Many parents are enthusiastic about cultivating an environment that encourages their children to love reading.

Helping children develop a passion for reading early on opens the door to a whole new world for them, empowering them for a lifetime of learning and growth.

Mother reading to her child

Even as technology has advanced at an unprecendented rate this past decade, most educators today would still assert that giving our children a love of reading is one of the most needful and powerful gifts we can give them as a parent.

But it’s not always easy to find the right kind of books that will hold our children’s attention, and different children may prefer certain genres or themes of writing.

Still, there are some titles worth adding to your family bookshelves. These books contain powerful, positive messages that will inspire their readers, from the very young to very old alike.

1. Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg

Beautiful Oops

This award-winning and very interactive book is as meaningful as it is eye-catching. The message that it’s OK to make mistakes is so crucial in a society that chases after success and achievement. Instead of portraying mistakes as failure, they are described as adventures in creativity, opportunities to think out of the box, and make something beautiful.

2. Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are by Dr Seuss

Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are

“When you think things are bad,
when you feel sour and blue,
when you start to get mad . . .
you should do what I do!”

For the child who might be feeling rather down and discouaged, Dr Seuss injects a hefty dose of his usual cheerful optimism with this book, helping the reader to recognize how much they have to be thankful for.

3. Have You Filled A Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud

Have You Filled A Bucket Today

Instead of the “bucket list” idea that most adults would be familiar with, this heartwarming story encourages readers to show love to others by filling up their (invisible) buckets!

Through acts of kindness, chidlren are encouraged to show their appreciation and love for those around them. Even better, they learn the important concept of filling their own buckets, the very foundation of self-care.

4. If The World Were A Village by David J. Smith

If the World Were a Village

Imagine our world’s population – all 6.8 billion of us – as a small village of just 100 people! With recent statistics on various world issues like energy, health and food security, this book opens its readers’ eyes to become more world-minded, and to recognise and appreciate the diversity of cultures, beliefs and lifestyles out there.

5. The Heart And The Bottle by Oliver Jeffers

The Heart and the Bottle

There is something magical about the wonder of childhood – and little children often discover this for themselves unassisted. But there are also the children who have loved and lost, and this story tackles the hard journey that a child may go through when that special someone is no longer around…

Like the girl in the story, they have a choice – to hide away their heart in a “bottle”, so that there can be no more pain and heartache, and to grow up that way. But in the process, they would also be shutting off the ability to wonder and imagine, and feel and dream. What if, instead, they chose to take that heart out, painful as it might be, and recognize that there is still much joy, laughter and meaning to be found in life after loss?

6. Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr Seuss

Oh-The-Places-Youll-Go

From soaring to high heights and seeing great sights to being left in a Lurch on a prickle-ly perch, Dr. Seuss calls readers to have a sense of adventure in navigating the ups and downs of life, and encourages them to look for the “fun to be done!” in every encounter.

7. Only One You by Linda Kranz

Only One You

This is the heart of a parent beautifull packaged in simple yet powerful words – a parent telling her child that there is “only one you” in the whole world, and therefore that his very life makes a difference in the world. This brilliantly illustrated book centres around a uniquely painted rockfish, Adri, and simply explodes with color and inspiring words, encouraging children to live a full and meaningful life and make the world a better place.

8. I’ll Love You Forever by Robert Munsch

Love You Forever

A young woman holds her newborn son and looks at him lovingly. Softly she sings to him:

“I’ll love you forever
I’ll like you for always
As long as I’m living
My baby you’ll be.”

If you’re looking for a story that will tug at your heart, here’s one that will move you with its poignant portrayal of the love between a mother and her child. A heartfelt reminder to our children that they are always loved, and a call for them to reciprocate in return.

9. The Gift Of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell

The Gift of Nothing

Mooch the cat is trying to think of a gift to give his friend Earl the dog, who seems to already have everything. After much head-scratching, Mooch hits onto the perfect idea – he will give Earl a big box – of nothing!

In a world where children are bombarded by advertisements all around, and know the names of the trendiest toys at the tip of their tongue, it’s nice to remind them that some of the best gifts don’t come wrapped in paper and ribbon, but are about the giving of yourself to another, the gift of friendship and togetherness.

10. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

The Giving Tree

A classic favourite for generations, The Giving Tree presents an unforgettable portrayal of the beauty and meaning of unconditional love, and the touching truth that not everyone will reciprocate in the same way.

We keep score on so many things in life – our grades, ablities and number of friendships for example – but Shel Silverstein reminds us that, while there are no guarantees in love, it is still better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

By Dorothea Chow

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