Helen Keller

When checking out nonfiction books on a famous life like this one, there are so many options, that it can be overwhelming. Disappointing, too, if you order books without seeing them, and they turn out to be dull. So here are a variety of books for a variety of ages on Helen Keller.

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Hand in Hand: based on the real-life story of Helen Keller and Martha Washington, by Jean Little

The author develops this historical fiction novel based on the real relationship that Helen had as a girl with Martha, the cook’s daughter, who was her first friend.  Chapter book, ages 7-10.

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Annie and Helen, by Deborah Hopkinson and Raul Colon

A picture book that begins with Helen’s inability to communicate and ends with the joy of her first letter written home by herself. A thorough and clear explanation of Annie’s methods, with large illustrations for children, and real excerpts from Annie Sullivan’s journal at the time. Picture book, ages 5-10.

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Helen Keller and the Big Storm, by Patricia Lakin, easy reader

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Helen Keller’s Best Friend Belle, by Holly M. Barry,  picturebook

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Helen’s Big World: The Life of Helen Keller,  by Doreen Rappaport

This picture book is similar in style to Annie and Helen, but covers Helen’s whole life from babyhood to death. The large pictures make it attractive to children, and the text is very clear, interesting and informative. Quotes sprinkled throughout are from Helen’s journal this time, instead of Annie’s. Well-done. Picturebook, ages 5-10.


Come Over to My House

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By Dr. Seuss

Illustrated by Katie Kath

This is a fun, easy reader that takes you to dozens of countries around the world, emphasizing different lifestyles but the universal welcome of an open door and an invitation to “Come over to my house! Come over and play.”

For kids who have been studying geography, an enjoyable challenge is to identify every country mentioned, based on the illustrations.

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Ages 2-8

Available from public libraries


Reviewer: Doreen

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One Was Johnny: A Counting Book


By Maurice Sendak

For those kids struggling to read but bored with the careful Reading Level books…

This simple, grade 1-ish level, counting book adds some adventure to the predictable Clifford and Biscuit books, by way of humorous pictures and events. Definite boy-appeal, although my daughter laughed at it too.

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Available from public libraries

Ages 4-7

Reviewer: Doreen

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Houndsley and Catina


by James Howe

The stories about this cat and dog centre around the homes of two friends who work at friendship, for a friendship with two different characters will always have a few kinks. How do you deal with a friend who wants to be a writer but writes horribly? Or who won’t stop talking when you’re trying to enjoy nature on a canoe ride? What about a snowy day lacking in excitement? These books offer gentle solutions that celebrate enjoying the simple things in life. Each book has a few chapters with a satisfying ending to the book.

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The illustrations in this series use a casual-looking watercolour style, but are beautifully done. You can see the thought and planning that went into each picture, and I love how the artist adds to each friend’s character simply by how she depicts their homes and clothing—did you notice Catina’s love for enormous, ornately patterned skirts and dresses? And Houndsley’s distinctive British air?

Other titles in the series:

Houndsley and Catina and the Quiet Time


Houndsley and Catina: Plink and Plunk


Houndsley and Catina and the Birthday Surprise


Not officially Easy Readers, but could be used as such, (probably a Level 3), since they are published in that format with short chapters.

Ages 4-8

Available from public libraries


Reviewer: Doreen



Ask Mr. Bear


By Marjorie Flack

An oldie but goldie, first published in the 1930’s and available now as picture book with audio CD. Young children will enjoy this short, simple story with a surprising ending. There is a slight tension at the climax as the bear leans in close, and some repetition throughout, which combine to make it a classic for very young listeners. The creative colour combinations and simple black line drawings give this book an appealing look


Ages 2-6

Picture book

Available from public libraries


Reviewer: Doreen


Some Bugs


By Angela diTerlizzi

A great book to read in the spring or summer. It’s a board book, but not just geared to toddlers and preschoolers who will enjoy pointing out the bugs they recognize. Elementary students will also learn basics about the great variety of bugs in our own backyards, and the book encourages them to get out there and find them!


The illustrations in this book are colourful and the bugs look almost cute with their big eyes, but, regardless, are actually anatomically correct and quite realistic.

The easy text makes it a good book for beginning readers.

Wondering what that bug IS? The back page identifies all 4 dozen of them!


Ages 2-8

Board book

Available from public libraries


Reviewer: Doreen


Iris and Walter and Baby Rose


By Elissa Haden Guest, Green Light Readers, Level 3

I never thought we’d see an early reader on a colicky baby, but here we were this morning: the kids asked me to read Iris and Walter and Baby Rose and I did so, over the hollering of the colicky baby in my arms. We had to laugh. Our baby was providing the sound effects! Boy, did this story ever hit close to home  🙂

We have read a few Iris and Walter readers and our only caution is that there has been one “Gosh” in each book.

Ages 2-9 for reading aloud or read alone

Early Reader, level 3


Reviewer: Doreen