In one of our previous blogs, we highlighted the paramount importance of reading for children. But, choosing from among zillions of books present out there for young readers is both arduous and overwhelming. Several factors are at play, the child’s interest, subject matter, age and cultural appropriateness of the written words, author’s approach and many more. I, as a parent, have faced this challenge, so I leaned towards figuring out the best books for my nephews and my little one. If you, too, are wondering where to start from, here is the list of ten thoughtful books to have a look at. The list has been curated to help young children unlock the doors of new and innovative thinking. Due care has been taken to keep factors like literary classics, high readership, moral and ethics-based books in mind while making the selection.
Here they are:
- 1. Wise and Otherwise- A Salute to Life by Sudha Murty
In this non-fiction book, Sudha Murty recounts her profound experience of encountering ordinary people with extraordinary minds during her travels in India. The book is a collection of 51 vignettes that capture the essence of daily events of life’s journey. The author’s free-flowing prose, inspiring thoughts, and personal experiences makes it an unputdownable good read.
‘Wise and Otherwise’ is great for children between ages 7 – 13 years. The book teaches values- such as honesty, integrity, grace, respect towards women, truthfulness and many more- all conveyed through poignant and eye-opening stories with a touch of humour. One of the MOST inspiring sayings present in one of the stories: “Ethra naryasthu pujyanthu, ramanthethathra devatha,” which means ‘God exists where women are respected’, is not just culture-appropriate but worthy of being passed on to our future generations.
- 2. The Cherry Tree by Ruskin Bond
The power of persistence has been perfectly blended in this story by Ruskin bond. The story gives children an insight into how life is full of ups and downs, and by staying strong no matter what the situation may be, can help one achieve their goals. The book has the power to instill a love for nature in children, and it paints a perfect picture of how working honestly without cutting corners helps one find success.
The story revolves around a boy named Rakesh, who plants a cherry seed in his grandfather’s garden and observes it grow in the monsoon season. The little cherry tree withstands adversities like that of a heavy storm, thundering rain and many others, yet matures into a full fruit-bearing tree. The lessons of patience, care and timely nurturing are illustrated wonderfully in the story. The importance of having determination, resilience, growth and responsibility has been rendered well in the book. This book will help build a strong foundation for success in children. It is a great read for children between 8 – 14 years.
- 3. Malgudi Days by R. K. Narayan
It is the best gift in literature offered by R. K. Narayan. The book has been received widely by children between 8 – 15 years of age. Malgudi Days is a collection of 32 short, funny and witty stories happening in an imaginary South Indian town named Malgudi located on the river named Sarayu. The stories revolve around the relationships among family members and takes the little readers closer to the social world, traditions, and various social taboos that were prevalent in the mid-nineties in India, bringing up their essence in a fictional backdrop.
The quirky people of this small yet joyful town of Malgudi never fail to amuse us. The reflection on India’s traditions and culture makes this book even more exciting and unique for every child as they experience this simple yet charming world called Malgudi.
- 4. The Famous Five series by Enid Blyton
In this classic series, the five main characters Dick, Julian, Anne, George and their dog Timmy, find excitement and adventure wherever they go, whether they’re finding the treasure on an island or solving a mystery during a camping trip or working together to outwit a criminal. If your child craves adventures and mysteries, then it is a must-have on their shelves. The imaginative yet thrilling journey makes the series the most enjoyable read for children between 8 – 14 years of age. Well! Beyond too!
- 5. Matilda by Roald Dahl
Virtuous qualities like determination, perseverance and focus can help a person achieve any goals, however, challenging a situation may look like. If this valuable lesson resonates with you, then you would want to pick the classic Children’s Literature, Matilda by Roald Dahl for your child. This book is a great read for children between 8 – 16 years.
This fun-filled tale is about Matilda Wormwood, a precocious child blessed with great learning abilities and unexpected power of telekinesis, unlike others in Wormwood’s family. The adults around her- her parents and her kid-hating headmistress Mrs. Trunchbull- often overlook, misunderstand and mistreat her abilities and capabilities; her teacher Miss Honey and her school friends are exceptions. One of the unwarranted blames by Mrs. Trunchbull rigs Matilda up into discovering her own inner strength, which she utilizes to make it work to her advantage and make life much more pleasant for all.
