Book Series to Read & Love

One of my family’s favorite vacations was to Iceland. The natural beauty was the main attraction, but I’ve also always felt a special place in my heart for Iceland, a country with many book lovers. They even have a unique holiday tradition, Jolabokaflod, where you give loved ones a new book on Christmas Eve, and then everyone spends the evening reading. A great gift is the first book in a collection that promises hours and hours of happy reading. The series below are all ones our family has enjoyed together, often as read-alouds. However, they also make great gifts for kids to read on their own (and as a bonus, if they like the series, you have a whole bunch of future gifts already picked). 


Toys Go Out: Being the Adventures of a Knowledgeable Stingray, a Toughy Little Buffalo, and Someone Called Plastic by Emily Jenkins. 

The first of a series of books told from the perspective of the toys in a household; this book is an excellent transition to chapter books. The chapters are short, and there are some illustrations. The stories are sweet and hilarious. Suitable for very young kids as well as their older siblings.


The Doll People by Ann. M. Martin

This first installment in the series (of four books) tells the story of Annabelle Doll, an eight-year-old doll who has been living in a dollhouse for over a hundred years. She is tired of the same humdrum existence and longs for a friend, so she is thrilled when the Funcraft family moves into her house. Along with introducing the characters, this first novel centers on the search for Annabelle’s long-lost aunt as Tiffany Funcraft and Annabelle have a series of exciting adventures together. 


Ramona series by Beverly Cleary

Classics for a reason. No one, and I mean no one, “gets” kids like Beverly Cleary does. Although parts of the stories are dated, the emotions and struggles growing up that Ramona has will feel familiar to kids today. Funny and warm-hearted without ever being sentimental. 


The Frog Princess by E.D. Baker 

Disney’s movie by the same name is loosely based on this book, which in turn is loosely based on The Frog Prince by the Brothers Grimm. In the first book, Princess Emeralda kisses a frog who claims to be a prince but ends up turned into a frog (that’s about the full extent of the similarity to the Disney movie). This is the first of nine books in the series that follow Princess Emeralda as she navigates her magical world. It’s a fantasy series, but Emeralda is a real girl: imperfect but strong, intelligent, and relatable. 


Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood 

Set in Victorian England, the Incorrigible Children are three young children raised by wolves and recently discovered by Lord Ashton in his manor. He hires a young governess, Penelope Lumley, to come and tame them. The first book hints at a mystery surrounding the Ashton family curse. In all honesty, the mystery is stretched out over six books and isn’t particularly mysterious by the end. However, the books are so quirky and fun that the charm isn’t in the mystery.


Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins 

What would happen if Alice in Wonderland took place in New York City, but Alice was a boy named Gregor? That was the premise that Suzanne Collins started with for this exciting adventure fantasy series. As you might expect, the Underland that Gregor encounters is nothing like Wonderland. Populated with humans (Underlanders) who have chosen to live underground and beasts like giant rats and cockroaches, it’s a place full of magic, beauty, and danger. 


The Fairy-Tale Detectives: The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley 

Two young girls who are recently orphaned go to live with their grandmother. The town seems a little odd, and they quickly discover that they are descendants of the Brothers Grimm, and that the famous Grimm fairy tales were a history book. When a rampaging giant shows up, they are quickly sucked into helping to solve the mystery of who sent him so that they can save the town. This nine-book series is fun to read as it is populated with familiar characters from fairy tales, nursery rhymes, and other literature.