While I didn’t really start reading for fun until I was in the 8th grade, there are still so many books I remember reading with my family or at school that I look back on fondly. With so many kiddos (and adults!) being stuck at home this summer in need of entertainment, I couldn’t think of a better time to share some of my favorite childhood reads that have stuck with me through the years that you may want to introduce to the littles in your life!
I’ll be the first to admit that this may be an odd choice for this list, as it does have some more mature elements to it that most young readers won’t completely understand. However, I couldn’t leave it off because this was a book that I remember reading with my grandmother in elementary school. I always say that reading with others is a great way to bond, and this definitely rings true when it came to my reading Flowers for Algernon. If you know a reader who enjoys books that are emotionally charged and gripping until the end, I highly suggest giving this book a try!
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters is a story I read in school, and I still remember every detail of it to this day. I appreciate the fact that it gives the reader insight into a culture they may not be as familiar with and provides a universal message that transcends both time and geographical region: kindness reaps reward.
The Trumpet of the Swan was another book I had the opportunity to enjoy with my family. The cast of chitchatting animals (an E. B. White specialty) was such a cute touch, and I loved that this book carried the overarching theme of working with what you are given, but not letting obstacles get in the way of what you’re striving for. I think this is a lesson we could all learn from, as it’s easy to get discouraged and want to give up when you continue to hit road blocks!
I know what you’re thinking: EVERYONE loved this book as a kid, and you’re probably right! I remember it being read to me at school on numerous occasions, and I just thought it was such a cute one that it had to make this list. The other books in the series (If You Give a Pig a Party and If You Give a Moose a Muffin are two that come to mind, but there could be more now) are also sure to bring a smile to your face!
Whenever my class would take a trip to the school library, I would head straight to the Magic Tree House section. Every one of these books takes the reader on a brand new adventure, and I remember being so excited to see what setting Jack and Annie were going to be whisked away to next as the series went on. If you know of a young reader who loves books full of adventure, I’d highly recommend you read these to them. They are sure to be a hit!
I’m sure this is not the first time you’ve seen this book come up on a list like this, as it is just that good! Giving and giving selflessly to others is something people of all ages struggle to do, and I think The Giving Tree does an excellent job of explaining this lesson to its readers. The fact that this message could be so well explained in so few words makes this book that much more special and powerful. I recommend this book to literally everyone because the moral that’s at the forefront of The Giving Tree is timeless!
While the moral of selflessly sharing with others was a nice backdrop to this book, what I remember the most about The Rainbow Fish are the illustrations. The vibrant colors and the way the sparkly scales added texture to each page made this book extra eye-catching. I think it’s the perfect book to gift your little ones who are just starting to read on their own. It also makes for a great bedtime story for you to read to them!
In addition to just enjoying Anne’s shenanigans she manages to get herself into, I loved how this book highlights the importance of family, friendship, and working hard to achieve your aspirations. I also appreciated the fact that Anne, like a lot of people, hasn’t had a cookie cutter life — an element of her characterization that many readers will find relatable in one way or another, even if they haven’t experienced exactly what she has.
The sing-song voice of this book is what really stood out to me as a child. The overall concept of using a coconut tree to help little ones learn their letters is so genius and by keeping the concept so simple, I think children are better able to understand the educational component of the book because it’s at the forefront of the story rather than being overshadowed by other plot elements. The vibrant colors of the illustrations were also a big hit for me (still a huge fan of all the neons, y’all!).
I know I already have a book written by E. B. White on this list, but Charlotte’s Web is one of those books I remember so vividly from my childhood that it would just be so wrong not to include it here! White is well known for tacking tough topics in ways children can understand, and in Charlotte’s Web, he tackled the complex themes of friendship, sacrifice, and coping with death. While I wish I could say that I totally understood this message when I first read it, that would be a total lie. Ultimately, I was drawn in by the adorable talking animals, but I guess that would be a good (and super intentional) distraction to any young reader!
I’m so happy to see that this book is still popular today, as it has a lot of things going for it, particularly for very young audiences. I had this book read to me before I could read on my own, and it was not only fun to listen to, but it also provides little ones with a some schooling along the way. If you’re looking for a book that focuses on helping littles connect objects with their meanings and learn their colors, this book would be a perfect choice!
I’ll be honest with you all: I had to read this book in 6th grade, and at the time, I just felt like I couldn’t connect with it at all at my age. However, after reading it a couple years later, I began to understand why it’s so well-loved. I also have to admit that I fell in love with the film long before the book (sorry, not sorry) but that shouldn’t take away from the fact that there were so many great things to appreciate about the book alone: well-constructed characters, a unique plotline, and the fact that the writing is beautiful and flowy, but still relatively easy for young readers to understand.