Walk into any book store and you will find, usually tucked away in some cozy little back corner, a fully stocked, colorful display of children’s books. Stories of talking animals, vegetables come to life and numerous adaptations of Disney movies line the shelves, but in a genre where imagination should be allowed free rein, there seems to be a scarcity of just that. Fear not though, wedged among those lifeless tomes are some classics, both new and old, that will keep the little ones, and us grown ups, happy.
I have been a voracious reader for as long as I can remember, but as a kid, my tastes ran to the adult. I read Agatha Christie novels, passed down from my Mum when she was done with them, as well as other tomes too weighty for my young mind. I found kids books to be, well, juvenile and found myself bored by most, but there was one that stuck with me and it’s a book I have been trying to track down for my own kids.
“Stig of the Dump,” by Clive King tells the story of Barney, a lonely boy, who falls through a rubbish pile at the bottom of a disused quarry, where he meets a caveman named, Stig. The two quickly become friends and embark on numerous adventures.
Another that I have shared with my kids is, “The Velveteen Rabbit,” by Margery Williams. It’s the tale of a toy rabbit that, thanks to the love given to him by his child owner, gets to become a real rabbit. First published in 1922, it has become a classic, one that should be on the shelf in every kid’s room.
Another that has stood the test of time, from 1963 to be exact, is Maurice Sendak’s, “Where the Wild Things Are.” Although only 10 sentences long, the book manages to cram in the story of Max, a wolf costume wearing, mischievous kid who is sent to his room for misbehaving, whereupon he encounters a mysterious land of monsters that make him their king. It’s surprising the book has become such a success given that, when first released, parents thought the monsters to be a little too scary for their children.
If its scares your kids are looking for, then I recommend the, “Goosebumps” series by R.L. Stine. There are literally hundreds to choose from, all fit for kid consumption. My 10 year old daughter reads them regularly and there is now a companion TV show featuring a number of adaptations of the most popular of the novels. Older kids will probably prefer, “Twilight,” by Stephenie Meyer, a tale of teenage vampires and romance that has become something of a phenomenon since its release in 2005. The book has already spawned 3 sequels, as well as a major motion picture release.
It would be impossible to compile a list of children’s books without mentioning the Harry Potter series. Since the release of, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” in 1997, the series has gone on to sell over 400 million copies worldwide and has spawned movies, merchandise and money for its creator, J.K. Rowling. More important than all of that though, is that the books have created a new generation of young readers, kids who would normally be stuck in front of a video game now have their eyes on the printed word. That is a piece of magic that Harry himself would be proud of.