How do you find good books for your child, homeschooled or not? First, define good. Good doesn’t necessarily mean old or even traditional. I think there are few basic criteria for a good children’s book:
- Pleasant, creative illustrations. Sometimes just a glance at illustrations can weed out weirdness or attitude that is questionable. There are lots of good books to choose from, so there is no need to feel pressure to accept those that don’t sit right with you from first glance.
- Good attitudes of characters. That doesn’t mean the characters can’t learn something along the way, but what is the overall theme about how people get along. In the final analysis, are characters kind and respectful of each other. Any truly bad characters should be limited in young children’s books, and described in ways that do not overwhelm or confuse the children.
- Creative, fun story that inspires discovery. Young children should read stories that invite further discovery of the world, as well as spark their imaginations. If there are specific, hard issues that a child is facing, there might be books that can be a supportive resource for dealing with that, but most children do not need to be exposed to difficult things beyond their maturity.
Books about good children’s books!
When my children were young, there were two books that particularly helped me to begin my search for good books. Both of these have been updated as of 2002.
Books Children Love by Elizabeth Laraway Wilson and Susan Schaeffer Maccaulay
Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt
My grown children recommend some of their favorites:
My youngest child is nearly 21 years old now, but when I asked if she would mind recommending a few of her favorite books, she took me on an excited tour of our family bookshelves. She began with books for young children, which is what I will list in this blog. Later her selections were discussed with several older siblings. Recommendations for middle aged children and high school age young adults will come later.
She could give me this book tour because I have slowly built up a family library. There is really nothing like having books permanently available in the home. Libraries are considered magical places. Why not create a specially designed one, suited for your children and your family principles right in your home?
Now, in the order we happened to find them on our bookshelves, here are some of our favorite books for young children. I have noted the illustrator when that was of primary importance.
Be Nice to Spiders by Margaret Bloy Graham
Benji and the Barking Bird by Margaret Bloy Graham
The Sleepy Owl illustrated by Marcus Pfister
Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff
Julius also by Syd Hoff
Aesop’s Fables illustrated by Charles Santore
Stand Back Said the Elephant, I’m Going to Sneeze by Patricia Thomas
Horton Hears a Who (and most Dr. Suess books)
Pink and Yellow by William Steig
Brave Irene by William Steig
Homer Price by Robert McCloskey
Little Bear Treasury by Else Holmelund Minarik
The True Princess by Angela Elwell Hunt
The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt
The Gingerbread Boy illustrated by Scott Cook
St. George and the Dragon Margaret Hodges and Trina Schart Hyman
Katy No Pocket by Emmy Payne
Stone Soup by Marcia Brown
Marco Polo and Wellington Search for Solomon by Janice Thompson
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
A New Coat for Anna by Harriet Ziefert
King Leonard’s Celebration, part of the Kidderminster Kingdom Tales, a series by Christopher Lane, Sharon Dahl
The Little Golden Books Collection (Animal Tales) by Golden Books
Noah’s Ark illustrated by Peter Spier
Jonah illustrated by Peter Spier
Howard Had a Spaceship by Steve Lawhead
Bomby the Bombadier Beetle by Hazel May Rue
The Blue Fish (by me, she really wanted me to include this on the list)
The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
The Clever Carpenter by RW Alley is ridiculously expensive due to being out of print right now, but my kids were adamant that it be included, so keep your eyes open for deals!
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
Two Good Friends by Judy Delton
If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff
The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman
The Mitten by Jan Brett
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg
Book review help for busy parents
My oldest daughter has a book review website and she would be happy to read and review any books that you are wondering about. You can ask in the comments here or go to her website anemoneflynn.com.
Further reading for the parent: