Young Readers Day 2017
Happy Young Readers Day! This inspirational holiday celebrates children’s education and encourages their love for learning. Reading at an early age is extremely beneficial and ensures a child’s future success. More importantly, it’s an extremely fun activity that sparks creative thinking and imaginative play. To celebrate, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite books that kids should read at least once in their lifetime. From adorable picture books to fantastical middle-grade stories and deeply moving young-adult novels, these recommendations include both classic and contemporary titles for readers young and old.
Classic: The Giving Tree
Nostalgic readers continue to spread their love for this beloved story, and have engraved their favorite quotes on tree stumps for the world to see. Embedded with themes of friendship and love, this parable follows one boy and an apple tree as both grow from childhood to old age. Always there for him, the devoted tree offers him her fruit, leaves and branches—until she has nothing left to give. A stunning example of the passage of time and the consequences of both giving and taking, Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree shows how powerful generosity, sharing, and sacrifice can be.
Contemporary: The Pond
Beautifully written by Nicola Davies and breathtakingly illustrated by Cathy Fisher, The Pond represents the fascinating cycle of life and the long road it takes to recovery. When a young boy’s father dies suddenly, their plan to create a lively pond full of tadpoles, dragonflies, and waterlilies is left unfinished. Without him there, a muddy, empty hole engulfs the garden. Seeking solace within nature, the pond begins to come to life as the boy starts to heal. Above all, this thoughtful story will connect with children as they cope with the loss of a loved one.
Classic: Tuck Everlasting
Initially written to ease her daughter’s fear of dying, award-winning author Natalie Babbitt’s Tuck Everlasting has comforted and inspired children for decades. This fairy-tale-esque story centers on Winnie, who meets the immortal Tuck family and must make an impossible choice: drink magic spring water and live forever, or grow up and eventually die. Bewitched by the possibility of achieving eternal life, she initially sees this as a blessing. While Winnie grows closer to the family, she slowly realizes the risks and consequences of never being able to age. With themes of love and death, this poetic novel embraces the beauty in living life to the fullest.
The latest in a powerful series entitled Through My Eyes, Hotaka by John Heffernan examines the devastating effects of natural disasters from a child’s point of view. Three years after the horrific tsunami that struck Japan in 2011, the seaside town of Omori-wan is still recovering. Hotaka, a young boy haunted by the death of his friend, plans to hold a memorial service for his community. Doing so brings back past memories and painful flashbacks that have yet to fully heal. Especially relevant, this story will encourage readers to learn about history, environmental catastrophes, and diverse experiences from around the world.
Classic: The Catcher in the Rye
An iconic coming-of-age story following a rebellious and lonely 16-year-old, The Catcher in the Rye cemented author J.D. Salinger as a literary genius and voice of a generation—the phony person his male protagonist, Holden Caulfield, so utterly despised. More famous for secluding himself from society than for his teen-angst masterpiece, Salinger continues to connect and divide his readership. Love him or hate him, Holden’s complex emotions, scattered thoughts, and dangerous actions capture the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Wandering around busy New York City, he encounters eccentric characters—only to feel more alone in the world than ever before. With renewed and heightened interest in Salinger’s possible soon-to-be published stories, now is the perfect time for teenagers to discover Holden and witness the dark and ugly days of youth.
Contemporary: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Igniting a pop-culture phenomenon that would go on to sell millions of copies, spawn a successful 8-film franchise, and launch multiple amusement parks, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone continues to increase its already devoted fan following—20 years after its initial release. The first in this magical series, readers meet Harry and witness his transformation from an ordinary boy to an extraordinary wizard. This enchanted universe has led many crazed teens (and quite a few adults) to obsessively check their mailboxes for an acceptance letter to Hogwarts. The Wizarding World, however, has more to offer than levitation charms and chocolate frogs; it’s also a heartwarming example of friendship and the power of destiny. Although Harry may have never graced our bookshelves in the first place, due to Rowling’s determination and creative vision, The Boy Who Lived is forever known around the world.
Have a favorite that I might have missed? Strongly disagree with these amazing choices? Let me know in the comments below!
Feature Image via Best of NJ