By Jacob Olson
This Friday is Read Across America Day, an annual celebration of the contributions of Dr. Seuss and thousands of other children’s book authors who have captured the imaginations of millions. Reading to your children is always educational and fuels the most important part of a child’s growth: their imagination. Books transport kids around the world and through time, revealing new worlds, people and ideas they would never have encountered in everyday life. This Friday should simply be a reminder and a prompt to continue a daily or weekly tradition of sharing literature with your children.
Here are five of my favorite children’s books, all recognized on the National Education Association list of the best 100 books for kids (available here):
1. Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
This classic has been around for almost 50 years and is still exciting. Visually, the book transports the reader to the world of make believe, showing that you can be transported to a forest filled with all manner of wild things in the comfort of your bedroom. It shows how a fantasy would play out if it came true, ending with the idea that family and home are always a comfort.
2. Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
Published in 1939, this book reveals the advance of the industrial age, showing what happens when new technology replaces the old. It teaches that hard work and determination prevail, no matter how much society tries to tell you you’re worn out. It’s a “little engine that could” story that is still relevant today.
3. Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
This more recent book tells the story of a young bat who is separated from her mother and is raised by birds. Filled with humor, the book discusses growing up different from those around you and how to cope when you just don’t seem to fit in. It ends with the notion that everyone belongs with someone; an important lesson for growing children.
4. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
The author tells us of the trials of Alexander as he navigates a typical day. From the sadness of a forgotten dessert to the stress of a dental visit, Alexander is convinced that his day is the worst day in the history of days. By the end, he realizes that not all days can be great but we can rest assured that everyone has this experience and tomorrow might be better.
5. Corduroy by Don Freeman
Corduroy follows a day in the life of a toy bear looking for a home. He wants to be perfect and begins exploring his department store to find his missing button. He falls asleep worried that he may never find a home and wakes up to find a young girl eager to buy him. She tells him that she likes him the way he is, flaws and all: an important lesson for everyone.