10 Great Books for Young Readers

Dec 4, 2014

The cover of "Julia's House for Lost Creatures" by Ben Hatke.
Credit Macmillan Publishers

Sometimes it's tough finding a gift for the kids in your life. Murray State University Waterfield Library's Katherine Farmer stops by Sounds Good with a list of great books to give young readers over the holidays. She says she's a fan of kids' stories, even though one might not think they appeal to older audiences. Here are her top picks, just in time for the holidays.

"I love children's books, whether they're for young kids or for young adults. I'm happy to have a job where I get to play with children's books all day long," Farmer said.

You can check out Farmer's recommendations here. She says she chose these books because they're simple, interesting and relatable for kids.

  1. Any book by Mo Willems.  Willems’ books are always very interactive and easy for very young children to understand.  During 2014, Mo Willems has published two books.  First, is The Pigeon Needs a Bath! The Pigeon is back, and he really needs a bath.  Unfortunately the Pigeon is not convinced that he needs a bath.  Just how do you convince a Pigeon to take a bath because he really is stinky.  The second book is Waiting Is Not Easy!  The last thing that especially little kids like to do is wait for a surprise especially this time of year, and that is the case for Gerald the elephant.  Piggie has a big surprise for Gerald, but can Gerald wait to find out?  Suggested age range:  Preschool to First Grade.
  2. Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke -  When Julia and her house built on a giant turtle comes and settles in town, she like everything but how quiet it is.  To solve her problem, she makes a sign:  Julia’s House for Lost Creatures.  I wonder what creatures will show up and knowing creatures do they behave or cause chaos in Julia’s house.  Suggested age range:  Preschool to First Grade
  3. Sparky by Jenny Offill.  The narrator, a little girl, wants a pet.  Her mother says ok as long as it doesn’t have to be walked, bathed, or fed.  So what is the answer - a mail order sloth, of course.  But now the question is, can a sloth be like a dog or a cat?  Suggested age range:  Preschool to First Grade.
  4. Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett.  Sam and Dave dig a hole to find something really spectacular.  So they dig and dig, but what do they find?  The story and the illustrations make this book spectacular.  Suggested age range:  Kindergarten through Second.
  5. The Miniature World of Marvin and James by Elise Broach.  James is going on vacation for a week, and his best friend, Marivn the beetle, has to stay at home.  Unfortunately with James gone, Marvin has to play with his cousin Elaine and they quickly get into all sorts of trouble.  Throughout it all, Marvin wonders will James still be his friend when he returns?  Suggested age range:  Grades 2-3. 
  6. Diary of a Wimpy Kid:  The Long Haul by Jeff Kinney.  The latest in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series was released in November.  A family road trip starts of great but doesn’t stay that way with a few calamities from a fender bender to crazy seagulls, making this road trip one they will never forget.  Suggest age range:  grades 3-8
  7. The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan.  Demigods Percy, Annabeth, Jason, Piper, Frank, Hazel, and Leo are in a race of time to save the world from destruction before Gaea awakens in 12 days.  This book brings a close to The Heroes of Olympus series by Riordan.  He announces at the end of the book that he will be starting a series based on Norse mythology.  Suggested age range:  grades 4-8
  8. Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee. This book is a humorous retelling of the story of the Snow Queen.  Ophelia loves science and doesn’t believe in anything unless it is proven by science.  She and her sister Alice are grieving for their dead mother when their father takes a job a museum in a town where it always snows.  Ophelia soon discovers a boy being held prisoner by the Snow Queen, and he has been waiting for Ophelia’s help.  Ophelia embarks on a journey to free the boy that will test her beliefs in everything.  Suggested age range:  grades 4-8
  9. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.  Cadence Sinclair Eastman has spent every summer on a private island off the coast of Massachusetts until she was 15 with a group of family and friends nicknamed the Liars.  When she was 15, she had mysterious accident that has caused her to lose her memory and have terrible headaches.  At 17, she returns to the island because she has started to have snippets of her memory return and wants to learn more.  What follows is a journey through secrets and lies as she struggles to find the truth.  Suggested age range:  Young Adult.
  10. Hollow City:  Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children Book 2 by Ransom Riggs.  This is the sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.  The book, a mix of story and eerie vintage photographs,  picks up right where the first book ended.  Having barely escaped Miss Peregrine’s island, Jacob and his new friends journey to London.  Along the way they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.  Suggested age range:  Young Adult