I tell my ESL students that one of the best ways to teach their young children English is to read to them.  This also serves a second purpose of helping the parent to improve their English skills as they read to their children.  Please know that there is no shame in finding children’s level English books a bit difficult.  We all started out crawling before we learned to walk.  As I learned to speak foreign languages, I, too, started out by first learning to read children’s books.  Enjoy your books!

Source: Appendix B  from the book  A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a New Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-First Century by Oliver VanDeMille.  (with omissions of books I personally find of little worth to the student, foreign or domestic.)

Please note that personal touches of my own have been added, such as recommended versions or editions, as well as additional favorite books: hence the reason for this blog post. I also keep booklists on my two Pinterest pages, Oilstories and Aurelia Doula, just in case you would like to check them out.


Aesop’s Fables – Aesop

Andersen’s Fairy Tales – Hans Christian Anderson

Beauty and the Beast illustrated by Mercer Meyer

The Bible – King James Version.

Black Beauty by Sharon Lerner & illustrated by Susan Jeffers

The Blind Men and the Elephant

The Book of Mormon – I am a Latter-day Saint

Casey at Bat  illustrated by C.F. Payne

Charlotte’s Web – E. B. White

Chicken Little illustrated by Steven Kellogg

A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

1. illustrated by Hilary Knight
2. retold by Amy Erlich and illustrated by Susan Jeffers

Dr. Seuss series
including: The Cat in the Hat, The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, Green Eggs and Ham, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Horton Hatches and Egg, Horton Hears a Who, The Sneeches, Fox in Socks, And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street,

The Emperor’s New Clothes

Goldilocks and the Three Bears illustrated by Jim Aylesworth

The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg

Grimm’s Fairy Tales – Wilhelm & Jacob Grimm

The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes and illustrated by Charles Mikolaycak

Hansel and Gretel illustrated by Sheilah Beckett

Jack and the Beanstalk retold & illustrated by Steven Kellogg

Just So Stories – Rudyard Kipling

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving & illustrated by Michael Garland

The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper

The Little House on the Prairie series – by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Little House In The Big Woods, Little House On The Prarie, Farmer Boy, On the Banks of Plum Creek, By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town On the Prarie, These Happy Golden Years, The First Four Years.

The Little Red Hen – illustrated by Paul Galdone

Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and illustrated by Ted Rand

The Pied Piper of Hamlin – Robert Browning

Pinocchio, The Adventures of – Carlo Colladi (I don’t really like this story, but for the sake of cultural literacy, a general idea of the story is important to know.)

Pollyanna – Eleanor H. Porter (although the Disney version is most well-known, the BBC Film version is much truer to the book, and I like it better)

The Princess and the Pea

Puss-in-Boots by Charles Perrault & illustrated by Fred Marcelliono

Rapunzel illustrated by Paul O Zelinksky

Riki Tiki Tavi by Rudyard Kipling and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
OR enjoy the film by Chuck Jones

Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving

Robin Hood, The Merry Adventures of – Howard Pyle (This story is very important to for cultural literacy, especially in the face of the current political battle in America.  Many Americans are taught the false belief that Robin Hood was some kind of hero.)

Rumpelstiltskin illustrated by Paul O Zelinksky

Sleeping Beauty illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman

The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow illustrated by Susan Jeffers (The actual story is very, very long.  Susan Jeffers version gives you a general idea.  This poem is famous for it’s meter.)

Snow White illustrated by Jane Ray

Tales of the Arabian Nights by Sir Richard Burton

The Three Billy Goats Gruff illustrated by Paul Galdone

The Three Little Pigs

The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Anderson and illustrated by Jerry Pinckney

Tom Thumb

Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clark and illustrated by Douglas Gorsline OR Jan Brett

William Tell – illustrated by Leonard Everett Fisher

The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – Frank Baum

(For older youth to read and discuss with their mentors.)

Animal Farm – George Orwell

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank

The Anne of Green Gables series – L. M. Montgomery
Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, Anne of Windy Poplars, Anne’s House of Dreams, Anne of Ingleside, Rainbow Valley, Rilla of Ingleside

Ben Hur: A Tale for Christ – Lew Wallace

The Bible – King James Version

The Book of Mormon –

The Chronicles of Narnia series – C. S. Lewis
The Magician’s Nephew, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Horse and His Boy, Prince Caspian, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair, The Last Battle (Currently the only film version worth watching is the one made by the BBC.  Unfortunately, not all of the books were featured. The much-touted Hollywood version totally misses the point.)

The Collected Verse of Edgar A Guest

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court – Samuel Clemmens

David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

Davy Crockett Legends – Irwin Shapiro

The Deerslayer – James Fenimore Cooper

Don Quixote de la Mancha – Miguel De Cervantes

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson

The Education of Henry Adams – Henry Adams

Eight Cousins -Louisa May Alcott

Emily Post’s Etiquette – Emily Post

The Great Brain series by John D Fitzgerald

Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift

Mythology – Edith Hamilton

Hamlet – William Shakespeare (excellent film version stars Kenneth Branagh)

