Childhood is the time when we as people are most open to new ideas, hobbies, manners etc. This is when we absorb the most from the world around us. It’s also for many children a time when our world is the smallest. Most young kids don’t travel far outside their immediate area, and do not get to witness different environments and cultures.
One thing we can do to help broaden their horizons is read to them and with them as they get older. Not only will reading introduce your children to worlds, people, places, creatures and things they could never have imagined, it will also make them more inclined to read as they grow older.
There numerous articles and stories about the benefits of reading to and with children, so I’m not going to spend much time on that. Instead, I’d like to give you a list of some great books to read to your child, read with your child, and then to encourage your child to read on their own.
Here are some of what I think are the best children’s books out there.
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
This book has been comforting and exciting children for generations. It inspires them to use the imagination to show their wild side, while at the same time teaching them it’s not a way to live all the time. And in the end, the love of your family is what you need most. This was always one of my favorite stories.
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
A tender classic that is often read in schools. It’s a poignant story about generosity, and to be honest, greed. The tree gives everything for a little boy who seems for a while not to appreciate it. Of course it ends peacefully. It teaches about giving and gratitude. And for some kids it teaches you to see trees as living objects, not just “wood.” Also recommend his book Where the Sidewalk Ends, and any others.
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
This one is just too adorable to leave out. It’s a simple tale of a mother duck leading her young babies through Boston. Younger kids especially love it. The book was found so popular there were statues made in the Public Garden in Boston of the mother duck and her eight ducklings.
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
This series for many kids may have been the first to introduce them to another culture. Madeline is a plucky little French girl that leads us through boarding school and Paris with poise and fun. Madeline stands out just a bit from her follow school mates, which many can identify with. The rhyming and lyrical story telling is another great feature.
The Lorax by Dr. Suess (and all the rest of his books)
Dr. Suess is amazing; generations of children have loved his stories. The combination of their rhythmical and illogical storytelling and the fun and whimsical illustrations are always a hit. I’ve never known a person who hasn’t liked at least one of his books. The Lorax is a favorite of mine due to its environmental message, which still managed to come across fun and playful. The Cat in the Hat is another favorite.
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
This cute and hilarious book is about a child’s box of crayons that decide to go on strike based on amusing perceived grievances. The drawings are reminiscent of a child’s coloring. Each color has its own personality and concerns. It’s a fun book that encourages creativity and individuality.
Stone Soup by Marilyn Sapienza
Stone Soup is actually a folktale and it has been retold and changed by many different authors. The version by this author is the one I’m most familiar with. It’s such an inspiring story about community and generosity. It teaches children about sharing with the less fortunate and bonding with neighbors and friends. You may find that you love this book yourself!
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
This is a slightly sad but beautiful story that teaches children what it means to be real. Its heartwarming tale has stayed relevant for generations. A boy is given a stuffed velveteen rabbit. It becomes his favorite toy and does everything with him. The whole time the rabbit is hoping to become “real” due to the love of the boy. Spoiler alert, it eventually happens in an unexpected and beautiful way. This is good for teaching kids about things that matter most.
Classic Little Golden Books
There are too many to list, but we’re all familiar with the tiny books with the gold colored binding. These are short adorably illustrated stories that will become such a part of your child’s life they will be able to tell them to you. Let’s just say that the golden book The Poky Little Puppy is said to be the top-selling children’s book of all time.
Teach Us, Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish
This is a funny goofy book that will have your kids laughing in no time. Amelia Bedelia is a sweet lady who takes things very literally, as is her family’s way. In this book Amelia accidently becomes a substitute teacher. She follows the instructions left by the teacher exactly, leading to fun and mayhem. This book is sure to be enjoyed for many kids.