Kid Lit: Great Books for Children

Reading is one of those special pastimes that can take you through all stages of your life. With the goal of fostering a love for reading from the very beginning, we checked in with five Scouted education professionals to see what books they recommend adding to young readers’ shelves. Here, they share their top picks for the littlest bookworm to true bibliophiles-in-training. Read on for the perfect mix of new and classic books to add to their collection. 

Our experts: Lissa Main, librarian at Daycroft School in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Kimberly Bonner, elementary librarian at Presbyterian Christian School in Hattiesburg, Mississippi; Sharon Michiko Yap, head of school at Montessori Casa dei Bambini in Boise, Idaho; and Dr. Emma Whitman, head of school, and Jennifer Donnelly, librarian at All Saints’ Episcopal Day School in Phoenix, Arizona.


Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers by Uma Mishra-Newbery and Lina Al-Hathloul
“A wonderful picture book inspired by the story of the human rights activist and Nobel Prize nominee Lujain AlHathloul, who was imprisoned in Saudi Arabia after leading efforts to overturn the country’s ban on women driving. This gentle, uplifting allegory of a young Loujain, who wants to fly like her father but who is not allowed to do so because only boys, not girls, are allowed to fly, features a loving, supportive family and a strong girl who dares to dream and achieves real change. The story presents a current-day social justice issue in a way that is appropriate for and highly accessible to young children. It is a book that can inspire rich parent-child discussion.” – Lissa Main

Knight Owl by Christopher Denise
“The play on words in this title is a fun introduction to a story about an owl who wants to be a knight. He is small but is particularly good at his job because he is awake at night. The illustrations are beautiful and add so much fun to the story.” – Kimberly Bonner

Chester van Chime Who Forgot How to Rhyme by Avery Monsen
“The perfect book for young readers—it always has children rolling around with laughter and participating in finding the right rhymes. Rhyming is a crucial part of early reading, and this book makes it fun for all.” – Dr. Emma Whitman

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems
“I have always loved this book because it connects well with young children. It is a story of a lost stuffed animal and a dramatic rescue.” – Dr. Emma Whitman

The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld
“This book is a wonderful story about frustration, empathy, and feelings. I highly recommend it for three to five-year-olds because it teaches them it is okay to have big feelings and work through them.” – Dr. Emma Whitman

Brave Irene by William Steig
“This story is about a young girl forging through a winter storm to achieve her mission and deliver a package. It is a favorite among young children because of the exciting story and fabulous pictures.” – Dr. Emma Whitman

Elephants Are Not Artists by William Hart
“A lovely story that follows an elephant named Ruby who overcomes others’ doubts to follow her dream of becoming an artist. This book is great for anyone looking for a reminder to believe in themselves and a little extra motivation to pursue their passions.” – Jennifer Donnelly

I Am Golden by Eva Chen
“As an Asian-American immigrant, this book resonates with me in more ways than one. Moving to a new country at the age of nine, the adjustment was both exciting and intriguing, to say the least!” – Sharon Michiko Yap


Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers by Celia C. Perez
Strange Birds is a novel for middle grade readers that celebrates the unlikely but rewarding friendship between four girls from different backgrounds and with interests that don’t seem to overlap. Set in Florida during a sultry summer, the girls come together as the result of a mysterious invitation and develop a budding friendship as they try to end a local scout troop’s tradition of using real bird feathers for a ceremonial hat. The story is well paced with plenty of action, and explores several themes, including race, socioeconomic status, agency, family expectations, environmental justice, and forging bonds despite differences.” – Lissa Main

Efren Divided by Ernesto Cisneros
“For insight into the struggles that immigrant families often face, Efren Divided is a realistic and sympathetic story. Although 12-year-old Efren is a citizen because he was born in the United States, his parents are undocumented immigrants. After his beloved mother is suddenly detained and deported to Mexico, Efren is thrust into becoming a caretaker of his two young siblings as his father takes a second job to support the family. Efren’s parents are his superheroes, but now he has to become a superhero himself, and it isn’t easy. Aspects of the story include Efren crossing to Mexico to bring money to his mother, as well as a storyline at school where Efren decides to enter the race for class president so he can call attention to immigration issues. Overall, the story highlights resilience in the face of the realities of our immigration system.” – Lissa Main

A Rover’s Story by Jasmine Warga
“A delightful story from the perspective of a rover built to live on Mars and send research information back to NASA. Resilience, the rover, exhibits human emotions and keeps you turning the page to find out what happens next.” – Kimberly Bonner

Britfield and the Lost Crown (Britfield Series) by C. R. Stewart
“A wonderful adventure series—Britfield follows Tom and Sarah as they escape from a terrible orphanage set in London. They find out surprising details about their past at nearly every turn. The world-building is fantastic, and the characters are intriguing.” – Kimberly Bonner

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
“I love this classic novel because of the magic it creates for the child with a new world, complex characters, and stories of wonder.” – Dr. Emma Whitman

A Little Princess by Frances Burnett
“This is one of the first novels I read as a child and is still one of my favorites. It’s full of history, sadness, and joy.” – Dr. Emma Whitman

Wayside School is Falling Down by Louis Sacher
“This hilarious book is perfect for seven to nine-year-olds because it gets them reading and laughing. I highly recommend it for children that are just starting to read chapter books and need to be engaged.” – Dr. Emma Whitman

Presbyterian Christian School appears in The Scout Guide Hattiesburg, Daycroft School appears in The Scout Guide Ann Arbor. All Saints’ Episcopal Day School appears in The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale. Montessori Casa dei Bambini appears in The Scout Guide Boise & The Treasure Valley.