The last month or so has been unpredictable and sometimes stressful for so many of us. With parents having children at home for school, playtime, downtime, and everything in between, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the minute of day to day life. Therefore, it’s important for all of us to take a step back, and give ourselves a break. We’re only human; no one or two people manage to do everything! My recommendation: take some time to simply relax and enjoy quality family time. And what better way than to read stories together?
Below you will read about the importance of reading and find lists of: Books for the Entire Family, Books for preschoolers (under 5), Books for younger children (5-8), Books for older kids (8-12), and Books for preteen to teens (12+). Additionally, links for FREE audio books and eBooks; as well as information on popular subscription services (most are currently running promotions; don’t miss out!). Finally, resources on: the benefits of reading, where to find reviews on age appropriate books, and more. I hope you enjoy reading these stories as much as my family has. If I missed any of your favorites, let us know in the comments below.
Why is Reading Important?
Countless studies have been conducted that show the benefits of reading for all age ranges. Books can improve your vocabulary, reduce stress levels, and improve memory; encourage life goals, improve empathy, help you get a better night’s sleep, and can help in academic success.
Basically, there are so many benefits to reading that it’s hard to argue against it! Read on for our book recommendations!
Books for: The Entire Family
James and the Giant Peach, by R.Dahl – James and the Giant Peach creates a marvelous, fantastical world for young independent readers. Dahl’s original cast of characters, magical and suspenseful situations, and his liberal addition of comic poetry also make this a terrific read-aloud book. – Goodreads || FREE: World Cat | Purchase: Amazon
Where the Wild Things Are, by M. Sendak – Max, a wild and naughty boy, is sent to bed without his supper by his exhausted mother. In his room, he imagines sailing far away to a land of Wild Things. Instead of eating him, the Wild Things make Max their king. – Goodreads || FREE: Academia | Purchase: Amazon (audio only)
Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White – Charlotte’s spiderweb tells of her feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, who simply wants a friend. They also express the love of a girl named Fern, who saved Wilbur’s life when he was born the runt of his litter. E. B. White’s Newbery Honor Book is a tender novel of friendship, love, life, and death that will continue to be enjoyed by generations to come. – Goodreads || FREE: Readers Section | Purchase: Amazon
The Book w/No Pictures, by B.J. Novak – At once disarmingly simple and ingeniously imaginative, The Book With No Pictures inspires laughter every time it is opened, creating a warm and joyous experience to share–and introducing young children to the powerful idea that the written word can be an unending source of mischief and delight. – Goodreads || FREE: World Cat | Purchase: Amazon
The Boxcar Children Series, by G.C. Warner – The Aldens begin their adventure by making a home in a boxcar. Their goal is to stay together, and in the process they find a grandfather. – Goodreads || FREE: World Cat | Purchase: Amazon
Stuart Little, by E.B. White – Stuart Little is no ordinary mouse. Born to a family of humans, he lives in New York City with his parents, his older brother George, and Snowbell the cat. Though he’s shy and thoughtful, he’s also a true lover of adventure. Stuart’s greatest adventure comes when his best friend, a beautiful little bird named Margalo, disappears from her nest. Determined to track her down, Stuart ventures away from home for the very first time in his life. He finds adventure aplenty. But will he find his friend? – Goodreads || FREE: World Cat | Purchase: Amazon
The Wind in the Willows, by K Grahame – Meet little Mole, willful Ratty, Badger the perennial bachelor, and petulant Toad. Over one hundred years since their first appearance in 1908, they’ve become emblematic archetypes of eccentricity, folly, and friendship. And their misadventures-in gypsy caravans, stolen sports cars, and their Wild Wood-continue to capture readers’ imaginations and warm their hearts long after they grow up. Begun as a series of letters from Kenneth Grahame to his son, The Wind in the Willows is a timeless tale of animal cunning and human camaraderie. This Penguin Classics edition features an appendix of the letters in which Grahame first related the exploits of Toad. – Goodreads || FREE: ManyBooks | Purchase: Amazon
The Giving Tree, by S. Silverstein – This is a tender story, touched with sadness, aglow with consolation. Shel Silverstein has created a moving parable for readers of all ages that offers an affecting interpretation of the gift of giving and a serene acceptance of another’s capacity to love in return. – Goodreads || FREE: World Cat | Purchase: Amazon
The Phantom Tollbooth, by N Juster – Hailed as “a classic. . . . humorous, full of warmth and real invention” (The New Yorker), this beloved story -first published more than fifty years ago- introduces readers to Milo and his adventures in the Lands Beyond.
