Nothing is so precious as the gift of reading. It’s something every parent should give their child. It costs nothing except our time, and there is no better investment in your child’s future.

Some parents wonder how, in their busy lives, they can fit in all the time required to read to a child. But it’s simple. Substitute books for television and computer games.

In our house, we often spent hours reading books each evening. There was no bedtime. If our daughter could stay awake while we read, we would keep reading. This made reading her favorite activity because it put her in control of bedtime.

Some parents wonder what level of book to read to their child. It’s often best to be guided by the child’s own selections.

Don’t assume that just because a child has started reading on their own they don’t still enjoy being read to. Children can enjoy books written on a much higher level than they can easily read themselves, so it’s wise to have a range of reading levels available. A general guideline is to look for books with characters about two years older than your child.

Even after my daughter started reading on her own, we continued the tradition of her lying in bed while I read to her.  In fact, this continued on, year after year. As the years passed, our reading material became a lot more sophisticated, but we never tired of the routine.

And then, one day, she found herself leaving for college!

What a lot of adventures we’d shared during those years that started with simple picture storybooks. I made a list and came up with a rough word count.

Ten million words.

Here are the books (those I can remember, anyway) that we enjoyed over the years.

The Shy Little Horse and hundreds of other short stories

But Not the Hippopotamus and hundreds of other picture storybooks

Pony Pals (many)

RL Stein books (Many)

The Cat in the Hat

The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins (many times)

To Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street

Yertle the Turtle

Horton Hears a Who

Horton Hatches the Egg

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

The Lorax

Madeleine (and its sequels)


Howliday Inn




Alice in Wonderland

Tom Sawyer (twice)

Huckleberry Finn

The Hobbit

The Lord of the Rings

The Silent Storm

Walk Two Moons

The Cave

The Princess Bride

The Dragon In the Cliff

A Bone From a Dry Sea

Letters From Felix

The Princess and the Goblin

Where the Wild Things Are

The Wind In the Willows

The Willows In Winter

Peter Pan

Peter Pan in Scarlet

The Lion’s Paw

The Phantom Toll Booth

SOS Titanic 

Night Tree

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus (about ten times)

Wolf Story (many times)

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 

Prince Caspian 

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader 

The Silver Chair 

The Horse and His Boy 

The Magician's Nephew 

The Last Battle 

The Indian In the Cupboard

The Return of the Indian

The Secret of the Indian

The Mystery of the Cupboard

The Key to the Indian

The Westing Game

Chasing Redbird

Sarah Plain and Tall

Dealing with Dragons (and its sequels)


From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

Island of the Blue Dolphins

A Cricket In Times Square (and its sequels)

The Wheel on the School

Mary Poppins (the original novel)

101 Dalmatians (the original novel)

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (the original novel)

Misty of Chincoteague (and its sequels)

Hank, The Cowdog (and many sequels)

A Night to Remember

Back to Titanic

Back to Lincoln

Back to Paul Revere

Goodnight Moon

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Wizard of Oz

Green Eggs and Ham


The Polar Express

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

If You Give a Moose a Muffin

The Napping House

The Little Engine That Could

Curious George

Arthur series (many books)

Berenstein Bears series (many books)

Clifford series (many books)

Linnea in Monet’s Garden

The Boxcar Children series (many books)

Charlotte’s Web

A Wrinkle In Time

The Secret Garden

Island of the Blue Dolphins

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh (and its sequels)

The Trumpet of the Swan

Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Stuart Little

The Borrowers series (many books)

The Pearl

Walker of Time

Tag Against Time

Walker's Journey Home

She Flew No Flags

Watership Down

The Call of the Wild

White Fang

The Shipping News

The Crystal Cave

The Hollow Hills

The Old Man and the Sea

To Have and Have Not

Myst: The Book of Atrus

Myst: The Book of Ti’Ana

Myst: The Book of D’ni

On a Pale Horse

Bearing an Hourglass

With a Tangled Skein

Wielding a Red Sword

Being a Green Mother

For Love of Evil

And Eternity

Perry Mason (several)

Shutter Island

Void Moon

Chasing the Dime

Harry Bosch novels (four or so)

The Doomsday Book

To Say Nothing of the Dog

Lincoln’s Dreams

Three Men in a Boat

Three Men on the Bummel

A Confederacy of Dunces

The Mirror of her Dreams

A Man Rides Through

The Lincoln Hunters

Harry Potter And the Sorcerer’s Stone

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The Black Dahlia

The Clan of the Cave Bear

The Valley of Horses

The Mammoth Hunters

The Plains of Passage

The Shelters of Stone

Empire Falls

Straight Man

Nobody’s Fool

Bridge of Sighs

The Seventh Scroll

The Time Traveler’s Wife

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

Round Ireland with a Fridge

Ring of Diamonds

A Matter of Justice

Everything In Its Path

Cider House Rules

The World According to Garp

Snow Falling on Cedars

East of the Mountains

The Blind Assassin

Oryx and Crake

And many, many more.