I may not have a fancy title in the eyes of adults, but nothing compares to having earned the nickname of ‘Auntie A-Boo’ from my two-year-old nephew for playing enough peekaboo to make an impression.
Another way that my nephew knows me is as the auntie who loves to read him books. His current favorites are titles on trains, cars, and trucks.
Are you like me, an auntie or uncle or friend wondering what to give a young child as a gift? Or a parent looking to share your love of reading?
Here are six stand-out authors creating books for young children. The first titles are for preschoolers (possibly as a read-aloud title), the second is for beginning readers, the next three are for older elementary students, and the final title is for middle grade readers to enjoy on their own.
Each of these titles promote imagination and compassion.
Pam Saxelby’s Max and Bear, Josie the Great, and The Great Grace Escape
The Great Grace Escape brings us into the world of a baby on her way to birth. I’m a huge ‘baby person’ so love this title!
Pam’s first title Max and Bear celebrates a small boy’s gradual appreciation for his loyal stuffed bear toy, who has no flashing lights or wheels but can comfort him while he’s sick. Josie the Great humorously imagines a child making sense of the idea of a new sibling.
Pam Saxelby’s books reflect her ability to grasp children’s thoughts, emotions, worries, and joys. After 25 years as a classroom teacher, Pam followed her life’s passion and began to write books for young readers.
Vasvi Pande’s Krista the Superhero and The Girl with the Pink Crayon
These books resonated with me since at age eight I myself decided to write. I self-published 1980s-style, with construction and binder paper, crayons, markers, pencils and the stapler, with my Mom’s help. Then, each time we had company, I announced that I’d written twenty books and asked the guests if they wanted to see them!
Eight-year-old Vasvi Pande is also imaginative, fun, and creative, yet sometimes shy and humble in person. She writes to encourage other children, and adults, to be kind and resilient.
Vasvi began drawing and writing while quite young, and her imaginative children’s books reflect her imagination.
Her books trace the life of a young girl as she learns and grows, together with her imaginary friend, a pink crayon. With her crayon friend at her side, Krista grows up into a wise and caring person.
Patricia Thorpe’s The Canada Goslings
This book brings nature right inside your living room, helping your children notice and imagine the events that may take place within complex animal societies in their own neighborhoods and backyards.
Wonderful, lush and colorful read-aloud for all ages and independent reading for young school-age children.
I’m also a nature lover and used to watch gophers pop out of their holes on the kickball field in elementary school and imagine their underground world. So I can relate to Patricia Thorpe, as she crafted these stories from scenes she saw on the pond out her kitchen window.
Lauren McGrath’s If Boston’s Buildings Could Speak, by Freddie the Fish
Freddie the Fish gives elementary school kids an overview of Revolutionary War and later history through his tour. He, and Lauren McGrath, also seek to spotlight the contributions of women and people of color who have been overlooked.
My parents always pointed out historical facts and markers when we traveled when I was young, so I imagined Freddie doing the same thing.
If Boston’s Buildings Could Talk is colorful, fun, upbeat, and good as a readaloud as well!
Sheila Kogan’s The Lambs of Fairy Glen: An Almost True Story
While on vacation in the Hebrides Islands, author Sheila Kogan met some gentle lambs. In their presence, amid the Scottish mists, this story unfolded like a gift.
This tale is about courage, friendship, beauty, working together – and appreciating the wonder of what you have and where you come from rather than exploiting others to get what you want in the short term.
With lush, unique illustrations, the book is aimed at children around eight years old and comes with a plush lamb toy. My nephew has christened it ‘The Wamb’ and occasionally takes it outside to eat grass on our lawn.
We’ll read him the story once he gets older!
Elika Ansari’s Seacity Rising
Author Elika Ansari is a humanitarian professional working in refugee camps in Greece who has created a big-hearted, imaginative middle-grade book to communicate hope and compassion. Characters of many different species learn to work together in Seacity Rising to figure out how to save their home.
This is a unique metaphor for climate change and refugee displacement from an author who has written many other pieces, including a master’s thesis on memoir.
She has presented to appreciative audiences of children at a wide variety of events, including the UK’s Storytale Festival.
So far my little nephew loves his ‘Wamb’ toy, and we’re expecting him to grow into enjoying books from each of these authors as he gets older.
I’d recommend any of these titles for a child, depending on their age and interests. These books help us learn to live with our hearts and minds fully alive and present.