When I dropped off several 'books on CD' at the library last weekend, I took my usual amble through the children's book section. Why? Because there are certain books that have timeless lessons for the grown-up children who read them long ago. Funny enough, these same books are often banned or the subject of controversy. I've started a list below of children's books that fall into this category--the teaching books that make kids think well beyond their own world:
Danny the Champion of the World - by Roald Dahl - an ideal portrayal of childhood adventure, inventive pranks, and father/son relations
The Pushcart War - by Jean Merrill - a thoroughly enjoyable David vs. Goliath story where business competitive stands in for class conflict
Island of the Blue Dolphins - by Scott O'Dell - reassuringly addresses a great fear of all children - 'What would happen if I was left all alone?'
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH- by Robert C. O'Brien - a terrific rescue story that teaches the values of creativity and volunteerism
Bridge to Terabithia - by Katherine Patterson - so often banned for a few bad words, but what other book pulls a child in so many new directions?
Where the Red Fern Grows - by Wilson Rawls - a classic for any animal lovers, but also a great lesson for youth faced with responsibility
A Separate Peace - by John Knowles - a sophomore-year favorite that reveals the depth of jealousy and competition among even friends
The Twenty-One Balloons - by William Pene du Bois - an old-fashioned European adventure that strands its characters on a rumbling Krakatoa volcano
The Mad Scientists' Club - by Bertrand Brinley - an ensemble cast of small town geeks prove to readers that it's okay to be a little nerdy
The Great Brain - by John D. Fitzgerald - as the younger brother to a great brain, the charm of this series easily captured the reality of kids at play
The Westing Game - by Ellen Raskin - before the arrival of Lost and CSI, this twisting narrative taught kids that all is not what it appears
Tom Swift - by Victor Appleton - Cold-War era simplicity and machines that always work don't detract from the wonder that this series imparts