The top books every home should have (for every age!)

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Whether you’re an avid reader, or a more reluctant one, we all have those “Ah-ha!” moments when a particular book strikes you directly to your core.  It could make you laugh out loud, or cry big rolling tears.  Maybe an irony paralyzes, or you discover a truth so personal you have to yell, “Ureka!”  (or some other more modern expletive).

We are thrilled to have compiled a list from HowDoesShe staff and readers like you of books that have deeply touched us as children, young adults, and now adults.  We hope to bring you some exciting titles that you may not have heard of before.

These are the books that have changed the way we view the world and made us fall head over heels with reading.  These are titles we plan on revisiting again and again, books we hope our children will enjoy.  They are so good, they must be present in the home for everyone to enjoy.

Of course, there are so many great books out there and we can’t feature them all, so feel free to add your picks in the comment section below.  Without further ado, here is our compilation of titles every home should own!

*Please note: I have read many of these books, but certainly not all of them.  I’ve tried to mark the ones I know contain adult language or adult themes  with an * by the title.  But if I missed one, feel free to comment below.

P.S.  All titles and picture collages are linked to Amazon so you can read more about them.  It’s by far my favorite place to shop for books!

Top 10 Children’s picture books

The love of reading starts here.  Reading to children when they are young plants a seed for strong literacy and love for learning. Through poetic simplicity and vibrant illustrations, children’s books are powerful springboards for the imagination.  Not only do they teach moral concepts and life skills, they have a lasting effect that follow us even into adulthood.  You probably remember certain books that impacted you as a child; here are a few new ones we know your child will love!


Love You Forever by Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (and other If You Give… books) by Laura Joffe Numeroff and Felicia Bond

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett

Enemy Pie by Derek Munson and Tara Calahan King

I Loathe You by David Slonim

The Oak Inside the Acorn by Max Lucado and George Angelini

Geronimo Stilton books by Geronimo Stilton

The Way I Feel by Janan Cain

Honorable Mentions:

Harvey Potter’s Balloon Farm by Mark Beuhner

Bus-a-saurus Bop by Diane Z. Shore and David Clark

Top 10 Children’s Literature

My favorite part of the elementary school day was going to the library.  I’d peruse shelves and shelves of books, carefully running my fingers along their spines until one caught my interest.  That was where I met the Boxcar Children, R.L. Stine, and where I first traveled to Narnia with Lucy.  Here are some great places and friends that children everywhere deserve to meet.


The Giver (Quartet) by Lois Lowry

The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke

Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls

Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan

Skinny Bones by Barbara Park

Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne

The 39 Clues series by Rick Riordan

How To Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell

Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park

Nate the Great series by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

Honorable Mentions:

Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

Top 10 Young Adult Literature

Known simply as YAL, this beloved genre of tweens, teens, and adults alike has produced popular page-turners and profound literature as well.  Series like Twilight and The Hunger Games have sucked readers into their gravitational pull, and so will the following titles.


The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Divergent series by Veronica Roth

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

*Enders Game by Orson Scott Card

*Shattering Glass by Gail Giles

The Maze Runner series by James Dashner

The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare

Fallen series by Lauren Kate

Honorable Mentions:

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

*Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

Top 10 Adult Fiction

After Green Eggs and Ham and To Kill a Mockingbird, our love for books lives on.  Like a thirst we cannot quite quench, a lot of us are always on the search for a great book.  These page turners were titles that impacted the lives of our staff at HowDoesShe, as well as our Facebook readers.  If you’re looking for the good ones, give these titles a try.

*Note: the image for the book Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand appears in the fiction section, but it does belong in the nonfiction section.



A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

*The Help by Kathryn Stockett

These is My Words by Nancy Turner

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

*One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

*Little Bee by Chris Cleave

*Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Honorable Mentions:

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

*The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

Top 10 Adult Nonfiction

Sometimes, another person’s real-life experience or research can touch us so deeply that we change the way we parent, the way we love, the way we feel about life.  The following nonfiction books touched us, and our readers as well.  Perhaps they will strike a chord with you too.


Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Heaven is Here: An Incredible Story of Hope, Triumph, and Everyday Joy by Stephanie Nielson

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Parenting With Love And Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay

The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence by Gavin de Becker

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow

The Vow: The True Evens That Inspired the Movie by Kim Carpenter, Krickitt Carpenter, and Dana Wilkerson

Left to Tell: Discovering god Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza

Death Be Not Proud by John J. Gunther

The Five Love Languages by Gary D Chapman

Honorable Mentions:

*The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls

Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss by Joel Fuhrman

The Classics

If you don’t own them already, now is the time to outfit your home with some of the most widely loved and treasured classics of all time.

Children’s Picture Book Classics

No childhood would be complete without these classics, and no home should be either.  If you don’t already have them, make sure to check out the books that make up the “canon” of children’s literature.

Dr. Seuss books, especially Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, and Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

Shel Silverstein books, especially The Giving Tree, Where the Sidewalk Ends, and A Light in the Attic

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendek

Are You My Mother by P.D. Eastman

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Sandra Boynton books

Children’s Literature Classics

Time travel with Meg and her little brother to heroically save her father, swing from the rope swing into Terabithia with Jess and Leslie in a heart-wrenching tale of friendship, and dig hole after hole with forever loveable Stanley Yelnats.  But whatever you do, please don’t let your children grow up without knowing these great books!

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (and The Chronicles of Narnia) by C.S. Lewis

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White and Garth Williams

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Superfudge (and other books) by Judy Blume

Holes by Louis Sachar

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

James and the Giant Peach (and other books) by Roald Dahl

Old Yeller by Fred Gipson

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Young Adult Classics

One of the most popular genres, here are the YAL books that every home should own.  Seriously, they’re that good.

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R Tolkien

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

*Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Classics for Everyone

They’re considered classics for a reason.  We love them for their unforgettable stories and valuable life lessons, not to mention their use of beautiful language and literary devices.  A lot of people are intimidated by them, but don’t be!  They are classics because they were, are, and will timelessly be fabulous books.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

All John Steinbeck books, especially Cannery Row and *Of Mice and Men

Night by Elie Wiesel

Jane Austen books, especially Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

1984 by George Orwell

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

There are surely countless titles that you and your family adores that are not on this list.  Of course, a post like this could go on, and on, and on…you get the point.  But the real point is to get reading!  You, your kids, your reluctant non-reader husband, your friend, neighbor, dog, you name it.  Reading can transport to wonderful places and transform us into creative, caring, knowledgeable individuals.

If there are books that have changed your life that aren’t on our list, PLEASE share them below!  Happy reading!

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