anything to defend themselves and their friends. The series is filled with courageous creatures and inventive language, and the epic battles between good and evil erupt in excitement and bittersweet emotion with every clash of swords. 

89. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Journey down the Mississippi River along The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn , an unforgettable chronicle of boyhood adventure and self-discovery. The novel grapples with serious topics like the evils of slavery and what it means to be “civilized,” and its sharp ear for dialogue and richly wrought characters make Huck Finn’s voice one that you can’t get out of your head.

90. The Giver by Lois Lowry 

In the dystopian novel The Giver, 12-year-old Jonas lives in what he initially thinks to be a utopia: a community where Sameness prevails to eradicate difference and pain. Everything changes when he becomes the next Receiver of Memory, inheriting all of humanity’s emotion and history before Sameness came into effect. The Giver is a powerful account of the dangers of conformity and the imperative of seeing things differently.

91. Holes by Louis Sachar 

Stanley Yelnats IV is 14 and cursed. He’s been sent to the juvenile detention center Camp Green Lake in the middle of the Texas desert for a crime he didn’t commit, all because of his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing great-great-grandfather. Louis Sachar’s blisteringly funny Holes weaves together past and present, and Stanley and his fellow delinquents soon find themselves digging deep into hidden history and the secrets under the dried-up lake.

92. Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter

The name Pollyanna has become synonymous with enduring optimism, and this story of a young orphan who is sent to live with her spinster aunt is endlessly cheery and endearing. Pollyanna has an almost magical effect on everyone she encounters and charms us all with her bright outlook.

93. Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner 

Set in 1880s Sydney, Seven Little Australians recounts the mischievous exploits of the seven Woolcot children. They constantly play pranks on their stern father and young stepmother, and you can always count on them to be up to no good.

94. Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene

The Nancy Drew character has evolved over the course of decades and a lengthy series of books and ghostwriters, but has always remained America’s most enterprising young sleuth. There’s always another mystery to get to the bottom of, and nobody is better at unravelling the intrigues of the everyday than Nancy Drew.

95. The Hardy Boys series by Franklin W. Dixon

Like their counterpart Nancy Drew, Frank and Joe are teenage amateur detectives able to outwit even the most conniving criminals, and discover the truth in cases that left adults stumped. At this point, there are hundreds of The Hardy Boys mysteries to choose from, so there will never be a shortage of small-town intrigue.

96. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Nobody “Bod” Owens is just like the rest of us. Except he lives in a graveyard. And was raised by ghosts. Equal parts haunting and hilarious, Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book is an eerie exploration of mystery, murder, phantoms, and family.

97. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Munchkins, witches, flying monkeys, magic slippers: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has it all. Dorothy’s path along the yellow brick road to the Emerald City, accompanied by her much-loved companions the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion, is a timeless journey of friendship and finding yourself far from home. It is, as the title suggests, absolutely wonderful.

98. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

The Mysterious Benedict Society is formed by four gifted children who are enlisted on a mission to investigate L.I.V.E. (Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened). These whip-smart kids struggle to solve the puzzle of L.I.V.E.’s true intentions, and their unveiling of secrets and government conspiracies makes for an intense and intelligent thriller.

99. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Lemony Snicket’s thirteen-part A Series of Unfortunate Events tells the woeful saga of the three orphaned Baudelaire children, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, and Count Olaf’s evil machinations to get his hands on their family fortune. Each darkly comedic installment adds a new twist to the misery of the Baudelaires, and there’s nothing more unfortunate about the series than not reading it. 

100. The War of the Worlds by H G Wells

In The War of the Worlds , Martians crash-land in the English countryside. Soon enough, they start zapping people with heat rays and battling the British army, and the country descends into chaos. Wells’ science fiction masterpiece is an exhilarating clash of worlds as the human species fights for its survival.

Looking for more books to spark children’s curiosity? Check out our list of 60 Best Fantasy Books for Kids!

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Short Stories for Children

Please enjoy these great stories, fairy-tales, fables, and nursery rhymes for children. They help kids learn to read and make excellent bedtime stories! We have hundreds of great children's stories for you to share.

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Personalised Nursery Rhymes Book

Personalised Nursery Rhymes Book

Magic Name Book Personalised Story for Children

My Magic Name Book

Christening Gift Book Of blessing Personalised Book

A Special Christening Gift

Goodnight Bedtime Story Book Personalised Story

Goodnight Bedtime Story Book

Personalised Fun Book, Where Are You, Search And Find Yourself

Where's Name Book

Welcome To The World Personalised Book

Welcome To The World Book

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Personalised children's books are our passion. We love writing them, illustrating them, and above all we love reading your reviews letting us know how much you like giving them away as gifts to friends and family. Read More

Nursery Rhymes And Poems Book Personalised

Our Spectacular Personalised Nursery Rhymes & Poems Book

Extra rhyming verses have been created adding your child's name.

Each Book is packed full of Beautiful Personalised Illustrations.

My Magic Name Personalised Story Book for Children Aged 0-8 Years

Our Magical 'My Magic Name' Personalised Story Book

A unique story based on the letters from a child's name.

Shorter names have extra stories so every book is packed full of magic.

Modern Christening Gift Book of Blessings Personalised for Baby

Our Personalised Christening or Baptism Gift Book of Blessings

A very special keepsake for a child's christening or baptism Day.

A Personalised book about everyday moments that make life so special.

Personalised Goodnight Sweet Dreams Bedtime Story Book

Our Personalised Goodnight Sweet Dreams Bedtime Story Book

A book especially made for a child's bedtime.

Help a child settle down to sleep with a goodnight story book

Personalised Search & Find Teddy Book

Where Are You, Search And Find Personalised Book For Kids

A spectacular search and find book Starring Them!

Add their name, Skin Tone and they'll be transported inside the book.

Welcome To The World Personalised Book for Baby and New Parents

Welcome To The World Personalised Book for New Parents

A heart-warming book especially made for new parents & Baby.

Discover what this magical world has in store!

1st Birthday Gift Book Of Nursery Rhymes Personalised

A Special Customised First Birthday Gift Book For Baby

A personalised book of traditional nursery rhymes

Help send them off to sleep with this wonderful keepsake.

Modern Christening Gift Book of Blessings Personalised for Baby

Our Fabulous Custom Lullabies and Nursery Rhymes Book

Personalised Lullabies and Classic Nursery Rhymes

Different Rhymes to our other book and with personalised lullabies.

Personalised I love you lots book for children for ages 0-5 years

Our Special Personalised Love You Lots Book for Children

Add 1-10 family members inside. They will feature within the rhymes.

Each rhyme describes why the child is so special. Clever illustrations.

Personalised Prayers and Blessings Book for Children

Our Personalised Prayers and Blessings Book for Children

A very special book of daily blessings for children.

A personalised book of child friendly prayers that show why life is so special to us all.

Personalised Christening Gift Book of Nursery Rhymes

Personalised Christening Keepsake Gift Book of Nursery Rhymes

30 traditional nursery rhymes with a matching hand-drawn illustration.

Customise with Child's Name, Christening Date and Personal Message

Modern Christening Gift Book of Blessings Personalised for Baby

Personalised Christening or Baptism Book of Nursery Rhymes

Customise with Child's Name, Occasion Date and Personal Message

Modern Christening Gift Book of Blessings Personalised for Baby

Customise with the Child's Name, Christening / Baptism Date and Personal Message

Modern Christening Gift Book of Blessings Personalised for Baby

Our Personalised Christening / Baptism Gift Book of Nursery Rhymes

Customise with Child's Name, Christening / Baptism Date and Personal Message

Personalised Christmas Story Book for Children

Our Fabulous Personalised Christmas Story Book for Children

Every child's name creates an unique rhyming christmas story., even short names have extra stories so every book is packed full of magic., what others are saying, holly, bedfordshire.

"We purchased this book for my cousins little boys christening. They absolutely loved it. It's very well made, has beautiful illustrations and we could add a personal message inside the book, we added the date of the christening so it can be remembered for years to come. Would recommend the hardback as that's what we got and its looks amazing. A superb keepsake gift. Thanks"

Katie, Holloway

"I have bought this item for my husband for Valentine's Day to read to our son (something he loves doing each night) and I just know he's going to love it! The beginning of the book has a lovely personalised message for him too. Very happy and would most certainly recommend. Lovely gift for a birthday or christening. Very special item, very good service."

Mrs Jenkins, Carlisle

"I was over the moon to receive the personalised story book in super quick time and it's absolutely perfect. Lovely quality and the story created by my little boys name (each letter of the alphabet has its own mini story) is wonderful."

"A lovely, unique storybook with a very professional look; fantastic quality hardback cover, print and illustrations. Bought as a keepsake gift for a friend's newborn - they absolutely loved it (as did I!)."

Stella, Hertford

"Absolutely fabulous book - so beautifully made and I can't wait to give it to my niece who I know will totally LOVE it. I was in touch with the seller also and he was so incredibly helpful in getting it dispatched within a certain time frame. I cannot recommend this product highly enough. REALLY good value for money. Thank you so much!"

Carol, Devon

"First time i have ordered this book and it definitely wont be the last..what an amazing book It ticked all the boxes. Amazing illustrations and a great story. my nephew loved his gift..the quality is amazing!! The best personalised gift for children ive seen in a long time and definitely value for money... You will not be dissapointed!!"

Jilly, Florida

"Fantastic quality - I've bought 3 books, 1 for my granddaughter, and 2 for my grandson, they are beautiful and something personal to keep."

T.Phillips, USA

"The beautiful book got delivered to my niece over the weekend and she absolutely loves it! My sister, her mom was really touched by the book as well. I just want to say a big thank you for helping me give such a special gift, thank you! I am one very pleased customer!"

Mrs W, London

"Brilliant book, I gave it as a christening present and the parents loved it, a lovely keepsake for the future."

Peter T, Suffolk

"The book was far superior to what I had imagined. I expected a storybook with my granddaughter's name thrown in here and there, but it was much better than that. The letters of her name were cleverly crafted to be part of the story, all written in verse and set in bright, lively illustrations. It's something she will love now, and keep for years to come."

