Fall is just around the corner, which means it’s the perfect time to curl up with a good book and spend a few hours getting lost in a brand new story. If you’re looking for a great way to spend some time with your kids while helping them improve their reading skills and comprehensive development, check out our list of the twenty-one best stories to share with your family as summer fades into fall!
Short, sweet, and full of bright optimism, these are the books that are perfect to read to your child as they drift off after a long day! In general, bedtime stories tend to be for children between the ages of two and five, but there’s no reason you can’t use any of the books on this list as bedtime tales!
1. The Snowy Day
What’s to love: Ezra Jack Keats‘ 1962 exploration of the changing of the seasons is a sweet look at first snow through the eyes of Peter, a small boy who wakes up to see that his city has transformed overnight! Ages 2 and up.
2. Where the Wild Things Are
What’s to love: In Maurice Sendak’s 1963 classic, children can find a way to work through and express their own anger as a boy named Max escapes to a fantastical world in order to avoid his frustration with his own parents. Ages 2 and up.
3. Harold and the Purple Crayon
What’s to love: Crockett Johnson’s 1955 classic story teaches children to release their imaginations and discover the joy of creating new things as Harold sets out on a grand adventure with nothing but his own imagination and that all-powerful purple crayon. Ages 3 and up.
4. The Tale of Peter Rabbit
What’s to love: Beatrix Potter’s first children’s book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit is simple, sweet, and sure to please, as children listen to the adventures of the eponymous rabbit and his battle of wits with the farmer. Ages 4 and up.
For kids who are looking to hone their reading skills with something a little more advanced, but don’t want to tackle a chapter book just yet, poetry is a wonderful way to teach them about rhythm, cadence, and rhyme without giving up the wonder of starting a brand new story!
5. The Cat in the Hat
What’s to love: Dr. Seuss’s rhyming tale of two children at home and the fun-loving cat who sweeps in to turn their world upside down teaches kids to read and rhyme in a fun, imaginative, and sure-to-get-stuck-in-your-head kind of way! Ages 4 and up.
6. The Lorax
What’s to love:Another from Dr. Seuss, this parable about protecting nature and the lengths the Lorax and the Onceler must go to in pursuit of their goals is an important lesson to learn at any age, while still being entertaining. Ages 5 and up.
7. The Little Prince
What’s to love: It may not technically be poetry, but Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s timeless fairy tale uses its magical, dreamlike nature to explore life, death, and everything in between in the tale of a little boy who misses his rose. Ages 10 and up.
8. Where the Sidewalk Ends
What’s to love: Shel Silverstein’s poems are light, funny, and engaging, while easily striking a steady balance between entertaining, thought-provoking, and short little snippets that are sure to stay with your child long after the last page has finally been read. Ages 6 and up.
Everyone loves a good mystery, and kids of all ages can curl up with a tale of intrigue and excitement as the weather starts to cool down! Some of these mystery books have been well-read and well-loved for decades, and they still stand the test of time when reading today!
9. The Boxcar Children
What’s to love: The first book in Gertrude Chandler Warner’s series may be a classic “no grownups” adventure story, but the following mysteries that surround these four orphaned siblings as they find their way through life will engage young readers. Ages 7 and up.
10. Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective
What’s to love: Donald J. Sobol’s charming tales of the eponymous boy detective and his best friends as they face off against small-time crooks and hometown bullies alike let readers solve each new brainteaser or puzzle by flipping to the end. Ages 7 and up.
11. The Secret of the Old Clock
What’s to love: The first of the Nancy Drew mysteries, this story’s got enough intrigue and anticipation to draw in younger readers’ imaginations as Nancy Drew and her friends tackle mystery after mystery in this classic children’s series of adventures. Ages 8 and up.
Chapter Books for Young Readers
Once your child is old enough to start tackling longer books and heavier topics on their own or with some help, start them off on some of the stories that are or are fast becoming some of the most beloved classics for kids of any age to read and enjoy!
12. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
What’s to love: J.K. Rowling weaves a magical tale about the adventures of the iconic wizard as he comes into his own, while fighting off evil wizards, dealing with bullies and cruel teachers, and forging friendships that will last a lifetime. Ages 8 and up.
13. The Lightning Thief
What’s to love: The first entry in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series gives readers a brave, engaging hero in Percy, who faces the revelation that the gods and monsters of Greek mythology are real with humor and courage. Ages 9 and up.
14. The Bad Beginning
What’s to love: Lemony Snicket’s darkly humorous tale of the unlucky, orphaned Baudelaire children gives kids a clever, sophisticated read that’s still age-appropriate. Children will love rooting for Violet, Klaus, and Sunny even as the narrative thwarts them at every turn. Ages 8 and up.
15. The Phantom Tollbooth
What’s to love: Norton Juster’s modern Alice in Wonderland tale is the story of an average boy named Milo who’s got too much time on his hands, and is full of clever puns and witty characters that kids will love. Ages 8 and up.
16. The Amazing Days of Abby Hayes
What’s to love: The adventures of fun-loving, adventurous Abby Hayes help kids address topics like friendship and exploration as ordinary girl Abby tackles science projects, babysitting, and first crushes with courage, pluck, and her trusty purple pen. Ages 7 and up.
Chapter Books for Older Kids
For slightly older kids, these chapter books deal with heavier themes of love and loss, while still remaining inspiring reads that are sure to have your child hooked. As they get older, they will start to wrestle with these themes on their own, and books like these will help them.
17. I Am Malala
What’s to love: Malala Yousafzai’s autobiographical memoir shows the realities of growing up and fighting back in a culture where women’s educational rights are denied, is a powerful look at the courage and strength that a child possesses at any age. Ages 10 and up.
18. The Fellowship of the Ring
What’s to love: J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy classic starts his hero on an important journey that shows the strength of the bond between friends as Frodo, Sam, and the rest of the fellowship set off on a dangerous quest to save the world. Ages 11 and up.
19. To Kill a Mockingbird
What’s to love: Harper Lee’s 1960 classic tackles topics of racism, ignorance,and fear while still promoting forgiveness and acceptance from her young protagonist, Scout, who grows up with her brother and father in the Deep South during a time of change. Ages 12 and up.
20. The Book Thief
What’s to love: Markus Zusak takes a look at Nazi Germany through a child’s eyes in order to discuss the power of thought and the importance of protecting those around you, even in the face of great danger. Ages 13 and up.
21. Six of Crows
What’s to love: Perfect for fans of heist movies, Leigh Bardugo’s tale of six flawed teenagers in search of revenge is perfect for older kids. Ages 14 and up.
Let us know which of these books you and your kids really liked! If you’ve got any other recommendations, let us know and help us spread around a few more good books for the fall season!