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Ten Books Your Child Should Read By Age 10

Two experts on children's literature share their thoughts on some of the best-known books for kids.
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Narrowing down the most significant children's books to a measly ten is a daunting feat made easier with expert insight. Two authorities on the subject, Marina Claudio-Perez, Youth Services Coordinator for the San Diego Public Library, and Linda Bubon, co-owner of kid-centric Chicago book store Women and Children First, offer their top picks, listed in age-appropriate order.

  1. "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," Eric Carle

  2. Claudio-Perez deems this book perfect for kids from babyhood to kindergarten and beyond. "Babies can identify those bright colors," she says, adding that kids especially enjoy the die-cut pages they can trace with their fingers. Bubon agrees. "It's embedded learning about so many things: counting, days of the week, and the life cycle of the butterfly."

  3. "Goodnight Moon,"Margaret Wise Brown

  4. This classic bedtime story is illustrated in the hallmark green-and-orange color scheme immediately recognizable by parents. "Everybody identifies with it," says Claudio-Perez. "It's a good story for somebody you're trying to put to bed: it's repetitive, it's short, and it helps kids close their eyes."

  5. "The Little Engine That Could," Watty Piper

  6. This is a story that Bubon says she begged her father to read to her over and over. "It teaches the whole notion of self-determination and helping others, and it's a very inspiring story," she says. The book was updated with new illustrations by Lauren Long in 2005, but the original story was kept intact, and "both are great choices for kids," says Bubon.

  7. "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom," Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault

  8. This colorful tale teaches the alphabet and contains what Linda Bubon calls the crucial elements for all successful young children's books: "rhythm, repetition, and rhyme."

  9. "Go, Dog, Go!," P.D. Eastman

  10. Claudio-Perez suggests this book for kids getting ready to read on their own. Like "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," there's lots of learning disguised as fun here, teaching colors, positions, and basic short words, with an added dose of humor. (Just about any Dr. Seuss book is good at this stage, too.)

  11. "Where the Wild Things Are," Maurice Sendak

  12. Parents enjoy passing down this timeless story where the kids get to scare the monsters. Claudio-Perez encourages reading it to calm kids' bedtime fears with humor and empathy. Teach your kid how to tell those monsters who's boss!

  13. "Where the Sidewalk Ends," Shel Silverstein

  14. A terrific introduction to poetry for kids who are outgrowing nursery rhymes. Silverstein is wry and more than a little bit subversive (meaning it might be the parents who get the most laughs from it).

  15. "Charlotte's Web," E.B. White

  16. Bubon recommends this tale of friendship and mortality for kids around ages 6 - 8 for its "attention to feelings and the development of sympathy and empathy, because those are qualities that really need to be nurtured around that age."

  17. "Ramona the Pest," Beverly Cleary

  18. Both bibliophiles recommended the "Ramona Quimby" series for kids ready to move from easier titles to tackling chapter books on their own. "Ramona's family mirrors what kids have at home, presented in a very humorous way," says Claudio-Perez.

  19. "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," Roald Dahl

  20. "All of Roald Dahl's books are so well-plotted; they really keep a child turning the pages," says Bubon. "The language is great and the characters are real and wonderful." Claudio-Perez adds that this work quenches the incessant curiosity of kids around age 10. "Being reclusive and eccentric is a mystery they want to uncover, to see what's inside that building that no one else can see," she says.

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