14 Favorite Books Recommended by My Daughters, Sofia and Virginia

School is out for my daughters, Sofia (4th grade) and Virginia (3rd grade), but they still like to while away the hours reading.

Here are some good books that my daughters have enjoyed now, and over the years:

My Life with the Chimpanzees by Jane Goodall

Sofia (10) says: “I like how in this book, Jane Goodall tells the events in her life really well. I especially like the stories about her and the chimps.  This book also inspired me to do things, like keep going on my wildlife club, and to donate to places who help animals.”


The Emily Windsnap
series by Liz Kessler

Sofia (10) says of this series of four books: “I like this series, because they have mermaids, castles, curses, and magic.”

Virginia (8) says:  “I only read the first book, The Tail of Emily Windsnap, but I want to read the other ones because I like magic and stuff.”


A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Sofia (10) says of this series of 13 books: “I like these books because sometimes it seems like Sunny, Klaus, and Violet Baudelaire are in such a situation that there is no possible way to get out, but then thanks to their amazing talents, they can get out of the problem.  I also like these books because there seem to be so many secrets that died along with their parents, and it is interesting to try to figure them out myself.”

Virginia (8) says: “I love these books because they feel so real and it feels as if I’m the one who actually lost my parents and went on unfortunate adventures. Also, I love adventures and these are the books that contain a various amount of adventures.”

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

Sofia (10) says: “I love Roald Dahl’s books, especially James and the Giant Peach, because the huge insects that James finds inside the peach seem so scary at first, but they really are very nice to him.  I also like when the gigantic peach is rolling down the hill, and crushes bony Aunt Spider, and Fat Aunt Sponge.

“Some other books that I would recommend by Roald Dahl are: The BFG (see below), George’s Marvelous Medicine, Giraffe and the Pelly and Me, Matilda, and The Twits.”

The Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey

Sofia (10) says:  “I love these books because they are SO funny!  That is all I can say, that they are incredibly funny!  (But if you are a grownup that hates “potty talk”, then you might want to not read these books.) My favorite of all the Dav Pilkey books is The Adventures of Ook and Gluk, Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future because Ook and Gluk are so naughty and funny and they play a lot of tricks on their chief.”

Virginia (8) says:  “These books are the funniest, silliest books you have ever picked up in your life.  I love reading these books anytime-just for entertainment. Other books I would recommend: The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby
and The Dumb Bunnies. (All by Dav Pilkey.)”

The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

We started reading this series when Sofia was in kindergarten. I would read a few chapters each night, and by the time we had finished, Virginia was old enough to pay attention (age 4) and Sofia was finishing 1st grade. I remember my mom reading these books to me and my sister, and how it helped give perspective to my life. I often wondered what Laura would think about our cash registers, fast cars, telephones, and running water.  Sofia says it’s made her re-examine her life in the same way:  what would Laura think if she could see all the things we do that seem so normal to us, like using computers, switching on electric fans, turning on lights on the ceiling, and filling a glass of filtered water from the refrigerator?

Here is what Sofia (10) says:  “I liked for my mom to read me these books, about three chapters each night.  I liked to read about what it was like to be living in Laura’s time.”

My Weird School books by Dan Gutman

Virginia (8) says: “These books are one of my favorite collections. They are packed with stories about out-of-their-mind teachers and some confused kids who do not know what the heck is going on with the school’s teachers. For example, the kids have to teach Miss Daisy multiplication but she still doesn’t get it. (By the way, the Weird School books take place during 2nd grade, My Weird School Daze books take place in 3rd grade, and My Weirder School books take place in 4th grade.)

The Daring Book for Girls by Andrea J. Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz

Sofia (10) says:  “This book is really great for girls who are bored and have nothing to do.  It also has fun and easy activities to do, with easy instructions.”

Virginia (8) says:  “This book is my favorite guide for girls filled with crafts, projects, and stories. Also my favorite thing about it is that it shows easy instructions for anything you find in it!”

p.s. There is also a The Dangerous Book for Boys.

The Rainbow Magic series by Daisy Meadows

Virginia (8) says:  “I like these books because they are full of two of my favorite things: Magic and Adventure. Also, I love it how each and every fairy has a different personality, and theme.”



Tuck Everlasting and The Search for Delicious, both by Natalie Babbitt

Sofia (10) says:  “I love both of these books because their worlds are so different and impossible.  The world in Tuck Everlasting is like ours except for the magical pond which when you drink from it, you can live forever.  The Search for Delicious is so interesting with mermaids and elves, secret keys and unexpected endings.”

National Geographic Kids Almanac 2012

Sofia (10) says:  “I love to bring this book on long trips to entertain me. This book always has something new that I didn’t know. For example, there is such a thing as a liger (a lion combined with a tiger).”

The BFG by Roald Dahl

Virginia (8) says: “This is practically my favorite book filled with giants, fantasy, silly words, and snozzcumbers. Do you know what the BFG (or Big Friendly Giant) calls crocodiles?  Crocodowndillies.  I am sure you will absolutely love this book.”

“Other books I would recommend: James and the Giant Peach (see above), George’s Marvelous MedicineGiraffe and the Pelly and MeMatildaThe Twits, and The Witches. (All by Roald Dahl.)”

