This is a post for all the parents out there. For those of you who have children under the age of ten, I will suggest some books that I think could help you build up your child’s cultural awareness, empathy and understanding long before their first day in middle school and, hopefully, before they get introduced to the ugly side of social media. This list will include a variety of genres and styles. Additionally, I will provide you some info as to why they would be a good story to read your kids, far better than the watered-down versions of fairy tales.
And So The List Begins:
The Skin I’m In (Sharon Flake)
This book is preferably for those seven and older because there are some words in it that may not be manageable for a younger audience.
This book deals with self-esteem, body image and pursuing your dreams even when no one around you thinks you can. The main character is a dark-skinned Black girl who is constantly bullied and teased for her skin color and for being so skinny. She wants to become a writer but she has been put down for so long that she doesn’t believe she can do it until a teacher helps her get past all that.
The Harlem Charade
Charade is for the same age as the previous listing.
This book is about community. Common knowledge shows that Harlem is full of different types of people. This book is about befriending those people and seeking a common goal which, in this case, is discovering the reason why the main character’s grandfather was attacked.
Revolting Rhymes (Roald Dahl)
This book is good for younger readers.
You may know Dahl through James and the Giant Peach or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but may have never heard of this book before. Written in 1982, this book connects multiple fairy tales—watered-down versions that is and makes them new and exciting. We are forced to empathize with some of the most unpitiable characters and your child(ren) will love it. It will teach them that beauty isn’t everything, sometimes the would-be wolf isn’t always the bad guy and that no matter what it is important to forgive.
The Phantom Tollbooth (Norton Juster)
This book is good for children seven to twelve.
This novel is fun, inviting and helps children learn vocabulary, spelling and even math. There is an animated movie that can be watched after you’ve finished reading as well. It is colorful and loud so kids will be hooked in. Additionally, this fantasy adventure features characters with many hilarious names such as Princess Rhyme, Princess Reason and The Awful Din.
The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
Ages five to forever.
There is nothing better than learning to accept yourself for who you are. And learning not to be a judgmental jerk in the process never hurt anyone, either. The Little Prince is a fantasy story in which a young girl meets an old man who once knew a by who lived on a star. This boy was the Little Prince. The girl listens to all the old man’s tales as he fixes his airplane and decides that she wants to meet the little prince. Sadly, by the time she does he has forgotten himself. I’m sure your kids will love this one.
Warriors (Erin Hunter)
Ages nine to thirteen.
Cats. Cats as main characters, cats fighting, cats living in the wild. Not big cats, there are no lions or tigers, I am speaking of house cats. It may sound weird, trust me, I thought it was when I first picked it up, but it is an amazing series. Reading the first book with your child may inspire them to finish the series off. And if you don’t think about the characters as cats, people hunting to survive and protect their loved ones is a pretty stable trope.
These books should help you learn what your children like so that you can get them more interested in reading and maybe help them to be better people over all Why? Because words matter and they have impact even if you don’t realize it right then. A chapter or two a day is more than enough. Spend quality time with your children away from the gadgets and I am sure they will appreciate it.
This short list is enough to get you through a couple months, unless your child is like me and loves reading almost too much.