Books for Kids: Don’t Miss Out on These Classics

Books for Kids: Grades 2 to 6  (see also Grades 4 and up–teen and young adult)

We love for our children to read and it can be difficult to find quality literature. Below is a list of our favorite classics for children and best books for kids overall. These books would make great read-alouds for the classroom or parent-child nighttime reading. This list is powered by Amazon for your shopping ease. Please click on the link and read the summaries carefully, as some of these books are considered controversial. 

The Toothpaste Millionaire  Age Range: 10 and up Grade Level: 4 – 6

As teachers, we read this to our students when we studied economics. This is a good story and a great lesson.

From Amazon: “Sixth-grader Rufus Mayflower doesn’t set out to become a millionaire. He just wants to save on toothpaste. Betting he can make a gallon of his own for the same price as one tube from the store, Rufus develops a step-by-step production plan with help from his good friend Kate MacKinstrey. By the time he reaches the eighth grade, Rufus makes more than a gallon — he makes a million! This fun, breezy story set in 1960s Cleveland, Ohio contains many real-life mathematical problems which the characters must solve to succeed in their budding business. This 35th anniversary edition includes an exclusive author interview and reader’s guide with book summary and discussion questions.”

Poetry for Young People: Robert Frost

Age Range: 8 and up  Grade Level: 3 and up

Poetry enables children to appreciate the sound and imagery of language. This series offers many other poets such as, two of my childhood favorites, Edgar Allan Poe and Rudyard Kipling.

From Amazon:  “This collation of 25 poems introduces Robert Frost to young people. The selections are arranged by the seasons and Sorensen’s handsome watercolor illustrations capture the feel of the New England landscape without in any way trying to provide literal images for the poetry. Schmidt provides a brief note on some of the possible ways to read the lines…These nature poems show that poetry holds feelings and ideas that everyone can understand.”

The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh

Age Range: 8 – 12 years Grade Level: 3 – 7

This book is unique in that it is told through the perception of a very young child and the toy animals also have the personalities of very young children.

From Amazon: “In 1926, the world was introduced to a portly little bear named Winnie-the-Pooh. Along with his young friend, Christopher Robin, Pooh delighted readers from the very beginning. His often befuddled perceptions and adorable insights won the hearts of everyone around him, including his close group of friends. From the energetic Tigger to the dismal Eeyore. Gorgeous watercolor illustrations from Ernest H. Shepard appear in all their glory. The tales, filled with superb story lines and lessons, will continue to capture the hearts of new generations.”

Best of Blume: Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret/Blubber/Iggie’s House/Starring Sally J. Freedman As Herself

Age Range: 8 – 12 years Grade Level: 3 – 7  This set includes Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.; Blubber; Iggie’s House; and Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself.

Most girls in the 70’s read every book of Judy Blume’s they could get their hands on. This series of books is still relevant today.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Age Range: 10 and up  Grade Level: 5 and up

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland works better as a read-aloud due to the nonsensical nature of some of the writing. However, there are many children who will appreciate the humor and playfulness of the odd characters.

From Amazon:  “In 1862 Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a shy Oxford mathematician with a stammer, created a story about a little girl tumbling down a rabbit hole. Thus began the immortal adventures of Alice, perhaps the most popular heroine in English literature. Countless scholars have tried to define the charm of the Alice books–with those wonderfully eccentric characters the Queen of Hearts, Tweedledum, and Tweedledee, the Cheshire Cat, Mock Turtle, the Mad Hatter et al.– Perhaps, Alice is no more than a dream, a fairy tale about the trials and tribulations of growing up–or down, or all turned round–as seen through the expert eyes of a child.”

Harriet the Spy  Age Range: 8 – 12 years  Grade Level: 3 – 7

Harriet the Spy was controversial in the 60’s due to the rebelliousness of its main character, Harriet. However, Harriet is a favorite with many young children due to her spunk and hilarious antics.

From Amazon: “Harriet M. Welsch is a spy. In her notebook, she writes down everything she knows about everyone, even her classmates and her best friends. Then Harriet loses track of her notebook, and it ends up in the wrong hands. Before she can stop them, her friends have read the always truthful, sometimes awful things she’s written about each of them. Will Harriet find a way to put her life and her friendships back together?”

The Bears’ House  Age Range: 8 – 12 years Grade Level: 4 – 7

This story is good for teaching compassion and empathy. I read this in the 4th grade and was greatly touched by this story of poverty.

From The Library Journal:  “Everyone in Miss Thompson’s fourth grade class loves The Bears’ House- Fran Ellen Smith most of all. When Fran Ellen goes into The Bears’ House, she can forget about how awful things are at home. At the end of the term Miss Thompson is giving the house away to someone in the class. Fran Ellen knows it won’t be her? How is she going to get along without a place to hide? “Superb characterizations and uncommonly skilled writing draw the reader completely into the realities and fantasies of Fran Ellen’s world and make this funny, touching story essential reading.”

Aesop’s Fables for Children: Includes a Read-and-Listen CD

Age Range: 5 – 8 years Grade Level: Kindergarten – 2

Aesop’s Fables are great for short read-aloud stories at bedtime.

From Amazon: “For centuries, children and adults have treasured the stories handed down by Aesop, a slave who lived in ancient Greece approximately six centuries B.C. Known for their charm and simplicity, these simple tales feature brief adventures of animals, birds, and beasts — with a message hidden in each narrative. Every child should meet up with “The Hare and the Tortoise,” “The Ants and the Grasshopper,” “The Goose and the Golden Egg,” “The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing,” and other characters. This splendid gift edition features more than 130 of Aesop’s beloved fables, enhanced with full-color illustrations and a wonderful CD recording of forty-two of the most popular stories in the book.”

The BFG  Age Range: 8 – 12 years Grade Level: 3 – 7

One year a friend and I taught a unit based on Roald Dahl’s books during summer school. It was a hit with all the children. His writing draws the biggest giggles out of kids. Dahl’s books are no doubt some of the most creative stories ever written.

From Amazon:  “Captured by a giant! The BFG is no ordinary bone-crunching giant. He is far too nice and jumbly. It’s lucky for Sophie that he is. Had she been carried off in the middle of the night by the Bloodbottler, or any of the other giants—rather than the BFG—she would have soon become breakfast. When Sophie hears that the giants are flush-bunking off to England to swollomp a few nice little chiddlers, she decides she must stop them once and for all. And the BFG is going to help her!”

Revolting Rhymes Age Range: 6 – 8 years Grade Level: 1 – 3

From Amazon: “Did you think Cinderella married the prince and lived happily ever after, or that the three little pigs outsmarted the wolf? Think again! Master storyteller Roald Dahl adds his own darkly comic twists to six favorite tales, complete with rambunctious rhymes and hilarious surprise endings.”

We recommend all of Roald Dahl’s books, and here is a box set of four favorites: Roald Dahl Magical Gift Set (4 Books). Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, James and the Giant Peach, and a mystery book.

Where the Red Fern Grows  Age Range: 8 – 12 years Grade Level: 3 – 7

This is a powerful and emotional book. I read this as a 4th grader and loved it.

From Amazon:  “Billy, Old Dan and Little Ann — a Boy and His Two Dogs… A loving threesome, they ranged the dark hills and river bottoms of Cherokee country. Old Dan had the brawn, Little Ann had the brains — and Billy had the will to train them to be the finest hunting team in the valley. Glory and victory were coming to them, but sadness waited too. An exciting tale of love and adventure you’ll never forget.”

Happy Reading!

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