11 Best Children Books

Best Children Books

Every time I’m faced with the unknown, I look for answers in books. For me, reading is a humbling practice. I think of how somebody else experienced a similar issue and had the generosity to share or dared to explore such topics publicly, or how they veiled a profound concern into a story that can make sense to more than one person.

Growing up, every time somebody from my family had a question, we could grab a thick encyclopedia volume (alphabetically arranged, evidently) and look for the answer. We are now referring to it as our analog version of Google.

I have cherished memories of colorful covers, beautiful illustrations and the distinct smell of the pages. Library books smelled different than our books, new books had a different texture, and really old books seemed to be carrying with them not only the message of the author but also the wisdom of the passing years.

My first job, in the summer before my 15th birthday, was in an antique books store. People who wanted to part with their collections were coming with trolleys full of gorgeous books. Others were clearing up their parents or grandparents’ attics. I still remember touching a book from 1881, and thinking “wow, this book was 100 years old the day I was born and it is still here!”

The magic of books followed me through the years and, as a mother, the one thing that I have done with my children every single day has been to read together before going to sleep. We snuggle in bed, and we step together into a shared world of imagination built by an incredible story.

I use books to reassure my kids that whatever struggle they experience, they are not alone. I also try to present them to things they’ve never seen in real life, or normalize strong emotions and significant life events.

So today, I want to share with you a couple of precious books that are treasured and profoundly enjoyed both by the children and the adults in my house.

1. Love You Forever

I’ve read Love You Forever to my children from the day they were born. I gifted this book more than any other one. Every time I read it, especially when I’ve had a difficult parenting day, I get reminded of how every single thing we go through with our children is a phase. And that phase will go away making space for another one which, even though different, it will be challenging us at yet another level.
I get reminded that the years will pass, and the healthy young mother holding her small, brand new baby boy will become old and little in her grown son’s arms. And that love is the one thing that will stay intact, through all the rages and stages.
It also inspired us to sing to the kids every single night
“I will love you forever,
I will like you for always,
as long as I’m living,
my baby you will be”

I tear up when I read this book, and I cherish it tremendously.

2. The Velveteen Rabbit

The Velveteen Rabbit is the story written for my 5-year-old self. I have vivid and powerful memories of my toys and how I KNEW they would turn real if only I loved them hard enough.
My white teddy was my best friend growing up, and I remember being so attached to it.
This story also inspired my kids to feel incredibly connected to one exceptional stuffed friend.
Once again, this is a book that makes me cry every time I read it.

3. The Giving Tree

More appropriate for older kids (6 and up I would say), The Giving Tree is a story that takes us up through a very important relationship between a boy and a tree. The boy has many needs and over the years, the tree gives everything he has to make the boy happy: his companionship, shade, fruit, branches, and trunk. The tree has only one desire – he wants the boy to be happy. At the end of the story, the only thing left of the tree is a stump. When the boy, now an old man comes, the tree says “I have nothing left to give you,” but the one thing needed is just a place to rest.
A beautiful story about unconditional love.

4. Giraffes Can’t Dance

Gerald, the main character in Giraffes Can’t Dance is made fun of by the other animals in the jungle because he can’t seem to be able to dance as good as everyone else.
He later discovers that he knew how to dance all along, if only he had the right music.
An excellent reminder for both children and parents to trust the innate worth and unique talents each one of us has. And when we are unable to see them, maybe the only thing we need to do is just to change the music.

5. Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!  is the perfect book for a child embarking on a transitional journey – end of a cycle, a new school, or a new home. Filled with Dr. Seuss’ concealed metaphors, this is a wisdom infused, profoundly moving reminder of what is truly important to focus on in life.

6. The Heart and The Bottle

The Heart and the Bottle takes us through the story of a little girl who decided to put her heart inside a glass bottle so she can protect it from heartbreak. We will subtly learn that not allowing ourselves to feel sadness also affects our ability to experience joy. And in the end, there is only one person who knows how to let the heart come out of the bottle, and fully expose it to the beauty of life.

7. Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?

Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? (Classic Seuss) is funny, brilliantly illustrated and filled with subtle metaphors that will make you laugh and recognize how gratitude can save the day. The old man in the Desert of Drize who sat in a terribly prickly place, shares some wisdom:

“Just tell yourself, Duckie, you’re really quite lucky! Some people are much more… oh, ever so much more, muchly much-much more unlucky than you!”

“You ought to be thankful, a whole heaping lot, for the places and people you’re lucky you’re not!”

“Our old bee-watching man just isn’t bee watching as hard as he can. He out to be watched by another HawtchHawtcher! The thing that we need is a Bee-Watcher-Watcher!”

“Just suppose you were poor Harry Haddow. Try as he will, he can’t make any shadow! He thinks that, perhaps, something’s wrong with his Gizz. And I think that, by golly, there probably is.”

“[…]So lucky you’re not a left sock, left behind by mistake in the Kaverns of Krock!”

8. The Invisible String

The Invisible String is the book that helps children who are having a hard time with physical separation. Whether they are starting school, or you have to go back to work, this will remind your children that no matter where we are, there is an invisible string that connects our hearts and that love doesn’t go away when we are not together. For me, it was also very helpful that the two children in the book are twins.

9. Cry, Heart, But Never Break

Cry, Heart, But Never Break is best described by the brilliant Maria Popova:
“[…]mortality continues to petrify us — our own, and perhaps even more so that of our loved ones. And if the adult consciousness is so thoroughly unsettled by the notion of death, despite intellectually recognizing it as a necessary and inevitable part of life, how is the child consciousness to settle into comprehension and comfort?
Now comes a fine addition to the most intelligent and imaginative children’s books about making sense of death — the crowning jewel of them all, even, and not only because it bears what might be the most beautiful children’s book title ever conceived.”

10. Goodnight Moon

Guaranteed to bring sleepiness to large and small, Goodnight Moon is a classic story you can extend past the pages. It’s an invitation to slow down, become aware of our surroundings and take time to say goodnight to every single person and object around us.

It also makes us all laugh when we get to “the cow jumping over the moon” as when my littlest ones were even more little, they modified this sentence based on their language ability. It was first “cow moon” and it became “cow jumping moon,” “cow jumping on the moon” and finally, some months ago, the full correct sentence which gave my kids and us a tremendous feeling of accomplishment (magic rests in the little stuff).

11. The Day The Crayons Quit

The Day the Crayons Quit is a funny story about the grievances brought up by each crayon in the box on the day they decided they want to quit colloring. Everybody had something to say to Duncan about how difficult, unfair or actually, rather pleasant their job is.

These are my favorite that I read with my kids over and over again with great pleasure and enthusiasm.
I gift books for my children’s birthdays and for other children’s special days. We lend books from the library, we swap them with our friends and neighbors and we have them in our living room as the centerpiece of our home.
I hope you and your children will enjoy them as well! If you want to guarantee your child to love books, start by bringing them in your home and treasure reading them.

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Photo by NASA on Unsplash






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