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Top 50 Recommended Books for Children

This page is intended to provide you with information about high quality books for young readers.  Children who read do better in school, so a child can never have access to too many books.  We agonized over a list of the best 50 books to recommend because there are so many good books to consider and it was very difficult to rank them.  What criteria should be used in the selecting and the ranking?  We highly recommend that you take a look at each book on our list and see if it meets your own criteria before recommending it or buying it for a child.  Better yet, ask either your child or another child!
  1. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, 1937.  Bilbo is an upstanding and model hobbit until he meets up with a wizard and a troop of dwarves and goes on an adventure of a lifetime.  He meets creatures both good and evil, discovers and answers many riddles, finds treasures beyond understanding, restores a king to his throne, and becomes the bravest little hobbit of them all.  Over 100 million sold making this book one of the best selling of all time.
  2. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, 1884.  The classic tale of a boy who travels down the Mississippi River with the slave of the adoptive widow who is trying to civilize him.  It is a humorous coming of age and adventure story that like all good books is much much more.  This book has numerous publications including ISBN-13: 9780486280615 and ISBN-13: 978-1441413161.
  3. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, 1876.  Tom Sawyer is a creative twelve-year-old boy full of mischief.  He likes nothing better than skipping school, messing on the Mississippi river with Huckleberry Finn or wooing the beautiful Becky Thatcher.  This book has numerous publications including ISBN-13: 9780486291567 and ISBN-13: 978-1936041251.
  4. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, 1943.  A downed pilot in the middle of the Sahara Desert without hope of rescue is frantically trying to repair his wrecked plane when he is interrupted by the Little Prince who appears from out of nowhere.  After the two get to know each other, the Little Prince describes his traveling from planet to planet, with each world he visits being populated by a single adult.  The pilot is amused but does not know what to think, as the child could not have survived alone in the desert.  The Little Prince has sold about 80 million copies, making this one of the best selling children's books after the Hobbit.  ISBN-13: 978-1607963028.
  5. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis, 1950.  Two brothers and their two sisters discover a passageway to a magical world where fantastic creatures exist and animals talk.  But this world is enslaved by the spell of an evil witch who realizes that the four human children are a threat to her power.  Can the four children free this newfound world before the witch catches them?  Around 85 million copies sold.
  6. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis, 1950-1954.  These books continue the story of Narnia, the world introduced in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the first book in the set.
  7. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, 1838.  The orphan Oliver Twist who is not really wanted escapes from a cruel workhouse and travels to London where he meets a gang of juvenile pickpockets and their trainer Fagin.  Largely because of the kindness of one boy, the Artful Dodger, and because he is unaware of their unlawful activities, he moves in with them.  After that, his adventures become boundless.  This book is Charles Dickens second and has had numerous publications including ISBN-13: 978-0486424538 and ISBN-13: 9781402754258.
  8. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, 1968. Charlie discovers an invitation to visit Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory and discovers that it is even more wonderful than even he had thought. Yet will he be able to pass the test designed for him?  The book has numerous publications including ISBN-13: 9780142401088 and ISBN-13: 978-0142410318.
  9. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, 1843.  The story tells how Ebenezer Scrooge changed from being an uncaring, mean, and stingy man to a generous and warm hearted individual after being visited by the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Yet to Come.  This story is a Christmas classic and has had numerous publications including ISBN-13: 9781402766909 and ISBN-13: 978-1936594122.
  10. The (Merry) Adventures of Robin Hood (of Great Renown in Nottinghamshire) by Howard Pyle, 1883.  (Some publications truncate the title, deleting some or all of the words in parenthesis.)  Howard Pyle wrote a book for children about the ancient ballads of Robin Hood, but he changed the story to make Robin a hero who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor.  This book has had numerous publications including ISBN-13: 978-1446033944 and ISBN-13: 9781402712579. 
  11. The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford, 1961. Follow the heartwarming adventure of three lost pets (two dogs and one cat) as they attempt make their way home to their  family.  Working together, they stand a chance to succeed.  ISBN-13: 978-0440413240.  
  12. The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare, 1983.  During the colonization of America, a boy is left alone to look after the family farm and house.  After several mishaps, he is rescued by an Indian chief and his grandson.  The two boys become friends and teach each other about their different ways of life.  This book is meant to be both entertaining and educational.  ISBN-13: 978-0440479000.  
  13. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, 1945.  Pippi is a 9-year-old Swedish girl who befriends her neighbors Tommy and Annika and together have numerous wacky adventures.  This is the first book in a series.  This book also has had numerous publications including ISBN-13: 978-0142402498 and  ISBN-13: 9780140309577.
  14. Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers, 1934.  Mary Poppins is the first book in the Mary Poppins series of books.  The Banks family was in need of a nanny when Mary Poppins was blown in by a stiff eastern wind.  She accepts the job and life at the Banks family was never the same.  This is because their new nanny is stern, a bit vain, sometimes cross, but also magical.  Soon the children are doing all kinds of wonderful stuff that they never even knew was possible.  This book has had several publications including ISBN-13: 978-0152017170 and ISBN-13: 9788426134110.
  15. The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White, 1938. A boy named Wart is befriended by a wizard named Merlyn who prepares the boy to become the future King Arthur.  This book has numerous publications including ISBN-13: 9780399225024 and ISBN-13: 978-0006713050.
