Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Seattle parents’ favorite children’s books, for themselves and their kids

Local moms and dads recall the most-loved stories from their own childhoods

A group of local parents recently took time to reflect on what they’ve read and loved over the years, both with their kids — and as kids themselves.

Some of the parents’ favorite books as grade-school kids:

“The Bump in the Night” by Anne Rockwell

The Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace, including “Betsy-Tacy,” “Betsy-Tacy and Tib” and “Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill”

“Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White

“The Trumpet of the Swan” by E.B. White

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series

“The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster

“A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle

“The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis

The Brothers Grimm’s ““The Elves and the Shoemaker” and “The Magic Porridge Pot”

“The Pied Piper of Hamelin”

“Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH” by Robert C. O’Brien

“The Three Investigators” series (also known as “Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators”)


Parents’ favorite books to read aloud to kids of various ages:

“Danny, the Champion of the World” by Roald Dahl

The Maisy Mouse series by Lucy Cousins

“The Trouble with Trolls” by Jan Brett

“The Wheel on the School” by Meindert DeJong, illustrated by Maurice Sendak

“Each Peach Pear Plum” by Allan and Janet Ahlberg

The Mercy Watson series, by Kate DiCamillo

The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling

“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee (for an older kid)

“The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norman Juster

Samrita, a Northeast Seattle resident, said her favorite books as a teen included mysteries by legendary British writer Agatha Christie and “The Secret Seven” by Enid Blyton. She certainly wants her middle school-age son to read her favorites too. “I want to share my childhood experiences with him, which will open doors to a healthy debate and conversation,” she said. “Otherwise, kids these days are too busy with media besides school and activities.”

“We’re pretty liberal with our girls’ reading choices,” said Melissa, a parent of two children, 8 and 11, in Bryant. “If I’m concerned, I’ll check Common Sense Media, and encourage the girls to ask questions. We limit based on sex and violence.” She hopes her kids will take an interest in reading Michael Crichton’s “Jurassic Park,” with its many questions about science and ethics, as well as “All the Light We Cannot See,” by Anthony Doerr, which won the 2015 Alex Award, given for adult novels that are also appropriate for young adults.

Noah, a father of two middle-grade kids in Ballard, recalls, “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress” by Robert A. Heinlein as a particular favorite of his as an older kid. And he’ll make sure his kids read it, too: “Yes, because it is required sci-fi reading!”

“I remember reading the Little House series and cringing over some parts, like when Pa does blackface or Ma makes her comments about Indians,” said Kerry, a Wedgwood parent. “But those are good discussion points, too. It also has great things like Laura discussing how Pa makes her feel better about having brown hair instead of blond hair.”

“I’m also much more conscious of trying to get my kids to read books by and about minorities,” said Kerry, whose current recommendations for her teens include “Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah, “The Color of Water” by James McBride, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” by William Kamkwamba, “Millicent Min: Girl Genius” by Lisa Yee and “Totto-chan” by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi.

Bill, a dad of two kids under 8 in Queen Anne, comments that he will not be reading or recommending V.C. Andrews to their daughter and son when they’re older, noting that his wife, Kelly, read the ’70s horror best-seller “Flowers in the Attic” as a kid and  “it really disturbed her!” “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” will be high on their list of recommended books for their kids … someday.

More on books and reading:

Read to your kids! It’s fun, cozy and crucial (at all ages)

About the Author

Jillian O'Connor

Jillian O’Connor lives in Seattle with her husband, two sons and a dog named after the Loch Ness Monster.