You may have wondered what teachers recommend your kids read at home to grow their literacy skills. After all, they're experts at curating collections of fantastic books for their classrooms!
In general, they recommend that you try to collect a variety of book genres for your home library, including fiction, nonfiction, comic/graphic, and classic books (start with these timeless chapter books). Here are eight specific books that top their lists — some individual titles and some series — that they hope you have at home, too.
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1. How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? by Jane Yolen (PreK-K)
A laugh-out-loud story about love and prehistoric pals, How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You is a must-have for early readers (here are more expert-approved books for beginning readers). “This is a wonderful book to read with little ones at home,” says Amanda Smith, a mom and teacher in the Montessori program at Latta Elementary in Latta, South Carolina.
Even when little dinosaurs are naughty, this book shows them that they are loved — and is a sweet way to end the day with a bedtime story. Shop all How Do Dinosaurs books.
2. BOB Books by John R. Maslen and Bobby Lynn Maslen (PreK-2)
Often the first books children learn to read on their own, BOB Books were created by a teacher and feature carefully-chosen letter sounds, words, and short sentences.
“These are wonderful books for children just learning to read,” says Smith, adding that she has several sets of of BOB Books at home. Shop all BOB Books.
3. Pete the Cat: 5 Far-Out Books in 1 Box! (PreK-3)
No home library would be complete without Pete the Cat hanging out on its shelves. “Many of these books have a great lesson within the story but are also entertaining,” says Smith. This box includes Pete the Cat and the Bad Banana, Pete the Cat: Pete’s Train Trip, Pete the Cat: Scuba-Cat, Pete the Cat and the Surprise Teacher, and Pete the Cat’s Groovy Bake Sale.
4. Refugee by Alan Gratz (Grades 3-7)
Perfect for children with a passion for historical fiction, this book tells the story of three refugee children from three different times in history who go on harrowing journeys.
“Gratz does a beautiful job weaving the lives of these three refugees together in their common strength and resilience in the face of adversity,” says Katie McCrary, a 7th-grade English and language arts teacher at Rugby Middle School in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Shop all historical fiction children's books.
5. Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Grades 3-7)
An uplifting, accessible read that teaches kids about acceptance and the importance of being kind to one another, Wonder tells the story of a boy with a facial deformity who goes to public school for the first time.
Smith says it’s a favorite of hers, especially for older elementary students. Younger students (ages 4 to 8) will enjoy the picture book edition of the book, We’re All Wonders.
6. The Selection Series by Kiera Cass (Grades 8-12)
McCrary says she is always on the lookout for a great series her students can dig into, and right now, it’s The Selection Series.
The Selection is the chance of a lifetime for 35 girls who get the opportunity to live in a palace and compete for the heart of Prince Maxon, but for America Singer (who is secretly in love with a boy in a caste below her), it’s a nightmare.
“My students get sucked into the dystopian world and love the way Cass intertwines a high-stakes competition with the romance of a love story,” says McCrary.
7. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (Grades 9-12)
This coming-of-age classic explores complex themes, including violence between teen gangs and its consequences.
“This powerful story about friendship and empathy for those who may be different than us helps students realize that at our core, we are all human,” says McCrary.
A favorite of teenagers and parents alike, The Outsiders is just as relevant today as it was when it was written over 50 years ago.
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