What books do you think every child should read?

What are some books--YA, classic, or otherwise--you believe every kid today should read to develop a strong moral compass, a habit of reflection and introspection, and an understanding of their humanity and the complexity of the world around them? What books have influenced you, and what books would you want your own child to have read by the end of elementary school? I'll start:

The Great Gatsby - conveys raw ambition but also the limits of material success; really great for sparking internal discussion as to what one hopes to achieve with their life

All the perennial YA series (i.e. Harry Potter) - say what you will about their writing/plot but I truly believe these are crucial to developing a passion for reading and for exposing children to the potency of the entire worlds that books contain

Great Expectations

Never Let Me Go

The Crucible

Odyssey

East of Eden

Atlas Shrugged

Comments (50)

5mo 
NotGaryGensler, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I had to read that in 9th grade and idk why it shook me up at the time. Really changed my world view

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6mo 
Snowshield, what's your opinion? Comment below:

All the perennial YA series (i.e. Harry Potter) - say what you will about their writing/plot but I truly believe these are crucial to developing a passion for reading and for exposing children to the potency of the entire worlds that books contain

Big believer that these are the most important, at least initially. I speak with all of my smartest friends at my college and find that we all devoured YA fiction first, which was really how we got into reading and then gained an interest in nonfiction. It just connects better with younger minds. I didn't have the slightest interest in Great Expectations, Great Gatsby, etc until I first enjoyed reading with those easier to digest books.

Gaining that love of reading is just invaluable imo

Anyway, would second Great Expectations. Really enjoyed that book in high school and years later still think about the story and its lessons every now and then

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  • Anonymous Monkey
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5mo 
Anonymous Monkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This has been my experience as well, Harry Potter and Percy Jackson got me into reading 

5mo 
Frybird101, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Harry Potter got me into it too as a kid. There's 7 super long books and it develops an amazing plot through them all.
 

Also it's the classic hero story archetype. I think that newer readers benefit from such a classic story format as it keeps them engaged and interested to actually read all seven books.

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Most Helpful
6mo 
Synergy_or_Syzygy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Charlotte's Web -- teaches about loss and overcoming odds

Red Badge of Courage -- teaches about war and bravery

Hatchet -- teaches about survival, independence, and perseverance 

Night (by Elie Wiesel) -- teaches about horrors of humanity

Redwall series -- teaches about bravery, teamwork, triumph of goodwill

Flatland -- teaches about the nature of the universe and thinking outside the box (literally)

Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes.
  • 9
5mo 
Al's, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think this is a great list for children. I particularly remember how great Hatchet was when I read it all the way back in elementary school. 

Some I'd add:

#1 Where the Wild Things Are

#2 Narnia series, particulary the often forgotten The Horse and his Boy

#3 Dr. Suess' Oh the Places You'll Go!

All three of these books are stories of adventure, accomplishment, and self-actualization. I think they're great for teaching children that they have the ability to do interesting and great things with their lives.

Edit: wrong word

5mo 
Synergy_or_Syzygy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think it's ideal to teach children about a few things:

  1. Your actions have a consequence and a meaningful impact on your future and others in society
  2. When you can't control your situation, control your attitude and think of a creative solution
  3. Be thoughtful and understanding of novel situations, cultures, and points of view

A lot of problems in society relate to ignoring point (1). Actions have consequences, and you have a lot of control over where you end up in life if you work extremely hard and you respond positively to challenging situations instead of blaming an external factor (point 2). Children are not taught to be self-reliant and resilient. 

A lot of other problems with society have to do with a deficit in point (3). There is a large amount of ignorance and mistrust of others for no real reason other than ethnicity, traditionalism, or nationalism. People in Mexico, Russia, Ukraine, Israel, Palestine, China, Taiwan, etc. are people, with their own experiences and points of view. There is a near complete lack of education in the USA related to geography and history, instead relying on critiquing social-issues using a modern lens.

Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes.
  • 5
5mo 
Pug, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Night is the only book I truly struggled to read. I remember it being such a short book (just over 100 pages), but it took me a month to read through it because of how difficult it was emotionally. Fantastic book and I completely agree that more people should read it to understand humanity.

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
  • 1
5mo 
Mr_Agree_to_Disagree, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Synergy_or_Syzygy

Charlotte's Web -- teaches about loss and overcoming odds

Red Badge of Courage -- teaches about war and bravery

Hatchet -- teaches about survival, independence, and perseverance 

Night (by Elie Wiesel) -- teaches about horrors of humanity

Redwall series -- teaches about bravery, teamwork, triumph of goodwill

Flatland -- teaches about the nature of the universe and thinking outside the box (literally)

I'd add on "Where the Red Fern Grows", "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer", "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", and if we're talking more middle school, "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court".

The poster formerly known as theAudiophile. Just turned up to 11, like the stereo.
  • 1
5mo 
the_lonely_traveler, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The Rangers Apprentice. Not sure if anybody knows it or if I'd even like it now. Loved it when I was a kid and reread it over and over

  • 4
5mo 
British Banker, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Merchant of Venice

Of mice and men

These two great for character and the good and evil.

Also recommend

Great expectations, Scrooge. Both great reads and have very important messages. I read these books when I was in early school 12-16ish. They are great reads for kids especially of mice and men and Scrooge. They gave me an understanding of life, money, greed, regrets, romance and change.

1984

Animal farm

Beyond good and evil

The God delusion

Marcus aurelius meditations

The Art of war

These will probably be best for teenagers 14-17ish and worth a rereading as they become adults 18,19 & 20s early 20s and then again in 30s.

These gave an understanding of all sort of opinions and ways of thinking that greatly change and educate your understanding of the world. If you child reads these books especially the first ones I mentioned they will grow up with a rich knowledge and understanding that will put them far above those of their peers in both educational and conversational level.

  • 3
5mo 
BigKahunaBanker🏄🍹🍔, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Heaven on earth man, do you want to fuck up your children completely during their teens? The Art of War? The fucking God Delusion? "They will grow up with a rich knowledge and understanding"? Take a quick look at what WASP children read only a 100 years back and compare the two lists - I'll assure you it'll be much more nourishing for the soul than what you in your edgy teenager phase thought was cool.

...and the Truth shall set you free
  • 2
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5mo 
Anonymous Monkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

 I read these books when I was in early school 12-16ish.

No wonder you made this delusional book list lmao

best for teenagers 14-17 ish 

Im sorry but teenagers should learn to socialise with other teenagers and not worm themselves in reading fucking 1984 or beyond good and evil are you fucking kidding lmao that's how you become a weirdo/smart ass

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5mo 
British Banker, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm not saying read them at the cost of socialising, but there's time to read them. Was referring to age of more of level of reading and concentration sort of thing. 

5mo 
Cedar on Mid, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Laugh out loud The God Delusion. Dawkins cringe.

Have your kid read Hitchens instead

5mo 
WestCoastMonkey1, what's your opinion? Comment below:

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Read that when I was like age 6-10 and this series definitely made me enjoy literature and become a better reader and writer. Premise of the story is kind of unsettling, idk why it is considered a children's book. Whole premise is that some creepy old guy is tryna marry this 18 year old girl to take her family's fortunes. Later books in the series the kids escape being killed.

Maybe more appropriate for kids aged 11-14?

I also really enjoyed reading Jules Vernes 'Around the World in 80 Days', 'Journey to the Center of the Earth', and '20000 Leagues Under the Sea'. Really made me interested in exploring and travelling the world.

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5mo 
mergelord11, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Lord of the Rings (understand the core of why good versus evil is real and important, and what makes good, good, and evil, evil)

Bulfinch's Mythology (learn timeless lessons from classic fundamental stories)

Hamlet (Learn how to deal with really bad things happening in your life)

There are countless books that could be added here, but these are the crucial ones in my mind. 

