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Growing Reader

8 Picture Books I Still Read with
My 8-Year-Old

by Kari Ness Riedel

Photo credit: Andersen Ross, Photodisc/Getty Images

Like many parents, I have loved reading aloud with my sons — Gabe (10) and Beck (8) — since they were infants. I was happy to come across multiple research studies that advocate the importance of continuing this family ritual — even when kids are able to read independently.

I read board books and then picture books to them when they were young. As they got older, I moved toward longer stories that I was excited to share like The Boxcar Children, Roald Dahl books, and, of course, Harry Potter.

A few times a year, I weed through their bookshelves and give books away to charities or friends. Recently, I figured it was time to just get rid of all the picture books on their shelves since my kids now read “thick books” or “really thick books” as they say. But every time I placed a picture book in the discard pile, Beck, my 8-year-old, retrieved it with various excuses as to why he must keep just this one, and also that one, and definitely this one. Then, he sat down and read them all. He declared that he still needed these books so we could not give them away yet.

It turns out that many educators agree with him. Picture books are used in upper elementary and even middle schools to teach important character education lessons, social studies and science concepts, writing techniques, and, of course, simply for the pleasure of a good book. Picture books are also used for more advanced readers since many are written at a high Lexile level.

When I asked Beck why he liked picture books, he listed eight reasons and eight particular books that he recommended to other kids.

  • 3. “They are signed by the author.”

  • Two

    by Kathryn Otoshi

    I was fortunate to meet the amazing Kathryn Otoshi, author of several character education books that are loved by kids and adults, and she autographed this book for my kids. It’s a wonderful story about One and Two who are best friends and do everything together until one day when Three wants to play with One. Totally realistic friendship issues unfold and get resolved in this engaging tale.

  • 4. “They make me think about big ideas.”

  • The Wump World

    by Bill Peet

    This book, published in 1970, relates the adventures of the Pollutians who storm the beautiful meadows of a world inhabited by the peaceful Wumps, causing the Wumps to go into hiding as a mass of concrete and steel rises around them. This book is a great conversation starter to talk about the environment, global warming, and our role as humans in our world.

  • 5. “They make me learn about the world.”

  • The Girl Who Buried Her Dreams in a Can

    by Dr. Tererai Trent, illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist

    Also available from:

    This is the true story of the author’s life as a young girl in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) at a time when girls were not supposed to be educated. We learn about her journey to earn a Ph.D. in the U.S. and return to her home village to share her love of education. I love picture books that open kids’ eyes to other cultures and experiences.

    Also available from:

Which books does your child refuse to let go of? Do you remember any that you especially treasured as a child? Let us know in the comments below!