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'Where the Wild Things Are' by Maurice Sendak ()

Kids' Books with Lessons for Life

Nov 9, 2004 (All Things Considered)

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thumbnail 'Goodbye Mousie' by Robie Harris, illustrated by Jan Ormerod 'The Hundred Dresses' by Eleanor Estes 'Ramona the Pest' by Beverly Cleary 'Hair in Funny Places' by Babette Cole

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One of the toughest tasks for any parent is helping their children cope with a painful situation. Whether it's rejection, bullying or a thorny teenage breakup, finding just the right words to soothe a troubled child is very difficult. In those moments, adults often lament that parenting doesn't come with some sort of instruction manual.

But there are books that can help — children's books. Fables, fairy tales and novellas can do more than just entertain and delight. They can also ease young people through some of life's challenges. NPR's Michele Norris asks three experts in children's literature to share their recommended reading lists.

Children's Books Recommended by Dennis Ronberg, Linden Tree Books in Los Altos, Calif.

It's Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr (diversity)

Goodbye Mousie by Robie Harris, illustrated by Jan Ormerod (death/loss)

When Someone Dies by Sharon Greenlee, illustrated by Bill Drath (death/loss)

Lifetimes by Brian Mellonie and Robert Ingpen (death)

I Love You the Purplest by Barbara Joosse, illustrated by Mary Whyte (siblings/sibling rivalry)

Hi New Baby! by Robie Harris, illustrated by Michael Emberley (new baby)

Sometimes I'm Bombaloo by Rachel Vail, illustrated by Yumi Heo (anger)


Classics Recommended by Caroline Ward, Ferguson Library in Stamford, Conn.

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes (bullying/remorse)

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (anger/fear)

Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary (family/school/friends)

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (life and death)

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt (life and death)


Young Adult Books Recommended by Liz Sandler, Wild Rumpus Bookstore in Minneapolis Minn.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (adolescence/high school)

Hair in Funny Places by Babette Cole (puberty)

Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher (abuse/competition)

What Every Girl (Except Me) Knows by Nora Raleigh Baskin (adolescence)

The Speed of Light by Elizabeth Rosner (Holocaust)

Of Sound Mind by Jean Ferris (deafness)

Birdland by Tracy Mack (death)

The Girls by Amy Goldman Koss (cliques)

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares (adolescence)

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