“What is your favorite children’s book and why?” We recently asked this question to the entire Read Naturally staff. The reason was twofold. First, we wanted to mark this Season of Giving by donating the books—48 in total—to a local nonprofit called Read Indeed, which distributes books to children in need. Second, we wanted to compile a thoughtful booklist to share with all of you, our dear supporters.

Children’s literacy is our shared passion here at Read Naturally, and our staff is full of avid readers. As you can imagine, it was nearly impossible for each of us to choose just one book! Ultimately, everyone made a thoughtful selection and gave a heartfelt reason for why the book was a favorite. The list includes timeless classics as well as newer titles—books we enjoyed reading as children years ago, and books we love reading to our own children or grandchildren today. We’re so excited to share this special list with you. Enjoy!

Read Naturally’s Favorite Children’s Books

Peef the Christmas Bear by Tom Hegg, chosen by Andie
“This was one of my childhood favorite books. It became even more special after I was working as a CNA with a woman who had a Peef bear. I would read this book to her often. When she passed away, she left me her Peef bear.”

We Are in a Book! by Mo Willems, chosen by both Anne and Tracy
“Mo Willems' Elephant & Piggie stories make my whole family laugh. I love this title especially because it's totally simple and totally meta all at once!” – Anne
“I am a new mother and this book is my favorite to read to our new daughter.” – Tracy

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein, chosen by both Barb and Maggie
“I loved incorporating poems with my reading lessons when I taught, and now I love reading them to my grandchildren. The rhythm, rhyme, and funny topics captivate the hearts of young children and I found especially motivating to read for my struggling readers. My school children, as well as my grandchildren, have loved memorizing (and getting the rhythm) of "Lazy Jane.” "Boa Constrictor" is just so fun to read and children quickly can recite it. But my favorite to read to little ones is "Sick.” It's a long poem but children love the surprise ending and how your voice instantly changes from being concerned about this sick child to instantly everything is just great!” – Barb
“I never liked reading as a child since it was hard for me. This is one of the few books I remember really enjoying. I remember my favorite poem was “Hug-O-War.” By the time I was in middle school the spine of this book was breaking from so much use.” – Maggie 

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, chosen by Ben
“I loved this book because it was like Alice in Wonderland but with a boy protagonist. It was funny, surprising, had puns and played with logic, and it made me long for a big watchdog, like Tock. I also loved the illustrations.”

The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson, chosen by Bev
“The rhyming text, the fantastic illustrations, and the message make this a pleasure! My grandchildren love all of her books! Finding the characters from other stories in the illustrations add a sense of discovery to every page!”

Go, Dog, Go! by P.D. Eastman, chosen by Bob
“It is perfect for either boy or girl and has so much going on. And it is a silly and fun way to sneak in a lesson for colors and counting. The illustrations are fantastic. It is just a delightful, timeless book.”

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson, chosen by Candyce
The Secret Garden is a beautifully written story about a young girl, Mary Lennox, who overcomes grief and loneliness through her determination, perseverance and ultimately love. Mary’s strength and ultimate success gave me hope when my father died and I struggled with grief and loneliness.”

Peanut Butter and Cupcake by Terry Border, chosen by Carol Ann
“The reason I love this book is that it is a great one to read with anyone who is starting something new and trying to make new friends. Peanut Butter, the main character, has just moved to a new neighborhood and wants to find someone to play ball with him. He has to be persistent, but in the end, all of those whom he asks, want to join in the fun. The story is easily understood by young children and yet has a lesson for all. Terry Border is a very creative author, the illustrations are unique and delightful, and the story is cleverly written. This is a book that children will want to read over and over. My grandchildren love the illustrations and love reading this book.”

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss, chosen by Chris
“Not only is the book entertaining in the zany way of Dr. Seuss, but I think it also teaches an important lesson. This world is a very diverse place. It’s important to love, accept, and respect everyone, regardless of our background.”

The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone, chosen by both Christine and Penny
“I always would read it to Kindergarten children. In addition to being really funny, it was a great way to teach print concepts just using the verbal and visual cues.” – Christine
“This book was my kids’ favorite. When my first grandchild was born, I noticed the binding on the book wasn't going to last much longer so I bought a new one. I can't wait to wear out the binding of the new one with the grandchildren.” – Penny 

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss, chosen by Christy
“When my daughter went off to college, I texted her one picture from this book each day until we reached the end. It offers such a nice message about starting new adventures.”

