10 Books for Children age 6 to 106 (Pt. 1)

What are your favorite children’s books?

People ask me that a lot. It’s a hard question to answer because where do you begin? The best children’s book are, of course, the ones which are nothing of the sort. They are those books which can be enjoyed by a child of any age, from 6 to 106. They are the ones you want to return to them again and again–whatever age you are. A good children’s book is living. And true. (There are a lot of children’s books published but not all of them are either true or living. But don’t get me started.)

A good children’s book is one that an adult and a child can enjoy together. There is nothing in the story that is snuck in there to appeal to an adult/to keep the adult’s attention. Nothing happens behind the child’s back. It is a story that is generous and true and good enough to keep everyone’s attention. (Pixar for instance do this brilliantly in their movies.)

The list below certainly isn’t complete, but at least it’s a start (in no particular order) …

Chronicles of Narnia (C S Lewis) Made me fall in love with Alsan. I just adored this as a child. So much that I created a musical where I was the choreographer, composer, lyricist, and star. Hmm. Aslan

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)
I read it as a child and adored it. Loved it so much that my best friend and I acted it out together out in the grounds of my boarding school. I was Huck.

The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
A classic. A great story that keeps you turning the page. Redemptive.

Winnie the Pooh (the original!!) (A A Milne)
How can you even begin to list the reasons why? I can’t. So I won’t. This is probably up there near number one. WinnieThePooh

Wind in the Willows (Kenneth Graham)
Funny. Genius. You won’t be able to go by a river without wondering about who lives there and where is that crazy Toad.

Tarka the Otter (Henry Williamson)
I loved this as a child. I couldn’t put it down. It remains vivid in my mind.

Danny Champion of the World (Roald Dahl)
This is one of my favorites of Dahl’s books. The relationship between the boy and his dad is so tender. Plus there’s a great adventure going on.

The Moomin books (Tove Janssen) The whole lot of them. They are original, fantastic and very, very funny. I wish I’d written them. toveJanssen

The Complete Nonsense (Edward Lear) The first book I ever read all the way through. I adored it. I didn’t know you were allowed to have so much fun inside books. It’s filled with silliness and joy. (He does his own drawings and everything!)

The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry) Beautiful and tender. Heartbreaking. And true.

OK. Your turn. Which of these books do you still need to read? Which is your favorite? If you think I’ve missed any (and yes, of course, I have!) please add your favorites to the list by submitting your comment below.

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20 Responses to “10 Books for Children age 6 to 106 (Pt. 1)”

  1. Jordan

    I love the Chronicles of Narnia, as you already said!
    There’s also Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.
    Also, I grew up with the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling, so that will always have a place in my heart (although I know it’s controversial for some Christian circles).

    • Sally Lloyd-Jones

      Madeleine L’Engle, of course. And to me–anyone who can get children and parents all reading the same book– is a genius and has given us a great gift!

  2. Amanda C

    Looove Moomin! I discovered Tove Janssen (pronunciation, please? Just as spelled?) a couple of years ago on a trip to Japan. The Moomin books feel like my own little secret because I rarely find someone in the States who recognizes them. Ah well. Glad you’re spreading the word.

    • Sally Lloyd-Jones

      I know what you mean Amanda–I was almost not going to share Moomin because I feel the same. But isn’t that so true of our favorite books? We feel they belong to us, they are so much a part of us. So glad to meet a fellow Moomin fan.

  3. Kit

    Hello Sally! I love your list, and I haven’t read all of them! Better get those from the library stat!
    I would add the Little House series. I read them countless times as a child, played “Laura and Mary” all growing up, and am on my second read-through with children. I would also add all the George and Martha books by James Marshall. They are simple, hilarious, true and teach about friendship without SAYING that they’re teaching about friendship. I never tire of them.
    Also, (uh oh, this could go on forever) I never tire of reading Richard Scarry books. I know they’re picture books, but I LOVE them.
    Thanks for getting me thinking this morning!

