For many parents, it’s not new information that reading, or being read to, is a vital activity for the mental development of children at every age.

Not only does reading strengthen comprehension and critical thinking skills, build vocabulary, and increase knowledge, but it also helps children improve their imagination and alleviate everyday stress. Additionally, when you read to your toddlers and young children, it fosters an emotional connection between you both.

As many states continue their stay-at-home mandates, reading is an especially useful and low-stress way for students to continue learning, growing, and coping with the current situation and its disruption of their normal lives.

What are the Best Books for Children?

When it comes to encouraging your child to read, the first step is finding a story, book, or subject they enjoy and connect with, as well as providing the right platform. Some kids enjoy hard copies of books, whereas others are more likely to read material if they can access it on a tablet or smartphone. Other students may engage better with an audiobook or video reading. To get your family started on reading material, here are few suggestions—classics, as well as contemporary works—for various grade levels:

Preschool and Kindergarten

  • The “Pout-Pout Fish” series by Deborah Diesen and illustrator Dan Hanna
  • “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” which you can watch being read by author and illustrator Eric Carle)
  • “Green Eggs and Ham” and “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss
  • “Good night, Gorilla” by Peggy Rathmann
  • “Harold and the Purple Crayon” by Crockett Johnson
  • “The Kissing Hand,” written by Audrey Penn and illustrated by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak
  • “Thank You, Omu!” by Oge Mora
  • “All Are Welcome” by Alexandra Penfold
  • “Pink is For Boys” by Robb Pearlman
  • “Lucia the Luchadora” by Cynthia Leonor Garza
  • “Abuela” by Arthur Dorros, illustrated by Elisa Kleven
  • “What Can You Do with a Rebozo?/¿Qué puedes hacer con un rebozo?” by Carmen Tafolla, illustrated by Amy Cordova
  • “Mouse Paint/Pintura de ratón” by Ellen Stoll Walsh
  • “La Princessa and the Pea” by Susan Middleton Elya, illustrated by Juana Martinez Neal

First and Second Grade

  • “Ruby Lu, Brave and True” by Lenore Look
  • “Juana & Lucas” by Juana Medina
  • “Anna Hibiscus” by Atinuke
  • “Duck Duck Porcupine” by Salina Yoon
  • “Ballet Cat” by Bob Shea
  • The “Pete the Cat” by James Dean
  • “Charlie and Mouse” by Laurel Snyder
  • “The Dog Who Loved Tortillas / La perrita que le encantaban las tortillas” by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • “That’s Not Fair! / ¡No es justo!” written by Carmen Tafolla and Sharyll Teneyuca and illustrated by Terry Ybáñez

Third through Fifth Grade

  • “Charlotte’s Web,” by E. B. White
  • “The Phantom Tollbooth,” written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer
  • The “Ramona” series by Beverly Cleary
  • “The Mouse and the Motorcycle,” by Beverly Cleary
  • “Inkheart,” by Cornelia Funke
  • “The Mysterious Benedict Society” series written by Trenton Lee Stewart and illustrated by Carson Ellis
  • “Lucha Libre: The Man in the Silver Mask” by Xavier Garza
  • “Level Up/Paso de nivel” written by Gwendolyn Zepeda and illustrated by Pablo Torrecilla
  • “Upside Down And Backwards/De cabeza y al reves” by Diane Gonzales Bertrand
  • “Side By Side/Lado a lado” written by Monica Brown and illustrated by Joe Cepeda and Carolina Valencia
  • “Tito Puente: Mambo King / Rey del Mambo” written by Monica Brown and illustrated by Rafael López

Middle School

  • The “Harry Potter” series, by J.K. Rowling
  • “Smile” by Raina Telgemeier
  • “Esperanza Rising” by Pam Muñoz Ryan
  • “Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life” by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts
  • “The Thing About Jellyfish” by Ali Benjamin
  • “Roller Girl” by Victoria Jamieson
  • The “Percy Jackson” series by Rick Riordan
  • “The Day It Snowed Tortillas/El Dia Que Nevaron Tortillas” by Joe Hayes
  • “Maximilian & the Mystery of the Guardian Angel: A Bilingual Lucha Libre Thriller” by Xavier Garza
  • “Letters from Heaven/Cartas del cielo” by Lydia Gil

High School

  • “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
  • “1984” by George Orwell
  • “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger
  • “Hiroshima” by John Hersey
  • “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” series by Ann Brashares
  • “The Book Thief” by Markus Zuzak
  • “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky
  • “I Am Malala” by Christina Lamb and Malala Yousafzai
  • “Graciela’s Dream” by Max Benavidez and Katherine Del Monte

Online Library Resources

While public libraries are temporarily closed to the public, your local library may still have ways for you to “borrow” or download ebooks through a website or app. You also can get digital copies of books through online libraries facilitated by Project Gutenberg, Open Library, Smashwords, and ManyBooks. Additionally, free audiobooks, as well as some videos of people reading books aloud, are available through LibriVox, Spotify, Loyal Books, Storynory, Storyline Online, and K12 Read Aloud Classics App.

Sharing Resources and Recommendations

When you find a book your child enjoys or an online resource that’s useful for your family, don’t forget to share it with your friends, family, and fellow parents. Go2s is a free community app that makes it easy for you to connect with your social network, coordinate events and activities, and find and share trusted recommendations.