My opinion, no need to introduce financial media into kids lives. They can get there by becoming well-read, intelligent people without needing to hear about TVM. If they don't get it by their early teens, send them some Motley Fool stuff, or some decent youtube/podcast channels that cover smart investing. 

  • 2
5mo 
Pierogi Equities, what's your opinion? Comment below:
mergelord11

Lord of the Rings (understand the core of why good versus evil is real and important, and what makes good, good, and evil, evil)

agree with that, and the Silmarillion if they really enjoy Tolkien's world but also more depth/tragedy. It's more historical than LOTR but there are a lot of great wtf moments in literature in it.

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

5mo 
mergelord11, what's your opinion? Comment below:

So true. LOTR is one for the young man to read, late grade school, high school, maybe younger. Silmarillion is LOTR grown up. Like Hamlet, shows a lot of the darker side of things. 

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5mo 
BigKahunaBanker🏄🍹🍔, what's your opinion? Comment below:

That's quite easy to answer, actually

For babys:

>Grimm's Fairy Tales

>Stories of the Saints (Francis and George are the all-time classics)

For young children:

>Written-out Sagas (preferably the Greek ones), later in poetic form

>Some of Karl May's novels (such as Treasure of the Silver Lake)

>Jules Vernes' novels

>JRRT's more accessible works

And when they are schoolchildren you can start with the advanced stuff, Goethe, etc. One work that I can not recommend enough (for boys, at least) is Storms of Steel, probably the greatest book on war ever written. For girls you'd probably go for Jane Austen or some adventure lady, I guess, idk. I have no sisters, so I'll leave that to my wife. Don't start them on philosophy too young, it ruins the mind. Childish piety will save them from many evils later in life.

...and the Truth shall set you free
  • 1
5mo 
Arroz con Pollo, what's your opinion? Comment below:

As a kid, reading was my favorite activity. I know this site is full of hardo's and I'm just a corporate finance pleb, but I think OP wants books for KIDS. Here are some of my favorites I can remember:

Magic Tree House

The Hardy Boys

The Boxcar Children

The Inheritance Cycle (Eragon series)

Redwall (series)

Percy Jackson and the Olympians

Goosebumps

Alex Rider (series)

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Robinson Crusoe

Treasure Island

Charlotte's Web

Stellaluna

The Tale of Despereaux

The Last Dog on Earth

Silverfin (believe Bond series but just read that)

Where the Wild Things Are

Goodnight Moon

Little Bear (series)

The Frog and the Toad

Oh The Places You'll Go (all Dr. Seuss books)

The Cat in the Hat (all Dr. Seuss books)

The Tale of Peter Rabbit

Love You Forever

Diary of a Wombat

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Little Engine that Could

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

The Enormous Crocodile

Please comment if you want to discuss any of these further - I loved reading as a kid and credit it for shaping my brain. I always get complimented on my writing skills, and I credit it 100% to reading. As I've gotten older, I don't read anymore, but rather listen to audiobooks. I've found since getting back into books that I have been a happier person.

5mo 
Pierogi Equities, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Pussy galore

The Alchemist

my teacher in 4th or 5th grade read this to the class and I've always loved it, fantastic

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

5mo 
Isaiah_53_5 💎🙌💎🙌💎, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Dr. Anne's 10 Step Diet by Anne Kulze

True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort (Eddie Doherty adaptation)

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis

7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer

The Dip by Seth Godin 

Confessions by St. Augustine 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 1
5mo 
Isaiah_53_5 💎🙌💎🙌💎, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Yeah definitely some are for older kids in HS.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

5mo 
Pierogi Equities, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Isaiah_53_5 💎🙌💎🙌💎

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis

tbh wasn't a huge fan of this one, it seemed somewhat Calvinist/predestination-y to me. 

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

5mo 
bankingSA133333, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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5mo 
johnny-mnemonic, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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5mo 
PeepeeFinancePoopoo, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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