I was an early and voracious reader. I read through all the book lists and reading challenges I could find, typically completing the Public Library’s summer reading challenges in the first week or two starting at age five. Then I had my first child. She wanted to read early with all her heart but her brain wasn’t wired for it. As time passed I felt sure she was going to miss out on so many wonderful stories because I couldn’t possibly read them all aloud to her. I finally realized we had a wonderful resource at our fingertips—audiobooks! They were such a wonderful way to get the stories in! She started listening for 40 hours a month, on average, and eventually found herself reading confidently along with them. Now she’s reading through lists and challenges too—slowly but steadily.

Kids come in all types and we want to support them in their reading journey wherever they are on it. If they are being read to, reading on their own, reading to each other, or listening to audiobooks—it all counts!

Here are this year's twelve book categories. We went broad on topics to show kids how big the literary world is and how fascinating it can be. Along with these twelve official Challenge categories, we will post monthly mini-challenges in our Facebook group: Reshelving Alexandria Reads. Parents, please join and pass these challenges on to your readers. There will be quarterly drawings for mini-challenge participants and an end of year drawing for Reading Challenge finishers!

We love our Kids Challenge readers and were thrilled with how many participated last year. Let’s see even more of you read with us this year!

Below are a few suggestions for each category to get your mind spinning, accompanied by some very loose age recommendations.

Ready, set, read!

A Picture Book

Older kids! Please do not think this category is not for you! It is! There are more and more picture books being written for an older crowd every day so find some beautiful illustrations and get reading! Otherwise, find a tinier than you human and read them a picture book—you’ll both be the better for it. I promise.

The Night Before Christmas

The Night Before Christmas, illustrated by Roger Duvoisin, is absolutely gorgeous. It has the entire poem by Clement C. Moore and could easily become a family favorite. We have the board book so the illustrations can be enjoyed by even our tiniest humans. It’s tall like a chimney which just adds to the fun!
All ages (alternately, this book could be counted towards the "A Book That Is A Poem" category)

Some more picture books:

The First Book in a Series

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson is finally being reprinted! Pre-orders ship in March!
4 book series
Mid/older (author's recommended reading age is 11 and up)

Some more series:

Head to our Series page for more ideas!

A Holiday Story

Bright April

Bright April by Marguerite De Angeli is a wonderful story that spans many lesser observer holidays.

Some other holiday books:

A Book about Outer Space or That Takes Place in Outer Space

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher and George Lucas are a wonderful re-imaging of a familiar story. Excellent as audiobooks.
All ages

Some more space tales:

A Book That Takes Place During the American Civil War

Big Bad Ironclad

Big Bad Ironclad by Nathan Hale is a graphic novel that covers naval action in the war. One of many historically excellent offerings from Hale.

Some more American Civil War Era titles:

Listen to an Audiobook Read by the Author

Charlotte’s Web

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White is one of our favorite car cds. Charlotte is such an exemplary friend and the story never grows old.
All ages

Some more Author Read books:

A Book That’s Been Made into a Movie

The Hobbit

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien was made into movies (no comment), but long before that travesty it was made into a cartoon movie—sing with me! “Frodo, and the nine fingers, and the ring of dooooooom!”

Some more books that became movies:

A Book About an Animal

The Handbook of Nature Study

The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock—this is a serious gauntlet I'm throwing down. It's 923 pages of fascinating nature information for the advanced reader with a love for all things bright and beautiful. If you commit to 2.5 pages a day you could absolutely eat this elephant. I believe in you!

Some more animal stories:

A Book That is a Poem

You Are My I Love You

You Are My I Love You by Maryann Cusimano Love is a beautiful poem of a parent and child’s relationship. Excellent for the youngest listeners but also a sweet read aloud between a parent and any aged child.
All ages

Some more poems:

A Book That Takes Place on a Continent You’ve Never Visited

Admiral Byrd of Antarctica

Admiral Byrd of Antarctica by Michael Gladych takes place on a continent I’d bet none of us have ever visited—Antarctica! This biography really gets going when Byrd turns thirteen at which point it's one adventure after another.

Some more books from various continents:

A Book With No Pictures

The Disappearing Stranger

The Disappearing Stranger by Lois Walfrid Johnson (book 1 of 10) is my twelve year old daughter’s recommendation. The main female character turns thirteen in book two and there are two main male characters if you have a pre-teen/teen looking for a long adventure series to consume this summer. Lois Walfrid Johnson was one of my favorite brain candy authors as a kid. I look forward to reading her Viking adventure series she wrote after I “aged out” (ie started college and didn’t have time to read any more *tears*).

Some more books with no pictures:

Ambre Sautter Ambre Sautter is a wife, mother, sister, friend, reader. She was homeschooled herself and is currently homeschooling her kiddos in the Midwest with her husband, Erik. She learned to collect (hoard) books at a young age from her Dad. Being the delusional person that she is, she was shocked to discover what she assumed was her 750 book personal library was, in fact, closer to 8,000 volumes.