For Milo, everything’s a bore. When a tollbooth mysteriously appears in his room, he drives through only because he’s got nothing better to do. But on the other side, things seem different. Milo visits the Island of Conclusions (you get there by jumping), learns about time from a ticking watchdog named Tock, and even embarks on a quest to rescue Rhyme and Reason! Somewhere along the way, Milo realizes something astonishing. Life is far from dull. In fact, it’s exciting beyond his wildest dreams. . . . – Goodreads || FREE: OpenLibrary | Purchase: Amazon
The Half Magic series, by E Eager – Four children wish on a Half Magic coin that gets their mother Alison half-way home, rescued by Mr Smith. Mark’s wish zaps them to a desert without island, where half-talking cat Carrie gabbles to a camel. Romantic Katherine battles Launcelot. Eldest Jane rejects siblings for another family. Stubborn youngest, Martha, causes a riot downtown. – Goodreads || FREE: Project Gutenberg | Purchase: Amazon
Wonder, by R.J. Ralacio – August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance. – Goodreads || FREE: Overdrive | Purchase: Amazon
We’re All Wonders, by R.J. Palacio (companion to Wonder) – We’re All Wonders may be Auggie’s story, but it taps into every child’s longing to belong, and to be seen for who they truly are. It’s the perfect way for families and educators to talk about empathy and kindness with young children. – Goodreads || FREE: Overdrive | Purchase: Amazon
Books for: Kids Under
Be Kind, by P.Z. Miller – A picture book about the power of kindness. When Tanisha spills grape juice all over her new dress, her classmate contemplates how to make her feel better and what it means to be kind. From asking the new girl to play to standing up for someone being bullied, this moving and thoughtful story explores what a child can do to be kind, and how each act, big or small, can make a difference–or at least help a friend. – Goodreads || FREE: World Cat | Purchase: Amazon
The Dot, by P.H. Reynolds – With a simple, witty story and free-spirited illustrations, Peter H. Reynolds entices even the stubbornly un-creative among us to make a mark — and follow where it takes us. – Goodreads || FREE: World Cat | Purchase: Amazon
The Foot Book, by Dr. Seuss – A toe-tapper babies will love–the classic Seussian book about opposites: “Wet foot, dry foot. Low foot, high foot…” This Little Book is an adaptation of the original book The Foot Book published by Random House in 1963. – Goodreads || FREE: World Cat | Purchase: Amazon
Harold and the Purple Crayon, by C. Johnson – One night, after thinking it over for some time, Harold decided to go for a walk in the moonlight.” So begins this gentle story that shows just how far your imagination can take you. Armed only with an oversized purple crayon, young Harold draws himself a landscape full of beauty and excitement. But this is no hare-brained, impulsive flight of fantasy. Cherubic, round-headed Harold conducts his adventure with the utmost prudence, letting his imagination run free, but keeping his wits about him all the while. He takes the necessary purple-crayon precautions: drawing landmarks to ensure he won’t get lost; sketching a boat when he finds himself in deep water; and creating a purple pie picnic when he feels the first pangs of hunger. – Goodreads || FREE: World Cat | Purchase: Amazon
How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You?, by J. Yolen & M. Teague – Parents and children can never have enough ways to say “I love you”–and now, America’s favorite dinosaurs are giving families a funny book, perfect for bedtime, storytime, anytime. Even when little dinosaurs are naughty, it’s important to remind them that no matter what they do, they are always loved. In this book, readers will laugh aloud as parents cope with the typical antics of childhood, but in the end, hugs and kisses show your little one how much you care. – Goodreads || FREE: World Cat | Purchase: Amazon (print only) / Other Books in Series (audio)
Interrupting Chicken, by D.E. Stein – A favorite joke inspires this charming tale, in which a little chickens habit of interrupting bedtime stories is gleefully turned on its head. – Goodreads || FREE: World Cat | Purchase: Amazon
Books for: Kids 5-8
Where the Sidewalk Ends, by S. Silverstein – Where the sidewalk ends, Shel Silverstein’s world begins. There you’ll meet a boy who turns into a TV set and a girl who eats a whale. The Unicorn and the Bloath live there, and so does Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout who will not take the garbage out. It is a place where you wash your shadow and plant diamond gardens, a place where shoes fly, sisters are auctioned off, and crocodiles go to the dentist. – Goodreads || FREE: World Cat | Purchase: Amazon
