Essential Books For Children

The Superfast Reader is having a baby! Congratulations from Upper Fort Stewart and all it’s bookish denizens. And on top of that she’s looking for recommendations, for boys and girls, to build up a library of essential books for children for Superfast Baby. Superfast Reader, I’m on the job.

Well, okay, actually, I’m filling out half a resume and still deciding if I’ll apply. I have no idea what I would read to a little girl. Probably adventure stories filled with swordplay, betrayals, and wrongs-righted. My daughter would probably wind up turning out like the pirate-loving Wendy Darling. Wait, Wendy Darling! – girls like Peter Pan, right? Aw, what do I know. Only what I liked as kid (plus a few books I wish I read as a kid). And what my son likes. Here’s two lists. A few items are already on the Superfast Reader’s list already but in a fit of nostalgia I went and listed them again anyway.

My list of Essential Books for Children

  • Have Spacesuit Will Travel by Robert Heinlein
  • Don Quixote
  • Isaac Asimov’s Robot Stories
  • Susan Cooper’s Dark Is Rising series
  • The Iliad and The Odyssey
  • The Hobbit
  • Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four
  • The Encyclopedia Brown series
  • Doc Savage and The Avenger
  • The Lord of The Flies
  • Swiss Family Robinson
  • Robinson Crusoe
  • Jekyll and Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Invisible Man and The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
  • Pretty much everything by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • Ditto for Edgar Allen Poe
  • Elliot Maggin’s Superman stories
  • Eagle of The Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff
  • Alan Mendelsohn, The Boy from Mars by Daniel Pinkwater
  • C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books (in the order they were published)

My son’s list of Essential Books for Children

  • The Jungle Book and Just-So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
  • The Book of Virtue
  • Eric Carle Books
  • The Hug Book by Jez Alborough
  • Any fact book or kid’s encyclopedia with readable captions and headings (reading the whole thing out loud will kill you, trust me)

I hope that helps. If anyone else wants to participate check out SuperFast Reader’s list of Essential Books for Children.

10 responses to “Essential Books For Children”

  1. I hope if I have a girl she likes pirates! I think it’s pretty likely. I was very into ancient Rome when I was a girl because of books like Eagle of the Ninth.

    I loved Encyclopedia Brown. There was another series that revolved around a kid named McGurk–do you know those? My memory of them is a little hazy.

    Anyway, fabulous list, thanks for the congrats, and I will definitely track these down!

    Oh, and I love the encyclopedia idea–

  2. Well, you can’t forget Narnia, Lloyd Alexander’s corpus, and Scott O’Dell.

  3. Huh, I don’t remember McGurk.

    I guess everyone likes, pirates don’t they? I mean the ideal fun-loving pirate. Not the cut-throat, thieving pirate.

    Right, Narnia. I’ll add it. I’ve never read Alexander or O’Dell, though.

  4. I’ve never gotten over my obsession with Peter Pan so I think its safe to read to girl-children, too. 😉

  5. When I was 10 I loved A Wrinkle in Time (still do, actually). It wasn’t until I was giving a book report on it that I realized (thanks to the jeers from the boys) that a girl protagonist wasn’t cool for a boy to identify with…

    Hope things have changed.

  6. An elementary school teacher tried to get me to read A Wrinkle in Time but I just couldn’t get in to it. I think I missed out on something; everyone seems to love that book.

    Welcome to Upper Fort Stewart, Sprague.

  7. I loved A Wrinkle in Time and Where the Red Fern Grows as a kid.

  8. Thanks for the comment, Will. I’m definitely going to have to add A Wrinkle in Time and Where the Red Fern Grows on to my list of books I never read when I was a kid and wish I had. Or did I read Where the Red Fern Grows? Maybe I’m thinking of My Side of The Mountain.

    Welcome to Upper Fort Stewart, Will.

  9. I loved the Jim Kjelgaard books, Big Red, Son of Big Red, Rufus the Red Tailed Hawk. And Danny Dunn and the Dinosaur Egg.

    Today I like Robin McKinley, Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword, and especially her retelling of ‘beauty and the beast’, Beauty. Deerskin is a very dark story, and I am not sure what age to recommend. Definitely one for Mom to read first, quite intense.

    Tamora Pierce. Several of her quadrologies (sp?) start with 10 year olds: Protector of the Small, Magic Circle, and In the Hand of the Goddess. Excellent all. Follow on series for early teens, Trickster’s Choice and Trickster’s Queen, the 4 book series The Circle Opens, the Will of the Empress, and the engaging Beka Cooper. The Immortals set of four starts with Wild Magic, with perhaps one of the best beginnings of a novel that I can recall.

    Mercedes Lackey. Arrows of the Queen, Arrow’s Flight, Arrow’s Fall. Magic, talking horses/angels — what isn’t to like! There are lots of good books in her Valdemor stories. For Mom there are the Godmother stories, which overhaul the fairy godmother tradition in the Hundred Kingdoms.

    McCaffrey. Dragon Song, Dragon Singer, Dragon Drums. Coming of age novels. Palmer’s ‘Emergence’, a lone girl in post-apocalypse US. With a parrot.
    If you are going to do the Hobbit, then surely Tolkein’s Lord Of The Rings cannot follow far behind Farmer Giles of Wooten. Then look at Elizabeth Moon’s Deed of Paksennarion.

    If you can find a remaining copy of Paula Ashwell’s Unwillingly to Earth, it is priceless, especially the first half.

    Hope for the Flowers. Probably 3rd grade and up, maybe read aloud by parents at any age. Also William Steig (of Shrek fame) CDB and the sequel CDC — books with line drawings and one-page stories spelled out: C D B. D B E S A B-Z B! (See the bee. The bee, he is a busy bee!) Hours of fun. Wallace Tripp, ‘Marguerite, Go Wash Your Feet.’ (The board of health’s across the street!).

    Tools for Teaching, Fred Jones.Non-fiction. Subtitled ‘Discipline, Instruction, Motivation.’ Learn concepts and practices that make teachers a success. All parents should read this, especially sections 2,3, 4, 6, and 7 Producing Responsible Behavior. This book applies at all ages. There are specific mentions of certain things parents can do or not do, that predestine the kid to problems in the classroom. Not only will you have a better understanding of how to keep a classroom focused, but if you substitute teach, teach Sunday School, or ever work with livestock, you will have a better understanding of why things continue going right, and how to correct the problems.

    Speaking of livestock. Lyons on Horses. A resistance free approach to training and working horses. It is amazing how many concepts apply directly to other training situations, especially when the trainee is afraid.

    About 6th Grade is ‘Maudie and Me and the Dirty Book’, about 6th graders reading to 1st graders, and parents reacting badly to the worst 1st grade questions, “where do babies come from?’. And family, friendship, and integrity.Betty Miles.

    There is a Girl In My Hammerlock. About gender roles, and a girl trying for the wrestling team. I forget the author, I gave the book to my nephew.

    Witches of Karres, James H. Schmitz. Three young girls, fleeing an empire in an old spaceship with a bewildered caption, headed toward a galactic menace.

    For fun, for the parents. Warrior Apprentice, Lois McMaster Bujold, and the other Miles Vorkosigan stories. McLendon’s Syndrome, Robert Frezza. A Company of Stars, Christopher Stasheff.

  10. Hey, wait a minute, aren’t I supposed to have the informative and bookmarkable posts around here! 😉

    Excellent list, Brad. I’m going to have a great time following up on all your recommendations. Thanks.

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