childhood / family / reading

Children’s Book Recommendations

Timely for Christmas, timeless for other events. 

Let me put the following list in some context. You’re seeing the cleaned up version of two long-running conversations from a closed group for children’s book recommendations. This is something we seem to do on a regular basis, so I grabbed it, took names and identifiers off, and I’m putting it out here so we have one link. I don’t have time to clean it up, I’m supposed to be writing like mad today to catch up from only doing 1400 words yesterday. You will see repetitions (think of them as many votes of confidence) and missing author names, etc. 

Feel free to comment if you want me to correct. If you want to make additions, I should probably do another post, this one is *whew* long already. I do want to make a note. The original requests for books included ‘girl/boy/age’ and I’ve left that out. Kids will read the darndest things, and if you know them at all well, you’ll be able to pick out what will interest them most from this list. I don’t believe there’s anything on the list with sex in it… these are all books I would hand – have handed, in most cases – to my own children. For teens we’d make a different list. Maybe we should. 

  •  Pippi longstocking
  •  The Borrowers again.
  • the Artemis Fowl series.
  •  I really like the Hank the Cowdog series– it’s not “really” fantasy, just a talking ranch dog.
  •  Dealing with Dragons
  • The Princess and the Goblin?
  • the Chronicles of Narnia.
  •  Shannon Hale has some graphic novels: Rapunzel’s Revenge and Calamity Jack that could be pretty fun. They are on a high enough level but the story and the artwork were so interesting my kids took them to bed with them and it helped them increase their reading levels. Her other stories might be good too – Goose Girl and The Princess Academy (both are in series).
  •  “How to train your dragon” is apparently a good series, but I haven’t even listened to the ebooks we got for that.
  •  How To Train Your Dragon series…very funny. Not anything like the movie.
  • Also, the Chet Geko series is funny and delightful.
  •  The Oz books.,, the Baum ones…but not the first one, the ones after that.
  • Moomintrolls.
  • Jessica Day George – Tuesdays in the Castle, Wednesdays in the Tower. Fun series.
  • Janitors – don’t remember the author.
  • Brandon Mull has a couple of good series.
  • J Scott Savage – Far World
  • and for a bit younger crowd Case File 13 series.
  •  Brandon Sanderson’s Alcatraz Smedry series, beginning with Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians, is wonderful, even though he still hasn’t completed it (four of the planned five are out). Might hold back a year or two on that for her, as they REALLY play on reader expectations, but they’re incredible fun.
  •  Heinlein’s ‘Menace From Earth’ and the too few Puddin’ short stories
  • John M. Ford’s two Star Trek novels (‘The Final Reflection’ and ‘How Much for Just the Planet’)
  • and, of course, Diane Duane‘s ‘So You Want To Be A Wizard’ book and the following series (yes, including the Cat Wizards spinoff), which, to me, is better than Potter. Her ‘The Romulan Way’ is also excellent.
  •  The warrior series about cats by Erin hunter
  •  Maybe Howl’s Moving Castle, if she’s already done all the fairy tales that you find suitable. (Kind of like Dealing with Dragons, it has a bunch of “everybody knows” from fairy stores.)
  •  The Great Brain series,
  • Tom Sawyer,
  • Wind in the Willows,
  • Heinlein juveniles, and what everyone else says
  •  I think at 6 I was splitting my reading between Heinlein juveniles and little house on the prairie….
  •  Rolling Stones, Space Cadet & Star Beast were my favorites
  •  The mouse and the motorcycle
  •  Are Encyclopedia Brown books still in print? Those are good for that reading level.
  • Really old school would be the Boxcar Children books
  •  and the “Happy Hollisters” series.
  • IIRC, the Ship Who Sang had some stuff I’d hold off until one it Teenager.
  • The Dragon Singer (Melony? Melody?) books are great, though.
  • Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series. Also was starting on the Hardy Boys. Not fantasy or sf, but still good reading. If she’s reading Treasure Island, she should be able to handle those.
  • And a suggestion Swiss Family Robinson,
  • Heidi
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Tom Corbet,
  • The Hardy Boys,
  • Nancy Drew
  • Half Magic By Eager. Great book. I can’t recommend it enough.
  • Maybe the Redwall books? I remember reading those when I was young, and I think there’s a lot more of them now.
  •  Pern’s more of an older teen thing. Quite a few steamy dragon rider scenes…
  • Terry Pratchett’s kid stuff
  •  What is she ‘into’ because at that age I was reading Zane Grey,
  •  Edgar Rice Burroughs, and all the adventure books I could get my mitts on.
  • My sister was reading the Babysitters Club
  • Sweet Valley High
  •  A Series of Unfortunate Events
  •  The Warrior Cats by Erin Hunter would probably go over well, then.
  • My daughter likes the Warriors: Cats series.
  •  She also liked The Hunger Games although she bogged down on Catching Fire (found it a bit slow).
  • She still reads “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” but that’s probably a bit simplistic to start on. She also loves the Heinlein juveniles.
  • Jagi Lamplighter‘s Rachel books are excellent and will go right along with SUE and Harry potter if she likes them.
  • There’s also the Mystery Bookmobile series that my daugher likes.
  • My daughter liked Kia Heavey’s Underlake, but she said the ending made her cry.
  •  I was going to say Vulcan’s Kittens by Cedar. I recommend it.
  •  Terry Pratchett’s trilogy, “Truckers, Diggers, and Wings.” They were written for children and are pretty darn good reads for an adult, too.
  • Also, his Tiffany Aching books are great for kids, too. “Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith, and “I Shall Wear Midnight.”