- 6. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
‘The Secret Garden’ is one of the best works of Frances Hodgson Burnett. The story opens with Mary Lennox, a spoiled young girl who lives with her parents in British Colonial India. Due to the cholera epidemic break out, she loses her parents at an early age. Following their demise, she is sent from India to Yorkshire and made to live with her uncle Archibald in his mansion. Young Mary is often left to herself as her uncle keeps travelling to put up with his deceased wife’s memories. Martha, her chambermaid, is the only person taking care of Mary. One day Mary discovers a walled and always locked garden at the mansion. Naturally, Mary gets curious to see the garden, and it is here that she discovers the secrets hidden inside it, which further leads her to unlock many more secrets of the mansion.
This book is recommended for children in the age group 8 – 12 years who would easily relate to the adventures they keep looking in everything new.
- 7. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
One of Mark Twain’s most famous books, ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’ is an epic masterpiece. The novel has a mix of elements like humour, satire and social criticism.
The book is full of Tom’s mischief and adventurous episodes, including his runaway adventure with Joe and Huckleberry Finn. As the story begins, we can find him stealing from the jam jar and managing an escape. The various fun-filled and thrilling adventures of Tom keep children hooked to the novel. Thus, it can help in building reading habits. This book is best recommended for children in the 10-11 years age group.
- 8. Nancy Drew- Sleepover Sleuths by Carolyn Keene
Nancy Drew is a fictional character, a sleuth created by publisher Edward Stratemeyer. The Nancy Drew series have been ghostwritten and published under the pseudonym, Carolyn Keene. In the story Sleepover Sleuths, Nancy and two of her best friends are very excited about a sleepover party at their friend’s place. They decide to entertain themselves with pizzas, cakes and a pyjama fashion show, and they all look forward to the city girls doll theme party. The plot thickens when her best friend cum the host of the party finds that the doll is stolen. Nancy and her friends embark to solve the mystery behind it. This is one of the best books from the Nancy Drew series and is very popular among children between 6-9 years.
As children, haven’t we all at some point in our lives wished to become a detective and solve mysteries? Most of you would answer in the affirmative here. This book will give that light-spirited detective thrill to your little one(s) and keep them engaged with the twists and turns of events.
- 9. The Blue Umbrella by Ruskin Bond
This famous novella by Ruskin Bond is about a young girl named Binya who lives in a small picturesque hill village of Garhwal in Himachal Pradesh. One day a beautiful bright blue silk umbrella carried by one of the picnickers catches Binya’s attention, and she instantly falls in love with it. She wanted it so badly that she barters the beautiful umbrella in exchange for her lucky leopard-claw pendant. Binya was so fascinated by the umbrella that she could rarely part with it. Later the umbrella also became an obsession for a local shopkeeper in the village, Ram Bharosa. An employee of Ram Bharosa decides to steal the umbrella for his master, and the story goes on to depict how Binya deals with the whole situation.
The story conveys how the feelings of envy and jealousy can land one into the tortures of greed and the despair of loneliness. The story ends with a beautiful message: a little act of kindness goes a long way. The book is best suited for children between the age group of 6-10 years.
- 10. Ghost Trouble by Ruskin Bond
But for the title, this is not a horror story. Rather, your little one(s) will feel entertained by the mischievous ghost named Pret, who lives in a Peepal tree. It is a fun story that will tickle the laughing buds of your little one. Pret who otherwise doesn’t harm anyone finds pleasures in petty acts like troubling passersby by throwing fruit seeds at them, disturbing the Tonga riders and passersby. But one day, Public Works Department orders the Peepal tree to be cut down, and homeless Pret takes shelter in a nearby home. The story continues with what happens after Pret gets in the house and how the family deals with his outrageous pranks.
The story carries a remarkable lesson for children of all age groups as to what unforeseen consequences humans may end up facing when they willfully cause harm to Mother Nature.
With such excellent books in place, sit on a couch and give them a read with your young readers. Today, reading literature is one of the healthiest habits for children. So, encourage your child to read and further strengthen their habit of reading!