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30 Unforgettable Books Every Parent Should Read To Their Kids Before They Grow Up

30 Unforgettable Books Every Parent Should Read To Their Kids Before They Grow Up

The comfort and nurturing one-on-one attention from parents while reading together encourages children to form a positive association with reading and books. Books have always played an important role in my son’s life, even before he was born. I read all sorts of marketing and self-improvement books, as well as fashion and computer magazines to the baby in my tummy, hoping it would help him (or her) grow familiar with my voice and the different sounds of the words being read.

Reading (together and independently) continues to be a part of our daily lives. It helps us unwind after a full day of classes, meetings, and activities. Books encourage us to feed our minds and share our individual understanding of the same book (this helped my child learn that different people can interpret one idea in many different ways). In our household: reading is valuable.

And with the help of my now 13 year old, Joshua, what originally started as a quick list of “15 books every parent should read with their kids,” quickly grew to a collection of 30 Unforgettable Books! It brought back plenty of fun memories for us, and I hope it does the same for you!

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

thegivingtree

    A heartwarming story of selfless love and the many relationship changes we go through in the different stages of our lives.

    It’s an excellent tool to encourage discussion about generosity & gratitude based on the giving nature of the tree, and other ways the boy could’ve shown his appreciation for the gifts he received from her throughout his life.

    The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

    theveryhungrycaterpillar

      One Sunday morning, a caterpillar hatched out of a tiny egg… and he was very hungry! He eats his way through the days of the week and eventually transforms into a beautiful butterfly!

      The bold, colorful pictures and simple, easy-to-follow words helps with learning the days of the week, and the metamorphosis of the butterfly is so much fun for little toddlers to kindergarten-aged children!

      Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr & John Archambault

      chickachicka

        A told b, and b told c, “I’ll meet you at the top of the coconut tree.” A super fun story for children learning their alphabet!

        The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

        the little prince

          A story about a pilot stranded in the desert, who one morning, awakens to find a little prince standing before him. This extraordinary little person teaches the pilot the secret of what is truly important in life.

          I highly suggest grabbing Katherine Woods’ translation which beautifully captures the essence of the original story. “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

          Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

          where the sidewalk ends

            A fun book of poems filled with just the right amount of imagination, fantasy, and cheekiness! The cute and goofy illustrations are matched marvelously with each entry!

            Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

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            charlotte's web

              When a book is about a lovable pig and a wise spider becoming BFFs, you know you have a classic in your hands! Charlotte’s Web is a heartwarming story with a brilliant mixture of humor, playfulness, and life lessons.

              I suggest you keep a box of tissue on hand and be prepared to cry a river.

              Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

              Where-the-Wild-Things-Are-cover

                This is a story about Max, a boy who gets sent to his room without supper for not respecting his mother’s many requests to behave. His room transforms into a crazy jungle before he finally encounters the wild things, becomes their king, and gets a feel of what it’s like to have everything his way. The illustrations are to die for!

                Great lesson in taking ownership of one’s actions and emotions. Younger children may need explanation that this may have been a way for the frustrated boy to take a very imaginative “time out” to better deal with his anger and confusion.

                Love You Forever by Robert Munsch

                love you forever

                  “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.” is the familiar song repeated over and over by a mother to her son as he’s growing up. The roles are finally reversed when it’s the son’s turn to rock his old mama to sleep, making you realize how quickly time flies.

                  Although my 13 year old continues to appreciate the message in the book, he has asked me to refrain from climbing up a ladder into his window when he’s grown. “Mom… if I see a ladder up against my window, I’m calling the cops. Nothing personal – you just never know these days.” Bummer… Anyone in the market for a 24′ aluminum ladder?

                  The Cat In The Hat by Dr. Seuss

                  the cat in the hat

                    A Dr. Seuss CLASSIC! Sure, it’s about two kids who are home alone and bored out of their minds. Kids who weren’t taught not to open the door to strangers (a cat in a hat of all things!) and invite them to wreck the entire place! But this isn’t a “lesson in life” book, and the way the words are put together makes helping children learn to recognize words and sounds all the more fun!

                    Green Eggs And Ham by Dr. Seuss

                    green eggs and ham

                      “I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam-I-Am.” Not only does the book strengthen reading, speaking, listening, and comprehension skills through fun phrases and fantastic illustrations; it teaches the reader not to be afraid to try new things, because you never know what you can achieve, or the wonderful things you’ll discover unless you TRY!

