100+ Books to Read to Children

Mother sitting with daughter in her lap reading a picture book
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I hadn't carefully screened the book before I started reading it to my kids, and I realized too late that the main character solved his problem by lying, without facing any consequences for his decision. When the book ended, we had a good conversation about how the ends don't justify the means, and I began to consider how I could be more proactive in choosing quality books for my kids. Here are some ideas that you can use, too:

Lists

Write down titles that made an impact on you, along with the age you were when you read them. Add recommendations from family, trusted friends and your children's teachers. Then verify age and content appropriateness through websites such as PluggedIn.com/book-reviews.

Challenges

When children go through changes, such as a move to a new school, it's wise to find books that focus on similar situations. Otherwise, look for books with realistic characters who appear to use reason or logic to overcome challenges. These character-driven stories can help kids learn to solve their own challenges.

Worldviews

Research the publisher and author to uncover a book's worldview. A publisher's mission statement or an author's biography gives clues. (Even lesser-known authors have brief biographies or links to achievements.) This helps to better understand why Philip Pullman (The Amber Spyglass) depicts Christianity poorly and George MacDonald (The Princess and the Goblin) represents it well; or why Frances Hodgson Burnett's earlier books (Sara Crewe) did not have the same Christian Science subtleties as her later works (The Secret Garden).

Common sense

You shouldn't necessarily avoid all books that have a different worldview from yours, but it is important to discuss the books' worldview with your kids. Unfortunately, a book written by someone with a biblical worldview doesn't guarantee that a book is written well. So use your common sense as you find books for your family to enjoy together.

Start your list

Are you ready to create your own list of books to read to your children?

The book titles listed below have been reviewed by Focus on the Family, except for those published by Focus on the Family, which are already family friendly. The titles below are intended to help parents create a list of books to read to their children. Here is how to add some of these books to your list:

First read each book's review, and then consider the appropriateness of the genre and plot for your children (age, developmental stage, current life challenges). Once you decide on a book that will work with your children's personalities and that is within their developmental stage — physically and spiritually — read it to them.

When done, start a discussion on it to go deeper and eventually discuss the book's worldview. (You can find parent-child discussion questions for these books at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.)

Remember that PluggedIn.com book reviews are not endorsements and cover only the content and theme of a book, not its literary merit. The titles below have been broken into age and genre categories. There is some overlap of book titles between the age groups because of the wide variety of differences in children at each age and stage.

Books with asterisks by them are published by Christian publishers, and once again, those published by Focus on the Family do not have reviews because they are wholly approved by Focus on the Family. Instead, books published by Focus on the Family are linked to an online bookstore where you can read descriptions about the books.

Reading to 4- to 7-year-olds

Adventure

Classic stories

Contemporary

Fantasy

Historical fiction

Reading to 8- to 11-year-olds

Adventure

Classic stories

Contemporary

Creative Nonfiction

Fantasy

Historical fiction

Reading to kids 12 and above

Classic stories

Creative Nonfiction

Fantasy

Historical fiction


 

This article first appeared in the April/May 2016 issue of Thriving Family magazine as "Choosing Better Read-Aloud Books." If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. Get it delivered to your home by subscribing to it for a gift of any amount.
Copyright © 2016 by Focus on the Family. 

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