There are three types of well-written books: good books that satisfy the need to escape, great books that make you laugh or cry or smile, and unforgettable books that leave a lasting impression on your life. These unforgettable books are different for every person. But they all have one thing in common—they have the power to fill a void or spark inspiration for those who need it most.
Only four books in my lifetime have left a mark on me, and to the authors of these books, I’m forever grateful. The following are my four top kids books:
I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak (age 13+)
Ed Kennedy is an 18-year-old illegal cabdriver who’s missing substance in his life. After involuntarily stopping a bank robbery, he starts receiving aces (playing cards) in the mail. Each card has addresses written on them. Ed goes to each house where he finds a person or family in need. With just a small gesture of kindness, Ed helps each person. And in turn, he discovers the piece of his life he’s been missing.
This book is a powerful force and a piece of pure inspiration. It motivated me to find happiness in selfless deeds. If you’re feeling depressed or bored with life, give this book a read.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (ages 9+)
Hugo Cabret lives in the walls of a Paris train station, operating the clockwork for his missing uncle. He has a broken automaton (wind-up figure) that he’s determined to fix. But when a cranky old toy vendor steals his notebook containing Hugo’s father’s instructions on how to fix the automaton, Hugo must use his logic and fix it on his own. In restoring the automaton, Hugo discovers a shocking secret about the toy vendor’s past, something magical, haunting and truly inspirational.
This book is a beautiful story, written like a classic. Most of the 533 pages are pictures drawn by the author. Selznick’s book offers a magical taste of history, one that you’ll read again and again.
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende (ages 10+)
Balthazar Bastian Bux hates his life. He’s bullied at school and his father doesn’t pay attention to him. One day he steals a magical book called The Neverending Story from a used bookstore and (literally) dives into the world’s most magical adventure.
Only Harry Potter could compete with a book as magical as this. Each of the 26 chapters is almost a story on its own, complete with adventure, climaxes and the most magical and inventive creatures you’ll ever meet.
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo (all ages)
Edward Tulane is an arrogant china rabbit who thinks nothing of love. That is, until the day he’s tossed overboard on a ship and sinks to the bottom of the ocean. Edward spends years been passed from one owner to the next, learning to love and appreciate each of them along the way.
This book is a masterpiece. Short and sweet. Heartbreaking and heartwarming. The moment I closed this book, with tears running down my cheeks, I opened it to the beginning and started over. Perhaps one of the most well-written children’s stories, this book will leave a life-long impression on your heart. Kate DiCamillo, the author of The Tale of Despereaux, is a true storyteller.