The Best Classic Chapter Books to Read Aloud to the Littlest Listeners

Your children love picture books! Great job Mom!

You’ve started them on the path to a lifelong love of reading! Now for that tricky transition to chapter books. You’re longing to share The Hobbit, Narnia, and Anne of Green Gables with your five year old (or your three or four year old if he or she has a long attention span), but WAIT!

First chapter books are an important and memorable experience for your preschooler or kindergartener!

And believe me, the transition to chapter books will be much smoother if you begin with one of these delightful books written just for children listening to their first chapter books. These classic first chapter books have charming illustrations scattered throughout and short chapters the perfect length for a limited attention span.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. This means that I may receive a small fee if you purchase a book through my link at no additional cost to you.

Milly-Molly-Mandy is a sweet little girl enjoying family and small town life in a multi-generational home. Nostalgic and innocent stories with lots and lots of illustrations!

Jenny is a fashion-loving little black cat who longs for some friends. In Jenny and the Cat Club, she meets a memorable group of beautiful and ragged felines. A book about making friends, finding your own talents, and appreciating others’ differences. There are several more books about Jenny’s adventures available!

Raggedy Ann‘s cheerful nature and simple adventures have delighted children for over 100 years! Always a hit with 4-5 year old girls!

Twig‘s impoverished family lives in a tenement house. But one memorable day, a tomato soup can, a dandelion, and her imagination bring the best kind of magic into her life. After that day, Twig sees her life and neighbors through new eyes.

This is a transformation through imagination story in the tradition of Nesbit and MacDonald, so I personally liked it. But if you are very sensitive to the use of “magic” in stories, you may want to avoid this one.

Of course every child needs to listen to The Complete Tales of Winnie-The-Pooh! This beautiful hardcover edition includes lots of full color illustrations to make this beloved first chapter book even more enjoyable.

The Thornton Burgess 26-Book Set brings you to the world of the little forest animals. Most chapters are only 2-4 pages. Not as many pictures as some of the other books on this list, but still held the attention of my 4 year old.

Happy Little Family focuses on Bonnie, the youngest in an Appalachian family. At 4 years old, Bonnie feels quite grown up and ready to participate in all the family fun. All 4 years old can relate to her little joys and disappointments.

Continue reading Bonnie’s adventures in Schoolhouse in the Woods. Bonnie starts school, learns to read, and makes friends.

If you’re looking for more stories for 4-6 year old listeners, I highly recommend diving deep into fairy tales and folk tales! Check out my list of Good Fairy Tales, Fables, and Tall Tales for Catholic Kids.

Saint Chapter Books Round Up

In my oft-searched list Good Catholic Books for Catholic Preschoolers and Kindergartners , I share some of my favorite saint books for little ones. Here, I’ll share my favorite chapter books about the saints for independent readers through middle schoolers.

For the 6-8 year old, just becoming independent reader stage, I love the Saints and Friendly Beasts saint book series.

In the Saints and Friendly Beasts series, young readers will enjoy the large print and wealth of pictures. At the same time, they’ll become familiar with saints who loved animals. Popular Holy Hour books with my 6 and 8 year olds. Note: the pictures in these books are all black and white.

Buy the series through my Amazon affiliate links: Saint Brigid and the Cows, Saint Martin de Porres and the Mice, Saint Germaine and the Sheep, Blessed Sebastian and the Oxen, and Saint Colum and the Crane.

Or, buy it from the publisher, Tan Books.

A recently published book that is awesome for this age is Meg Hunter-Kilmer’s Saints Around the World.

This is a saint book like no other! Meg Hunter Kilmer tells stories about many saints we’ve never heard of in a conversational style that makes these saints your kids’ new best friends. Check out my full Review of “Saints Around the World”!

Another series of saint books that’s wonderful for a 3rd grade reading level (or younger reader with help!) is the Life of a Saint series from Ignatius Press.

Learn about popular saints in these colorful, picture-rich books from reliable Ignatius Press.

Check out the biographies of St. John Mary Vianney, St. Bernadette, St. Francis, and St. Therese through my affiliate links.