                      The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

                      the velveteen rabbit

                        A beautiful story of a stuffed toy rabbit who so badly wants to be real. Filled with powerful lessons about love, life, and the passage of time.

                        Keep a box of tissue handy for this one too. I have tears in my eyes just thinking back to the story.

                        A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein

                        a light in the attic

                          Yes, another wonderful collection of poems from Shel Slverstein, the master of whimsical poetry and humorous sketches! Always a great experience for all ages.

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                          The Adventures of Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

                          harold-and-the-purple-crayon-2

                            “One night, after thinking it over for some time, Harold decided to go for a walk in the moonlight.” A delightfully imaginative adventures of Harold, who uses his purple crayon to transform his bedtime into a circus, balloon rides, and even a trip to Mars!

                            Not only is this book wonderful for first time readers, it also encourages young children to use their imagination to take them wherever they want to go!

                            Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

                            tales of a fourth grade nothing

                              Judy Blume was my favorite author when I was in the 3rd and 4th grades, so I was excited to share some of her books with my son when he reached that grade level! Fourth Grade Nothing is a fun and entertaining story about the relationship between Peter (the 4th grader) and his brother Fudge.

                              The book opens several opportunities to discuss issues that arise between siblings, as well as with friends and cousins for children without siblings.

                              The Big Orange Splot by D. Manus Pinkwater

                              The_Big_Orange_Splot

                                When a seagull with a can of bright orange paint “dropped the can right over Mr. Plumbean’s house”, the neighbors who all live in identical brown houses are in an uproar over the resulting big orange splot! Mr. Plumbean is asked to paint over the splot, but instead adds more color, splots, and personality. But one by one, his neighbors also begin to express themselves by painting their own homes.

                                An excellent book that celebrates each person’s individuality, and encourages appreciation of others’ uniqueness!

                                Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

                                charlie and the chocolate factory

                                  Classic story about our hero, Charlie Bucket, along with four other children who wins a tour of Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory! Filled with fun, adventure, and more candy than you can ever imagine!

                                  The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

                                  the lorax

                                    A young boy who lives in a polluted world visits the “Once-ler” who shares with him a tale about how that world became that way because he ignored the advice of the Lorax.

                                    Dr. Seuss skillfully uses the story as a warning to protect our earth from the dangers of pollution and mindless progress that hurts our environment. “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” What a wonderful lesson for children and grownups alike… that positive change starts with YOU!

                                    A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

                                    wrinkle-in-time

                                      Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin goes out on a quest through space to search for Meg’s father who went missing while working on a mysterious project, “Tesseract.”

                                      Filled with wonder, adventure, and discoveries, readers experience the struggle between good vs. evil in the universe; as well as lessons in relying on the strength found within ourselves, and working together as a team.

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                                      Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

                                      peter pan

                                        Does this story even need an introduction? It’s Peter Pan, the boy who can fly and never ages! Read about his adventures as the leader of the Lost Boys, living in Neverland among fairies and mermaids, and fighting pirates!

                                        It’s a classic!

                                        Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss

                                        Oh,_the_Places_You'll_Go

                                          Perfect book for all ages entering a new chapter of their lives. It encourages and celebrates the potential everyone has to fulfill their goals and dreams… because, “You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

                                          The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper

                                          the little engine that could

                                            What’s not to love about this story? An inspiring book about a little blue train who offers to help a broken down train. Despite her size, she gives her all in order to deliver toys to the boys and girls who are waiting on the other side of the hill.

                                            The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde

                                            the happy prince

                                              A statue of a privileged prince, with the help of a little bird, gives assistance and comfort to the poor families in the town he stands in, by sacrificing himself. The prince the the little bird’s generosity is finally rewarded in heaven.

                                              Such a sad story, but with a very beautiful lesson in morals and compassion.

                                              Aesop’s Fables by Aesop

                                              aesop

                                                Famous tales that teach simple truths, including The Tortoise and the Hare and The Goose Who Laid the Golden Eggs. The book is filled with lessons that can be applied to every day life, by all ages.

                                                The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

                                                rainbow fish

                                                  The Rainbow Fish is arrogant and selfish, therefore has no friends. As the story progress, he learns that: 1) who he is on the inside is more important than his appearance or his possessions, 2) no one should be judged based on their appearances, and 3) sharing what you’ve been blessed with won’t decrease your happiness, but instead, multiply it!

