Books for Family Sharing

by Laura Tillotson

Elementary school

Unless parents happen to have a background in children’s literature, it can be hard for them to find appropriate books for their kids. According to the Family Reading Partnership in New York, less than forty percent of parents nationwide read to their children on a regular basis. It’s fairly obvious why family reading time diminishes as kids get older—they become busy with homework, extra-curricular activities, and other diversions of modern life. But another reason for the lack of read-aloud time could stem from the fact that parents often feel overwhelmed in trying to choose good books.

To this end, we've put together a list of recent K–6 titles for multi-age sharing. In choosing these books, I looked for stories with timeless subjects—family tales, friendships, and the ups and downs of growing up. I also evaluated whether the books were appropriate for reading aloud, making sure that the stories’ flow and plotlines lent themselves to oral sharing.

If a book is available in an audio edition, so much the better; not only can audiobooks make time in the car more engaging, they can also give a fatigued adult reader a break and allow the whole family to listen together. In addition, most actors who narrate audio editions are extremely skilled at what they do, making the books that much more compelling.

Christopher Mouse
. By William Wise. Illus. by Patrick Benson. 2004. 160p. Bloomsbury, $15.95 (978-1-58234-878-0); paper, $5.95 (978-1-58234-708-0). Gr. 2–6.

. By Sara Pennypacker. Illus. by Marla Frazee. 2006. 144p. Hyperion, $14.99 (978-0-7868-3882-0). Also available in an audio edition from Recorded Books. Gr. 1–5. Also see
The Talented Clementine (Hyperion, 2007) and
Clementine's Letter (Hyperion, 2008).

The Diary of a Killer Cat
. By Anne Fine. Illus. by Steve Cox. 2006. 64p. Farrar, $15 (978-0-374-31779-9). K–Gr. 4. Also see The Return of the Killer Cat (Farrar, 2007).

Evangeline Mudd and the Golden-Haired Apes of the Ikkinasti Jungle.
By David Elliott. Illus. by Andréa Wesson. 2004. 192p. Candlewick, $15.99 (978-0-7636-1876-6); paper, $5.99 (978-0-7636-2614-3). Gr. 3–6. Also see
Evangeline Mudd and the Great Mink Escapade (Candlewick, 2006).

Hanne’s Quest
. By Olivier Dunrea. 2006. 96p. Philomel, $16.99 (978-0-399-24216-8). Gr. 1–4.

Jack Plank Tells Tales
. By Natalie Babbitt. May 2007. 144p. Scholastic/Michael di Capua, $15.95 (978-0-545-00496-1). Gr. 2–6.

Lady Lollipop
. By Dick King-Smith. Illus. by Jill Barton. 2000. 128p. Candlewick, $15.99 (978-0-7636-1269-6); paper, $6.99 (978-0-7636-2181-0). K–Gr. 4. Also see
Clever Lollipop (Candlewick, 2003).

Lowji Discovers America
. By Candace Fleming. 2005. 160p. Atheneum, $15.95 (978-0-689-86299-1). Gr. 1–5.

The Moffats
. By Eleanor Estes. Illus. by Louis Slobodkin. 1941; reissued 2001. 224p. Harcourt/Odyssey, $17 (978-0-15-202535-9); paper, $6 (978-0-15-202541-0). Also available in an audio edition from Full Cast Audio. Gr. 2–6.

Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money
. By Christopher Paul Curtis. 2005. 160p. Random/Wendy Lamb, $15.95 (978-0-385-32772-5); Yearling, paper, $6.50 (978-0-440-22919-3). Also available in an audio edition from Listening Library. Gr. 2–6. Also see
Mr. Chickee’s Messy Mission (Random/Wendy Lamb, 2007).

The Penderwicks
. by Jeanne Birdsall. 2005. 272p. Knopf, $15.95 (978-0-375-83143-0); Yearling, paper, $6.50 (978-0-440-42047-7). Also available in an audio edition from Listening Library. Gr. 3–7. Also see
The Penderwicks on Gardam Street (Knopf, 2008).

The Pepins and Their Problems
. By Polly Horvath. Illus. by Marylin Hafner. 2004. 192p. Farrar, $16 (978-0-374-35817-4). Also available in an audio edition from Listening Library. Gr. 2–6.

Polo’s Mother
. By Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Illus. by Alan Daniel. 2005. 176p. Simon & Schuster/Atheneum, $15.95 (978-0-689-86555-8); Aladdin, paper, $5.99 (978-0-689-87404-8). Gr. 3–6. Also see books 1–3 in the Cat Pack series:
The Grand Escape,
The Healing of Texas Jake, and
Carlotta’s Kittens.

Porch Lies: Tales of Slicksters, Tricksters, and Other Wily Characters
. By Patricia McKissack. Illus. by André Carrilho. 2006. 160p. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $18.95 (978-0375-83619-0). Gr. 4–8.

The Quigleys in a Spin
. By Simon Mason. Illus. by Helen Stephens. 2006. 192p. Random/David Fickling, $14.95 (978-0-385-75098-1). Gr. 2–6. Also see
The Quigleys (Random/David Fickling, 2002),
The Quigleys at Large (Random/David Fickling, 2003), and
The Quigleys: Not for Sale (Random/David Fickling, 2004).

Ruby Lu, Brave and True
. By Lenore Look. Illus. by Anne Wilsdorf. 2004. 176p. Simon & Schuster/Anne Schwartz, $15.95 (978-0-689-84907-7); Aladdin, paper, $3.99 (978-1-4169-1389-4). Gr. 1–4. Also see
Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything (Simon & Schuster/Anne Schwartz, 2006).

The Scarecrow and His Servant
. By Philip Pullman. Illus. by Peter Bailey. 2005. 240p. Knopf, $15.95 (978-0-375-81531-7); Yearling, paper, $6.50 (978-0-440-42130-6). Also available in an audio edition from Listening Library. Gr. 3–7.

Sing a Song of Tuna Fish
. By Esmé Raji Codell. Illus. by LeUyen Pham. 2004. 144p. Hyperion, $14.99 (978-0-7868-5509-4); paper, $5.99 (978-0-7868-3652-9). Gr. 3–6.

Thumb on a Diamond
. By Ken Roberts. Illus. by Leanne Franson. 2006. 128p. Groundwood, $15.95 (978-0-88899-629-9); paper, $6.95 (978-0-88899-705-0). Gr. 2–6.

Toys Go Out
. By Emily Jenkins. Illus. by Paul O. Zelinsky. 2006. 128p. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $16.95 (978-0-375-83604-6). Preschool–Gr. 3. Also see
Toy Dance Party (Random/Schwartz & Wade, 2008).

Travels with My Family
. By Marie-Louise Gay and David Homel. 2006. 128p. Groundwood, $15.95 (978-0-88899-688-6); paper, $5.95 (978-0-88899-833-0). Gr. 2–6. Also see
On the Road Again! More Travels with My Family (Groundwood, 2008).

Two Times the Fun
. By Beverly Cleary. Illus. by Carol Thompson. 2005. 96p. HarperCollins, $11.99 (978-0-06-057921-0). Preschool–Gr. 3.

The Year of the Dog
. By Grace Lin. 2006. 144p. Little, Brown, $14.99 (978-0-316-06000-4); paper, $5.99 (978-0-316-06002-8). Also available in an audio edition from Recorded Books. Gr. 2–6. Also see
The Year of the Rat (Little, Brown, 2007).