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The best books for older kids

Introduce a passion for reading with one of these all-time classic titles aimed at 4- to 8-year-olds.

By Stephanie Simpson Mclellan

The best books for older kids

The best books for older kids

Spend time together reading

Books are an amazing privilege, they take you to other worlds, sparking imagination and creativity. Try spending time as a family reading one or more of these great titles today.

The best books for older kidsPhoto: MariaPavlova/iStockphoto

Alligator Pie

By Dennis Lee and illustrated by Frank Newfield, 1974.

Margaret Laurence once said of Lee’s inaugural poetry collection that “you can almost hear the skipping ropes slapping on the sidewalk.”
Where to Buy? Amazon.ca

The best books for older kidsPhoto: Amazon

Bunnicula

By Deborah Howe and James Howe, 1979.

The family dog recounts how the family cat becomes obsessed with saving everyone from a suspected vampire bunny.
Where to Buy? Indigo.ca

The best books for older kidsPhoto: Indigo

Catwings

By Ursula K. Le Guin and illustrated by S.D. Schindler, 1988.

Four winged kittens take flight to escape the filth and perils of city life, and discover high adventure and a safe home in the country.
Where to Buy? Amazon.ca

The best books for older kidsPhoto: Amazon

Doctor De Soto

By William Steig, 1982.

An unscrupulous fox wonders if it would be “shabby” to eat his dentist once his toothache is cured, then finds himself outsmarted by the clever Doctor De Soto.
Where to Buy? Amazon.ca

The best books for older kidsPhoto: Amazon

Franklin in the Dark

By Paulette Bourgeois and illustrated by Brenda Clark, 1986.

The story of a turtle who’s afraid to climb into his own shell (inspired by the M*A*S*H rerun in which Hawkeye Pierce described his claustro-phobia) reassures kids it’s OK for them to be afraid.
Where to Buy? Indigo.ca

The best books for older kidsPhoto: Indigo

Frog and Toad series

By Arnold Lobel, 1970.

Grumpy Toad and carefree Frog are best friends. And, while Frog’s optimism seems like the glue that holds them together, Toad has his own shining moments. Once, finding Frog looking too green, Toad goes to great pains to make him feel better. The friends’ great loyalty guides them throughout the four books of their adventures.
Where to Buy? Amazon.ca

The best books for older kidsPhoto: Amazon

Henry and Mudge

By Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Suçie Stevenson, 1987.

In this winsome first-reader (the first in the series), single child Henry realizes how much he loves his drooling, 180-pound dog, Mudge (who grew out of seven collars in a row), when Mudge goes missing.
Where to Buy? Indigo.ca

The best books for older kidsPhoto: Indigo

The Hockey Sweater

By  Roch Carrier, translated by Sheila Fischman and illustrated by Sheldon Cohen, 1979.

A classic Canadian parable, based on a real incident in Carrier’s childhood, finds humour and horror in the protagonist’s predicament of having to wear the hockey sweater of the rival Maple Leafs.
Where to Buy? Amazon.ca

The best books for older kidsPhoto: Amazon

The Little Prince

By Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, 1943.

A timeless tale that explores the essence of love and loneliness while gently exposing the foibles of adulthood.
Where to Buy? Amazon.ca

The best books for older kidsPhoto: Amazon

Madeline

by Ludwig Bemelmans, 1939.

It is a lovely moment of drama and fun when Miss Clavel discovers 11 wailing little girls who yearn to have appendicitis just like Madeline.
Where to Buy? Indigo.ca

The best books for older kidsPhoto: Indigo

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

By Virginia Lee Burton, 1939.

The spirited telling of how a steam shovel named Mary Anne is captivating for its unabashed delight in all things mechanical.
Where to Buy? Indigo.ca

The best books for older kidsPhoto: Indigo

The Magic Treehouse series

By Mary Pope Osborne, 1992.

An addictive blend of fascinating facts, time travel and easy-to-read short chapters where books are the portal to adventurous time periods.
Where to Buy? Amazon.ca

The best books for older kidsPhoto: Amazon

My Father’s Dragon

By Ruth Stiles Gannett and illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett, 1948.

Nine-year-old Elmer Elevator travels to Wild Island to rescue an enslaved baby dragon, armed with two dozen pink lollipops, some rubber bands, chewing gum and a fine-toothed comb. First book in a trilogy.
Where to Buy? Indigo.ca

The best books for older kidsPhoto: Indigo

The Paper Bag Princess

By Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko, 1980.

Princess Elizabeth rescues, and then dumps, handsome Prince Ronald, who disapproves of the paper bag she wears instead of burnt clothes.
Where to Buy? Amazon.ca

The best books for older kidsPhoto: Amazon

The Polar Express

By Chris Van Allsburg, 1985.

The majestic illustrations of this Caldecott Medal winner illuminate the simple, heartwarming story about how believing in Santa Claus keeps us young at heart.
Where to Buy? Indigo.ca

The best books for older kidsPhoto: Indigo

Ramona Quimby, Age 8

By Beverly Cleary, 1981.

