Here is some of what made my cut...
I am not big on contemporary authors, but Douglas Bond made our cut. He writes Christian historical fiction. We read his books together as a family. Mike Bowman has written excellent versions of American Tall Tales. 'Madeline Takes Command' is a classic american historical fiction by Brill. Carol Ryrie Brink wrote her award winning 'Caddie Woodlawn' but she also wrote a sequel to that as well as a number of other books. They have all earned shelf space. For the younger set (age 4-8), you have to read 'Milly Molly Mandy' and 'More Milly Molly Mandy' by Brisley. They are very sweet
Marguerite DeAngeli is best known for her book 'The Door in the Wall' but she also wrote a number of other stories and they are all excellent and very collectible. DeJong is best known for 'The Wheel over the Bridge' but my favorite of his is 'The House of Sixty Fathers' a story about WW II and a local boy who gets taken in by a bunch of g.i.'s in China.
We love Freddy the Pig books at this house. They are written by Walter Brooks and are extremely funny. This has been a family favorite read aloud. We have a lot more of them than the trilogy on the shelf. They are also available as books on tape. Francis Hodges Burnett wrote a number of childhood classics, ' A Little Princess' was one of my favorites. Also, 'A Secret Garden' is one of hers. 'Light a Single Candle' is a book for an older (Jr. High+) reader. It is a story about a girl who is blind who gets a guide dog. Butler has also written a book for young children with pictures about guide dogs. You can't miss 'Understood Betsy' by Dorothy Canfield. Even though it has a girl as the main character, all the kids enjoyed it. 'Covered Wagon' by Carr, is a classic story about a family of just children who have to take their wagon over the mountains out west.
We like to read about families with more than two children, as it more closely reflects our life. 'The Family From One End Street' is one of those. It is not deep but it reflects a simpler time and old fashioned values. The others on this shelf are Eleanor Gates 'Poor Little Girl' and 'My Side of the Mountain' by Jean George. This was a favorite with the kids an was one of our earliest read alouds. The children played out this book together for a long time. There are two sequels which are OK and the author wrote a number of other books. You would want to pre-read some of them as I found that her values didn't match our families and she also takes a pretty radical environmental stand in some that I have read, although most are fine. Fred Gipson's 'Old Yeller' is a classic. I have also really enjoyed Elizabeth Jane Grey's books. 'Adam of the Road' is another of her classics. My husband's family is Norwegian. I have looked for books that take place in Norway so that the children learn about their heritage. 'A Norwegian Farm' is one we enjoyed. It is kind of a 'Little House in the Prairie' story that takes place in Norway. I was pleased to find it at a library sale for 50 cents.
Marguerite Henry is one of our favorite authors. We have read many of them aloud together as well as the children reading them on their own. I think I own all of them and they all earned their shelf space. I have two of them in my 'special collection' as they are autographed. Wesley Dennis illustrated most of them. Most of the books center around horses. But they are well written enough that everybody loves them. She also wrote and illustrated a book on birds.
James Kjelgaard is a prolific author who wrote a lot of historical fiction that takes place in America as well as a lot of animal stories, mostly about dogs. They are well done. I used to find them at all the library sales, but they are gone and I haven't seen one in about 5 years. Some of them have been reprinted. I gave all the ones I have shelf space.
Lois Lenski is a Newbery award winner. Her best known book is 'Strawberry Girl'. She writes about the everyday life of kids in all different parts of the United States. My kids have loved her as an author and have read and reread every book I have of hers and have begged me to buy more of them. They are very collectible and thus expensive, but I get them when I find them. She illustrates her own books. She also illustrates the Betsy, Tacy and Tibbs books by Lovelace. They are sweet books of long ago.
I will continue this post another day.
Essentially the books have to reflect our family values, be well written, and enjoyable. I have found these books to meet that criteria.