Kate Coombs | The Children’s Book Review | December 13, 2017
I have 16 bookshelves in my office, sunroom, and hallway, and most of the books are children’s books. So picking just five is pretty tough! I taught elementary school for several years, and right now I’m tutoring my 8-year-old niece in reading—mostly just by reading with her. When I was young my parents read us bedtime stories every night, and when we got a little older my sister and I used to ride our bikes across town to the library every Saturday to restock. What could be better than books?
Written by Joanna Cole
Illustrated by Dirk Zimmer
A great read-aloud for kids ranging from ages 5 through 12. It’s also an easy reader if a child needs the practice. A variation of a Russian fairy tale, Bony Legs is about a girl named Sasha who must escape from a witch with iron teeth who lives in a hut that has chicken feet. A little bit scary, but of course our heroine gets away—and it’s because of her kindness. Bony Legs just went out of print in the past year or two, so try the library.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Scholastic Inc. | 1983 (Revised Edition) | ISBN-13: 978-0590405164
The Lunch Lady series
Written and Illustrated by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
These books are a hoot, and they also happen to be a great tool for helping struggling readers in about first through third grade. My niece is very proud of herself for reading all 10 books (and now we’re going to try Babymouse). We take turns reading a page each. Don’t miss out because these are graphic novels—that’s a big part of their charm and success. They’re about an elementary school where the lunch ladies are secretly superheroes using kitchen gadgets to fight crime.
Order a Copy Now: Amazon
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers | ISBN-13: 978-09224434
Written by M.M. Kaye
This quick and satisfying read is for ages 8–12. A seventh princess is born in the kingdom of Phantasmorania, and it looks like she’ll be just as beautiful and graceful as her six older sisters, especially after the fairies at her christening give her their gifts. Then one of the fairies gets in a snit and gives the baby princess something surprising: she will be ordinary. Naturally, things go wrong as Princess Amy grows up, and the day comes when she runs away from home looking for adventure. She finds it—and she finds a prince who likes ordinary girls best.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Puffin Books | 2002 (Reprint) | ISBN-13: 978-0142300855
Written by Jonathan London
Illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz
Face it, some books are really good read-alouds. Froggy doesn’t want to go to sleep (hibernate) just because it’s winter. He gets dressed and goes out to play in the snow—but he keeps forgetting various articles of clothing and has to be called in to put them on. His mother’s yell and his answer make for good call-and-response participation with young readers, and the book comes to a nicely snoozy, funny end.
Ages 3-5 | Publisher: Puffin Books | 1994 (Reprint) | ISBN-13: 978-0140544572
Written by Mac Barnett
Illustrated by Jon Klassen
Almost a fable, and certainly a modern fairy tale, this Caldecott Honor winner is about a young knitter with a box of magic yarn. Anabelle knits sweaters for just about everyone and everything in her drab little town, filling it with color, until an evil archduke tries to buy her yarn and fails. He decides to resort to nefarious means, but naturally Anabelle wins the day as she continues to create and give with an open heart.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Balzer + Bray | 2012 | ISBN-13: 978-0061953385
Written by Kate Coombs
Illustrated by Anna Emilia Laitinen
Publisher’s Synopsis: I breathe slowly in,
I breathe slowly out. My breath
is a river of peace.
I am here in the world.
Each moment I can breathe and be.
Hear thunder crash, feel your toes touch sand, and watch leaves drift softly away on a quiet stream. The simple poems in Breathe and Be help children learn mindfulness as they connect to the beauty of the natural world.
Mindfulness teaches us how to stay calm, soothe our emotions, and appreciate the world around us. Whether we’re watching tiny colored fish darting in the water or exploring the leaves, branches, and roots of a towering tree, the thoughtful words and the lovely art of Breathe and Be remind us how much joy we can find by simply living with awareness and inner peace.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Sounds True | 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1622039371
About The Author
Kate Coombs is the author of numerous books, including picture books, novels, and books of poetry. Her most recent book is Breathe and Be: A Book of Mindfulness Poems (Sounds True, November 2017). Kate’s collection of ocean poems, Water Sings Blue, won the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award for 2012. She has worked as a K-12 teacher, college teacher, and curriculum director for state history books.
About The Illustrator
Anna Emilia Laitinen studied graphic design and illustration in Finland. She is the illustrator of numerous books and has also designed stationery, tableware, and textiles. In 2015 she received the Kaiku award for illustration from The Association of Finnish Illustrators. She has taught painting and drawing to children.
Kate Coombs, author of Breathe and Be: A Book of Mindfulness Poems, selected these five family favorites. Discover more articles on The Children’s Book Review tagged with Family Favorites.