Children are known to be sensitive and perceptive. Reading at an early age is an activity that can have a long term positive impact on children and can influence how they see the world around them. Amidst the present technological age, where social media dominates our lives, including school-going children, reading books has become a task.
With the aim to inculcate the habit of reading books among school-going children, Rising Kashmir’s sub-editor Irfan Mehraj lists ten books that all children should read. The books in the list are mostly the popular books celebrated and loved across the world.
1. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Published in 1865, this book by English writer Lewis Caroll is a definitive children’s book. Considered one of the best works of children’s literature, the novel is widely read across the world. Such is its popularity that the book has been featured among the 100 greatest novels published in the English world. The book is fantasy fiction which the children love. The story revolves around a young girl named Alice, who falls through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world where she comes across various characters and beings. The book is not only popular with kids but is loved by adults as well. The book has been adapted to screen several times and has been a hit among children. Considering its genre of fantasy fiction, the book is considered an influential one with its theme, and structure having a massive impact on how fantasy fiction is written.
2. Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There by Lewis Caroll
The book is the sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and should be read in the same sequence. The book was published in 1871 and Lewis Caroll takes the protagonist Alice through the looking glass and into a fantastical world. She discovers that everything in the fantastical world is opposite to the real world and reality is reversed. Children all over the world are mesmerized by such works of fiction and the book is so popular that it is considered a staple of children’s fiction. Caroll, again, employs the use of fantasy to bring home the point of how reality is shaped by fantasy and vice versa. The book has also been adapted to screen several times. Children who read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland should surely not want to miss on Through the Looking Glass.
3. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
A fantastic novel that made Mark Twain so popular that he came to be regarded as the most famous American novelist of his time – only to be superseded later by Ernest Hemingway. Published in 1876, the novel is about a young boy named Tom Sawyer growing up in St. Petersburg. The novel is an engaging and unputdownable tale of his boyhood adventures. Upon publication, the novel was a massive hit. The novel is considered a masterpiece of children’s literature in the American tradition. Considering its popularity the novel was later adapted to screen several times.
4. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Published in 1884, the novel is a sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and overshadowed it to become one of the most successful novels of its era. The book is considered a landmark in American literature, which changed the course of children’s fiction. The story narrates the adventures of Huckleberry Finn, who is also the narrator in Tom Sawyer and other novels by Mark Twain. Although a definitive children’s book, the book is known for its undertoned criticism of racism. Every school-going child should read this novel for its sheer brilliance and page-turning adventure.
5. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
J. R. R. Tolkien (1892 to 1973) is considered one of the greatest fantasy fiction novelists of all time. What earned him such prominence has a lot to do with The Hobbit, a children’s fantasy novel he published in 1937. The book was a humongous hit and earned critical praise from the critics and won several awards. To this day, the book is hailed as a masterpiece of children’s literature. The story revolves around a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins who sets out on a perilous journey to win a treasure, which is guarded by a dragon. The book takes place in a fictional world created by the author. The popularity of the book is such that the world created by the author in the book and other subsequent books is referred to as Tolkien’s universe. The book was also adapted to a popular motion picture.
6. Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
No list for best children’s book can make the mistake of avoiding the fantastical and supremely popular Harry Potter series by British novelist J. K. Rowling. Harry Potter is a series of seven fantasy novels telling the story of a young and daring wizard Harry Potter and his friends. Harry Potter’s adventures at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and his tussle with the evil wizard – the villain Lord Voldemort makes for excellent reading. A definitive good vs evil story, Rowling’s seven-part fantasy novels are without doubt the most popular children’s fiction of the contemporary world. The first part of the series Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was published in 1997 and the last one in the series Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out in 2007. The books were adapted into 8 motion pictures, which became one of the highest-grossing movies of all time. I cannot stress enough its importance as a standard children’s fiction and it is an absolute must-read for school-going children.
7. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Published in 1964, the book is a story about a young boy named Charlie inside a chocolate factory. Soon after its publication, the book became a popular hit. Ever since its publication, the book has been featured as one of the greatest children’s books of all time. It is said that the book is based on the British author’s own experience of chocolate companies during his childhood. For its light theme and adventure, the book surely cannot be missed by any school-going children.
8. Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
The book came out in 1926 and close to a century now the book has been featured as a go-to children’s book by all and sundry. Written by English author A. A. Milne, the book was a commercial success upon its release and has never been out of print since – garnering fame and readers along the way. The story revolves around the bear Winne the Pooh and his friends and their adventures. The book has been translated into more than fifty languages. The book has also been rendered into animation that was loved by the audiences. For its subject matter, the book is an essential read for school-going children, who would love its adorable characters.
9. Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Bloom
Published in 1970, this novel by Judy Bloom has since its publication attained a sort of cult status among young readers. The novel revolves around the story of eleven-year-old Margaret who, after returning from a summer camp discovers that her parents have sold their apartment and bought a house far away in the city – and away from her grandmother, who she loves. The book is a recommended reading for children above 10 for its discussions of topics that children find hard to understand. It’s a great book about growing up.
10. Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exuperty
This short novella by French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who was also a military aviator, was published in 1943. The novella tells the story of a little prince who goes on an adventure beyond the earth. In his journey, the prince visits various planets in space. The novel is well written and is enjoyed by children and young adults alike. Although considered a classic of children’s fiction today, the themes the book addresses are variously regarded to be serious and important. The book is about friendship, love, loss and loneliness. The book is the Antoine de Saint-Exuperty most popular book and is one of the highest-selling, and translated books for children across the world. Every child who is keen to understand important topics with the tools of simple story-telling should read the Little Prince without hesitation.