This is somewhat similar to my previous question, but more generic. There's just some books that we discovered when we're older that we wish we could've read earlier on if we had the resources and influence from others.

asked 11 Apr '10, 20:13

Randell's gravatar image

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I remember especially clearly discovering George Orwell's Animal Farm and it being a total revelation that a book could make such biting commentary about human behavior. But I can't say that I wish I'd read it, or any other book, "earlier."

I was lucky to grow up in a house that had lots of great books just lying around waiting to be found, without my parents having to put any particular ones in front of me, and without their ever trying to restrict what I read. (They believed that books that were too mature would just be over my head and/or of little interest to me, not that they would be in any way harmful. "Inappropriate for kids" was not a term I ever heard applied to a book, nor to movies once I was over 10.) I think this situation led me to discover these things at about at the right time, so while I have many fond memories of important books I read growing up, I don't feel like there are any "I wished I could've read earlier on."

I am trying hard to emulate all these conditions with my own son -- instill a love of reading early, and then have LOTS of good material around waiting to be discovered, but resist the temptation to push too hard for him to read particular books. Nobody loves an assignment.


answered 12 Apr '10, 00:06

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+1 Igritz, that's how I grew up too. With the assumption that I'd make good choices, and pretty much everything under the sun available somewhere in our big old house to read.

(12 Apr '10, 05:41) Neen

I can't see myself making my kids read anything. As they get older (they're only 5 and 2.5 right now), I might make some suggestions as to books that I think they might like (or give them some of my favourites as presents), but I really want them to explore the world of books on their own, finding their likes and dislikes themselves. I will, however, encourage them to read avidly, and I'm certainly not going to discourage them from reading anything. I want them to love to read as much as I do. I, too, grew up with tonnes of books available and parents that encouraged me to delve through them, and it seems to have worked out well for me.

One thing that I will make my kids do is get a library card. My five-year-old already has hers, in fact. I can remember how much fun I had as a kid (and still do, for that matter) browsing through the library looking for that perfect "right-now" book. Hopefully, my kids will enjoy that pleasure also.


answered 13 Apr '10, 17:13

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Here are a handful of books that I read too late to fully appreciate, but which I hope to pass to my children:

  • A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L'Engle
  • A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin (plus the rest of the original trilogy, but not (Tehanu or The Other Wind)
  • The Narnia books by C.S. Lewis

There are thousands of others, but these are great formative reading experiences for a child in gradeschool.


answered 15 Apr '10, 19:28

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JS Bangs
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Some of the ones I've read to my five-year-old son, or that I intend to read:

  • The Chronicles of Narnia (in published order, not "chronological" order, of course)
  • The Great Brain series (by John D. Fitzgerald)
  • The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings
  • Various books by Lloyd Alexander

So far we're on book six (The Magician's Nephew) of Narnia. My rationale for the books I lean towards is that boys like adventure stories, and a lot of these stories are about people of courage doing the right thing even in tough circumstances.

Of course, I think a lot of the Narnia series goes over the head of a five-year-old. (I haven't read any of these other series yet, but I suspect they will too.) I'm sure we'll re-read them later on.

As far as little kid stories, I have a fondness for the Thomas the Tank Engine stories; there's a big red book with the original collection by the Rev. W. Awdry. My son likes the stories because he loves trains. I like them because the engines act like little kids, and learn valuable lessons, but the stories never come across as preachy. They're very readable, entertaining and just the right length; they never feel long.


answered 20 Apr '10, 03:06

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Update: We finished The Chronicles of Narnia, and he loved them. We read The Hobbit and he loved it too. We read the first half of The Fellowship of the Ring, and...he pronounced it "boring." Well, he's still only 6, after all. The Hobbit was written as more of a children's book, while The Lord of the Rings was not. It shows. We're now reading The Great Brain series, and it's a fantastic series in terms of building character. It's also hilarious. I wish this series, as well as the three books John D. Fitzgerald wrote for adults, were better known.

(28 May '11, 22:59) Kyralessa

I'd completely forgotten Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain! I absolutely agree that they'd be a great addition to a children's reading list.

(08 Jun '11, 16:52) Artemis

Early on, I'd recommend Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree. It's such a classic. (Really, I'd recommend all his poetry, but mostly because it's fun, not necessarily character-building.)

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and Running out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix are two adventure books that will encourage young readers to think differently. Tollbooth focuses on wordplay and Running put you in the shoes of a young girl from the 19th Century.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine has been one of my long time favorites because it puts much more depth into the Cinderella tale. It also allows children to explore the concept of free will as they experience Ella's life of cursed obedience.

I also recommend Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Chronicles of Narnia, and the Redwall books by Brian Jacques. All of these are adventure books, but they tend to have medium to strong Christian overtones. If you feel like those might force-feed religion a bit too much, try Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy.

If you'd like to encourage a love of writing in older teens, I very highly recommend the works of Chuck Palahniuk. He has a very unique, creative writing style.

I'm sure I could mention hundreds more but this should be a good smattering.


answered 08 Jun '11, 20:02

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I plan on having Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M Pirsig and Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand around for my kids when they are teenagers. I read Zen in high school which is an okay time to first read it. But I didn't read Atlas until I was 27 and I wish I'd read it at a younger age. Both are very thought provoking, even if you don't agree with everything they say.


answered 31 May '11, 09:07

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Asked: 11 Apr '10, 20:13

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Last updated: 08 Jun '11, 20:02