This summer vacation, help your child discover & revel in the magic of books with each of the 10 children’s classic must reads for children under 10!
(1) Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak [Ages 3-5]
This classic picture book is an ideal companion for an imaginative child featuring the adventures of a little boy named Max. After a disagreement with his mother over his naughty behavior, he is sent to bed without dinner. When he falls asleep, he finds himself transported to a faraway, magical land with a group of creatures, the eponymous wild things, who crown Max their king when they realize that he is wilder than all of them. The story is about Max’s time with the creatures, and the lessons he learns about himself and his love for his home and family.
(2) Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss [Ages 5-7]
A poignant story and the last work of the much-loved children’s author Dr. Seuss, this book offers an inspirational message to children about how their lives are full of possibilities and that no challenge is too great when dealt with perseverance and hope through brief, but profound, words interspersed with illustrations of colorful, asymmetrical realms. It is told from the perspective of the second person in the form of a character called ‘you’ and his journey through life. This is a book with a message that resounds with children and adults alike, and a valuable addition to any library.
(3) Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White [Ages 7-9]
This heart-warming tale of the friendship between a spider, the eponymous Charlotte, and a young pig named Wilbur is a story for all ages. Their friendship grows over the course of the book as Charlotte devises ingenious means of ensuring that Wilbur doesn’t end up as food on his owners’ table. Through this book, E. B. White has presented to children, a world within a barn with characters and themes, such as love, loss, hope and sacrifice, which emulate the real world, albeit in a gentle humorous manner which is sure to be enjoyed by young readers.
(4) Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White [Ages 7-9]
The last of E. B. White’s trilogy of children’s books comprising of Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web, Trumpet of the Swan deserves a mention in this list because of the way in which it speaks to its reader about the need to celebrate the differences in oneself and in others, and find strength in oneself despite those differences. It tells the story of a voiceless trumpeter swan named Louis, who is ostracized by his flock and rejected by his love, Serena because of his disability. Over the course of the book, Louis finds himself on a journey of self-discovery and independence away from his flock. He teaches himself how to read and write English with the help of a human boy named Sam Beaver, and learns to converse with his own kind with the help of a trumpet. This bildungsroman featuring an animal protagonist will strike a chord with anyone who reads it, and will leave the reader with many lessons, the most valuable among them being the importance of self-acceptance and the courage to tread uncharted paths even at the risk of being mocked or censured for being unconventional.
(5) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl [Ages 8-10]
Roald Dahl is arguably still one of the most beloved children’s authors in the world whose fantastical tales are humorous, witty parables in their own way. Among his many classic works for children, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory stands out as a story of humility and simplicity triumphing adversity. The book is centered around the eponymous Charlie, a boy from an impoverished but close-knit family who wins a lottery to visit a world-famous chocolate factory owned by the eccentric Willy Wonka. Memorable characters fleshed out by the illustrations of Quentin Blake add to the joy of reading this book, which at its core is a tale of the quiet strength, compassion and goodness of a young boy which leads him to opportunities beyond his wildest dreams. Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, the sequel to the book continues from where it ends and expands on the further adventures of Charlie and his family, along with Willy Wonka.
(6) Malgudi Schooldays by R. K. Narayan [Ages 9-10]
R.K. Narayan’s book of short stories about the antics of schoolboy Swami and his friends, Rajam and Mani, is a delight to read and a great introduction into classic English works by Indian authors. It contains rib-tickling passages about the adults in the town of Malgudi with their complications and foibles being a stark contrast to the simplicity and innocent playfulness of Swami and his friends. Malgudi Schooldays is therefore an eminently readable collection of childhood tales that will also serve as a worthy introduction of its young reader to the other works of R. K. Narayan, one of India’s best writers.
(7) The Chronicles of Narnia – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis [Ages 9-10]
The second volume in C. S. Lewis’s classic septet, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a great way to introduce a child to the fantasy genre. (Interestingly, C. S. Lewis was friends with J. R. R. Tolkien, the author of the epic fantasy series, Lord of the Ring, after an English faculty meeting at Oxford.) Set in the magical land of Narnia, this volume is about the story of the Pevensie siblings, Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter, as they stumble upon the otherworldly realm through an enchanted wardrobe. The siblings find themselves heralded as the prophesied saviors of Narnia’s denizens against the tyrannical rule of the witch queen Jadis. Over the course of the book, its protagonists face challenges of their own and learn valuable lessons about life such as justice, humility, sacrifice and courage.
(8) Children’s Omnibus by Ruskin Bond [Ages 9-10]
A consummate story-teller, Ruskin Bond’s collection of short stories weaves a tapestry of tales about a motley crew of characters that are as poignant as they are humorous, and are likely to stay with the reader long after they have finished reading them.
(9) The Complete Adventures of Feluda by Satyajit Ray [Ages 9-10]
Aside from being one of the world’s most revered film directors, Satyajit Ray is also a prolific writer whose books for children are highly popular as well as acclaimed. The Adventures of Feluda is a collection of novellas about the adventures of the brilliant sleuth Pradosh C. Mitter nicknamed Feluda and the complex mysteries solved by him through Sherlockian techniques of logic, reasoning and deduction. With thrilling plots involving intrigue and suspense, this series of stories is sure to keep readers of all ages hooked from the first page to the last.
(10) Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb [Ages 9-10]
The last book in this list is a classic authored by the English siblings Charles and Mary Lamb in 1807 with the intent of introducing the Bard’s works to children. The Lambs adapted twenty of Shakespeare’s best-known plays in the book, including The Tempest, The Merchant of Venice, Macbeth and Hamlet. The beauty of this book lies in the simplicity with which Shakespeare has been presented to young readers, in a manner that is likely to instill a spirit of curiosity about exploring the genre of classical works and more complex literature.