Or buy them through the publisher: Ignatius Press

Another series of Saint Books I love but are hard to find are the Along the Path of the Gospel series.

If you can find any volumes in this series used online, snap them up! We love the beautiful pictures and simple text, perfect for 7-9 year olds!

You can find a few used on Amazon on my affiliate page: Along the Paths of the Gospel

Or Seton Press is still selling some new copies of select books: buy through Seton.

For the 8-14 year old crowd, especially reluctant readers, try getting their attention with The Saint Chronicles!

With 5 striking volumes now available, The Saint Chronicles is sure to be a hit with kids!

You can buy them through my Amazon affiliate page: The Saint Chronicles

Or support a Catholic Bookstore and buy them from Good News Book Shop:

For 9-12 year old readers, I recommend the Encounter the Saints series.

With 33 saints featured, this series will keep your kids reading for a long time! More information

These books are available as a set from Seton, you can buy through publisher Pauline Media, or you can buy through my Amazon affiliate page Encounter the Saints.

Mayr Fabyan Windeatt brings the saints to life for children aged 9-99.

These saint biographies are 50-100 pages and perfect for book reports or spiritual reading. My kids bring these to Holy Hour all the time. Not very many pictures, but simple and inspiring stories about a variety of saints from Hyacinth to Martin de Porres.

Buy them through my Amazon affiliate page: Mary Fabyan Windeatt Books.

Or, buy them as a set through Seton.

Or, buy them through a Catholic Bookshop: Good News Book Shop

A final awesome saint book series for the 9+ crowd is the Vision Series from Ignatius Press

Up to 24 books, the acclaimed Vision series offers inspiring saint biographies for 4th-8th graders. With longer chapters and more details, these books will satisfy kids who want to know more about their favorite saints- or maybe discover some new favorites!

Buy them through my Amazon affiliate link: Vision Saint Books

Or buy the whole set through Seton.

Or, buy them through a Catholic Bookshop: Good News Book Shop

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Favorite Audiobooks for Catholic Families

My kids are addicted to audiobooks on long car rides. I’ll take that over movies any day so I’m not trying to cure them.

But really, who else is always looking for that perfect audiobook that will entertain ALL the kids on the next roadtrip? Or even just the next trip to the grocery store if you live rural like we do!

I’ve spent more time than I’d like on Audible listening to samples and trying to figure out what’s the best quality and number of hours for the price. Here’s a list of some of my best finds: unabridged recordings with great narrators who bring the stories to life. These are the books my kids ask for again and again until they can recite them!

This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which means that if you buy through my link I receive a small fee at no additional cost to you.

The Chronicles of Narnia Adult Box Set

Who else wants to hear Kenneth Branagh read The Chronicles of Narnia? This unabridged version is pricey but if you have an audible account you can snag it for 1 credit- awesome deal!

Little House in the Big Woods: Little House, Book 1

We have 5 Little House books on audiobook and they are some of the most requested recordings we own. The fiddle music to accompany these recordings fits perfectly.

Swallows and Amazons

Family adventures on a lake? Friendships, alliances of offense and defense, and buried treasure? Swallows and Amazons has it all. Charming British children’s classics.

The Hobbit

If your crew is slightly older, they’ll love The Hobbit read by no less than Gollum himself. A great performance by Andy Serkis.

All-of-a-Kind Family

We love the five joyful sisters’ escapades in All of a Kind Family. You get a perfect picture of life for a poor but happy Jewish family in early 21st century New York city. Thanks to this book, my kids understand Jewish holidays and traditions!

Thornton W. Burgess Box Set: The Adventures of Sammy Jay; The Burgess Bird Book for Children; The Burgess Animal Book for Children; & Old Granny Fox

Looking for many hours for 1 audible credit? Check out this collection: Thornton W Burgess Box Set. Educational and enjoyable.

Five for Victory: The Mitchells, Book 1

With their father away during World War II, the 5 Mitchell children pull together to help their mother on the Homefront. Their Five for Victory club brings them friends and helps the war effort. We love the sequel, Canadian Summer, even more. The Mitchell family moves to a remote Canadian ski cottage for the summer and adventure naturally follows.

