Literature Bookshelf for Christian Children

by Fr. Gary Coulter with special thanks to Dr. Terrance Nollen

Notice: the full reviews are now avaiable at the Southern Nebraska Register, therefore I will not longer update this page as of 2011.

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An aid to finding wholesome children's literature in harmony with the Christian life. Positive, healthy stories that inspire virtues such as courage, charity, prudence, justice, patience and generosity. With characters children can emulate, containing no negatives like cursing, swearing, self-indulgence, defiance, alternative lifestyles and witchcraft.
I hope you go to library and check out these titles

See the Older Reviews (2007-08)

See My Other Books Lists
ApologeticsIntellectual Books (Youth/Adult)Catholic PeriodicalsNovels / FictionPriests / SeminariansConversion Stories


Children's Books Reviewed 2009-2010
Recent BooksClassic BooksChildren's Authors

Recent Titles (1980-Present)

Knut: How One Little Polar Bear Captivated The World by Isabella Juliana et al 2007, 32 pages, grades K-3
While many Artic animals are in danger of becoming extinct, the polar bear is particularly susceptible, and is also one of the most stirring and fascinating animals. This book tells the story of one born in the Berlin Zoo, and a determined zoo keeper who raised him. His beautiful looks and playful nature made baby Knut an endearing and popular international story, captured in the writing and photos of this book.

The Christmas Story: According to the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke by Gennady Spirin 1998, 32 pages, all ages
This beautifully-illustrated book uses the gospel accounts (from the King James Version) to tell the story of the miraculous even to the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ. With magnificent paintings of the Annunciation, St. Joseph and the Holy Family, the choirs of angels coming to the shepherds, and wise men from the East. Highly recommended for your family and for introducing this familiar story to younger children.

Las Posadas: An Hispanic Christmas Celebration by Diana Goldsmith 1999, 32 pages, grades 3-5
In Latin American culture, the Christmas celebration is marked by a nightly reenactment of the story of St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin arriving in Bethlehem, when none of the inns (las posadas in Spanish) has room for the Holy Family. From Dec. 15 to Dec. 23, children dress up to play the different parts of the story of their frantic search for lodging. A procession of pilgrims join them as they travel to a different house each night. The author captures the deep religious devotion of the people with photographs, recipes, music and prayers.

Sarah Morton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl by Kate Waters 1989, 32 pages, grades 2-4
We have a hard time imagining what life was like for the early Pilgrim colonists at the Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts. This interesting book provides a reconstruction, including photographs of the building and inhabitants, giving a glimpse of their daily life thought the eyes of a young girl. Students will be surprised at the amount of work they do, and without complaining, from sun-up to sun-down.

Gabriel's Horses by Alison Hart 2007, 161 pages, grades 5-7
An exciting novel about horses, freedom and the Civil War in 1861. The state of Kentucky is in a painful predicament as slavery is still allowed in this state occupied by Northern troops. An Englishman horse farmer must deal with issues of soldiers, thieves, guerrillas, and slaves. This fast-paced adventure story examines the flaws and strengths of each character and a number of interpretations of freedom, what is the cost of freedom?

The First Thanksgiving by Andrew Santella 2003, 48 pages, grades 3-5
A history of the first year in the New World for the group of pilgrim separatists who refused to accept the Church of England and so embarked for America. A well written and illustrated history about the founding of the American Colonies. Highly readable and filled with interesting facts and illustrations, this book includes a glossary of terms and a timeline of events.

Count Me a Rhyme: Animal Poems by the Number by Jane Yolen 2006, 32 pages, grades 2-3
Poetry is unique in being able to capture and describe deep feelings, but because of its depth, it can also seem unappealing. To avoid this rhyming, melodic poetry combined with photographs or illustrations will help students enter into the world of the poem. With each additional number and animal picture, the poet adds new ideas related to music or mathematics. A skillful teaching of vocabulary through a humorous and delightful picture book.

The Shadow of the Bear: A Fairy Tale Retold by Regina Doman 1997, 207 pages, grades 9 and older
Fairy tells are meant to teach virtue based on universal values. This is a powerful retelling of the famous Grimm Brothers fairy tale of Snow White and Rose Red, set in modern-day New York City. A fine Catholic novel with gripping plot about faith, strength, love and courage - heroic choices made in moments of starkest vulnerability. But with several frightening scenes at the climax the book is not appropriate for younger students.

