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Encourage Growth in Your Kids With These 16 Children’s Classics!

Encourage Growth in Your Kids With These 16 Children’s Classics!

Classic children’s books bring you back to a younger you. You visit them over and over, and they make you laugh – and sometimes cry. They are your favorite children’s books. They are clever and entertaining, and sometimes they teach you a lesson or two. Here are a selection of some of my favorite children’s books and why I think they would be a wonderful addition to any child’s collection. (Spoiler alert!)

1. Harry Potter (the Series) by J.K. Rowling

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    The Harry Potter books may not be old enough to be “classics,” but they will stand the test of time! The books seamlessly weave in and out of each other through Rowling’s masterful story development.

    The Potter world is a child’s dream, opening the doors of imagination through magic, new locations, and quirky characters with real issues and fantastic character development. Rowling surpasses limits and takes us to new worlds and possibilities. All of the characters play their own role in the battle for the wizard/muggle world, and the heroes are children. The reader learns the value of teamwork, of courage and faith, of determination, of wits and study, and of unconditional love.

    2. Anne of Green Gables (the Series) by Lucy Maude Montgomery

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      There’s bound to be mischief when a fiery redhead is involved! A compassionate decision to take in a young orphan girl forever changes the lives of an elderly pair. We are taken in by this character who teaches us about hope, about the many types of love, and about the many wacky adventures you can have with a very active imagination! As you read through the series, you grow up with Anne, giggling at her mishaps, shaking your head at her temper, and melting and weeping through her experiences with love.

      3. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

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        This is a book with soul; it’s my favorite on this list. I’ve cried every time I’ve read it. It starts as a simple story of companionship between a boy and a tree but transcends into the deepest sort of giving and love: the willingness to sacrifice everything – even oneself – for another. The reader experiences unconditional loving and giving, from a tree who hopes for affection and attention — but never expects it. We are moved in the end when the boy – now an old man – finally returns from his travels to spend the rest of his life with the tree who loves him.

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        4. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

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          Here’s the other side of Shel Silverstein … It’s hard not to love anything from this quirky, fun author! His poetry is well-written, entertaining, and keeps you on your toes. Large on the ridiculous and master of with the quick quip, Silverstein makes you think – while making you giggle!

          5. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch

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            “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.” What’s not to love? This poetic affirmation is passed from mother to child as he passes through the different stages of his life. This story contains a beautiful example of the circle of love: between a parent and her child, between a son and his mother, and between the son/father and his new daughter.

            6. The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper

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              “I think I can; I think I can. I think I can. …” This is another great story with another great mantra. (I’ve actually chanted this to myself when biking up particularly nasty hills!) While the bigger guys find excuses not to help, the little engine saves the day by slowly and determinedly working toward his goal. It’s a great testimony to the power of thought and the importance of will power.

              7. The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss

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                Dr. Seuss was such a master storyteller. His play with words and fanciful creatures and scenarios have brought a whole new level to children’s literature.

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                I chose this book in particular for its moral implications: this book may be the first written exposure a child has to discrimination and racism. The “Star-Belly” Sneetches are superior to their “Plain-Belly” counterparts because of their special adornment. When a fly-by-night, get-rich-quick schemer figures out a way to add and remove stars, pandemonium ensues.

                In the end, the lines have been confused, and all of the Sneetches learn to accept each other. Through this story, the child is able to experience a separation, a progression through experiential learning, and a peaceful resolution that results in an evolution of the Sneetches.

                8. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

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                  I debated putting this one on the list because the title sounds so negative, and much of the book seems negative. But the ending has such a subtle, wonderful tie-up that puts the whole story in perspective.

                  From the moment he gets up, Alexander’s day seems to be one awful happening after another, starting with the gum that he fell asleep with in his mouth that has ended up in his hair. From missing prizes in the cereal box to scoldings from the teacher and being picked on by his older bothers, nothing seems to go right for Alexander. He’s ready to throw in the towel and move to Australia.

                  His mother is the one who puts the whole day in perspective with her well-chosen response: “Some days are like that. Even in Australia.” Her simple quote reminds us of the power of perspective, while also giving us permission to have some not-so-pleasant, messy days.

                  9. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

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                    What a fanciful, magical book — so simple in its presentation and so freeing and expansive in its creation! The world is Harold’s oyster as he creates his reality with the markings of his purple crayon. This is an excellent example for children of imagination, visualization, and thinking outside the box!

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                    10. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

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                      Do you believe? I still remember my grandma reading this one to me … In this book we join the young narrator on a magical trip to the North Pole! We feel his wonder and delight as he gets to experience the beginning of Christmas, and we marvel at his humble, original request from Santa: a small bell from one of the reindeer’s harnesses. This story is about the power of faith and of holding to a belief, despite the passing of time and the disbelief of others: “At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.”