                                                  I highly suggest you pick up the full, hardcover version over the board book edition, as the meaning of the story somehow gets lost in the board book.

                                                  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

                                                  narnia

                                                    Four siblings: Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, steps through a wardrobe and into the land of Narnia. Narnia has been frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the White Witch… until the Great Lion, Aslan, returns to make a change!

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                                                    The movie was awesome, but don’t skip out on the book… it’s even better!

                                                    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

                                                    harrypotter

                                                      Harry Potter is being raised by his terrible aunt and uncle who try to keep him from learning he’s really a wizard. Change begins when Harry is summoned to attend a school for wizards, where he finds himself inside a mystical world he never knew existed, and closer to his own noble destiny.

                                                      My son and I read the book together, then watched the movie. It was so great sharing with each other how we imagined the story as we read it, then watching how it was played out in the movie!

                                                      From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

                                                      mixedupfiles

                                                        Claudia and her brother Jamie decides to run away to a place that’s comfortable and beautiful… the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City! Once settled in, they embark on a quest to find the truth behind the mystery of an angel statue, possibly by Michelangelo, recently acquired from a remarkable old woman named Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

                                                        Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett

                                                        cloudy

                                                          So the tiny town of Chewandswallow has food dropping out of the sky, three times a day. From hamburgers and mashed potatoes, to soups and orange juice rain; all which they gobble up for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Until something went very wrong and the food grew larger, causing damage to the town and leaving the townspeople to fear for their lives!

                                                          You’ve probably seen the animated film already, but don’t miss out on this hilarious book. It’s a classic!

                                                          The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1) by Rick Riordan

                                                          percyjackson

                                                            Percy Jackson is taken to Camp Half-Blood after being expelled from school… again. It’s there that he learns that he is a demigod: half human, half immortal. The kicker? His father is the Greek god Poseidon, ruler of the sea! But even before Percy has time to let this all sink in, he’s sent on a crazy mission to the Underworld to prevent a war among the gods of Olympus.

                                                            This is currently my son’s FAVORITE series. He tells me he can read the books over and over again while waiting for the next book in the series to be released!

                                                            Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

                                                            goodnight moon

                                                              There is something very calming about this book. Similar to a gentle chant or comforting mantra, it’s very effective in helping your child relax and unwind… and kids absolutely love reciting the story by heart!

                                                              The story also helps encourage acknowledgement and gratitude for what we have around us: from mittens, kittens, and mush; to our sky, air, and even nothingness. My son received this as a gift for his very first Christmas and it still sits in his bookshelf today!

                                                              There you have it: 30 books I highly recommend (in no particular order) for all parents to read with their young kids. I apologize if I missed your favorite; only books I’ve personally read with my child were included so that I could recommend them with confidence. What are your favorites? What other books would you include? share in the comments below!

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                                                              Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

                                                              Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

                                                              There are many reasons why people might scream – they’re angry, scared, or in pain (or maybe they’re in a metal band!). Some might say that screaming is bad, but here’s why science says it’s good for you.

                                                              “For the first time in the history of psychology there is a way to access feelings, hidden away, in a safe way and thus to reduce human suffering. It is, in essence, the first science of psychotherapy.” — Dr. Arthur Janov

                                                              Primal Therapy

                                                              Dr. Arthur Janov invented Primal Therapy in the late 1960’s. It is a practice that allows the patient to face their repressed emotions from past trauma head on and let those emotions go. This treatment is intended to cure any mental illness the patient may have that surfaced from this past trauma. In most cases, Primal Therapy has lead Dr. Janov’s patients to scream towards the end of their session, though it was not part of the original procedure. During a group therapy session that was at a standstill, Dr. Janov says that one of his patients, a student he called Danny, told a story that inspired him to implement a technique that he never would have thought of on his own.

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                                                              How it Started

                                                              “During a lull in our group therapy session, he told us a story about a man named Ortiz who was currently doing an act on the London stage in which he paraded around in diapers drinking bottles of milk. Throughout his number, Ortiz is shouting, ‘Mommy! Daddy! Mommy! Daddy!’ at the top of his lungs. At the end of his act he vomits. Plastic bags are passed out, and the audience is requested to follow suit.”