The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss – UNLESS someone like you…cares a whole awful lot…nothing is going to get better…It’s not.” Long before saving the earth became a global concern, Dr. Seuss, speaking through his character the Lorax, warned against mindless progress and the danger it posed to the earth’s natural beauty. His classic cautionary tale is now available in an irresistible mini-edition, perfect for backpack or briefcase, for Arbor Day, Earth Day, and every day. – Goodreads || FREE: World Cat | Purchase: Amazon
The Mouse and the Motorcycle, by B. Cleary – Living in a knothole in a hotel room, young Ralph has seen plenty of families come and go, some more generous with their crumbs than others. But when young Keith and his parents check in to the hotel, Ralph gets his first chance to check out. He has always fantasized about venturing beyond the second floor, maybe even outside. Curiosity overcomes caution, and Ralph must have a go at Keith’s toy motorcycle. Soon, the headstrong mouse finds himself in a pickle, when all he wanted was to ride a motorcycle. Lucky for him, the boy understands how it is. When he discovers Ralph in his thwarted attempt to abscond with the toy bike, Keith generously encourages the rodent to ride. He even teaches him the simple trick of starting the motorcycle: “You have to make a noise… pb-pb-b-b-b.” The subsequent situations Ralph motors into require quick thinking and grownup-sized courage. – Goodreads || FREE: World Cat | Purchase: Amazon
Beautiful Oops!, by B. Saltzberg – An award winning, best-selling, one-of-a-kind interactive book, Beautiful Oops! shows young readers how every mistake is an opportunity to make something beautiful. A singular work of imagination, creativity, and paper engineering, Beautiful Oops! is filled with pop-ups, lift-the-flaps, tears, holes, overlays, bends, smudges, and even an accordion “telescope”—each demonstrating the magical transformation from blunder to wonder. – Goodreads || FREE: GoogleBooks / Amazon| Purchase: Amazon (print only)
Dog Loves Drawing, by L. Yates – Dog loves books, but one day he receives a strange one in the mail—it’s blank! Soon, Dog realizes that this book is not for reading, but for drawing. Before long, Dog is doodling and drawing himself into a new world, full of friends and surprises. – Goodreads || FREE: World Cat | Purchase: Amazon
The Book of Mistakes, by C. Luyken – As one artist incorporates accidental splotches, spots, and misshapen things into her art, she transforms her piece in quirky and unexpected ways, taking readers on a journey through her process. Told in minimal, playful text, this story shows readers that even the biggest “mistakes” can be the source of the brightest ideas — and that, at the end of the day, we are all works in progress, too. – Goodreads || FREE: World Cat | Purchase: Amazon
Books for: Kids 8-12
The Secret Garden, by F.H. Burnett – One of the most delightful and enduring classics of children’s literature, The Secret Garden by Victorian author Frances Hodgson Burnett has remained a firm favorite with children the world over ever since it made its first appearance. Initially published as a serial story in 1910 in The American Magazine, it was brought out in novel form in 1911. – Goodreads || FREE: World Cat | Purchase: Amazon
Bridge to Terabithia, by K Paterson – Jess Aarons’ greatest ambition is to be the fastest runner in his grade. He’s been practicing all summer and can’t wait to see his classmates’ faces when he beats them all. But on the first day of school, a new girl boldly crosses over to the boys’ side and outruns everyone. That’s not a very promising beginning for a friendship, but Jess and Leslie Burke become inseparable. Together they create Terabithia, a magical kingdom in the woods where the two of them reign as king and queen, and their imaginations set the only limits. – Goodreads || FREE: Overdrive | Purchase: Amazon
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by R Dahl – Charlie Bucket’s wonderful adventure begins when he finds one of Mr. Willy Wonka’s precious Golden Tickets and wins a whole day inside the mysterious chocolate factory. Little does he know the surprises that are in store for him! – Goodreads || FREE: World Cat | Purchase: Amazon
Sideways Stories from Wayside School, by L Sachar – There was a terrible mistake – Wayside School was built with one classroom on top of another, thirty stories high (The builder said he was sorry.) Maybe that’s why all kinds of funny things happened at Wayside-especially on the thirteenth floor. – Goodreads || FREE: World Cat | Purchase: Amazon
Better Nate than Ever, by T Federle – Nate Foster has big dreams. His whole life, he’s wanted to star in a Broadway show. (Heck, he’d settle for *seeing* a Broadway show.) But how is Nate supposed to make his dreams come true when he’s stuck in Jankburg, Pennsylvania, where no one (except his best pal Libby) appreciates a good show tune? With Libby’s help, Nate plans a daring overnight escape to New York. There’s an open casting call for E.T.: The Musical, and Nate knows this could be the difference between small-town blues and big-time stardom. – Goodreads || FREE: World Cat | Purchase: Amazon
