Catholic School Playbook
The 27 Books Every Child Should Read from Kindergarten to Eighth Grade
Updated: Jan 23
The stories that occupy our children’s imaginations are of tremendous importance. The characters they meet and the adventures they embark on as a reader become a part of their memory. A child cannot unread a book any more than he or she can unsee an image or un-have a lived experience. The opposite is also true. A child cannot become immersed in a story he or she never reads or hears. It is critical, therefore, that the books we select for our children cultivate in them a sense of wonder and appreciation for the goodness, truth, and beauty of God’s world.
Over the years, educators have compiled many reading lists for children. We highly recommend Cana Academy’s Classic Books Reading List, the Educational Plan of St. Jerome Academy, and the 1,000 Good Books List for excellent independent reading and read-aloud suggestions.
Parents reviewing these lists may wonder how they should prioritize among the many worthwhile recommendations. This consideration is what motivated us to consult with Catholic educators and ask the question: “If we had to limit ourselves to three books a year, what would a list of books all children should read between kindergarten and eighth grade look like?”
We are delighted to share the results of our findings below. While many great works that should be a part of a child’s education did not make it onto the final list, we are pleased that it includes 27 of the most highly recommended books and series for children.
Our hope is that this list will equip parents to immerse their children in great stories—including classic works of literature that have delighted readers for generations—that will reveal to them truths about the human experience and help prepare them for the next chapter of their lives.
Kindergarten and First Grade (mostly read-aloud)
1. Classic Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen
2. The Tale of Peter Rabbit (series) by Beatrix Potter
3. D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths by Ingri d’Aulaire
4. The Little Red Hen and others by Paul Galdone
5. The Golden Children's Bible by Golden Books
6. The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
8. Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel
9. Catholic Children’s Treasure Box edited by Maryknoll Sisters
10. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
11. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
12. Little House on the Prairie (series) by Laura Ingalls Wilder
13. Heidi by Johanna Spyri
14. Homer Price by Robert McCloskey
15. The Chronicles of Narnia (series) by C.S. Lewis
16. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
17. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
18. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawles
19. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
20. Watership Down by Richard Adams
21. Anne of Green Gables (series) by L.M. Montgomery
22. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
23. Shane by Jack Schaefer
24. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
25. The Lord of the Rings (trilogy) by J.R.R. Tolkien
26. Little Women and Little Men by Louisa May Alcott
27. Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux
C.S. Lewis said, “A children’s story which is only enjoyed by children is a bad children’s story.” None of these stories is a bad story; they can all be enjoyed by readers of all ages.
If you missed out on reading any of these books when you were younger, now is a great time to add to your library and become captivated by some of the best stories that have ever been told.