Although often considered a genre completely separate from actual “literature,” children’s books are often among the most successful, most enduring, and most endearing works of fiction that exist in our society.
Handed down from generation to generation, a great children’s novel is something that bonds parents with children, teaches timeless lessons, and exists in the American psyche as a true classic book.
Here are some of the best ever.
In Where the Wild Things Are, an amazing world with amazing creatures comes to life.
Where the Wild Things Are
Many children’s books offer life lessons. Others try to nurture a sense of compassion and empathy. Where the Wild Things Are brings pure adventure. Maurice Sendak’s classic tale follows a boy who wears a wolf costume to sleep after being sent to bed without dinner. As a bizarre, funny, and scary world appears, he learns through interactions with the wild things he meets along the way that home isn’t so bad.
Oh, the Places You’ll Go
Arguably the greatest book ever written by the unrivaled king of children’s books, Oh, the Places You’ll Go is a lesson in motivation and self-propelled inspiration that can woo even the clingiest kids into thinking they can do anything to which they put their mind. Classic Dr. Seuss rhyme schemes and brilliant, colorful animation paint a world in which children are bound by no limitation once they realize that hurdles and pitfalls are a normal and natural part of success.
There is nothing as timeless as saying goodnight. Written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd, Goodnight Moon personifies familiar household objects and uses a simple rhyme scheme. This basic structure allows children to memorize the book quickly. Once the words are memorized, it won’t be long before the child is actually reading along with mom or dad.
Go, Dog, Go!
A parent doesn’t have to be a dog lover to use this book as a tool to impart upon a child the magic of the animal kingdom’s most powerful inter-species relationship: man and dog. Easy to read and fast paced (ending with a dog party in a tree), Go, Dog, Go! is quick, entertaining, and incredibly colorful.
The Giving Tree
In The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein uses a simple story to illustrate two complicated and important subjects: friendship and sacrifice. Through the tale of two best friends – a boy and a tree – Silverstein demonstrates the greatest ideals of selflessness and unconditional love. As the old man visits the tree he loved as a boy only to find it has long ago been cut down, he realizes it continues to give as he sits down to rest on its stump.
The Giving Tree tells the story of a boy whose best friend gave up everything for him.
There is a reason that great children’s novels endure over the decades and generations: No matter how much society or technology changes, some ideals and ideas never change. The best children’s novels encourage compassion, learning, and empathy – oh, and they’re a lot of fun for a kid to read with his mom and dad. In their quest to become great authors, every aspiring writer should look back to the first books he ever knew.
Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He writes about literature and profiles top legal and business leaders.