20 Must-Read Children's Books

Reading together builds language skills — and can create a bond with your grandkids

By Mercedes M. Cardona

"The best thing any parent, grandparents, caretaker, relative or any significant other can do in the life of a child is help them understand the magic that can be found between the covers of a book,” says Anita Silvey, author of 100 Best Books for Children and 500 Great Books for Teens.

Reading with children doesn’t only help build language skills, it also provides a motivation to read, says Silvey. “It’s associating reading a book with a pleasant memory of spending time with a person they feel strongly for."

Children learn by imitating the people in their lives. So when grandparents expose their grandchildren to books, it will make a powerful connection, says Christine Jenkins, director of the Center for Children’s Books at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "All those things become part of their lives that ground them," she said.

Here are five can't-miss books for children of all ages. If you don't see one of your favorites, scroll down and leave a comment telling us the books you and your grandchild love.

Must-Read Books: Birth to 3 years
Books for this age teach children how a book works, how to turn pages and look at the pictures. "They are learning how a story works," says Jenkins.

Must-Read Books: Ages 4 to 7
Children start reading for themselves at this age, and the moment they discover they can is a breakthrough, says Silvey, but it doesn’t mean you should stop reading to them.

Must-Read Books: Ages 8 to 11
Children will start choosing books on their own at this age, so it’s up to adults to steer them. Luckily they are still omnivores and will read anything, says Jenkins. Many books in this age group have been made into very successful movies, which can help get kids interested.

Must-Read Books: Ages 12 to 14
At this age, kids have developed personal tastes: sci-fi lovers won’t read historical fiction; romance fans won’t go for sci-fi. Sharing graphic novels and audiobooks can help. Teens will also like bestsellers, so share those you feel are appropriate.

 

For more book recommendations and gift ideas, read our list of the 10 Best Children's Books of 2008 and a recent Tween Literature Review.

 

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