  • All of Heinlein’s juveniles are still great reads, but especially “Have Spacesuit, Will Travel.”
  • Have Spacesuit Will Travel
  • Podkayne of Mars
  • The Rolling Stones
  • she read the “39 Clues” series and loved those, too, when she was somewhere between ten and thirteen.
  •  My favorites at that age were Lloyd Alexander’s Book of Three and the four books that followed,
  •  Yeah, I have the Prydain Chronicles all in one collection. They were one of my favorites as well, though I think I read The Black Cauldron before I read Book of Three.
  •  She might like Katie Cross’s Miss Mable’s School for Girls…magic school that is just a touch dark…might appears to a fan of the Unfortunate Events books.
  • Terry Pratchett’s Wee Free Men is very good, I’d second that.
  • My daughter just recently discovered Emily of New Moon by LM Montgomery and loved it, for a classic.
  •  Other books: Narnia, of course. My boys LOVE the How To Train Your Dragon books.
  • I loved the Moomentroll books. So did son one, but son three found them too slow.
  • Wrinkle In Time.
  • Earthsea.
  • Cinder and Cress and those books are fairytales in space.
  • Anything by Alethea Kontis might work..she writes fairytale books, too.
  •  Diane Duane‘s ‘So You Want To Be A Wizard’ and the rest of the series (better than Potter  ).
  •  Very few things are better than Potter. Lol but I, too, recommend So You Want to Be A Wizard.
  •  On The Edge of The Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson- it’s action (and humor packed). My daughter read it around that age. If she likes it, there are 3 more in the series (Called the Wingfeather Saga). They’re books that work on a number of levels. The protagonists are children around that age ( Janner, Tink and Leeli Igiby)
  •  Oh..and the Percy Jackson books are delightful!
  •  My 9 YO liked Eragon enough that she’s reading the sequel right now. She hardly ever asks for a sequel.
  • How about Dianna Wynn Jones – most of her YA books would be good for a 10yr old.
  • Also the Dealing with Dragons series is fun by Patricia C Wrede.
  •  Percy Jackson series,
  •  Narnia books,
  • Potter. All good.
  • I’d also recommend the “Shoe” series by Noel Streatfield, which I adored at that age.
  • Brandon Mull’s Fablehaven series and his new Five Kingdom’s series are good. Riordan will be releasing a Norse mythology series later in 2015
  •  I was reading the Lord of the Rings,
  • Deryni books,
  • various Anne McCaffrey Dragonriders books, etc at that age. Mostly stolen of my mom’s bookcase.
  •  Diana Wynne Jones I still enjoy reading her books as a 53 year old
  • Harper Hall trilogy.
  •  I’ll jump on the Warrior Cat series, my daughter loves those, they’ve been her favs for the past 3 or 4 yrs. She recently met a bunch of 10-13 yr old girls she had never met before, and they were instant friends because of that series. Also, the Redwall series, Watership Down and the Hobbit.
  •  I was about 10 when my Dad gave me _Stranger in a Strange Land_.
  •  The Phantom Tollbooth
  •  If it still exists The Pushpin War. Non SF pushcart vendors in NY fighting against a government trying to push them out of business. Their chosen weapons? Pea shooters with pushpins to give the “enemy” trucks flats
  • I am pushing Vulcan’s Kittens
  • and the “So You Want to be a Wizard” series. Get her the whole series, or she will hate you the next day as she finishes the first book.
  •  Also – read L L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright‘s two books – really good
  • I’ve got recommendations for Princess Academy.
  • Heinlein – The Menace from Earth. Or, The Rolling Stones
  • Divergent series?
  • Hunger Games series?
  • Harry Potter series?
  •  Hmm. Besides those mentioned, Eva Ibbotson,
  • Paula Volsky,
  •  the Pongwiffy the witch books (these are best in audio).
  • And Garth Nix Seventh Tower.
  •  Maybe, don’t know what age they are appropriate for but, The Doctor Dolittle books? Not the movies, especially the Eddie Murphy atrocity.
  •  I read Doctor Dolittle when I was 10 or 11 and loved them.
  • I also really, really loved Carbonel and it’s sequel by Barbara Sleigh.
  •  Tamora Pierce and the Tortall series
  •  Lois Bujold’s Spirit Ring
  •  At ten I was into dogs and horses. Jim Kelgaard and Walter Farley were my favoite authors.
  • I loved those, too! And Misty of Chincoteague and aKing of the Wind.
  •  Black Stallion books?
  •  If she likes horses: I went from the Black stallion series to Mercedes Lackey.
  • I would add, The Borrowers series.
  •  Johnny Tremaine or is she a little young for those?
  •  I loved Johnny Tremaine. I have a list now of books for birthdays and future Christmas presents.
  •  Tamara pierce’s books, protector of the small and about 12 – 14 more
  •  I’d say Talbot Mundy’s books – especially the ones in India dealing with Yasmini. Interesting female character working against the societal grain when the stories were written.
  •  Duh, we are all Idiots. Captains Courageous, The Jungle Books, Just So Stories. How could we neglect Kipling?
  •  It’s so hard for me to recommend stuff, because at that age I was reading Alan Dean Foster, any Burroughs I could get my hands on, and Conan.
  • For the 12-year old boy
  • The first two Tarzan novels (should have been one book).
  • The first three John Carter books
  • Maybe (it’s been a LONG time since I’ve read them), these four Flinx of the Commonwealth books, in this order – 1. For Love of Mother-Not, 2. The Tar-Ayim Krang, 3. Orphan Star, and 4. The End of the Matter.
  • Oh, and the Belgariad. That should be perfectly fine for a 12 year old boy with a decent vocabulary.
  •  I was reading Andre Norton at that age (no Heinlein in the tiny bookmobile that visited my itty bitty rural school),
  • and I fell in love with the Dragonriders of Pern, especially the White Dragon by Anne McCaffrey.
  • The Belgariad.
  •  My mom just gave up and let me read anything I could get my hands on. Thanks, Mom!
  •  The Warrior series by Erin Hunter. My youngest loved that series.