Ramona gets herself into a ton of hilarious trouble with her inability to compromise and her fierce need to be understood, qualities young readers readily see in themselves.
Where to Buy? Amazon.ca

Ramona Quimby age 8 cover artPhoto: Amazon

Scaredy Squirrel

By Mélanie Watt, 2006.

Squirrel has his share of wacky fears, which he unwittingly confronts in a laugh-out-loud way that inspires young readers to take small risks of their own.
Where to Buy? Amazon.ca

The best books for older kidsPhoto: Amazon

Shredderman

by Wendelin Van Draanen, 2004.

A thoroughly enjoyable romp with a modern superhero, class nerd Nolan Byrd, who assumes a secret identity to expose class bully Bubba Bixby.
Where to Buy? Indigo.ca

The best books for older kidsPhoto: Indigo

Something from Nothing

By Phoebe Gilman, 1992.

A rich retelling of an old Jewish folk tale in which Joseph’s cherished baby blanket is transformed into successively smaller but wonderful items over the years.
Where to Buy? Indigo.ca

The best books for older kidsPhoto: Indigo

The Spiderwick Chronicles

By Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, 2003.

Thirteen-year-old Mallory and nine-year-old twins Jared and Simon are forced to move with their mother into the dilapidated Spiderwick Estate belonging to their great-aunt Lucinda. Once there, they discover a curious field guide to an array of mythical creatures, and find themselves sucked into the dark and dangerous world of faeries. Detailed illustrations, deliciously cryptic clues and three strong protagonists (bossy Mallory, eccentric Simon and troubled Jared) combine for a wholly satisfying read.
Where to Buy? Indigo.ca

The best books for older kidsPhoto: Indigo

Stanley’s Party

By Linda Bailey and illustrated by Bill Slavin, 2003.

Bored canine Stanley discovers that nothing actually happens when he sneaks up on the forbidden couch, and so dancing, fridge-raiding and a full-blown party ensue.
Where to Buy? Amazon.ca

The best books for older kidsPhoto: Amazon

Stella, Star of the Sea

By Marie-Louise Gay, 1999.

Stella’s irrepressible “leap before you look” and “invent if you don’t know” philosophies make for some creative explanations to her little brother Sam about the sea.
Where to Buy? Indigo.ca

Stella, star of the sea cover artPhoto: Indigo

The Story About Ping

By Marjorie Flack and illustrated by Kurt Wiese, 1933.

Spunky little duck Ping is accidentally left behind on the Yangtze River one night, where his scary misadventures prompt him to be on time the next evening.
Where to Buy? Amazon.ca

The best books for older kidsPhoto: Amazon

The Story of Babar

By Jean De Brunhoff, 1933.

A young orphaned elephant rises from wild animal to the toast of high society (in a smart pressed suit) and ultimately to king of the elephants.
Where to Buy? Indigo.ca

The best books for older kidsPhoto: Indigo

The Story of Ferdinand

By Munro Leaf and illustrated by Robert Lawson, 1936.

In a lovely testament to self-assured individuality, Ferdinand the bull prefers relaxing under a cork tree and smelling the flowers to the snorting and butting of his peers.
Where to Buy? Amazon.ca

The best books for older kidsPhoto: Amazon

The Velveteen Rabbit

By Margery Williams and illustrated by William Nicholson, 1922.

The charming and sentimental story about how a favourite toy becomes real when loved to pieces.
Where to Buy? Indigo.ca

The best books for older kidsPhoto: Indigo

Where the Sidewalk Ends

By Shel Silverstein, 1974.

Silverstein’s first collection of children’s poetry, at once clever, funny and profound, dares all dreamers to try extraordinary things.
Where to Buy? Indigo.ca

The best books for older kidsPhoto: Indigo

Where the Wild Things Are

By Maurice Sendak, 1963.

After threatening to eat his mother up, Max is sent to his room. Once there, he sails off to where the wild things are. He becomes king of these fearsome, and goofy, creatures, leads them on a wild rumpus, then returns home to a hot supper. The honest and uncompromising nature of childhood lives inside the carefully crafted pages and vivid illustrations of this wonderful and much-loved book.
Where to Buy? Indigo.ca

The best books for older kidsPhoto: Indigo

Winnie the Pooh

By A. A. Milne and illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard, 1926.

Generations of kids have been enchanted by Milne’s whimsical stories about the beloved “bear of little brain” and his friends, who find wonder and mystery in the most ordinary things.
Where to Buy? Amazon.ca

The best books for older kidsPhoto: Amazon

Zoom at Sea

By Tim Wynne-Jones and illustrated by Eric Beddows, 1983.

When a cat who loves water finds a map to the sea, he has a thrilling, wholly original adventure.
Where to Buy? Indigo.ca

The best books for older kidsPhoto: Indigo

More great books!

The best books for older kidsPhoto: Photo: kate_sept2004/iStockphoto

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