Books and reading have always been a huge part of my life, and I would hope it would be the same in the future for any children that I might have. I have no intention of having children any time soon, but it was definitely fun to look back on some of my favourite books and think about which ones that I would like to share. There are so many great children’s books with wonderful messages, and surprisingly many of them seem to have aged quite well so far. When I think of books I would want my children to read, I tend to think of those that really stuck with me long after I read them, or those that were just the most fun!
My biggest struggle with this list was coming up with only 10 books. Instead, I cheated a bit and I included a mix of 10 books and 10 authors or series that I would want to share.
Top 10 Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish
There is a good reason that Dr. Seuss has become such a classic children’s author. His books are bizarre, but they are so much fun for children to read and there are many that I would love to share. In particular, the first that came to mind was Horton Hears a Who! which is the story of an elephant who discovers a tiny group of people called Whos living on a clover, and tries to protect them from the other animals who don’t believe they are real. I adored the classic line “A person’s a person, no matter how small” because I think it is such a strong message. I would also love to share Green Eggs and Ham, The Grinch, and the Cat in the Hat books.
I’m not sure how well-known this author is, but his books are amazing. I even re-read both of these as an adult, and loved them just as much. Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse is about a young Kindergarten student who gets angry at her teacher for confiscating her new purse because she was so distracted by it during class, and Chester’s Way is about two friends who have a specific way they like to do things, whose lives are changed when they meet a new friend (the same Lilly, actually) with her own new ways. I think both of these books contain great messages that are so relevant for children, and the illustration style is just adorable! I love how the books take on bigger topics such as anger management and anxiety about change in a kid-friendly way.
3) The Berenstain Bears by Stan and Jan Berenstain
I have to admit it still bothers me to spell the name “Berenstain” after spending a lifetime convinced it was Berenstein. This series was one of my favourites when I was growing up, and I loved to collect the original picture books. This series covered such a range of topics the children may encounter in their daily lives and give strong positive messages about how to handle these situations without coming across as overly preachy or judgmental. Some of my favourite books in the series covered topics such as telling the truth, avoiding “the gimmes” (greed), healthy eating, manners, and responsbility, while also tackling realistic situations such as starting school, having a new baby in the family, and relationships with other family members. I also liked how these books were written at a bit more advanced level, so it did not feel like it was talking down to children. I would love to be able to share this series with my future children!
4) Odd Duck by Cecil Castelucci
I’ve mentioned this book a few times before over several blog posts, but it is one that I think deserves to be shared. This book is about the friendship between two ducks, Chad and Theodora, who each believe they are normal and the other is a little weird. I think this book brings up a great message about how “normal” is relative and the importance of accepting our friends as they are. I loved how both ducks were comfortable enough with themselves to do things their own way, even when that way was a little different from others. It also shows the importance of standing up for our friends and not letting others bully people who are a little unusual. I didn’t discover this book until I was an adult, but it’s amazing!
5) The Little Critter series by Mercer Mayer
This was another series that was such a huge part of my childhood, and I could not pick just one! Some of my favourites are Just For You, Me Too!, and I Was So Mad. This book is pretty similar to the Berenstain Bears, but geared toward a younger audience. The illustrations are just adorable, and the stories are short and easy for kids to read, but with great messages. The characters in this book are very young, and the stories are very age-appropriate. I think these would be great books to read to children when they are very young because they would relate to many of Critter’s experiences.
6) The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper
Even though this was one of my favourite books as a child, I never knew who it was by until just now. This book is about a small train who has to make its way up a huge hill. When all the bigger engines refuse to help pull the train up, it is left to make its way alone, chanting to itself “I think I can!” It is a very short book, but I love the message about the importance of believing in yourself and the power of positive thinking. I think it would be such a great message to share with children which they can draw on when faced with challenges. I also loved the cute illustrations in this book, and although it was not one that came to mind immediately, it is definitely a book I’d love to share.
7) Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
This was one of the first books I remember falling in love with at school, and there is a good reason that this has become such a classic. It is about a pig named Wilbur who lives on a farm where he is at risk of being killed and eaten by the farmer. Wilbur makes friends with a spider named Charlotte who devotes herself to saving Wilbur’s life by writing positive words about him on her web to show what an important friend he is. It is such an odd-sounding story if you really think about it, but it is a very strong and meaningful book to actually read. This was one of my first favourite “real” books, and it is one that I can still re-read over and over.
8) The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
This was another of my earliest favourites, and although I haven’t completed the whole series, I think this book on its own is strong enough that I would want to share it. This book is about four children who visit a magical world called Narnia which is cursed to be eternally winter by the White Witch. This was the first real fantasy book I ever read, and I fell in love with it immediately. I would love to share this one with my own children someday because of how well it captures the characters’ sense of wonder as they discover Narnia and the unusual beings who live there. I think this book can even work well as a standalone, since I have re-read this one many times but never tried most of the rest of the series.
9) A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
I was considering putting a Roald Dahl book on this list for the same reasons as Lemony Snicket, but I feel like this series has aged a bit better. I first started reading this series when I was about 12, and it drew me in so quickly. Like Roald Dahl’s books, I loved how Lemony Snicket treated children as capable and mature people, and avoided talking down to them. In fact, these books use quite a bit of complex vocabulary (with helpful and often hilarious explanations), and the story can get quite dark. The series is about three siblings who are orphaned when their parents die in a large fire. Left an enormous fortune that they will inherit when the eldest comes of age, the children are shuffled from relative to relative to find a place to live, and avoid the horrible Count Olaf who is after their money. These books are the perfect balance of humour, action and interesting characters. I had a lot of fun reading them, and I would hope my future children would feel the same!
10) The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Of course, I have to end with the obvious choice here. I basically grew up with Harry and all of his adventures, and it still remains one of the best written series I have ever read. A huge part of the appeal of this series for me is how it naturally grows with the character, and with the reader if they are around the same age. The series seems to start out as a fairly typical fantasy book about a young boy who discovers he is a wizard, but starts to build and grow into a much darker and more complex world. The characters are incredible, the world-building is amazing, and it is a story that has something that could appeal to just about everyone. It is definitely a series I would want to share!