Your local library or bookshop (if you’re lucky, both!) is likely filled with children’s books. Many are simply marvelous—the kind of books you don’t mind reading aloud over and over, and that you’re delighted to hand to your kids.

Others? Not so much.

So how do we decide which books to read with our kids?

How do we connect our kids with books they’ll love… especially when we haven’t read most of them?

That’s what today’s episode is all about.

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • What is a good book, anyway?
  • How to choose books without a booklist using the 3-Question Test
  • How to know when to ditch a book

More free resources and booklists

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Listener Guide

Use the time stamps below to skip to any part of the podcast:

1:28Choosing books
5:03Become a literary matchmaker
7:46Raising real, adult readers
11:32What is a good book?
13:43‘More grateful to be alive’
14:49Book lists are training wheels
17:01 Sarah’s 3-question test
19:34Know when to ditch the book
22:35The right jelly bean
26:06A small bowl of marshmallows
28:45Break the rules
30:44Let the kids speak

Links from this episode:

Download the FREE October booklist

Print it out and take it with you to the library or bookshop

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Quotes to remember:

A book that fails to leave the reader with hope has neglected its most important role: to help the reader see the world afresh.” – Sarah Mackenzie

“There isn’t any book list your children must get through by a certain age to be well-read, well-educated or ready for the world. Might I repeat that? Your kids don’t need to read certain books by the time they leave your home.” Sarah Mackenzie

“I am almost inclined to set it up as a canon that a children’s story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children’s story. The good ones last.” – C.S. Lewis

Books mentioned in this episode:

Episode 138
Honey for a Child’s Heart

Honey for a Child’s Heart

*Description from Amazon: Family favorite now revised and updated, including an annotated list of books for ages 0-12 Everything parents need to know to find the best books for their children Since its publication in 1969, this has been an essential guide for parents wanting to find the best books for their children. Now i...

More info →
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Good Night, Gorilla

Good Night, Gorilla

FROM SARAH

Follow the zoo’s night watchman as he tucks in all the animals for the night. But, uh-oh...did that gorilla just nab his keys?

FROM THE PUBLISHER

It's bedtime at the zoo, and all the animals are going to sleep. Or are they? Who's that short, furry guy with the key in his hand and the mischievous grin?

More info →
Buy from Bookshop
Buy from Amazon
Goodnight Moon

Goodnight Moon

FROM SARAH

Soothing words and charming illustrations have made this Margaret Wise Brown book a classic. Say goodnight with Bunny to the great green room, the light and the red balloon

FROM THE PUBLISHER

In this classic of children's literature, beloved by generations of readers and listeners, the quiet poetry of the words and the gentle, lulling illustrations combine to make a perfect book for the end of the day.

More info →
Buy from Bookshop
Buy from Amazon
Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers

Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers

FROM SARAH:

This one comes up again and again in podcast episodes! The first in Ralph Moody’s autobiographical series, this is a wonderful father-son story. Note: Does contain a few mature words that begin with H and D.

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

Ralph Moody was eight years old in 1906 when his family moved from New Hampshire to a Colorado ranch. Through his eyes we experience the pleasures and perils of ranching there early in the twentieth century. Auctions and roundups, family picnics, irrigation wars, tornadoes and wind storms give authentic color to Little Britches. So do adventures, wonderfully told, that equip Ralph to take his father's place when it becomes necessary.

More info →
Buy from Bookshop
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The Hobbit

The Hobbit

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

The prelude to the Lord of the Rings, Bilbo sets out on a great adventure. Lots of suspense and humor … There’s a beautifully illustrated version available that can make this book a little easier to share with families with a large age gap.

More info →
Buy from Bookshop
Buy from Amazon
Little House in the Big Woods

Little House in the Big Woods

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

The first in Laura’s story about her family of American pioneers. Join the Ingalls family as they celebrate Christmas and the harvest and their first trip to town.

More info →
Buy from Bookshop
Buy from Amazon
The Search for Delicious

The Search for Delicious

Young Gaylen, the king’s messenger, journeys around the kingdom in search of the true meaning of "delicious." A quick read-aloud that is sure to please!

More info →
Buy from Amazon
A Single Shard
Edge of Extinction #1: The Ark Plan

Edge of Extinction #1: The Ark Plan

FROM SARAH:

This is easily one of my "most recommended" books of the year. I found this book impossible to put down-- and so did my kids! If you have a child who hasn't fallen head-over-heels for reading yet, start here. I loved the second book (Code Name Flood) every bit as much as the first!

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

One hundred and fifty years ago, the first dinosaurs were cloned. Soon after, they replaced humans at the top of the food chain. The only way to survive was to move into underground compounds...

More info →
Buy from Bookshop
Buy from Amazon
Tuck Everlasting

Tuck Everlasting

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

When ten-year-old Winnie Foster stumbles on the Tucks' disturbing family secret, nothing is ever the same. But how can a spring that grants eternal life be anything but wonderful?

