The Delight of Reading with Your Kids + A Suggested List

“Now I will go and find my mother!” he said. “Are you my mother?” he said to the kitten. “Are you my mother?” he said to the hen.

Remember the stories your parents read to you at bedtime?

Just seeing the cover sends memories flooding back. Now I get the privilege of reading it—and other favorites like Goodnight Moon or Blueberries for Sal—to my grandchildren.

Reading a good book with a child nuzzled underneath your neck is magical. The child hangs on every new word found on the pages, while the adult absorbs every moment of cuddling such innocence. It creates a bond that is enjoyed as tattered pages are turned and the wonder of imagination and discovery is sparked by words, hand-drawn illustrations, and creative story lines.

As Gladys Hunt puts it in one of my favorite books about reading to children, Honey for a Child’s Heart, “Children don’t stumble onto good books by themselves; they must be introduced to the wonder of words put together in such a way that they spin out pure joy and magic.”

The importance of a good book

Being intentional is a parent’s job. We intentionally plan healthy meals, choose the best school, church, and play activities for our children’s growth. Selecting and reading the best books is equally important.

To introduce our children to the pleasure of words goes beyond the pure enjoyment of reading. Good books spark imagination and creativity. They teach, guide, and model excellence in wise living.

Even Proverbs speaks of this truth, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” What a delightful, happy parenting task this is.

One of my favorite parenting memories is the year we read all eight of the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Most afternoons I put my two littlest ones down for naps and the four big kids and I piled on the couch. Rebecca nestled on my lap; the others leaned in with heads on shoulders, legs folded snuggly into couch cushions.

Every time we ended a chapter, they begged for just one more. I often agreed because I loved reading these remarkable stories as much as my kids enjoyed hearing them. We laughed and cried together. And we bonded in those hours.

The overwhelming majority of that season of my life was filled with the hard work of meals, laundry, discipline, training, and endless messes to clean up. But our afternoons of reading were pure pleasure. They were an escape for all of us into another time and another world. Our souls were fed together.

They’re never too old

Reading magic isn’t over once your child is too big to climb up on your knees. When my youngest two were teens I sat with them against their twin bed headboards and read The Hiding Place to them, a chapter every night.

This book prompted discussions about all kinds of big ideas because of the characters and messages that were presented in the story. I didn’t have to ask, “So what do you think about trusting God when it feels too unfair and too difficult?” They got to watch and feel and hear and see a real person live out her faith when it felt impossible.

All thanks to a well-told story, kept alive in the pages of a book.

The right kind of books can give us the experience of words, which have power to evoke emotion and a sense of spiritual conviction. Well-written books will reinforce the values and morals you want to impart to your children. They help you parent well.

A good book “introduces us to people and places we wouldn’t ordinarily know. A good book is a magic gateway into a wider world of wonder, beauty, delight, and adventure,” Hunt says.

And don’t forget audio books. For many summers on our annual road trips to see grandparents we listened to The Chronicles of Narnia as a family as we rode in the car for hours on end. Time went by more quickly and we had far fewer squabbles to settle because everyone was absorbed in the adventures of Peter, Susan, Edmond, and Lucy.

So summer is here. Your kids will be home. You have the gift of precious extra hours together. And I know you feel like you need something to fill that time!

Here are additional age-appropriate recommended books to get your family started:

Book list for ages 2-6

Books for children 2-6

Goodnight Moon (0-3), by Margaret Wise Brown 

The Tale of Peter Rabbit and other Beatrix Potter books (2-4)

Mother Goose nursery rhymes (2-5)

Blueberries for Sal and Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey

The Cat in the Hat (2-6), by Dr. Seuss

Madeline (rhyming book, 4-8), by Ludwig 

A Child’s Garden of Verses (poems and rhymes, 2-6), by Robert Louis Stevenson

Alexander and the Terrible No Good Very Bad Day (4-7+), by Judith Viorst

Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel

 Book list for ages 7-12


Dr. Seuss books (the more advanced reading levels)

Amelia Bedelia books by Peggy Parish

Little House on the Prairie (series of 9 books) by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Charlotte’s Web, The Trumpeter Swan, Stuart Little, by E.B.White

The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Princess and the Goblin, and The Princess and Curdie, by George MacDonald

The Chronicles of Narnia series (wonderful as audio books too), by C.S. Lewis

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle

Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates, by Hans Christian Andersen

 Book list for ges 13-17


The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series, by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom

Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery (the 1985 TV series is also good)

God’s Smuggler, by Brother Andrew

Byzantium, by Stephen Lawhead

Nicholas and Alexandra, by Robert Massie

The Giver (15-17), by Lois Lowry

Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott 

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

Percy Jackson Series, by Rick Riordan

For more ideas, order Gladys Hunt’s book, Honey for a Child’s Heart or the version for teens, Honey for a Teen’s Heart. And check out your local library for incentives they may offer, carefully guiding your child’s book selections. Not all books are good books.




