Dallas, who pops up in issue #6, is so indefatigably positive it’s mind boggling, that is until you spend some time with his children’s book-based venture, An Awesome Book. For every volume he sells, he gives one away, in person and all over the place, and from what we’ve gleaned about the whole Awesome scheme is that he is never still. However, he has kindly stayed in one place to select his top five children’s books for our Bookshelf feature. A list that should serve as a definitive guide into love of reading, love of the world for any child.
The Missing Piece Shel Silverstein
What a monster! If I were being truly honest this article would just be five Shel Silverstein books, as I could say for sure he dominates the entire children’s genre in my mind… but there’s no variety in that. What he was able to accomplish with a pen and a blank page really puts to shame just about every hundred million dollar kids movie that’s been released in the past decade. This book is so heavy and so light at the same time I’m knocked back a few feet every time I pick it up.
The Little Prince Antoine de Saint Exupery
This one is pretty much a lay up. I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who doesn’t love this book. It speaks to every part of the child in you and the adult in you at the same time and does so in such a way that you feel lucky for having had the experience. Definitely a ripper.
I Love You Forever Robert Munsch
I know this one seems like a bit of a curve ball because Munsch’s books are a little more “cute” than the rest on the list but I dare you to read this book aloud without crying. It is impossible! Do you know how hard it is to write a book with so few words that can make someone cry every time they read it? That’s a claim most singer-songwriters can only dream of staking. Robert Munsch is the real deal, more Bright Eyes than Bright Eyes.
Charlie and The Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl
Obviously it’s hard to read this one at this point without picturing the movie (Gene Wilder version) but I like to consider that bonus more than anything. I mean, we all know Roald Dahl is a heavyweight champ, but how great must it feel to write this magical story and then a few years later get the royal treatment with a kids film that slays so hard in all the weirdest possible ways. Timeless. Ruthless.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas Dr. Seuss
Sure, picking Dr. Seuss is like picking “The Beatles” but, c’mon son, what are you going to do?!? He basically built the entire genre. Much like Silverstein I could pick another five Seuss books that are all going to be better than anything that comes out in my lifetime. Oh The Places You’ll Go, Horton Hears a Who, The Lorax – those are all magical, but for me “The Grinch” is the perfect example of how to teach kids something awesome without them even suspecting they are being taught. It’s somehow seamlessly Oprah-friendly and unbelievably punk, and as icing on the cake you get to read it every year around the holidays and achieve that ever-satisfying “warm-glowing feeling” inside. Game over!