Happy Little Family: Fairchild Family Story

The Happy Little Family books are often compared to Little House with their gentle lessons and anecdotes from family life. Warning that the narrator’s accent is fittingly Southern for these stories from Appalachia. So if you have a vendetta against a drawl skip this series!

The Cinnamon Bear: The Complete Series

The Cinnamon Bear is a classic oldschool radio drama with music and a full cast. I listened to it over and over growing up, and now my kids ask to hear it even out of season; it’s a Christmas drama. Brother and sister Judy and Jimmy have their star stolen by a crazy-quilt dragon. A tiny cinnamon bear comes to life and helps them travel through Maybe-land to rescue it from a wicked witch.

Fairytale Favorites: In Story and Song

My younger kids love all the Jim Weiss retellings they’ve heard. Fairytale Favorites includes the Elves and the Shoemaker, Stone Soup, Rapunzel, and more. He includes memorable songs and sometimes poetry in these retellings. Also, it’s less than $3 to buy. Sweet.

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Review of “Jesus Had A Body Like Me”

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“A Theology of the Body for Babies and Little Ones”

If you love John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, this little book is a great introduction for the very littlest Catholic kids. Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers will enjoy the simple text that teaches important concepts about personhood in very few sentences. Little ones will hear: who made them, what their bodies are for, how they are like Jesus, and what the ultimate end of life is. These concepts form the basis for an understanding of authentic Christian Humanism. It’s great to find them in such a simple form for the littlest listeners.

In addition to awesome Theology of the Body concepts, your child can enjoy playing “I Spy” for the Lily of the Valley hidden on each page. The Lily of the Valley is a traditional Marian symbol.

Author Caroline Fisher tells me that she has a second Theology of the Body-inspired book for slightly older kids (5-8 year old crowd) with more realistic pictures coming out soon. I’m super excited to see what she creates! Keep up the good work Caroline!

A percentage of all sales for this book are donated to the Sisters of Life.

Buy it through my amazon affiliate link: Jesus Had a Body Like Me: A Theology of the Body for Babies and Little Ones

Disclaimer: I received a copy of “Jesus Had a Body Like Me: A Theology of the Body for Babies and Little Ones” from the author in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

For more of my favorite books for little Catholic kids, check out my list Good Catholic Books for Catholic Preschoolers and Kindergartners .

For more of my favorite Theology of the Body resources check out: Great Books about Sexual Education and Theology of the Body for Catholic Parents

Review of “Portrait of the Son”

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A new book from Josephine Nobisso!

Is anyone else a huge fan of of Josephine Nobisso’s The Weight of a Mass and Take it to the Queen? These gorgeous books combine luminous illustrations with fantastic stories in a truly transcendent experience. I’ve been waiting for years for her to add to this series of allegories and it’s finally happening!

Portrait of the Son

In her new book Portrait of the Son, Josephine Nobisso tells a story about charity: love. It’s a variation on an allegory that’s been told many times over the centuries to help us understand a little about the love between the Father and the Son. In the story, an old father and his son live in a world of superlatives. Their great love for each other spills over into helping everyone around them. They create the most amazing art collection in the world, live in the most wonderful house, are kindest to their neighbors, and love each other dearly. When the son dies in the war, what will the father do? To whom will he bequeath his precious art collection?

A Fitting Third Book

The Weight of a Mass reminds us to have faith. Take it to the Queen gives us hope for our fallen world. Now, Portrait of the Son concludes the Theological Virtues Trilogy with an allegory about true charity. I was disappointed at first to see a new illustrator, but then was impressed how the continuity of the illustrations was maintained. Illustrator Ted Schluenderfritz really did a fantastic job keeping the style of the luminous watercolor illustrations in the first two books. Parents will appreciate the extensive symbolism used throughout Portrait of the Son. See how much symbolism you notice, then turn to the beginning and end of the book for a full explanation.

Portrait of the Son is being released November 2021! It would be a great Christmas present or addition to your family library.

