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

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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 November 22, 2021

                                  Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

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                                  Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

                                  Thanksgiving, a day of pure gluttony, football, and possible uncomfortable situations with family members that you may or may not like. Oh, yeah, and the whole “know and reflect on what it is to be thankful and grateful.”

                                  During the holiday season many people forget what this time of year is bout and are too worried about getting the “early-bird” deals on Black Friday and making sure that they have the perfect gifts for their loved ones. I am sort of a “Grinch” when it comes to the holiday season, mostly because of that mentality by many of the poeple around me.

                                  But instead of being grinch-like this holiday season, I decided to simplify things and get back to what this time of year is actually is about; being thankful for what I have and what I can give.

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                                  Simplify

                                  I’m not a “minimalist” in any real sense, but in the last few months the talks of Patrick Rhone and others have got me to rethink my stance. Can you really have too much stuff?

                                  Absolutely.

                                  And with all that stuff comes the burden and the weight of it on your back.

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                                  If you feel that the things around you are out of control, maybe it’s time to simplify and be thankful and grateful for what you have and use. Here are a few things that you can do to simplify:

                                  • You know those gadgets in the drawer that you said you were going to sell? Well, time to get the listing on eBay and sell them. Or, send them to a place like Gazelle. Even if they are old and won’t get money, you can at least recycle them.
                                  • Get rid of things you don’t need. Like old books, clothes, tools, etc. Have something that’s been laying around forever with no use? Donate it to a charity or church. If you aren’t using it, someone else could be.
                                  • Find your productivity tools and stick with them. Use tools and gadgets that serve multiple purposes so you can simplify your tool set.

                                  Be Mindful

                                  You don’t have to be a master Buddhist or meditator to be mindful (although, it can definitely help). Being mindful comes down to being cognizant of the present and not keeping yourself in the past or future. It’s about living in the moment and being aware of yourself and everything around you. It’s just being.

                                  Without getting too “California” on you, it is super important to be mindful during the holiday rush. Rather than worrying about the things that you forgot at your house on the way to relatives or thinking about the next stop in your endless holiday travels, just breath and think about what you are currently doing.

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                                  Spend the time with your family and friends and don’t crush the moment. Try not to concentrate so hard on getting the perfect photo of the “awesome moment” of the day and actually miss the awesome moment.

                                  Being mindful over the holidays will help you be with your families, friends, and yourself allowing you to enjoy your time.

                                  Reflect

                                  As the year is coming to a close (yes, it really is that close!) it’s a great time to start reflecting on what you have accomplished and what you haven’t. Within the next few weeks we will have a more throrough reflection article here at Lifehack.org, but reflecting every now and then over your holiday break is a great way to see where you have been doing well in your life and where you need to improve.

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                                  Reflection shouldn’t be used to “get down” on yourself. Reflection should be used to take an honset inventory of what you have accomplished, how you handeled situations, and what you can do better. If you journal everyday (a daily form of reflection) it may be a good time to start going over some of the things that you have written and start to put together a year’s end journal entry. I mean, how else will you write your autobiography?

                                  But, seriously, reflecting on yourself makes you aware of your successes and faults and helps you plan and make goals for the coming year. It makes you a better person.

                                  So, while you are stuffing your face with bird, stuffing, and mashed taters’, remember that the holidays are much more than the superficial things. Use this holiday to become a better person.

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                                  Featured photo credit: Libby Penner via unsplash.com

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