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Reading List for Kids from Jane Beshear


As a part of her ongoing reading recommendations initiative, First Lady Jane Beshear today announced a special reading list for the Third Annual Kentucky Literacy Celebration, March 4–8. The celebration will involve several statewide events focused on improving literacy levels for all Kentuckians, including a kick-off event with approximately 4,000 fourth-graders at Rupp Arena on March 1.

“Reading is a fundamental tool that we must encourage children to utilize at an early age,” said Mrs. Beshear. “Literacy and reading serve as the foundation for learning and achieving goals throughout life. This season, my selections for young readers include many classic and fantasy tales. These books inspire and engage imaginations in a way that will help our children want to keep reading.”

2013 Literacy Week Reading Recommendations

  1. Moo, Baa, La La La! by Sandra Boynton (Infant) – “This board book features whimsical characters, nontraditional text and rhymes that are perfect for reading aloud and engaging young readers. With more than five million copies currently in print, it is listed as one of ‘Publishers Weekly’s Bestselling Children Books of All Time.’”
  2. Narnia: The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis (Ages 8-11) – “This is the sixth of seven novels in the Chronicles of Narnia series. This fantasy-driven text describes how the lion Aslan created the magical world of Narnia and how it exists as one of many in a multi-universe of changing worlds.”
  3. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (Ages 8-11) – “This classic English novel follows the young, contrary Mary Lennox who moves in to her uncle’s manor and meets her sick, ill-tempered cousin Colin. The two children discover a hidden, abandoned garden filled with magic. The garden begins to flourish again as the children themselves grow to become better people.”
  4. The Georges and the Jewels by Jane Smiley (Ages 10 and up) – “Set on a California ranch in the 1960's, this young adult novel is centered around a teenage girl named Abby who finds refuge from her struggles at school and home with the horses on her family’s ranch. Abby is tasked with taming an unruly gelding horse named Onery George, and the lessons she learns training him are paralleled by the lessons she learns in dealing with her father and the girls who bully her at school.”
  5. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McClosky (Ages 6-8) – “This Caldecott Award-winning classic was described by the New York Times as ‘one of the merriest picture books ever.’ It tells the story of Mrs. Mallard and her baby birds as she leads them to safety through the busy streets of Boston. The ducklings soon grow up and are able to brave the crazy crowds and travel and swim safely on their own.”
  6. The Secret Soldier by Ann McGovern (Ages 8-11) – “This historical fiction novel follows Deborah Sampson, who pretends to be a man to serve as soldier in the continental army during the Revolutionary War. Readers will stay engaged with this suspenseful, thrilling story as Deborah struggles to keep her identity a secret through exhausting marches and bloody battles against the English army.”
  7. Farming by Gail Gibbons (Ages 5-8) – “Filled with vivid, bright colors, this how-to book depicts aspects of life on a farm. It shows how every season brings its own specific chores, crops and food and is both entertaining and educational for young readers.”
  8. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson (Ages 2-5) – “First published in 1955, this board book is certain to help spur young readers’ imaginations. It follows 4-year old Harold as he creates his own world, simply by drawing it with his purple crayon.”
  9. Helen Keller by Margaret Davidson (Ages 7-11) – “This Scholastic biography depicts the life of one of the most inspiring figures in American history – Helen Keller. It describes how Helen overcomes being both deaf and blind to learn to talk, read, graduate from college with honors and teach others.”
  10. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (Ages 3 and up) – “This landmark book offers delightful illustrations and a memorable story that should be familiar to every child. The tale tells the story of Peter as he disobeys his mother and ventures in to Mr. McGregor’s garden, where he comes dangerously close to getting caught.”

Mrs. Beshear will be traveling across the state during Kentucky Literacy Celebration Week to visit a number of schools, adult education centers, and libraries to promote reading education and learn about community literacy programs. Cities she will be visiting include Bowling Green, Hopkinsville, Henderson, Morehead, Madisonville, Owingsville, Richmond, Versailles, Lexington, Louisville, Hazard and Hyden. More details about each stop will be released soon.

To learn more about the Kentucky Literacy Celebration, please visit