Good Books for Kids to Read: How to Find Them

By Sheila Seifert
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You can find good books for your kids by starting with our list of genres and then matching books to your children's interests.

.My kids liked to choose their own books at the library, but not because they were excited to explore the stacks. They did it because they were afraid they’d have to read a thick, dusty book that I chose, something good for them, much like spinach or asparagus.  

I knew how to find books to read to them, but not books they wanted to read independently. Over the years, I learned to find books they considered good reading. To do this, I had to figure out the genres that most interested them by watching the types of books that held their attention.

I also paid attention to their favorite movies, and categorized them as adventure, fantasy, mystery, or another genre. These clues, when put together with their personalities and their likes and dislikes, helped me find my kids’ genre preferences, which went a long way in guiding me to choose books they wanted to read and motivated them to read.

If you’ve studied your children, you may know some of the genres your kids prefer too. Here’s what you can do with that information. Go to https://www.pluggedin.com/book-reviews. Next to the words “Book Reviews‚” is a drop-down menu beneath the word “Filter.” If you click on the arrow, you can find a specific genre that your child likes to read. Click on it and on the “Submit” button to receive a list of books that have been reviewed in that genre. By glancing through the reviews, you’ll be able to tell fairly quickly whether the book is appropriate for your child’s age, stage or interests.

If that sounds too daunting, I’ve listed a number of books by their genres as a place for you to begin

Read these book reviews for parents, to verify that a book is good for your kids. 

Adventure books

cover for The Bears on Hemlock Mountain

The Bears on Hemlock Mountain Review 

Jonathan wonders if there might be bears on Hemlock Mountain as he travels over it to borrow a pot for his Ma. If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

The Legend of the 10-Gallon Sam and the Perilous Mine Review 

Sam learns a valuable lesson about pride when he receives a new ten-gallon hat, in this allegory about Samson. If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

Animal stories

cover for The Bravest Dog Ever

The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto Review 

Balto was the lead dog of one of the 21 brave dogsled teams who brought diphtheria medicine to Nome, Alaska. If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

Cover for Otter B Kind

Otter B Kind

Kids can learn more about the godly trait of kindness in this delightful “Otter B” book, which is the second in the “Otter B” series.

Contemporary books

book cover - first day jitters

First Day Jitters Review 

Sarah is nervous because she’s ready to begin classes at her new school. If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

Freckle Juice Review 

Andrew wishes he had freckles like Nicky. Then a classmate offers him a a freckle-producing drink. If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

Historical fiction books

book cover for voyage with the vikings

Voyage With the Vikings 

Cousins Patrick and Beth travel back in time to Viking-occupied Greenland and encounter a less-than-friendly Viking. If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

book cover for don't forget winona

Don’t Forget Winona 

Winona and her family move west by traveling on Route 66. If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

Even more historical stories:

  • The Beginner’s Bible: David and the Giant

Humor books

book cover for amelia bedelia

Amelia Bedelia

Amelia Bedelia takes her employers’ instructions literally, oblivious to the Rogers’ true intentions. If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

book cover for Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa

Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa

Kate gets a cow horse named Cocoa. The two become fast friends. If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

Mystery books

The cover for Nate the Great

Nate the Great

When Annie’s painting goes missing, she calls detective Nate the Great to discover the reason. If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

Cover for The Crazy Christmas Angel

The Crazy Christmas Angel Mystery

Eric can’t believe it when his neighbor’s Christmas angel comes to life. If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

Good books for kids: 8- to 11-year-olds

Read these book reviews for parents, to verify that a book is good for your kids. 