You can buy this book through my Amazon affiliate link: Portrait of the Son: A Tale of Love

Or, buy it through my Bookshop Page: https://bookshop.org/lists/book-review-books

Disclaimer: I received a copy of “Portrait of the Son” from Gingerbread House Books in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

See more of my favorite Catholic picture books on my list Good Catholic Books for Catholic Preschoolers and Kindergartners 

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Review of “Saints Around the World”

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Saints Around the World

If you haven’t heard the hype yet, the internet is buzzing about this amazing new book by Meg Hunter-Kilmer! And with good reason! This is hands down the most thorough look at saints from all around the world I’ve ever seen. From Africa to South America to Asia to the Caribbeans, there really are saints from all corners of the world featured in Saints Around the World!

Around the World and Down to Earth

Although this book features Saints from all sorts of cultures and walks of life, the emphasis is on their common humanity. You’ll hear how saints changed diapers, saints gave their grandchildren pony rides, saints did laundry. This is so important for our kids (and us) to understand: the saints were not just great preachers and theologians, they were moms and dads and kids like us!

Broken and Beautiful: The Body of Christ

This book is a celebration of the diversity of the Body of Christ. You’ll read the stories of Saints from Papua New Guineau to Iceland. You’ll learn about Saints in wheel chairs and Saints with birth defects and Saints who were blind. You’ll read about Saints with learning disabilities and speech impediments. You’ll learn about saints with big personalities and saints who were desperately shy. You’ll see Saints from various ethnicities with a great variety of skin tones.

Beautiful Watercolors

To match the beautiful souls described in Saints Around the World, Lindsey Sanders illustrated this book with beautiful watercolor pictures. Many pictures feature everyday items as symbols. This emphasizes the theme that these saints lived seemingly ordinary lives. You may spot a soccer ball, some musical instruments, horses, and more in the background of these illustrations.

You can get a preview of the gorgeous illustrations and read excerpts from the book on the launch site: https://saintsaroundtheworld.com/excerpts/

You can buy Saints Around the World through my Amazon affiliate link: Saints Around the World

Disclaimer: I received a copy of “Saints Around the World” from Emmaus Road Publishing in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Interested in more of my favorite Catholic books for Catholic Kids? Check out this list: Good Catholic Books for Catholic Preschoolers and Kindergartners 

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Good Books to give First Communicants

May is First Communion time for many families across the country! Looking for a gift for your First Communicant, or a First Communicant you know? Here are some of my favorite books to gift on this very special occasion!

Bibles & Catechism

The Action Bible is a sure-fire way to get an 8 year old obsessed with reading the Bible. My 8 year old knows the Old Testament prophets better than I do, really.

Buy it through Amazon affiliate link: The Action Bible

The Catechism of the Seven Sacraments, or “The Lego Catechism” as my kids call it, can’t help but be a hit with the 7-8 year old crowd. This fantastic resource ties together Biblical history, Catechism, and Legos together in a fun and memorable way.

Buy it through Good News Book Shop: The Catechism of the Seven Sacraments

Buy it through Amazon aff link: Catechism of the Seven Sacraments

My First Communion Bible (White) by Benedict

This children’s New Testament includes a forward by Father Benedict Groeschel. 26 Bible stories from the New Testament invite the child to know Jesus better.

Buy through Good News Book Shop: My First Communion Bible

Buy through Amazon affiliate link: My First Communion Bible

Looking for a more traditionally illustrated, simpler Bible? The Illustrated Catholic Children’s Bible has your basic Bible stories told in a simple and easy to read format for your younger First Communicant.

Buy it through Good News Book Shop: The Complete Illustrated Children’s Bible

Buy it through Amazon aff link: Catholic Children’s Illustrated Bible

Prayer Books

Through the Year with Jesus: Gospel Readings and Reflections for Children

I’m a huge fan of this book of Gospel Readings and Reflections for Children. I love that it combines Lectio Divina and Visio Divina into a simple and effective devotional kids can understand. Check out my full review here! ADD

Buy it through Good News Book Shop: Through the Year with Jesus

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: Through the Year with Jesus: Gospel Readings and Reflections for Children

This lovely hardcover prayer book makes a great gift for a First Communicant with its section of Eucharistic prayers. Perfect for reading before or after Mass. Full review here.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: The Catholic Treasury of Prayers and Verses

My First Holy Communion: Prayers for a Lifetime by Piper, Sophie

This keepsake book has lovely watercolor illustrations and prayers on a wide variety of topics.

