Great Reads Booklist
Katherine Paterson, the United States National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature (2010-2011) recommends that family members read, “…a chapter a night — if you can stand to stop!”
Great Reads are those books that “you can’t stand to stop!”
Katherine Paterson, her fellow former National Ambassador, Jon Scieszka (2008-2009), and current Ambassador Kate DiCamillo (2014-2015) lead our wonderful, warm, and sometimes wacky, roster of talented young people’s authors and illustrators in recommending their favorite Great Reads to share with the young people in your life. Our Great Reads authors and illustrators represent a wide range of professional experience, but they all have one thing in common—they love kids, they love books, they love connecting kids with great books!
Their photos appear in the photo gallery on the HOME page. Take some time to click each photo in the gallery to read why each author or illustrator recommends their selected books and to get more information about our Great Reads participants and their own work.
A complete list of all Great Reads participants’ book recommendations is provided below. Book titles are listed alphabetically and organized by approximate reading age levels. Please feel free to print this page!
Click on a reading age level or scroll down to discover all of our Great Reads Campaign book titles.
Picture Books for Ages Birth Through Adult
Back Home, written by Gloria Jean Pinkney and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney (Dial Books for Young Readers, 1992). Recommended by James Ransome.
Elvis: The Story of the Rock and Roll King, written and illustrated by Bonnie Christensen (Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt, 2015). Recommended by Leda Schubert.
Fables, written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel (HarperCollins, 1980). Recommended by Melissa Guion.
Forest Has a Song, written by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater and illustrated by Robbin Gourley (Clarion, 2013). Recommended by Janet Wong.
Going Places, written by Peter H. Reynolds and Paul A. Reynolds and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2014). Recommended by Barnas Monteith.
Green, written and illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (Roaring Brook Press, 2012). Recommended by Roxie Munro.
Higglety Pigglety Pop! Or There Must Be More to Life, written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak (HarperCollins, 1967). Recommended by Olivia Fu.
How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Hired Sportsmen, written by Russell Hoban and illustrated by Quentin Blake (David R Godine Publishers, Inc., 1974). Recommended by Susan Cooper.
Hug Machine, written and illustrated by Scott Campbell (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2014). Recommended by Tomie dePaola.
It’s a Book, written and illustrated by Lane Smith (Roaring Brook Press, 2010). Recommended by Mary Birdsell.
The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper (first published in 1930). Recommended by Laura Vaccaro Seeger.
Lottie’s New Beach Towel, written and illustrated by Petra Mathers (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2001). Recommended by Susan Blackaby.
Love, Ruby Valentine, written by Laurie Friedman and illustrated by Lynn Avril Cravath (Carolrhoda Books, 2006). Recommended by Conrad J. Storad.
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg (Houghton Mifflin, 1984). Recommended by Renée Andriani.
No, David!, written and illustrated by David Shannon (Blue Sky Press, 1998). Recommended by Alton Carter.
One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey (Viking Press, 1952). Recommended by Chris Van Dusen.
Ox-Cart Man, written by Donald Hall and illustrated by Barbara Cooney (Viking Press, 1979). Recommended by Patricia MacLachlan.
Pinch and Dash Make Soup, written by Michael J. Daley, illustrated by Thomas Yezerski (Charlesbridge, 2012). Recommended by Jessie Haas.
The Rabbits’ Wedding, written and illustrated by Garth Williams (HarperCollins, 1958). Recommended by Wendell Minor.
Rude Cakes, written and illustrated by Rowboat Watkins (Chronicle Books, 2015). Recommended by Antoinette Portis.
A Sick Day for Amos McGee, written by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin E. Stead (Roaring Book Press, 2010). Recommended by Heather Lang.
The Story of Ferdinand, written by Munro Leaf and illustrated by Robert Lawson (The Viking Press, 1936). Recommended by Michelle Nelson-Schmidt.
Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova, written by Laurel Snyder and illustrated by Julie Morstad (Chronicle Books, 2014). Recommended by Paul Czajak.
The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks, written by Katherine Paterson, illustrated by Diane and Leo Dillon (Lodestar Books, 1990). Recommended by Steven Kellogg.
Top of the World, written and illustrated by Holly Hobbie (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2008). Recommended by Carolyn Ahern.
Books for Readers 8-12
The Adventures of Pinocchio, written by Carlo Collodi, illustrated by Roberto Innocenti (Alfred A. Knopf, 1988). Recommended by Bagram Ibatoulline.
Bomb by Steve Sheinkin (Roaring Brook Press, 2012). Recommended by Jon Scieszka.