Stega Nona's Harvest by Tomie De Paola 2009, 32 pages, grades K-3
A delightful book about the harvest season, a traditional time of rejoicing after the hard work of spring and summer. A funny and humorous story, you can't help but fall in love with the beloved older woman Stega Nona and the clumsy but innocent Big Anthony. One of the most famous and beloved author/illustrator's of children's literature, De Paola is truly remarkable, unfailingly upbeat and hopeful in his books.

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka 1989, 32 pages, grades 1-3
The fairy tell retold from the wolf's point of view.

Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco 1998, 32 pages, grades 1-3
An autobiographical account by a renowned children's author of her own battle with learning to read. A poignant example of the difficulties some students have with learning to read, their feelings of stupidity, worthlessness and the brutality of bullying. A both heart-breaking and inspirational story recalling the importance of teachers whose dedicated efforts helped her discover joy of reading.

The High-Rise Private Eyes: The Case of the Baffled Bear by Cynthia Rylant 2004, 48 pages, grades 2-3
While not attempting to explore weighty topics, children will enjoy the simple solving of a lost and found case by the "detectives", a rabbit and dog. By a famous writer of children's literature, this early reader chapter book will give students confidence to move beyond picture books by providing a cute story they will enjoy.

Corn by Gail Gibbons, 32 pages, grades 1-3
The Midwest of the US (including Nebraska!) is known as the Corn Belt, producing millions of tons of this valuable food and numerous products we use everyday. An interesting and informative book about the history, planting, harvesting and processing of this important food product, by one of the foremost authors of nonfiction for younger children who presents accurate scientific information in an appealing and understandable manner.

The Little Ships: The Heroic Rescue at Dunkirk in World War II by Louise Borden 1997, 30 pages, grades 2-4
A true story from World War II of the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of allied soldiers stranded at this small French port during the German Blitzkrieg. The British had to call upon hundreds of small boat owners in southern England to navigate the low harbor and make the dangerous 50 mile journey under the endless German attack. A story of bravery and courage in the face of difficulty.

The Poetry of John Paul II: Roman Triptych: Meditations by Pope John Paul II 2003, 40 pages, grades 9-12
One of the most difficult form of literature to write and to understand, poetry can convey deep and profound thoughts through imagery and subtle language. Therefore for a skilled author, it is a suitable medium for conveying the spiritual depth of the Christian faith. In this series of three poems, the late pope has written a rich meditation filled with the search for God, and the beauty of the loving encounter with the Lord. These are meant to be read slowly and pondered at some length, so that one can enter the world created by the poet and have a fruitful experience.

Secrets Of A Civil War Submarine: Solving The Mysteries Of The H. L. Hunley by Sally Walker, Carolrhoda Books 2005, 112 pages, grades 5-7
As part of the Civil War, the northern states imposed a naval blockade that eventually began to strangle the southern states who were trying to secede, stoping many supplies from teaching the Confederate states. This led two designers to invent a warship that was the world's first practical submarine (run by hand cranked propellers!) An excellent and engaging non-fiction work, combining history and science, with a wealth of technical information and descriptions of the scientific investigations conducted to solve many riddles of the H.L. Huntley.

Black Potatoes: The Story of the Great Irish Famine, 1845-1850 by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Houghton Mifflin Co 2001, 184 pages, grades 5-8
A thorough study of the Irish Potato Famine when the entire potato crop was struck by a nationwide blight, and the various response that took place to this catastrophic disaster, from the rich barons to the British Prime MInister, from those who shared everything the had to those who lied and worse to survive at all costs. Winner of the Sibert Honor Medal for Outstanding Nonfiction in 2002.

Why Am I Here? by Matthew Kelly, Beacon Publishing 2010, 50 pages, grades K-3
Subtitled "a story about becoming the best version of yourself". Matthew Kelly, a famous Catholic writer, poses the eternal questions about the meaning of life through the eyes of a young boy. It explains the connection between the choices people make and the character they develop. By making virtuous choices, acting positively and other-centered, children can develop a wholesome attitude of loving GOd through service of others. An insightful and valuable book about the true meaning and happiness of life.

What's Happening to Grandpa by Maria Shriver, Little, Brown and Co 2004, 48 pages, grades 1-3
A touching story of a young girl who has to learn about Alzheimer's when her grandfather has this silent, but devastating disease. A comforting story of how she and her family reacts, striving to live each day as lovingly as possible. A touching book written by one with firsthand experience. Maria is the daughter of Sargent Shriver, a famous diplomat and politician during the Kennedy Administration, known for his courage and integrity, who suffered from Alzheimer's Disease his last years. Includes warm illustrations and a number of further resources at the end of the book.

