Book Recs for All Ages from the PSP Community

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Social distancing is still in full force, and the world is a bit of a scary place right now—meaning that it's a perfect time for kids to escape into an alternate timeline and wile away the hours with a good book. We’re collecting recommendations from PSP members on books for various age groups, so here are some time-tested titles to expand your little ones’ minds, cure boredom, and nurture a lifelong love of reading.



Before we get started—a reminder to buy local!

 The Slope and surrounding neighborhoods are full of wonderful small community and indie bookstores. They’re especially in need of your support during this difficult time, and many of them are still fulfilling orders, so there’s no need to resort to Amazon for your book-buying needs! Here are some links to get you started.


Quick links:


Books for toddlers:


  • Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
  • Wild Baby by Cori Doerrfeld
  • Mother Goose by Scott Gustafson
  • Roar: A Dinosaur Tour by Michael Paul
  • George and Martha series by James Marshall
  • Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle
  • Brown Bear by Eric Carle
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
  • Pete the Cat series by Eric Litwin and James Dean
  • Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel
  • Curious George series by H. A. Rey
  • Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill
  • Baby Beluga by Raffi
  • Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
  • Go Dog Do by PD Eastman
  • Quack! by Joe Fitzpatrick
  • Owl Babies by Martin Waddell
  • Moo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton: “we read the lines but let her say the animal noises”
  • There's a Wocket in my Pocket by Dr. Seuss
  • What the Sleepy Animals Do at the Audubon Zoo by Grace Millsaps and Ryan Murphy
  • Little Owl’s Night by Divya Srinivasan
  • Llama Llama series by Anna Dewdney
  • Good Dog, Carl by Alexandra Day
  • Swimmy by Leo Lionni
  • This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
  • Wild by Emily Hughes
  • Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae
  • B Is for Bear by Roger Priddy
  • Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne Lang
  • Sesame Street series (e.g., Messy Alphabet, All Tucked In, Just One You)
  • The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen:
    “If you love Pout Pout Fish, I highly recommend this song. It's just a sung-through version of the book and it's great. He also does Pout Pout Fish and the Big, Big Dark and Pout Pout Fish Goes to School.”
    “I must say [The Pout-Pout Fish] is a very poor first example of consent. I think it’s important to model expectations even from an extremely young age. So, rather than ditch the book which he totally loves, I took a sharpie and added the following language when the silver fish arrives so it now reads: Hi Mr. Fish, you’re looking awfully down / Would you like a kiss upon your squishy fishy frown? / Says the fish to his new friend, “I could use a kiss today!” / So she plants a kiss upon his pout and then she swims away. / And again when Mr. Fish starts going around kissing all the other fish it now reads: So I’ll bring cheer through my kisses...smooch, smooch, smooch, smooch... to any fish who wishes!”
    “I change the end of the Pout Pout fish too :) I also explain to her that it’s ok if you don’t feel like smiling sometimes :)”


Cars, trucks, and things that go

  • Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle
  • Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker
  • Old McDonald Had a Truck by Steve Goetz
  • The Monsters on the Bus by Joe Ewers and Sarah Albee
  • The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen
  • Builders and Breakers by Steve Light
  • Supertruck by Stephen Savage
  • Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle
  • Snakes on a Train by Kathryn Dennis



  • Pop-up Peekaboo! Baby Dinosaur and Pop-Up Peekaboo! Baby Animals by DK
  • Touch and Explore series
  • TouchThinkLearn series by Xavier Deneux
  • Press Here by Hervé Tullet
  • That's Not My Truck by Fiona Watt
  • Hide and Seek Pets
  • Clap Your Hands! Elmo puppet book
  • My Big Wimmelbook series
  • Poke‑a‑Dot series
  • Clap, Clap! by Madalena Matoso
  • Poppy and the Orchestra by Magali Le Huche



  • Llaman a la Puerta by Pat Hutchins
  • Perro Grande... Perro Pequeno by P. D. Eastman