  16. Little House on the Prarie by Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1935.  Laura and her family move from Wisconsin to Kansas to build a house on the prairie in the late 1800's.  This book is the most popular of the series though it is the third book. ISBN-13: 978-0064435260 and ISBN-13: 9780060581817.   The other Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, year varies by book. (Little House in the Big Woods, 1932.)  More stories about Laura and her family living in Kansas in the late 1800's.  ISBN-13: 978-0064400404. 
  17. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1911.  A young girl discovers a secret garden and uses it with the help of a friend to heal a boy who thinks he is dieing and his distraught father.  This book has had numerous publications including.  ISBN-13: 9780486280240 and ISBN-13: 978-1441405265.
  18. Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes and Lynd Ward, 1943.  A children's novel about a boy coming of age in Boston just prior to and during the American Revolution.  The novel discusses both historical and fictional characters and is meant to be both entertaining and educational.  Ages 11 and up.  ISBN-13: 9780440442509.
  19. Heidi's Years of Wandering and Learning by Johanna Spyri, 1880.  This is the classic story of a young orphan girl sent to live with her grandfather in the Swiss Alps.  However, her newfound peace and tranquility is lost when she has to tend to a sick cousin in the city.  This book has a number of different publications, some of which are intended for different age ranges, including ISBN-13: 978-0517189672 and  ISBN-13: 9781117340760.
  20. Charlotte's Web by E. B. White, 1952.  This classic tells the story of a spider named Charlotte and a pig named Wilbur who become friends and learn together about life and farm life.  This book has had numerous publications including ISBN-13: 9780064400558 and ISBN-13: 978-0064410939.
  21. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh, 1964.  Wanting to be a writer, Harriet carefully observes others and writes her observations and thoughts in a notebook as practice for her future career when she grows up.  She discovers that this habit can dangerous when she looses the notebook.  ISBN-13: 978-0440418191.
  22. Tom Corbett -Space Cadet (#1, Stand By For Mars) by Carey Rockwell, 1952.  This is the first book in a series.  The story follows the adventures of three young cadets, Tom Corbett, Astro, and Roger Manning at the Space Academy as they train to become members of an elite guard unit protecting humanity.  They start out as any three raw cadets at the academy, but through their many trials become like brothers.  The science is a little out of date but their adventures are timeless, ISBN-13: 9781450700146 and ISBN-13: 2940011920424.
  23. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, 1883.  This is a coming-of-age story about cabin boy anmed, Jim Hawkins.  Jim Hawkins to sea as he encounters the adventure of a life time.  He will discover heart-pounding thrills, danger, pirates, and a secret treasure map along with the grandest pirate of all Captain Long John Silver.   This book has different publications, some of which are intended for different age ranges.  The original story was for ages around 9-14 (ISBN-13: 9780099511298) but some truncations are for ages 4-8 (ISBN-13: 978-1402713187).Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis, 2004.  During the depression in America, a 10-year-old orphan boy escapes a terrible foster home to search for his father.  His journey is an adventure, his father and his past are a mystery, and his life story is a guide for helping yourself in life.  ISBN-13: 978-0553494105 and ISBN-13: 9780440413288.
  24. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, 1908.  This is the first book in a series.  Eleven-year-old Anne is an orphan who is mistakenly sent to live on a farm run by a middle-aged brother and sister.  Anne realizes that she has found her home, but she must convince the owners to let her stay even though they were hoping for a boy to help work the farm.  ISBN-13:  978-0812979039 and ISBN-13: 9780553213133.
  25. Black Beauty: His Grooms and Companions: The autobiography of a horse (some publications truncate this to Black Beauty) by Anna Sewell, 1877.  This is the story of a horse as he grows and matures from the point of view of the horse.  This story was originally written for about ages 9-12 (ISBN-13: 9781440049255 and ISBN-13: 9780141321035), but some publications have truncated the story for younger ages (ISBN-13: 9781402711442). 
  26. Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, 1992?.  This is the first book in the Shiloh series. This is a story of a young boy named Marty who finds an abused beagle pup named Shiloh.  Marty knows that the pup should be returned to his rightful owner, but if he does, the pup's mistreatment will continue.  Marty must decide what to do, what is the meaning of morally right, and what his relationship with Shiloh will be.  This is a heartwarming story with an emphasis on family and religious values.  ISBN-13: 9780689835827.
  27. Matilda by Roald Dahl, 1988.  Matilda is much smarter than her parents and she enjoys driving them nuts.  Yet, at school things are different as the school's headmistress hates children.  Can Matilda improve the situation.  ISBN-13: 9780142402535
  28. Stuart Little by E. B. White, 1945.  A mouse is born into a human family and the world discovers Stuart Little.  He experiences many adventures, some of them are mishaps, some are triumphs.  It is his spirit and charm that make this heroic little mouse such a success.  In the end, there is no stopping him.  This book has had numerous publications including: ISBN-13: 9780064400565 and ISBN-13: 978-9991205557.
  29. Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary, 1955 (and other books by Beverly Cleary).  This is the story about two sisters who have trouble getting along with each other.  Beezus is the older sister and she tries to look out for Ramona, but Ramona has a knack for causing trouble.  Not that she means to, she just has too much imagination.  This book has had several publications including: ISBN-13: 9780061914614 and ISBN-13: 978-0380709182.
  30. Jackie and Me by Dan Gutman, 2000. A young boy uses his baseball cards to travel in space and time to meet, talk, and live with famous baseball players from the past.  The magical baseball cards even change a Polish American boy into an African American boy, presenting some interesting perspectives on race issues and helping the boy with a homework assignment in school!  ISBN-13: 978-0380800841.
