5 Must-Read Books for Young Children

What to read at bedtime during the holidays

by Jennifer Stevens | Wed, December 14, 2016

For most expats, school lets out in two days! That means packing, shopping for presents, and making sure your kids finish all their work before Friday. We hope you have a relaxing time, but also remember to make reading part of your children's holiday. We recently posted an article about the importance of reading for pleasure, as a way to ensure that children don't experience a learning slide. Here are 5 stories we recommend reading with your younger kids (or older!) during vacation to make reading fun:


1. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

We’ll start the list with a holiday favorite. The Polar Express is a tradition for many families, having sold more than seven million copies since it was published in 1985. A story about a boy whose faith in Christmas is restored through a series of magical events, it's a tale best suited for children grades K-2. The book won the Caldecott Medal for illustration of an American children's picture book.


2. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems

Mo Willems might be the biggest name in children's books at the moment. Simple in language, but surprisingly witty, this title is particularly popular. It's about a bus driver who needs to take a break, and instead of having another driver take over his responsibilities, a pigeon volunteers. Directed towards readers, the pigeon pleads and begs to let him drive the bus. Children (ages 2-6) will love answering the bird, and parents will be amused at how Willems depicts a preschooler's temper tantrum.


3. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

And oldie but a goodie. Published in 1963, the story remains high on book lists, and is highly regarded for its illustrations, having won the annual Caldecott Medal. The story follows a young boy named Max, who enjoys wearing a wolf costume and wreaking havoc throughout his house. One night, while in the wolf suit, his bedroom transforms into a jungle full of wild beasts. Max tames the beasts and is named King. And while he has fun for awhile, he inevitably becomes homesick and returns to his family. This story is suited for all ages.


4. Oh, The Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss

While we could've included a more timely Dr. Seuss favorite (The Grinch Who Stole Christmas), we decided that this was the perfect read for any family traveling over the holidays. Popular high school or college graduation gifts, this book is inspirational for all ages, with the message "Life is a great balancing act, but through all of it, there's fun to be done." If any of your children (or if you) haven't read it, now's a good time.


5. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst 

This is a book to have on hand when your children are cranky from the long plane ride, from the jetlag, from...anything, really. This is a story everyone can relate to, but it's recommended for 5 to 9-year-olds. The main character, Alexander, knew from the moment he woke up with gum in his hair that it was going to be a bad day. So it was. His best friend deserted him, there was no dessert in his lunch bag, lima beans were served for dinner, and there was even kissing on TV! A charming read with vibrant illustrations, this book should cheer up anyone with the holiday blues.

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