The best way to teach your kids to love books is to read to them. Here is my top five books to read to your kids. Some of them are well known classics and some are ones I’ve discovered at the back of library book sales. I’ve read all of them and I’ve read them to my son.
1. Watership Down
I have to admit that when I went to read this book to my son I hadn’t read it. I had no clue what an incredible experience we were both in for. Watership Down tells the story of a group of rabbits fleeing from a warren that has been destroyed by man. They are seeking a new home on Watership Down.
Make no mistake, this is no simplistic animal story, like so many kids books. The rabbits tell their own stories within the larger story. Their stories have a strong mythic feel to them.
2. The Hobbit
“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” It’s one of my favorite opening lines. I’ve read the hobbit a dozen times or more. Seriously, from junior high to high school I wrote a book report on the Hobbit every single year for nearly six years straight. The sad geeky truth is that I re-read it each time, too. Of course I introduced my son to the Hobbit as soon as he was old enough to understand the words.
3. The Magic Thief
My son actually found this book on his own in elementary school. One of his teachers was reading it aloud, a chapter every friday. He was so entranced and so eager to find out how it ended, that he checked his own copy out of the library. We took turns reading, a page each, and plowed through it over a long weekend.
One of the ongoing jokes in the book is Conn’s terrible cooking skills. One of the wizard’s other henchmen has to take over cooking just to have some bearable food. At the very end of the book there are two recipes for biscuits. We made both. Benet’s biscuits looked like biscuits and tasted great. Conn’s turned into a running pile of dough. Still my son insisted they were just as good and ate the entire batch.
4. The Harry Potter series
I discovered Harry Potter a year or two after it came to America, when it was still mostly a geek phenomena. I read the first three books to my son as I read them and then we had to wait for the next like everyone else.
I have a friend who made her son read them to her. I think that might be better approach. They grow darker and more adult as the series goes on, but if a kid is reading them for themselves, they keep pace pretty well. i.e. an eight year old isn’t going to plow through The Deathly Hallows by themselves, most likely, but if they fall in love with the first one at eight, by the time they hit number seven they’ll probably be ready for it.
5. The Hounds of the Morrigan
Pidge discovers an old Latin book at a rare book seller near the Irish cottage he shares with his Grandmother and little sister, Brigit. Opening the book, he accidentally releases an evil spirit. He and his sister must go on a mythic journey to return the serpent to it’s trapped state. Filled with celtic mythology and figures, the book is a delight to read.
I discovered this little gem by accident at the back of library sale. The spine was damaged and I picked it up for quarter. I loved the story and it became a treasured book. After my son was born, it was one of the first I read to him. We read it again later, when he was old enough to really understand the story.