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My Magic Name are a family run business that make unique personalised children's books. We believe our books should be given as gifts that will become forever keepsakes for life. Each book is lovingly handmade and the highest quality of materials are used so each book can last a lifetime.

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It's easy. All you have to do is look at our collection of unique personalised children's books and select which one you want. Then add the child's name, a personal message if you want to, and depending on which book any other details that may be required, and that's it. We'll do our magic and transform all your details into the book for you. We'll then print your personalised gift and deliver it right to your front door!

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25 Books to Teach Kids About the Importance of Names

Help share the stories behind names.

Books About Names

Celebrate diversity in your classroom by highlighting the importance of students’ names. Set the tone at the beginning of the year (and every day!) with these heartwarming books about names to teach kids about empathy, culture, and identity.

(Note: WeAreTeachers may earn a few cents if you purchase using our links, at no extra cost to you.)

1. The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi

The Name Jar -- books about names

Having just moved from Korea, Unhei is anxious that American kids will like her. Instead of introducing herself on the first day of school, she tells the class that she will choose a name from a jar by the following week.

2. Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal

Alma and How She Got Her Name

What’s in a name? For one little girl, her very long name tells the vibrant story of where she came from—and who she may one day be.

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3. You Stole My Name by Dennis McGregor

You Stole My Name

How and why did some animals get named after other animals? This book is a clever collection of animals with similar names and a coordinating 4-line poem for each illustration. Use it to talk about how names are created!

4. My Name is an Address by Ekuwah Mends Moses

My Name is an Address

A GPS system navigates you to where you are going, but your name could lead to what you are looking for. This author uses the alphabet letters as she showcases her family, history, culture, language, geography, and more.

5. Hello, My Name is Ruby by Philip C. Stead

Hello, My Name is Ruby

This is one of the sweetest books about names for students! Join Ruby, a plucky little bird, as she ventures through life, making new friends, learning new skills, and asking questions that may have some very surprising results.

6. My Name is Elizabeth! by Annika Dunklee, illustrated by Matthew Forsythe

My Name is Elizabeth -- books about names

Meet Elizabeth. She’s got an excellent pet duck, a loving granddad, and a first name that’s just awesome. After all, she’s got a queen named after her! So she’s really not amused when people insist on using nicknames like Lizzy and Beth.

7. My Name Is Yoon by Helen Recorvits, illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska

My Name Is Yoon

Yoon’s name means “shining wisdom.” When she writes it in Korean, it looks happy, like dancing figures—but her father tells her that she must learn to write it in English. In English, all the lines and circles stand alone, which is just how Yoon feels in the United States.

8. My Name is Bilal by Asma Mobin-Uddin, illustrated by Barbara Kiwak

My Name is Bilal

A young boy wrestles with his Muslim identity until a compassionate teacher helps him to understand more about his heritage.

9. Andy, That’s My Name by Tomie DePaola

Andy, That’s My Name

Andy may be the littlest kid on the block, but he’s very important. He has a wagon full of letters that spell his name, and he takes it with him wherever he goes. He could probably spell out his own list of books about names!

10. Your Name is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, illustrated by Luisa Uribe

Books about names for kids

Frustrated by a day full of teachers and classmates mispronouncing her beautiful name, a little girl tells her mother she never wants to come back to school. In response, the girl’s mother teaches her about the musicality of African, Asian, Black-American, Latinx, and Middle Eastern names on their lyrical walk home through the city.

11. Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum thinks her name is absolutely perfect—until her first day of school. “You’re named after a flower!” teases Victoria. “Let’s smell her,” says Jo. Chrysanthemum wilts. What will it take to make her blossom again?

12. Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Morales

Thunder Boy Jr. -- books about names for kids

Thunder Boy Jr. wants a normal name … one that’s all his own. Dad is known as big Thunder, but little thunder doesn’t want to share a name.

13. My Name is Konisola by Alisa Siegel

My Name is Konisola

On a freezing winter night, nine-year-old Konisola and her mother step off a plane in Canada. They are running for their lives when Konisola’s mother becomes sick, and Konisola is forced to fend for herself in a strange country. Will they be allowed to stay as refugees, or will they both be sent back across the ocean?

14. A, My Name is Alice by Jane Baye

A, My Name is Alice<

This is one of the silliest books about names! Meet Barbara, the bear with balloons for sale in Brazil, New York Ned, the newt who owns a noodle emporium, and finally the zipper-selling Zambian zebra and zebu, Zelda and Zach.

15. How Nivi Got Her Names by Laura Deal, illustrated by Charlene Chua

How Nivi Got Her Names

Nivi has always known that her names were special, but she doesn’t know where they came from. One sunny afternoon, Nivi decides to ask her mom to explain. This book is an easy-to-understand introduction to traditional Inuit naming, with a story that touches on Inuit custom adoption.

16. My Name is María Isabel by Alma Flor Ada, illustrated by K. Dyble Thompson

My Name is María Isabel

For María Isabel Salazar López, the hardest thing about being the new girl in school is that the teacher doesn’t call her by her real name. “We already have two Marías in this class,” says her teacher. “Why don’t we call you Mary instead?” Can she find a way to make her teacher see that if she loses her name, she’s lost the most important part of herself?

17. My Name is Sangoel by Karen Williams and Khadra Mohammed, illustrated by Catherine Stock

My Name is Sangoel<

Sangoel is a refugee. Leaving behind his homeland of Sudan, where his father died in the war, he has little to call his own other than his name, a Dinka name handed down proudly from his father and grandfather before him.

18. Always Anjali by Sheetal Sheth, illustrated by Jessica Blank

Always Anjali

Anjali and her friends are excited to get matching personalized license plates for their bikes. But Anjali can’t find her name. To make matters worse, she gets bullied for her “different” name and is so upset she demands to change it.

19. A Porcupine Named Fluffy by Helen Lester

A Porcupine Named Fluffy

Even animals need books about names! Fluffy the porcupine is unhappy with his name: “So he decided to become fluffier.” He climbs a tree and pretends to be a cloud! He even poses as a pillow. When Fluffy meets a rhinoceros named Hippo, it puts his plight in perspective … and he makes a friend.

20. The Change Your Name Store by Leanne Shirtliffe, illustrated by Tina Kügler

The Change Your Name Store

Wilma Lee Wu does not like her name, so she marches to the Change Your Name Store, where she tries on new names. Each time Wilma selects a new name, she is transported to the country from which the name originates. Will Wilma find a new name that she likes? Will she discover her real identity and where she truly belongs?

21. The Day of Ahmed’s Secret by Florence Parry Heide and Judith Heide Gilliland, illustrated by Ted Lewin

The Day of Ahmed’s Secret

All day long, Ahmed maneuvers his donkey cart through streets crowded with cars and camels, down alleys filled with merchants’ stalls, and past buildings a thousand years old. He keeps his secret safe inside. It is so special and wonderful, that he can reveal it only to his family when he returns home at the end of the day.

22. Yoko Writes Her Name by Rosemary Wells

Yoko Writes Her Name

Yoko is so excited about the first day of school. She’s just learned to write her name. But when Mrs. Jenkins asks Yoko to show everyone, Olive and Sylvia make fun of her Japanese writing. “Yoko can’t write. She’s only scribbling!”

23. Cloud and Wallfish by Anne Nesbet

Cloud and Wallfish

One ordinary day, Noah’s parents tell him his name isn’t really Noah, his birthday isn’t really in March, and his new home is going to be East Berlin—on the other side of the Iron Curtain. East Germany seems the least likely place in the world for a kid from America with a lot of secrets of his own to make a friend, but then Noah meets Cloud-Claudia, the lonely girl who lives one floor down.

24. My Name is Not Isabella by Jennifer Fosberry

Books about names for kids

Isabella’s heroes include U.S. Astronaut Sally Ride, activist Rosa Parks, and sharpshooter Annie Oakley—but there’s no bigger hero than Isabella’s own mommy! Join Isabella on an adventure of discovery, and find out how imagining to be these extraordinary women teaches her the importance of being her extraordinary self.

25. My Name is Wakawakaloch! by Chana Stiefel

My Name is Wakawakaloch!

The intrepid, determined, and savvy Wakawakaloch learns to embrace what makes her special while lifting up her Neanderthal community.

Plus check out 12 of our favorite videos for teaching kids about friendship .

If these books about names ideas inspired you, join our weareteachers helpline group and come talk with the very teachers who suggested them.

25 Books to Teach Kids About the Importance of Names

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5 Stunning Children’s Books Written by Remarkable Child Authors

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For the love of books

Discover enchanting tales penned by young authors in this collection of children’s books. Read on to explore the imaginative worlds created by kids!

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Whether assigned at school or read by parents before bedtime, it’s undeniable that children’s books have always been a part of our lives. These books kick-started our never-ending TBR lists and still bring us joy to this day. However, what if I told you that some of these books were actually written by children themselves?

The Prophecy of the Stones by Flavia Bujor

If you’re fond of fantasy novels and the power of friendship, then The Prophecy of Stones is the book for you! Written by the author Flavia Bujor at the young age of twelve, the story follows three girls who meet on their fourteenth birthdays and discover they are connected by a prophecy that foretells the end of the world. As the chosen ones, they are tasked to retrieve three magical stones that will prevent the world’s destruction. Throughout their journey, they will encounter many challenges and obstacles that will force them to work together, overcome their differences and fears, and form a strong bond of friendship along the way. Don’t miss out on this epic quest!

The cover of the book "The Prophecy of the Stones" features three stones on an orange background, one white, one green, and one yellow.

The Lost Princess by Celeste and Carmel Buckingham

For those who relish fantasy with a dash of family drama, this book is a must-read. Penned by Celeste and Carmel Buckingham at the ages of nine and eleven respectively, The Lost Princess weaves a tale that centers on Princess Evie. When her younger sister is kidnapped by an evil sorceress, Evie is spurred into action, embarking on a daring journey to rescue her. Alongside her companions, Evie faces a myriad of dangers and obstacles, from dark creatures to cunning villains intent on thwarting her mission. Don’t miss out on accompanying Evie as she discovers the power of love, sisterhood, and bravery, and brace yourself for an unexpected plot twist.

