Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Culture

10 Children’s Book Recommendations

Edited By: Malavika Suresh

The books written for children are often set apart by their unassuming descriptions, marvelous adventures, vivid descriptions of the small joys in life, or the lessons that remind us of the things that matter. Here are ten books that will not only bring you sustained joy but also make you reflect on matters that are often only looked at through academic writing or hefty works of nonfiction.

  1. As Fast as Words could fly by Pamela M Tuck: A story of how a black boy uses his confidence and typing skills to face challenges in a white-only school. This book gives a child’s account of the effort to end segregation. Set in the US in the 60s, it illustrates how the burden of society’s failures often rests on the smallest of shoulders. 
  1. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl: Progressing from a sad and disheartening orphan story to a shared adventure, this book culminates in joy. It is almost a Cinderella story where the subject of mistreatment is a boy who finds escape through an enchanted peach, instead of a pumpkin. The first work of the iconic children’s author Roald Dahl is a conglomerate of fantasy and magic.
  2. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein: Capturing both the soaring spirits of youth and the calm resignation of old age, ‘The Giving Tree’ shows the relationship between a tree and a young boy and how it changes as he grows older. The author’s ability to capture the stillness of endurance in the face of departing from one’s self is inspiring not only to young readers but also for worn-out adults in need of a pick-me-up.
  3. Charlotte’s Web by E.B White: A novel about found family, friendship, camaraderie, and loss, this book shows the importance of true friends and the value they add to our lives. It explores the themes of change and death in a way that leaves both children and adults much to think about. Is killing for food morally sound? How does one make peace with the loss of lives around and one’s imminent mortality?
  4. To be a Drum by Evelyn Coleman: The drum, a long-held symbol of Africa is invoked by a father on instructing his children. He teaches them how the self becomes the symbol, how this becoming sustained their ancestors through slavery and the Civil Rights Movement. This title is an important own-voices account for readers all across the board to pick up.
  5. The Elves and the Shoemaker by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm: A classic Grimm’s fairy tale is recreated yet another time by LaMarche’s warm and beautiful illustrations. This story traverses through how a poor shoemaker receives much-needed help from two young elves and how circles of kindness find completion.
  6. The Tooth by Avi Slodovnick: A story of childhood innocence and empathy, Slodovnick weaves a simple dentist’s visit into something greater through the eyes of a child.
  7. Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli: This story of friendship, community, and reaching out coupled with Paul Yalowitz’s dreamy illustrations makes for a jolly read. The book also makes us question the self-inflicted mundanity of our daily lives, hinting at the variety of possibilities of genuine human love all around us.
  8. Till the Clouds Roll by Ruskin Bond: Trying to escape the unfamiliarity of his mother’s new family, ten-year-old Ruskin loses himself in books, forests, and markets of the town, forming friendships and creating lifelong memories along the way. The illustrations by Mihir Joglekar add comfort and charm to the book.
  9. The Coal Thief by Alane Adams: Another story of empathy and the compassion taught by suffering, The Coal Thief shows how humanity can survive in the coldest and dreariest of times. As the coal warms up a community, the resilience of love warms the reader’s heart.

As we grow older, we find ourselves distanced from books written for children. In a hunt for greater nuance in the work written about community, race, and class, we forget that children’s books have a unique and refreshing approach to these topics. In going back to children’s literature as a pick-me-up or as a way to end a reader’s block, we can find ourselves gaining new perspectives, no matter which stage of life we are in.

Third year English undergraduate at Ashoka
Similar Reads👯‍♀️