The simple act of reading with our children can inspire a love of books that will last a lifetime, but do you know which children's classics you should have on your bookshelf? We've rounded up 15 of the most well-known, timeless tales that every child deserves to know.
1. The Little Engine That Could
The Watty Piper classic isn't just for children; its message about the power of positive thinking is one that even adults need to hear every now and then.
2. Make Way for Ducklings
Robert McCloskey's award-winning illustrations are the real prize in this sweet story of Mr. and Mrs. Mallard and their quest to relocate their family of ducklings to Boston Public Garden.
3. Blueberries for Sal
Blueberries for Sal is another McCloskey classic, about a little girl named Sal who gets a few more surprises than she bargained for when she spends a day picking blueberries with her mother.
This popular series takes place in "an old house in Paris, covered with vines," and tells the story of a precocious little French girl named, of course, Madeline.
5. The Monster at the End of this Book
If you've never read this book starring Sesame Street's "lovable, furry, old Grover," then you and your children are both missing out. It might not be great literature, but it is incredibly fun to read aloud.
6. The Berenstain Bears
Again, not great literature, but Papa, Mama, Brother, and Sister Bear are a lovable bunch, and the many titles in this series address a variety of issues that even human families face on a daily basis.
7. The Tale of Peter Rabbit
Beatrix Potter's immortal rabbit Peter is more than just a decoration for nursery walls and baby dishes; he's also a rebellious youngster who gets trapped in Mr. MacGregor's garden when he (like most children) doesn't listen to his mother.
8. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
The movie was a bit strange, but the book, in which meals rain from the sky in the mythical town of Chewandswallow, is one children love.
9. Chicken Soup with Rice
Maurice Sendak may be best known for Where the Wild Things Are, but that one can be scary for youngsters. Chicken Soup with Rice, on the other hand, contains delightful rhymes that are excellent for teaching preschoolers the months of the year.
10. Richard Scarry's Best First Book Ever
All of Richard Scarry's books about Busy Town, Huckle Cat, and Lowly Worm are fantastic for young children, but Best First Book Ever is by far the best.
11. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day
We've all had those kinds of days, and our kids have them too. Alexander is the perfect cure when of one of yours is feeling the need to "move to Australia."
12. When I Have a Little Girl
While not as well known as some of the others on the list, When I Have a Little Girl is a must-read for anyone with a daughter who likes to imagine all the things she'll do differently when she becomes a mother herself. And if you have a son, author Charlotte Zolotow also wrote When I Have a Little Boy.
13. Anything by Dr. Seuss
When it comes to Dr. Seuss books, how can you choose just one? The Cat in the Hat may be among his most famous but, at our house at least, There's a Wocket in My Pocket and Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! are perennial favorites.
14. Frog and Toad are Friends
Winner of both a Caldecott Honor and Newberry Honor award, this simple story of friendship is a timeless classic.
15. I'll Love You Forever
I pride myself on not being particularly sappy, but I dare any parent to read this book without tearing up. And kids — who can never hear the words "I love you" too many times — will appreciate the message too.
What are your favorite children's books to read with your kids? Have you read all of the books listed above?