From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg – When suburban Claudia Kincaid decides to run away, she knows she doesn’t just want to run from somewhere, she wants to run to somewhere — to a place that is comfortable, beautiful, and, preferably, elegant. She chooses the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Knowing her younger brother Jamie has money and thus can help her with a serious cash-flow problem, she invites him along. – Goodreads || FREE: World Cat | Purchase: Amazon
Books for: 12 and Up
A Wrinkle in Time, by M L’Engle – It was a dark and stormy night. Out of this wild night, a strange visitor comes to the Murry house and beckons Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin O’Keefe on a most dangerous and extraordinary adventure – one that will threaten their lives and our universe. – Goodreads || FREE: World Cat | Purchase: Amazon
Stargirl, by J Spinelli – A celebration of nonconformity; a tense, emotional tale about the fleeting, cruel nature of popularity–and the thrill and inspiration of first love. – Goodreads || FREE: World Cat | Purchase: Amazon
The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton – The Outsiders is about two weeks in the life of a 14-year-old boy. The novel tells the story of Ponyboy Curtis and his struggles with right and wrong in a society in which he believes that he is an outsider. According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs. A soc (short for “social”) has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he’s always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow greasers–until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a soc. The murder gets under Ponyboy’s skin, causing his bifurcated world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a soc or a greaser. – Goodreads || FREE: Overdrive | Purchase: Amazon
The Hobbit, by JRR Tolkien – In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort. Now recognized as a timeless classic, this introduction to the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, the wizard Gandalf, Gollum, and the spectacular world of Middle-earth recounts of the adventures of a reluctant hero, a powerful and dangerous ring, and the cruel dragon Smaug the Magnificent. – Goodreads || FREE: Academia | Purchase: Amazon
The Chronicles of Narnia series, by CS Lewis – Journeys to the end of the world, fantastic creatures, and epic battles between good and evil—what more could any reader ask for in one book? The book that has it all is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, written in 1949 by Clive Staples Lewis. But Lewis did not stop there. Six more books followed, and together they became known as The Chronicles of Narnia. – Goodreads || FREE: Overdrive | Purchase: Amazon
The Harry Potter series, by JK Rowling – Full of sympathetic characters, wildly imaginative situations, and countless exciting details, the first installment in the series assembles an unforgettable magical world and sets the stage for many high-stakes adventures to come. – Goodreads || FREE: Limited Time Offer | Purchase: Amazon
FREE: Audio Books & eBooks
FREE: Audio Books
- LibriVox – LibriVox audiobooks are free for anyone to listen to, on their computers, iPods or other mobile device, or to burn onto a CD.
- Lit2Go– Lit2Go is a free online collection of stories and poems in Mp3 (audiobook) format.
- Loyal Books – Free public domain audiobooks and ebooks.
- Internet Archive – This library of free audio books and poetry features digital recordings and MP3’s from other sources.
- Open Culture – Download hundreds of free audio books, mostly classics, to your MP3 player or computer.
- Overdrive – Enjoy audiobooks for free through your local public library or school. Download the Libby app for iOS, Android, or Microsoft.
- Scribl – Many titles are available in audio format. All audio books include the eBook for free. Download the app for iOS or Android.
- Project Gutenberg – The oldest digital library.
- Spotify – Listen to audio books using this streaming service.
- Storynory (Children’s) – Storynory has been giving free audio stories to the world since November 2005. A podcast and website with audio streaming.
- Audiobooks Sync (Teens) – SYNC introduces a variety of audiobook experiences to teens to demonstrate that reading can be completed by listening.
- Free Classic Audiobooks – Digital narration for the 21st century
- Digitalbook – A place to find free public domain audio books and eBooks. The goal is to help as many people as possible find and enjoy digital books.
- Google Books – Read books and magazines; download, cite, and translate them.
- World Public Library – Unlimited access to millions of titles!
- Realprint – Thousands of free online books!
- Open Library – An open, editable library catalog.