Babe Ruth Saves Baseball! by Frank Murphy, Random House 2005, 48 pages, grades 2-4
Part of an early educational series entitled "Step into Reading" which helps students move from picture books to chapter books. It tells the story of Babe Ruth and his towering home runs, while using easy vocabulary, lively writing, and enjoyable illustrations by Richard Waltz to draw the reader into the story.

Luck by Jean Craighead George, Harper Collins 2006, 32 pages, grades 1-3
"The Story of a Sandhill Crane." An elegantly drawn picture book about a young sandhill crane (named "Luck"). It shows the annual migration and the many ways the cranes can be affected by obstacles, storms, destruction of habitats and pollution. Jean Craighead George writes stories that are sensitive to the complex interactions between people and animals. A celebrated and prolific writer, she won the Newbery Medal for her 1972 Julie of the Wolves and is famous for her 1959 My Side of the Mountain.

The Whooping Crane by Alison Imbriaco, Enslow Publishers Inc 2006, 128 pages, grades 5-7
Subtitled "Help Save This Endangered Species!" This non-fiction work studies this majestic bird, its incredible yearly migration, and various causes that have contributed to its waning numbers. A balanced case for protecting the whooping crane by examining the competing demands on water and wetland areas.

Oh, the Places He Went: A Story About Dr. Seuss by Maryann Weidt, Carolrhoda Books 1994, 64 pages, grades 4-5
One of the most celebrated U.S. 20th century authors for his famous drawings and use of language is Theodore Geisel, who most people remember as Dr. Seuss. This fine biography shows how he had a significant impact on American culture from 1940-1990, and how behind the silliness of his work there is a profound seriousness to his writings. Dr. Seuss teaches lessons about charity and kindness, loyalty and honor in a way children naturally understand and remember.

Coretta Scott by Ntozake Shange, illustrations by Kadir Nelson, Amistad (Harper Collins) 2009, 32 pages, grades 1-3
The life of Coretta Scott King, wife of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Like her beautiful voice, Coretta Scott soared from humble beginnings to a height of influence. This books shows the spiritual basis to the Kings' work in overcoming segregation, supported by deep faith in God, and with the charity and courage to overcome malice. The text of this book is written as poetry and the paintings filled with dignity and beauty, both helping tell her inspiring story.

I've Seen the Promised Land: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Walter Dean Myers, Harper Collins 2004, 32 pages, grades 1-3
A valuable introduction to the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., this book both details the painful realities of racial discrimination, but also develops hope and forgiveness. Walter Dean Myers is a brilliant writer of children's and adolescent literature, always showing examples of dignity and respect for others.

Man of Peace: Pope Pius XII by Sr. Margherita Marchione, Paulist Press 2003, 76 pages, grades 7-9
The horrific slaughter of millions by the Nazi Holocaust was courageously opposed by the Catholic Church, led by its brave leader, Pope Pius XII, from external condemnation in a number of radio broadcasts, to secret directives to save as many Jews as possible. Sr. Marchione has written numerous books answering critics of the Pope's actions during the war, showing how he stood up to Third Reich and helped save thousands of lives.

The Miracles of Jesus by Tomie dePaola, Holiday House 1987, 32 pages, grades K-3
A great aid to help parents read to their children from the bible. This book invites children to hear the Word of God by presenting 12 of the miraculous events from the four Gospels. An accomplished author/illustrator, dePaola combines writing and art in a warm and inviting way. See his other religious books: The Mother of Jesus and The Lady of Guadalupe

We Three Kings by Gennady Spirin, Atheneum Books for Young Readers 2007, 32 pages, grades K-3
A lavishly illustrated book that uses the famous song "We Three Kings of Orient Are" for the written text. Each page is resembles a beautiful Renaissance painting, and the merger of art and music will help youngsters understand the visit of the Three Kings and themselves learn to lay the gift of their love at the foot of Our Divine Savior.

Jesus by Demi, Margaret K McElderry Books 2005, 32 pages, grades 3-5
The marvelous coming of our Lord as man, especially as told in the four Gospels, has inspired music and art throughout the ages. here renowned author/illustrator Demi beautifully illustrates scenes from the life of our Lord, from his birth to his death and resurrection. Accompanying each painting is scriptural quote, detailing the event. Since the quotes are sometimes lengthy and the King James translation used can be more difficult to understand, it is best if a parent/adult reads this with the child. Strongly sacramental, it can help your child (and you) grow in love for Our Lord Jesus.

