by Abby, Bookseller
I basically grew up in a bookstore. My dad was a bookseller, and when I would visit him at work I would take a book into the small wooden house in the children’s section, curl up, and read for what felt like hours. Sometimes I would poke my head out to ask customers if they would like help picking out a book, because I could give them very good recommendations for a six year old, considering I was six myself.
As I grew older, I became intent on reading as advanced books as I could manage. When I was seven, I wanted to read a book meant for an eight year old. When I was eight, I wanted to read books meant for a ten year old. I thought that a book was categorically better if it challenged my reading abilities, if I was accomplishing something by reading it. I’m ashamed to admit that I only picked up Gone With the Wind because it was the longest book in my middle school library and I wanted the hallway cred. I didn’t even like it that much, and I definitely didn’t understand a lot of the themes.
Starting around the time that I graduated college and became a full-time bookseller, though, I started to venture back into the world of children’s books, at first because it was my job and then because they just made me happy. I realized that they don’t stop being relevant when you “age out,” and a book is not inherently better because it’s more challenging to read. There are books that are meant for and often only able to be appreciated by those who are older (I’m looking at you, Gone with the Wind) - but I think kids books are almost always accessible and enjoyable to all.
This list is a mix of my favorites now and my favorites growing up, because they are a comfort now just like they were when I was younger. Please take a look - for a kid in your life, of course, but also for you.
Guess How Much I Love You
Where Is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox, Judy Horacek
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type
Little Beaver and the Echo
Little Beaver is lonely. When he calls across the pond and hears his echo, he thinks it is his friend and goes on an adventure to find it. He picks up lots of new friends along the way, each of them looking for someone just like him. Filled to the brim with beautiful illustrations and happiness, this book is a joy.
My Father's Dragon
Dinosaurs Before Dark (Magic Tree House #1)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
I don’t have a particularly strong memory, but that is one that has stuck with me to this day. My family continued to read or listen to the series together until the end. So if you’re looking for a story that functions perfectly as a read aloud, this may be your pick—both the books and the audiobooks are lovely (check out Libro.fm for the audio).
Six of Crows
Truly Devious is one of my favorites from recent memory. In it, two crimes that happened 80 years apart are linked by the same prestigious boarding school, and the same signature at the scene: “Truly, Devious.” Stevie Bell is a true crime aficionado who goes to the school for the sole purpose of solving the cold case that occurred there almost a century ago. But when someone kills one of her classmates and links it to the original crime, she finds that she might be the most qualified person to solve both cases once and for all. Everything becomes a lot more real, and much more dangerous.