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, chosen by Claire
“This is one of my favorite books to read with my kids. They love the funny stories about how some crayons believe they are being abused, others are quite pleased with their purpose and some even fight over silly things. It is fun to see how each crayon's perspective changes its reality. I want my kids to find reading to be fun and this book does that beautifully!”

Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young, chosen by Cooksey
“I love this book on many levels. The first is just the sheer beauty and simplicity of the story. "Knowing in part may make a fine tale, but wisdom comes from seeing the whole." The book is a great choice for a read-aloud, and children love to guess what the "strange something" is in the seven blind mice's pond. As the story unfolds, they can hardly contain themselves as the mice make their predictions. The book stands alone for the enjoyment of the developing story."

This Is the House that Jack Built by J.P. Miller, chosen by Cory
“This was one of my favorite childhood stories. Full of compounding repetition, it was great to hear my dad increase the pace of reading and exaggerate his breathes as the sentence became longer and longer. Because of the repetition, it was also a book I could along with as an emergent reader as he read to me. All young readers should experience the joy of being read to, and I hope the donation of this book provides a fun, interactive reading experience with a caring adult as I had with my father as a kid.”

Hildegard Sings by Thomas Wharton, chosen by Curt
“I used this book in a take-home bag for my Grade 1-3 music students. They found it interesting and fun to read.”

Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel, chosen by Dan
“As a child I loved saying the name of the main character. It made me realize that sometimes it is appropriate to break the rules or cultural norms.”

The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss, chosen by Dave
“Dr. Seuss is one of my favorite authors and the book The Cat in the Hat is iconic of him.”

The Wonky Donkey by Katz Cowley, chosen by Debby
“I love the YouTube video for this book, and it is now one of my favorites.”

Love You Forever by Robert Munsch, chosen by both Elaine and Karen M.
“Exemplifies the cycle of life and love between a parent/child; cross generational book.” – Elaine
“Robert Munsch is very talented and one of my favorite children’s authors. In this book, he describes the deep love of a mother and son in a succinct story and with a rhythm that soothes both the reader and the listener. Since I'm the mother of three sons, it struck a deep chord for me. Check out all his books--they're awesome!” – Karen M.

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn, chosen by Francine
“I picked this book because my granddaughter was terrified to start school. I drew a heart on her hand and read the story to her and told her that if she got scared at any time during the day to look at the heart I drew on her hand and she would know that I was right by her side. She had an amazing first day.”

Wolf! by Becky Bloom, chosen by Gail
“I love the wolf's determination to learn to read as well as his discovery that one should read with confidence at an appropriate rate (not too fast or too slow).”

Slinky Malinky, Open the Door by Lynley Dodd, chosen by Heather
“The book I want to share is probably not well known, but it’s become a favorite with my grandkids. And, as a reading intervention teacher, I think it has so much to offer. The book has wonderful rhythm and rhyme, adorable mischievous characters, great illustrations and numerous opportunities to enhance key comprehension strategies such as predicting. It’s popular enough around here, that I could likely ‘read’ the whole book without ever looking at it.”

The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White, chosen by Ian
“This is the first book I remember staying up all night to read. I was in the second grade, and carefully managed my flashlight to keep from waking my older brother in the bunk above mine. I've seen thousands of trumpeter swans since that night, and I always think of the descriptions from this book. Later on I read a similar book, My Side of the Mountain, which caused me to leave school at recess one day to live in the forest. Fantasies in which kids made their way in nature made a big impression on me, and I'm not sure my parents ever came to terms with that. (I believe both of those books were gifts from a family friend, whom we called “Uncle Ward.” My son Ward is named after him.)”

Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman, chosen by Jan
“A touching theme with poignant moments of kindness and bravery. A bit scary, too, but...it all turns out well in the end! Empowering to young readers (both the story and the fact that it is an “easy reader” so they can soon read this sweet story all by themselves!”

How Full Is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath, chosen by Jane
“I used this book to help teach my kids about how their actions affect others. I read it to them often after they fought with their siblings or if someone was just having a bad day.”

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, chosen by Jenna
“I chose this book because the illustrations and message of the book have stayed with me.”

The Lion King by Justine Korman, chosen by Jessi
“As a child of the 90s I was all about The Lion King. I loved several of the golden books but the images in this one just always caught my attention.”

Clifford the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell, chosen by Joel
“I love dogs and this book is one I can remember reading by myself.”