The Candymakers by Wendy Mass

Sofia (10) says of this book:  “My friend Zara gave me this book for my birthday, saying that it was really good.  I didn’t really want to read about candymakers when I first looked at the book, but I read it anyway.  I soon realized that this book was not really just about candy makers!  When some kids enter a candymaking contest, they don’t really know what unexpected things could happen.  For example, they don’t know that one of the contestants is really a spy looking for the factory’s secret ingredient.”


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  • Jennifer B. June 23, 2012, 2:57 pm

    I love books and am hoping to instill that love in my 2 year old daughter. Some books I adored as a child around age 10 are the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books and the Bunnicula books… thought you might want to look into those.
    I very much enjoy your blog- I just found it.
    Thank you,

    • Amy June 23, 2012, 2:59 pm

      Hi Jennifer,

      It’s great to hear from you! I totally remember the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books! Don’t remember Bunnicula, so that’s something for me to look up. Thank you for sending me your ideas.


  • Beth June 21, 2012, 11:34 pm

    Great list! Many of my daughters’ (7 and 9) favorites are on here. My daughters also like the almanac – might be a different year that they have because they are fascinated by the “zorse.” Some suggestions from us – doll shop downstairs, where the mountain meets the moon, and the geronimo Stilton series. My 9 year old also loves the who was series that the other commentor mentioned.

    • Amy June 23, 2012, 3:18 pm

      Hi Beth,

      So glad our kids have similar taste in books! I know we listed a lot of popular ones there. And yes, I think they come out with an almanac every year. We have the 2011 version, actually. I’ll have to tell my daughters about the “zorse”!

      Thank you for sharing your suggestions: the Doll Shop Downstairs and the Mountain Meets the Moon are new to us. We need more ideas to fill up the summer!

      Take care,

  • emily young June 19, 2012, 6:48 am

    Great post!! My soon to be 9 year old twins (boy and girl) love many of your book choices as well. We are also great library users. My children are loving the Who Was book series. They are a series of book for kids on all different famous people (Ronald Reagan, Daniel Boone, George Washington, Martin Luther king, etc…). They love them!!! I know our library has most of them. Enjoy your summer with your family!! Looking forward to all your new posts. BTW, if you have any newly painted rooms or great color choices can you send pictures. Your home s beautiful and I love all your paint color choices! Thanks. Emily

    • Amy June 19, 2012, 7:24 pm

      Hi Emily,

      Thank you so much for pointing us toward the Who Was books. My kids are surprisingly into historical figures like presidents, so this might be just up their alley.

      Re painting: I appreciate your confidence in me! We actually haven’t done much more since the last post about renovating, except for the front porch. We repainted with Farrow & Ball “London Clay” (color-matched with regular paint) and Pale Powder, a really light green-blue, for the porch ceiling. I will try to get up a post about that since you are interested. :-)

      Thanks for writing in,

  • Tracy June 18, 2012, 11:21 pm

    I love this, Amy! Some of those books are new to us. To return the favor, have your girls check out “The Mysterious Benedict Society” if they haven’t already. It’s a lot fun.

    I love your articles and have enjoyed watching your house and yard come together. Can’t wait to see the slide!


    • Amy June 19, 2012, 7:21 pm

      Hi Tracy,

      Thanks for the recommendation of The Mysterious Benedict Society. It sounds intriguing! The back yard and slide are shaping up nicely. I’ll post pictures when it’s all done!


  • martha June 18, 2012, 9:33 pm


    Do you think some of your philosophy about frugality came from your early exposure to the Little House on the Prairie series?

    • Amy June 18, 2012, 10:53 pm

      Hi Martha,

      That is a good question! I think it may have had a good part. It helped me realize that the life we are living so intensely right now is just a blip. All the things that we cling onto — gadgets, machines, technology — are not really necessary to living life fully. And I did get a sense of the satisfaction of doing things the “hard way”: working with your hands, getting dirty, making things from scratch.

      Thanks for making me think about this!


  • marian June 18, 2012, 9:30 pm

    Talk about a frugal idea. Books may be the cheapest, best entertainment there is. And a good hardback book will be passed down for generations.


    • Amy June 18, 2012, 10:55 pm

      Hi Marian,

      You are so right about books being frugal entertainment — especially when they’re borrowed! We are so grateful for our libraries, and we remember them in our charity giving. You also bring up a good point about the how long-lasting books can be. Not maybe the flimsy Scholastic books, but as you say, the hardback ones that end up looking so cool and weathered on the shelves. Like art itself!


  • Liz Carmody June 18, 2012, 9:19 pm


    I, too, love the Little House Books. Even as a grown woman I enjoy re-reading them. I even found a book in Portland OR (Powell’s Books) that has pictures and descriptions of the places mentioned in the Little House series. Someday I hope to be able to visit some of these sites.

    Keep up the good work.

  • Lynn June 18, 2012, 9:19 pm

    We use the library too, but books make great gifts. So we often buy books from Amazon or the local book store. Even newborn babies get books from us!

    • Amy June 18, 2012, 10:57 pm

      Hi Lynn,

      You are so right. Books make great gifts, and not many people feel OK giving used books, so Amazon can come in handy there. As we pay more attention to community, I am more conscious of supporting local independent bookstores. Yes, Amazon is convenient and cheap, but the expertise, coziness, and colorfulness of neighborhood stores is pretty awesome too.

      Thanks for writing in,