- Project Gutenberg – A library of over 60,000 eBooks
- Smashwords – Smashwords is the world’s largest distributor of indie ebooks.
- Internet Archive – A non-profit digital library offering millions of free books, movies, & audio.
- 24Symbols – Enjoy now more than a million e-books on all your digital devices.
- BookBub – Unbeatable ebook deals, handpicked recommendations, and more!
- ManyBooks – Houses more than 50,000 free eBooks
- BookRix – Find thousands of books to read online and download free eBooks
- GoodReads – Find contemporary online books for free at Goodreads with the “free-online” tag.
- International Children’s Digital Library – A free online library of digitized children’s books in 59 languages from various countries.
- Library of Congress – Turn the pages to explore bygone eras, time-honored tales and historical narratives.
- Overdrive – Enjoy eBooks for free through your local public library or school. Download the Libby app for iOS, Android, or Microsoft.
- Riveted (YA) – Riveted by Simon Teen is an online community for anyone that loves young adult fiction!
More Tools for eBook Reading/Audio Listening
- Kindle Unlimited – Read anywhere: Download books directly from the Kindle app. Currently, this subscription service is offering 2 months free!! App available on iOS or Android.
- Scribd – The world’s largest digital library. Read unlimited* books, audiobooks. Scribd is currently offering 1 month free, no obligation. App available on iOS or Android.
- Audible – The world’s largest producer and provider of spoken-word entertainment and audiobooks. A selection of Free audiobooks are available all the time, to anyone. Currently, the service is offering Kids Audiobooks for Free for as long as schools are closed. App available on iOS or Android.
- Amazon Prime Reading – Part of Amazon Prime’s multi-benefit subscription and offers unlimited access to 1,000 Kindle books, magazines, and comic books. New users will receive 30 days free when signing up for Amazon Prime. Service plans available here.
- Audiobooks.com – Listen to 150,000 of best sellers and new releases. Audiobooks.com is offering 3 free audiobooks w/30-day trial. App available on iOS or Android.
- Downpour – If you do not listen to audiobooks very often, this could be the service for you! Sign up for a membership, then grab the app on iOS or Android.
As a parent myself, I recognize that getting a younger child to sit still long enough to listen can be a chore. To alleviate this problem, you could have the small ones participate in a quite activity. Coloring or sticker books are great tools you can use. More ideas can be found here!
Resources for Parents: Reading & Children
There are so many reasons why reading, at any age, is important. You read to learn, expand your vocabulary, explore new worlds, and to improve your memory (to name just a few of the benefits). Natural Beach Living has the following helpful articles for parents:
How to Get Your Child to Love Reading | Start reading early, read often, and choose visually appealing books – for a start…
Why Reading is Important for Children | Communication, cognitive, and thinking skills can be honed through reading…
The Importance of Reading TO Children | Reading aloud is an excellent way to bond with your child, as well as helping to develop cognitive skills…
How Reading Helps a Child’s Emotional Development | The key to helping a child expand emotionally is to pick books that he/she can relate to…
How Reading Helps a Child’s Social Development | Social development involves a broad range of social skills, which reading can help develop…
7 Ways to Foster a Love of Reading in Kids | Reading aloud to your kids, with enthusiasm, is one way to encourage reading…
How to Teach a Child to Read | It will take time, patience from you, and guidance to teach a child to read…
BONUS: The Ultimate Guide to Reading | Includes all of the above and MORE!
But wait… there’s more!
Common Sense Media is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing media recommendations, reviews, and advice for families. You can find Reviews for Parents on Age-Appropriate Titles for their children, Reading tips/reviews/recommendations on their blog, and lists such as Reading Apps, Games, and Websites.
Powerful Effect Storytelling Has on Your Brain | The power to tell and comprehend stories is one of the fundamental things that make us human. Stories allow us to empathize with people we do not know, help us forge trust and bonds, and so much more…
Are you ready?!
With so many resources available today, and the immeasurable benefits that reading brings, reading as a family seems like a no-brainer; or at the very least, an option worth trying. While most of the nation (and world) is staying home, reading with your family is a wonderful bonding experience. What better time than now to cultivate a reading habit in kids? Or in ourselves?
Not to mention…
If you aren’t already journaling about this historic time and the changes, struggles, or adjustments your household has made, reading as a family is the perfect opportunity to start! Log the books you read together, reactions/comments, interview the kids, and preserve this moment in time. Legacy of Love’s free app is available now. What are you waiting for?