Four unique orphaned children come together through a series of tests, for which they found an advertisement in the newspaper offering "special opportunities.” The circumstances of the tests are quite mysterious, and they lead the children to come under the guidance of Mr. Benedict, a strange and fascinating man who offers them a part in a most important mission: saving the world from a dark and dangerous man and his sinister plan. The children are each brilliant in their own right and the adventures they embark on are full of danger, nefarious villains, and thought-provoking puzzles. A must read for children (and adults) who love the work of Lemony Snicket, there are three books and a prequel to round out the series. Age 7 and up. More info →
Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert of Prince Edward Island, Canada decide to adopt an orphaned boy to help them on their farm. Their messenger mistakenly delivers a girl to Green Gables instead—an 11-year-old feisty redhead named Anne Shirley. The series follows Anne from her childhood at Green Gables until she is a mother herself; the later books are about her children’s adventures more than they are about Anne. The beautiful new edition from White Press is pictured. 8 books in the series; age 9 and up. More info →
These charming books were discovered by a new generation of readers when Kathleen Kelly (played by Meg Ryan) recommended them to a Fox Books patron in Nora Ephron’s 1998 movie You’ve Got Mail: “I'd start with Ballet Shoes, it's my favorite; although Skating Shoes is completely wonderful.” There are 11 shoe books in all. Age 7 and up.
This series follows the journey of Betsy Ray and her best friend, Tacy, from the time they are 5 years old. The first book, Betsy-Tacy, begins with the line, "It was difficult, later, to think of a time when Betsy and Tacy had not been friends." A sweet series that celebrates friendship and the wonders of childhood. 10 books in all. Age 5 and up.
Warren was a first grade teacher who was frustrated that she couldn’t find good books for her young students that were easy enough for them to read. She began writing The Boxcar Children books to fill the gap, and countless children have fallen in love with reading because of these stories of 4 orphans who make their home in an old railway car. (Stick to the first 17, written by Warren herself. Subsequent books written by different authors will bear the words “created by Gertrude C. Warren” on the cover.) Age 5 and up.
Ramona Quimby is a rambunctious, imaginative girl who is constantly getting herself into trouble. (The second book of the series is--for good reason--entitled Ramona the Pest.) Ramona’s misadventures frequently embarrass her big sister Beezus and her friend Henry Huggins, but the characters remain convincing, warm, and loyal. (Ramona makes appearances in several of the Henry Huggins books. The audio recordings of these books--done by Neil Patrick Harris--are excellent. Stockard Channing does the audio for the Ramona books, and the audio versions aren’t quite as lovable.) 8 books in all. Age 6 and up.
In 1968, the Gaither sisters travel to meet the mother who abandoned them years earlier. They imagine that she’ll welcome them with open arms, but when they arrive in Oakland, California, she seems more annoyed than overjoyed. With attention to historic detail and culture of the 1960s, this series charms readers and offers opportunity for discussion about the Civil Rights movement. In the following two books, the sisters return home to Brooklyn and must adjust to Pa’s new girlfriend, support their Uncle as he returns from the Vietnam War, and navigate the perils of growing up. The third book follows the girls on a trip to Alabama, where they explore the tenuous relationships of their extended family. This series has been bestowed with numerous honors—Newbery, Coretta Scott King, and School Library Journal Best Book of the Year awards. Readers love this series on paper and on audio. Age 8 and up. More info →
The series opens with the 2014 Newbery Honor Book Three Times Lucky. Moses LoBeau was only an infant when she washed up on the shores of Tupelo Landing, North Carolina, in the wake of a hurricane. Taken in by the Colonel, she helps him to run a little café. Determined to find her “upstream mother” someday, Mo’s life is full of quirks and unusual situations, like being left to run the café by herself when the Colonel goes out of town. When trouble comes to Tupelo Landing, Mo and her best friend Dale take it upon themselves to save the day. The southern small town setting contains colorful characters and over-the-top drama that makes for a rollicking (if not totally believable) read. Four books in the series; age 10 and up. More info →
The Penderwicks follows four sisters as they roam the gardens, attics, and have adventures with a very interesting boy named Jeffrey on a sprawling estate in Massachusetts. The sisters range from ages 4-12, making this a great series to read aloud with the whole family. Each of the four sisters typifies a character trait, often drawing comparisons to the March sisters. Each book takes place in a different part of New England, and the Penderwicks timeless adventures bring about a sense of nostalgia. With five books in the series, there’s plenty of sweet childhood scenes to endear readers. Four of the books are available as a box set. Age 8 and up. More info →
This zany series is perfect for fans of Dogman. Two young friends and rivals try to one-up each other in a good-natured series of escalating pranks. Adults may not choose to read these solo, but the wisecracking banter makes these excellent read-alouds with kids as young as 6. The fourth book in the series will be published on December 24, 2018. My own 8-year-old is currently obsessed with Mac Barnett; if you enjoy this, read the Mac B, Kid Spy series next. Age 7 and up. More info →