The first Thursday of every month, I share three related book recommendations with you. You are invited to link up at the end of the post with three recommendations of your own! Click here for more information about Three Books on Thursday.
I've been recommending a lot of nonfiction in past months, so I wanted to switch it up and share some very different recommendations: children's books!
I'm not sure exactly what makes something a children's book vs. a young adult book, but according to the Scholastic Book Finder these are all around a 5th to 6th grade reading level. Still, these are books that I've enjoyed re-reading as an adult. And that's saying something, as I rarely re-read books, since there are so many ones I haven’t yet read!
Here are my top picks for books enjoyable to kids and adults alike:
I don't remember exactly when I was introduced to Roald Dahl's books, but I became an instant fan and had read most of what he'd written by the time I finished grade school. Matilda remains my favorite, and is also one of the few cases in which I like the movie just as much as the book. Matilda is an extremely smart girl whose intelligence is completely ignored by her parents and her school's headmistress, both of whom abuse their positions of authority to belittle Matilda and make life miserable for her. Rather than feeling bad about herself, she finds clever ways to get back at them, typically by causing them to humiliate themselves in front of others. The book is silly and fun while dealing with heavy topics like bullying, self-esteem, and right and wrong.
If you love clever wordplay as much as I do, then you will likely find this book an absolute delight to read. Milo is bored with his life until the day a tollbooth shows up in his living room, and driving his toy car through it transports him into another world where he ends up on a quest to rescue the princesses of Rhyme and Reason. The comparisons to Alice in Wonderland are inevitable with all the fanciful characters Milo meets, but the book has its own flavor altogether. Stitched throughout are reminders about having a worthwhile life -- being curious, paying attention to the world around you, spending your time on meaningful pursuits. Yet all of these are woven into a fun, clever story. Even re-reading it, I find unexpected twists on nearly every page. Here’s one of my favorite exchanges:
"How are you going to make it move? It doesn't have a–"I can't read that without smiling. Seriously, I love this book a ridiculous amount.
"Be very quiet," advised the duke, "for it goes without saying."
And, sure enough, as soon as they were all quite still, it began to move quickly through the streets, and in a very short time they arrived at the royal palace.
OK, how could I not include Harry Potter on this list? Truth be told, I read the first two books when they first came out and didn't find them engaging at all. But then I started dating Mike, who doesn't read much but was a huge Harry Potter fan, so I decided to give them a second chance. Somewhere around the third or fourth book, I fell in love and haven't looked back. Rowling is truly brilliant. I recently re-read the entire series and discovered details she snuck into the first two books that don't become important until the sixth or seventh book. She planned it all out that intricately, and it shows, especially the deeper you get into the story. There are so many good messages to these books that it's impossible to name them all: dealing with peer pressure; the importance of friendships; the power of love and sacrifice; why people should be judged on their abilities and not their family background; the destruction that thirst for power causes; the emotional turmoil caused by a loved one's death; how even great leaders are human and have flaws. And on and on. My favorite book is probably the sixth one because of the relationships that develop: romantic relationships, but also the mentor-mentee relationship between Dumbledore and Harry, and the friendships forged by the DA that expand the Harry-Ron-Hermione triad. (Unfortunately the sixth movie was the worst one because of some key points they screwed up!) I believe these books are popular for a reason: They are thoughtfully written and resonate with our life experiences.
Have you read these books? Did you enjoy them as much as I did? What are some of your favorite children's books?
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