Buy it through Good News Book Shop: My First Holy Communion

‘Buy it through my Amazon Affiliate link: My First Holy Communion

A small traditional prayer book perfect for little hands to carry to Mass or for slipping in a purse.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: The Catholic Children’s Prayer Book

Religious Fiction and More

This beautifully illustrated picture book tells a legend about a town that had lost faith in the miracle of the Eucharist… until a miracle occurs in the town bakery.

Buy it through Good News Book Shop: The Weight of a Mass

Buy it through my Amazon Affiliate link: The Weight of a Mass

The King of the Golden City is a lovely allegory by Mother Mary Loyola that helps children understand readying their hearts for Jesus. There are two editions: the original that appeals more to girls and a special edition for boys.

Buy the original edition through my Amazon affiliate link: The King of the Golden City

Buy the boys’ edition: The King of the Golden City: Special Edition for Boys

Life of Our Lord for Children, A | Catholic Books Direct

A Life of Our Lord for Children by Marigold Hunt is a story-like telling of Jesus’ life, ministry, establishment of His Church on earth, and death.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: Life of Our Lord for Children

Heavenly Hosts tells the stories of real Eucharistic miracles! Kids will love learning about the power of the Eucharistic through these stories.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: Heavenly Hosts

Patron Saint of First Communicants: The Story of Blessed Imelda Lambertini by Windeatt, Mary Fabyan

Did you know Blessed Imelda is the patron saint of First Communicants? Learn all about her in this book from Mary Fabyan Windeatt.

Buy it through Good News Book Shop: Patron Saint of First Communicants

Buy it through Amazon affiliate link: Patron Saint of First Communicants

Saints Chronicles Collection 1 by Sophia Institute Press

The Saint Chronicles series now has 5 exciting and vibrantly illustrated volumes. These books are “cool” even to kids who usually don’t like reading!

Buy through Good News Book Shop: The Saints Chronicles

Buy through Amazon affiliate link: Saints Chronicles Collection 1

My Path to Heaven is a fantastic meditative book that introduces children to Visio Divina and Ignatian spirituality.

Buy it through Good News Book Shop: My Path to Heaven

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: My Path to Heaven: A Young Person’s Guide to the Faith

Made for Greatness is a one of a kind journal that encourages 8-12 year olds to develop a positive growth mindset. By reading about recent saints and using journaling prompts, kids will gain confidence and develop habits they can be proud of. Check out my full review here.

Buy it through my affiliate link: Made for Greatness: A Growth Mindset Journal for Courageous Catholic Youth

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Review of “My Book House” Series

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My Book House

Looking for a delightful collection of classic stories, poetry, and unique tales from around the world? My Book House has all this and more! My children all love these charming volumes, full of detailed illustrations and stories we’ve never read anywhere else.

12 Volumes: Something for the Whole Family

In 1928, Olive Beaupre Miller created the My Book House collection to encourage a love of literature in children from the nursery up through high school. There’s an appropriate volume for each child in your family! Volume 1, In The Nursery, contains a wealth of nursery rhymes and short poems from around the world divided by country. In the next book, Story Time, you’ll find short stories, mostly folk tales from a diverse variety of countries: India, Norway, France, Germany, Russia, South Africa, and more. There’s also a variety of poetry interspersed with the stories.

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The subsequent 10 volumes continue the pattern of alternating poetry and prose.

For example, in The Magic Garden you’ll find the Greek myth about Phaeton, fairy tales from Romania, Hungary, Serbia and more, folk tales from New Zealand and Egypt, and selections from Dickens, Shakespeare, and Hawthorn.

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In the other volumes, you’ll find composer sketches, biographies of famous men, myths, and more. From classic fairy tales to folk lore from around the world to great poems, this collection has something to offer every child.

