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Children’s Books All Kids Should Read
What’s your favorite children’s book of all time? When was the last time you read one?
Ah the life of a family…It’s a perfect fall morning on a school day. You get up, get yourself ready for work, the kiddos wake themselves up and happily get dressed in outfits that match and are actually clean, pressed and folded. Everyone sets down to a breakfast with plenty of time to spare, free of arguments over who gets the last bowl of fruit loops. The school bus arrives and hugs and kisses are happily exchanged before they head off to school. After school, you help your oldest with his algebra homework and he exclaims that you are the smartest mom in the world because you knew the mnemonic F.O.I.L….
If that is not your average day, if you are a parent, a teacher or someone who is blessed by interacting with the kiddos…read on. Kiddos, just like us, can be inspired and learn amazing life lessons through reading. They face real challenges like learning to share the fruit loops, stress over homework, getting along with friends, feeling different, even prejudice and simply wanting to feel needed. These top 10 books for children are accompanied by a complementary exercise specifically designed to instill learning.
Best Children’s Books That Your Child Will Love
It’s fair to say that Alexander is cranky. He can tell it’s going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. He went to sleep with gum in his mouth and woke up with gum in his hair. At school the teacher liked his friend’s drawing of a sailboat better than his drawing of an invisible castle. At singing time, the teacher said he sang too loud. His mother forgot to put desert in his lunch. There were lima beans for dinner and Alexander hates lima beans. Everything is going wrong so he might as well move to Australia. “Mom says some days are like that…even in Australia.”
Recommended accompanying exercise: Have the child write down 5 words on 5 post-it-notes (one word per post-it) describing a bad day. Don’t put too many rules on this; they might decide to write down what makes them mad or even how they feel. Now do the reverse; have them write down 5 words on 5 post-it-notes on what makes a good day. Discuss how they can use their emotions to control how they feel.
A bunch of approachable critters are settling down for bed. Follow them as they take a bath, “find pajamas big and small,” and brush their teeth. While this book was written for the little ones, the older readers will enjoy the rhythmic cadence created by the sounds of the written words: “Rock & rock and rock to sleep.”
In this children’s book, there is a special bond between mother and son and the story begins with a new mom rocking and singing to her newborn son, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.” Time and the bond grow as mom watches her son become two years old, getting into everything and driving her crazy. The son becomes nine and never wants to come in for dinner and when he does, he sometimes says bad words at dinner. Through each stage of life, she sings a special lullaby of love at night to her son. The circle of life continues as mom gets older and the son sings to her as he sings to his new baby girl, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”
Recommended accompanying exercise: Draw or cut out pictures of a life cycle. For younger children the life cycle of a butterfly works well, older children can use their family as an example. Tape the pictures in order around a hula-hoop. Spin the hula-hoop and have the child explain the circle. The words of wisdom that come out of their mouths might surprise you.
More Children’s Books
Camilla Cream has a secret…she loves lima beans! Distracted by peer pressure, Camilla worries about fitting in and she knows her friends do not like lima beans! One day, as she is getting ready for school she begins to worry about what her friends will think of her outfit. A bad case of the stripes appears and Camilla is covered in rainbow stripes. At school she turns into red, white and blue stripes when her class recites the Pledge of Allegiance. Her worst fear is realized, the other kids make fun of her. Camilla is determined not to admit that she loves lima beans. As Camilla denies who she is, she becomes literally unrecognizable to herself and to everyone else. It is only when she admits her love of lima beans, that she becomes her unique and beautiful self.
Recommended accompanying exercise: Using a toilet paper role, have the child draw a picture of themselves. On a piece of paper, have them write down what pressures they are under from others, what makes them feel peer pressure? Cut out the ‘pressures’ and tape them on the paper role image of themselves. Discuss how peer pressure can disguise who they really are. Next talk about strategies to deal with each of the written pressures. As you discuss those strategies, take the piece of paper off the paper role image, until the image of the child is once again revealed.