Heidi – Johanna Spry

The Hiding Place – Corrie Ten Boom

Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of – Mark Twain

I Have a Dream speech by Martin Luther King Jr

In Flander’s Fields poem – John McCrae

Ivanhoe – Walter Scott

The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien

Island of the Blue Dolphins – Scott O’Dell

Joan of Arc – Mark Twain

Jo’s Boys – Louisa May Alcott

A Journey to the Center of the Earth – Jules Verne

Julius Caesar – William Shakespeare

The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling

King Arthur and the Round Table – Thomas Malory

Laddie – Gene Stratton Porter

The Last of the Mohicans – James Fenimore Cooper

The Little Britches series – Ralph Moody
Little Britches, Man of the Family, The Home Ranch, Mary Emma and Company, The Fields of Home, Shaking the Nickel Bush, The Dry Divide, Horse of a Different Color

Little Lord Fauntleroy – Frances Hodgson Burnett

Little Men – Louisa May Alcott

Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

Lord of the Rings series – J.R.R. Tolkein
The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King

The Man with the Hoe – poem by Edwin Markham

Mathmaticians are People, Too (2 volumes) – Luetta Reimer and Wilbert Reimer

Moby Dick – Herman Melville

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass – Frederick Douglass

National Velvet – Enid Bagnold

Noah Webster’s Original 1828 Dictionary

North to Freedom – by Anne Holm (also called “I Am David”)

O Captain! My Captain! – poem by Walt Whitman

Old Ironsides – poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes

Old Yeller – Fred Gipson

Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

Paul Bunyan – Esther Sheperd

The Phantom Tollbooth – Norton Juster

The Road Not Taken – poem by Robert Frost

The Robe – Lloyd C Douglas

Robinson Crusoe – Daniel DeFoe

Romeo and Juliet – William Shakespeare

The Sackett series – Louis Lamour

The Secret Garden – Francess Hodgson Burnett

Soldiers, Statesmen, and Heroes – Jay A. Perry

Sonnets – William Shakespeare

Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers – Patrick Kavanaugh

Stuart Little – E. B. White

The Summer of the Monkeys – Wilson Rawls

The Swiss Family Robinson – Johaan Wyss

Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of – Mark Twain

Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson

The Trumpet of the Swans – E. B. White

Ulysses – poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle – Hugh Lofting

Where the Red Fern Grows – Wilson Rawls

White Fang – Jack London

William Tell – Frederick Schiller

The Yearling – Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Beyond the books listed above, I asked my children what some of their other favorite stories were.  Here are their answers:

Berenstein Bears series by Stan & Jan Berenstain

Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck, illustrated by Mark Buehner

The Boy in the Drawer by Robert Munsch

A House For Hermit Crab by Eric Carle

The Indespensable Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

Joseph Had A Little Overcoat by Simms Taback

The Magic Boat by Demi

Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton

Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathman

Strega Nona by Tomie de Paola

Weslandia by Paul Fleishman


Amelia Bedelia series by Peggy Parrish

“B” is for Betsy series by Carolyn Haywood

Chicken Sunday by Patricia Polacco

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

Coat of Many Colors by Dolly Parton

Daughter of A King by Rachel Ann Nunes

Heckety Peg by Audrey Wood, illustrated by Don Wood

Luba and the Wren by Patricia Polacco

Madeline series by Ludwig Bemelmans
Madeline, Madeline’s Rescue, Madeline & the Gypsies, Madeline’s Christmas

Mirette On The High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully

Miss Nelson series by Harry Allard & illustrated by James Marshall
Miss Nelson is Missing, Miss Nelson is Back, Miss Nelson Has A Field Day

Molly’s Pilgrim by Barbara Cohen, illustrated by Michael J Deraney

My Great-Aunt Arizona by Gloria Houston, illustrated by Susan Condie Lamb

One In A Million by Sharlee Mullins Glenn

Piggie Pie! by Margie Palatini, illustrated by Howard Fine

Pippi Longstocking series by Astrid Lindgren

Purple, Yellow & Green by Robert Munsch

Ribbon Rescue by Robert Munsch

The Rough-Face Girl by Rafe Martin, illustrated by David Shannon

Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden

Thundercake by Patricia Polacco

You Are Special by Max Lucado

You’re Just What I Need by Ruth Krauss illustrated by Julia Noonan

In addition to what’s already been listed, this Mom also has some favorite children’s stories of her own:

The 7 Habits of Happy Kids by Sean Covey

Babushka’s Doll by Patricia Polacco

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear by Martin Wadell, illustrated by Barbara Firth

Corderoy by Don Freeman

The Friendly Beasts: an Old English Christmas Carol illustrated by Tomie dePaola

Frog and Toad Series by Arnold Lobel

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs.Basil E Frankweiler – E.L. Koningsburg

Fox Went Out On A Chilly Night by Peter Spiers

Good Griselle by Jane Yolen

Good King Wenceslas illustrated by Jamichael Henterly

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

King Bidgood’s In The Bathtub by Audrey Wood, illustrated by Don Wood

The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton

The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen and illustrated by Anastassija Archipowa OR Rachel Isadora

Morris and Boris series by Bernard Wiseman

The Mountain Who Loved A Bird by Alice McLerran, illustrated by Eric Carle

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series by Betty MacDonald

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

Old Black Fly by Jim Aylesworth, illustrated by Stephen Gammell

Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall

Ramona series by Beverly Cleary

Sara Crewe by Frances Hodgeon Burnett

The Spider and the Fly by Mary Howitt, illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi

Where the Lilies Bloom by Vera & Bill Cleaver

Originally posted here for my friend, Clara.  <<<hugs>>>