  4. alice

    I love several of these (Wind in the Willows! I even have a teapot of that). My favorites also include Rumer Godden’s books “Miss Happiness and Miss Flower” and “Little Plum.” Their loveliness takes my breath away to this day. I can’t recommend them highly enough. Also, L.M. Boston’s books about Green Knowe, especially “Chimneys of Green Knowe” (made into an inferior but still worth watching movie with Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville called “From Time to Time.”) I do love the Secret Garden, but I think I like some of Hodgson Burnett’s others better, especially The Little Princess and really The Racketty Packetty House. That book is the reason I cannot ever get rid of my dilapidated doll house!

  5. Lisa

    Last summer my 10 year old son and I enjoyed an audible version of Huck Finn again driving back and forth to lessons. We laughed and cried together and had ourselves a jolly time. It is by far my favorite Mark Twain book. For some reason The Wind in the Willows escaped me all this time. I’m purposed in my mind to get it out and read it out loud with him now. There is a series of autobiographical stories my son and I have been reading out loud that I hardly ever hear about. Written by Ralph Moody, the first one is titled Little Britches. This man tells of his adventures growing up in Colorado in the early 20th century. His wit and honest ingenuity sparkle the stories. No little boy should miss them.

  6. Mary Lichlyter

    The silly, animated versions of THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS bear very little comparison to the real thing! They’re so paltry. I wonder if anybody who isn’t over twelve can see all the beauty of the original! But… being younger and having it READ TO YOU… wonderful!

    I’m not familiar with TARKIN THE OTTER or the MOOMIN books. But to your list I would add the complete LITTLE HOUSE series (original series) by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I re-read it every year, and every year it gets better. And my granddaughters love to hear Betty McDonald’s MRS. PIGGLE-WIGGLE books, because they love the silliness.

    • Sally Lloyd-Jones

      I so agree Mary. The originals are the only ones. (I think you’ll love Tarka and Moomin!) ANd you’re right–we need Little House in here too! ANd we can never have too much silliness.

  7. Paula Ritchie

    I homeschooled five and grandmother 11
    We loved many:
    Sir Cedric. Roy Gerard
    Poppyseed cakes ?
    Custard the Dragon
    The Good master Kate Serendy
    The Day the Babies Crawled Away
    The Loved to Laugh

    I could go on and on.

  8. Chouree Belanger

    Marguerite de Angeli’s. The Door in the Wall is magnificent! Love The Jesus Storybook Bible! Used it in 2nd Sunday School this past year. Thank you for your ministry there!

  9. Jennie

    Kate diCamillo books: Tale of Despereaux, Edward Tulane and more
    Ruth Stiles Gannett: My Father’s Dragon and more
    Norton Juster: The Phantom Tollbooth

  10. Meg

    What about A Tree Grows in Brooklyn? There was book by Elizabeth Pope called The Sherwood Ring that I have always loved. I grew up on A Child’s Garden of Verse as well…though it is considered old… and Dandelion Wine was a book I read over and over again. Bradbury was amazing. AND if you ever got into picture books, Mitsumasa Anno’s books ( Anno’s Journey and others) are great for all ages.

  11. Hallie

    You have out me in the middle of sweet memories of my father reading to us piled in the bed! I love your list! Here are some timeless ones: ” Incredible Journey”, “Old Yeller”, “Swiss Family Robinson”, “Charlotte’s Webb”…it was in some of your list’s books and these that story brought so much emotion that I felt and that I know informs compassion and empathy. A more current series I would add (for girls and boys) teaching so many great lessons in an exciting story is Ranger’s Apprentice. We couldn’t out them down (and yes, my boys saw me shed tears).

  12. Michelle

    Loved reading all this and getting these suggestions. Here’s another: the Junie B Jones series by Barbara Parks. They are brilliantly funny — describing the antics of 5-year-old Junie B. You will love them.

  13. Brenda

    Love your recommendations! My children are grown, but we still quote sections of The Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye.


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