Rainbow Fish is “the most beautiful fish in the entire ocean.” The thing is, he is actually quite vain and selfish, preferring to keep his beautiful scales all to himself to be admired by others. Being a very proud and greedy fish, he keeps the other fish at a distance until one day; he decides to share one scale. The feeling he gets from sharing a part of himself is “a rather peculiar feeling.” Today’s fast-paced world places value on things on the ‘outside’ rather than who we are on the inside. This can make it difficult for children to feel confident in being vulnerable and true to whom they are. Rainbow Fish inspires children to share themselves and their talents so that the world can be a brighter and shinier place, just like Rainbow Fish’s scales.
Recommended accompanying exercise: As a family or classroom, talk about opportunities in your area to give back and volunteer. Schedule a family/group volunteer activity. Ideas can include working at a soup kitchen, food bank, or visiting a senior center.
Jeremy Jacob is busy building a sandcastle while his parents set up the beach umbrella when a gang of pirates admire Jeremy’s digging talents noting that they could use a good digger. Jeremy quickly decides to leave his family on the beach and go on an adventure to become a pirate. The life of a pirate is just as Jeremy had imagined it. Pirates don’t worry about manners or eating their vegetables. No one tells a pirate how to behave, when to go to bed or brush their teeth. But alas, pirates also don’t tuck you into bed, read a bedtime story or kiss you goodnight. Jeremy learns that the pirate’s life is not for him but just in case he changes his mind, he knows where the treasure is hidden.
Recommended accompanying exercise: On a piece of paper, draw a line down the middle. On the left side, have the child write down manners, chores and household habits like brushing their teeth and saying “excuse me.” On the right side of the paper, have them write down why that household habit is a good habit to have.
More Children’s Books
Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine
In this children’s book, this real life, Underground Railroad, story is told with truthful eloquence without loosing the power of the experiences of Henry Brown. Henry is a slave boy who grows up facing unimaginable adversity. Children will ride along with Henry as he experiences being separated from his mother, growing up a slave, marrying and having children of his own and being separated from all that he loves. Eventually Henry takes matters and fate into his own hands by mailing himself in a wooden crate to freedom.
Recommended accompanying exercise: The book never discusses what Henry’s life is like as a free man, which gives children a wonderful opportunity to explore and imagine life after slavery. Using an old shoebox, paper, and small items from around the house or classroom, create a scene or ‘day in the life of’ depicting Henry doing an activity as a free man.
A perfect book for the tactile, kinesthetic learner! This simple but brilliant book demonstrates, in a three-dimensional way, how mistakes are a thing of beauty. Simple mistakes that all children make (spilling, staining…) can be turned into an opportunity for creativity.
Recommended accompanying exercise: Fill a few small plastic glasses with water and different colors of food coloring. On purpose ‘spill’ the contents on butcher paper, creating a collage of colors and spills. Have the child see through the mess to create a picture with the ‘mistake’.
A great book for all ages that will be sure to create grateful conversations. The singsong rhythmic tone is complemented by imaginative illustrations. The story line is simple but creatively takes the reader through a journey of thankfulness for all things even “those bad things (that) can turn out to be good.”
Recommended accompanying exercise: Using magazines and family pictures, have the child create a collage of all things he or she is grateful for. Display it proudly.
Duncan wants to color but when he opens his crayon box, he finds that the crayons have each written him a letter and most are not happy. Red complains about working on holidays. Purple complains that Duncan is coloring outside the lines. Grey is upset that he is coloring elephants all by himself. Green is happy but worried because his friends Orange and Yellow are not talking to each other, arguing over who is the true color of the sun. To settle the differences, Duncan uses his imagination, making each color feel special by drawing a picture using all of the colors and earning an A from his teacher.
Recommended accompanying exercise: As a group, discuss and write down simple activities that make others feel special. Some examples might be ‘hug a friend’ or ‘give my best friend a card’. Put the ‘special surprises’ in a bowl. Periodically, pick a special surprise out from the bowl and act on it, making someone feel special.
What other inspirational children’s books would you add to the list? Check out more bestselling books for kids here!