The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton, chosen by Karen H.
“I love this book! It tells the story of change and progress in such a charming way--from the point of view of the little house. And, it was awarded the Caldecott Medal. This was one of the first library books I was able to read independently as a young child.”

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder, chosen by Karla
“The Little House series was so enjoyable as I dreamed of life in the country! Pa was my favorite and I enjoyed watching the TV series as a young adult!”

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, chosen by Kelly
“I loved all of the Narnia books, but The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was, by far, my favorite. Oh, how I wished I lived in an old mansion in the country with a magical wardrobe leading to another world! I thought it was so cool how the four children in the story did such great things--like saving the world from an evil queen and eternal winter! Aslan the lion and the host of other talking creatures, both mythical and earthly, made this book especially wonderful to me. If you find yourself dreaming of Narnia after reading it, try the rest of the series too. Just writing about this here makes me want to run home and start reading all 7 books again tonight!”

Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco, chosen by Kim
“It is one of my favorites not only because I have spent a great deal of time learning Civil War history; but the care, kindness, and friendship to someone different than the other, which is a theme throughout the story, is so important to remind our children so they will think to respond to others in this way as well.”

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey, chosen by Kristi
“My Mom and Dad always loved reading that book to me and I imagined I was the little girl in the book. Plus I love to go berry picking and I enjoy the mountains and fresh air with my family.”

Fortunately by Remy Charlip, chosen by Lisa
“I read a lot as a child, but this is one of the only stories I remember vividly. This humorous little book offers a great story of persistence through life's ever-changing fortunes. Every circumstance has its good and bad.”

The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss, chosen by Marc
“Each of the stories in this book offer important messages. I love the imagination of Dr. Seuss and how he conveys such important lessons in all of his stories.”

Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary, chosen by Mary
“I loved this book as a kid, mostly because I could totally relate to Romana who was so excited go to school but would get herself in trouble without meaning to... What she did always made sense to her, even if other people didn't understand! I could totally relate to how she felt, because I thought I would feel the same way in a lot of the situations she got herself into. She wasn't mean spirited, just spunky... and I've always had a soft spot for spunky girls in fiction.”

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, chosen by Matt
“Douglas Adams' ironic wit, intelligent and well-informed humor, and sense of wonder about the universe had a tremendous impact on me growing up. Adams and his work were part of what inspired my lifelong interest in science, computers, and psychology. Some of his non-fiction essays explain complex concepts in breathtakingly precise yet simple ways, and I agree with him so profoundly on some subjects that I'll refer others to his essays rather than trying to explain my views myself!”

Your Favorite Seuss by Dr. Seuss, chosen by Michele
“Honestly I couldn't choose a favorite but I knew it would be one of Dr. Seuss's if I did. Luckily I found a compilation of all his most famous books.”

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli, chosen by Pam
“I picked this book because everyone I have ever read it to, from my own kids, to preschoolers, elementary and high school students, have "loved" Mr. Hatch and the message the book sends to all of us about kindness and its power to multiply by sharing it with others.”

Stories from the Panchatantra by Amar Chitra Katha, chosen by Puneet
“I grew up in a small village in India. I remember gathering with my 10 brothers and sisters plus a few other village children and sitting around my grandmother as she read us the latest of the Stories from Panchatantra. She had two goals in reading us these books. The first was to teach us about our Indian culture and the second was to teach us English. I remember she used to quiz us on new words as she read the stories.”

The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper, chosen by Sarah Jane
“I believe the life lessons in this book are priceless. All of us can use words of encouragement (I think I can, I think I can) and celebration (I knew I could!) as we travel along our own journey.”

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, chosen by Terry
“The cute, colorful illustrations appeal to all ages and the physical design of the book makes it easy for toddlers to engage and interact with the pages. My grandsons love to put their fingers in the holes of the pages where the caterpillar has eaten through the food. When the caterpillar transforms into a beautiful butterfly we make the book flap and fly into the air.”

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, chosen by T.J.
Where the Wild Things Are is an amazing journey into a child’s imagination. A wonderful story about facing your fears and overcoming obstacles. The beautiful illustrations grow larger and more intense as the story builds, peaking with the Wild Rumpus Dance, and shrinking back down as the protagonist makes his way home. An absolute classic!”

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss, chosen by Tom
“I loved reading Green Eggs and Ham to my children when they were beginning to read. Sam I Am’s successful persistence was a fun and important message.”