  31. Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach, 1970.  Most seagulls are only interested in flying as a means to get a meal.  But one gull decides to do what he wants to do against the wishes of his family and the other gulls and learn how to fly as if it were an art form.  ISBN-13: 978-0743278904.
  32. The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks, 1890.  A young boy discovers that when he locks a plastic Indian in a cupboard with a key that belonged to his great-grandmother, the Indian comes to life.  This book has had numerous publications over the years including ISBN-13: 9780307576248 and ISBN-13: 978-0375847530. 
  33. James and the Giant Peach, 1961 by Roald Dahl.  A strange little man gives James a sack of magical glowing-green crocodile tongues that will bring him happiness and great adventures.  But, the young boy trips and spills the sack onto the peach tree causing unexpected results. ISBN-13: 9780140374247.
  34. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O'Brien, 1971.  This is a charming book about a bunch of animals who have attained incredible intelligence through human experimentation.  They cooperate with each other to help hide themselves in a human dominated world.  ISBN-13: 978-0689710681.
  35. Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye, 1999.  An American teenage girl moves to a new land and discovers it is not the end of her life, but rather the beginning of a discovery of her heritage, her family, and her inner peace and hope despite tragedies she encounters in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict she experiences first-hand.  ISBN-13: 978-0689825231.  
  36. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, 1908.  This book is one that most animal lovers love because its characters are animals including Toad, Mole and Ratty.  Each has a unique personality and an adventure to share.  This book has a number of publications including ISBN-13: 9780141321134 and ISBN-13: 978-0451530141.  
  37. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein, 1981.  A Light in the Attic is a collection of poems for children that are accompanied by delightful illustrations also by Shel Silverstein.  This book is controversial in that some have tried to ban it from school libraries because they claim it corrupts youth, particularly the poem "How Not To Have To Dry The Dishes."  ISBN 0060256737 and ISBN-13: 9780060256739.
  38. Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Eleanor Cameron, 1954.  This is the first book in a series.   It is a science fiction/fantasy novel about two boy's wonderful adventure as they travel to the planet Basidium.  They quickly befriend the inhabitants and discover that the planet is dieing.  Can they and their alien knowledge save the planet? 
  39. The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies, 2007.  A brother and sister tended to get along and have a special bond, until they discover that they will be in the same class and make competing lemonade stands to earn money for the summer.  This book explores brother-sister relationships and how arguments can escalate beyond anyone's original intent.  ISBN-13: 978-0547237657. 
  40. Dolley Madison Saves George Washington by Don Brown, 2007.  A story from history about Dolley Madison, the First Lady, saving a portrait of George Washington from the British army that marched on Washington D.C. and burnt the White House during the war of 1812.   ISBN-13: 9780618411993.
  41. Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf: A Year Told Through Stuff by Jennifer L. Holm, 2007.  This is the story of one girl, Ginny, and her worst school year ever as told through her possessions.  It looks like everything is going to go wrong for her in seventh grade.   ISBN-13: 9780689852817.
  42. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg.  A delightful tale of a boy, a sleigh bell, and the boy's lifelong belief in Santa Claus.  The book is now widely considered to be a classic Christmas story for young children.  ISBN-13: 978-0618477951.
  43. Trolls, Go Home! by Mark Alan Beech MacDonald, 2007.  A family of Trolls moves into the suburb of Biddlesden, changing the quiet neighborhood.  Things might get ugly and possibly hairy and smelly as trolls have a number of obnoxious habits.  This is a problem for their neighbors, the Priddle family.  ISBN-13: 9781599900773.
  44. Billy Creekmore by Tracey Porter,  2007.  Billy Creekmore is searching for his mother and his mysterious father, but all he has is a a tin box that containing a few precious mementos.  In the early 1900s, he travels from the coal mines of West Virginia to the traveling circus, in search of his family and his future.  ISBN-13: 9780060775728.
  45. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney, 2007.  This is the first book in a series.  Greg Heffley begins middle school, where undersized weaklings share the hallways with kids who are taller, meaner, and already shaving. The hazards of come alive in the words and drawings of Greg's diary.  ISBN-13: 978-0810988217.
  46. Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Elbrick Funke, 2007.  The story is about Igraine, a girl whose twelfth birthday is tomorrow.  She lives in a castle in the middle ages and dreams of becoming a famous knight.  Her life is rather boring until her parents misspeak a spell and turn themselves into pigs, and the nephew of the baroness-next-door shows up with a plan to take the family's castle and singing magic books.  Can she make her dream come true and save the day? ISBN-13: 978-1905294657.
  47. The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner, 1924.  This is the first book in a series.  This is the story of four orphaned children, Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny.  Desiring to stay together, they create a home for themselves in an abandoned boxcar in the forest.  They enjoy their life together in the boxcar, but encounter many hardships and problems.  One day, they encounter their grandfather and discover that he is a kind and wealthy man who has been searching for them.  They agree to live with their grandfather and he moves their boxcar to his backyard for a playhouse.  ISBN-13: 978-0807508527.
  48. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, 1989.  The story takes place in Nazi-occupied Denmark in 1943.  Two 10-year-old girls are best friends, but one of them has to undertake a dangerous mission in order to save the other.  ISBN-13: 9780440227533.  
  49. Cat Crafts by Linda Hendry, 2002.  A book containing a collection of craft ideas to entertain both your cat and your child!  Most crafts are suitable for young children with adult supervision.  ISBN-13: 978-1550749212.
  50. Dog Crafts by Linda Hendry, 2002. A book containing a collection of 17 craft ideas to entertain both your dog and your child!  Most crafts are suitable for young children with adult supervision.  ISBN-13: 9781550749625.  