The cover of the book "The Lost Princess" displays the title against a backdrop of an illustration featuring the entrance to a castle nestled amidst a forest of trees.

My Book for Children with Cansur by Jason Gaes

What better example of children’s authorship than a book written and illustrated by youngsters themselves? My Book for Children with Cansur is an autobiographical masterpiece crafted by eight-year-old Jason Gaes and brought to life through illustrations by his brother, Tim Gaes. Across its 31 pages, Jason shares his journey with cancer, detailing his experiences with surgery and treatments. Offering sage advice for navigating hospital stays and aiming to provide solace to both children and parents facing similar circumstances, Jason’s heartfelt narrative resonates with sincerity and empathy.

The book is written with phonetic accuracy but it doesn’t distract the reader from what young Jason was trying to convey. Overall, it is a good book to help children looking for comfort during hard times.

Cover of the book My book for kids with cansur depicting a doctor and three bald kids beside a white door.

This Can’t Be Happening at MacDonald Hall by Gordon Korman

Next on the roster is This Can’t Be Happening at MacDonald Hall by Gordon Korman. Initially conceived as a seventh-grade English project, this book later found its way into publication under Scholastic. The narrative unfolds around two mischievous boys whose antics lead to their separation after a prank on a rival hockey team goes awry. Now paired with new roommates, both boys scheme to reunite at any cost, even if it means framing their current roommates. This book marks the inception of a series that has since been republished with some alterations and updated cover art.

Book cover of "This Cant be Happening at Macdonald Hall!" featuring a skunk in the middle of a school hall.

The Lost Cat by Bella J Dark

Last, but certainly not least, is The Lost Cat. When it comes to children’s authors, this one certainly takes the cake. Authored by five-year-old Bella J Dark, the story revolves around Snowy, a cat who becomes lost and, in the process, learns a valuable lesson. Though short, the book delivers a powerful safety message to children.

Cover for the book "The Lost Cat" featuring the drawing of an orange cat over grass.

A child’s imagination is the door to a world of wonder and mystery, and what better way to discover it than when it’s put on paper? Who knows? Maybe the next Agatha Christie is hiding somewhere in a fifth-grade class in your local school. Hopefully, these books have piqued your interest and found a place on your TBR list!

Do you want to know more about children’s books? Check out this article .

For more children’s book recommendations check out our Mini Bookworms Delightful Recommendations shelf on Bookshop !

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Wonderbly personalized books and gifts, who is wonderbly.

We’re so glad you asked! Wonderbly is an online publisher that makes personalized books for kids and adults. Since 2013, our bestselling books have delighted over 8 million happy readers all over the world. Together, we can show people how truly extraordinary they are – one personalized book at a time.

How do I make a personalized book? 

We have a humongous range of personalized books for everyone (kids and adults!) and they’re all super simple to create. Browse our collection of personalized books , and we’ll put your child right inside the story, making it their own forever more. All you need to do to create a one-in-a-million gift is add your child’s name, choose their character, and write your heartfelt dedication message. We’ll weave everything together into a unique custom book starring your child, print it on high-quality paper and deliver it straight to your front door! Looking for a personalized book for an adult? It works just the same! Add the details for your special someone and we’ll create an unforgettable gift – just for them.

How do I place an order with Wonderbly?

Simply decide which custom book you’d like to create, then add the name of the recipient and any other details needed to make it extra special, including a personal dedication to make it all your own. Tap the green button, and you’ll be able to preview your entire book before you buy. Once you’re happy with every detail, you can pick from our range of extras (like glorious gift wrap) and then enter your payment information to place your order. Your personalized book will be on your doorstep before you know it!

How much are Wonderbly books? 

Our adults’ and kids’ books vary in price depending on the book and the format you choose to create. We offer our books in a selection of formats, from everyday softcovers to treasure-forever keepsake editions. We offer a range of shipping options at different prices, so you can choose what works best for you. It costs a little extra to send your book in one of our glorious gift wraps, or pop in one of our stupendous sticker packs, but we doubt you’ll regret either one.  The best bit about our pricing? We have different promos running so check out our discounts and coupons page to see our latest book offer.

Why are your books such splendid gifts?

We think there’s nothing more wondrous than getting a book with your name on it! We make extra-special personalized books for babies , personalized birthday books , personalized Christmas books , Father’s Day books , Mother’s Day books – and more!

Where is Wonderbly based?

Wonderbly HQ is a colorful office in Bloomsbury, London in the UK. But thanks to the power of the internet, our books are available to buy worldwide! We ship books to over 150 countries across our wonderful planet, but we can’t get them to the moon. Yet.

How do I contact Wonderbly?

You can easily reach our friendly team of Customer Support Angels easily by:

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OUR BESTSELLING PERSONALIZED BOOKS

Bedtime Stories

338 reviews

Bedtime Stories

Family adventures MT+FT+PR

209 reviews

Family Adventures

The Monsters

The Monsters

Birthday world

159 reviews

Adventures in Birthday Land

Seek'n'find

Seek and Find Book

First Alphabet

First Alphabet

Reviews from our amazing community, personized book.

Book for grandson was perfect! This is the first book brand that allowed us to customize using the names he is using for his parents. He doesn’t refer to them as mom or dad because he is being raised by his grandparents a... more

SEEK AND FIND

I ordered this Seek and Find book for my grown daughter. Seek and find books was something that we loved to do when she was a kid. We both loved the personalized finished product so much. It brought back great memories for ... more

Perfect gift for nephews!

I purchased two of these books for my nephews for Christmas and they loved it! My only complaint may be there weren't a lot of options for creating the avatars (ie the eyes had two only two shape options, I couldn't add a b... more

I ordered this for my son for Christmas, I thought the quality was great! It was well made and my sone loved it. We will get many years of use out of it.

My son absolutely loved thi...

My son absolutely loved this. Came on time and great quality.

Worth the price

My kids ( ages 5&9 ) love Where’s Waldo and Look and Find. This book was wonderful & very similar to the styles we love.

Great Quality

My husband love the book! Thanks for the fast shipping.

Rowan's Bedtime Stories. I bought this for my Grandsons 1st Birthday. Using Namee to choose personalisation was very simple and the whole process from selection to delivery went very smoothly. I am delighted with this boo... more

Beautiful Book!

I recently purchased a personalized book to give my Granddaughter for Christmas. It is absolutely beautiful! I can't wait to give it to her. Don't hesitate on purchasing, you won't be disappointed!!!

Fun and lively!

The books we bought for 4 of our grandchildren were fun, adventuresome and entertaining. The kids loved hearing their name so many times and the picture of them in the book. The only addition you need to do is be able to add a third child!

Maisie Beths Bedtime Stories

Very pleased with the book, well made and lovely illustrations. Our Great Granddaughter will love it and cherish it for years to come. Thank you.

personalized book

I bought 4 of these for the grands and I am very pleased with the story and the way the characters are portrayed throughout. The bedtime book had several stories to choose from within one bedtime book. Very cute! I recomm... more

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We make personalized books for kids and we love it. In fact, a NAMEE book is the perfect gift for a growing boy or girl. It's also the best gift for parents looking to bond more with their child. We're honored so many children, moms, dads and families have fallen in love with creating custom books. Create your child or yourself as a character, pick your stories and even write a fully customizable dedication that will be printed in your children's book. From bedtime to birthdays and ABC's to emotions (and more), reading has never been more exciting than when children or family members see themselves illustrated! This may be the most special gift you ever give someone.

Frequently asked questions

Who are namee books for.

While our books are written for children, they're great gifts for parents, babysitters and family members too! Anyone you want your child to bond with, this is a gift for them as much as it is for your child. There's no age limit on enjoying these books. NAMEE personalized books are for kids ages up to 10 years old. They are perfect for beginners to mid-level readers. We even have a very young listeners who are still in mum's tummy. Every story is inspired from the imaginations of our own team's children. We do, of course, clean up the language, but we like to think our stories are written for kids, by kids.

What are NAMEE personalized books?

NAMEE personalized books are customisable books for kids, and the main character in every adventure is your child! You enter your child's name and customise their appearance, and they'll appear throughout the entire book, on every page. You can personalize gender, eyes, hair type, skin tone, freckles, glasses and more. Every NAMEE personalized book also allows you write a special message to your child. It is printed directly into the book and completely free to include.

Where are NAMEE books made?

Our books are made in the EU, in a publishing house that has over 30 years of experience in printing books. If you want to find out more about our printing partners, please contact us at  [email protected] .

How do I create my personalized book and order it?

The process is very simple and we'll guide you through every step on the website. If you're still curious, here's the order you'll do things...

  • Choose your books.
  • Create your personalized character, including name and appearance.
  • Choose your stories on select books.
  • Write a special message.
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Showing 21 - 30 of 50 Free Children's Books

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021: DO YOU WONDER ABOUT RAIN, SNOW, SLEET AND HAIL?

Categories:  Age 4-7  /  Age 8-12

“What’s to wonder about water?”, you might ask. Professor Ture will tell you why.  Filled with compelling illustrations, this free children’s book takes a dive  into a whirlpool of knowledge about the ubiquitous water that we often take for granted.

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022: I FOUND A FROG

Something magical was happening in the fish bowl  and he wasn’t  quite ready for what lay in store.  Read this captivating free illustrated book for kids that encourages them to explore and be awed by the many wonders of nature. 

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023: A DOG ON A LOG

Categories:  Age 0-3  /  Age 4-7

Is there ever an ordinary day at the beach? Read what happens when a flea, a dog and a hog meet on a warm sunny day by the sea.  This Free Children’s Book is great read for children aged 3 to 8. 

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024: ARE WE THERE YET?

Looking for a Free Bedtime story books? Jim and Jen are going to the zoo and the drive never seems to end. EVER! They just made a song for the road and the tune is growing on mom and dad.Let’s tap our feet and sing along..

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025: DRAGONS

Dragons come in many shapes and sizes and speak different tongues. Some are mean, some are kind, some have legs while some don’t. No matter what they all have one thing in common..they grab eyes wherever they go.  Join our free children’s book giveaway to read more about these wonderful creatures.

