Maui Family’s Best Children’s Book List

If you’re out of ideas for a good book to read, look no further. Here are some recommendations, from classic children’s picture books, to new young adult novels. Whether you shop at a local bookstore, online, or borrow from the library, there’s nothing better than curling up with a good book. Dive in and enjoy!

Picture Books

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

When Max is sent to bed without his supper, he is so angry that he decides to sail to the land of the wild things. This book has inspired generations of children to let out their inner monsters, showing how imagination allows for an escape from life’s challenging moments. It’s also a beautiful testament to family love: when young Max returns from his adventure, his mother has saved him a hot dinner.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

A very hungry caterpillar eats his way through so much food that he has a stomachache. When he makes a house for himself, he goes through a transformation. This is a favorite with children and adults alike. Its imaginative illustration and clever cut-out detail charts the progress of a very hungry caterpillar as he eats his way through the week.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise

Little bunny says goodnight to all of his favorite things in his bedroom as he settles down to sleep. In this classic of children’s literature, cherished 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. This sweet, gentle story has been lovingly told since 1947.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Pena

As young CJ rides the bus across town with his grandmother every Sunday, he asks questions about his life and the world around him. Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty and fun in their routine and their world.

Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth

When Stillwater, a giant panda bear, moves into the neighborhood, the Zen stories he tells to three siblings teach them to look at the world in new ways. This treasure is filled with simple, graceful art and a touching story that warms the heart.

 

Chapter Books

Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel

From writing letters to going swimming, telling stories to finding lost buttons, Frog and Toad are best friends and are always there for each other. This set of books of humorous stories is perfect for beginning readers.

Pete the Cat by James and Kimberly Dean

Pete the Cat is a smart cat with a solution for just about every problem a cool cat would come across. This popular series has different reading levels. Its humorous tales and brightly colored pictures make it a big hit with the school market.

Mr. Putter & Tabby by Cynthia Rylant

Mr. Putter decides that a cat will keep him from feeling lonely and what ensues is a heart-warming tale of companionship and love. Another popular series, the endearing story line of each book is matched with expressive sketches using transparent watercolors and gouaches, and fluid pencil and pastel scribbles.

Henry and Mudge by Cynthia Rylant

If you or your child are fans of dogs The Henry and Mudge series won’t disappoint you. Only-child Henry gets a dog and so starts a long-lasting, loving friendship between a boy and his big, muddy, and totally loveable dog.

Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park

The Junie B. Jones series tells the tales of a hilarious young girl as she progresses through the dramas of elementary school. Spirited, out-spoken, and as honest as they come, Junie B. Jones is a character you’ll fall in love with from the minute you meet her.

 

Middle Grade

Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Fourteen-year-old twin basketball stars Josh and Jordan experience highs and lows on and off the court as their father ignores his declining health. Told in alternating voices in free verse this novel jumps off the page at you. It’s a fast-paced story with realistic characters that you root for from beginning to end.

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Ten-year-old Auggie, born with extreme facial abnormalities, goes from being home-schooled to entering fifth grade at a private middle school. There he endures taunts and bullying and struggles to be seen as just another student. Told from the point of view of its main characters, this heart-warming story pulls the reader in from the first few lines.

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

After being forced to give up his pet fox, Pax, a young boy named Peter decides to leave home and get his best friend back. This gripping story of a boy’s search for his pet takes the reader deep into the forest and into the mind of a fox and his owner, desperate to be reunited.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Greg recounts his sixth-grade experiences in a school where he and his friend Rowley hope to survive as undersized weaklings amid boys who need to shave twice daily. As Rowley grows more popular, Greg must decide how to go about saving their friendship. This book, part of a series and worldwide phenomenon, is perfect for all middle graders, especially reluctant readers.

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

The life of a ten-year-old boy in rural Virginia expands when he befriends a girl, who subsequently meets an untimely death as she tries to reach their hideaway, Terabithia, during a storm. This story, about two kindred spirits who play in an imaginary world, is a tear-jerker that is simply beautiful.

 

Young Adult

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Rescued from the outrageous neglect of his aunt and uncle, a young boy with a great destiny proves his worth while attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Fantasy at its best, this book and the entire Harry Potter series changed the face of children’s literature. It may come as a surprise that Harry Potter is shelved in the young adult book section at bookstores. It’s one those exceptions to the rules cases. This novel would be unusually long for a middle grade book, although the line between the two age groups is often blurred especially it comes to fantasy.

To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee

Two children witness the effects of racial prejudice in Alabama during the Depression, as their father courageously defends an innocent African America man who has been accused of sexually assaulting a white woman. The story is narrated by one of the children, a little girl named Jean Louise “Scout” Finch. Her father, Atticus Finch, is a lawyer with high moral standards. This gripping, heart-wrenching book sold over 40 million worldwide.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between her poor neighborhood and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The tense balance between these worlds collapses when she witnesses the fatal shooting of her unarmed friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Starr is the only person who knows what really happened that night. When Khalil’s name is publicly shame, Starr must decide whether to speak up or hold her tongue. The Hate U Give is a fast-paced, realistic story that puts police brutality under the spotlight.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Bilbo Baggins, a respectable, well-to-do hobbit, lives comfortably in his hobbit-hole until the day the wandering wizard Gandalf chooses him to take part in an adventure from which he may never return. The book, written by Tolkien for his own children, was first published in 1937, and is recognized as a timeless classic.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Sixteen-year-old Hazel, who has cancer, meets Augustus at a kids-with-cancer support group and, as they fall in love, they both wonder how they will be remembered. The plot contains profanity and sexual references. Green’s novel is insightful, tragic and often funny. At its heart, it’s a remarkable story about falling in love.