Note an ISBN number is a number that uniquely identifies a book.  Each book, each republishing and each printing format has a unique ISBN number which is why each book has more than one.  For the children's books listed here, the ISBN numbers provided are generally to paperback copies of the book. 

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A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens English 1859 teens

A Tale of Two Cities (1859) is a novel by Charles Dickens, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. With well over 200 million copies sold, it is among the most famous works of fiction.[2]

The novel depicts the plight of the French peasantry demoralized by the French aristocracy in the years leading up to the revolution, the corresponding brutality demonstrated by the revolutionaries toward the former aristocrats in the early years of the revolution, and many unflattering social parallels with life in London during the same time period. It follows the lives of several protagonists through these events. The most notable are Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton. Darnay is a French once-aristocrat who falls victim to the indiscriminate wrath of the revolution despite his virtuous nature, and Carton is a dissipated British barrister who endeavours to redeem his ill-spent life out of his unrequited love for Darnay's wife, Lucie Manette.

The novel was published in weekly installments instead of monthly, as with most of his other novels. The first ran in the first issue of Dickens' literary periodical All the Year Round on 30 April 1859. The last ran thirty-one weeks later, on 25 November.[1

The first book of the novel takes place in 1775. Jarvis Lorry, an employee of Tellson's Bank, is travelling from England to France to bring Dr. Alexandre Manette to London on his return trip. Before crossing into France, he meets 17-year-old Lucie Manette at Dover, and reveals to her that her father, Dr. Manette, is not dead, as she had been told; instead, he was a prisoner in the Bastille for eighteen years.

Lorry and Lucie travel to Saint Antoine, a suburb of Paris and meet Monsieur Ernest and Madame Therese Defarge. The Defarges operate a wine shop they use to lead a clandestine band of revolutionaries; they refer to each other by the codename "Jacques", which Dickens drew from the Jacobins, an actual French revolutionary group.

Monsieur Defarge was Dr. Manette's servant before Manette's imprisonment and now has care of him, and he takes them to see the doctor. Because of his long imprisonment, Dr. Manette entered a form of psychosis and has become obsessed with making shoes, a trade he had learned whilst imprisoned. At first, he does not recognize his daughter; but he eventually compares her long golden hair with her mother's, which he found on his sleeve when he was imprisoned and kept, and notices their identical blue eye color. Lorry and Lucie then take him back to England.