Megan’s Favorite Books, Old and New

We are excited to be partnering with Story Glory Kids for our Winter Book Fair this year! In the past, we linked to amazon for all of our Christmas gift suggestions, but this year, whenever possible, we’ll be directing you to Story Glory for your book-related shopping. Like amazon, we get a small commission. Unlike amazon, you will be supporting three small Christian businesses (Story Glory Kids, Redeemed Reader, and Westminster Books—who helps fulfill the actual orders). Bonus: you won’t see any offensive ads, nor will you be bombarded by sponsored products you don’t want. Our readers get an extra discount during the first two weeks of the sale, so don’t wait!

You can find all of our suggested books on the Story Glory website, but we thought it would be fun to take turns and each highlight some of our favorites from this list. (We curated the entire list, but some of the books are extra special favorites for some of us.)

Megan’s Favorite Books

I’m fascinated by picture books. Some people attempt to write novels in November, but I find it more challenging to write a really excellent story in so few words, one that both children AND parents will want to read, one that invites an illustrator to add another layer of meaning, one that is gently winsome or funny or complex without declaring a “message that children need to hear.”

Most of my favorite picture books I have fallen in love with as an adult. Either they are classics I somehow missed, or I have rediscovered them, or they have been published just within the past couple of decades. If both the text and illustrations are effective, they have an immediate emotional effect, or they linger while I’m fixing dinner and I wonder how the author did that so well and how I can imitate it in my writing.

A well-done picture book is a powerful thing. It is a pebble laid in the gateway towards a lifelong passion for reading.

Favorite Picture Books:

  • See the Cat by David LaRochelle He’s written sequels, but this one is the most original and funny.
  • Luli and the Language of Tea by Andrea Wang This may not win any distinguished awards, but I LOVE this one! How do you make friends when none of you speak the same language? Through hospitality. This is how you love your neighbor.
  • Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens A delightful trickster tale.
  • My Lucky Day by Keiko Kasza Okay, I really like delightful trickster tales. We quote this one all the time.
  • Bedtime for Frances by Russell Hoban The original Frances books are priceless and highly quoted in our family.
  • Something Better Coming by Megan Saben Why wait for Easter? I need this reminder of future hope daily.

Old Favorites: (books I read as a child)

  • Billy and Blaze by C.W. Anderson Some of the first books I remember checking out from the library over…and over…and over again.
  • Encyclopedia Brown by Donald Sobol These are some of my favorite recommendations for that gaining-confidence stage of reading. Short, see-if-you-can-match-the-detective’s-brain, and just as delightful for me to read now as an adult. You don’t really outgrow Encyclopedia Brown.
  • Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink Such a good story of a girl becoming a young woman in a strong family, with plenty of humor and character and powerful storytelling.
  • Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis Okay, this one didn’t work for me the first time I read at at age fourteen. Then I read it again…and again…and then produced it on stage when I was in college. It’s one of my top three all-time favorites, one story of a woman struggling to know God. Probably about time for me to read it again.

New Favorites and Favorite Books I Read To and With My Children:

  • *Sing a Song of Seasons This is beautiful! One nature poem for every day of the year. It’s a collection for all ages.
  • I’m Just No Good at Rhyming by Chris Harris I’ve talked about this one quite a bit here and elsewhere…if you don’t have it yet, you have no reason to further delay.
  • The Puppets of Spelhorst by Kate DiCamillo I don’t know any contemporary author who writes as beautifully as Kate DiCamillo does. Her latest does not disappoint.
  • The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo Such a gorgeous, redemptive story…keep a box of tissues handy. This is like The Velveteen Rabbit interwoven with Hitty: Her First Hundred Years, only better.
  • The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo Twenty years after winning the Newbery Award, this is a classic. I’m reading it again, basking in the language, the characters, the Truth and Story written with Beauty and heroism.
  • The Hiding Place: An Engaging Visual Journey Along with Till We Have Faces, this is another of my top three books, published in a beautiful format.
  • Little Pilgrim’s Progress by Helen Taylor, illustrated by Joe Sutphin We love Pilgrim’s Progress, but I couldn’t get through Taylor’s version until I saw this one with wonderful illustrations. My son asked me to read it again this year, and I had no objection.
  • Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien Apparently I have a weakness for heroic, redemptive stories about small animals, especially if I need a tissue by the end. In this one, a mother is very brave for the sake of her children.

Favorite series (then or now):

  • Freddy the Pig by Walter R. Brooks My husband introduced me to these when we were dating, proving he was quite the catch. My boys all graduate to these when they start reading (after Calvin and Hobbes and Tintin), and Freddy has contributed much to our family culture.
  • Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson I owe a great debt of gratitude to Mr. Watterson for showing my sons that independent reading brings delight, far better than any reading curriculum I ever tried. The books wear out, I replace them. My husband and I never tire of them, either.
  • Wilderking Trilogy by Jonathan Rogers Imagine themes in the story of David woven in a feudal setting, but in Florida swamps where there are alligators…and Feechies?
  • Beyonders by Brandon Mull We listened to this trilogy as a family, and I was surprised by how much we enjoyed it. It’s a little intense in some places, but I am giving print copies to my 14yo for Christmas this year. I’d like to read it again, too.

Favorite place to read:

I don’t have enough time to linger anywhere for long before I get interrupted the moment I sit down. For that reason, I try to have books in several places in the house. I also listen to audiobooks while doing laundry or making dinner or if I happen to be doing errands solo.

Favorite accessories for reading: (tea, particular mug/blanket/etc.)

Hot tea, or a latte, or perhaps an herbal tea concoction. My Redeemed Reader mug is the best, but any good pottery mug will do. I wish I had a favorite blanket, but for reasons described above, I don’t usually have the luxury of that indulgence. I do like book darts, but usually forget to have them on hand, so I’ll settle for a pencil to mark beautiful lines.

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Get the information you need to make wise choices about books for your children and teens.

Our weekly newsletter includes our latest reviews, related links from around the web, a featured book list, book trivia, and more. We never sell your information. You may unsubscribe at any time.

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Megan Saben

Megan is Associate Editor for Redeemed Reader, and she loves nothing more than discovering Truth and Story in literature. She is the author of Something Better Coming, and is quite particular about which pottery mug is best suited to her favorite hot drinks throughout the day. Megan lives with her husband and five boys in Virginia.

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