Everything else…

  • Don’t Push the Button! by Bill Cotter
  • The Brownstone by Paula Scher
  • P is for Potty! by Lena Cooper and Naomi Kleinberg: “this was a gift and she is now obsessed with Elmo, Albie, and her potty”
  • We Are Going to Be Friends by Jack White
  • The Boy Who Kept on Drawing by Keith Haring
  • Please, Baby, Please by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee
  • Yummy Yucky by Leslie Patricelli
  • Baby, Boo! by Emma Dodd
  • All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon: “gorgeous”
  • Clive and His Babies by Jessica Spanyol: “great example of male caretaking”
  • Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
  • Bilal Cooks Daal by Aisha Saeed
  • We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen
  • The Foot Book by Dr. Suess
  • Chicken Soup with Rice by Maurice Sendak
  • Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
  • Each Peach Pear Plum by Allan Ahlberg and Janet Ahlberg
  • Make America Grape Again by Jeff Durston
  • The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
  • Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
  • Music Is… by Brandon Stosuy
  • A River by Marc Martin
  • This Is Baby by Jimmy Fallon


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Books for young ones learning to read:

  • First Little Readers: “Very good ways to teach your child to read. They are big boxes of small flimsy books that are very easy to read. I read one every night with my daughter and it has improved her reading a lot.”
  • Bob Books
  • My first phonics reading library
  • Reading A-Z is a website that has a great collection of what they call High Frequency Word Books. You can do a 2 week free trial of the site (no credit card required) and download printable PDFs of about 25 of these kind of books. They also have tons of early books (Leveled Books on the site: look at levels A, B, and maybe C). I teach English learners and I find these books great for teaching little ones to read in their new language.”


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Books for Pre-K to first-graders:

  • The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne: “Our 3.5 year old loves the Magic Tree House books, each of which will last a couple of nights (depending on how long your reading sessions are). They are each about 10 chapters long and designed for slightly older kids to read themselves.”
  • If I Built a… series by Chris Van Dusen
  • Winnie the Pooh series by A. A. Milne: “I would add that there is an Audible version narrated by a bunch of famous British actors (eg Judy Dench, Stephen Fry) that is amazing!”
  • Paddington Bear series by Michael Bond
  • Stuart Little series by E. B. White
  • The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary
  • Paddle-to-the-Sea by Holling C. Holling
  • Treasury for Children by James Herriot
  • Brambly Hedge series by Jill Barklem


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Books for second-graders:

The classics

  • Anything from Roald Dahl: “They can definitely be scary but my kid has been gobbling them up. Specifically The BFG and Matilda are both great and feature smarty-pants girl protagonists.”
  • The Fudge series by Judy Blume
  • Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great by Judy Blume
  • The Boxcar Children series: “Exciting, not scary, adventure based stuff. There are hundreds of them in the series - we found book #151 at the library!!”
  • Ramona series by Beverly Cleary
  • Princess Academy series by Shannon Hale: “I'm not big on princess-ey stuff and the cover is not super inspiring, but they were SO GOOD. We read them together. It's the story of a young girl from a remote mining town who is super smart and brave and basically leverages the education provided to her by this ‘princess academy’ to free her village from economic oppression by the traders who come to buy from the quarry on their mountain. A lot of celebrating the strength of girls”
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles series by Tony DiTerlizzi
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney
  • Clementine series by Sara Pennypacker
  • Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery:
  • Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder: “The historical settings really engaged my curiosity, especially all the detail in the Little House on the Prairie books about pioneer life. Not sure if these series hold up to modern standards of sensitivity.”
  • My Father's Dragon series by Ruth Stiles Gannett
  • The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton: “It is from the 1930s/40s so it is very traditionally gendered which is annoying but it is a compelling story with lots of layers and creatures with no genders and so fun.”
  • The Famous Five series by Enid Blyton: “We did #1-3 and finished #4, but it was scary—also written a while ago, so some not so enlightened language at times, but great opportunity to discuss issues.”
  • The Great Brain series by John Dennis Fitzgerald
  • The Wizard of Oz series by L. Frank Baum
  • The Borrowers series by Mary Norton
  • The Indian in the Cupboard series by Lynne Reid Banks
  • Flat Stanley series by Jeff Brown
  • The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  • Warriors series by Erin Hunter
  • The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
  • Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
  • The Orphan of Ellis Island by Elvira Woodruff
  • Anything by Andrew Clements (e.g., Frindle)
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart: “big and complicated like Harry Potter but not as scary”
  • The Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall
  • Anything by Hilary McKay (e.g., The Exiles)
  • The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
  • Mary Poppins series by Pamela Lyndon Travers: “challenging because it uses lots of unfamiliar terms from early 20th century England (‘tuppence,’ ‘crumpets,’ ‘perambulator’) but the books are very engaging and a motivated child will pick it up or just deal with it, as I did at age 8”
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Ava DuVernay
  • Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
  • The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell: “both my kids devoured that book at age 8; of course I had to explain the political background to them, which increased their interest and deepened their appreciation of the book”
  • The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  • Mars series by Edgar Rice Burroughs: “In 4th grade I found my father's old Edgar Rice Burroughs Mars books and went through them. Great for kids in that while swashbuckling, the core never goes beyond ‘I ran him through with my long sword’ and the sex never goes beyond ‘She was so beautiful I couldn't take my eyes off her.’ My son liked the first book at age 8, but that was enough for him.”
  • Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
  • Narnia series by C. S. Lewis
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Redwall series by Brian Jacques
  • All-of-a-Kind Family series by Sydney Taylor
  • Betsy-Tacy and Tib series by Maud Hart Lovelace


