9 Children’s Novels Both Boys and Girls Will Love to Hear

shelved under Children's Books

I have four kids – one girl and three boys – ranging in age from 12 to 7. Finding a book that keeps them all involved and engaged in the story is a delightful occurrence. These nine books are our favorite read-alouds of all time. All four kids loved them, and I did, too.


The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy

by Jeanne Birdsall

The delightful Penderwick sisters are some of our most cherished literary characters: Rosalind, the oldest, who has had to take on the role of mom; Skye, fiercely independent and loyal; Jane, budding author and daydreamer; Batty, lover of animals, especially Hound, the family dog. Mr. Penderwick takes his four girls for a summer away, and the adventures that follow are hilarious and heart-warming, and demonstrate the blessing of a loving family.


Dragon Rider

by Cornelia Funke

Firedrake must find a safe haven for the rest of the silver dragons, and so he embarks on a quest to find the Rim of Heaven, a mystical place where all dragons can live in harmony. Joining him are Ben, an orphaned boy, and Sorrell, a cranky but loveable Brownie. They are pursued in their quest by the evil Nettlebrand, a horrible creature that feeds on dragons. Full of adventure and humor, this book kept my kids enthralled hour after hour.


Artemis Fowl

by Eoin Colfer

Combining fairy lore and modern technology, Colfer’s book about a criminal mastermind who just happens to be twelve is a terrific read. Artemis Fowl is determined to be the first human to manage to part the fairy realm with some of their gold. My boys loved the bodily-function humor provided by the kleptomaniac dwarf, Mulch Diggums. My daughter loved the strong and fierce Captain Holly Short of the Lower Elements Police Recon force – otherwise known as LEPRecon. Full of fast-paced action, this book is a quick, entertaining read. We are looking forward to enjoying the rest of the series together.

This book also appears on The Best Fantasy Series for Teens


The Mysterious Benedict Society

by Trenton Lee Stewart, illustrated by Carson Ellis

Trenton Lee Stewart’s series about four extraordinarily gifted children and their mission to rid the world of the evil Ledopthra Curtain is brilliantly written. Reynie, Kate, Constance, and Sticky are all drawn to the home of Mr. Benedict after passing a test designed to find gifted children. They are recruited for a special mission: to infiltrate The Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the malevolent Curtain and his minions are carrying out their plan to rule the world through mind control. These books are full of intrigue, adventure, creative problem solving, and lessons about family, loyalty, justice, and integrity.



by Angie Sage, illustrated by Mark Zug

Sage has taken a series that could have been a blatant imitation of Harry Potter and created a unique and colorful world of wizards, witches, and magic. Septimus Heap is born the seventh son of a seventh son, with the potential to become an extremely talented wizard. He is believed to be dead at birth, however, and is taken away. The same night, his father is entrusted with the care of a baby girl. 10 years later, the Heap family, including 10-year-old Jenna, the ExtraOrdinary Wizard Marcia, and a young boy from the army known only as Boy 412, have to flee to the Marram Marshes to escape the evil Necromancer, Dom Daniel. Magical creatures are encountered, identities discovered, and friendships strengthened. We’ve read the first two books in this series, and enjoyed them both very much.


The Purloined Boy: The Weirdling Cycle, Book One

by Mortimus Clay

Clay has created a fantasy world to rival the most unique. Superbia, ruled by the Guardians and Bogeys and evil Lord Lucian, is where 12-year-old Trevor Upjohn has grown up. He has vague memories of a place called “home” and people called “parents,” but speaking of such things is strictly forbidden in the hall of children. When Trevor is unable to resist the urge to talk to his new friend, Maggie, about his dreams of home, he is taken from the hall on a harrowing journey through the Bogey’s Pantry and into the city of Trothward. While Trevor waits to continue his journey home, he becomes embroiled in the politics of Trothward, and finds the courage to fight to protect the people and place he has come to love.



by Neil Gaiman

Weirdly wonderful (and much better than the movie, in my opinion), Gaiman’s Coraline is a feisty young girl stuck in a boarding house with her distracted parents. When rainy day boredom sends her exploring, Coraline discovers a door that leads to a home that eerily mirrors her own. She finds her “other” mother and father and a world full of colors and excitement and marvels. At first Coraline is enchanted by this other world, but when her parents go missing, it’s up to Coraline to rescue them from the evil Other Mother. This is one of the creepiest books I’ve read aloud to the kids. It has just the right amount of scare factor, and the last few pages had us on the edges of our seats.


Teacher's Funeral: A Comedy in Three Parts

by Richard Peck

It’s the summer of 1904, and summer vacation is almost over for 15-year-old Russell and his younger brother Lloyd. When Miss Arbuckle, the teacher at the one-room schoolhouse, dies suddenly, Russell thinks his problems are over – school will be cancelled and he will continue to enjoy his freedom. Little does he know that the new teacher will be his worst nightmare – his older sister, Tansy. Full of down-home wisdom and the hysterical escapades of Russell, Lloyd, and their friends, this read-aloud at times had me laughing so hard I couldn’t continue, in spite of my kids saying, “Keep reading, Mom!”


The Graveyard Book

by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Dave McKean

The opening of this book, in which a family is murdered (the action takes place off-screen, so to speak), had me wondering if it was too scary for my kids. But the story of Bod, the 18-month old boy who survives, is inventive and engaging, and the kids loved it. Each chapter is an episode in Bod’s life as he grows older and wiser in the graveyard, raised and loved by the ghosts who reside there. This is a thrilling story that includes everything to keep a boy’s attention: ghouls, ghosts, witches, hellhounds, and a fight against an evil foe.