1.)Harry Potter. I am a huge Harry Potter fan. The series taught me how to read more than my Kindergarten teachers ever could. I believe in those novels not merely as childish entertainment, or fun fantasy adventures, but also as sources of a beautiful moral code. The triumph of love over evil. The choice "between what is right and what is easy." I have friends who make fun of me and call Harry Potter "little kid's books", but children's books that have this huge of a cultural impact should not be, in my opinion, taken lightly. The series has even spawned it's own charity organization, and a music movement called wizard rock (of which I personally am a part), which is comprised of dorks who "help kids read. help kids rock.". And why not? This is not the first time that so called children's tales have made a difference.
2.)Grimm's Fairy Tales. The fairy tales of the Brother's Grimm have morphed over the years, becoming less scary, becoming musicals, becoming more modern, but through it all they have, in essence, remained intact. These tales have changed lives not merely through their lasting claims on our society, however, but what is more through their collection resulting in the unification of Germany and the re-drawing of the map of Europe. When the stories were first collected by the Brother's Grimm, Germany was in a rather bad way, a loose conglomeration of states rather than a contry, with possible war brewing from all fronts. To survive, Germany would have to unite. The problem was that the people of each state saw themselves as individuals, unwilling to unite with "foreigners" . When the fairy tales were collected, people began to realize that they did, in fact, have a shared culture. The stories were a key part of the birth of a German cultural identity and thus led, indirectly maybe, but still, led to the unification of Germany. Which country's unification have you led to today?
3.)"The Little Prince". If you have not read this book, read this book. Apart from the beautifully lingering illustrations, this story will make you cry. Or at least it will make me cry. Every. Goddamn. Time. Once you have read "The Little Prince", you will never not have read "The Little Prince" again. Which I guess you could say with anything, but with this story it feels as though it means something more. If you have read "The Little Prince", check out this xkcd comic strip:
4.)"Winnie the Pooh". "If you live to be 100, I hope i live to be 100 minus one day, so that I never have to live without you." This is the "Awwwww!" moment everyone so loves. I mean, come on. That's adorable. And that's not all. I mean Winnie the Pooh comes at you with the sentimental childhood tearjerkers over, and over, and over."Promise me you'll never forget me because if i thought you would I'd never leave."
But "Winnie the Pooh" is more than just adorable. It's a children's story that's magical but feels real; every child's stuffed animals become Pooh, Piglet, Owl, Rabbit, Kanga, Eeyore and the gang. Every child's back yard becomes the hundred acre wood. And have you checked out these books? The Te Of Piglet and The Tao of Pooh.
It may be true that I get more out of these books now than I did as a little kid(Not the tao books, but the children's books, I mean), but that just goes to show that they are timeless classics.
If anyone has anything they think should be added to the list, I'd love to hear from you.