I could not wait for my kids to start reading – because then I could read what
I wanted to, instead of reading to them. But then I realized that even the kids
who love to read, want to be read to once in a while. And I realized another thing,
that by reading to them I got to pick the books I liked, some of which are enjoyed
by kids and adults alike. As they say – “some day you’ll be old enough to start reading
fairy tales again”.
So while my list of, books-to-read-to-to-your-kids a long one, here are the top five,
which I think are an absolute must.
- The Little Prince – Antoine de saint Exupery
This is one of the most magical books that you can read, be it to a child
or even yourself. This is not a children’s book, it’s one that can be read at
any stage of one’s life and what you take away from it depends on your
age and place where you are in your life. My kids loved it as did I – but for
different reasons. For my kids the fact that the protagonist thinks little of
grown-ups was simply delightful….
I am not doing a book review here, but what I will say is that The Little Prince
is an imaginative and poignant tale about a little boy and his planet, the lessons
he learns from his travels to other planets, the loneliness he feels, his love for a
rose that makes him sad, the experiences he has and, finally, what happens when
he comes to earth.
This book will make you think and (let me warn you) also make you sad, in a
life’s-lessons kind of way. Read it when you are not rushed – not when you have
fifteen minutes before the kids sleep and you need to read something quick,
but when you and kids are tucked in bed and the clock does not hang on you
like a sword.
And yes, read it before you read it to your kids – because they’ll ask you many
questions, the answers to which you may not have (may never have actually).
I don’t. But at least you can pretend to..
2. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
The story is known to everyone, so it needs little introduction. But it is a
must-read, even if you know what this is about. It’s a magical book which,
again, is to be read at every age. I still read it from time to time. Some of
my favourite quotes from the book:
“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things
“I am not crazy. My reality is just different from yours” Cheshire Cat
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
“Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the
same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least
twice as fast as that!”
……and there are so many more!
Read this with your kids, savour it, laugh and introspect together. It’s a great
one to read as a family.
3. George’s Secret Key to the Universe – By Stephen and Lucy Hawking
This the first in a three-part series of children’s books Stephen Hawking wrote
with his daughter Lucy. It’s really perfect for kids as it blends cosmology with
The protagonist is a boy called George’s whose best friend is Annie (her dad Eric
is a scientist working on a space project). Stuff goes wrong and adventures take
place in space, of which the two children are a part.
What’s great about the book is that in the middle of the story are facts about space
and the cosmos that are written on separate pages. These I read with my daughter,
because they can be a bit hard for kids to read on their own. I loved these series
and I can safely say that my daughter’s love for Astronomy was fueled in part
by this book!
4. Winnie the Pooh – A A Milne
When I bought this book for my daughter, she said “I don’t want to read a
cartoon book!”. I can’t tell you how sad this comment made me, and angry too.
Because this is the association that has stood in the way of children reading this
most delightful book of all times. I mean it’s sad really what Disney did to Pooh.
All the merchandise that came with Disney owning the franchise was just sad,
because it led most kids (and their little informed parents) to believe that Pooh
was some cutesy cartoon character. It makes me want to cry, because this is
one of the most delightful books you can read, even as an adult.
Anyway, all I had to read was the first page to my daughter, she was hooked
after that.It’s a world filled with the most magical tales and also with imaginary
fears, like the Heffalump and Jagulars, which are only talked about, but never seen..
“Once upon a time, a very long time ago now, about last Friday, Winnie-the-Pooh
lived in a forest all by himself under the name of Sanders..”kids just love this line
(mine uses it all the time now)
Winnie the Pooh, the honey-loving little bear, wants to get honey from a bee tree.
He loves honey and is always eating it in excess and keeps getting into trouble, from
which Christopher Robin (the human character in the story, named after the author’s son)
rescues him. This keeps happening – either Pooh or one of the other animals
(there are more) get into a sticky situation Christopher gets them out of it.
Get this now, sit with your kids in bed and just read it to them. There are two books,
so get both: Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner
5. The Faraway Tree
Maybe this is one of my favourites because I read it as a child and loved it more
than the other Enid Blyton books, but there was something about Moonface,
Saucepan man and Miss-wash-a-lot that appealed to me, not to mention the
land of take-what-you-want or the land of birthdays.
It’s about adventures that Jo, Bessie and Fanny go on with cousin Dick. They go
up the Faraway Tree and meet Moonface, Saucepan Man and Silky the pixie.
They go through the Land of Spells, the Land of Toys, Land of Take What You
Want – then one day Moonface, Silky and Saucepan Man disappear, and
the mystery begins..
All my girls have read these and now they titter among each other and make
references that I cannot understand (don’t remember the details as they do!).
Get this series for kids who are reading on their own.
So, that’s the must-read list for all kids. These will stay with them forever.