Want to have a good bawl? Then read any of the following kids' books with a giant box of tissues! If you plan to read these stories to an actual child, pause often to weep, shake and quake.
What books are missing from this list?
1. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch - Warning: read this book with a box of tissues, and get ready for some major waterworks! This book is about a devoted mother who tells her baby that she will love him forever, as she rocks him to bed each night. This bedtime ritual continues as the baby grows -- and even continues when he is a man living in his own home. Heartwarmingly, the man's mother sneaks into his bedroom each night to rock him to sleep, and love on him. Finally, the mom enters the geriatric stages of her life and can come no longer visit the son. And so the son reciprocates the mother's love in kind, by rocking her before she enters into an eternal sleep in her deathbed. WAH!
2. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein - I'm getting choked up just by typing this title. The Giving Tree is also about a boy, as he transitions through various stages in his life -- from little boy, to teenager, to old man. The tree is always there for the boy and is his friend, and gives the boy his all over the years: her apples, her branches, and even her trunk -- which the boy selfishly takes. As the boy grows up, he falls in love and stops coming to visit his friend the tree. The tree is lonely and misses the boy dreadfully. Finally, the boy comes by limping with a cane when he is a very elderly man. The geriatric "boy" drops dead under the tree, and the altruistic tree covers the "boy" by burying his dead corpse with its leaves. (Okay, this part never happens. The story ends when the elderly "boy" rests his weary bones on the tree's stump, which was chopped down when the "boy" was a selfish younger man.)
3. Brenda and Edward by Maryann Kovalski - This is a tear-jerker that I cannot pick up without convulsing and blowing my nose on my sleeve. Brenda and Edward is about two adult dogs that lead a very happy life together in their own home, a comfortable cardboard box. That is until Brenda -- trying to bring Edward the lunch box he forget on his way to work -- gets hit by a car and never returns home. Never knowing what happened to Brenda, Edward becomes empty and many years pass as he is consumed by loneliness. It is only when Edward is a very aged dog that he is actually reunited with Brenda, who wasn't actually killed in the car crash. The emotional reunion of these two dogs at the end of this story will give you the cry of the century!
4. The Saggy Baggy Elephant by Byron Jackson - An elephant with saggy, baggy skin feels self-conscious about his appearance when a parrot makes him feel unattractive and worthless. Enjoy a little cry, as other animals come forward to affirm that the saggy, baggy elephant is an attractive creature after all!
5. The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Anderson - For a good bawl, grab this book about an ugly "duckling" that is deemed odd-looking and useless by his siblings. He definitely struggles with body image, until he realizes he is in fact a beautiful swan, not a duck at all. Enjoy a second round of tears, if this rekindles how you felt in high school -- but you overcame years later!
6. Hooper Humperdink Not Him by Dr. Seuss - What a depressing, miserable book to read to a child! It's about poor Hooper Humperdink, who never took a wrong step in his life, and yet he is aggressively shunned and excluded by the narrator of the book. This book takes bullying to a new level, as the unfortunate Hooper Humperdink is the only kid in town not invited to a swank and elaborate birthday party. Join me in weeping for poor Hooper -- and the injustice of it all -- for being the most unpopular kid in the whole town!
7. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket - I'm a sucker for a good orphan story, so let the tears flow as the story begins with three Baudelaire orphans whose parents die in a tragic fire. If that's not enough to start a weeping session, the kids are left with Count Olaf who claims to be a relative -- but not only is he an impostor, he is also intent on usurping their inheritance. Come sob with me as the kids must perform cruel and ridiculous tasks.
8. Matilda by Roald Dahl - Matilda is an extraordinarily smart girl who is loathed and misunderstood by her nitwit parents and brother. Bring a handkerchief to wipe your eye, as her parents deny her an education or even a trip to the library, and instead force her to watch television to dumb her down. But let out a cry of happiness, as she convinces her parents to send her to school. There she meets teacher Ms. Honey, who is sweet like her name, and adopts Matilda from her hapless family.
9. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo - While this isn't a children's book per se, one of the major storylines in the book is about poor Cosette, who's orphaned by a prostitute who dies of consumption. Cry along, as her mom Fantine is abandoned by the father of her child, sells her own hair to make ends meet, turns to prostitution, and then leaves her beloved child with a family who loathe her. But allow a sniffle of hope, as Cosette is adopted by the mayor of the town, and marries the handsome and affluent Marius. Watch the musical sensation, if you like to cry along in time with the music.
10. Cinderella by Brothers Grimm - Poor, poor Cinderella, who is tormented by her evil step-mother and terrible step-sisters! They withhold love and are cruel to her, making her labour with endless housework from morning to night. The favouritism that the step-sisters receive is inhuman, but the worst indiscretion by far, is not allowing Cinderella to attend the prince's ball. Let's hold hands and join in a group weeping session, as the prince takes Cinderella as his beloved -- all thanks to a fairy godmother with a big heart!
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