Rhea Lana's Kid Book Recommendations

I am That Book Mama; a mother and a librarian who loves books. I love to talk about them. I want to peruse shelves and look at them. I want to hug them. I want to smell them...yes smell. I'll admit it, I'm a book sniffer. You cut me and I bleed books...books and Taco Bell, but that's a whole other story.

At the library, I am often asked what my favorite books are and what the best books are for a certain age child. I get very excited, my mind explodes with ideas! I can think of my top five books about bears, cats, dogs, winter, iguanas, mice, historical, magic, and even underwear for heaven's sake, with no problem. But, my Top 5 of all time… a mind blowing task!

After much shifting around, throwing out and adding back, I've finally nailed down my Top 5 Picture books for 2-6-year-olds and Top 5 Chapter books for 7-12-year-olds.

Could I stop there? No. I've also added a “Bonus Book” just in case you've already read the ones I have suggested and have no clue where to go next. So, let’s get those pages turning.


Top 5 Picture Books for Ages 2-6

1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar – by Eric Carle
This is a simple story, for lack of a better explanation, of a hungry caterpillar. He is born on a Sunday and by the end of the week he has eaten everything under the sun. This book covers early concepts of days of the week and counting. More importantly, I think, it allows the reader to explore the holes eaten thru all of the foods. There is nothing sweeter than your toddler putting his fat little fingers into the holes in the pages. Precious! The board book version is available of this book and I'd highly recommend getting one for any child under the age of 4. As many times as you'll likely read this, the pages will hold up a lot better than a regular copy.

Bonus Book: Fish Eyes by Lois Ehlert (also comes in board book)


2. Blueberries For Sal – by Robert McCloskey
Berry picking with your mom, who wouldn't want to do that? Little Sal and her mother grab their buckets and take off down the path. Sal's mother explains that they will pick berries and can them for winter. Before long, Sal's mother has half a bucket of berries while Sal can still hear the “kuplink” her berries make in the bottom of her bucket. Sal is more interested in eating her stash of yummy goodness and that’s exactly why she mistook a mama bear for her own mother. Eek! Don't worry, everything works out fine but Sal wasn't the only one confused in the berry patch.

Bonus book: When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant


3. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See – by Bill Martin, Jr.
This is one book that you will not be able to read once and put down. It is very repetitious so your kiddo will have it memorized by the time you read it a few times. Blue Horse, Purple Cat, Green Frog, learning colors has never been more fun. When Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle pair up for a book, it is one you won't soon forget.


Bonus Book: Dog's Colorful Day by Emma Dodd


4. George and Marthaby James Marshall
Hippos! What is better than two hippos who have their own book series? Two funny hippos, that's what. There are actually several books in the series and each book tells multiple stories. It chronicles the friendship of George and Martha, two hippos who are the best of friends. They have their ups and downs but true friends always stick together.

Bonus Book: Toot and Puddle - By Holly Hobbie (also a series)


5. The Little House – by Virginia Lee Burton
Life begins for Little House out in the country. She is surrounded by rolling hills and lush grass. Her life couldn’t get any better. However, she did wonder what the city was like and before long houses were being built around her and her big wide world was slowly becoming very small. As the years went on, she became more and more crowded and eventually she ended up living right in the middle of a huge city. No one took care of her and so she was in desperate need of a new paint job and some major repairs. Her luck did turn around and she was discovered by a young woman and her husband. Little House was moved back into the country where she belonged and she no longer wondered about what city life would be like.

Bonus Book: A Family for Old Mill Farm – By Shutta Crum and Our Library – By Eve Bunting



Top 5 Chapter Books For Ages 7-12

1. Little House in The Big Woods – By Laura Ingalls Wilder
“This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” - Casablanca 1942
I love that quote! This book really is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. So many folks think that the series starts with Little House on the Prairie. Au contraire! The story actually begins in the big woods of Wisconsin. I think also that most would identify these books as being “girl” books. No way! Young Laura Ingalls gets dirtier and does more “boyish” things than most boys I know these days. Recording the daily on goings of her life as a young girl, Laura Ingalls Wilder takes us straight into the great frontier. It was a time in which, the sky was the limit but also a time of heartbreaking decisions and extremely hard work. With several books in the series, you will want to read them all in order to find out where Laura's adventures take her next. P.S. For Moms with smaller children, there is also a picture book series. The stories are taken directly out of the chapter books and they are beautifully illustrated.

Bonus Book: Sarah, Plain and Tall – By Patricia MacLachlan


2. Hatchet – by Gary Paulsen
What do you do when you are the sole survivor of a plane crash in the Alaskan wilderness? You learn to survive...quickly. Brian Robeson had to do just that when the single engine plane he was riding in crashed into a lake after the pilot had a heart attack. Brian was on his way to visit his dad but before he left his mother gave him a hatchet. Little did he know just how much he would actually use that unfamiliar tool. After Brian was thrown into the middle of nowhere with only his hatchet at his side, he learned not only to find food and build a shelter but to survive in one of the most harsh environments. Gary Paulsen has written several adventure type books so if you like this series pick up the others as well.

Bonus Book: My Side of the Mountain Jean Craighead George


3. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane – By Kate DiCamillo
Edward Tulane is a white china rabbit so do NOT call him a bunny. He belongs to a little girl who dresses him to the nines and he expects everyone to know his importance. Edward is completely stuck on himself. He believes he is better than everyone else and has no love for anyone. While vacationing on a cruise ship he is mistakenly tossed overboard. Edward then begins his new life in the bottom of the ocean. He gets picked up by a fisherman and is taken home, given a new name and a new DRESS. How humiliating! Over time he is tossed from one person to the next but along the way he is humbled and learns the true meaning of the word love. I've given this book to anyone from elementary age all the way up to 85-year-old folks. It is destined to become a classic. Kate DiCamillo has written several other books but this is by far and away my favorite.

Bonus Book: War Horse – By Michael Morpurgo


4. Old Yeller – By Fred Gipson
Travis Coates has a big job on his hands. His father is on a cattle drive so he is left in charge of the home place. Keeping up with daily chores and trying to wrangle his little brother Arliss are the least of his worries when a food stealing yellow dog shows up at their house. At first, Travis tried to get rid of the dog but soon Old Yeller became a member of the family. Sadly, there was a sickness going around in that part of the country and they soon learned about it firsthand. Savage Sam is the companion book to Old Yeller so be sure to pick it up as well.

Bonus Book: Shiloh – By Phillis Reynolds Naylor


5. James And The Giant Peach – By Roald Dahl
James Trotter was sent to live with his two horrible aunts after his parents died in an accident. Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker are your typical awful caregivers. James had to do all of the work while Sponge and Spiker made sure he was doing it right. After talking with a rather weird gentleman and receiving a bag of magical crocodile tongues, James thought his luck was about to turn around. With bag in hand he began running toward his house but on the way he tripped spilling them all over the ground. What happened next was nothing short of magical. Insert a grasshopper, a spider, a ladybug, a centipede, a silkworm and an earthworm and things can only get better from there.


Bonus Book: The Indian in the Cupboard – By Lynne Reid Banks


If you need ideas of books for your kids, do not hesitate to ask your librarian. Hopefully she will stop perusing the shelves and sniffing books long enough to share her love of books with you and your children.

Rhea Lana Blog Contributor, Trinity Neely