Dream Snow by Eric Carle, Philomel Books 2000, 32 pages, Preschool
Eric Carle invariably provides bright and attractive early childhood books, with positive and character building themes, and this one describing Christmas in a rural setting is no exception. Perhaps most famous for his The Very Hungry Caterpillar, his books are always colorful and inviting with simple but beautiful artwork, using collages in almost all of his work. His patterned sequences help children learn skill such as counting and alphabetizing, while developing pre-reading skills such as word prediction. Find out why preschoolers find his books so exciting.

I Dreamed I was a Ballerina by Anna Pavlova, Atheneum Books for Young Readers 2001, 32 pages, grades K-3
This autobiographical book is the story of a poor Russian girl's desire to dance. From the moment she first experienced the beauty of the theater, Anna promised herself she would study ballet and become a dancer. Yet dance instruction is often expensive, how can Anna fulfill her dream? Do you work to achieve your heart's desires with passion? The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York provided beautiful paintings of French Impressionist Edgar Degas which are used throughout the book. It concludes with an account of Anna's career and a brief biography of Edgar Degas.

Six Days in October: The Stock Market Crash of 1929 by Karen Blumenthal, Atheneum Books for Young Readers 2002, 156 pages, grades 6-8
"A Wall Street Journal Book for Children" this book gives an excellent account of the issues behind the stock market crash of 1929. It gives an unvarnished account of the bull market of the late 1920's, and the deceit, greed and frenzied speculation by people desiring to become rich, all leading up to the Black Thursday crash of Oct. 24, 1929. It is complex material that requires attentive reading, but the book Includes numerous definitions of stock terms throughout.

What Bluebirds Do by Pamila Kirby, Boyd MIlls Press 2009, 48 pages, grades 1-3
Charming photographs of a real family of bluebirds in any number of settings: building nests, hatching eggs, parenting, feeding, and learning to fly. Delightful writing and thought provoking photos will start anyone on a love of bluebirds (including resources for how to build a bluebird stand in your own back yard.)

The Tuskegee Airmen by Linda and Charles George, Children's Press 2001, 33 pages, grades 4-6
The story of one group who helped break down the barriers of racial discrimination in the U.S. The Tuskegee Airmen were a Squadron of African American men trained as pilots, and with the outbreak of World War II they overcame insults and obstacles to succeed in the North African and Italian campaigns without loosing a single bomber. An important, well-written history of courage and sacrifice. Part of the popular Cornerstones of Freedom series, it has a inviting combination of photos and writing.

Under Siege!: Three Children at the Civil War Battle for Vicksburg by Andrea Warren, Melanie Kroupa Books 2009, 166 pages, grades 5-8
The american Civil War was a brutal conflict, and unfortunately, civilians were sometimes caught in the conflict. Using diaries and historical accounts of this famous 47-day siege, Andrea Warren tells the story through the eyes of three children, two southern and on northern, the son of General Grant. A compelling account of this great conflict, with examples of heroic courage and sacrifice.

Amelia Earhart: The Legend of the Lost Aviator by Shelley Tanaka, Abrams Books for Young Readers 2008, 48 pages, grades 3-5
The story of the life of Amelia Earhart, a pioneer in the field of aviation at a time when most aviators were men - a story of courage and bravery, as well as a woman of intelligence, determination and perseverance. This nonfiction work can be as enjoyable as fiction, and won the 2009 Orbis Pictus Award by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), one of the most prestigious awards in children's literature.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Katie DiCamillio, Candlewick Press 2006, 200 pages, grades 3-5
An animal fantasy that will allow children to learn about the trials, joys and meaning of life, and the power of love. It is a story of a beautiful toy rabbit, who is quite vain about his beauty, self-centered and unconcerned for others. Then through a "miraculous" series of adventures, experiencing affection and rejection, he finds his heart stirring with love. This novel has won numerous literary awards and touches on many themes central to human existence in a number of poignant scenes.

The Underneath by Kathi Appelt, Atheneum Books for Young Readers 2008, 311 pages, grades 5-8
A fine fantasy story featuring animals who talk and think in human terms, who are faced with quite discernible issues of good and evil, moral and immoral choices, a wicked life versus a virtuous one. A beautiful and inspiring story of heroism and sacrifice that won the Newbery Honor Book Award in 2009.

