All Ages

Why Reading Childhood Favorites to Your Kids Is Honestly the Best

by Dena McMurdie

Photo credit: martin-dm, E+ Collection/Getty Images

When I handed my daughter a copy of King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry, she looked skeptical. She reluctantly agreed to read it with me after I told her it was one of my favorite stories when I was her age, and her skepticism quickly morphed into enthusiasm as she fell in love with the book. Together, we laughed, cried, and cheered as a young Moroccan boy traveled to France and England with his beloved horse.

Watching her connect to the story brought back a flood of memories about my first time reading the book. It was like introducing my daughter to a much younger version of myself — one she could relate to and identify with. I highly recommend other parents share their favorite childhood books, a sweet activity with multiple benefits.

1. Forging emotional connections.
Every night, I sit on the end of my daughters’ beds and read them the stories I’ve cherished for decades. This distraction-free time gives my kids the chance to ask questions about the book we’re reading, the “olden days” when I was a kid, and whatever else is on their minds.

My 9-year-old especially adores this time together and the deeper connection she feels to her family because of it. Reading her a book that holds significant meaning for me brings us together in a whole new way.

2. Sharing a piece of our childhoods with our kids.
There’s nothing better than watching my kids’ reactions to books I’ve loved my entire life. They chattered with excitement when Charlie found his golden ticket in Roald Dahl’s classic and pulled the covers over their blushing faces when Almanzo asked Laura if he could walk her home in the Little House series.

In these moments, it feels like I’m reaching through time and connecting my childhood with theirs. Books have always been important to me, and sharing the stories that shaped me is nothing short of magical.

3. Introducing our kids to different kinds of stories.
Every generation has books that define them. For my kids, it’s mostly fantasy and realistic fiction. By reading my childhood favorites to them, my kids step outside their comfort zones and try new genres, authors, and writing styles. My 9-year-old didn’t know she loved folklore until we read my favorite collection of Japanese children’s stories together. My 11-year-old became obsessed with wilderness survival stories when I read Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins to her.

4. Getting to enjoy the book all over again.
Most of these stories hold up over time, and I find myself sucked right back into my favorite fictional worlds. Rereading books I adored as a kid brings back all the warm and fuzzy feelings I associate with childhood — it’s like running into an old friend and instantly getting lost in a great conversation.

While my kids have their own tastes in books, I’ll keep reading them my childhood favorites, too. The magic of seeing them fall in love with a cherished story is worth every skeptical look they can possibly throw at me