Young readers (or their adults) often approach kids’ librarians with this question: Can you recommend a good book? But the question suggests young readers SHOULD read certain books.
Young readers need to explore and build personal reading preferences. The books kids SHOULD read are the books that encourage a love of more reading. A young person who reads enthusiastically is developing the reading “muscles” they will need to someday power through War and Peace (or a big book of their choice), right? So empower a developing reader to follow their own interests and try graphic novels and fantasy and mystery and sci-fi. Do they love animals? Sports? Comic strips? Nonfiction? Whatever they read, remember, they are READING!
I’m sharing books that influenced my early preferences and made me love reading. Your kid might want to try them OR they might want to browse the stacks and find their own. Your kid can always ask a librarian to help find great reads to meet their interests. It’s what we love to do!
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
I read the covers off this book when I was growing up. I loved Anne (with an e)! It’s probably why I occasionally annoy people with an eternally optimistic outlook. Anne is the perfect heroine – an orphan who overcomes adversity, feels deeply, is outrageous and funny, and, as she freely admits, sometimes has to learn things the hard way.
Also, this one probably makes the list as a classic. 😉
Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey
Menolly was another heroine who captured my young heart. Deeply unhappy in a home where her musical talent is misunderstood and unappreciated, Menolly runs away. She lives by her wits and her will in the planet Pern’s unhospitable environment. Menolly keeps making music and rescues 9 baby fire lizards (they look like tiny dragons).
This book is the reason I often say the best books have dragons in them. It was also the start of a lifelong appreciation for author Ann McCaffrey and fantasy in general. I posted this in Playaway format because the library doesn’t have it available in book format right now (time to make a purchase suggestion!). Also, if you have a reluctant reader, listening to an audiobook is a legitimate alternative to reading a book. Falling in love with a good character or series is a great way to encourage further reading!
The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbs by Bill Watterson
Oh Calvin! Oh Hobbes! Irrepressible rascals, inventors of Calvinball (the only rule is there are no rules), sworn enemies of all girls but especially Susie Derkins, snow artists and intrepid space explorers. They are excellent entertainment for young readers who might see themselves in these clever antics and funny faux pas!
Reading comic strip books or graphic novels requires reading both words and pictures and then putting both together to get the whole story. It’s like reading, kicked up a notch! If your young reader enjoys graphic novels, please understand they really ARE reading! Many graphic novels come in series so readers can engage with favorite characters over and over. I chose Calvin and Hobbes for this blog because our family collected them all and read them again and again. What fun! If you want your child to think creatively, Calvin and Hobbes will show them how. Just be prepared for hi jinks and shenanigans!
Below are other books I read and loved as a kid as well as books I’ve discovered more recently and know I would have loved when I was a kid. See if they might suit your kid’s tastes too. I hope they like one or two of them. If they don’t, encourage your kid to keep looking. THEIR book is out there, just waiting to be found!