The Three Little Javelinas by Susan Lowell, Wing King Tong Press 1992, 32 pages, grades 1-3
An entertaining, comical, and bilingual (Spanish) adaptation of the classic folk tale of the Three Little Pigs. A charming book with endearing illustrations, great to read aloud.

In Blue Mountain by Thomas Locker, Bell Pound Books 2000, 32 pages, grades 3-4
Subtitled, "An Artist's Return to America's First Wilderness" this picture book recreates the awe and splendor of the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York. A scenic journey of mountains, lakes and waterfalls explored through the eyes of the Hudson River School of Art, emphasizing the beauty and simplicity of the natural order. Thomas Locker is a famous author/artist of children's literature, and his beautiful drawings are true art, not just illustrations - see "Sky Tree", "The Boy Who Held Back the Sea", "Cloud Dance", "Where the River Begins", and "Water Dance" among many others

A Song of Colors by Judy Hindly, Candlewick Press 1998, 32 pages, grades 1-3
An exploration of poetry and color, this concept book reflects on the power and strength of colors. It's free-verse poems and elaborate images instruct readers in the attractive qualities of each color, and how they affect our exploration and enjoyment of life.

Fritz and the Beautiful Horses by Jan Brett, Houghton Mifflin Co 1981, 32 pages, grades 1-3
A wonderfully illustrated picture book with a simple story that teaches the life-lesson that "beauty is only skin deep" yet people often judge (and misjudge) by appearances. Fritz is a small, homely pony - rejected by the by a medieval city because of his plain looks compared to the beautiful horses they had. Yet in the end, virtues like simplicity, bravery and humility turn out to be more beautiful than vanity. One of the most accomplished children's authors/illustrators, Jan Brett's books portray positive values and stunning pictures.

Rondo in C by Paul Fleischman, Harper & Row 1988, 32 pages, grades 1-3
A beautiful story about the power of music, as a young girl learns and performs Beethoven's Hondo in C, and the effect music has on listeners. Learning to play a musical instrument is both difficult and enjoyable, takes practice and discipline with a tremendous payoff, besides building maturity. A famous children's author, Fleischman is well-known for his book of poems Joyful Noise.

Cam Jansen and the Mystery of Flight 54 by David Adler, Viking Kestrel 1989, 56 pages, grades 2-3
Part of the popular Cam Jansen series of mysteries for early readers (think Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew). In this particular book, Cam works to solves a mystery about a lost passenger on an overseas flight. They don't try to teach any lesson or moral, but this series of formula fiction will be enjoyed by your young readers as they mature in their reading ability.

Boat by Eric Kentley, Dorling Kindersley 2000, 64 pages, grades 5-6
This book describes the development and uses of boats, from early man to modern vessels. With each is a careful study of its construction and navigation, including numerous cutouts, pictures, sidebars, diagrams and charts. Boys and girls will enjoy this and any one of the more than 100 Eyewitness Books in this series.

The Log Cabin Wedding by Ellen Howard, Holiday House 2006, 37 pages, grades 2-3
This inspiring early reader tells the story of a pioneer widow and widower who remarry, and the adjustments for their families, especially their children. Can they learn to heal the wounds of their lost parents? Can anyone replace their mother / father? This book doesn't gloss over the pain and difficulty of losing a parent, but demonstrates the healing power of love.

O, Say Can You See by Sheila Keenan, Scholastic Nonfiction 2004, 64 pages, grades 4-6
Subtitled "America's Symbols, Landmarks, And Important Words", this fascinating book describes some of the most important places, buildings, documents and symbols of the U.S., representing some of the most critical episodes in our history. From Plymouth Rock to Independence Hall, from the Capitol to the Liberty Bell, it is an outstanding tour of the foundations of our country.

You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax? by Jonah Winter Schwartz & Wade Books 2009, 32 pages, grades 1-3
In the early 1960's, one young left-handed pitcher for the LA Dodgers simply dominated and overwhelmed baseball's National League. This fascinating biography tells how an incredibly shy, Jewish player struggled with wild pithes and almost quit from discouragement, yet went on to become one of the greatest baseball pitchers of all time. See how he had to overcome pain and injuries, and also learn how he displayed his deep religious character and went on to teach the US about the value of religion in the World Series.

