Reading a good book broadens the mind, makes us grow; it is like meeting a new travelling companion with whom to explore new lands. Discovering the joy of reading from an early age is extremely important, and the benefits, as many educators and psychologists can confirm, are many: from the enrichment of one’s vocabulary, to increased capacity for concentration and critical thinking, to higher self-esteem and confidence. Above all, reading expands the spirit. That is to say, the sooner we begin to read, the better. Familyandmedia has selected five books to get your children to read. They will be their travelling companions. If you haven’t read them yet, it isn’t too late to begin the voyage. Enjoy them! The Little Prince The brief list had to begin with this book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, which has marked generations of young readers. The book is a poetic and philosophical fable intended for adolescents but appropriate for adults as well. The little prince wanders the world looking for friends, runs across the author in the desert and tells him about his travels, each stage of which takes on symbolic value as a life-lesson. One sentence above all will remain etched in the readers mind and heart: “The essential is invisible to the eye”. Who hasn’t taken a moment to stop and think that the things that are most important, the things that we really need, are exactly the ones we never take notice of? A book to have always on our nightstand. Harry Potter Over the years, rivers of ink have been written about the Harry Potter saga, which has also given rise to a highly successful series of films. I won’t waste time describing the plot. But I would like to cite one quote: "It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities”. A saga that shows how to be courageous in life, to learn to make decisions from a very young age, whether good or mistaken, because the important thing is to learn to always find one’s own way. A must-read. Treasure Island I remember having read it for the first time as a child, one winter, in bed with fever, I almost think that the celebrated novel by Robert Louis Stevenson cured me faster and better that the medicine. We all know it’s a classic. It may seem to be from another time, best suited for generations of young people from another era. But reading this book will be a lesson in life for today’s youth. The marked and moving ambiguity of the characters makes the story terribly real, true, and current. Which of us, like the protagonists of the novel, hasn’t felt himself to be a stranger to himself, complex, multifaceted, sometimes heroic and generous, sometimes careless and seduced by evil? This is Stevenson’s great gift: the ability to catapult us to a place that never existed, but that can be found deep in the soul of each and every one of us. Enlightening and attractive. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas A 2006 novel by Irish writer John Boyne that has been published in32 countries and inspired a film. The book is set during the Holocaust in Germany and offers a unique perspective on the effects of prejudice, hatred and violence against the innocent, and particularly against children. Through the eyes of a fictional German eight-year-old, who was kept in the dark about the reality of the war, we witness the forbidden friendship that develops between Bruno, the son of a Nazi officer, and Shamuel, a young Jewish prisoner in a concentration camp. Although they are physically separated by a barbed-wire fence, their lives become inevitably intertwined. A moving and thought-provoking story that impacts the reader like a sharp blow to the stomach. Fairy Tales Over the Phone Our list is completed by a book by Gianni Rodari, one of the best-loved authors not only by young people but by readers of all ages. The protagonist of these stories is a man from Varese, an accountant called Bianchi, who travels all over Italy as a pharmaceutical representative, but who never forgets that his daughter has trouble sleeping. Because of this, every night, at nine o’clock sharp, he calls her on the phone and tells her a story. It is said that the Bianchi’s stories were so moving that even the operators (those were different times!) stopped their work to listen to them. Timeless stories, from a master who shows us that “fantasy is as much a part of us as is reason: looking into fantasy is as good a means as any to look within ourselves.