The modern hits

  • Dory Fantasmagory series by Abby Hanlon
  • Weird School series by Dan Gutman
  • Danny Dragonbreath series by Ursula Vernon: “It’s about a dragon and his nerdy best friend, an iguana, who attend a middle school for reptiles and get into a lot of crazy adventures. It’s smart and amusing.”
  • Tales of Magic series by Edward Eager
  • Pippi Longstocking series by Astrid Lindgren
  • Isadora Moon series by Harriet Muncaster
  • A to Z Mysteries series by Ron Roy: “Similar level to magic treehouse books; the ‘detectives’ are a group of friends, 2 boys and a girl, so it seemed pretty appealing to both boys and girls.”
  • Girls Who Code series by Stacia Deutsch: “there are 3-4 of them (we've been reading the first 2), and they're decently written. Also pretty good explanations of coding, fun middle school stories that are mostly about girls and friendships and families, and a diverse set of characters.”
  • Waylon series by Sara Pennypacker
  • The Questioneers series by Andrea Beaty
  • Mac B., Kid Spy series by Mac Barnett
  • Ellie McDoodle series by Ruth McNally Barshaw
  • Inspector Flytrap series by Tom Angleberger
  • The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger: “hard to explain, but fun”
  • The One and Only Ivan by K. A. Applegate
  • Ivy & Bean series by Annie Barrows
  • Guardians of Ga’hoole series by Kathryn Lasky
  • Jack Stalwart series by Elizabeth Singer Hunt
  • The Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer
  • A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
  • Pie by Sarah Weeks
  • Save Me a Seat by Gita Varadarajan and Sarah Weeks
  • Savvy by Ingrid Law
  • Deep Down Popular by Phoebe Stone
  • The Romeo and Juliet Code by Phoebe Stone
  • The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson
  • The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson
  • Gordon Korman’s school-related books
  • The Runaway Robot by Lester del Rey
  • The Moomins series by Tove Jansson


Graphic novels

  • Bone series by Jeff Smith
  • Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi
  • Dragonbreath by Ursula Vernon: “about a dragon and his best friend, an iguana, who go to a middle school for reptiles and get into various wacky adventures. It’s smart and entertaining.”
  • Anything by Raina Telgemeier


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Books for fourth- and fifth-graders:

  • Superfudge by Judy Blume
  • Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
  • Ghost by Jason Reynolds
  • Zoey and Sassafras series by Asia Citro
  • Dodsworth series by Tim Egan
  • Houndsley and Catina series by James Howe
  • Iris and Walter series by Elissa Guest
  • King and Kayla series by Dori Hillestad Butler
  • Primates by Jim Ottaviani
  • The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White
  • Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson RawlsFrom The Mixed Up Files of Basil E. Frankweiler
  • Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
  • Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin


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Online resources

  • Picks from expert librarians at the New York Public Library
  • Books by reading level, curated by PS 321
  • DOGObooks: “It’s Goodreads for kids. The site is fully vetted and closely monitored, but even if you’d want to avoid getting your child into an online community, it's a good place to see what other kids are reading.”
  • Read Brightly: “It's run by Random House, but they are publisher agnostic when it comes to their content and it's a great resource.”
  • Scholastic Book Clubs: “It was a great resource for finding books. I'd browse the listings independently and request books that caught my eye, pending mom and teachers' approval.”
  • Vooks is a streaming library of read-aloud animated storybooks. They’re offering one month free at the moment!
  • Epic! is a digital library for kids 12 and under, with books, videos, quizzes, and more available for a monthly subscription.


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