The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sis, Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2007, 32 pages, grades 3-5
An honest and candor look at what happened when the Iron Curtain of Communism crushed Eastern Europe after World War II. In particular a look at how Czechoslovakia was forced under Soviet Union control, and shows how easily the freedoms we take for granted can be lost. A vivid picture of how much the Czechs long for freedom, but how difficult the concept is for people living in a downtrodden, frightened state.

The Story of Easter by Christopher Doyle, Concordia Publishing House 2005, 31 pages, grades 1-3
This book begins, as does the story of Easter, with Palm Sunday. On Holy Thursday our Lord washes the Apostles feet and institutes the sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Holy Orders. Through his arrest, trial and crucifixion, we see Jesus accepting the Father's will. But after the darkness of Good Friday comes the brightness of Easter Sunday and the Resurrection.

The Schoolchildren's Blizzard by Marty Rhodes Figley, Carolrhoda Books 2004, 48 pages, grades 3-4
One of the worst blizzards in Nebraska history (Jan. 12, 1888) takes it name because it swept across the state when school children were walking home. This is a fictionalized account of one teacher and her 16 students at a one-room school house who are caught in this blizzard. This chapter book is a well-written and illustrated story of courage and heroes.

Seabiscuit the Wonder Horse by Meghan McCarthy, Simon & Simon Books for Young Readers 2008, 32 pages, grades 1-3
During the economic struggles of the Great Depression, one of the most exciting stories of the 1930s was of a small, beat-up horse, a broken-down trainer, a half-blind jockey, and an owner dogged by tragedy. This picture book with endearing drawings humanizes the characters and the handicaps each must overcome, allowing the the reader to identify with them in this positive and inspiring story.

Michael's Golden Rules by Deloris Jordan, Simon & Simon Books for Young Readers 2007, 32 pages, grades 1-3
A charming book by Michael Jordan's mother about his childhood love for baseball. Michael and his friends learn lessons that apply not just for baseball and sports, but also for growing up and being a kind and responsible person. Readers of all ages can identify with the common feelings and experiences that Mrs. Jordan describes.

Saints and Angels by Claire Llewellyn, Kingfisher 2003, 64 pages, grades 3-5
A beautiful collection of the stories of many saints throughout history, including great artwork of them from around the world. It includes a calendar of feast days, and glossary of terms and notable people. Clearly written and informative, with simply magnificent pictures.

St. Patrick's Day: Parades, Shamrocks, and Leprechauns by Elaine Landau, Enslow Publishers 2002, 48 pages, grades 3-4
Part of a "Finding Out About Holidays" series, this fun and interesting book informs about the different ways St. Patrick's Day is celebrated with photos and accounts, but also does a good job instructing about Ireland and the reason for this festive day: St. Patrick. Learn about the life of Patrick, the symbols associated with St. Patrick's Day, why we wear green, and more.

Rechenka's Eggs by Patricia Polacco, Philomel Books 1988, 32 pages, grades 1-3
A captivating book about old Russia and the practice of giving intricately painted eggs as presents for Easter. The babushka (grandmother) befriends a wounded goose, who in return gives a much greater gift than painted eggs. All of Polacco's titles feature wholesome generosity and loving humanness with elaborate drawings and touching characters.

Avalanches by Michele Ingber Drohan, Power Kids Press 1999, 32 pages, grades 2-4
A beautiful, dramatic and informative book about the different types of avalanches, how they form, and the ways they are prevented. The photos also detail the efforts of the brave rescue workers and dogs who try to save people trapped by the snow.

When Washington Crossed the Delaware: A Wintertime Story for Young Patriots by Lynne Cheney, Simon and Shuster Books for Young Readers 2004, 32 pages, grades 2-4
This picture book vividly portrays two important battles won by Washington in 1776 in the Revolutionary War. A moving story of the nobility of General Washington courage and suffering of the soldiers in the Continental Army.

The Grizzly Sisters by Cathy Bellows, Macmillan Publishing Co 1991, 32 pages, grades K-2
A funny, insightful story of the consequences of children's disobedience, showing the contrast between prideful smugness and prudent docility. A delightful lesson in humility.

The Last Laugh by Ariane Dewey and Jose Aruego, Dial Books for Young Readers 2006, 32 pages, grades K-2
A near wordless picture book focused on the process of stopping bullying. The humor of the book can help young children understand bullying, and is also useful for showing bullies the harmful effects of bullying.

