I first heard C.S. Lewis’ quote about children’s stories in a rap song. (It sounds like I’m joking, but I’m 100 percent serious. Check out Shai Linne y’all!) Lewis says that “a children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” I still love quality children’s literature, and these are some of my favorite books; my children will be reading these, even if they’re not required reading at whatever school they go to.
The Little Prince
You guys. I didn’t come across this book in childhood, but rather as a young adult. From beginning to end, this book is full of lessons without being preachy. Written from the perspective of an adult, the narrator begins the book talking about his childhood, then the story progresses when he crashes his airplane in the desert. The narrator “meets” the little prince and goes on a journey that deals with themes of open-mindedness, how relationships breed responsibility, and gaining understanding through exploration.
Favorite Quote: “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Given that I quoted C.S. Lewis earlier, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. The Chronicles of Narnia is fantastic overall. I’ll read all of them to my children, but The Voyage of the Dawn Treader holds a special place in my heart. This is the only novel in which the Pevensie children do not appear together. Peter still believes in Narnia, but Susan dismisses it as a game they used to play. Most importantly is the introduction of Eustace Clarence Scrubb. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader teaches that there is life beyond what we can understand in our current circumstances, and is an incredible story of redemption. Eustace is an abominable child, and gets dragged into Narnia with Edmund and Lucy. Through a series of events that only Narnia can bring, Eustace is transformed and becomes a new person. There are so many lessons to learn from all the characters. Reepicheep in particular teaches a wonderful lesson for children; though you may be small, you can still do incredible things.
Favorite Quote: “’In our world,’ said Eustace, ‘a star is a huge ball of flaming gas.’
[Aslan] ‘Even in your world son, that is not what a star is, but only what it’s made of.’”
Number the Stars
Disclaimer: This book is not for immature readers. Lowry tackles tough subjects in this book. Set during the Nazi occupation of Copenhagen, the main character Annemarie discusses the death of her sister earlier in the war. (Her parents tell her that she was run over by a car. We later find out that she was killed by the Nazis for being part of the Resistance movement.) Her parents take in a Jewish girl named Ellen Rosen and claim that she is their deceased daughter. Eventually Annemarie’s family moves to the countryside to help smuggle the Rosens and other Jews out of the country. Again, while this book should be read by older children, it gives an extraordinary view of World War II through a child’s eyes and gives unique perspective to children on the subject.
Favorite Quote: “And they are beginning to realize that the world they live in is a place where the right thing is often hard, sometimes dangerous, and frequently unpopular.”
Mrs. Piggle Wiggle
Mrs. Piggle Wiggle is old. I mean, really old. The books were originally written in 1947. Still though, the problems kids faced then are still the ones they face now. Kids will always talk back, avoid bedtime, be picky eaters, and leave their toys lying around. If you’ve never met Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, she teaches kids new behaviors through unconventional methods. Think shrinking plates, pills that make you invisible when showing off, and skipping baths until you’re so dirty you grow radishes. I would advise that you read these books before giving them to your child. Some stories may conflict with your parenting style.
Favorite Quote: “There’s nothing as cozy as a piece of candy and a book.”
Reading has ALWAYS been one of my favorite things. If one of your kiddos turns out to be a reader, please nurture them. I can promise, it will be one of the greatest joys of their lives!