                      11. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

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                        This is another classic Suess book, filled with fanciful creatures and towns, wrapped up in a holiday theme. But it is so much more than that. It explains the true nature of giving and love, of joy without expectation and attachment. It’s about community, and it’s about loving — just because.

                        The Grinch hates Christmas — he cannot understand it! He thinks he will destroy Christmas by stealing all of the Christmas presents and trappings from the nearby town of Whoville. However, he discovers he hasn’t stolen Christmas at all. Christmas is intangible; it is love and joy. When the Grinch sees how his actions have not affected the Whos of Whoville, understanding finally reaches him. His heart is opened and actually grows — three extra sizes!

                        12. The Dot, and 13. Ish by Peter H. Reynolds

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                            These two stories are fantastic together. I learned about these treasures in a teacher’s workshop, and I recommend them to any educator or parent.

                            I have a plaque on my shelf that reads, “The greatest gift anyone can give is encouragement.” In The Dot, a young girl  does not believe she is an artist. Her teacher encourages her to start small — with a dot — and honors the girl’s piece on display the next day. A whole world opens up to the young girl, culminating in an exhibit of all of her dot projects. The book concludes in her encouragement of another discouraged, reluctant art student.

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                            Ish starts in disaster but takes a turn and parallels the encouraging nature of The Dot. Young Ramon excitedly draws picture after picture, but he is discouraged and quits when his older brother laughs at his work. It’s his younger sister who sees the hidden beauty and creativity of his “Ish” art (“Vase-ish!”), and Ramon’s inspiration leads him to surpass his previous explorations, even delving into “ish” writing. He even takes a moment to stand back and appreciate the simplicity and beauty of the world around him.

                            14. Stone Soup by various authors, illustrated by Marcia Brown

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                              Though this story may seem a little crafty or tricksy, it is a great allusion to the importance of sharing. Give and receive — a little from everyone goes a long way! Some hungry strangers approach the nearby town, asking for some food. At first, no one has anything to spare. But once the townspeople hear about the strangers’ special “stone soup,” they miraculously find a little extra in their stashes to add to the pot. In the end, all partake in the wonderful final concoction.

                              15. The Giver by Lois Lowry

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                                Can’t we all just get along? The citizens in The Giver believe they have found the solution: creating sameness by eliminating color, eliminating emotions, eliminating attachments, and limiting choice and individuality. When some young individuals get a taste of the real world, they realize all that they have been missing and are determined to set things right. This book is a testimony to the beauty of the human experience, to the benefit of emotions, to the senses, to growth, and to free choice. This may be a little heavy for younger kids but is more accessible for them than 1984 by George Orwell!

                                16. Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud

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                                  Are you a bucket-filler? It’s a fantastic analogy for kids (and adults)! A substitute teacher introduced this book to me, and I immediately begged to borrow it, so that I could use it with my students. Every day you have the chance to be a bucket “filler” or “dipper” through the words and actions you choose. This can be used as a great end-of-day self-reflection or even a great objective tool in the moment: “How did I do? How can I be more of a bucket-filler?”

                                  Are these the books in your top 16? I hope you’re inspired to dust off some of these goodies and read and enjoy them all over again!

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                                  Last Updated on February 18, 2019

                                  13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with It and Enjoy the Ride

                                  13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with It and Enjoy the Ride

                                  Fear. I spend my life talking about fear — fighting fears, fixing fears and understanding fears. And yet I doubt I get 10 calls a year from people saying “Mandie can you help me fix my fear?”

                                  Why is this so critically important to you?

                                  The realization for me is that fear is not the fundamental driving force in your life it’s what regardless of whether I’m talking to a doctor, a teacher, a CEO’s, a senior citizens or teenager – every single one of those conversations has a direct correlation with your world.

                                  Fear can range from the overwhelming desire to look away or stop in your tracks to literally fleeing your country and the life you knew. In this article, I will share you with 13 tips to face your fears and enjoy the ride.

                                  1. Know That Fear Is Real, but Can Be Overcome

                                  Right now around the world people are facing fear — real fear. Fear that I pray my children and I will never experience. Does that lessen my fears or your fears in your relativity safe 21st century life?

                                  When I look at the world we all live in, I find that fear like so many other emotions can mean so many different things to so many different people:

                                  • The child who has to be physically dragged to their first day of school.
                                  • The man facing the judge.
                                  • The woman with her hand poised over the buttons over her phone because she has to walk down a dark corridor late at night alone.
                                  • The man as the surgeon says “count backwards from 10 Mr Smith.”
                                  • The woman that’s told “We are sorry, we can’t help you.”
                                  • The man that faces the empty circle of a gun and prays for his very existence.