Various Editions

My Book House was in print for nearly 50 years, so several editions have appeared. The very earliest editions were bound in black. Pictured below is the “Rainbow Set” from the 1950s, which was edited and updated by Miller herself. She continued to be involved in the updating of the volumes until her retirement in the early 1960s. The last edition, the white covered one, was published in 1972 and may have had changes made that Miller did not approve.

Why buy it for your family library?

These books are worth buying if you have young children. By listening to, and later reading themselves, these stories from around the world, your children will broaden their horizons and expand their understanding of a variety of cultures and countries. They’ll pour over the detailed artwork. They’ll be inspired to read more by the authors featured. They’ll even have a decent basis for a liberal arts education just by reading these volumes.

Since My Book House has been out of print for almost 50 years, it’s a bit pricey to buy. You can usually find sets on Amazon available for $150-300 depending on the edition.

Rainbow set (affiliate link): My Book House, Volumes 1-12 and Parents’ Guide

White set (affiliate link): My Book House (12 Volume Set)

Volume 1, In the Nursery, has been reprinted recently and is available as a standalone volume on my Bookshop page: https://bookshop.org/a/15310/9780486499062

For more great books for Catholic Kids, check out my Book Lists!

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The Best Picture Books for Little Horse Lovers

Do you have a little one who loves, loves, loves horses? I was that child, and to this day I love horses. Here are my favorite picture books old and new which capture the beauty and spirit of this special animal.

One of Jan Brett’s lesser known books, but still a charming story with lovely illustrations. Fritz is a short, ugly pony that the people say is unworthy to carry the children. But when the beautiful horses shy away in a crisis, Fritz is there for the children.

Buy it through my affiliate link: Fritz and the Beautiful Horses

Buy it through my BookShop Page: https://bookshop.org/lists/the-best-picture-books-for-little-horse-lovers

The Perfect Pony is another pony story about looks being less important than a sweet nature. Katie dreams of a beautiful, prancing horse, but finds that her wise mother is right that the perfect pony may be different than she imagined.

Buy it through my affiliate link: The Perfect Pony

Who doesn’t love Marguerite Henry’s Misty of Chincoteague? In Five O’Clock Charlie, Marguerite Henry tells a memorable story about a winsome old draft horse named Charlie. Love the Wesley Dennis illustrations.

Buy through my affiliate link: Five o’clock Charlie

Buy it through my Bookshop Page: https://bookshop.org/lists/the-best-picture-books-for-little-horse-lovers

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This gorgeous Jane Yolen and Ruth Sanderson story makes a gentle bedtime story about mother love.

Buy it through my affiliate link: Hush, Little Horsie

This touching historical fiction story set in 1843 tells about little Gretchen, separated from her wagon train, and The White Stallion who saved her life.

Buy it through my affiliate link: The White Stallion

Buy it through my Bookshop page: https://bookshop.org/lists/the-best-picture-books-for-little-horse-lovers

Two sisters remember their mother telling them that the Carousel horses waking to life in early spring. They go on an imaginative journey which brings them healing after the death of their mother (trigger warning: mother has died). Gorgeously illustrated by Jim LaMarche.

Buy it through my affiliate link: The Carousel

Once upon a time, there was a boy who “loved horses more than anything else in the world”… The Billy and Blaze series are classic adventures about a boy and his pony. A little lengthier than other picture books, these are also great for young readers.

Buy through my affiliate link: Billy and Blaze Collection

Buy through my Bookshop page: https://bookshop.org/lists/the-best-picture-books-for-little-horse-lovers

In this Caldecott Winning story, a Native American girl cares for her tribe’s horses and eventually becomes a horse herself.

Amazon affiliate link: The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses

Bookshop affiliate page: https://bookshop.org/lists/the-best-picture-books-for-little-horse-lovers

A sleepy child learns from her grandmother how to visualize imaginary Sleep Ponies carrying her away to sweet dreams.

Amazon affiliate link: The Sleep Ponies

A little girl longs for a horse more than anything, but her parents carefully explain why buying one isn’t possible. Instead, she uses her imagination and drawings to fly through the stars with her dream pony.

