When choosing a book to read, most young readers will choose one that they know will entertain them. Still others might choose one that takes them to an entirely different world. Most teachers and parents would probably choose for young children to read what I like to call “life-topic books.” These books, while presented in an interesting or unique way, address life topics that children need to begin understanding, topics such as racism, death and family relationships. I have compiled below a list of “life-topic books” from our top 100 children’s books list. Clicking on the book title will take you to my original post on the novel.
As I made my way through the top 100 children’s books, I enjoyed discovering that many of these novels make great read-alouds. As most should agree, it is critical to the imagination and growth of young children to have books read aloud to them. Picture books do just fine for toddlers, but I have also found value in reading chapter books to children. Below is a list of the books I chose from our list that I think would make great read-alouds. If you click on the title of the book, it will lead you to my original post on the novel.
Upon the completion of my Top 100 Childrens Books challenge, I wanted to share with you some handy lists, categorizing the books for you to begin exploring some of these great pieces of literature. Today, I want to share the books from the list that take place in nature or are themed around nature. I believe these books are timeless and will be carried on as classics because of this theme. Click on the book title to visit my post.
Even before finding out it was the most-loved childrens book of all time, Charlotte’s Web was my favorite as well. Though the beginning of the book may contain some dated information and dialogue, it still has so many beautiful elements.
Friendship and camaraderie remains a huge theme throughout the story, as Fern befriends the runt pig and names him Wilbur, and Wilbur moves to the farm and joins a community of animals dedicated to helping each other (with the exception of Templeton the rat). Wilbur not only learns what it is like to be cared for and loved by Fern and the animals, but he learns to love as well.
The concepts of life and death are introduced and addressed perfectly for the age group that is targeted with this novel. Wilbur’s life is saved by Fern and eventually, Charlotte, even though the natural order of life on the farm would mean his death. We experience the birth of geese, lambs and spiders. And, Wilbur endures through the tragedy of losing his best friend, Charlotte. If a child puts themselves in the pig’s place, they know that it is okay to not understand death and to demand knowledge and understanding of the world around them. But they are also given the chance to grow alongside Wilbur as he moves on and embraces what is before him.
Charlotte’s Web will remain a classic for decades to come. I hope that my children and grandchildren will cherish this coming-of-age novel as much as I have.
by E. B. White
Originally published in 1952
Meg Murry is different. Not only has her father been, more or less, missing for years, but she has a younger brother who the public think is mentally and socially challenged. Meg has faith, as does her mother, that her father will return with the scientific discoveries he set out to find. She also knows Charles Wallace’s true nature, which is that of a child genius. So when he invites Meg along on an adventure to find their father, she cannot help but join, with the company of her classmate Calvin. The three find themselves on a new planet, amongst people programmed to be one-and-the-same person. They take on evil like they never thought they would and learn so much about the world, science, and themselves in the process.
Upon examination of the top ten books on our top 100 list, I was surprised to find out that half of them are classified as fantasy, science fiction or dystopian. As a refresher, here are the five I am talking about:
A Wrinkle in Time
If given a choice, I will always go for contemporary or classic realistic fiction reads, but that does not seem to be the truth for Betsy Bird‘s pollsters. I am excited to find out that people prefer a good mix of both contemporary and fantasy/sci-fi. In the reading lives of children, it is critical that they understand that not everyone sees the world the same way, that they must use their imagination to think critically about the world around them, and sometimes that involves characters such as Aslan and Professor Dumbledore.
by Madeleine L’Engle
Originally published in 1961
As I have mentioned before, six out of the seven Harry Potter books have found their place on the Top 100 Children’s Books list. The only one left off is book number six, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. In speaking with some friends, there are a few ideas that we came up with as to why, but that’s not what I want to discuss today. To be honest, I was surprised to find the first book in the series ranked highest on the list. Not that I expected my favorite, Goblet of Fire, to rank highest, but I was just surprised. Thank goodness that I had the chance to speak with my supervisor about this exact topic.
One day at work, I was reading HP and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the break room. Enter Heather, my supervisor. She sees that I’m reading it and her face lights up. We get into a conversation about the series and what her midnight releases looked like. She admits that she is a HP nerd and obviously not just an emotional fanatic, but a thoughtful, critically-minded fan. She takes great care in explaining her love for this series and it’s characters, so I ask her why she thinks the first book made the highest ranking on the list. She admits that, in re-reading, the first book is not her favorite at all, but she understands that this book would greatly appeal to younger children, around the age that this list is trying to target. Think about it. Harry has just turned eleven when this book begins and J.K. Rowling took great care to write it with eleven-year-olds in mind. The teasing and playfulness of the students reflect pre-adolescence. The true evil nature of the characters has not even begun to be revealed. As the series moves on, Rowling uses the books to pinpoint the age group that Harry falls in. Brilliant, I say. Brilliant.
by J.K. Rowling
Originally published in 1997
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, in my opinion, is beyond words and description. Its merit in linking spirituality and fiction are above measure. Any believer in Christ and his death and resurrection can place themselves in Edmund’s shoes, having committed a crime beyond redemption, forcing your protector and confidante to take your place. I will admit that I might not understand all the theology behind this literary work of C.S. Lewis, but I can most definitely appreciate the story and how it affects my view of God.
“He is not safe, but he is good.”
by C.S. Lewis
Originally published in 1950