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13 thoughts on “The Delight of Reading with Your Kids + A Suggested List”

  1. Hi! I love listening to Family life while I do dishes and the kids have quiet time. Loved hearing other people stressing the importance of reading. I would also like to add that books published before 1960, generally have a godly world view, better vocabulary/sentence structure, and a moral. I homeschool and these books are referred to as “living literature”. A plus is most libraries are getting rid of these old books for cheap, and you can find lots at yard sales and second hand stores. No one wants them and I have found many, many gems. If the book was published prior to the 60’s I usually read them without previewing them before I read aloud. Just thought I’d put “my oar in” to quote Mr. Cuthbert of Anne.

    1. Barbara Rainey

      You are so right. Old books are generally safer books and finding treasures at library sales is great fun!
      Love Mr. Cuthbert too! :)

  2. Hi Barbara and Tracy Lane,

    How very thoughtful and insightful of you to recommend a list of the children’s books that can be read and shared.
    If you have time, would you also consider creating a list of books for adults to read as well. Thank you!
    I appreciate that you were on the radio stressing the need to read, not only for ourselves but sharing our reading voices with children and teenagers, as well. I have even been thinking of reading to the elderly, as well.
    A big thanks to Dennis and Bob who also share the importance and necessity of reading and sharing good and great books.
    You all brought smiles to my face and I intend to begin reading these suggested books soon.

    1. Barbara Rainey

      Hi Josephine, thank you for your kind words! We are glad that you were encouraged by the series and the book lists. We would love to create a list for adults, too! We did a short little blog at the beginning of this year about our favorite books that we read in 2016 — you can find that list here: but we will come up with a reading list for adults, too! Stay tuned!

  3. Thank you for the list of books! Growing up I loved to read, and even early on in marriage I would read quite often. Then kids came and I have to admit I now fall into that percentage of people who don’t read one book a year. I’ve found it hard to get my oldest, 8 year old, to get interested in reading. I asked myself, how can I ask him to read a book if I’m not reading myself? So tonight, for the first time, I read to both my boys from the first book of the Narnia series. My 8yo loved it! He did not want to stop! Thanks for the tip and for the suggested reading list, I can’t wait to show it to my oldest two!

  4. I want a list of books that the speakers talked about having read.

    Sounds like some my husband and I would enjoy.

    Thank you

  5. How did you approach “The Giver”? It seemed to maybe have some questionable content. I’m new to deciding if I let my kids read it and then discuss or just avoid books with questionable “coming of age” references. Thoughts?

    1. Barbara Rainey

      Hi Elizabeth, Thank you for your question! We think The Giver is an excellent book that is easy to read and introduces such important ideas about the value of all life (at various ages and abilities), the value of hardship, the extreme delight and benefit of memories, love, and truth passed through generations. A teenager is ready to discuss these ideas at home, and is most certainly is being faced with these issues at school and in the culture. The Giver would be an engaging and quick read that offers a bridge for conversation into these important conversations. Hope this helps!

  6. I enjoy reading myself and also read to my son since he was born and for several years. I thought this would instill his love for reading but years later, he is now 16, he has no interest at all. This hurts my mother’s heart as in my opinion, he is missing out on so much. He does listen to some Narnia and Adventures in Odyssey, which I am very thankful for. I would just like to see him sit down with and enjoy a good book. Any suggestions would be welcomed. Thanks!

  7. Christie Brown

    Thank you for the program and reading list..I plan to use it with my nephews and nieces this summer.

  8. Margarita Carreon

    Thank you so much for this. In the busyness of the everyday, we sometimes forget to check the books our children read. And like you said, we miss the opportunities to cherish their company while we read.
    Thanks for the book suggestions.

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