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There's no denying the fact that the books we read as children shape us, and help us become who we are today. From comics to coming-of age-stories, some children's books are timeless that will never get old. Some books are designed to leave a long-lasting impact. The protagonists in these books face loneliness, discouragement, peer pressure and serious hard knocks. These books fill the readers with hope that they, too, will persevere — and even thrive — through all that life brings them.
Whether you simply wish to relive your childhood, or want to introduce your children to some beautiful stories, here are some children's books everyone should read at least once in their lifetime.
1. Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White
After saving a runt of a pig from being slaughtered, young Fern raises Wilbur on her own and assures him a place to live at her uncle’s farm. Lonely and alone, Wilbur becomes fast friends with a spider named Charlotte, who takes it upon herself to save Wilbur from being killed for Christmas dinner. Charlotte’s Web is a heartwarming story with a brilliant mixture of humor, playfulness, and life lessons. It is a compelling reminder to bask in the simplistic wonders of everyday life, and to be kind to all living creatures. The classic novel is a heart-wrenching yet honest story of friendship, love, life and death.
I suggest you keep a box of tissue on hand and be prepared to cry a river.
If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained.
— Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book
2. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
You think you had a not so perfect childhood? Try growing up raised by ghosts in a graveyard. That’s exactly what happens to Nobody “Bod” Owens, the protagonist of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. Bod has to contend with hideous ghouls, his playmates are the ghost children of the graveyard and he must never leave the graveyard to stay protected from The Man Jack, who has already killed Bod’s birth family. The Graveyard book is a fantastic story about, family, friendship and growing up as young Bod, raised in a graveyard by two ghosts, grows up and finally ventures out to find his place in the world. Strange, creepy, and altogether wonderful.
3. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl's classic tale is "pure imagination" in book form. The story tells the hilarious and inspiring tale of a poor, young boy named Charlie who is invited on an exclusive and magical tour of the eccentric Willy Wonka's famous chocolate factory, along with four other children. The other kids are ousted from the tour in comical, mysterious and painful ways because of their bad behavior and odious personality except for Charlie who is honest and kind. Charlie ends up winning the factory and becomes Willy Wonka’s successor. This is such an engaging, humorous, and fanciful story with deep life lessons on honesty, kindness and compassion.
4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Who hasn’t heard of Harry Potter, one of the most popular, if not the most popular character of recent times? This is the book that introduces the young boy wizard to the magical world that J.K. Rowling created. The book tells the story of Harry, an orphan who is being raised by his terrible aunt and uncle. Change begins when he turns 10 as he is summoned to attend a school for wizards, where he finds himself inside a mystical world he never knew existed. He discovers that he came from a family of wizards and must save Hogwarts from the evil Voldemort who killed his parents. You will be enthralled by this very engaging story of sorcery, magic, fantasy and friendships. All the Harry Potter films have been box office blockbusters, but nothing compares to reading about the young wizard's first experiences at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
All the reading she had done had given her a view of life that they had never seen.
— Roald Dahl, Matilda
5. Matilda by Roald Dahl
This is another classic by British writer Roald Dahl which tells the story of a bright four-year-old girl who's treated poorly by her dimwitted parents. School is not much different, since her headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, is horrible and terrorizes kids. Matilda befriends her class teacher, Miss Honey, and learns that there are people in the world who are capable of caring. Matilda soon discovers that she has telekinetic powers, and she uses this to get revenge on mean adults, and help Miss Honey and herself. You must read the book for two reasons: First, Matilda is a lovable, extraordinarily smart bookworm. Second, the story is all about fighting for what you believe in, taking action, and never letting anyone bully you. This book is a heartwarming, fun and inspiring read.
6. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is an 1876 novel based on a young boy growing around the Mississippi river. The story is set along the fictional town of the St. Petersburg. In the novel, Tom Sawyer has several adventures, often with his friend Huckleberry Finn. The novel has elements of humour, satire and social criticism. Youwill love this story inspired by the author’s life as a youth.
7. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The Little Prince is a story about a pilot who is stranded in the Sahara desert after crashing his plane. One morning, he awakens to find a little prince standing before him. The little prince has fallen to earth from the Asteroid B-612. The prince and the pilot become friends, and the prince shares his stories and wisdom he has gained from travelling through space. This extraordinary little person teaches the pilot the secret of what is truly important in life. Possibly one of the most profound children's books ever written; The Little Prince is a simple story that touches on friendship, loneliness, caring for the environment and the importance of kindness.
8. Wonder by R. J. Palacio
This beautiful book tells the story of August Pullman who is home-schooled all his life because of a rare facial deformity. Auggie enrolls in a real middle school where he learns to deal with sideways glances, snickering and social isolation from his peers. Being the new kid in school is tough enough, but being the kid with a face that scares others is near impossible. And yet, Auggie finds his place, shows the world he’s more than just his appearance, and gains support and friendships along the way. This book is a lesson that kindness plus courage can go a long way. The book is unique in the way that it is first told from the point of view of Auggie, then his classmates, his sister, and others. The perspectives converge and elicit empathy and compassion.
9. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
A child and a tree: the friendship that you probably never thought of. Yet that’s the central relationship in The Giving Tree, a story about a young boy who grows up spending time with his apple tree, who ages with him. The book depicts the unconditional nature of “giving”. It makes you reflect on the selfless, kind nature who keeps on giving and the selfish nature of man who keeps on exploiting the nature for his own benefits. This book has such a deep meaning, and it is fun to read at the same time.
10. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Bizarre and curious, Alice ’s Adventures in Wonderlandtells the story of a young girl named Alice, who falls through a rabbit hole into a subterranean fantasy world populated by peculiar creatures like the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, and the Cheshire Cat. One of the best-known and most popular works of English-language, the book explores the potential of imagination and the reality of fiction.
10 Children's Books Everyone Should Read
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Shaloo Walia
Shaloo Walia (author) from India on November 15, 2020:
I agree. Children's books are magical indeed!
Ann Carr from SW England on November 10, 2020:
I think I love children's books better than adults'. They have such magic and often humour on so many levels.
I love re-reading the A A Milne series of 'Winnie-the-Pooh', as well as 'Tom's Midnight Garden' and 'Moondial', let alone 'Swallows and Amazons', 'The Wind in the Willows' and many more! One I'm not so keen on, sadly, is 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'; I find it rather creepy.
Thanks for the reminders!
Shaloo Walia (author) from India on October 28, 2020:
Matilda is too good and loved by all irrespective of their age.
Shaloo Walia (author) from India on October 28, 2020:
I am sure you will like them.
Treathyl FOX from Austin, Texas on October 27, 2020:
The Little Prince was actually required reading for my high school English class, When I started having my own children, I rather liked Matilda. Not sure if my children liked her but I sure did. LOL.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 27, 2020:
Well, I've read four of them. Obviously I have some work to do. :) Great list. I happen to love children's books, and I'm sure I would enjoy all of these.