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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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                                                              Carmen Sakurai

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                                                              Last Updated on July 10, 2020

                                                              How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

                                                              How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

                                                              We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

                                                              We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

                                                              So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

                                                              Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

                                                              What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

                                                              Boundaries are limits

                                                              —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

                                                              Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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                                                              Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

                                                              Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

                                                              Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

                                                              How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

                                                              Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

                                                              1. Self-Awareness Comes First

                                                              Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

                                                              You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

                                                              To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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                                                              You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

                                                              • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
                                                              • When do you feel disrespected?
                                                              • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
                                                              • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
                                                              • When do you want to be alone?
                                                              • How much space do you need?

                                                              You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

                                                              2. Clear Communication Is Essential

                                                              Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

                                                              Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

                                                              3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

                                                              Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

                                                              That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

                                                              Sample language:

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                                                              • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
                                                              • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
                                                              • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
                                                              • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
                                                              • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
                                                              • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
                                                              • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

                                                              Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

                                                              4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

                                                              Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

                                                              Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

                                                              Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

                                                              We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

                                                              It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

                                                              It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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                                                              Final Thoughts

                                                              Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

                                                              Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

                                                              Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

                                                              The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

                                                              Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

                                                              Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

                                                              They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

                                                              Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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