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026: THE HIKE

Mandy and grandpa went on a hike . But it was more than that. Together they explored the woods, learnt to be at peace with nature and talked their hearts out about things that mattered. It was a special bond between them and you’ve got to read this great free illustrated children’s book to experience it. Happy Exploring!!

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027: PIRATES COVE

Sandy chances upon an old treasure map and as the events roll out one after another, he becomes richer both by pennies and by thoughts. Here’s a treasure hunt to embark upon  in this free children’s storybook. Sail Away Captain! The seven seas are yours.

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028: THE WAY OF THE WOODS

Shh!  Did you hear that? The jungle’s saying a story and you cannot afford to miss it. A colorful narrative set in the woods..camouflaged as a free children’s dog story. Happy Reading!

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029: JIMMY'S FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL

Jimmy’s starting school and he doesn’t know what’s in store. One step at a time, slowly but surely, he made it to the school bus. And off he went! Just like that. The illustrations in the free bed time book for children evoke sweet memories of that very special first day at school.

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030: BULLY BILL

He thought he was the Lord of the Farm. He thought he was Boss. But his vanity was short lived and soon he learnt a lesson he’ll never forget. Follow this funny and thoughtful story of a certain farm we chanced upon in this free bedtime storybook.

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10 of the Best New Children’s Books Out May 2024

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Margaret Kingsbury

Margaret Kingsbury grew up in a house so crammed with books she couldn’t open a closet door without a book stack tumbling, and she’s brought that same decorative energy to her adult life. Margaret has an MA in English with a concentration in writing and has worked as a bookseller and adjunct English professor. She’s currently a freelance writer and editor, and in addition to Book Riot, her pieces have appeared in School Library Journal, BuzzFeed News, The Lily, Parents, StarTrek.com, and more. She particularly loves children’s books, fantasy, science fiction, horror, graphic novels, and any books with disabled characters. You can read more about her bookish and parenting shenanigans in Book Riot’s twice-weekly The Kids Are All Right newsletter. You can also follow her kidlit bookstagram account @BabyLibrarians , or on Twitter @AReaderlyMom .

View All posts by Margaret Kingsbury

May children’s book releases explore many diverse experiences. In May picture book releases, a Cherokee girl moves, a Moroccan library tells its story, an anxious child learns to love a pet, Muslim children become friends, and a young girl experiences persecution during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. In May middle grade releases, a Chinese American girl discovers a magic paintbrush, a Pakistani American experiences harassment, a nonbinary kid has their first romance, a Hindu boy discovers what it means to be brave during the British Partition of India, and a girl learns to value beauty from within. All of May children’s book releases were fantastic, and I can’t wait for everyone to get a chance to read them, too.

To read reviews of even more of May children’s book releases, make sure to subscribe and follow my reviews on Book Riot’s kidlit newsletter .

May Children’s Book Releases: Picture Books

Cover of Being Home by Traci Sorell & Michaela Goade

Being Home by Traci Sorell & Michaela Goade (May 7; Kokila)

Most picture books about moving depict a child who doesn’t want to move or feels nervous about it. While those books are needed, Sorell instead shows a child who looks forward to moving. A young Cherokee girl and her family are leaving the city to move closer to family on a Cherokee Nation reservation. The picture book opens with the girl saying goodbye to her old home. Her mother tells her they’re on a new path, “One that leads us to / our ancestors’ land / and to our people.” The girl is ready and excited to follow the path. Once they arrive at their new home, relatives come to help and celebrate and explore with the girl. Goade’s illustrations are warm, joyous, and vibrant. It’s a beautiful celebration of Indigenous culture and what it means to be home.

Cover of Behind My Doors: The Story of the World's Oldest Library by Hena Khan & Nabila Adani

Behind My Doors: The Story of the World’s Oldest Library by Hena Khan & Nabila Adani (May 7; Lee & Low Books)

This wonderful nonfiction picture book is told from the unique perspective of the oldest library in the world—the Al-Qarawiyyin Library in Fez, Morocco. The library is born in 859 when Fatima al-Fihri uses her inheritance to build a mosque and school, with a library to serve both. For centuries, the library enjoys prestige and relishes in the scholars who visit. But slowly people stop visiting, and the library falls into disrepair. In 2012, the government hires the architect Aziza Chaouni from Fez to restore the library. This is a really magical and accessible glimpse into a library’s history with soft and warm illustrations.

Cover of Growing Up under a Red Flag by Ying Chang Compestine & Xinmei Liu

Growing Up under a Red Flag by Ying Chang Compestine & Xinmei Liu (May 7; Rocky Pond Books)

This is the first picture book memoir that I know of that takes place during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Compestine was three when Mao Zedong declared a Cultural Revolution and punished educated people like Compestine’s parents, who were doctors and taught Compestine English. When she turned five, they were no longer allowed to read or speak any foreign languages, and the leader of the Red Guard came to live with them to ensure compliance with all of Mao Zedong’s rules. Eventually, the Red Guard arrested Compestine’s father, and she doesn’t see him again until she’s a teenager. This is a compelling glimpse into an important historical moment accompanied by dramatic and moving illustrations. A short author’s note with photographs follows.

Cover of Sister Friend by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow & Shahrzad Maydani

Sister Friend by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow & Shahrzad Maydani (May 7; Abrams Books for Young Readers)

This heartwarming picture book grapples with the too-common struggle of finding friends when you look different and come from a different culture than everyone else. Ameena is the only brown girl and Muslim in her class. The other kids don’t really play with her. At recess, she plays an old game her Momma taught her alone. When a new student arrives, Sundus, who is brown like Ameena and wears a hijab, Ameena hopes they can be friends. But Ameena’s too-hasty words make Sundus believe she’s making fun of her. However, when the two attend the masjid together, Sundus realizes that Ameena can also be the friend she seeks. This special friendship book has gorgeous, soft illustrations that feel like a hug.

Cover of Neat Nick's Big Mess by Chad Otis

Neat Nick’s Big Mess by Chad Otis (May 7; Rocky Pond Books)

Nick loves everything to be just so—tidy, organized, planned. Nothing out of the ordinary, unexpected, or messy. But sometimes Nick’s concentration on everything being neat and tidy makes him feel lonely. So, his mom buys Nick a big, hairy, happy dog as a surprise. This doggo is not neat. He’s squishy and slobbery and messy and excitable. Can Nick learn to love this slobbery mess? Can the dog help Nick break out of his shell? This is such a sweet and funny book for anxious kids.

May Children’s Book Releases: Middle Grade

Cover of Plain Jane and the Mermaid by Vera Brosgol

Plain Jane and the Mermaid by Vera Brosgol (May 7; First Second)

This delightful Eastern European fairytale graphic novel set in a nebulous historical time explores the idea of beauty. Jane has always known she’s plain; her wealthy parents made sure of that, constantly critiquing her eating, face, and demeanor. When her parents die, Jane learns that girls can’t inherit property. Her horrible male cousin will receive everything and kick her out of the only home Jane’s ever known. Jane will receive an inheritance if she marries, so she finds the most handsome boy in the village—the fisherman’s youngest son—and asks if he’ll marry her. He hesitantly agrees, wanting to escape a life of catching fish, but then a beautiful mermaid lures him into the ocean. Jane isn’t about to let her handsome fiance go, so she goes on a quest into the ocean’s depths to save him. This is so very entertaining. Fairy tale readers of all ages will love it.

Cover of Lion of the Sky by Ritu Hemnani

Lion of the Sky by Ritu Hemnani (May 7; Balzer + Bray)

This moving middle grade verse novel occurs during the British Partition of India. Twelve-year-old Raj, who is Hindu, loves flying kites with his best friend, who is Muslim. Raj is the middle child and often feels like he isn’t good enough in his father’s eyes. Raj loves cooking, but his father sees that as women’s work. His father wants Raj to excel at math so he can work in the family’s tailor business, but numbers swim for Raj. He and his family are initially excited about India’s independence, but then they learn they will be forced to move into what is now considered ‘India.’ During the harrowing journey, Raj’s younger sister is lost. Once they arrive at their new home, more difficulties face the grieving family. Thankfully, everything begins to improve thanks to Raj’s bravery, which is something he struggles to understand from the beginning. This is a lovely novel that I flew through despite the length.

Cover of Any Way You Look by Maleeha Siddiqui

Any Way You Look by Maleeha Siddiqui (May 7; Scholastic Press)

This is a fantastic and relatable novel about consent and fashion. Sixth grader Ainy, who is Pakistani American, and her family are going through hard times financially. Her father has moved back to Pakistan to care for his mother with cancer. Their family has moved into a friend’s basement, unable to afford their apartment’s rent. Ainy really wants to work in her mother’s clothing store, and her mother finally agrees. Her older sister gets a job at a coffee shop to help the family. When boys harass Ainy, she feels like she needs to deal with it herself. Her family is so busy and worried; she doesn’t want to add to their burdens. Ainy begins wearing a hijab like her older sister, hoping the boys will leave her alone. She feels guilty about this, knowing wearing a hijab should be about faith rather than hiding. When the hijab fails to deter the boys, she finally tells her family. This also has friend drama and first crushes.

Cover of The Magic Paintbrush by Kat Zhang, Phoebe Zhong, & Eric Darnell

The Magic Paintbrush by Kat Zhang, Eric Darnell, & Phoebe Zhong (May 21; Crown Books for Young Readers)

This is such a fun first book in a new illustrated fantasy series full of Chinese folklore. Seventh grader Amy has always loved art but feels like her art has been stuck in a bit of a childish rut lately. When she visits her Lao Lao in Flushing, the two bond over art. One day, while Amy is using Lao Lao’s jade paintbrushes, the bird-headed tiger she creates comes alive! She realizes Lao Lao’s jade paintbrushes are magic. Meanwhile, a university student in China has been hunting for the magic paintbrushes. This is a fast-paced, exciting fantasy read.

