We’ve already seen the awesome effects music has on kids’ brains, but you know what else is great for kids? Reading. Today would’ve been Roald Dahl’s 97th birthday if he hadn’t passed away in 1990. And, truth be told, his books were probably the Harry Potters of our generation.
Way back when books only competed with TV and playing outside, Roald Dahl was the one that showed you what getting sucked into a story really felt like. Most of the people we know who grew up with his characters continue to read his books to their kids today. The thing is, his stories were timeless, mesmerizing, relatable and, for once, didn’t underestimate kids the way other authors do.
Ever seen a movie based on a Roald Dahl book? They’re creepy. They’re scary, most of the time. They’re incredibly complex and, as an adult, you can’t fathom how on Earth someone let you read that as a kid. That’s how awesome Roald stories are.
Plus, reading Roald Dahl was what made us fall in love with books when we were young. More years later than we’re willing to admit, they continue to do the same thing with our own kids. And, since there’s more to this great author than Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, here are our top five Roald Dahl books that every kid should read right now.
5. Revolting Rhymes
There’s not much thought-out poetry for kids out there, aside from, maybe, Dr. Seuss. This book is something else, though. Everything changes once a kid figures our fairy tales can have alternative endings, and this book is as funny as gruesome and, well, pretty down-to-earth. Just look at what happens to the Three Little Pigs:
Growing up in a place full of farms, you learn that animals that kill farmers’ animals are bad. And then you read Fantastic Mr. Fox. Animals are suddenly not bad but need to feed their families – and meanwhile, farmers are blasting at them and tearing off their tails. Not only that, but these poor animals have very human-like concerns they try to work on, like this little ego problem expressed by Mr. Fox himself:
“I think I have this thing where everybody has to think I’m the greatest. And if they aren’t completely knocked out and dazzled and slightly intimidated by me, I don’t feel good about myself.”
Plus, there’s also an amazing movie directed by none other than Wes Anderson, based on this book. Book and movie combo weekend, anyone?
This book is as awesome as it is dangerous – but in the best way ever. Along with Matilda, kids learn that adults aren’t always right (especially if their only reason to be right is that they’re tall and older) and that no one is ever alone. Plus, it’s THE book that explains why reading is so amazing. Just check out this quote:
“So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.”
See what we mean when we say that Roald Dahl spoke directly to kids?
2. The BFG
This book is suspiciously absent from most best-of lists, and we seriously can’t imagine why. BFG stands for “Big Friendly Giant”, the only good giant in giant country. The main character, Sophie, is a little girl that manages to convince the Queen of England to put an end to people-eating giants. But the best part of this story are the made-up names like Fleshlumpeater (the most terrifying people-eating giant), snozzcumbers (giant cucumbers the BFG is forced to eat instead of children), Childchewer, Gizzardgulper, and Meatdripper (different ways of hunting people) and, of course, whizzpoppers (er, um, giant farts).
1. The Witches
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? James and the Giant Peach? Seriously? The Witches blows them all away. The book tells the story of how witches are real and very much living among us. They feast on children (especially clean ones, since they can’t smell dirty ones) and get together for a yearly convention in southern England.
The entire story is just bananas. The main character is even turned into a mouse forever. The happy ending brings the protagonist and his grandmother toward a plot to kill all witches in the world but even reinforces the idea that, being a mouse, he’ll only live nine more years. The entire book works as a thriller for kids and, even better, the witches from the title scare you to death. Remember how we said Dahl didn’t underestimate kids? This is the main reason why.
There’s a movie of this book but we’ll warn you: a Loog team member remembers watching it years after reading the book (albeit still as a kid) and being absolutely terrified. The only case in history, probably, where a film version exceeds a reader’s imagination. Horror for kids. Ah, Roald Dahl, we need you back here right now!
What’s your favorite Roald Dahl book? Tell us in the comments!