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Raising Readers: 30 Iconic Children’s Books for Every Age

As a teacher and now homeschooling mom, one of my biggest goals has been instilling a love of reading. Not how well, fast, or perfectly they read; but a deep love for books, being read to, and eventually curling up with their own favorites.

I remember reading aloud the funniest children’s books to my kindergarten class and watching them suddenly “get it” and hear the peals of laughter. We read books to understand loss, and ones that talked on different ways of life. We shared the stories we’d read in different ways throughout our year together. Some were so loved they became a part of our classroom in offhand ways, like when a character or plot would suddenly reference something else we were doing.

When I became a mom, I read to Bella every day since birth. At night, she now snuggles into bed at night to read to her animals. We can hear her recite books she’s memorized or make up stories of her own from the pictures. All of this gives her a strong foundation for learning to read soon.

Here are just a few of the (many) classic books every child should grow up with:

 

  • No, David! 1 of 30
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    I can't even begin to explain how many times I read this book aloud to my pre-K and then kindergarten classes. It was an absolute hit - especially the part where David escapes the bath and runs down the street stark naked. 

    Purchase on Amazon for $12.16

  • Anansi the Spider 2 of 30
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    I have to admit, at first I wasn't too keen on this book. It didn't flow, the names were hard, the sentences were unstructured. I felt like it might be a "hider" - the one where you put it in a place your child can't see and ask to read it again. Ever. However, Bella really loved it and we ended up talking about it so often I came to enjoy how unique it really is. 

    Purchase on Amazon for $6.78

  • The Carrot Seed 3 of 30
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    This short book is one my daughter has memorized. She loves how the little boy proves everyone that tells him the seed won't "come up" wrong, and I love that it teaches her that the majority isn't always right. 

    Purchase on Amazon for $6.18

  • Harold and the Purple Crayon 4 of 30
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    I wasn't sure about this book until we started reading it and I realized that Harold creates everything he does with the drawings of a purple crayon. Now we love it - all three we have are perfect for a short but funny story time. 

    Purchase on Amazon for $6.79

  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day 5 of 30
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    This book was a favorite for me growing up. Alexander became a way I learned that everyone has days where it all goes wrong, gets worse, and then eventually circles back around. It's a classic. 

    Purchase on Amazon for $6.78

  • Caps for Sale 6 of 30
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    Part of our homeschool reading list, this book is a fun one to include your children in on as they pick up repeated phrases and shake their fists like the man who has monkey's steal his caps. 

    Purchase on Amazon for $6.18

     

  • Little Bear’s Visit 7 of 30
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    I remember my grandmother reading these books to me. Wholesome and old fashioned, Little Bear shows emotions all of us experience. There are several other titles in this series. 

    Purchase on Amazon for $3.90

  • Extra Yarn 8 of 30
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    A newer book, the little girl in it begins to knit and finds she always has extra yarn. She goes on to knit extraordinary things and finds her yard the envy of an evil archduke. 

    Purchase on Amazon for $12.18

  • Make Way for Ducklings 9 of 30
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    To me, this book always symbolized the good in people as they stop traffic and slow down for a mama and her ducklings that head over to a new home. 

    Purchase on Amazon for $13.99

  • Jumanji 10 of 30
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    The famous movie was based off this book. It's perfect for an older elementary child to read as the children have all kinds of bizarre adventures after starting a board game. 

    Purchase on Amazon for $12.71

  • When Sophie Gets Angry 11 of 30
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    This book is perfect for explaining different emotions to children. We are so tempted to say angry is wrong, but Molly explains that it's how we handle our feelings. 

    Purchase on Amazon for $5.71

     

  • Play With Me 12 of 30
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    The simple drawings and story line to this book make it one we read again and again. It's perfect for explaining how to treat animals gently and with respect, but also for talking on how it feels when no one wants to play with you. 

    Purchase on Amazon for $5.39

  • Fables 13 of 30
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    As a child, I read this book till it fell apart. The stories in here are so silly, but each as a deep lesson inside that resonates long after it's back on the shelf. Really a fun read for ages 4 and up. 

    Purchase on Amazon for $6.18

  • Sylvester and the Magic Pebble 14 of 30
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    When the donkey disobeys his parents, he's turned into a rock and can't wish his way back out. This is a good reminder of why it's important to listen, but also how much parents love their children. 