The Man Who Created Narnia by Michael Coren, William Eerdmans Publishing Co 1994, 140 pages, grades 4-6
An inviting and useful biography of C.S. Lewis, allowing readers to discover the motivation behind his famous novels, short stories and nonfiction. Despite losing his mother at a young age, his loneliness and homesickness when sent off to school, and being wounded in WW1, learn how Lewis became a famous scholar at Oxford and why one of the greatest Christian writers of the 20th century decided to write children's books.

There Come a Soldier by Peggy Mercer, Handprint Books 2007, 32 pages, grades 2-4
A remarkable picture book that tells the story of an American paratrooper who fights in the WWII Battle of the Bulge. The story of his action in battle is paired with pictures and stories from his childhood and the lessons and virtues he then carried into combat, such as fortitude, bravery and selflessness.

The Little Drummer Boy by Kristina Rodanas, Clarion Books 2001, 32 pages, grades K-3
Kristina Rodanas has illustrated a beautiful picture book based on the popular song, "The Little Drummer Boy". An endearing version that captures the charm and grace of the nativity while telling the story of a boy who gave the only present he had to the newborn King.

I, Vivaldi by Janice Shefelman, Eerdmans Books 2008, 32 pages, grades 1-3
Picture-book biography of the classical violinist and composer, told as if by Vivaldi himself.

Cinco de Mayo by Sarah Vazquez, Raintree Steck-Vaughn Publishers 1999, 32 pages, grades 2-4
Part of the World of Holidays Series for understanding the history of the celebration, customs and practices of this Mexican holiday.

Classics (before 1980)

Come Rack! Come Rope! by Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson 1912, Grade 9 & up
A masterful book that recounts the vicious attack on the Catholic Church which occurred in England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. It tells the story of the heroic resistance of English martyrs, in particular recalling the priests and seminarians who bravely minister to the persecuted Catholics, knowing that the penalty for being a priest is execution. It is a moving story of two dedicated young people surrendering their lives to Our Lord.

Lord of the World by Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson 1907, Grade 10 & up
A powerful novel about the end of the world, the end times. Man has begun to believe that his reason is almost infallible, and this eliminates the need for God in daily life. For example, euthanasia is seen as a great benefit in the world, and the secular humanist government attacks the Catholic Church. It is amazing how accurately Msgr. Benson fore saw how the world will act when it is devoid of divine direction. Recommended only for older students because of some frightening scenes and their horrific implications.

A Rainbow of My Own by Don Freeman 1966, 32 pages, Preschool
A book that has captivated preschool children since it publication. Children are drawn to the warm and comforting colors that support the story of a boy's adventure. And adults who read this book out loud to a young child will find themselves wanting the boy to catch the rainbow. Another book encouraging children that imaginary exploration is good and desirable.

Can't You Make Them Behave, King George? by Jean Fritz, illustrated by Tomie dePaola 1977, 48 pages, Grades 3-5
George wants to be a good leader of Great Britain, he carefully studies, lives an honest, virtuous life, he is orderly and frugal. As King George III, he leads a winning but costly war against the French and Indians in North America. To help pay for the cost, it makes sense to him that the Americans should help pay for the war debt by a series of taxes. And when they revolt he fails to see why they are ungrateful to their benevolent father. An entertaining and informative writer gives us a unique biography and history from the point of view of George III.

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson 1955, 63 pages, Preschool-Grade 2
Imagination is the gift of seeing the world as it can be, the ability to safely explore new ideas, as well as a means to grow intellectually and work our solutions. This famous book is the story of a young boy adventures in his own imagination and the world he "draws" with his crayon.

Father Brown Stories by G.K. Chesterton 1900s, grades 10 and up
This famous Catholic writer of early 20th century England spoke openly and unabashedly about his Catholic faith and in defense of the truth. In the famous Father Brown crime stories, Chesterton brings a Catholic understanding of human natures to the short stories about about a nondescript priest with a knack for foiling criminals. Memorable and intriguing, can be read again and again.

Green Eggs and Ham by Doctor Seuss 1960, 62 pages, grades K-2
Because reading books use controlled vocabulary, they often seemed simple and boring to students (e.g. Dick and Jane). Hence the groundbreaking revolution of Theodore Geisel, whose books brought word play, imagination, interest and enjoyment into early reading instruction. This wacky story of Sam I Am hoping to serve his green eggs and ham contains only one multi-syllable word!

The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder 1927, 131 pages, grades 10 and higher
One of the most renowned English speakers of the 20th century, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1928 for this novel that explores transcendent ideals and the meaning of human existence. A powerful story thats asks the eternal human questions about suffering and sin, goodness and redemption.

