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Top Children Classics to Read with Your Little One

by Mr Yellow

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Dr Seuss famously said, "The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." Reading is truly the gift that keeps on giving and it can transport children to wild jungles, tropical islands full of hidden treasures or the depths of space - all without leaving their room. It can ignite lifelong interests in particular subjects and broaden their knowledge immensely.

The summer holidays also happen to be in full swing, so, if you're looking for the perfect activity to do with your little one in the coming weeks, we say reading is the way to go. We've put together a list of our favourite books for children of all ages and a few tips and tricks to make reading a consistent habit.

Little Readers to Big Leaders: The Benefits of Reading

Perhaps it goes without saying that the principal benefit of reading is the important contribution that it has towards the development of a child's cognitive skills or in other words, the learning and problem-solving abilities that we start developing during our childhood. Reading is crucial for brain development since it helps to spark children's curiosity, it encourages them to expand their vocabulary while helping them to start gauging emotions and interpersonal relationships. Story-time also provides little ones with an introduction to communication and social skills.

The benefits of reading do not stop here though. There are real and quantifiable advantages that highlight even more the importance of reading. For instance, recent studies indicate that reading to your child for 20 minutes can increase their future earnings by as much as £500,000 (circa €544,000). There is a direct correlation between the foundation skills that we instil in our little ones throughout childhood and the opportunities that they will be able to avail themselves of as adults. Consistent reading is a very important contributor to strong numeracy and literacy skills which are essential prerequisites for educational and professional progression.

Why Is It Important to Read with Your Child?

You don't need to be a natural-born storyteller to create an intriguing reading experience for your child. An exciting tale can ignite their imagination even if you feel like you are not the most gifted reader. Moreover, story-time is a great way in which to strengthen further the bond with your child. The world is a place full of wonder and novelty for a little one, so there is always something new that is captivating your child's attention. Dedicating a specific slot to reading ensures that there is always a quiet time during the day when you'll be able to enjoy reading a fascinating story together.

Children who have regular storytelling time from a very young age are more likely to see reading as a regular part of their day as they grow up and start reading more and more independently. Many children are able to start reading age-appropriate books on their own at around 6 or 7 years of age, however, it is still very helpful if you can spend time with them during their reading activities. For instance, it is a good idea to encourage your child to read aloud since this helps them to improve their communication skills. Placing your finger under new or more difficult words while they are reading helps them to expand their vocabulary.

A Book a Day Keeps the Doctor Away?

While the benefits of reading to a child's educational development are well-documented, not everyone may be aware of the health benefits that reading brings with it. Reading is in fact like exercising for the brain and regular reading helps to keep it in shape. For instance, children who read regularly are more likely to grasp abstract concepts and utilise logical reasoning in different scenarios. So, just like it's important that children get enough physical exercise and all their vitamins, it's also important that their brain gets regular workouts too.

Turning a Reluctant Reader into a Bookworm

Parents often feel exasperated that their child sees reading as a tedious chore and not as an amusing pastime. However, it is possible to change this with a little (or a lot of) patience and persistence. We suggest trying the following tips:

  • Perhaps the most important tip is that of encouraging the perception that reading is a fun thing to do. How about taking advantage of the warmer months to have a sunset reading session on the beach or camping in your backyard for some reading time under the starry sky? Or how about turning reading into a family activity with funny voices and acting from everyone?
  • Visualising characters and contexts helps children to appreciate storytelling more. So, how about linking story-time with a movie night? Many popular children's books have been turned into movies, so it would be fun to watch the movie version of the book after they've read it. Subsequently, you can encourage your child to compare the two versions, identify characters that they liked or their favourite scenes.
  • According to literacy professor Frank Serafini, "There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book." So, if your child is fascinated by music, science or sport, try to explore titles that are likely to be naturally more appealing reads.
  • Try to avoid 'all or nothing' approaches since these are more likely to frustrate children and make them even more reluctant readers. Instead, try incorporating a little reading time every day and expand gradually, until reading becomes a natural part of their day.

Favourite Reads for Children of All Ages

Pre-Schoolers (Ages 2-4)

  • 'Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site'

Author: Sherri Duskey Rinker
Year of Publication: 2011
What's It About: This delightfully illustrated book tells the story of lively cranes, trucks and bulldozers as they finish the day's work and go to rest before another day of hard work.

  • 'Goodnight Moon'

Author: Margaret Wise Brown
Year of Publication: 1947
What's It About: This popular bedtime story has helped a countless number of children fall asleep since it was published more than 70 years ago. The story features a cute bunny who wishes a good night to everything surrounding it, including a cow jumping over the moon and a red balloon.

  • 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar'

Author: Eric Carle
Year of Publication: 1969
What's It About: Another timeless classic that has fascinated many young readers. This book narrates the life cycle of a caterpillar from egg to butterfly while helping little ones to count up to five and the days of the week.

  • 'The Snowy Day'

Author: Ezra Jack Keats
Year of Publication: 1962
What's It About: This well-known classic is full of beautiful illustrations by the author himself and features a little boy the name of Peter who is exploring his neighbourhood after the first snowfall of the season.

