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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 August 15, 2018

                                  7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

                                  7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

                                  Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

                                  Video Summary

                                  Why is it important to train up our core strength?

                                  There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

                                  This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

                                  Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

                                  In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

                                  One Exercise, multiple benefits

                                  There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

                                  By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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                                  When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

                                  Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

                                  In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

                                  What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

                                  What will happen when you start doing planks every day

                                    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

                                    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

                                    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
                                    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
                                    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
                                    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

                                    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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                                      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

                                      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

                                      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

                                        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

                                        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

                                          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

                                          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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                                          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

                                          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

                                          5. You’ll improve overall balance

                                            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

                                            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

                                              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

                                              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                                                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                                                How to hold a plank position

                                                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                                                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                                                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                                                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                                                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                                                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                                                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                                                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                                                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                                                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                                                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                                                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                                                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                                                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                                                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                                                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                                                  • Prolapse
                                                  • After prolapse surgery
                                                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                                                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                                                  • Previous childbirth
                                                  • Overweight

                                                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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