Of the many gifts I’d like to give my non-existent possible future child, and a definitive list of the best books to read at every stage in life (along with copies–real actual printed copies of each book), is chief among them. This is not that list–that list will likely take me months of laboring over and adding to. But this is a start. Inspired by this this lovely blog post. Please, feel free to share your must reads for every stage of life. Here’s my start:
Birth to Age 5:
Monster at the End of This Book
I grew up LOVING Sesame Street and all things Muppet (and watching it until I was much older than I would admit to my friends). This book, starting loveable furry old Grover was one of my favorites as a child. I’ve given this book as a gift to many children and babies in my life and my child will be no exception. Plus, I’m married to a man who does a great Grover voice when he reads this aloud.
Where the Wild Things Are
Hear this writers everywhere: this book is a masterpiece and it’s under 400-words. So keep it short! It’s been said that the last line in this book is a poem in and of itself: “and the food was still hot.” It’s a beautiful work of the imagination and feelings of childhood.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Like Where the Wild Things Are, this book has great illustrations, but in a much simpler baby/toddler-friendly way. I remember loving flipping through this book when I was learning to count and after. Plus it makes a great kids birthday party theme.
Everything Dr. Seuss
The man is a genius. Enough said.
Elementary School Years
Everything Roald Dahl
I’ve read some of his adult stuff and it’s decent, but he was great at kind of dark, but imaginative kids books for those years when you just start getting into reading on your own and you realize how fun it can be. The BFG, The Witches (which I actually didn’t read until I was an adult), James and the Giant Peach (I played a the grasshopper in a production of this when I was in the 3rd grade), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the list goes on — they are all must reads.
Get ready to cry your eyes out. My life would be complete if I could ever write something as moving as this book. I know I’ve already said masterpiece, but seriously: Masterpiece.
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
OK, this one is probably only a girl thing. But I remember when I was in forth grade and learning for the first time was a period was, I checked this book out of the library and rode my bike to the park to read it in secret after school. Several years later in 8th grade I secretly read another Judy Blume book, Forever, (women will know what I’m talking about…men…I don’t know, maybe Blubber? I guess some Judy Blume might be gender neutral, but the two books that left the strongest impression were definitely for girls only.
(side rant: I am, of course, partial to the 70s/80s covers of these books)
Next installment: Middle School, High School, and College.