Books Children Love – LePort 2012 Suggested Books


Colder days are upon us, and the outdoors are not quite as welcoming. But as the dark comes early, so does the opportunity to cuddle up with our children in a favorite spot and explore the timeless treasure of great books.

At LePort, we are big believers in the power of literature. Beautiful, inspiring literary works help children become voracious readers who look to books for enjoyment as well as education. Whether it’s a 3-year-old enraptured as a teacher reads to her, a 5-year-old reading to a younger child, or a group of 8-year olds engaged in animated discussion about a read-aloud character, we love seeing our students discover the joys that await them in the pages of a good book.

As a parent, you can help your child discover the joys of reading. In looking for that perfect gift this holiday season, we offer up the list below of favorite books, from simple picture books for toddlers and younger preschool children, to more elaborate stories for older primary students, and beginning chapter books that elementary students can read by themselves.

This is our third holiday book list, and we plan to make it a yearly tradition! You can help us by sharing your favorite books for this age group in the comments: maybe you’ll see them in next year’s list.

P.S. If you aren’t yet sold on reading out loud daily to your child, or want an even broader range of book recommendations, check out reading advocate Jim Trelease’s web site. He has free excerpts from his Read-Aloud Handbook with helpful advice, and lots of ammunition on why reading aloud is so important.


Books with shorter text and generally simpler vocabulary, perfect for younger primary children. Some of these books are also accessible for older toddlers.

Gentle Giant Octopus—by Karen Wallace
This title in the Read and Wonder series follows a mother octopus on her journey to find a place to lay her eggs. Written in simple language and beautifully illustrated, this book will introduce a strange and different creature to a child’s life.

The Lotus Seed—by Sherry Garland
Ba, a young Vietnamese girl, witnesses the fall of the Vietnamese empire, and picks a lotus seed as a memory. Many years later, after Ba emigrates to the US, her grandson loses the treasured seed! Still, a happy ending awaits…

Little Elephant’s Trunk—by Hazel Lincoln
Follow a young elephant in his native African savannah as he discovers the many uses of his initially annoying trunk.

Apples to Oregon—by Deborah Hopkinson
How did apple trees come to the west? This silly story follows a farmer and his family on their adventures as they move with a wagon full of little trees across the entire US. Fun reading, esp. when taking a road trip across the country!

Library Lion—by Michelle Knudsen
There are rules we must obey. But are there reasons to occasionally violate rules, even in the library? What if a lion comes to the library, and is the only one to help the librarian in distress?

Christmas in the Big Woods—based on the book by Laura Ingalls Wilder
This series is a sweet picture book adaptation of the famous Little House books. It’s a good introduction to life in America in the 1800’s, and a great first step toward reading the Little House chapter books series with your child later on.

Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin—by Lloyd Moss
This short, rhyming book cheerfully introduces the instruments of a classical orchestra, in a way even the youngest children can enjoy.

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site—by Sherri Duskey Rinker
Sure to please all truck-obsessed boys (and girls), this beautifully illustrated story in rhyme follows the diggers, dump trucks and cranes as they finish up their fun work and settle down for the night.

Niccolini’s Song—by Chuck Wilcoxen
A night watchman at a rail yard discovers the power of his lullabies to help the trains sleep. When a strong wind wakes the town’s children, the trains help him in return. Great good night book for all train lovers!

Madeline—by Ludwig Bemelmans
This first book in the classic series, a Caldecott Honor book in 1940, takes children on an exploration of Paris, along with the spunky Madeline and her eleven friends.

These books have more advanced vocabulary, longer texts and more involved content.

A Street Through Time—by Anne Millard
In a series of fourteen intriguing illustrations, the award-winning A Street Through Time tells the story of human history by exploring a street as it evolves from 10,000 BCE to the present day. This book can be fascinating for 3-year-olds to use as an “I Spy” book – and children can come back to it in elementary to support their study of history and fundamental needs of man.