                                  These and a million more (Portrayed in every kind of movie, book or song you could imagine) are what make us human. We face fear and somehow move forward or are stopped in our tracks.

                                  Like the rabbit in the headlights of the car that veers off through the field away from the tyres of the car or stays still praying for salvation. Like someone will save them. Sound familiar?

                                  Fear is huge. Fear is everywhere and yet fear can be overcome, controlled and can even be a power for good.

                                  2. Accept Your Fear

                                  Firstly if you aren’t facing the barrel of the gun, atrocities that make the news or impeding death, that’s a good start. However it doesn’t mean your fear is any less real.

                                  We are quick to say “I can’t moan, my life is not as bad as X.” While in theory, that’s honorable your appreciation of Mr. or Mrs. X’s horrific life won’t change anything directly. So accept your fear is relative to you.

                                  And here’s what can be done.

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                                  3. Get Some Perspective

                                  I found myself asking anyone that would answer “what is your worst fear”. The answer that intrigued me the most came from my daughter (15 years old and she usually has a copy of Fight the Fear – my book – in her school bag so she can help someone else be as positive and confident as her. No matter what life throws up.)

                                  And her fear, surprised me — heights. I pointed out that we live in a sprawling bungalow (one storey) and the highest she goes is two storeys’ at school! She laughed but added, fear isn’t like that Mum. I know it’s not a real fear, but it’s like when you stand on a chair and feel unsafe.

                                  That girl will go far. Because she truly gets fear.

                                  We know something is scary and yet we still do it. Why? Because we have a perspective to the fear. When you lose perspective, it can feel too big, and too scary.

                                  So look around you to get some perspective on your fear:

                                  • Are you really at risk?
                                  • Will this kill you?
                                  • Which leads us on to..
                                  • If the worse was to happen what would it be?

                                  4. Hold a Hand

                                  As a coach, it is my job to holds someone’s metaphorical hand and help them face a fear.

                                  Like the child petrified of the thunder storm or the teen that can’t get back in a car again after failing their test, your job as a parent is to reassure, encourage, enable and motivate someone to face something that ideally they never would choose to again.

                                  We know many of our fears aren’t real. However, it is only when someone guides us with love, respect, lack of judgement and safety are we able to get through fear. And trust me, you can get through your fears. I’ve seen it so many times.

                                  Ask yourself:

                                  • If the worse were to happen, what would that be?
                                  • Could that really happen?
                                  • If the worse did happen, how would you recover?
                                  • If the worse were to happen, what would you need to do next?

                                  By seeing fear as not the end destination but part of being human, you can see through it’s wily evil ways and move forward.

                                  5. Know Whose Hand You Hold Either Physically or Emotionally

                                  This helps with fears for the rest of your life.

                                  Think of someone you can always rely on (and ideally you won’t just answer yourself because that adds a lot of pressure to your existence!) And you will find that you’ve already found a way to get through fear.

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                                  The beauty of this is that it means that fear becomes part of life not something to be feared and shied away from.

                                  It means you know you can turn to your friend, partner, colleague, parent, sibling and say “Right I need to deal with this, and I’m going to need you to help me.”

                                  For one moment, think about it from the other person’s view point. When we get to help other people we feel valued, loved, respected and lots of other positive emotions and we get a good dose of positive chemicals setting off in our bodies too.

                                  Your fear, and your determination to fight it, helped someone else too. Now that’s cool right?

                                  6. Understand That There Are Some Things Fear Will Never Touch

                                  I like to find role models in life — people who have faced heroism, history changing moments, war, atrocities, miracles, life saving inventions.

                                  Not everyone was looking for greatness, however they all found it. And one of my favourite books to date is written about Alistair Urquhart, the forgotten highlander. If this doesn’t get turned into a film in the future, then no man’s story is likely to.

                                  Alistair went through the most horrific experiences in the 2nd world war. If you think of one of the awful things that happened back then in our world, Alistair went through at least 3 of them! Asked afterwards how did you cope? He talked about how whatever they did to his body, no matter how they starved, tortured, threatened or mocked him, they couldn’t have his mind. In his mind he was free.

                                  Of all the people’s voices I’ve heard in my head over the years, this is one of those statements that reminds me anything is possible if you have faith and hope.

                                  Look for the things in life that fear can’t touch. They will create confidence and faith for the future, whatever you face. And they will give you a sense of why being you is awesome.

                                  Of all the billions of people on this planet, no one will have an answer identical to yours!

