Hoping to make reading for pleasure a habit in your house this year? One way to motivate kids to read for fun is by making it easy for them to find a good book to read, says Theresa Wang, early literacy coordinator at the D.C. Public Library.
Take frequent trips to the library or bookstore, or simply start leaving books in different rooms at home. Just seeing books around the house might be all the motivation they need to pick one up and crack the spine, says Wang.
In case you need help choosing children’s books, here are 12 that Wang recommends.
“The Undefeated” by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
A love letter to black life in the United States, this poem highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement as well as the grit, passion and perseverance of some of the world’s greatest heroes.
“A Stone Sat Still” by Brendan Wenzel
In this brilliant companion to the Caldecott Honor-winning “They All Saw a Cat,” the author tells a moving story about how different perspectives and the passage of time can turn a seemingly ordinary rock into a site of infinite possibility. Young children are introduced to concepts like color, size and time in easy-to-understand ways.
“Ariba: An Old Tale About New Shoes” by Masha Manapov
Marcus’s joy over his new pair of shoes reminds his grandfather of an old story about a boy named Ariba who has the most unusual relationship with an extraordinary pair of shoes.
“King & Kayla and the Case of the Found Fred” by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers
Trying to communicate with his human owner (and detective partner) can be frustrating for King, a golden retriever, as he uncovers clues in a missing dog case.
“Dragon’s Fat Cat” by Dav Pilkey
The endearing blue Dragon is back in bestselling author Dav Pilkey’s humorous story about friendship and taking care of pets. When Dragon finds a stray cat, he brings it home and learns to take care of it through many silly mishaps.
“Harold & Hog Pretend for Real” by Mo Willems and Dan Santat
Can the friendship of Harold and Hog, a carefree elephant and a careful hog, survive a game of pretending to be Mo Willems’s Elephant and Piggie?
“Mighty Jack and Zita the Spacegirl” by Ben Hatke
Jack and Lilly have befriended dragons, battled giants and even earned the loyalty of a goblin army. So when they meet Zita the Spacegirl, fresh from her interplanetary travels and seeking their help to face a new threat, they’re more than ready for another adventure.
“Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks” by Jason Reynolds
A National Book Award finalist, this wickedly funny yet poignant novel weaves together 10 stories (one per block) about the different directions a walk home from school can take.
“Twinchantment” by Elise Allen
In a kingdom where potentially-magical beings are outlawed, princesses Flissa and Sara have had to pretend to be one person since they were born, trading off royal duties like attending balls and making friends with other nobles. But when a magical attack puts their mother’s life in danger, they must break the rules to save her with the help of a brave servant boy and his kitten.
“Thirteen Doorways Wolves Behind Them All” by Laura Ruby
From the author of Printz Medal-winner “Bone Gap” comes the unforgettable story of two young women — one living, one dead — dealing with loss, desire and the fragility of the American dream during WWII.
“Call Down the Hawk” by Maggie Stiefvater
The first book in a spin-off series from Stiefvater’s best-selling Raven Cycle quartet, this mesmerizing story follows a dreamer, a thief and a hunter with competing priorities as the end of the world approaches.
“I Am the Night Sky & Other Reflections by Muslim American Youth” by Next Wave Muslim Initiative Writers
During an era characterized by both hijabi fashion models and enduring post-9/11 stereotypes, 10 Muslim American teenagers came together to explore what it means to be young and Muslim in America today. These teens represent the tremendous diversity within the American Muslim community, and their book, like them, contains multitudes.