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White, illustrated by Garth Williams (first published in 1952). Recommended by Heather Vogel Frederick.
The Dream Keeper and Other Poems, written by Langston Hughes and illustrated by Brian Pinkney (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 1996). Recommended by Andrea Davis Pinkney.
Echo, written by Pam Munoz Ryan and illustrated by Dinara Mertalipova (Scholastic Press, 2015). Recommended by Rosanne Parry.
El Deafo, written and illustrated by Cece Bell (Amulet Books, 2014). Recommended by Katherine Paterson.
Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner (first published in 1930). Recommended by Jonathan Hennessey.
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1967). Recommended by Betty Selakovich Casey.
The Girls of Gettysburg by Bobbi Miller (Holiday House, 2014). Recommended by Eric A. Kimmel.
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson (Crowell, 1978). Recommended by Megan McDonald.
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh (Harper & Row, 1964). Recommended by Jack Gantos.
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell (Houghton Mifflin, 1960). Recommended by Kate DiCamillo.
Love that Dog (HarperCollins, 2001) and Hate that Cat (HarperCollins, 2008) by Sharon Creech. Recommended by Jeannine Atkins.
The Many Faces of George Washington: Remaking a Presidential Icon by Carla Killough McClafferty (Carolrhoda Books, 2011). Recommended by Darcy Pattison.
The Moomintroll series by Tove Jansson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). Recommended by M. T. Anderson.
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia (Amistad Press, 2010). Recommended by Grace Lin.
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer (Alfred A. Knopf, 1961). Recommended by Lin Oliver.
P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia (Amistad Press, 2013). Recommended by Miriam Glassman.
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015). Recommended by Matt Tavares.
Severn and the Day She Silenced the World by Janet Wilson (A Kids’ Power Book/Second Story Press, 2014). Recommended by Laurie McGaw.
There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom by Louis Sachar (Knopf, 1987). Recommended by Eric Ode.
The Thirteen Clocks, written by James Thurber and illustrated by Marc Simont (NYR Children’s Collection, 2008). Recommended by Barry Root.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (first published in 1960). Recommended by Patricia C. McKissack.
Wonderstruck, written and illustrated by Brian Selznick (Scholastic, 2011). Recommended by Gregory Maguire.
Books for Readers 12 and Up
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (first published in 1884). Recommended by Emily Arnold McCully.
The Arrival by Shaun Tan (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2007). Recommended by Stephanie Campisi.
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II by M. T. Anderson (Candlewick Press, 2008). Recommended by Lesa Cline-Ransome.
Black & White: The Confrontation between Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and Eugene “Bull” Connor by Larry Dane Brimner (Calkins Creek, 2011). Recommended by R. Gregory Christie.
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier (Dell Publishing, 1974). Recommended by Jo Knowles.
Feed by M.T. Anderson (Candlewick Press, 2002). Recommended by Ellen Wittlinger.
Go and Come Back by Joan Abelove (DK InK, 1998). Recommended by Gail Carson Levine.
Karma by Cathy Ostlere (Razorbill Books, 2011). Recommended by Nikki Grimes.
Kissing in America by Margo Rabb (HarperCollins Publishers, 2015). Recommended by Linda Sue Park.
Lips Touch Three Times, written by Laini Taylor and with illustrations by Jim Di Bartolo (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2009). Recommended by Nancy Werlin.
A Long Way from Verona by Jane Gardam (Macmillan Co., 1971). Recommended by Nicole Griffin.
Nation by Terry Pratchett (HarperCollins, 2008). Recommended by Virginia Euwer Wolff.
The Photographer: Into War-torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders, written and illustrated by Emmanuel Guibert (First Second Books, 2009). Recommended by Gareth Hinds.
Swim That Rock, by John Rocco and Jay Primiano and with illustrations by John Rocco (Candlewick Press, 2014). Recommended by Timothy Basil Ering.
This Boy’s Life, A Memoir by Tobias Wolf (Grove Press, 2000). Recommended by Graham Salisbury.
True Believer by Virginia Euwer Wolff (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2001). Recommended by Suzanne Fisher Staples.
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (first published in 1870). Recommended by José Domingo.
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan (Alfred A. Knopf, 2013). Recommended by Brian Selznick.
Looking for more? Check out even more Great Reads for young people on our Great Reads Booklists page, which provides themed booklists that include recommendations from expert librarians, as well as our recommendations of booklists created by other literacy and library organizations.
Alphabetical list of Great Reads Authors and Illustrators
The following lists the names of all the authors and illustrators who recommended a favorite book for the NCBLA’s Great Reads Campaign: