Picture of books liked by the Obama family on a yellow background

Alicia Fernandes/Penguin

Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (1967)

Max can’t help but cause mischief and act like a wild thing, so his mum sends him to bed without dinner. But whilst he’s lying in bed, his room begins to transform into a forest. A boat goes past so Max hops in, and he is taken across the ocean to a far-off place where the other wild things are. Maurice Sendak’s iconic tale had the honour of being read and acted out by both Michelle and Barack Obama in 2016 as part of the White House’s annual Easter Egg Roll. And they totally nailed it.

Recommended reading age: 2-5 years old

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (1883)

Barack has mentioned he was a big fan of adventure stories growing up, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island was one of his favourites. The classic tale revolves around a young boy called Jim Hawkins. After an old sea captain dies in his parent’s inn leaving behind a mysterious map, Jim embarks on an epic voyage with a band of not-so-nice pirates to dig up the infamous Captain Flint’s buried treasure.

Recommended reading age: 8-11 years old

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (1969)

To help give parents a break – which was much-needed during peak lockdown earlier this year – Michelle lent her story reading skills to PBS KIDS and chose to read one of her favourite children’s books, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. We’re sure most book lovers are familiar with this timeless story, but for those who aren’t, it features a very little and very peckish caterpillar. After hatching out of an egg, he sets off to find some food and ends up eating so much he undergoes a surprise transformation. A must-read that deserves a spot on everyone’s bookshelf.

Recommended reading age: 3-5 years old

There’s a Dragon in Your Book by Tom Fletcher & Greg Abbott (2018)

Another story Michelle couldn’t wait to read for PBS KIDS, There’s a Dragon in Your Book is from Tom Fletcher’s hit interactive Who’s in Your Book? series. Upon opening the first page, you’ll see that there is a strange egg in your book and it looks ready to hatch… A wonderful book to share together, readers old and young will have fun stroking, poking and imagining to help the little dragon fly off on her own adventure.

Recommended reading age: 3-5 years old

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (2014)

Chosen as one of Obama’s 'O' Book Club picks, Jacqueline Woodson’s award-winning memoir Brown Girl Dreaming tells the story of her childhood and what it was like growing up as an African-American girl in the 1960s and 1970s. Told through a series of vivid and mesmerising poetry, Woodson recounts her awareness of the Civil Rights movement, her dual homes in South Carolina and New York, and her burgeoning love for writing. This is a moving and thought-provoking book that every young reader should pick up.

Recommended reading age: 10-13 years old

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck (Book 8) by Jeff Kinney (2013)

Luck hasn’t been on Greg Heffley’s side lately. His best friend Rowley has a new girlfriend so Greg has been kicked to the curb. And he’s just found out his extended family (which includes his wild cousins) are coming to stay for Easter. What a nightmare. So, Greg turns to a Magic-8-Ball toy he finds and lets that make his decisions for him. Will things start going his way soon? Malia and Sasha Obama are reportedly big fans of the hilarious Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, having been seen with both Hard Luck and Cabin Fever.

Recommended reading age: 9-12 years old

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle (1967)

This beloved book has been read to audiences by Michelle and her daughters – they’re obviously big fans of Eric Carle’s colourful animal collages! Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is a rhythmic tale that follows a variety of different animals as they spot each other. A great one to read aloud together and help young children learn about different colours and animals.

Recommended reading age: 2-5 years old

Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters by Barack Obama (2010)

Written by Obama whilst he was President, this charming short book is a lesson in history as well as an inspiring message to all children. Georgia O’Keefe, Billie Holiday, Martin Luther King Jr. and Albert Einstein are just a few of the influential individuals included. Illustrated beautifully by Loren Long, Obama’s book teaches how it is possible for one person to make a difference and change the world for the better.


Recommended reading age: 5-7 years old

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