Adventure books

cover for Stories of Danger and Courage

Bible Kidventures: Stories of Danger and Courage

Kids remain engaged as you read them four Bible stories in this choose-your-own Kidventure. If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

cover for Stone Fox

Stone Fox

This gripping story places a boy and his dog against an impossible task. If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

Animal stories

Begin

When a long-missing bear named C.J. sends a distress call, Growly, a bear cub, vows to rescue him. If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

Tumtum and Nutmeg

Mice Tumtum and Nutmeg protect the children of Rose Cottage from their absent-minded dad’s neglect. If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

Even animal stories:

  • Squirreled Away 

Classic books

cover for Little Britches

Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers

A young boy and his father start life on the Colorado frontier. If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

cover for Treasure Island

Treasure Island

When sea captain Billy Bones dies at an Inn, young Jim finds the pirate’s map and embarks on a perilous journey. If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

Contemporary books

Opening Moves book cover

Opening Moves

Councilman Philip Glossman and his evil boss, Regis Blackgaard, scheme against Whit in the town of Odyssey. If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

Frindle

Can one word change an entire town? Nick Allen is going to find out, and he’s using the word frindle to do it. If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

Even more contemporary stories:

Fantasy books

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Four siblings find their way into a magical land in need of deliverance from evil. If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

Cover for The Mouse With the Question Mark Tail

The Mouse With the Question Mark Tail

A tiny mouse travels around Buckingham Palace in search of answers. If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

Even more fantasy stories:

Mystery books

Cover for Young Whit & the Traitor's Treasure

Young Whit & the Traitor’s Treasure

Confederate gold has been missing since the end of the Civil War. Did one of Johnny’s ancestors steal it? If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

Cover for Theodore Boone - Kid Lawyer

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer

Theo has plans of being a lawyer and must defend himself much earlier than expected.  If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

Good books for kids: 12- to 14-year-olds

Read these book reviews for parents, to verify that a book is good for your kids.

Adventure books

cover for great turkey walk good books for kids

The Great Turkey Walk

In 1860, 15-year-old Simon Green tries to herd turkeys 1,000 miles to sell them out West in Denver. If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

cover for jump into the sky — good books for kids

Jump Into the Sky

A young African-American named Levi travels through the Jim Crow South looking for his father. If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

Biography/Diary books

anne frank cover - good books for kids

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

Anne Frank, a Jewish girl, kept a diary of her experiences in  the Netherlands, after the Nazis took control during World War II. If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

cover of boy who harnessed the wind - good books for kids

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

William Kamkwamba is a young man from Malawi, a small nation in southeastern Africa, doesn’t let hard times get him down. If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

Even more biography/diary stories:

Classic books

oliver twist cover - good books for kids

Oliver Twist

An orphan boy becomes a pickpocket in London and eventually finds his way home. If your kid reads this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with your children about it.

cover carry on Mr. Bowditch

Carry on Mr. Bowditch

Nathaniel Bowditch grows up in the sailing community of Salem. If your kid reads this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with your children about it.

Contemporary books

cover of the pitcher's duel - good books for kids

Pitcher’s Duel

Chip pitches in the state tournament while he also fights to defend his coach. If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

The Christy Miller Collection_Volume 1

Nathaniel Bowditch grows up in the sailing community of Salem. If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

Even more contemporary stories:

Fantasy books

The Fellowship of the Ring

Nine unlikely travel companions must journey to Mt. Doom and destroy Sauron’s enchanted ring. If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

cover kingdom's dawn - good books for kids

Kingdom’s Dawn

An allegory that includes knights and medieval battles that teach about God and His kingdom. If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

Even more fantasy stories:

  • The Dark Is Rising
  • “The Wilderking” series No. 1: The Bark of the Bog Owl
  • “The Wilderking” series No. 2: The Secret of the Swamp King

Historical fiction books

cover elijah of buxton - good books for kids

Elijah of Buxton

Elijah is the first free-born child of the runaway slave community of Buxton in Canada. As he helps a friend, he faces the horrors of slavery. If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

cover for little women

Little Women

The March sisters struggle to improve themselves daily by following the advice of their parents learning how to love each other better. If your kids read this book, you can get parent-child discussion questions to talk with them about it.

Good books for kids: Teens

Read these book reviews for parents, to verify that a book is good for your older kids to read. If your teens read one of these books, you can get discussion questions to talk with them about it. 

© 2019 by Focus on the Family

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About the Author

Sheila Seifert photo
Sheila Seifert

Sheila Seifert is the editorial director of parenting content for Focus on the Family magazine, the author of over 20 books and the founder of Simple Literature.

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