Growing Reader


The Books Kids Say Are the Best to Read with Their Moms

by Kari Ness Riedel

In honor of Mother’s Day, I asked kids and moms about their favorite books to read together. I was surprised at how unique the replies were across families. No two families chose the same book as their favorite. The books they named ranged from funny to tearjerkers to action-packed adventures. The common thread, though, was that the best memories came from snuggling up and getting lost in a story together. The cozy combination of mom plus a book is a wonderful way to end any day — especially Mother’s Day. If you’re looking for a new book to share with your little or not-so-little readers, check out these family favorites.

  • For Younger Readers

  • If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

    by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond

    The rhythmic text and circular logic of the award-winning If You Give series makes this a favorite for kids and grown-ups alike. Bryce, 8, says, “I loved to read this with my mom when I was little because it was so funny.”

  • Waiting for the Biblioburro

    by Monica Brown, illustrated by John Parra, translated by Adriana Dominguez

    Based on the work of a remarkable man and his intrepid burros, this story celebrates the impact that a special mobile library — called the “biblioburro”— has had on the lives of real children. One young reader says, “This is my favorite book to read with my mom before bed.”

  • 5 Minutes’ Peace

    by Jill Murphy

    All Mrs. Large wants is five minutes' peace from her energetic children, but chaos follows her all the way from the kitchen to the bath and back again. Cressida, mom of a 2-year-old, shared that this was her mom’s favorite book. It’s easy to see why she plans to share it with her toddler too.

  • African Folk Tales

    by Hugh Vernon-Jackson, illustrated by Yuko Green

    Eighteen authentic fables from African folktales introduce a variety of interesting people and unusual animals while teaching valuable life lessons. This book holds a special place in the heart of Zaki, 8: “My mother likes reading this book because she's from Africa and she loves folktales. This story always keeps her hopes up.”

  • The Kissing Hand

    by Audrey Penn, illustrated by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak

    Chester Raccoon would rather stay home with his mom than go to school. She gives him a special gift to let him know she’s always with him. Brad, 8, still loves to read this one with his mom at bedtime. Warning: Tissues may be required for the ending.

  • Hop on Pop

    by Dr. Seuss

    Becky, mom of two teenage kids, treasures this book now, but when her kids were little, it was so demanded as a read-aloud that she had to hide it until they could read it on their own. “To this day, they will still HOP on their POP… which is amusing, since it's my 6'2", 140-pound son, plopping down on my husband, waking him from a sound sleep.”

  • All the World

    by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee

    This simple, profound story follows a circle of family and friends throughout the course of a day from morning until night, affirming the importance of all things great and small in our world. Asher, now 8, loved turning this book into a song when he was little.

  • The Day the Crayons Quit

    by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

    Oliver, 4, begs his mother to read this book to him every night. Luckily for his mom, the clever text and beautiful artwork make this story entertaining to all ages. Poor Duncan just wants to color. But, when he opens his box of crayons, he finds hilarious notes from each one about why they have had enough — they quit!

  • For Older Readers

  • Loot

    by Jude Watson

    This action-packed book is like “Oceans 11” for kids. “My 10-year-old and I are reading this book right now. I think I look forward to it as much as he does!” shares Stephanie.

  • The Roald Dahl Collection

    by Roald Dahl

    Amy, mom of two teenage kids, fondly remembers reading “anything and everything by Roald Dahl. My favorite part was using lots of different versions of British accents — which I would only use in front of my children.” You could also snuggle up with the audio collection and enjoy Roald Dahl’s British accent.

  • A Tale Dark and Grimm

    by Adam Gidwitz, illustrated by Dan Santat

    This bestselling series offers a wickedly funny look at the “true” stories behind classic fairy tales. Thomas, 15, and Meghan, 10, love hearing their parents read these gruesome, fantastical tales. This is a great choice for older readers with a dark sense of humor.

  • The Chronicles of Narnia

    by C.S. Lewis

    This classic journey of destiny, discovery, and imagination is a great family read-aloud for elementary or middle school kids. Emily, mom of 3, shared that her own dad read this to her family so much that she and her siblings memorized all the lines. Now her kids are doing the same thing.

  • A Wrinkle in Time

    by Madeleine L’Engle

    This classic Newbery award winner is a true adventure in space and time as Meg searches for her scientist father who disappeared while doing secret work for the government. “I think it was a great escape for all of us to experience together,” says Yael, mom of three school-age boys.

  • The Sign of the Beaver

    by Elizabeth George Speare

    Left alone to guard the family's wilderness home in eighteenth-century Maine, a boy is hard-pressed to survive until the Beaver clan teaches him their skills. Reid, 9, loves when his mom reads this Newbery Honor book aloud and uses lots of different voices. He even loves it when his mom sobs at the end.

  • The Phantom Tollbooth

    by Norton Juster, illustrated by Jules Feiffer

    Jack, 10 and Maddie, 12, loved reading this one with their mom. This humorous and pun-filled adventure is a perfect pick to read with older readers over a series of nights.

  • Keeper of the Lost Cities

    by Shannon Messenger

    This adventure-filled tale is recommended for fans of Harry Potter. Molly, age 10, says, "I love it when my mom reads me this book. It was so boring when I tried to read it. But when she reads it, it comes alive and is way more interesting."

What books do your kids love for you to read aloud to them? What books did you love hearing as a kid?