Cover of Upstaged by Robin Easter

Upstaged by Robin Easter (May 28; Little, Brown Ink)

I smiled so much while reading this sweet, queer middle grade graphic novel romance. Ash (they/them) and Ivy (she/her) always share a cabin at a musical theater summer camp. This is the last year they can attend the camp, and Ash wants it to be the best year yet. But Ivy and Ash are put in different cabins, and Ash, who has a crush on Ivy, worries that Ivy is falling for her fellow costar in the musical they’re performing—”Ella,” a retelling of Cinderella. Ash doesn’t know how to tell Ivy they have a crush on her, and their worries are ostracizing them from other caring campers.

If you’re looking for more new children’s book releases beyond this list of May children’s book releases, check out my list of April children’s book releases , March children’s book releases , and February children’s book releases .

You can find a full list of new releases in the magical New Release Index , carefully curated by your favorite Book Riot editors, organized by genre and release date.

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Book Reviews

'women and children first' is a tale about how actions and choices affect others.

Kristen Martin

Cover of Women and Children First

Toward the beginning of Alina Grabowski's kaleidoscopic debut Women and Children First , 16-year-old Jane Ryder rides her bike through the rain-slicked streets of Nashquitten, a fictional town on the Massachusetts coast, south of Boston. It's a Saturday morning in May, and the smell of "seaweed and crab shells" hangs in the air — Jane's street has flooded due to a cracked seawall that the town won't repair "because it's on the side of the beach where people actually live, as opposed to the side where people 'summer.'"

As Jane bikes past the "Murder Merge" onto the town's single highway, where a thicket of white flags memorialize the teenagers who died in car wrecks, she thinks about the kids she's seen taking selfies there, "writing long captions about childhood and angels and the fragility of life...holding each other close...because they wondered what it would be like if they died, if they would be called funny or nice or smart or handsome or hot." Jane knows that in a town like Nashquitten, where a half a dozen high school students have died in the past five years, where opioids are easy to cop and people regularly disappear, no one is remembered for long.

What Jane doesn't know is that the night before, as the rain blew into town, her classmate Lucy Anderson died under mysterious circumstances at a house party, and that this tragedy will upend her community and form a testament to its interconnectedness.

The puzzle of Lucy's death propels Women and Children First , but Grabowski's novel is not a thriller or a whodunit. The novel unfolds in ten chapters, split down the middle between "Pre" and "Post" Lucy's death, each narrated in the first person by a different Nashquitten girl or woman linked in some way to the tragedy, from classmate Jane to college counselor Layla to best friend Sophia to mother Brynn. The narrators form a Greek chorus telling this tale of a fractured, grieving community, their constellation of perspectives gradually offering shards of how Lucy died and who she was. Through her pitch-perfect summoning of this intergenerational female cast, Grabowski explores the fickleness of truth, the fallibility of memory, how difficult it is to really see those closest to us, and how easy it is to betray one another.

Grabowski's choice to set Women and Children First in the fictional Nashquitten is a smart one. In this parochial community, everyone's lives overlap, creating perfect conditions for a novel that depends on a web of interwoven perspectives. Grabowski clearly drew on her own upbringing in Scituate, Mass. — another insular South Shore town battered by coastal erosion and flooding — in shaping her setting, though Nashquitten is more worn down at the heels. It's a heavily Catholic fishing town dominated by a withering middle class; those who remain are stuck there because of thwarted ambitions.

Through the shards of the narrators' stories and memories, we learn that Lucy had dreams of escape. Those who knew Lucy thought of her as an artist who painted on massive canvases with water from tide pools and turned her bedroom wall into a mural with "a swirl of ocean colors." Through Layla, we learn that Lucy had ambitions of going to school in New York; later, Sophia tells us that Lucy imagined the city as a place where "you can be whoever you want," unlike Nashquitten, where "anything you do becomes this stain that sticks to you forever." Lucy's stain was her epilepsy — she'd had a seizure on the floor of a school bus earlier that year, and one of her classmates filmed it and soundtracked the video "to an EDM song whose beat matched the shaking of her body."

The night Lucy died, she was at a party with the classmate she believed made the video, talking about him with two other girls before she fell to her death off an unfinished deck. Did she have another seizure? Was she pushed? Was it an accident? Was it suicide?

As Women and Children First unfolds, Grabowski gradually brings the reader closer to Lucy while planting seeds that any sense of the truth of what happened to her will ultimately be asymptotic. Her narrator's stories are at times contradictory, revealing how their perspectives and memories are blinkered by their own biases and experiences. As I read, I kept flipping back to earlier chapters, re-contextualizing each girl or woman's story, underlining the ringing moments of insight that Grabowski has a knack for, like, "We're always in the paths of others, but it can be disorienting to reconcile that proximity with the impenetrability of a stranger's choices," or, "when someone disappears without explanation, you have the power to determine what happened to them."

Ultimately, the novel is less about the mystery of Lucy and more about how our actions impact one another, even when — especially when — we think we lack agency. The women and girls of Nashquitten tend toward self-preservation, even selfishness. The older women especially have learned how hard it is to hold men to account, and instead try to protect their daughters, even when it means hurting others. Maureen, the PTA president who seeks absolution at confession for choices she can't forgive herself for, believes that her daughter's generation will never understand "that we were never girls, not really. For a moment we were children, yes. But a girl and a child are not the same. A child is a pet. A girl is prey."

This is not to say that Women and Children First presents a bleak vision of human nature. At the center of the novel, a teenager named Marina retells a story that Grabowski herself grew up hearing, about Rebecca and Abigail Bates of Scituate, "the American Army of Two." "The duration of the tale reminds me that the actions of two girls can have a lasting effect on many," Grabowski writes in her acknowledgments. Rebecca and Abigail were the daughters of the lighthouse keeper, left in charge one day during the War of 1812; when they spotted a British warship approaching, they played their fife and drum so fiercely that the soldiers thought an army was awaiting them on the shore. When Marina's mother first told her the story, the girl called it fake. "And if I was lying? How does that change the story?" her mother quipped back. Women and Children First serves as a reminder that not only do our actions and choices effect change, but so too do our stories.

Kristen Martin is working on a book on American orphanhood for Bold Type Books. Her writing has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Believer, The Baffler, and elsewhere. She tweets at @kwistent .

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library expands across Oregon with help of $1.7 million in state funds

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Oregon's new Dolly Parton's Imagination Library program has been expanded and will now allow access to free monthly books for all children ages 0-5 in 36 counties statewide, officials announced this week.

Gov. Tina Kotek unveiled the statewide expansion of the program on Wednesday, saying the state will work toward its goal to bring the monthly service available to all 220,000 Oregon children ages 0-5, promoting early interest in reading and literacy development.“We know that every child is full of promise,” Kotek said in a press release. “The expansion of this program across Oregon is another key step we are taking as part of a broader strategy to improve how we support our kids as they learn to read.”Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which first launched in 1995, allows every child under the age of 5 to enroll and receive a free monthly age-appropriate book in the mail. Since it was started, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has given over 220 million free books in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and The Republic of Ireland. Every month, the Imagination Library mails more than 3 million books to children's homes, at no cost to families.

The Imagination Library is supported by The Dollywood Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by celebrity and philanthropist Dolly Parton in 1988.

While there are other community programs with similar services, this expansion will allow children in all 36 Oregon counties to participate. Currently, 45,000 kids in Oregon 0-5 are enrolled and receive books through Imagination Library. Families in Oregon who are already registered with existing programs do not need to re-register and will continue to receive books without any interruptions.

The expansion is aided by $1.7 million in general funds allocated to Oregon Department of Early Learning and Care during the 2023 legislative session.

However, $1.7 million doesn't fully cover the Imagination Library's funding needs, as the DPIL model is based on partnerships with financial supporters at the local level, such as local businesses, school districts and more.

The state is seeking new local program partners while existing Imagination Library programs are encouraged to grow their capacity to register additional children.

“When state government partners with organizations like DPIL, we can truly make Oregon a better place to live, learn, and raise a family,” House Democratic Leader Ben Bowman said. “Because of this program, many thousands of Oregon kids will learn to love reading. I am sincerely grateful to all those who played a role in developing this program in Oregon — and to Dolly and the entire team at DPIL for their vision in starting it.”This statewide expansion of the Imagination Library follows Kotek's efforts to boost literacy rates across the state including the 2023 Early Literacy Success Initiative , which allocated $90 million to be distributed across every school district in the state to strengthen preparation and support for current teachers and school leaders.

The Early Literacy Success Initiative also created $20 million for resources to support parents and families with literacy development before their children begin preschool or kindergarten, which extensive research has shown is the most formative years of children’s brain development.

“Brain science clearly shows that kids start to develop literacy skills from birth,” DELC Director Alyssa Chatterjee said in a press release. “That’s why, here in Oregon, we’re making major investments to help our children develop the joy of reading.”

"I know there are children in your community with their own dreams. They dream of becoming a doctor or an inventor or a minister. Who knows, maybe there is a little girl whose dream is to be a writer and singer," Parton is quoted on the Imagination Library website. "The seeds of these dreams are often found in books."

To learn more about becoming a community partner, contact Rachel King at [email protected]. Visit  www.imaginationlibrary.com  to learn more about the program.

Screen Rant

All 28 jack reacher books, ranked worst to best.

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Reacher Season 3: Cast, Story & Everything We Know

10 jack reacher book traits that alan ritchson's reacher has nailed, 10 jack reacher book moments we want to see in reacher season 3.

  • The hit Amazon Prime Video series takes its inspiration from Lee Child's Jack Reacher novels.
  • All 28 novels chronicle the action-packed adventures of the military investigator turned drifter.
  • Newcomers to Jack Reacher can take what the full canon offers.

Reacher expertly takes its inspiration from Lee Child's Jack Reacher novels. For decades, all 28 novels chronicle the action-packed adventures of the military investigator turned drifter. Although not every book in the series is a masterpiece, it has consistently delivered incredible page-turners. Lee Child’s enduring character has transcended the page through movie and television adaptations, including a Tom Cruise film franchise and most recently the hit Amazon Prime Video Reacher starring Alan Ritchson . Movies lifted plot lines directly from printed chapters, further cementing the literary stories’ cinematic promise through the adaptation process itself.

