My Favorite Lesser-Known Children’s Books…and other Great Reading Resources


childrensbooksThe Scottsdale Civic Center Library has been a saving grace for my kids and me this summer. We’ve gone regularly to escape the grueling heat, join a “Shake, Rattle and Roll” class, check out children’s books, and participate in the summer reading program. This library is particularly sweet to me because of my own childhood memories there getting lost in the pages of a book and allowing my imagination to take me on a journey with each new read.

I want to instill the love of reading in my kids early (they’re one and two) and so we’re re-discovering the library together. On our first couple visits I became overwhelmed trying to select books for my toddlers, and I imagine this is true for any age. There are so many to choose from, and frankly, there are tons of terrible children’s books. I mean, really, really bad. Like, my two year old could write and illustrate better.


Because I’m convinced that reading makes you smarter and that life is too short to read bad books, I decided to do some homework on where and how to select quality books for my kids. I immediately stumbled on two very cool resources. 1) Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt and 2) Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time by Jamie Martin. Both are books that present curated lists of children’s literature divided by age, and in the case of Give Your Child the World, by area of the globe. Honey for a Child’s Heart has several editions so it has kept up to date over the years while Give Your Child the World was just released in June. They both share inspiration and suggestions to help your family get reading, and in my mind are great investments since they can grow along with your kids.

wittreadsIn my search I also found a few cool podcasts, like Inspired to Action, which originally turned me on to Jamie Martin’s book, and I love Read Aloud Revival (RAR), which highlights the benefits of reading aloud even to competent readers. Check out this episode of RAR, featuring the ladies behind Aslan’s Library talking about “Reading Aloud to Toddlers – the Why and How.” Their site has been a go-to for kid’s books (mainly with a theological focus) since before I had kids of my own. They also taught me a new word: twaddle. I had to look it up. You should too. It’s a good word. 🙂

Now, I’m sure I’ll let my kids read their share of twaddle (did you look it up?), but as long as I’m in charge of choosing books, I’m trying to be more particular. Right now, they’re loving these popular picks: Where the Wild Things Are, Llama Llama Red Pajama, Pout Pout Fish, and Runaway Bunny. And while many of the classics are classics for a reason, I like to discover lesser-known books, especially to give to others. readwithdad

Here are a few of our favorites that fall into that category that I’ve either given or received as gifts:

Iggy Peck, Architect:
Clever story about an aspiring young architect who is stifled by his uptight 2nd grade teacher. I’m always a sucker for great rhymes; a wonderful pick for your creative, free-thinker types!

Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons
Sweetest book that defines concepts like “patience”, “compassion”, “loyal”, and “fair” through a language any kid can understand: cookies! For example, “Patience means: waiting and waiting for the cookies to be done.” Now, who doesn’t understand that?

Jesus Storybook Bible
I wouldn’t exactly classify this one as “lesser-known” – it is the Bible after all. But, there are zillions of bibles out there for kids and some are better than others. I adore this one. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a way to connect the stories of the Bible and explain its purpose as a whole to your kids.

The Tortoise and the Jackrabbit and The Three Little Javelinas
These are fabulous books for any desert dwelling kiddos. They take the classic tales of the Tortoise and the Hare and the Three Little Pigs and give them a southwestern twist. The wonderfully detailed illustrations give little eyes lots to pour over as they learn the language of the desert.

Flora and the Flamingo and Journey
Don’t be scared off, but these are both wordless books. By different authors, they each tell sweet and imaginative stories that you can narrate – or have your kids narrate – in a new way each time. Plus, the illustrations are gorgeous.

We’re not into them just yet, but audio books are also a good option. A friend of mine shared these favorite read aloud sites:

Epic! (subscription-based)

Storyline Online – Where Reading Is Fun!

Just Books Read Aloud

Mrs. P’s magic library

Aesop’s Fables – Online Collection – 656+ fables –

And, just in case this post didn’t have enough links, here are a few more:

Read Aloud Revival Booklist (I mentioned RAR already, but here’s a great booklist to download)

Reading Rainbow (Yes, 30 years later, LeVar Burton has a library of kid’s books in an app!)

A Mighty Girl (The world’s largest collection of books, toys and movies for smart, confident, and courageous girls.)

Let’s keep the recommendations flowing. Leave your favorite kid reads and/or resources in the comments below!


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