                                                              It doesn’t end there, though. Dr. Janov said that his patient was quite fascinated with that story, and that alone moved him to suggest something even he believed to be a little elementary.

                                                              “I asked him to call out, ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ Danny refused, saying that he couldn’t see the sense in such a childish act, and frankly, neither could I. But I persisted, and finally, he gave in. As he began, he became noticeably upset. Suddenly he was writhing on the floor in agony. His breathing was rapid, spasmodic. ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ came out of his mouth almost involuntarily in loud screeches. He appeared to be in a coma or hypnotic state. The writhing gave way to small convulsions, and finally, he released a piercing, deathlike scream that rattled the walls of my office. The entire episode lasted only a few minutes, and neither Danny nor I had any idea what had happened. All he could say afterward was: ‘I made it! I don’t know what, but I can feel.’”

                                                              Delving deeper

                                                              Dr. Janov says he was baffled for months, but then he decided to experiment with another patient with the same method, which lead to a similar result as before. The patient started out calling “Mommy! Daddy!” then experienced convulsions, heavy breathing, and then eventually screamed. After the session, Dr. Janov says his patient was transformed and became “virtually another human being. He became alert… he seemed to understand himself.”

                                                              Although the initial intention of this particular practice wasn’t to get the patient to scream, more than once did his Primal Therapy sessions end with the patient screaming and feeling lighter, revived, and relieved of stresses that were holding them down in life.

                                                              Some Methods To Practice Screaming

                                                              If you want to try it out for yourself, keep reading!

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                                                              • Step 1: Be Alone — Be alone. If you live in a place that you can’t be alone, it might be a good idea to talk to your family or roommates and explain to them what you’re about to do and make sure they’re okay with it. If you’re good to go, move on to step 2.
                                                              • Step 2: Lie Down — Lie down on a yoga mat on your back and place a pillow underneath your head. If you don’t own a yoga mat, you can use a rug or even a soft blanket.
                                                              • Step 3: Think — Think of things that have hurt you or made you angry. It can be anything from your childhood or even something that happened recently to make yourself cry, if you’re not already crying or upset. You could even scream “Mommy! Daddy!” just like Dr. Janov’s patients did to get yourself started.
                                                              • Step 4: Scream — Don’t hold anything back; cry and scream as loud as you can. You can also pound your fists on the ground, or just lie there and scream at the top of your lungs.

                                                              After this, you should return your breathing to a normal and steady pace. You should feel lighter, like a weight has been lifted off of you. If not, you can also try these other methods.

                                                              Scream Sing

                                                              Scream singing” is referring to what a lot of lead singers in metal or screamo bands will do. I’ve tried it and although I wasn’t very good at it, it was fun and definitely relieved me of any stress I was feeling from before. It usually ends up sounding like a really loud grunt, but nonetheless, it’s considered screaming.

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                                                              • Step 1 — Bear down and make a grunting sound.
                                                              • Step 2 — Hiss like a snake and make sure to do this from your diaphragm (your stomach) for as long as you can.
                                                              • Step 3 — Breathe and push your stomach out for more air when you are belting notes, kind of like you would if you were singing.
                                                              • Step 4 — Try different ways to let out air to control how long the note will last, just make sure not to let out too much air.
                                                              • Step 5 — Distort your voice by pushing air out from your throat, just be careful not to strain yourself.
                                                              • Step 6 — Play around with the pitch of your screams and how wide your mouth is open – the wider your mouth is open, the higher the screams will sound. The narrower or rounder your mouth is (and most likely shaped like an “o”), the lower the screams will sound.
                                                              • Step 7 — Start screaming to metal music. If you’re not a huge metal fan, it’s okay. You don’t have to use this method if you don’t want to.

                                                              If you want a more thorough walkthrough of how to scream sing, here’s a good video tutorial. If this method is too strenuous on your vocal chords, stop. Also, make sure to stay hydrated when scream singing and drink lots of water.

                                                              Scream into a pillow

                                                              Grab a pillow and scream into it. This method is probably the fastest and easiest way to practice screaming. Just make sure to come up for air.

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                                                              Always remember to make sure that you’re not going to disturb anyone while practicing any of these methods of screaming. And with that, happy screaming!

                                                              Featured photo credit: Sharon Mollerus via flickr.com

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