Every reader loves a classic tale, and that love starts at a very young age. The books I read as a kid were fairytales, fables and memorable stories about saying goodnight to the moon or teddy bears wearing corduroy overalls. These tales taught me about love, adventure, bravery and so many other lessons that continue to stick with me as a grown up. When it comes to the books on this list— whether it puts a modern twist on a well-known story, or is a more recent release that has grown to be cherished by today’s young readers— you can be sure that these are modern classics that will inspire whole new generations.
This undersea adventure retells Aesop’s classic fable, The Lion and the Mouse, while keeping the story's valuable lessons about bullying, friendship, and the true meaning of courage. Filled with humor and heart, Sharky McShark will remind young readers of the importance of friendship!
Sharky McShark is the meanest, most fearsome creature in the ocean. When she's around, the clownfish clear out, the flatfish flee, and even the rocks get out of her way. As the biggest bully in the sea, Sharky doesn't think she needs friends.
But then one day—with a plink! plank! plonk!—a tiny crab tumbles into her world and proves that everyone, even the scariest underwater bully, needs a friend.
I think some of the most entertaining stories I read as a kid were the ones that rhymed— and the sillier the better! Audrey Helen Weber blends suspense and nonsense, imaginative artwork, and a flawless rhythm that evokes some of the most beloved read-aloud classics, from Mother Goose to Eric Carle.
On the day the horse got out
the bells all rang,
the birds flew south,
the rabbit dug a bit too deep,
and the beetle cried out in its sleep…
But what happened to the horse? Did she find what she was looking for? Drawing on the influence of nursery rhymes, fables, folklore, folk art, and mythology—and combined with Audrey Helen Weber's own playful and surreal sensibility, page-turning suspense and read-aloud magic—here is a transcendent journey that tells a new story with every read.
by Rey Terciero
Illustrated by Bre Indigo
Anyone else absolutely adore Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women? Growing up with two sisters, I deeply connected to the dynamics of the March family, and how different but bonded they were to each other. This beautiful graphic novel is Little Women with a twist: four sisters from a blended family experience the challenges and triumphs of life in NYC.
Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy are having a really tough year: with their father serving in the military overseas, they must work overtime to make ends meet…and each girl is struggling in her own way. Whether it’s school woes, health issues, boy troubles, or simply feeling lost, the March sisters all need the same thing: support from each other. Only by coming together–and sharing lots of laughs and tears–will these four young women find the courage to discover who they truly are as individuals…and as a family.
Illustrated by E. B. Lewis
This book came out when I was only three years old, and has stuck with me since! Can you believe this whimsical story has been celebrating the beauty of African-American hair for 20 years? I’ll always appreciate that my mother brought this home to her three curly-haired little girls, to make sure we knew we were beautiful.
In this imaginative, evocative story, a girl named Keyana discovers the beauty and magic of her special hair, encouraging black children to be proud of their heritage and enhancing self-confidence.
Illustrated by Charles Santoso
The Three Little Pigs has always been one of my favorite stories, and it just became even more fun to read! From Anica Mrose Rissi and Charles Santoso comes a perfect read-aloud twist on a favorite tale.
There’s so much for these little piggies to do before their party — they have to bake the cake, decorate the house, deliver the invitations, and, most importantly, watch out for Wolf!
With clever nods to various fairytales and nursery rhymes sprinkled throughout, this picture book takes the classic Three Little Pigs story in a new direction, celebrating friendship and great party planning.
Aside from having the most precious and adorable cover, this bedtime story is an homage to classic bedtime stories and their creators. It’s definitely a nighttime read both you and your little one can enjoy together.
Patrick McDonnell’s first bedtime book captures the magic of a sleepover with friends and reminds us to cherish life’s simplest pleasures. During a fun pajama party, three animal friends dance and play, but at last everyone is getting sleepy. Is it time for bed yet? Not before taking the time to say thank you for the day, the night, and good friends.
Alison Murray makes another appearance on the list with this fun and endearing celebration of differences in which a dinosaur finds a home with a family of ducks–a fresh twist on the beloved “The Ugly Duckling” tale.
Even as an egg, Dino Duckling is different from all the other baby ducks. And when he’s born, no one seems to notice that he’s actually a dinosaur! Mama Duck knows that there is plenty of room for difference in a loving family, but there’s one big problem: How will Dino Duckling fly south for the winter without any wings? Can Dino Duckling ever truly belong? Alison Murray’s heartwarming reinvention of a classic is perfect for anyone who has ever wondered how to fit in.
by Molly Idle
Move over Ariel, we’ve got a new mermaid to look up to, and this one’s an environmental activist! Pearl is an original mermaid tale that inspires waves of change, proving anyone can make an impact and sharing how small, persistent actions can achieve great things.
Sometimes the tiniest light can shine the brightest! Like the other mermaids of the deep, Pearl longs to care for the endless beaches, coral reefs, and towering kelp forests of her vast ocean world. So, when her mother asks her to tend to a mere grain of sand, Pearl is heartbroken. It takes all her patience and determination to discover how even the littlest mermaid can transform the world.