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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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                                                              8 Things to Watch for If You’re Considering Being Vegetarian

                                                              8 Things to Watch for If You’re Considering Being Vegetarian

                                                              Vegetarianism has been around for a long time, finding favor with many people, including Pythagoras clear back around 580 B.C. It’s been presented as one of the most healthy diets around, including being touted by the Egyptians to the point of abstaining from meat and animal clothing due to karmic beliefs. The vegetarian society (vegsoc.org) defines vegetarianism as:

                                                              “Someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with, or without, the use of dairy products and eggs. A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish* or by-products of slaughter.”

                                                              While it’s pretty obvious that there are multiple benefits to following a vegetarian diet, it’s always good to be informed about the cons of this dietary choice as well.

                                                              Outlined below are several things you might want to be aware of before you say good-bye to meat forever. Whether you are a current vegetarian, or contemplating making a shift, keep in mind these 8 things to keep yourself healthy.

                                                              1. You could suffer from B12 vitamin deficiency

                                                              The B vitamins are especially important for stress management, adrenal health, and brain function. Vegetarians in particularly are at risk for B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is attached to the protein in animal products and without enough B12 you can suffer from depression, fatigue, and an inability to concentrate.

                                                              Due to its attachment to animal proteins, B12 is the hardest for vegetarians to obtain when they don’t eat dairy or eggs in their diet. This essential little vitamin can be found in some algae and has been added to some yeast, but research doesn’t currently provide enough information to say whether or not these forms of B12 are of good quality and can provide adequate supplementation.

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                                                              The body is unable to make this vitamin, meaning it has to be taken in through food or supplementation. Essential for making red blood cells, DNA, nerves and various other function in the body, a Harvard Health Medical report in January of 2013 found symptoms of a B12 deficiency can present in sneaky ways including depression, paranoia, delusion, and loss of taste and smell.

                                                              2.  You could suffer from higher states of anxiety/depression, lower sense of well-being

                                                              According to a CBS Atlanta report, vegetarians suffered from a higher rate of anxiety and depression than their counterparts. Read the full report here. Depression and/or anxiety can be a result of many possible deficiencies including essential vitamins and amino acids you can find only in meat products, including Omega-3s from wild caught salmon.

                                                              Without the correct supplementation and proper understanding of diet, including the importance of micro and macro nutrients, depression and anxiety can become a serious problem, bringing down the overall health and well-being of vegetarians.

                                                              Even though reports on health and lifestyle show vegetarians have a lower BMI and lower consumption of alcohol and drugs, it also shows they suffer from more chronic illnesses and more visits to the doctor than their meat eating counterparts.

                                                              3. You could suffer from excess weight

                                                              When you go vegetarian it opens up a lot of food, but just because there isn’t any meat in front of you, it doesn’t mean it’s necessary healthy. Though pizza and beer technically fall under the vegetarian diet, it’s not a healthy choice for your waist line.

                                                              Just because being a vegetarian is associated with a healthier lifestyle in many cases, doesn’t mean it’s always true. Making bread and pasta your staples and not understanding where your protein sources should be coming from, can pack on body fat, which increases your chances of health issues such as diabetes and chronic inflammation.

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                                                              If the choice to go vegetarian happens on a whim without the proper understanding of food control, portion, and nutritionally dense alternatives you can find yourself reaching for vegetarian foods, which could cause serious problems down the road. Nuts are a good example, but just because something is touted as healthy, it doesn’t mean, your should eat it in excess.

                                                              Eating too many calories in fat will still cause you to gain weight. Eating too many calories in carbs will cause you to gain weight. Eating too many calories in protein will cause you to gain weight. See a pattern here? Not to mention you’ll miss out on important nutrients the body needs by over-eating in one area and under-eating in another. Re-read number 2.

                                                              4. You could have a higher risk of heart disease

                                                              Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables should be a goal we all strive for, but when you cut out meat, you also cut out what is known as complete protein, which you find in animal by-products. Complete means more than just the essential amino acids, it means those amino acids contain dietary sulfur. Without enough dietary sulfur, which is found almost exclusively in fish and pasture feed grass beef, the body will struggle with the biological activities of both protein and enzymes.

                                                              The effects cascade downward, effecting bones, joints, tissues, and even metabolic issues. In short, a low intake of sulfur associated with a vegetarian diet can result in high blood levels of homocysteine, which may lead to blood clots in your arteries, blood clots raise your risk of stroke and heart attack. To read the full report click here.

