Spine Crackin’

You want inspiration. Insight. Advice, wisdom, a lifetime’s worth of perspective, and you want it served in one tidy spot to lap up in five minutes or less, no?

You could try meditation. Prayer. Call a mentor, perhaps book an elusive five minutes with your therapist. Or you can sneak into your kid’s bedroom and pull out any of these six classics from a well-worn bookshelf:

The Book: I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew
The Story: A young Seuss character sets off in search of a trouble-free life after a series of unfortunate events, but he encounters even more troubles along the way.
The Lesson: Confront your problems head-on rather than running away. And sometimes – to change your life, you need only to change your mind.

The Book: A Light in the Attic
The Stor(ies): Fanciful and lighthearted but not lacking depth, Shel Silverstein’s poems and illustrations offer adult-sized wisdom in easy-to-digest ideas.
The Lesson: There are many, but start with Reflection for a crash course on empathy.

The Story: A pilot stranded in the desert meets a young prince who has fallen to Earth from a tiny asteroid. Together, they swap tales as they lament the strange world of adults.
The Lesson: Chock-full of social criticism, the lessons to be learned involve consumerism, vanity, loneliness, shame, greed and humanity’s very search for peace.

The Book: The Phantom Tollbooth
The Story: A mysterious tollbooth appears into the room of a bored kid; adventure and wordplay ensues.
The Lesson: Curiosity offers perspective; perspective provides happiness. If you can learn to love learning, you can learn to love anything.

The Book: The Emperor’s New Clothes
The Story: A greedy emperor is fooled by two weavers; a child is the only one brave enough to reveal the trick.
The Lesson: Question the popular opinion, and refuse to shy away from sharing the truths you believe.

The Book: Aesop’s Fables
The Stor(ies): A tongue-tied slave rumored to have received the power of gifted speech offers a collection of wise parables beloved by generations everywhere to come.
The Lesson: Too many to count, but a recent reading of The Man and His Two Wives yields the great reminder that when we seek to please everyone, we please no one.

Tell me, what kids’ reads are you finding wise and thoughtful these days? I’d love to hear!
  • The Book: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
    The Story: 4 children step into a wardrobe and are drawn into a magical world of good and evil called Narnia
    One lesson: There are physical and spiritual worlds and seeing them through children’s eyes can be a good thing.

  • Love these ideas! A few more: What Do You Do With an Idea and Thoights To Make Your Heart Sing.Also, Rosie Revere, Engineer.

  • The Phantom Tollbooth is one of my all-time favorites!

    Another one very high on the list because of its incredible wisdom is A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. More of a middle grade than children’s book, perhaps, but it’s incredible.

  • One of my recent favorites is ‘Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon” by Patty Lovell. Great story about believing and loving ones self — and the pictures are so adorable.

  • Willoughby & the Lion is about greed, friendship, contentment. Lovely book!

  • I have loved Rosie Revere, Engineer for its message about how fort try’s are never perfect and how much you can learn from mistakes. Not exactly on topic, but I just read a really interesting article about Mo Willemstad, author of the popular Piggie and Gerald and Pigeon series of early readers. Those book hold lots of interesting but unexpected morals! Here’s a link to the article http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/02/06/mo-willems-funny-failures/

  • I ADORE The Phantom Tollbooth! It was one of the books I culled and brought with me from my childhood bedroom to my own apartment to my combined library with my husband.

    A little older, but I love The Westing Game. It’s a puzzle story featuring cariacatured characters that slowly become more rounded as the story goes on. Oh! And absolutely The View from Saturday. It’s got so few words but so much wisdom that even today I have to read it slowly (and it’s been 15 years since the first time).

  • The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane Y Kate DeCamillo is one of my favorites.

  • Great list! I’ve added several of your suggestions and commenters’ suggestions to my book wishlist. A book that is thought-provoking and teaches empathy is 100 Dresses by Eleanor Estes. At the time of reading, my daughtert (then 6) and son (then 3) loved it and it prompted a lot of conversations about differences, how we should view them, and about speaking up for others.

    • Oh I’ve heard such good things about this one – thank you for the reminder, Michelle! :)

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