It's summer again, and there's no better time for your child to settle down with a good book. The books below will foster reading skills and provide hours of storytelling fun and wonder for you and your kids. So head to the library or bookstore, grab some lemonade and let the reading begin!

By Eric Hastie
October 05, 2005
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Toddler / Preschool

Here are some terrific books for toddlers and preschoolers, who are at a stage when a love for reading is easily encouraged.

Hug, by Jez Alborough (Candlewick, 2002). A baby chimpanzee is in search of a hug from his mommy. While he tries to find her he sees other animal families snuggling together.

Sheep in a Jeep, by Margot Apple (Houghton Mifflin, 1988). Five sheep in jeep, what could be better? Watch as the sheep drive through the mud, go over a hill and more fun and exciting mishaps.

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, by Virginia Lee Burton (Houghton Mifflin, 1978). When Mike Mulligan and his trusty steam shovel Mary Anne promise to dig the cellar for the new town hall in just one day the entire town comes out to watch.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle (Philomel, 1994). He was born to eat and eat and eat. Watch this very hungry caterpillar turn into a beautiful butterfly.

Jamberry, by Bruce Degen (HarperTrophy, 2001). It's a rhyming adventure through Berryland. A boy and bear tell silly rhymes about blueberry, canoeberry and more.

A Pocket for Corduroy, by Don Freeman (Viking, 1980). Lisa is warned by her mother to take everything out of her pockets before washing them. Corduroy, her teddy bear, hears this and after realizing he has no pockets, he searches to no end to find one.

Is Your Mama a Llama, by Deborah Guarino (Scholastic, 1991). Children have fun as they follow a Llama on the search for its mama. Colorful pictures and fun animals make this a must have.

Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson (Harpercollins, 1981). Armed with only his imagination and a purple crayon, Harold takes us to a picnic, underwater and more.

The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats (Viking Press, 1981). What happens when a boy sees snow for the first time? A fun filled day of making snow angels and snowballs that's what.

Peek-a-Who, by Nina Laden (Chronicle, 2000). Peek-a-boo has its merit, but this book brings the game to a new level. With a peek-a-moo cow and peek-a-boo ghost children will love guessing what comes next.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, by Bill Martin (Holt Rinehart and Winston, 1993). Blue horses, brown bears and yellow ducks oh my! Beautifully illustrated and simply told, this book is a must have for children who loves animals.

Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey (Scott Foresman, 1976). Two duck parents decide to raise their ducklings in a park away from foxes and turtles, plus the people throw them peanuts.

The Little Engine that Could, by Watty Piper (Grosset & Dunlap, 1978). This classic inspirational story is all about personal triumph. The little engine overcomes a mountain and is able to deliver the toys to the children.

Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss (Random House, 1960). Do you like green eggs and ham? After reading this book, you'll love them and all the fun characters like Sam I am.

The Napping House, by Audrey Wood (Red Wagon, 2000). In a house full of sleepy people and animals it's hard to imagine much going on. But when they all make their way to Granny's bed and the wakeful flee joins the bunch, it's not such a sleepy time.

Ages 4-8

These wonderful books for ages 4 to 8 will inspire your child's imagination and leave them asking for more.

The Indian in the Cupboard, by Lynne Reid Banks (Doubleday, 1981). With one turn of the key Omri's toys are brought to life. He quickly learns that taking care of another person is no easy task.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, by Judi Barrett (Aladdin Library, 1982). Meatballs aren't the only things that fall from the clouds in this all too delicious story. Children see what would happen if rain were replaced with pancakes and other surprising foods.

The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams Bianco (Doubleday, 1958). He's no wooden boy, but this stuffed Rabbit yearns for the love of a child that he hopes will one day make him real.

Elizabeti's Doll, by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen (Lee & Low, 1998). Longing to care for a baby like her mother, Elizabeti has no doll, but instead finds a suitable rock. But when Elizabeti loses her new doll, Eva, she does all she can to find it.

Giggle, Giggle, Quack, by Doreen Cronin (Simon & Schuster, 2002). When Farmer Brown goes on vacation, Duck is up to his usual antics. Changing the note from Farmer Brown so the animals get pizza on Tuesday is just the beginning.

I'm Gonna Like Me: Letting Off a Little Self-Esteem, by Jamie Lee Curtis (Joanna Cotler, 2002). When two children can verbally say why they like themselves it's a great thing. From getting a bad gift to being wrong in class these children remain positive.

Olivia, by Ian Falconer (Atheneum, 2000). Olivia may be a pig, but she certainly doesn't sit in mud all day. This active little lady is always on the go and promises non-stop fun in this beautifully illustrated book.

If You Take a Mouse to School, by Laura Numeroff (Laura Geringer, 2002). Another in the mouse series, but this time he's not after your cookies. However, when you get to school make sure your lunchbox is hidden.