Now with over 20 books chronicling his exploits, Reacher’s world provides extensive terrain for mining the taciturn veteran’s mysterious background and death-defying escapades going back to his military police days. For newcomers inspired by fiery explosions onscreen or devotees debating each book’s place among the intricate mythos, taking measure of the full canon offers guidance through exhilarating moments testing one man’s wits and will from small towns to the global stage. Whether these books are an introduction or an old favorite, gauging the most essential embodiment of Reacher’s blunt force justice provides a blueprint into the wandering character’s iconic appeal.

Prime Video's Reacher is coming back for a third season, and there are already a ton of exciting updates about the upcoming episodes.

28 Blue Moon (2019)

A convoluted and gratuitous installment.

The 24th novel in the Jack Reacher series, Blue Moon, was released in 2019 and is widely considered to be the worst of the bunch. Unfortunately, the plot of Blue Moon involving Albanian and Ukrainian mobsters in a small town was more convoluted than previous installments. The action aligns with Reacher's character, but the frequent violence and loss of life comes across as gratuitous.

Reacher works through moral dilemmas as usual, but his white knight persona feels unrealistic. While still delivering on series staples, aspects of this entry didn't fully captivate. The frequent deaths and do-goodery are hallmarks of the series , but in Blue Moon , they fail to compel. Many critics felt that Blue Moon relied too much on recurring elements of Child's series, which — by the 24th entry — had more-or-less become tropes. Blue Moon was a Jack Reacher novel that tried to play it safe, but unfortunatley this just led to it feeling formulaic.

27 The Sentinel (2020)

An uninteresting story.

Released during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, The Sentinel was the 25th Jack Reacher novel. While it was an improvement on 2019's Blue Moon, it still failed to live up to earlier entries in the franchise as far as many readers and critics were concerned. The main flaw found in The Sentinel is the awkward writing, since Lee Child co-wrote this book with his brother Andrew (the pair are named James and Andrew Grant, though they write under the pseudonyms of Lee and Andrew Child).

The plot about criminals tampering with elections is too similar to real-life news, taking readers out of the fantasy elements.

The story doesn't create interest like other Reacher books , making it less enjoyable. Also, the plot about criminals tampering with elections is too similar to real-life news, taking readers out of the fantasy elements. Those who know Reacher's Rules well can see inconsistencies in the story. Due to the odd writing, unrealistic plot, and errors, this book ranks low in the series.

26 Nothing To Lose (2008)

Simplistic writing.

Released in 2008, Nothing To Lose is the 12th novel in the Jack Reacher series, and by far the worst one released in the 2000s — and many critics found that it was far too similar to the 1972 novel First Blood by David Morrell, upon which the first Rambo movie was based. Situated in the fictional twin towns of Hope and Despair, Colorado, the setting in this installment fails to fully pull the reader into the narrative . The recycling plant disguising the criminals' questionable operation is written as too simplistic to be believable as a thoroughly guarded base of operations.

While the scale of the antagonists' enterprise is acknowledged as vast, their thin disguise detracts from the story's ability to immerse the reader in a world of high intrigue and high stakes. Where past books in the series have expertly combined setting, characters, and other elements, this addition misses the mark.

25 Make Me (2015)

The partnership between jack reacher and michelle chang fails to resonate.

2015 saw the 20th novel in the Jack Reacher series — Make Me — and, sadly, the story failed to live up to how much an important milestone for the franchise reaching 20 books was. In Make Me , the relationship between Reacher and Change follows expected lines, with Reacher, typically morally upright, teaming up routinely with Chang, an ex-FBI agent. There is also a lackluster romantic subplot between the two characters. As a result, this part of the book is largely forgettable.

While Child is far from a one-trick-pony as far as authors go, Make Me definitely left the impression that he's stronger when writing tense action than he is at writing romance.

While Child is far from a one-trick-pony as far as authors go, Make Me definitely left the impression that he's stronger when writing tense action than he is at writing romance. Despite the extensive book, it would likely be difficult to recall specific details about this story . This underscores the narrative's overall lack of impact, especially when contrasted with more compelling installments like Night School . The unremarkable nature of Reacher's time with Chang contributes heavily to Make Me 's weak attempt at engagement.

24 The Midnight Line (2017)

Interesting characters, but it ultimately falls short.

The 22nd Jack Reacher novel was 2017's The Midnight Line, and in this story Reacher finds himself caught in an investigation into an illegal opioid trade in the American Midwest. In The Midnight Line , the story falls short, as Lee Child's attempt to experiment with a different approach ultimately doesn't pay off. It attempted to incorporate aspects of real-life critiques of pharameceutical companies, which many readers and critics felt didn't quite work.

While sharing a similar feeling to Nothing to Lose , this book distinguishes itself with the introduction of the character Rose, who is acknowledged as a positive aspect. However, the deviation from the traditional Reacher narrative seems to be the book's downfall , as the experimentation with a new style fails to resonate. The effort to innovate doesn't yield the anticipated results, impacting the overall quality and reception of the book in comparison to others in the series.

23 Past Tense (2018)

Unorthodox storytelling misses the mark.

2018's Past Tense was the 23rd Jack Reacher novel. While it was a slight improvement on 2017's The Midnight Line, it was also quite experimental as far as Child's Jack Reacher books go — a decision that both helped and hindered it, but on the whole didn't quite pay off as well as it could have. Despite having a somewhat dry tone and some notably creepy segments that are riveting to read, Past Tense faces criticism mainly due to its unorthodox creative direction.

The inclusion of a bonus backstory, a compelling woodland setting, and the presence of a group of human game-hunting antagonists elevates the book above some later works.

However, the installment manages to salvage its shortcomings through notable strengths . The inclusion of a bonus backstory, a compelling woodland setting, and the presence of a group of human game-hunting antagonists elevates the book above some later works. Additionally, the narrative benefits from Reacher's adept close combat skills, showcased in suspenseful nighttime encounters, and the incorporation of well-executed Reacher point-of-view kills.

22 No Plan B (2022)

Not as good as earlier novels.

No Plan B, the 27th novel in the Jack Reacher series, was released in 2022. Much like 2019's Blue Moon, No Plan B fell short of reader and critic expectations because it played things too safe, relying too much on what had made earlier novels successful without trying anything new (when it came to both the plot and the writing style).

No Plan B delivers what is expected: an action-packed and plot-driven Jack Reacher thriller. However, this installment falls short of recapturing the magic of earlier releases when the character first debuted. While still an objectively strong and fast-paced story, it lacks the spark that made readers fall for Child's almost self-parodying style. For a subjective ranking system tapping into that nostalgia, No Plan B ranks lower than hoped, even though it objectively hits the Reacher marks.

21 A Wanted Man (2012)

A necessary story, but unable to stand on its own.

2012's A Wanted Man is the 17th Jack Reacher novel, and while it's not one of the worst, it's definitely not one of the best either. A Wanted Man delivers an energetic plot continuing the Nebraska storyline — picking up after the events of Worth Dying For following a slight muddying of the timeline in 2011's The Affair — but is ultimately a low point in the series when the franchise is appraised as a whole.

Despite the high stakes involving a burnt corpse and threats reaching the highest levels, the story itself feels missable.

A Wanted Man starts strong, with Reacher decoding blinks from a kidnapping victim to uncover a conspiracy. Despite the high stakes involving a burnt corpse and threats reaching the highest levels, the story itself feels missable. While needed to transition Reacher out of Nebraska after previous installments, this sequel lacks the impact to truly grab readers. As a result, A Wanted Man comes across more as a bridge in the broader series rather than a story able to stand on its own.

It's almost universally agreed upon that Alan Ritchson is the perfect Jack Reacher, especially since he nails some key Reacher traits from the books.

20 Personal (2014)

Fails to fully captivate despite delivering all the expected jack reacher thrills.

The 19th novel in the Jack Reacher series, 2014's Personal, is another example of an entry in the franchise that felt far too by-the-numbers to stand out, with Child falling back on the formula of his proven successes without breaching any new narrative ground. The plot of Personal hits the usual beats, with Reacher uncovering an assassination attempt in Paris tied to his past in the military.

However, the pieces feel too familiar, lacking the creativity to craft a truly standout story. The stakes feel more routine than past books, and the exploration of Reacher’s history covers well-worn ground. As a result, Personal comes across as too formulaic , with the series elements failing to combine into a narrative that hooks readers. It moves briskly without slowing down, but lacks the innovation and intrigue to rank among the most gripping installments.

19 The Secret (2023)

Enjoyable, but not as thrilling as it could be.

The most recent Jack Reacher novel was 2023's The Secret, which was the 28th in the series (the next, due later on in 2024, is set to be titled In Too Deep). The Secret offers intriguing insights into Reacher's past while delivering on action, but characterization shortcomings weigh it down. The early 1990s setting proves fascinating, and the prose moves briskly between investigative phases. Descriptions of hand-to-hand combat also showcase Reacher's physical prowess as expected.

While the spy craft details entertain, The Secret misses opportunities to resonate emotionally or use its prequel status to fully enrich Reacher's enigmatic persona.

However, the narrative lacks cohesion, with an initial mystery abandoned abruptly. More disappointingly, the young Reacher on display fails to reveal revelatory dimensions about what molded him into a wandering hero . While the spy craft details entertain, The Secret misses opportunities to resonate emotionally or use its prequel status to fully enrich Reacher's enigmatic persona. It was an improvement on 2022's No PLan B, at least, hopefully signalling that the franchise is back on an upwards trajectory.

18 Night School (2016)

A disappointing conclusion.

2016 saw the arrival of the 21st Jack Reacher novel, and Night School was a marked improvement on 2015's Make Me - though it still failed to live up to the best Jack Reacher books from earlier in the franchise. Night School delivers an intriguing premise, pairing Reacher with former colleague Frances Neagley against neo-Nazis transporting nuclear material.