  • 'Where The Wild Things Are'

Author: Maurice Sendak
Year of Publication: 1963
What's It About: A short but captivating read about a little boy that is magically transported to a tropical island that is inhabited by mysterious 'Wild Things' and becomes their king, all before returning to his bedroom.

Young Children (Ages 5-7)

  • 'The Cat in the Hat'

Author: Dr. Seuss
Year of Publication: 1957
What's It About: The best-selling book by Dr. Seuss features a talking cat and two playful companions who create all sorts of mayhem at the house of a girl named Sally and her brother on a rainy day when their mum is away.

  • 'Harold and the Purple Crayon'

Author: Crockett Johnson
Year of Publication: 1955
What's It About: The inquisitive protagonist of this book, Harold has the power to create a world of his own simply by using his magical purple crayon.

  • 'The Tale of Peter Rabbit'

Author: Beatrix Potter
Year of Publication: 1901
What's It About: A beloved tale that needs no introduction, the book follows Peter Rabbit and his mischievous adventures around Mr McGregor's garden.

  • 'Madeline'

Author: Ludwig Bemelmans
Year of Publication: 1939
What's It About: The first book in this well-known series follows Madeline in her many adventures during her years in boarding school and features, amongst others, a stray dog by the name of Pepito and a mischievous boy who lives next door.

  • 'Don't let the Pigeon Drive the Bus'

Author: Mo Willems
Year of Publication: 2003
What's It About: This book revolves around a bus driver that needs to leave and asks the young readers to not let the pigeon drive. The cheeky pigeon tries to come up with all sorts of excuses to drive while the readers try to stop it.

Older Children (Ages 8-9)

  • 'The Secret Garden'

Author: Frances Hodgson Burnett
Year of Publication: 1910
What's It About: A true classic and a truly heartwarming story about a spoilt child by the name of Mary, who is sent to live in a manor with her distant uncle and proceeds to discover a forgotten garden and the mysteries that surround it.

  • 'Winnie-the-Pooh'

Author: A.A. Milne
Year of Publication: 1926
What's It About: This book is the first in the series about the beloved teddy bear Winnie-the-Pooh and the adventures that he embarks on with his friends Piglet, Eyeore, Owl and Rabbit.

  • 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'

Author: Roald Dahl
Year of Publication: 1964
What's It About: Here's the perfect book for the little chocoholic in your life! The protagonist of this book, Charlie Bucket, is lucky enough to win a ticket to visit one of the most marvellous chocolate factories on earth where he meets the eccentric owner Willy Wonka and other colourful characters.

  • 'Stuart Little'

Author: E.B. White
Year of Publication: 1945
What's It About: Stuart Little may be tiny but he certainly is mighty! The book follows the little mouse on a bold adventure in his quest to find his best friend Margalo after she disappears from her nest.

  • 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth'

Author: Jules Vernes
Year of Publication: 1864
What's It About: An oldie but a goodie! This is a good read for children with a keen interest in science and follows a German professor in his quest to the centre of the earth amid natural hazards and adventures of all sorts.

Tweens (Ages 10-12)

  • 'The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia)'

Author: C.S. Lewis
Year of Publication: 1950
What's It About: The first book from the popular series The Chronicles of Narnia is set in the magical kingdom of the same name and features the adventures of three siblings who travel there through a wardrobe in a spare bedroom.

  • 'The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events)'

Author: Lemony Snicket
Year of Publication: 1999
What's It About: Another very popular series of books that also features three siblings; Violet, Sunny and Klaus Baudeliare as they try to escape the wicked Count Olaf and his attempts to steal their inheritance.

  • 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone'

Author: J.K. Rowling
Year of Publication: 1997
What's It About: A book that certainly needs no introduction where we meet the wizard child Harry Potter and a whole world of magic, fantasy and evil enemies.

  • 'Anne of Green Gables'

Author: Lucy Maud Montgomery
Year of Publication: 1908
What's It About: Set in 19th century Prince Edward Island, the first in this series of books introduces us with the spirited orphan Anne as she is adopted by the elderly Cutbert siblings, makes new friends and embarks on many adventures on the charming Canadian island.

  • 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid'

Author: Jeff Kinney
Year of Publication: 2007
What's It About: A contemporary best-selling book series that features a middle school boy and his attempts to become popular. 

Reading can open a world of possibilities for curious little minds while giving them a solid foundation for their future. So give them a little magic wherever they go by introducing them to reading.

Ready to embark on a reading adventure with your little one? How about visiting your local library or a bookshop to get started?

Keep on discovering local with Yellow


Mr Yellow
About Mr Yellow

With a passion for helping others and a desire to making you more efficient, Mr Yellow has managed to arm himself with powerful capabilities making your daily searches a breeze. Putting his knowledge, creativity and wit into action, he also crafts insightful and engaging articles encouraging you to explore the Maltese Islands and experience new adventures, while offering some interesting tips on a number of topics. Ever-present, Mr Yellow always has your back. 

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