Tikki Tikki Tembo, by Arlene Mosel (Henry Holt & Company, 1988). When Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo falls into a well, his younger brother, Chang, tries to get help but is always out of breath after trying to say his brother's name.

Thank You, Amelia Bedelia, by Peggy Parish (HarperTrophy, 1993). She's everyone's favorite maid. Taking literal meaning from everything she is told causes Amelia Bedelia to string the beans and more mix-ups.

Tea with Milk, by Allen Say (Houghton Mifflin, 1999). After moving to Japan from the United States, Masako struggles to learn the culture of another country.

Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak (Harpercollins, 2003). Sent to bed without dinner? No problem, watch as Max's room transforms into a jungle full of some of the wildest creatures ever illustrated.

The Giving Tree, by Shell Silverstein (Harpercollins, 1964). It's better to give than to receive. And this story of a selfless tree that gives to everyone not just the boy.

Nate the Great, by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat (Young Yearling, 1977). Nate is back and on the case of missing cat. With the help of his dog Sludge, the two are able to crack the case and find the missing feline.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Voirst (Aladdin Library, 1987). When your day can't get any worse, think of Alexander. Waking with gum in his hair and tripping on his skateboard are just the beginning.

Ages 9-12

For ages 9 to 12, these stories will help children learn about life and move them from children's stories to longer books.

Shipwrecked!, by Rhoda Blumberg (Harpercollins, 2001). Marooned on an island for six months, the true story of Manjiro Nakahama chronicles his rescue and American education before he returns to Japan where he becomes an honored samurai.

Matilda, by Rohald Dahl (Viking, 2002). Matilda doesn't watch television. At age five she reads a lot. But when she gets frustrated with her school principal, Matilda uses her new found mental power to save the school.

Snail Mail, No More, by Paula Danziger & Ann Matthews Martin (Bt Bound, 2001). Tara and Elizabeth have gone virtual. Since their last book, P.S. Longer Letter Later, the two teens have gotten e-mail and continue their friendship despite being far apart.

Monkey Island, by Paula Fox (Yearling, 1993). When his parents are unable to care for him, Clay Garrity is left homeless in New York City. Afraid to go to the police, Clay, along with the help of two homeless men survives in a park until he is reunited with his mother and baby sister.

The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster (Random House, 2000). After a magic tollbooth appears in Milo's room, he pays the toll. What ensues is an adventure that takes him through the Mountains of Ignorance, the Word Market and finally to Dictionopolis in an effort to save the Princesses, Rhyme and Reason.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis (Harpercollins, 2000). Stepping through the back of a wardrobe, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy find themselves in Narnia, a land ruled by a lion that is being threatened with an eternal winter by an evil witch.

Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry (Houghton Mifflin, 1992). Set in World War II, the fictionalized story of 10-year-old Annemarie Johannesen and her efforts to save her best friend from the death camps.

The Plant that Ate Dirty Socks, Nancy McArthur (Avon, 1988). Cleaning your room was never so easy. When some odd seeds arrive in the mail, Michael and his brother Norman plant them only to grow a plant that needs a little more than water to grow.

Secret Letters from 0 to 10, by Susie Hoch Morgenstern (Viking, 1998). Ernest Morlaisse lives with his 80-year-old grandmother and has a pretty uneventful life. When a new neighbor, Victoria Montardent, moves in Ernest's world is transformed as she teaches him to enjoy life and the joy of experiencing new things.

Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen (Simon Pulse, 1999). When the plane he is on to visit his father crashes, Brian Robenson is left to survive in the woods with only a Hatchet. Will rescue come before winter sets in?

Sideways Stories from Wayside School, Louis Sachar (William Morrow, 1998). In a school that was built on its side, there only can be odd stories to tell. From the child stuck in his chair by a wad of gum to the tale of a Bebe, a quirky artist, this book is sure to make you laugh.

Summer Reading is Killing Me!, by Jon Scieszka (Bt Bound, 2001). The Time Warp Trio are back, and after the boys realize they placed the summer reading list in the magical book that transports them back and forth in time, they are faced with having to stop the bad literary characters, led by an evil teddy bear, before they get rid of all the good ones.

Black Beauty, by Ann Sewell (Grammercy, 1998). This classic tale told from one horse's point of view shares in the animal's hardships and fortune. Children will learn about relationships and consideration for others.

The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Event, Book 1), by Lemony Snicket (HarperCollins, 1999). Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire lost their parents and their home in a fire. Turning the pages to find a happy ending is pointless as the children only endure more hardships in this surprisingly humorous story.

Maniac Magee, by Jerry Spinelli Jeffery (Little Brown, 2000). Magee is just a kid from a small town. Sure he can run fast and hit homeruns, but Magee is better known for how he bridged the town's racial gap.

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