The setup of Night School promises a classic thriller tracing back to Reacher’s military days. However, the conclusion ultimately disappoints . Just as events build toward an expected dramatic, high-stakes finale worthy of the nuclear threat, the story ends abruptly. The resolution feels rushed rather than truly earned after the groundwork has been laid. Still, it’s easy to appreciate the chance to see more of his past with Neagley, even if the ending fails to fully capitalize on a compelling narrative.

17 Running Blind (2000)

The execution leaves some of the intrigue unfulfilled.

The 4th Jack Reacher novel arrived at the turn of the millenium in 2000, and after the success of the initial trilogy, Running Blind felt like Lee Child's first miss when it came to Jack Reach stories. Running Blind offers an intriguing premise, with Reacher hunting a brilliant serial killer targeting his former cases. The elaborate military-connected setup creates an insider feel that creatively expands Reacher’s past.

Having Reacher working to uncover a serial killer makes for an interesting genre-blend

Having Reacher working to uncover a serial killer makes for an interesting genre-blend — mixing the core elements of the previous three Jack Reacher books with more traditional crime novels — which Running Blind pulls of reasonably well. However, outside the core mystery, there are moments where the book drags. The lack of action through lengthy stretches makes it less engaging as a thriller. Still, the serial killer’s inventive methods using camouflage paint and lack of any marks on victims prove memorably unsettling.

16 The Enemy (2004)

Lacks excitement, but serves a key narrative purpose.

The 8th Jack Reacher novel, 2004's The Enemy , is one of the most interesting in the franchise, as it was the first that played around in the timeline. While The Enemy lacks excitement as a thriller, with minimal action or suspense, it serves a key narrative purpose as the first Jack Reacher novel chronologically . It was set in the late 1980s and early 1990s, which made for some interesting changes in itself, and having a younger Reacher as the protagonist meant Child could experiment with the character a great deal more than usual.

The prequel explores the factors leading to Reacher leaving the military, disillusioned by bureaucracy and eroding values. Important events take place that shape Reacher's worldview and rootless future. While the plot itself underwhelms, The Enemy resonates in its character study of Reacher. It's especially fascinating to see Reacher work while still serving in the military, as being pinned down by the codes and values he then had to follow during this period of his life influenced his decisions in ways that aren't present later in the character's timeline.

15 Echo Burning (2001)

A classic vigilante premise.

Echo Burning was the 5th novel in the Jack Reacher franchise, and was widely considered a return to form after 2000's Running Blind . Echo Burning delivers a classic vigilante premise with Reacher playing ranch hand to investigate a woman’s claims of abuse. His fish-out-of-water Texan journey evokes film noir tones. However, familiar tropes like a damsel in distress and precocious child feel dated rather than fresh.

Reacher's doubts around Carmen, the woman who reaches out to him for help, definitely make for some intriguing twists in the narrative.

The Western flair shows Reacher’s adaptability, but the story’s trajectory stays safely predictable . While the bar fight and confrontations with the woman’s menacing husband capture Child’s gritty style, the plot lacks the innovation to truly grab attention. While Echo Burning doesn't rank as one of the worst Jack Reacher novels by a long stretch, it's also nowhere near as memorable as the best of them — though Reacher's doubts around Carmen, the woman who reaches out to him for help, definitely make for some intriguing twists in the narrative.

14 Without Fail (2002)

A high-stakes, briskly-paced reacher novel.

Following on from Echo Burning, the 6th Jack Reacher novel, 2002's Without Fail , is still considered by many as one of the best in the franchise, especially when it comes to pacing and overall writing quality. Without Fail is a strong Reacher novel due to its intense cat-and-mouse thriller narrative. Reacher leverages his logical intellect, tactical skills, and thirst for vengeance to outmaneuver a threat to the Vice President.

The stakes are high throughout this briskly-paced plot involving political assassination and betrayal. Lee Child further expands Reacher’s backstory through the haunting presence of his late brother. The vivid writing makes classic scenes like the stakeout unfold cinematically in readers' minds. Altogether, the emotional ties, high intrigue, and expertly crafted tension cement Without Fail as a prime example of Reacher’s compelling possibilities as a complex hero.

13 Never Go Back (2013)

Adrenaline-fueled and introspective.

2013's Never Go Back is the 18th Jack Reacher novel, and directly follows on from the narrative arc established in an earlier story, 2010's 61 Hours. As one of the more gripping books in Lee Child’s series, Never Go Back thrives on reuniting Jack Reacher with the 110th MP unit he once called home. By colliding Reacher’s past and present, Child strikes an emotional chord while crafting a breakneck thriller.

This combination of character exploration and intense action made Never Go Back one of the most intense Jack Reacher novels to read.

The nonstop momentum of Never Go Back proves amplified with threats tied to Reacher’s own team. For those invested in the wandering protagonist, the deepened personal stakes interwoven with high conspiracy offer immense satisfaction . Child continues building out the Reacher legend, making the action heavier through ties to his roots now under attack. This combination of character exploration and intense action made Never Go Back one of the most intense Jack Reacher novels to read.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2015), the second movie in the Tom Cruise Jack Reacher franchise, is adapted from this book.

Based on Lee Child's Persuader novel, Amazon Prime Video's Reacher season 3 needs to include some key Jack Reacher book moments in order to succeed.

12 Better Off Dead (2021)

A collaboration that works well.

2021's Better Off Dead is the 26th novel in the franchise. It takes place in San Francisco, and is also one of the few Jack Reach books to be written in the 1st person (the first since 2014's Personal). Better Off Dead captures Reacher doing what he does best: hunting bad guys with wit and grit. However, unlike some other entries where this feels formulaic or uninspired, Better Off Dead manages to capture the core of what made the franchise so successful when it debuted.

Co-written by Andrew Child, Lee Child’s brother, Better Off Dead nails the adventurous spirit that makes the wandering protagonist so magnetic. Creative scenarios like Reacher posing as his own corpse allow Child to flex his writing chops. While a tonal shift from Lee Child’s solo efforts, Better Off Dead ultimately retains the crucial ingredients of Reacher’s fierce charm and an electrifying setting, creating a satisfying thriller.

11 Die Trying (1998)

Reveals interesting and hidden depths.

1998's Die Trying is the second Jack Reacher novel written by Lee Child, and it's the book that proved to readers that its hero more more than a single-story protagonist, and had the depth and appeal to carry on many more stories beyond his debut. With an insight into what makes Reacher tick, Die Trying cements key components of the wandering protagonist's appeal. This was especially noteworthy since the book was written in the 3rd person rather than from Reacher's perspective, a style that would then continue throughout most of the Jack Reacher novels.

Child expertly amps up tension once Reacher becomes ensnared with separatist militants.

Though the opening stretches in confined spaces, Child expertly amps up tension once Reacher becomes ensnared with separatist militants. The antihero's composure breaks under pressure, despite his gift for calculation and inventive ruthlessness. Frances Neagley also makes an interesting character with her haphephobia condition . While tighter pacing throughout would improve its ranking, Die Trying immerses readers in formative experiences that reveal Reacher's hidden depths.

10 The Hard Way (2006)

A compelling read.

The 10th Jack Reacher novel was The Hard Way, which was released in 2006, and the first in the franchise that saw Reacher travel outside the US. The Hard Way draws power from Reacher wandering the vivid chaos of New York before confronting threats abroad, travelling to rural England for an intense gun battle in — of all places — a farm in Norfolk. Child uses the setting not just for kinetic action, but to underscore the character’s contradictions.

His compassion and ruthless, calculating nature coexist with subtle melancholy. An atypical detective story structure packs an emotional punch as Reacher investigates an elusive foe. False leads and intense legwork make the eventual face-off with Lane's private mercenary army cutthroat, as well as emotionally resonant. Keeping Reacher adaptable and injecting introspection between brutal showdowns deepens the protagonist, compelling readers to follow him wherever the road takes.

9 The Affair (2011)

Adds intrigue to the jack reacher mythos.

The Affair arrived in 2010 and is the 16th Jack Reacher novel, and is yet another that was written in the 1st person. It's also another entry that plays with the timeline, as it takes place six month before Killing Floor and is chronologically the fourth story in the franchise. The Affair sees the typically detached protagonist navigate graphic desire during his trip to Mississippi.

For those seeking more dimension from the stoic vigilante, The Affair delivers on learning what makes Reacher tick.

Raw intimacy fills gaps in formative experiences and relationships that humanize his persona beyond just brute force. While R-rated scenes in the book can feel controversial, the emotional insights resonate. This risky creative choice to elucidate Reacher’s backstory at a heated railroad crossing ultimately deepens the complexity around a character often defined more by cerebral calculation than fiery feeling. For those seeking more dimension from the stoic vigilante, The Affair delivers on learning what makes Reacher tick.

Reacher (2022)

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A Modern Mom Finds an Ancient Outlet for Feminist Rage

In Alexis Landau’s ambitious new novel, “The Mother of All Things,” the frustrations of modern parenting echo through the ages.

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The cover shows what appears to be ancient Greek sculpture, the marble figure of a woman shown from behind and set against a bright blue sky. It is surrounded by a border of bright pink and orange, as if seen through a doorway.

By Eliza Minot

Eliza Minot is the author of the novels “The Tiny One,” “The Brambles” and, most recently, “In the Orchard.”

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THE MOTHER OF ALL THINGS, by Alexis Landau

What is the source of maternal rage? The answer is as infinite as it is ancient. In 1965, the poet and essayist Adrienne Rich, with small children underfoot, captured a possible explanation for this abyss in her journal when she described it as “a sense of insufficiency to the moment and to eternity.”

But where — for moms, for women — does this nagging feeling of insufficiency come from? From the misogyny that we grow up with? From the helpless outrage we bear as our messy, gorgeous, individual maternal experiences are flattened by society into a weirdly infantilized stereotype that’s placed, like a paper doll, into a two-dimensional dollhouse called “Motherhood”? Or does it come from the profound feeling of helplessness that accompanies the ability to give life to a human being, but be unable to ensure that life’s safety?