Amazon affiliate link: My Pony

Bookshop affiliate page: https://bookshop.org/lists/the-best-picture-books-for-little-horse-lovers

Cowboy Small and his pony Cactus explain to little cowpokes how to take good care of a pony and what a cowboy does every day.

Buy it through my affiliate link: Cowboy Small

Bookshop affiliate page: https://bookshop.org/lists/the-best-picture-books-for-little-horse-lovers

Alice and Martin Provensen’s whimsical story about their farm animal perfectly captures the memorable personalities of their herd of horses. This has been one of my favorite books for 25 years.

Buy it through my affiliate link: Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm

Bookshop affiliate page: https://bookshop.org/lists/the-best-picture-books-for-little-horse-lovers

Virginia Lee Burton of Mike Mulligan fame wrote and illustrated this hilarious story about Calico the Wonder Horse. Calico not only outsmarts a band of ornery bad men but convinces them to reform.

Buy through my affiliate link: Calico the Wonder Horse

Bookshop affiliate page: https://bookshop.org/lists/the-best-picture-books-for-little-horse-lovers

For more of my favorite picture books for children, check out my Book Lists!

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Review of “The Mitchells” Series

The Mitchells Five for Victory

A Hilarious Read Aloud

Do you want to enjoy reading aloud to your children but sometimes feel bored with the standard childhood read aloud canon? Check out The Michells series by Hilda Van Stockum, a Catholic mom of six. In this semi-autobiographical series, Hilda Van Stockum perfectly captures the love, chaos, and hilarity of family life. It’s the perfect read aloud for parent and kids: the kids love the Mitchell children’s antics, and I laugh out loud in sympathy with the overwhelmed parents.

A Relatable Catholic Family

Any Anne of Green Gables fans out there? Do you remember the notoroious cake story and Anne’s early writing struggles? She only begins to achieve success when she begins writing about what she knows: small town life on the island.

Similarly, Hilda Van Stockum, a Catholic convert and mother, writes this absolutely charming series about what she knows: life with half a dozen Catholic children.

The Mitchells aren’t a perfect family. Kids break things, lose their siblings, and lose their tempers. But they take care of each other, they apologize, and they work together to keep the home fires burning during World War II.

The first book, The Mitchells: Five for Victory, has the least overtly Catholic content. But in the second book, Canadian Summer, you will see the family going to great lengths to attend Mass. Actually, Mother’s determination to bring the whole family to Mass despite no car, mud puddles, dusty roads, only two bikes, and runaway dogs is quite touching.

Meet the Mitchells

Joan is the responsible oldest girl who’s determined to keep all the children in line. Patsy is a dreamy artist. Peter’s a sturdy boy who feels responsible for protecting his sisters. Angela has the golden curls and blue eyes of an angel and makes more trouble than a houseful of animals. Timmy is a serious baby who bites everything.

Then there’s Granny, a delightful Dutchwoman who doesn’t let her age keep her from adventure. Mother is, refreshingly, an achingly realistic parent who rushes around distributing love and discipline in equal measures. Last but not least, there’s Father, who leaves to fight in World War II as Five for Victory begins with the parting admonition: “NO PETS!”

Of course, the family somehow ends up with a rabbit, some fish, a parrot, a kitten, a squirrel, and a dog by the last chapter…

Subsequent Books

In Canadian Summer, the Mitchells move to Canada. Housing is difficult to find, so Father optimistically rents a remote ski cabin miles inaccessible by road and without power. Mother is not pleased to put it mildly, but over the course of the summer the Mitchells all learn the grace of having less and make new French Canadian Catholic friends.

The last book, Friendly Gables, picks up years later with the oldest Mitchells children in high school. This one has more focus on school interactions and Joan coming of age so is generally more interesting for the 11+ crowd.

Where can I buy the books?

In addition to being a fantastic read aloud, the Mitchell series is a wonderful choice for a middle grade independent reader.

The Mitchells: Five for Victory and its sequels are kept in print by Catholic publisher Bethlehem Books. You can buy the books on their website. The best time to buy is when they run a 50% off sale, usually in November/December.

You can also buy the books through my affiliate links: Five for Victory, Canadian Summer, and Friendly Gables.