A love of reading is one of the most valuable things you can instill in a child. Not only is the ability to read well necessary for school, a predilection for reading for entertainment opens up a child to worlds of imagination, excitement, and possibilities. You can help make reading a part of your child’s life by reading together, by limiting television and video game time, by scheduling regular trips to libraries and bookstores, and by being an example of an avid reader yourself. Here are some children’s books to help your children discover the timeless joy of reading:
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster
A bored ten-year-old named Milo finds a large tollbooth in his room. After paying the toll, he hops into his toy car and drives through into a wondrous land full of strange and funny characters. This is a marvelous picaresque adventure that easily grips the interest of young readers eight years old and up.
Watership Down by Richard Adams
A group of rabbits must flee the destruction of their home and strike out into the open English countryside. Envisioning a place of beauty and safety, they embark upon a quest for a new home. This novel has been praised as a classic for decades, and despite its length it is an absorbing read for children of all ages who can read on their own.
The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
The Harry Potter books are great fun for young and old alike. The first, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, is perhaps the most accessible for younger readers, but though the later volumes grow in length, they remain imaginative, surprising, gripping, and magical. The story of the young wizard and his friends as they are introduced to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, taught the rudiments of magic, and foil the plans of their evil nemesis makes for addictive reading. The Harry Potter series has awakened the desire to read in countless children.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Coraline is a young girl who enters a secret doorway in her new home and discovers a strange alternate world on the other side. This is a dark, creepy, irresistible book about how Coraline copes with the dangers of the new, bleak environment in which she finds herself as she searches for a way to save her real parents and get out.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Unlike its sequel, The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit is specifically written for younger readers. It is lighter and easier to follow. Gandalf the wizard persuades Bilbo Baggins to accompany a group of dwarves on their great quest to the Lonely Mountain to recover their kingdom and their lost gold. Along the way are many hazards such as trolls, goblins, and giant spiders, and when they reach the mountain they must contend with Smaug the dragon, the huge fire-breathing creature that guards the gold. Familiarity with the story through the popular films does not diminish the thrill of reading all the details in the book. Most probably, after reading this, your young reader will want to plunge right into The Lord of the Rings trilogy as well.
These are just a sampling of the many splendid books available for young readers. Once your children get a taste of the pleasure of reading on their own, it is a healthy habit they will likely keep all their lives.