In a recent conversation with my best friend, she mentioned that her two year-old loved poems and nursery rhymes. I decided to purchase a copy of A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a copy of this classic in the local bookstores. This got me thinking about my childhood favorites and other classics. Eventually my list of “must read” childrens books grew into a large list of books for all ages. This is sampling of those books.
One of my all time favorite books is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. Alexander has one of those days where everything goes wrong. This is a great book for helping children (and adults, too) deal with those bad days.
Dr. Seuss books should be an essential part of a child’s library. Dr. Seuss books are fun and silly. In my opinion every child should have at least one Dr. Seuss memorized. The rhyming in Dr. Seuss books prompts language development and phonemic awareness. Hop on Pop was one of my favorites as a child. I especially enjoyed hearing my Daddy read the book. My daddy had a deep base voice and was a DJ. When he read books to me he would use his “radio voice” and silly voices for the different characters. I enjoyed his reading to me that I refused to learn to read out fear he would stop reading to me (obviously my mom won that battle).
The 1986 Newberry Award winner Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan is quick and fun read. Sarah is a mail order bride from Maine who moves to frontier to become mother of Jacob and Anna. I also enjoyed the movie version.
Another must read pioneer story is Christy by Catherine Marshall. Christy Huddleston is a young school teacher who leaves her privileged life to teach in the Smoky Mountains. The book is quite different from the TV series.
Another of my favorites is To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee. To Kill a Mocking Bird is about life in small southern town during the Depression. Lee won a Pulitzer Prize for this book. The book says a lot about race relations in the south at the time. I think the movie starring Gregory Peck might be as good as the book. My advice is to read the book first.
In my opinion The Indispensable Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson is a must read for anyone. Yes, I know it is a cartoon/comic book. I know that comic books are supposed to rot the brain and limit a child’s reading ability. I have always enjoyed reading comics and it did not hinder my reading abilities. In fact, reading the Sunday Funnies with my Daddy helped me overcome early struggles with reading. By the time I was in fifth grade I was reading on a post-secondary level and by sixth grade I read everything in sight including the cereal box.
One of my favorite authors is Bodie Thoene. She is one of the most creative writers I have read. One of the most amazing things about her writing is her ability to interweave her characters from 30 plus books. My favorite Thoene book is Twilight of Courage. It is a retelling of World War II that intertwines the stories of two American journalists’ escape from the collapse of Warsaw, with those of an orphaned baby’s journey to Jerusalem, a mathematician’s attempt to crack Nazi code, and more.
The above books are just a few books I consider required reading. For more on what I consider “must read” books see the series I wrote for HomeschoolBenefits.org. The series goes into more details and contains a listing of about 100 books. The selection process was subjective. Many of the books are considered classics or were award winners.