    Purchase on Amazon for $7.98

  • The Little House 15 of 30
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    Fall in love with the little house and her expressive window eyes as she watches the world around her go from happy country life to a busy city. A classic story all children love.

    Purchase on Amazon for $15.84

  • Blueberries for Sal 16 of 30
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    Read as both a mother and daughter pick blueberries and a bear and her cub eat them in preparation for winter. It's a lovely story of a bond between a mama and child no matter what the species. 

    Purchase on Amazon for $7.98

  • Madeline 17 of 30
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    Madeline is a great read because it's repetitive but also has a great story to it. A brave little girl who isn't afraid of anything at all - not even when she heads to the hospital. 

    Purchase on Amazon for $6.78

  • Frog and Toad are Friends 18 of 30
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    Growing up, we read Frog and Toad constantly. Their antics always lead to some sort of problem, but the overall theme is friendship and learning to love each other's differences. 

    Purchase on Amazon for $11.59

  • Bear Snores On 19 of 30
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    Kids love the way this book rhymes and how silly the bear is as he snores his way through the night while his friends have all kinds of fun around him. 

    Purchase on Amazon for $12.78

  • Oliva 20 of 30
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    Olivia has become a favorite in our home. From building a skyscraper for a sandcastle to imagining herself as a ballerina, we love the wry sense of humor and facial expressions of this adorable little pig. It's one you can read a few times without feeling like you're going to have to hide it soon. 

    Purchase on Amazon for $12.14

  • Once a Mouse 21 of 30
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    A little lesson in pride is in this book as a mouse turns from being prey to one of the most majestic of all animals - and then back again. 

    Purchase on Amazon for $6.78

  • Leo the Late Bloomer. 22 of 30
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    Bella loves to repeat, "Leo's father wasn't watching. But Leo still wasn't blooming" as we laugh over how Leo's rather paranoid father is always watching for signs of his son growing up. This book has encouraged us to talk about what it means to be a "late bloomer" in certain areas and how that's ok. 

    Purchase on Amazon for $6.18

  • The Ugly Duckling. 23 of 30
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     Everyone knows The Ugly Duckling, but your younger children may not since we assume that. Take the time to read one of the most popular stories of all time to them and drive home the message that just because you were born a certain way doesn't mean it has anything to do with who you turn into. 

    Purchase on Amazon for $12.78

     

  • The Snowy Day. 24 of 30
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    A simple, beautifully illustrated book on how children love the snow but also long to keep things that make them happy alive forever. 

    Purchase on Amazon for $13.98

  • John Henry. 25 of 30
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    This book is an African American folk tale made alive with gorgeous watercolor and a quick paced story that boys and girls will want to hear over and over. It has a pretty amazing ending of, "dying ain't important.... What matters is how well you do your living."

    Purchase on Amazon for $6.78

  • The Lion and the Mouse. 26 of 30
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    The classic story of a lion and a mouse shaken up to include how when you help someone, often that turns around to help you. It's a wonderful lesson with beautiful pictures.

    Purchase on Amazon for $12.22

  • Where the Wild Things Are. 27 of 30
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    Who doesn't know this story? When Max sails off in his dreams to the land of the Wild Things, he encounters more than he wanted as a king. We love the unique illustrations. 

    Purchase on Amazon for $12.76

  • Llama Llama Red Pajama. 28 of 30
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    When I read this to my kindergarten class, I got overly dramatic with Llama freaking out about his mama being on the phone until I had them in stitches laughing. A must read. 

    Purchase on Amazon for $12.78

  • Ferdinand 29 of 30
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    One of Bella's favorites. The story of a bull who would rather be different than be wild and crazy, and how he loves himself regardless of what happens. 

    Purchase on Amazon for $6.78

  • Harry the Dirty Dog 30 of 30
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    I don't know if I loved this book or Harry and the Lady Next Door more, but this little dog gets himself into all kinds of trouble and manages to find his way home each time. 

    Purchase on Amazon for $6.18

 

Diana blogs at Diana Wrote about her life with a daughter here and three sons in heaven, life as an army wife, and her faith. You can also find her work on Liberating Working MomsShe Reads TruthThe New York Times, and The Huffington Post. Smaller glimpses into her day are on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

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