    Reading and relaxing

    Reading, of course!


6 thoughts on “Children’s Book Recommendations

  1. I’m sorry, but the later volumes of the “so you want to be a wizard” books had some problems. Especially the grand finale where she stretches history into impossible knots. That by itself is fine, but when black is red, truth is falsehood and ignorance becomes strength– I must object.

    Book of Night with Moon, I think? The one about cat mummies and turning E A Budge (of “destroying antiquities to make the others more valuable” fame) into a hero, and Disraeli into a regicide villain. Because Capitalism.


    • I think I stopped reading about book three, because it was just getting bad for my taste; having a series that starts out pretty good and then goes off the rails might be good for helping to teach the kid they don’t have to finish every book they start.


    • This was a list made by a whole bunch of people, I don’t know all of the titles on it. Sounds a pity about this one, I think I’d have loved a cat mummy story at that age – I know I loved the Amelia Peabody stories when I found them in my teens. Now… THOSE were romances!


  2. Some additions:

    1. “The Sword in The Stone,” the first book in White’s “The Once and Future King” trilogy.
    2. Andre Norton “Witchworld.”
    3. Cedar Sanderson “The God’s Wolfling.”


  3. I just now finished a book that would be a good addition to the list: Emilie and the Hollow World, by Martha Wells. There is evidently a sequel (Emilie and the Sky World) but my library doesn’t have it on-line so I’ll have to wait to read it. Emilie is a sixteen-year-old runaway in what seems to be a steampunk world — she stows away on an odd ship and ends up in the hollow world under the earth, which is a very interesting place and deserves more exploration! She is bright and resourceful, and has some wild adventures. It was a good read!


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