                                  7. Process Your Fears to Carry on with Life

                                  Being brave is not about sticking your chest out and smiling regardless of what hell you endure. It is about finding a way to emotionally process your fears to be able to keep going.

                                  I have a tool kit of things I can rely on – tools, strategies, techniques. They include people to hug or talk to, music. hobbies, walks on the beach and even my favourite food. It sounds mad but at the times where I have questioned “how will I get through this?” I’ve found immense joy in doing the most unlikely of thing that makes me smile.

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                                  It may be a short lived moment of happiness. However, it reminded that nothing stays the same and I can find away.

                                  One client told me that it was crazy when it felt like their world was falling around their ears to run a bath to the brim (you don’t waste water) get the best bath oils, light too many candles, lock the door and drink a glass of bubbly (champagne is only for special occasions.)

                                  Did that moment fix the disaster that my clients life felt? No, however it gave them a moment of calm and the brain is far quicker to find solutions, resolve and motivation to keep going when you do that.

                                  It may feel like madness to do something you love, however it can be a powerful way to help you find solutions to the fears you face in life.

                                  8. Assume the Worse

                                  If you read the statement from the client above. Notice how they assumed it was wrong to fill the bath up to the top? How bubbly is only for special occasions?

                                  Think how naughty they felt to be doing something that was not allowed?

                                  • Think about what age it may have made them feel?
                                  • Think about how they feel about champagne?
                                  • What special moments it’s been a part of in their lives?

                                  And you can see how the assumptions they made about their “right” to have these things was not healthy.

                                  When I drag the assumptions out of people’s words for them to see, they are often struck by how negative the words make them feel.

                                  Don’t assume your words aren’t impacting on you. You can go through fear and actually enjoy the ride when you take the time to understand how you are letting words get to you.

                                  9. Take a Fear That Feels Insurmountable Right Now.

                                  If you were to repeat it to me out loud, what would you say?

                                  Would you have blame on yourself in there? Would you assume others can do it and it’s just you? Would you feel small, unsuccessful, useless, unworthy?

                                  Usually, when you do this exercise, you are able to spot the untruths that run wild in your head convincing you that you are doomed. And rarely when we are faced with our assumptions is there is a lot of evidence to them.

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                                  10. You Are Not Defined by Your Fear

                                  One fear does not define your life – be mindful of that. It is likely to lead you to thinking of all the times you’ve succeeded and bring a moment of calm, confidence and faith back to you.

                                  11. Go with Fear

                                  When you learn to go with fear, you could find yourself actually having fun, no seriously – having fun.

                                  I have a few amazing clients I’m working with right now who would describe themselves as life long worriers, or pessimists. In the past that has served them well, enabling them to keep safe, steer clear of risks and even develop strategies in the event of disasters. However, now they find it’s becoming hard to break the cycle and they really want to because it’s holding them back.

                                  Notice how they’ve found their hidden fears and want to face them?

                                  One client said “I knew this was going to be tough, and I knew I couldn’t fight it alone and I knew you would be the one to help me.” Before I sat an incredibly successful, confident, capable business owner with a family and a social life to die for.

                                  However, I’ve learned that the most successful looking lives can hide things that impact on life, success, love, happiness and business.

                                  We didn’t start with the fear that they felt was holding them back, we broke the fear down, and found lots of little obstacles that had been deemed as “life” and “unchangeable” and “that’s just the way it is” by developing awareness to the little steps on the road to their obstacles to happiness and success they were able to tackle them in a different way.

                                  12. Discover Great Skills in Your Scary Moments

                                  And in that clients words “I came here to work with you to grow my company, and my own personal skills. I didn’t expect to get the children to be cleaning up after themselves and my partner being more attentive! It all feels a little magic.”

                                  The moral is that out of the scariest of moments, we can find great skills we didn’t know we had. Find better, healthier, happier ways to live and find ways to enjoy life more. (And have a bit of magic!)

                                  What a great place to be in ready for the next fear that thinks it’s going to get in the way of you, right?

                                  13. Own Your Fear

                                  Think back over these tips and come up with at least one example for each one. Write them down. Put them on your phone. Turn them into a piece of art. Turn them into a poem. Frame them. Go for a fast walk across the fields, beach, down town and repeat these things in your head to the sound of your feet on the ground.

                                  We rarely take the time to appreciate how far we have come, how much we can achieve or what we are capable of – by really owning the tips in this article you will have given your brain a big fat dose of “Damn right I can do this!” and the motivation and accountability to say “Let’s find a way” through any fear.

                                  You can’t help but feel good when you see that can you? And fear doesn’t stand a chance, does it?

                                  More Resources About Fighting Fear

                                  Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

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