Books are great to read with children for many reasons. There is of course the importance of language and literacy development. Reading books together offers a time to cuddle and connect with your child. In addition they can teach a valuable life lesson through their story. Children relate well to characters and you can use many books as an educational opportunity.
1. Corduroy by Don Freeman
Illustrates to Love People for Who They Are
This is a classic story about a bear hoping to be chosen to have a home. When Corduroy realizes that he is missing a button to his overalls, he goes in search of it in the department store. He hopes that finding it will help him be picked. Corduroy doesn’t find his button, but he is chosen by a young girl who loves him just the way he is.
2. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
Teaches the Importance of Protecting our Nature
This story really exemplifies the impact that people can have on the environment. While working to create his product at a bigger and fast rate, the Once-ler breaks his promise to keep the Truffula trees safe. After a while, all of the trees are gone and the animals and fish are suffering without food and shelter. When the Once-ler sees the impact of his actions, he feels very badly. This book also stresses the importance of trees for the air we breathe and how important it is to care for our natural surroundings.
3. Giraffe’s Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae
Provides Life Lesson to Confidently Be Yourself!
Gerald the Giraffe is bullied and tormented for not being able to dance due to his long legs. After being embarrassed and laughed at, Gerald is encouraged by a friendly cricket to listen to his heart and dance to the beat of his own drum. Gerald takes his advice and realizes that his long legs allow him to dance in new and creative ways! The other animals are amazed and impressed by Gerald’s dancing now that he is no longer trying to fit into any one specific mold. This book teaches children that there is no one right way to do something and you can impress others by using your strengths and being yourself.
4. Dress Like a Girl by Patricia Toht
Illustrates that you Don’t have to Follow Social Norms
This story addresses the concepts of social expectations of girls, as well as the importance of putting your own spin on things. What does “dress like a girl” mean? It can mean anything you want it to! The girls in this story dress like astronauts, judges, musicians, firefighters, doctors and athletes, among many other things. They aren’t held back by gender stereotypes or the opinions of others. They dress in a way that makes them feel comfortable and happy. Don’t you want your child to feel confident enough to dress in a way that brings them happiness?
5. A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead
Teaches the Value of Friendship & Kindness
Amos McGee is a zookeeper that goes out of his way to make time for every animal at the zoo. He never leaves anyone out and finds ways to make them all feel loved and special. When Amos is under the weather one day, the animals miss him and find a way to repay his kindness. This book teaches children that if you are kind to people, they will likely be kind in return. It also teaches the value of friendship.
6. Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola
Shows the Life Lesson of Trust
Strega Nona is a book that teaches children the concept that trust is earned. Big Anthony breaks his promise to not touch the magic pasta pot. He learns the hard way that actions have consequences and is left with a town full of upset villagers and a huge mess to clean up.
7. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
Teaches us How to Cope with Feelings
From the minute he wakes up, nothing goes right for Alexander. It’s one frustrating and disappointing event after another. This story teaches children that even when we have a bad day (and we all have them sometimes!), that it doesn’t mean every day will be bad. Tomorrow is a new day and will (hopefully!) go much better.
8. What Should Darla Do?
Illustrates Natural & Logical Consequences
While this book is less of a story, it provides readers with relatable scenarios about making choices and the outcomes of those decisions. The power of choosing wisely is something that is learned through practice. Children are able to learn right from wrong while helping Darla make her choices through this interactive “make your own story” style of writing.
9. The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates
Teaches Life Lesson of Acceptance
In this story a child heads out in the rain with a big red umbrella. The umbrella helps everyone nearby stay dry. Even when they think there won’t be enough room, there always is, no matter how tall, hairy, or colorful a person or creature is. This book teaches children about inclusion and being welcoming to everyone. You can never offer kindness to too many people, there is always room for more.
10. The Rainbow Fish
Illustrates that Giving Feels Better than Being Greedy
This story teaches children that beauty is not only on the outside. Rainbow fish has beautiful shiny scales and loves to show them off to the other fish, but is never willing to share them. When he finds himself with no more friends he realizes that he was greedy and shares his scales. In the end, he only has one shiny rainbow scale left, but each of his friends also has one and together they are all beautiful. By sharing his beautiful scales, the Rainbow Fish has become beautiful on the inside as well and gained more friends in the process.
Books can teach many life lessons as well as discuss feelings. Read more about how children can relate to books through bibliotherapy.
About The Author
Sarah Proctor has worked with young children for over 25 years as a teacher, childcare director, nanny, and mom of two girls. She has her Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education and Administration from UMass Amherst. In addition, Sarah has her Director 2 certification from the Department of Early Education and Care.