Ask me about books and you might be sorry you did. It's a love affair, really. From the smell of them (fresh pages or well-worn library copies both do it for me) to the way they look lined on a shelf, books and the words on their pages are a special kind of magic for me. In fact, part of the excitement that came with having my daughter Claire was related to this very thought: "Oooh! New books!" And in all seriousness, kids or not, there are some children's books every adult should own, because it turns out they know a thing or two about life.
I've put together a list of a few of my favorites, and it was honestly hard to choose because there are just so many wonderful books for kids. But these are the ones that have become staples in our home, whether they are on the big or little kid shelf.
From board books to YA selections, you are bound to find something (or many somethings) that suit your reading fancy. The good news about most kids books is that the lessons are big, but their page count is typically slim. Which means more time for you to read them all.
1. 'Rosie Revere, Engineer' by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts
I'm not going to lie: When it comes to bedtime reading, this is one of Claire's books that I nudge her to read. Luckily, she loves it because I can't get enough of Rosie Revere and the ups and downs of her inventions. Beaty writes:
“'Your brilliant first flop was a raging success! Come on, let's get busy and on to the next!' She handed a notebook to Rosie Revere, who smiled at her aunt as it all became clear. Life might have its failures, but this was not it. The only true failure can come if you quit.”
2. 'The Journey' by Francesca Sanna
You might have picked up this book to explain more about immigration to you children, but you're about to discover it will help you along the way, too. As noted on Amazon, "With haunting echoes of the current refugee crisis this beautifully illustrated book explores the unimaginable decisions made as a family leave their home and everything they know to escape the turmoil and tragedy brought by war."
3. 'Oh, the Places You'll Go' by Dr Seuss
Need a motivational kick in the pants? Here's a peek straight from this famous Dr. Seuss text:
"And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.) KID, YOU'LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!"
Go buy this book! Move mountains! Use exclamation points for all the things!
4. 'The Chronicles Of Narnia' by C.S. Lewis
5. 'A Wrinkle In Time' by Madeleine L'Engle
This passage from A Wrinkle In Time gets me every time:
"'Wild nights are my glory," the unearthly stranger told them. 'I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me sit down for a moment, and then I'll be on my way. Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract.'"
A tesseract — or a wrinkle in time — is just the beginning of this 1963 Newbery Medal winner. If you are itching to see the movie, then you might want to devour the pages first.
6. 'Where The Red Fern Grows' by Wilson Rawls
7. 'Ten Little Fingers And Ten Little Toes' by Mem Fox, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
We read this book time and time again when Claire was a baby and it still sits in a top spot on her shelf today. The rhythm of this book is perfect for little ones, but the message of different people and cultures throughout the world is for everyone.
8. 'I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark' by Debbie Levy, illustrations by Elizabeth Baddeley
She's a Supreme Court Justice, she's 85 years old, she can bench press 70 pounds, she's bad*ss — I'm talking about Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Whether you have already seen RBG nine times, or simply need some inspiration from someone who can show you that disagreeing doesn't make you disagreeable, this is the book for you.
10. 'I Am Abraham Lincoln' by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
A recent trip to D.C. left my daughter completely obsessed with Abraham Lincoln, so we bought her this book for her third birthday. (She also thinks Lincoln looks like her dad, but that's a story for another day.) Anyway, each time I read this book — which is basically every night — I find myself tearing up over various passages because they feel so true to the life lessons adults need to remember today. Like this one:
"In life strength can take many forms. But there's nothing quite as strong as standing up for someone who needs it. No matter where you're from, or how little you have, one thing that can never be taken away from you is your voice."
Other books in this series include I Am Harriet Tubman, I Am Jane Goodall, I Am Martin Luther King, Jr., and I Am Lucille Ball and honestly you should just buy them all because they are all worth reading.
11. 'Harry Potter' Paperback Box Set by J.K. Rowling
In my opinion, there really is no kids-books-adults-should-read list that would be complete without the Harry Potter books. For kids, Rowling has created a magical world blended with everyday young adult problems (e.g. pimples, crushes, and — yikes — asking someone to a dance). But adults will find themselves nodding to all of that and also picking up on the historical, mythological, and political references. Oh, and you'll just simply welcome the escapism that inherently comes with cracking open these books.
12. 'The Story of Ferdinand' by Munro Leaf, illustrations by Robert Lawson
13. 'Charlotte's Web' by E.B. White, illustrated by Garth Williams
Friendship and sacrifice are the hallmarks of this classic tale about a girl named Fern and her beloved pig, Wilbur. During his lifetime, many young readers asked Mr. White if his stories were true. He answered, "No, they are imaginary tales . . . But real life is only one kind of life — there is also the life of the imagination," according to Amazon. And who isn't seeking that kind of life right about now?