Pilgrim Catby Carol Antoinette Peacock
This picture books tells the story of the first Thanksgiving from the perspective of a young Pilgrim girl and the stray cat she adopts on her long, arduous journey to the new world.

The Gardener—by Sarah Stewart
Set during the Great Depression, this book follows a young country girl sent to live with her uncle in a time of need. It’s told through the letters the girl writes back to her family—a great opportunity to encourage older primary and lower elementary students to embark on letter writing on their own!

Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot—by Margot Theis Raven
During the Russian blockade of Berlin, the children were close to starving, and candy was an unheard luxury. Then an American pilot flying one of the “raisin bombers” begins to shower chocolate bars on the waiting children. This retelling of a true story follows the relationship between one little girl and her Chocolate Pilot, from their letters during the blockade, to their reunion decades later.

Story of the Orchestra—by Robert Levine
This book-CD combo is a very accessible way to introduce older preschoolers and elementary children to the instruments of a classical orchestra. Load the CD onto your mp3 player, to make it easy to play a specific track as you browse through this book with your child!

Snowflake Bentley—by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
As winter comes, this is a great story of science to share. A young farm boy in Vermont falls in love with snowflakes, and pursues his passion to become a world-renown expert and snowflake photographer.

Because I Could Not Stop My Bike—by Karen Jo Shapiro
This collection of funny parodies of famous poems will delight children and adults alike. The poems explore day-to-day topics – such as a dawdling daughter, a messy room, and macaroni and cheese – all in whimsical rhyme. Great read-aloud!

Emma’s Rug—by Allen Say
A young girl is an inspired artist, drawing beautifully. But what happens when her mother accidentally washes her inspiration rug?

These are books that 1st – 3rd graders can tackle on their own. Some are also good read-alouds to introduce younger children to chapter books.

A Dog on Barkham Street—by Mary Stolz
Edward is desperate for a dog of his own—and also desperate to be rid of the neighborhood bully.  This is a much-beloved story with a satisfying ending.

Caddie Woodlawn—by Carol Ryrie Brink
Growing up in Wisconsin during the American Civil War, Caddie gets into all kinds of adventures with her brothers, befriends the local Indians, and would rather run free outside than learn to bake and sew indoors.

A Lion to Guard Us—by Clyde Robert Bulla
What’s it like for three siblings to travel across the Atlantic by themselves in search of their father, in 1609?  Clyde Bulla has a talent for communicating engaging stories with simple narratives – perfect for the beginner reader.

The Sword in the Tree—by Clyde Robert Bulla
This is another straightforward Bulla story, set during the time of King Arthur’s England.  This is a page-turner whether you’re 7 or 47!

Thimble Summer—by Elizabeth Enright
This book is written with warmth and simplicity that is reminiscent of simpler times.  After 9-year-old Garnet Linden discovers a silver thimble, things start to happen:  the local draught finally ends, an orphan boy comes to live with her family, and her pig wins a ribbon at the county fair.

Mimmy and Sophie All Around the Town—by Miriam Cohen
Mimmy and Sophie are two sisters who are always there for each other as they find treasure, play in mud puddles, or otherwise explore their neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY, during the Great Depression.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz—by L. Frank Baum
A classic of American literature, this imaginative tale is accessible to a strong young elementary reader.  Join Dorothy and Toto as they make their way to the Emerald City in the land called Oz.

Socksby Beverly Cleary
Socks is one happy cat until his owners, the nice young Bricker couple, bring home their new baby.   Beverly Cleary at her best!

The Family Under the Bridge—by Natalie Savage Carlson
This is an unusual story about a crabby homeless man in Paris who acquires a ready-made family when three young children befriend him.

Follow My Leader—by James B. Garfield
After Jimmy is blinded by an accident with a firecracker, he has to relearn all the things he used to know.  With the help of a therapist, he learns to read Braille and to use a cane.  Then he’s given the chance to have a guide dog.  Learning to work with Leader is not easy, but Jimmy tries harder than he ever has before.