Many people remember the books they read as children with fond nostalgia. If you want to escape from the challenges of adult life, find common ground with younger family members or simply be entertained, there are plenty of fantastic kids' books with plenty of humor and complex themes to engage grown-ups.
Below, you can find suggestions for the best children's books to enjoy alone or with your grandchildren in your assisted living apartment in the Bethesda Gardens assisted living community in Fort Worth.
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen is a charming picture book that's sure to entertain small children, but there's plenty to amuse adults too. The simple and witty story follows a bear on his desperate search for his lost hat. Whimsical illustrations and straightforward language make the book accessible for all ages, and the twist at the end will leave everyone chuckling. I Want My Hat Back is a quick read that children (and their grandparents) will want to hear again and again.
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White is a true classic, and it contains plenty of humor and wise lessons to engage adults. The book centers around Wilbur, a stunted piglet, and Charlotte, a clever spider who lives in his barn. When the animals realize that the farmer intends to kill Wilbur, Charlotte takes it upon herself to save his life.
Charlotte's ingenuity and resourcefulness, despite her small size, is a comforting and inspirational message to readers of all ages. Wilbur and Charlotte's friendship also explores the themes of self-sacrifice and loyalty in friendships and provides a springboard for meaningful discussions between adults and children.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one of the most famous books written by the prolific children's author Roald Dahl. The story follows Charlie Bucket, a young boy living with his poverty-stricken family near a large chocolate factory. One day, Charlie wins a golden ticket entitling him to a free tour of Willy Wonka's fantastical chocolate factory. Alongside him are four other children, all with deeply flawed characters. One by one, the other children meet unpleasant fates after giving into their greedy urges.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is worth rereading as an adult, even if you think you know the story inside out, because many of the darker concepts are lost on children. While children interpret the fates of the children as just madcap fun, adults will be able to appreciate the underlying themes of social isolation and loneliness. Therefore, it's an interesting book to read alone or share with older children and teens ready to tackle complex ideas.
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh features a flawed but relatable female protagonist and explores themes as relevant to many adults as they are to the intended audience. Harriet is an intelligent and strong-willed 11-year-old girl who makes a habit of spying on the people around her and keeping detailed notes on their behavior and activities. Harriet faces various challenges throughout the book, including being ostracized as an outsider when her friends read what she has written about them and the loss she feels when her beloved nanny leaves.
The book was well-received and won a Sequoyah Book Award in 1967, but it was also subject to controversy. Some schools chose to ban the book because they felt it set a poor example to young readers. However, Fitzhugh elegantly shows the consequences of lying and excluding others as the story progresses, leading readers to draw valuable conclusions about the right way to treat others. It's an enjoyable read for adults wanting to revisit and understand common childhood experiences or discuss challenging topics with younger people.
Belonging by Jeannie Baker is distinct from the other books on this list because the story is told entirely in pictures. Baker, a talented artist and author from Australia, documents the changes in a community as seen from a single window over the course of a child's journey from baby to adult. As the book progresses, the vibrant collage images slowly transform from a bleak, unloved townscape to a green, welcoming space as the community comes together to nurture it.
Although Belonging can be enjoyed in a single sitting, the images are so detailed that you'll notice something new every time you pick it up. It's truly a book for all ages because it allows readers to engage with it differently as they get older. Young children will enjoy it purely for its beautiful illustrations, and older children and adults will enjoy exploring its underlying themes of stewardship and responsibility for the places we live. Belonging would make a beautiful coffee table book to pick up and enjoy any time or a gift for anyone interested in caring for the environment.
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