                                                              5. You could suffer from low cholesterol

                                                              I know, at first you’re thinking, wait, low cholesterol is a good thing. Yes, it is, when it’s LDL cholesterol, which you get from eating an unhealthy diet, but low HDL (good cholesterol) can cause serious health issues. HDL, according to the mayo clinic, is in every cell in our body and can help fend off heart disease, not enough of it though, and too much LDL can go the other way, will be building up plaque in the arteries and leading to heart disease.

                                                              Cholesterol, the good kind, is actually vitally important to the making of every steroid hormone in the body! There are six, and without cholesterol the body is unable to convert hormones, and it can cause damage in the endocrine system.

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                                                              A vegetarian without a balanced diet, meaning enough protein, enough veggies, and enough good fats, could disrupt his or her adrenals, which are directly connected to the endocrine system and the body’s ability to make and synthesize the hormones your body needs. The six major hormones in the body help do everything from metabolizing carbohydrates, to the electrolyte balance, to making sure if you’re a woman you can carry a healthy baby through pregnancy.

                                                              6. You could suffer from lower bone density and osteoporosis.

                                                              Osteoporosis, the disease where the bones get thinner, weaker, and fractures become a high risk with day to day movements. It’s often associated with the older generation, but your risk for osteoporosis increases with a lower bone density. Bone density can be directly related to diet and lifestyle, along with many other factors.

                                                              When it comes to eating a vegetarian diet it’s possible to miss getting enough of the right nutrients, causing the bones to begin to break down. If your vegetarian diet isn’t balanced and providing you with the correct nutrients and the means to absorb the correct nutrients, your body could begin to break down.

                                                              Recently, Professor Tuan Nguyen of Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research led a review of both Australian and Vietnamese research around the bone density of vegetarian versus their meat eating counterparts. Helping Professor Nguyen was Dr. Ho-Pham Thuc Lan from Pham Ngoc Thac University of Medicine in Vietnam. The review was designed to sort though years of research surrounded by discrepancies and inadequate clinical data.

                                                              At the end of the review, with vegetarianism rising to around 5% of the populace in the western continents, and with wide spread osteoporosis reports – 2 million in Australia and closer to 54 million in America – the decrease in bone density of vegetarians is a serious issue which needs to be addressed, if you’ve cut meat and animal by-products out of your life.

                                                              7. You could be at a higher risk for colorectal cancer

                                                              Cancer seems to be running rampant through America, and it’s within everyone’s best interest to do all they can to keep their body healthy and happy to prevent cancer from finding a place to grow. In most studies it’s been found vegetarians are at lower risk for cancer, but a European Oxford study with over 63 thousand men and women in the United Kingdom found the risk for colorectal cancer higher in vegetarians than in meat-eaters.

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                                                              Extra care needs to be taken when establishing a diet to ensure the body is receiving and able to up take all the important nutritional benefits and requirements from food.

                                                              8. You could end up eating more processed food

                                                              Depending on how deep you choose to go as a vegetarian, it could create the need to substitute a lot of food and recipe ingredients in your diet, but what happens when you cut out meat, eggs, and dairy and your recipe calls for meat, eggs, and/or dairy? You have to end up using a “healthy” vegetarian alternative which include stabilizers, thickeners, and various other ingredients you can’t pronounce.

                                                              Lauren from Empowered Substance puts it into a great perspective with her comparison of Earth Balance, a vegetarian approved butter replacement compared to butter. She points out the ingredients in Earth Balance consist of: Palm fruit oil, canola oil, safflower oil, flax oil, olive oil, salt, natural flavor, pea protein, sunflower lecithin, lactic acid, annatto color. Meanwhile, the ingredient list in butter, is much shorter. It’s butter.

                                                              That’s only one example. To appeal to the vegetarian lifestyle food manufacturers have found alternatives which fall under vegetarian, but aren’t necessarily healthy for you. Consider baked goods, which though vegetarian can be filled with more sugars and binders than regular baked goods with diary products. It’s the same with vegetarian items like mac and cheese, without using real cheese you may just be getting oil and thickeners, without even the smallest amount of nutritional value.

                                                              The reality is, most vegetarian substitutes contain the same junky alternatives which even meat eaters should be avoiding to remain happy and healthy.

                                                              On one final note, whichever lifestyle you choose to work with, remember anything in excess – including protein and animal by products – isn’t healthy for the body. It takes a wide spectrum of food and nutrients to keep the beautiful body you travel around in all day running in prime condition.

                                                               

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