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33 books that shaped our childhood

Flickr: woodleywonderworks

After looking through, #ShowYourSelfie to tell world leaders you care about the rights of adolescents and youth.

The 57 million children worldwide without access to education are missing out on more than just going to class. Where would you be without these books?

1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Photo: healthychildren

Everyone who’s anyone remembers this gem. Its pages (and their holes), taught us how we all grow and transform as we get older.

2. Strega Nona

Photo: childrensbookalmanac

Where would we be without Strega Nona’s magic pasta pot? Big Anthony’s foolishness that flooded the village with pasta was our first taste of the dangers of hubris.

3. A Wrinkle in Time

Photo: eastofherewestofthere

A Wrinkle in Time challenged our perception of good vs. evil and showed us that love triumphs over everything. It also still gives us nightmares about evil disembodied brains controlling our thoughts.

4. Everybody Poops

Photo: owlspringsfarm

Short and to the point. We would all be lost without this informative book.

5. The Witches

Photo: picadora

This one gave our 9 year old selves irrational fears of being turned into mice and then hunted down by strange women. Action, adventure, and real witches: in other words, a perfect book.

6. The Giving Tree

Flickr: Topeka Library

There is no love to match that between a boy and a tree. Admit it, you cried.

7. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Flickr: C C Chapman

The land of Chewandswallow made us all dream of the day when it snowed mashed potatoes instead of frozen water.

8. The Giver

Flickr: ttarasiuk

Middle School English lessons wouldn't have been the same without The Giver. Don’t worry if you’re still confused about the ending- we’re right there with you.

9. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See?

Flickr: Pesky Librarians

For many of us, Brown Bear was our first experience with a book. It gave us our first introductions to colors, numbers and animals.

10. The Little Prince

Flickr: Lady sing the blues

This was a book you could get lost in, that's for sure. An aviator whose plane is forced down in the Sahara Desert encounters a little prince from a small planet who relates his adventures in seeking the secret of what is important in life. A tale we could all learn from!

11. The Cat in the Hat - Dr. Seuss

Flickr: Daniel X

Created as an alternative to the traditional Dick and Jane stories, The Cat in the Hat answers the age-old question: what’s the worst that could happen on a rainy day when mother is away?

12. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Flickr: Wade Tregaskis

Because, who doesn't dream of living in a world made entirely of sweets and chocolate when you're young? This magical adventure following the life of Charlie Bucket and his family is a heart-warming tale of patience winning our over petulance.

13. The Tiger who came to tea

Flickr: Walt Jabasco

When a tiger turns up to little Sophie's house unannounced and literally eats her out of house and home you'd expect her and her mum to be furious, instead the next day they stock up on all things tigers would like, but the tiger never returns. A strong lesson in generosity...

14. The famous five

Flickr: Cat O

A 21-series adventure following the summer holidays of Julian, Dick, Anne and Georgina (George) – and their dog Timmy. British countryside, Smugglers caves, Bluebell fields and the coast make this a charming example of appreciating the simpler things in life...

15. Where the Wild Things Are - Maurice Sendak

Flickr: Andrea Rodriguez Pabon

Max running away to a magical land showed every reader that the world is wide open when your imagination can take you anywhere.

16. Harry Potter - J.K. Rowling

Flckr: Hung Chieh Tsai

Much less of an old classic but definitely a new essential, Harry Potter introduced us to a magical world that parallels our own.

17. The Tale of Peter Rabbit - Beatrix Potter

Flickr: Su Lin

Originating across the pond, Peter Rabbit taught us that disobeying our mother to sneak into Mr. Macgregor’s garden will only cause us a bellyache and outfit a scarecrow with our lost clothes.

18. Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne

Flickr: Ed Summers

Who can forget the many tales of Pooh bear and his group of friends: Tigger, Piglet, and Eeyore. The honey-loving bear provides children with great examples of common sense, loyalty and friendliness.

19. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis

Flickr: CK Picker

An essential in most young reading lists, Peter, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy introduced us to Narnia by traveling through a magical wardrobe.

20. The Story Of Tracy Beaker

Flickr: Comic Relief

Because sometimes we all wanted to be as naughty as Tracy!

21. The Snowman

David Moore

A wonderful classic. What could be more magical than your snowman coming alive and flying you through the sky to meet Santa?

22. Funnybones

Flickr: Mr. Evil Cheese Scientist

Hanging out with a family of skeletons should have been pretty terrifying, but somehow Big Skeleton, Little Skeleton and Dog Skeleton charmed their way into our hearts.

23. Elmer the Elephant

Flickr: alexxis

When Elmer the patchwork elephant tries to blend in with his friends by painting himself grey, he finds that they no longer accept him as one of their own. It's only when it starts to rain, and his grey paint washes off, that Elmer realizes his friends love him because of his differences. An incredible lesson in diversity!

24. The Poky Little Puppy - Janette Sebring Lowrey

Flickr: National Museum of American History Smithsonian Institution

A simple book that taught me that it is not always bad to do things in your own time and to take the time to slow down and smell the roses.

25. Goodnight Moon - Margaret Wise Brownv

Flicr: Melizza

This bedtime story chronicles the daily routine of the world as it settles down and rests for the night. I’ll never forget the cow jumping over the moon.

26. The Jungle Book - Rudyard Kipling

Wikimedia: Rudyard Kipling

A boy raised by wolves that lives in the jungle is a timeless tale of independence and coming of age.

27. Peter Pan - J. M. Barrie

Flickr: I Believe

The boy who never grew up appeals to everyone that longs for a life with fewer responsibilities and an endlessly optimistic view of the world. J.M. Barrie actually created the name Wendy in this essential read.

28. White Fang - Jack London

Flickr: Xesc Arbona

Written from the viewpoint of a wild animal on its journey to domestication, the author not only allowed us to explore how tough the animal world might be, but also how the human world looks from another perspective.

29. Anne of Green Gables - Lucy Maud Montgomery

Flickr: Rebecca Anne

From our Canadian friends to the north, we learned of an orphan that despite a mix-up where a family originally asked for a boy, our imagination and ambition can become reality.

30. James and the Giant Peach - Roald Dahl

Flickr: Topeka Library

After a sack of magical crocodile tongues spills onto a fruitless tree, an enormous peach grows and becomes a vehicle for adventures as we were taken along with a boy and his new friends that live in the hollow center of the giant fruit.

31. The Velveteen Rabbit - Margery Williams

Wikimedia: Margery Williams

The quest of a stuffed animal to become real is almost dashed by the appearance of scarlet fever, but the Nursery Fairy shows up just in time to transform the velveteen rabbit and realize its dream of becoming real.

32. Curious George - H.A. Rey

Flickr: YoungDoo Moon

Nurturing every child’s curious nature, this monkey goes on numerous adventures throughout the big city. George is not only cute, but served as a great way to introduce young readers to all sorts of things in the grownup world such as getting a job.

33. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

Flickr: Kay Harpa

Nothing reminds me more of reading in school than Scout and Atticus Finch tackling tough issues and challenging their community head-on.

There are 57 million children worldwide who are not in school. The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) is working hard to change this.


Clea Guy-Allen, Andrew Garretson