I asked my elementary-aged children if they remembered the books we used to read together before they learned to read on their own. That launched a fun conversation recalling characters and stories from their favorite books. We made a list of 10 favorites for moms and dads who may have first time readers of their own.
All of the books on our list have been around for a while and should be easy to find at your local library. A spot on this list means the book was highly recommended in the first place and scored high on my children’s read-it-again scale. All of these books – story and art – are clever enough to keep Mom or Dad engaged as well.
With that seal of approval, here is our Top 10 Summer Book List for early readers.
10. Marvin K Mooney Will You Please Go Now!, Dr. Seuss (1972)
Our kids loved this classic book for “beginning beginners” – the rhyming, drawings and story. Any reading list for children almost has to include either Dr. Seuss or Eric Carle (both beloved by our children). These authors write and illustrate exceptional stories for young children. Using widely different writing and artistic styles, they appeal to all ages and deserve their fame.
9. This Old Man, illustrated by Carol Jones (1998)
A great favorite of rhyme and numbers. The kids really enjoyed this one. The illustrations include a “circle” of foreshadowing. Very nicely done.
8. A Chair for My Mother, Vera B Williams (1984)
A sweet story about family accompanied by colorful watercolor illustrations. A Caldecott Award winner. (FYI – the Caldecott Award honors each year’s best-illustrated children’s books, while the Newbery Medal is awarded for outstanding children’s literature.)
7. John Henry – An American Legend, Ezra Jack Keats (1987)
One of Mom’s favorites from her youth. The kids loved this simple rhyming picture book of the heroic John Henry. Another Caldecott winner for its big, bold artwork.
6. Two Old Potatoes and Me, John Coy, illustrated by Carolynn Fisher (2009)
A delicate handling of divorce themes in a story that inspired our backyard potato patch. Interesting and energetic artwork moves the simple, heartwarming story along quickly.
5. Ride, Otto, Ride! David Milgrim (2002)
Our kids loved the simple phrases and repetitive words in this series featuring Otto the robot and his two monkey friends, Flip and Flop. Our kids soon read this on their own and to each other and their friends.
4. The Subway Mouse, Barbara Reid (2005)
A family favorite about a courageous mouse named Nib. Combines a fun story with illustrations spectacularly rendered in clay. Our son still occasionally reads this on his own.
3. Wow! City!, Robert Neubecker (2004)
A huge favorite with our daughter. After numerous readings, we all know the story by heart of Izzy and her dad’s bright, lively, fun adventure in the big city. An award winner and well deserved.
2. Roxaboxen, Alice McLerran, illustrated by Barbara Cooney (1991)
It’s all about imagination and the empty lot across the street. It captivated all of us, reader and children alike. A classic for good reason.
1. Ox Cart Man, Donald Hall, illustrated by Barbara Cooney (1977)
Originally published as a poem in the New Yorker, the illustrated version is a peaceful reflection on a quieter time. The kids loved it, which is good, because Dad enjoys reading it often.
There are many, many more choices that your children will love. You local librarian can help find books that will match your children’s interests and reading level.