Ava Zaretsky, the diligent heroine of Alexis Landau’s ambitious and engaging new novel, “The Mother of All Things” (her third after “Those Who Are Saved” and “The Emperor of the Senses”), simmers with a steady rage that never fully erupts toward her kids (Sam, 10, and Margot, 13, who’s at the edge of “adolescence’s dark tunnel”) or her husband, Kasper, a preoccupied Los Angeles film producer. Rather, Ava’s rage burns beneath the surface, “so white and hot it blurred the contours of her body.” She is angry that, in a marriage of supposed equals circa 2019, Kasper can relocate to Sofia, Bulgaria, for a six-month film shoot without a second thought, while her own work as an adjunct art history professor is smudged out by the needs of her family. Her fury is also embedded, we later learn, in the powerlessness that comes with profound loss.

When the family joins Kasper in Sofia for the summer, the kids enroll in a day camp, allowing Ava to wander this mysterious city. Her curiosity and creativity bubble to the surface. She begins writing about an ancient Greek woman whose life parallels and dovetails with her own, and whose narrative is interspersed throughout the pages of the novel. By coincidence, Ava also reconnects in Sofia with an intimidating former professor named Lydia Nikitas and becomes involved in a group of women who participate in re-enactments of ancient rites and rituals, most notably the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Despite some moments that feel forced and overly earnest, particularly in the ancient narrative and the Nikitas story line, Landau’s writing is accessible, specific, lush and transporting. Her research is rigorous and full of elegant effort. The great success of this novel is the author’s sustained exploration of a woman in early midlife who, seething quietly on the inside but operating gracefully on the outside, bravely re-evaluates how her life has unfolded in order to progress as a mother to herself. Renderings of Ava’s childhood — a heartbreaking recollection of a favorite red belt, memories of a father’s girlfriend entering her life and then leaving it — are especially astute and rich.

At times, the novel’s disparate parts compete with rather than complement one another; some characters seem predictable, and certain ideas redundant. When things are meant to get weird, as in the rituals, it can feel more Scooby-Doo than genuinely haunting. For this reason, more than once, I felt like shaking the book like a snow globe, as if its fascinating contents, suspended, might set free more of its wildness.

Landau’s prose can also lift off the page, as it does in a prolonged memory of Ava’s first childbirth and its aftermath. Here, Landau’s writing is intimate, tender and full of terror. The sentences breathe with the softness of shared human experience across time — absolutely sufficient to the moment, and to eternity, too.

THE MOTHER OF ALL THINGS | By Alexis Landau | Pantheon | 336 pp. | $29

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The one book your child needs to read before they start 'adulting'

A merican students need the Bible—both K-12 students and college students . To some, that will sound scandalous, since we live in an intellectual culture that is hostile to the Bible and has largely ripped it from curricula. After attending our nation’s schools, too many Americans show an  extraordinary biblical illiteracy and, as a result, now end up with a distorted understanding of themselves, our national history, our Judeo-Christian heritage, and our political experiment in self-government. 

Why do our students need the Bible? Start with the fact that it is the best-selling book of all time and we are raising a generation ignorant of its contents. Add to that its status as the primary document in Western history, it is the book that made our world.

Knowledge of the Bible is foundational to understanding Western culture. It has influenced our art, our literature, our philosophy, our education and justice system , our understanding of government and family, and it has had a profound effect on humanitarianism and philanthropy.

The Bible is a cultural key that unlocks vocabulary, symbols, images, metaphors throughout Western culture. Our literature is steeped in biblical references from books by Shakespeare to Steinbeck to the speeches of Lincoln and Martin Luther King. According to surveys by U.S. high school English teachers , we know that Bible knowledge confers a distinct educational advantage on students.

MORE THAN 300 PUBLIC SCHOOLS NATIONWIDE WILL LEARN FROM THE BIBLE THIS YEAR

The Bible is also foundational to understanding American history. The early public religion of America was Christianity, which meant the Bible provided the framework for society in early America. Our nation’s founders read the Bible and quoted from it more than any other book. 

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The Bible informed both our Declaration of Independence ("all men are created equal") and our Constitution (itself a national covenant). John Adams called it "the best book in the world." His son John Quincy Adams agreed and said that "the first and almost the only book deserving of universal attention is the Bible." Benjamin Rush supported the teaching of the Bible in schools saying that Bible education is "the best means of awakening moral sensibility" in the minds of young people. It prepared them for self- governance. 

Not too long ago the Bible was a key part of our public education system . I can remember the opening exercises of my public school in northern New Jersey which included not only the Pledge of Allegiance, but the Lord’s Prayer and a Bible reading (with the ten commandments posted on the school room wall). And that was a watered-down version of what used to be more intense in school books like The New England Primer and the McGuffey Readers. 

The Bible shaped our understanding of law and freedom and exposed us to all kinds of stories, from creation to Moses to Jesus, including a redemptive story that has animated our civilization. 

It gave us a theistic perspective: that there is a sovereign God and a reason to live (as opposed to the current nihilism), that human nature is mixed and fixed (verses the view that it is plastic and we can be whatever we want to be), that there are two kinds of freedom and one is disastrous (where everyone does what seems right in their own eyes), that we should love and respect our neighbor, and that faith and reason are compatible. It taught us about covenants, gave us a sense of what a nation is, and showed us that nations and national leaders can be good or bad (or somewhere in between). 

‘DON’T PUT YOUR ULTIMATE HOPE IN POLITICS OR POLITICIANS,' URGES FAITH LEADER AS CAMPAIGN SEASON HEATS U

Perhaps you are saying to yourself, "but it is unconstitutional to teach and read the Bible in school?" Well, that thought would not have even arisen until mid-20th century America when the Supreme Court first ruled, in Everson vs. Board of Education, on the basis of a new understanding of church and state (i.e. the complete wall of separation, which led to a separation of God and state). Before that time, even president Roosevelt talked about ours as a nation which held to the ideals of Christianity and democracy. 

But there was a shift in our self-understanding in the post-war period from being a Christian democracy to being a liberal democracy. And the Supreme Court did rule in Engle vs. Vitale (1962) and Abington School District vs. Schempp (1963) that school-sponsored prayer and Bible reading were now prohibited. 

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I personally think that these were disastrous decisions. However, even as written, they do not ban the Bible from our schools. It is permissible to require readings of the Bible if it is being studied academically, as literature, as history or as part of the history of religions. It can be studied as an historical resource. It’s just that public schools cannot use it devotionally or to advance particular religious beliefs. But it can be used as a text and even a primary text to teach about what it says and how it influenced our civilization. 

Now, of course, parochial and religious schools have far greater freedom with regard to teaching the Bible. So do faith-based universities. Yeshiva University, an Orthodox Jewish university, is committed to teaching the Torah. Colorado Christian University, the evangelical Christian university where I serve, has required Bible classes as part of its general education requirements. 

So, when I say American students need the Bible, here is what I am recommending for our public institutions. We should require the teaching of the Bible in public schools as the primary document of Western civilization, and a book that has had significant influence on our national history. 

Teach it academically. Teach it as literature—its narrative and characters. Teach it as not just one of many religions, but as our nation’s formative religion. That doesn’t mean every person must believe in the Bible, but every educated person deserves to know the Bible. 

The fact is, we are not doing too well without the Bible. It’s not just the problem of biblical illiteracy , it’s the purposelessness of so many young people, the high suicide rates, the mental health crisis, the lack of character formation, the gender confusion, the new anti-intellectualism (that comes with attacks on the idea of truth, wisdom and yes, reason). And it’s the ideological shift in our schools from liberal democracy to woke neo-Marxism that is leaving us more fragmented, more divisive and more hopeless than ever. On this count, our recent Bible-phobia has been a disaster.

Original article source: The one book your child needs to read before they start 'adulting'

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    While drawing in class at Stagwood School, 12-year old Cal sees a frog staring at him through the window. Stranger than that, is the fact that this frog happens to be wearing glasses. Cal and his best friend, Soy, learn that the frog (who prefers the name Deli) has sought them out for a reason. When a school administrator named Ream reveals ...

  23. free children's story books pdf

    Increases your kids verbal skills. The free online storybooks for childrens are designed in such a way, as they read our free story books they can accumulate lot of new words, it increases their understanding of English language better. Gradually, they can give accurate definitions of the new words learned through the free stories for kids.

  24. 10 of the Best New Children's Books Out May 2024

    Lion of the Sky by Ritu Hemnani (May 7; Balzer + Bray) This moving middle grade verse novel occurs during the British Partition of India. Twelve-year-old Raj, who is Hindu, loves flying kites with his best friend, who is Muslim. Raj is the middle child and often feels like he isn't good enough in his father's eyes.

  25. Alina Grabowski's 'Women and Children First' book review : NPR

    Toward the beginning of Alina Grabowski's kaleidoscopic debut Women and Children First, 16-year-old Jane Ryder rides her bike through the rain-slicked streets of Nashquitten, a fictional town on ...

  26. Dolly Parton's Imagination Library free books for kids expands across

    1:18. Oregon's new Dolly Parton's Imagination Library program has been expanded and will now allow access to free monthly books for all children ages 0-5 in 36 counties statewide, officials ...

  27. All 28 Jack Reacher Books, Ranked Worst To Best

    Released during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, The Sentinel was the 25th Jack Reacher novel.While it was an improvement on 2019's Blue Moon, it still failed to live up to earlier entries in the franchise as far as many readers and critics were concerned.The main flaw found in The Sentinel is the awkward writing, since Lee Child co-wrote this book with his brother Andrew (the pair are named ...

  28. Book Review: 'The Mother of All Things,' by Alexis Landau

    A Modern Mom Finds an Ancient Outlet for Feminist Rage. In Alexis Landau's ambitious new novel, "The Mother of All Things," the frustrations of modern parenting echo through the ages. Eliza ...

  29. The one book your child needs to read before they start 'adulting'

    John Adams called it "the best book in the world." His son John Quincy Adams agreed and said that "the first and almost the only book deserving of universal attention is the Bible." Benjamin Rush ...

  30. The Pocket Book of Boners by Dr. Suess

    Dr. Seuss's First Book was called The Pocket Book Of Boners. Although this may seem like quite an unusual name for a G-rated book, there is an explanation. Back in the day, a "boner" was a word ...