2 Children’s Books to Read to Your Kids…And 1 Important Request!

When I was a kid, my favorite book in the whole world was “The Little Engine That Could” by Watty Piper. I loved to snuggle in and listen to my parents read it. You’re probably familiar with the story, but just in case you’re not, it goes like this:

The tale starts when a big locomotive breaks down during its quest to pull a train full of toys over a mountain. The people who run the railroad ask other locomotives to take over for the one that gave out, but they all refuse.

Eventually, the only one left to ask is the “Little Engine” — a small engine that really has no business pulling such a big train.

Still, the brave Little Engine accepts the task. She hitches herself to the train and heads up the mountain, repeating “I think I can, I think I can” to keep herself going. It’s a tension-filled few pages, but eventually she makes it!

I loved this book as a kid because the Little Engine was the underdog in her story. It was so satisfying to cheer for her and see her succeed against the odds! The memory of that feeling popped in my head when I heard that Saturday, April 2, was International Children’s Book Day. But when I thought about it more, I realized I actually still love the same type of story.

These days, I read a lot of nonfiction books, and many of them have a similar message of working hard and persevering through trials to find success. They’re inspiring, and I still get to cheer on the underdog. There’s plenty of suspense even when I know the main character goes on to become one of the greatest leaders in business, politics, or religion!

I also love to read these books because they give me access to the minds of people who would probably never give me the time of day in real life, like Ray Dalio, or who have already passed away, like Winston Churchill and Andrew Carnegie. I can learn about their mistakes to avoid making them myself, and use their responses to challenges to find clarity in my own life.

Marah and I both see a lot of value in reading, so we’ve started our son Bennett out early! He isn’t quite to the level of “The Little Engine That Could” yet, but he has started “reading” the “Little Blue Truck” books by Alice Schertle. His favorite is the “Little Blue Truck” board book, which tells the story of a pickup truck full of animals that gets pushed off the road when a big truck blows by. The pickup gets back on track, only to find that the truck that blew past it is stuck in the mud! It would be easy for the pickup to keep going, but it stops to help, along with all of its animal friends.

Like “The Little Engine That Could,” I think the “Little Blue Truck” books have great messages about perseverance, friendship, and doing the right thing. Right now, Bennett is more excited by the “beep beep!” noise the truck makes than he is about morals, but we’re getting there. He actually looks at the books when we read to him now. That’s a step up from grabbing the books, flipping through the pages, and chucking them to the ground!

If you have any suggestions of great kids books we could get for him, let me know. We’d love to expand his library with more underdog stories.

– Josh Walker