Pinocchio: The Story of a Puppet by Carlo Collodi 1883, 236 pages, grades 4-6
A particularly famous fantasy story that teaches important life lessons about the value of truth and honesty through the misadventures of a puppet who is very stubborn and willful, a trickster whose bad choices ends up hurting himself and others . Children will enjoy the fanciful situations, while also learning the author's message of moral responsibility for one's actions (a message unfortunately somewhat lost in the Walt Disney movie version.)

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery 1908, 241 pages, grades 6-8
This famous book (actually a series of 3 volumes) launched a literary career for this Canadian author, who in many ways resembled her character Anne. An orphan at a young age, who feels lonely as a child, sometimes rejected and unwanted, and so escapes into a world of imagination. In the novel, Anne has a chattering, friendly personality that leads to funny and refreshing conversations, providing a delightful story that has endeared readers for generations.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne 1850, 223 pages, grades 10 and higher
One of the greatest novels in American literature, about a Puritan colony in Massachusetts, and its smug righteousness in condemning a woman caught in adultery for having a child out of wedlock. A story about love and mercy, confession and forgiveness; as well as hatred and revenge, dishonestly and evil. This novel powerfully demonstrates the need people have to confess their sins and be forgiven.

Justin Morgan Had a Horse by Marguerite Henry, Rand McNally 1954, 170 pages, grades 4-6
Children are frequently drawn to animal stories and from them often learn valuable life lessons. Can a small, rough-looking horse compete with majestic stallions? A story of heart and determination when faced with the difficulties of life. Unusually successful at creating stories about horses, this is one of the finest novels by Marguerite Henry. She is a highly acclaimed children's author, who won nearly every major literary award for children's books. Her novels are invariably uplifting and inspiring, plus filled with adventure and action.

The Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars, Puffin Books 1970, 142 pages, grades 4-6
A finely written "coming of age novel" about a girl in that confusing time of early adolescence. Yet through her mentally handicapped brother she learns lessons of true beauty and friendship, and the value of her own worth. A moving story that won the 1971 Newbery Medal.

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, 1894, 258 pages, grades 4-7 (Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, William Morrow and Co, 1995)
Raised in Bombay, this famous writer turned fables about India into children's stories. This famous story about a boy raised by wolves in the jungle, who then has to learn how to live among humans, while fighting a tiger that wants to kill him. It continues to be a popular blend of animal fantasy with exciting action. Kipling won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907.

Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge, The World Publishing Company 1865, 335 pages, grades 4-6
A story of two desperately poor children in the Netherlands, who have nothing except a natural skating ability. A story of perseverance, charity, and sacrifice; and a detailed description of Holland. One of the most loved and bestselling titles in the history of children's literature. Thanks to its character development, anyone can relate to the people so compelling described by the author.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost, E.P. Dutton 1978 (1923), 32 pages, grades 3-4
Poetry can be filled with power, where each poetic sentence is packed with ideas and emotions. This very fact which gives poems their beauty and majesty, can also make it a difficult form of literature. To read this kind of poetry one must find a master poet, such a Robert Frost, who poignantly captures the inner yearnings of the heart in this beautiful poem. Illustrated by Susan Jeffers, an important writer/illustrator of children's literature, whose elegant artwork captures nature and emotions with understanding.

The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses by Paul Goble, Atheneum Books for Young Readers 1978, 32 pages, grades 1-3
This is a mythical Native American story set on the Great Plains where buffaloes and horse ran free. A young woman was particularly skilled with horses and loved them, indeed it was rumored she could even talk with them. While riding a wild horse, she was carried off to unknown lands, and sensed that the beautiful wild stallion was inviting her to join the herd and live with them. A Caldecott Medal winner in 1978, Paul Goble's work has been praised by Native Americans for its accuracy and authenticity.

The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis, Harper Collins 1956, 211 pages, grades 4-6
The final book of one of the most inspiring series of Christian fantasy (allegory), the Narnia Chronicles. The central character is Aslan, the magnificent, redeeming lion. The final scenes of this book are deeply moving, leading one to want to run to Aslan and embrace the higher, deeper world that is beyond description.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, Collins World 1970, 32 pages, grades K-1
A concept book that teaches young children by a touch and see method. A delightful book, creative and well illustrated, that can help children learn to count and new vocabulary.