More info →
Buy from Bookshop
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Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? – Dr. Seuss’s Book of Wonderful Noises – Bright and Early Board Books
Good Dog, Carl

Good Dog, Carl

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

Available in paperback for the first time, the modern classic that introduced the beloved baby-sitting rottweiler to the world.

More info →
Buy from Bookshop
Buy from Amazon
Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time

Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time

**Description from Amazon: Featuring a carefully curated reading treasury of the best children's literature for each area of the globe, as well as practical parenting suggestions and inspiration, Give Your Child the World helps moms and dads raise insightful, compassionate kids who fall in love with the world and are prepared...

More info →
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Number the Stars

Number the Stars

This short book is unforgettable. Watch the Danish resistance through the eyes of 10-year-old Annemarie Johansen, just as the German troops begin their campaign to "relocate" all the Jews of Denmark. Your kids can meet author Lois Lowry in her Author Access video replay in RAR Premium.

More info →
Buy from Amazon
The Read-Aloud Handbook: Seventh Edition

The Read-Aloud Handbook: Seventh Edition

**Description from Amazon: The classic million-copy bestselling handbook on reading aloud to children—revised and updated Recommended by "Dear Abby" upon its first publication in 1982, millions of parents and educators have turned to Jim Trelease’s beloved classic for more than three decades to help countless children be...

More info →
Buy from Amazon
Bridge to Terabithia

Bridge to Terabithia

**Description from Amazon: The story starts out simply enough: Jess Aarons wants to be the fastest boy in the fifth grade--he wants it so bad he can taste it. He's been practicing all summer, running in the fields around his farmhouse until he collapses in a sweat. Then a tomboy named Leslie Burke moves into the farmhouse...

More info →
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The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book I: The Mysterious Howling

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book I: The Mysterious Howling

FROM SARAH:

The first in the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series will surprise and delight you at every turn. You see, the children of Ashton Place aren't ordinary children. They were found in the forest, and it appears they have been raised by wolves... (The audio version of the book is especially delightful.)

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

Discovered in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children. Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. A recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, Penelope embraces the challenge of her new position. Though she is eager to instruct the children in Latin verbs and the proper use of globes, first she must eliminate their canine tendencies.

More info →
Buy from Bookshop
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Sam and Dave Dig a Hole

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole

Sam and Dave are on a mission to find something spectacular. So they dig a hole. And they keep digging. And they find . . . nothing. Yet the day turns out to be pretty spectacular after all. This one is full of surprises! Your kids can get to know both the author and the illustrator in the Author Access replays in RAR Premium.

More info →
Buy from Amazon
Little House in the Big Woods: Little House, Book 1

Little House in the Big Woods: Little House, Book 1

The book that started it all! Little House in the Big Woods is the first book in Laura Ingalls Wilder's treasured Little House series, which is based on her life growing up as an American pioneer. Told from four-year-old Laura's point of view, this story begins in 1871 in a little log cabin on the e...

More info →
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The Hobbit

The Hobbit

Series: Episodes, Episode 138, Book 61
Tags: Audible Big, Episode 138

NARRATED BY: Rob Inglis, BEST FOR AGES: 10+

More info →
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The Complete Father Brown Mysteries: By G. K. Chesterton – Illustrated

The Complete Father Brown Mysteries: By G. K. Chesterton – Illustrated

**Description from Amazon: How is this book unique? Font adjustments & biography included Unabridged (100% Original content) Illustrated About The Complete Father Brown Mysteries by G. K. Chesterton Father Brown, one of the most intelligent and attractive characters to emerge from English detective fiction, first made ...

More info →
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The 13 Clocks: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

The 13 Clocks: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

**Description from Amazon: A giant of American humor makes his Penguin Classics debut with “probably the best book in the world” (Neil Gaiman, from the Introduction), in a stunning Deluxe Edition featuring the original, full-color illustrations  The hands of all thirteen clocks stand still in the gloomy castle on a loner...

More info →
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The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids

The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids

Connecting deeply with our kids can be difficult in our busy, technology-driven lives. Reading aloud offers us a chance to be fully present with our children. It also increases our kids’ academic success, inspires compassion, and fortifies them with the inner strength they need to face life’s ch...

More info →
Buy from Amazon
The Read-Aloud Family

The Read-Aloud Family

Connecting deeply with our kids can be difficult in our busy, technology-driven lives. Reading aloud offers us a chance to be fully present with our children. It also increases our kids' academic success, inspires compassion, and fortifies them with the inner strength they need to face life's challe...

More info →
Buy from Amazon
The Westing Game (Puffin Modern Classics)

The Westing Game (Puffin Modern Classics)

**Description from Amazon: A Newbery Medal Winner

"A supersharp mystery...confoundingly clever, and very funny." —Booklist, starred review A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing’s will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has...

More info →
Buy from Amazon

You’ll also enjoy:

Download the FREE October booklist

Print it out and take it with you to the library or bookshop

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