27 Books Parents Should Read To Their Kids Before They Grow Up

Get ready to read down memory lane.

1. The Giving Tree

Harper & Row

Harper & Row

 

Why it gives you the feels: The fact that the tree was SO DAMN CONTENT even as a stump. As a parent, it reminds you of the eternal love you have for your child and the willingness to sacrifice your happiness for theirs.

2. The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Putnam/Philomel

Putnam/Philomel

 

Why it gives you the feels: Eric Carle’s colorful images tell the story themselves and send you straight back to your childhood. You’ll never forget learning about the stages of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly for the first time.

3. The Monster at the End of This Book

 

Why it gives you the feels: Grover essentially gave you the gift of your first page-turner. You’ll never forget anticipating the end of the book, and freaking the hell out at the fuzzy blue puppet.

4. But No Elephants

CQ Products

CQ Products

 

Why it gives you the feels: After accepting numerous animals from the pet man, Grandma Tildy finally adopts an elephant, much to her discontent. However, it is the elephant who ends up saving the entire house.

5. Wonder Bear

Dial

Dial

 

Why it gives you the feels: Once the kids are invited into Wonder Bear’s magical hat, the whimsical illustrations end up telling the story with very few words. Every time you open the book, you’ll be able to find something you missed the previous time around.

6. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Little Simon

Little Simon

 

Why it gives you the feels: Ask any ’90s kid about this book, and they’ll know it was that tree that taught them the alphabet. The simplicity in the illustrations is what keeps it such a classic.

7. The Little Prince

Reynal & Hitchcock

Reynal & Hitchcock

 

Why it gives you the feels: “Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.” Reading the unique story of a prince who travels to different planets as an adult or child, you’ll value the imagination of the young spirit.

8. I Want My Hat Back

Candlewick Press

Candlewick Press

 

Why it gives you the feels: The dry humor in this book (about a poor bear who has lost his hat) is irresistible. Plus, it’s impossible to forget that moment when the page turns bright red, and the bear’s eyes open wide in realization as he says, “I HAVE SEEN MY HAT.”

9. Mr. Tiger Goes Wild

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

 

Why it gives you the feels: Mr. Tiger teaches everyone to be themselves — no matter how different they are — and to have fun. This book is all about remembering that while sometimes you need to have good manners, it’s OK to let loose every once in a while.

10. The Big Orange Splot

Scholastic Inc

Scholastic Inc

 

Why it gives you the feels: After Plumbean decides to completely renovate his house to match his dreams, his neighbors take note, and not in a good way. You wanted a house to look like your dreams, just like Plumbean, and it teaches kids to be proud of their ideas no matter how zany, as long as they were theirs and original.

11. Goodnight Moon

Harper & Brothers

Harper & Brothers

 

Why it gives you the feels: After reading this book, you were instantly inspired to go around your house saying “goodnight” to everything you could find — from your stuffed animals, to all the stars you could count. It soon became a tradition to make sure everyone and everything got their “goodnight” before bed.

12. Harold and the Purple Crayon

Harper & Brothers

Harper & Brothers

 

Why it gives you the feels: As a child, it’s a wonderful thing to have the ability to bring anything to life with a purple crayon, blue PJs, and your imagination. And you always wanted that dang purple crayon just to see if you held Harold’s same powers.

13. Amelia Bedelia

HarperCollins

HarperCollins

 

Why it gives you the feels: You always felt so smart correcting the maid who took everything so literally. Amelia’s antics as she tries to fix up the house are so unpredictable you wanted to keep reading.

14. In the Night Kitchen

Harper & Row

Harper & Row

 

Why it gives you the feels: Everyone wishes they could be like Mickey and make cake all night. As soon as he sets out on his cooking journey, you’re immediately engrossed by the magical illustrations from the very first page, and you might need to read it while enjoying a midnight snack.

15. Miss Nelson is Missing!

Houghton Mifflin

Houghton Mifflin

 

Why it gives you the feels: After Miss Nelson’s ill-behaved class discovers their teacher is missing, no one ever forgets the absolutely terrifying image of the substitute teacher with her black clothes and long fingernails.

16. Where the Sidewalk Ends

Harper and Row Publishers

Harper and Row Publishers

 

Why it gives you the feels: Every time you open this collection of poems, you will have a new hilarious yet sentimental poem to read, from the king with his obsession with peanut butter sandwich to the hug o’ war competition.

17. Jumanji

Houghton Mifflin

Houghton Mifflin

 

Why it gives you the feels: Many people forget the original book after seeing the classic Robin Williams movie about a a brother and sister who play a mystical board game that comes alive. The book’s beautiful black and white illustrations allow you to relive all the frights and adventures of the fantastical board game with your child by your side.

18. Alice in Wonderland

Macmillan

Macmillan

 

Why it gives you the feels: Acting out all the different characters no matter how goofy or scary is so much fun. Alice also provides an opportunity to exercise your imagination and picture the world of Wonderland.

19. The Stinky Cheese Man

Viking Press

Viking Press

 

Why it gives you the feels: Seeing the terrifying yet hilariously illustrated parodies of fairytale classics will crack up both you and your child. Every page presents a reinvented retelling of a typical bedtime story, like “The Really Ugly Duckling.”

20. Charlotte’s Web

Harper & Brothers

Harper & Brothers

 

Why it gives you the feels: You know why. A pig? And a spider? BFFs?!

21. Where the Red Fern Grows

Doubleday

Doubleday

 

Why it gives you the feels: The book about Billy and his two Coonhounds nails the incredible bond between a boy and his dog. After Billy’s dog sacrifices himself to save his owner, you find out the poignant significance of the red fern at the dog’s burial site. This is a guaranteed tear-jerker, but it’s the good kind.

22. The Original Winnie-the-Pooh

Methuen & Co. Ltd.

Methuen & Co. Ltd.

 

Why it gives you the feels: Pooh will always have a special place in your heart no matter how old you get, and doing Tigger’s voice never gets old. Winnie-the-Pooh is a classic character that has held up for nearly 100 years.

23. Danny the Champion of the World

Puffin Books

Puffin Books

 

Why it gives you the feels: Danny and William’s adventures hunting pheasants and repairing cars capture what makes father/son relationships really special. You’ll never forget Danny and William’s antics as they defeat the wealthy villian Victor Hazell, and Danny is crowned “The Champion of The World.”

24. The Wayside School Books

Lothrop, Lee & Shepard

Lothrop, Lee & Shepard

 

Why it gives you the feels: You won’t be able to stop laughing at the goofy short stories about the strangest school around, and you’ll be enthralled in discovering the mystery behind Miss Zarves and the 19th floor. Even after you’re done reading the book to your child, they’ll want to read it over and over again.

25. Where The Wild Things Are

Harper & Row

Harper & Row

 

Why it gives you the feels: After Max is sent to his room without dinner for prancing around the house in his wolf costume, he ventures to the forest with the “Wild Things.” However, Max soon discovers that no matter how mad you get at your parents, they’ll never stop loving you, as evident by seeing his dinner waiting for him when he gets back. Plus, after following Max around, you always waited at night for your room to turn into a crazy forest.

26. The Harry Potter series

Scholastic

Scholastic

 

Why it gives you the feels: Just hearing “the boy who lived” will send shivers down your spine and you’re transported to the magical world of Hogwarts.

27. Love You Forever

Firefly Books

Firefly Books

 

Why it gives you the feels: You will never ever forget “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be,” the familiar refrain said over and over by the mother to her son as he grows up. Watching the roles slowly reverse over time, and the final image of the son rocking his sweet sweet old mother to sleep will make you realize how quickly time flies.

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