Bud, Not Buddy, by Christopher Paul Curtis
This Newberry Award-winner tracks the unforgettable journey of a 10-year-old African American orphan searching for his father.
Captain Underpants, by Dav Pilkey
The toilet humor in this rip-roaring series has set some adults on edge — it’s a frequently challenged book according to the American Library Association — but no surprise, the kids can’t get enough.
Coraline, by Neil Gaiman
Beautiful and more than a little creepy, this is the tale of a little girl who ventures into an alternate universe, where things appear better than real life but carry unexpected consequences. Check out the gorgeous stop-motion movie inspired by the book.
Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White
Some pig, and some book. E.B. Whites barnyard tearjerker made all of us feel for that little abattoir-destined pig and his literate arachnoid friend. Don’t try to pretend you didn’t cry.
Doodle All Year, by Taro Gomi
This fat volume is like no coloring book you’ve ever seen, brimming with all kinds of stimulating instructions: ”This boy needs a lollipop. Can you draw it?” ”Decorate the kimonos of these Japanese children. ”
Finn Family Moomintroll, by Tove Jansse (1999)
For over a half-century, the Moomin trolls (who look like cuddly hippos) have charmed and amused readers, with their fantastical family adventures. This first in a series of books makes a great introduction. Its whimsical tone — and equally whimsical illustrations — belie gentle undercurrents of satire and folksy philosophical insight.
Frog and Toad Are Friends, by Arnold Lobel
In this genuine classic, an amphibious Odd Couple — a cheerful frog, a somber toad — experience gentle adventures that bolster their true friendship.
A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein
The poet laureate of the children’s set melds complex illustration and clever verse in this kooky yet stunning collection.
The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster
Since its publication more than 50 years ago, Juster’s beloved classic has given generations of children a profound appreciation of words. You loved the humor and adventure as a kid, but read this novel again as an adult, and you’ll marvel at its wit, complexity, and its understanding of how children perceive the passage of time.
Ramona The Pest, by Beverly Cleary
It’s such a joy to follow Ramona Quimby to kindergarten. Joyful, naughty, but never bad, Ramona is an indomitable hero for the ages.