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This cold weather is terrible for playing outside but perfect for snuggling under blankets with a good book (or more)! My daughters love to be read to. But my eyes would remain permanently crossed if I could only read pictures books to them. Here’s a list of 9 books I’ve already read to DaughterOne. All of these books are appropriate for young children but offer a whole different layer of emotion and insight as adult. I’ve included some quotes to whet your reading appetite.

1) Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

It is gorgeous and one of my favorite books of all time. The story is simple, familiar and sweet. But I’m going to ruin the ending here for you (if there is anyone out there who doesn’t know this already), it ends sadly. My daughter is very sensitive but handled it better than I did. I knew the ending, have read it many times, yet still cried while reading the ending to her. She was also unbothered by my outburst.

“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.”

2) Stuart Little by E.B. White

Another children’s classic by Mr. White. This one is about a mouse and his adventures. It is extra cute. Not my most favorite E.B. White but lovely nonetheless.

3) Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

“When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.”

Of course you know the story but the experience of reading it aloud is totally different than watching the Disney version — most notably the language is a bit more complicated. But who doesn’t love a challenge to advance your own and your child’s vocabulary?


4) Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

It is so special to read. And it is pretty weird — I mean — dreamlike.

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

5) Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgrin

Pippi is so much fun. She’s a joyful precocious little girl living alone except with a horse and a monkey and has superhuman strength. She always gets in a bit of trouble but everything always seems to work out alright in the end.

6) The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

I’ve already recommended this movie to you. I love it. And I’m reading the book now to DaughterOne. It is about a unicorn that finds out that she is the last — that all the others have been captured by “The Red Bull” so she journeys to find her fellow unicorns and save them.

This quote is a very poignant moment in the book that is likely too complex for children to totally understanding — it being about youthful hope coming to someone too late in life — deep stuff. Like all these other books there are some philosophical moments.


But Molly pushed him aside and went up to the unicorn, scolding her as though she were a strayed milk cow. “Where have you been?” Before the whiteness and the shining horn, Molly shrank to a shining beetle, but this time it was the unicorn’s old dark eyes that looked down. “I am here now,” she said at last. Molly laughed with her lips flat. “And what good is that to me that you’re here now? Where were you twenty years ago, ten years ago? How dare you come to me now, when I am this?” … The unicorn made no reply, and Schmendrick said, “She is the last. She is the last unicorn in the world.” “She would be.” Molly sniffed. “It would be the last unicorn in the world that comes to Molly Grue.”

7) Jenny and the Cat Club by Esther Averill

Recommended by the owner of The Bear and the Books in Hopewell, this is part of a series of books about a shy little black cat with a red scarf named Jenny Linsky. Jenny lives with a sea captain, Captain Tinker, and has backyard adventures with other neighborhood cats, finding out that she braver than she ever thought.

8)  The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Have you read “The Little Prince?” I thought I had when I was in middle school but clearly I never understood that the story was much (much) more than a little boy traveling from planet to planet and obsessing about a rose that lives on his own little plant.

“Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world….”


9) The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

I’m ending my list with my other favorite childhood book that I have loved more as I read it more. It is one of those beautiful classics that is adventurous and magical as a child and continues to be so

Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”

This post contains affiliate links to amazon.com — of course we’d love if you order through those. If you are the kind of person who leaves their house, supporting local businesses is great. Here in Hopewell we have The Bear and the Books.

What books do you read to your kids? Tell us which ones we’ve missed!

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Mary Galioto
Mary Galioto is the founder, publisher and editor of MercerMe, a lawyer. Originally from Brooklyn, Mary has progressively moved deeper and deeper into New Jersey, settling in the heart of the state: Mercer County. Formerly the author of an embarrassingly informal blog, Mary is a lifelong writer and asker of questions and was even mentioned, albeit briefly, in the New York Times and Washington Post. In her free time, Mary fills her life with mild germaphobia, excessive self-reflection, enthusiastic television viewing, and misguided adventures in random hobbies.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Great list. My mother read us The Scarlet Pimpernel and Jurassic Park (that one in the back of our jeep with a flashlight). We were a bit older than 5 but I loved it. I am looking forward to reading the Little House on the Prairie series with my girls.

  2. Hi Mary. I love the list idea. My granddaughter, Willa, is 4 and currently enthralled with The Magic Treehouse series, which she is listening to. Her mother decided to let her listen to these books rather than have them read to her because she feels it stimulates her imagination in a different way if she can’t see the artist’s interpretation. Great idea – she’s got her own pictures in her head of the stories. I have a huge list of favorite books: my favorite storybook of all time, from my childhood is Tales from Storyland, edited by Watty Piper. You can only buy it used now and I just purchased one on Ebay for $36 – which is a great price for that book. The stories and illustrations are fabulous. And I absolutely love The Bear Nobody Wanted, by Allan and Janet Ahlberg. You can buy a paperback on Amazon. We’re currently reading Winnie the Pooh, and Many Moons is another great book to read aloud. And many, many more. I can add to this list another time, if you like. Happy snow days!

    • Wonderful suggestions Susan! I’d love for you to continue to add to this list!
      As for your granddaughter, many of the books I suggested have very few illustrations and would be appropriate for Willa’s age and imagination.

      We haven’t read The Secret Garden yet — I’ll let you know whether I add that to his list. I also really love fantasy/sci-fi so I’m looking forward (in a few years) to the series that includes the Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials), Harry Potter, and A Wrinkle in Time.

      Thanks for the comments and please keep adding to the list!

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