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Sunday, March 18, 2007

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Golden Goals series: Kyle Pott of Lifehack.org on losing weight, waking early and GTD

This is the third article in the Golden Goals series of interviews with notable bloggers about their goals, habits and productivity systems.

Kyle Pott of Lifehack.org is one of my favorite writers on one of my favorite productivity blogs. I'm happy to have him in this series, and his responses are insightful and inspiring.

Kyle is a computer programmer and a productivity, industrial and graphic design enthusiast. He lives in Chicago, Illinois and he is the Associate Editor of Lifehack.org. In his spare time he enjoys reading, writing, jogging, and spending time with his friends and family. He is grateful to have the opportunity to work with Zen Habits and be included amongst the kings and queens of goal-setting and productivity.

1) What would you consider your greatest achievement in the last few years?

My greatest achievement over the past few years was losing 50 pounds and keeping the weight off for an entire year. Although this is rather insignificant when it comes to career, family, etc., the benefits have transcended nearly every aspect of my life. I have been struggling with weight issues since high school and I finally felt like I "conquered my demon" when I lost the weight. Not being overweight allowed me to focus on other, more important aspects of my life.

2) What was the key to achieving that success for you? Was there one thing, or were there a number of factors?

I wrote about many of the factors on my post at Lifehack.org, but the key to achieving my success was planning my meals, planning time to exercise everyday and having the support of my girlfriend as I went through the process of losing weight.

3) What are the essential habits that you've formed to help you achieve your goals?

The most important habit that I've developed to help achieve my goals is waking up at 5 a.m. I love starting my day before the rest of the world. I use the early morning to prepare my goals, relax, and get mentally prepared to start the day. Ironically, I also find the early morning a great time to get chores done. I've also made major changes to my diet that have given me more energy. Planning is also extremely important. At the beginning of each week I budget out my time and decide when I am going to accomplish specific tasks. After creating this schedule I adhere to it as strictly as I possibly can.

4) How often do you think about your goals, review them, and take action on them?

I review my goals three times per day for daily tasks and monthly for larger things. When I first wake up I set my goals for what I want to accomplish by lunch. At lunch I reassess and set my goals for the tasks I want to accomplish by the end of the day. During my commute at the end of the day I reflect on what I accomplished (or didn't accomplish) and start thinking about what I want to accomplish the following day.

5) Describe how you overcome failure, how you pick yourself back up if you are struggling, and how you motivate yourself if your enthusiasm is lagging.

I try to manage my emotions closely and avoid getting to this point. In an ideal world (this does not happen everyday) I have all my work done by six o'clock and I only leave the computer on to check email. On Sundays I don't do any work, and I only turn the computer on to check movie times or read the news. This condenses my work week and saves Sunday to get refreshed and mentally prepared for the following week. This might be too much information, but at the end of particularly stressful and/or frustrating days I take a shower with the lights off to help relax and de-stress.

6) Could you describe your productivity system and any productivity tips you have for people?

I use a mismatched productivity system. I carry a quasi-moleskine that I use strictly for writing down ideas I get throughout the day. I also use my quasi-moleskine to write down appointments until I can get them onto my calendar. I strictly adhere to the principles of GTD when it comes to managing my email and next actions. When I need to do some serious concentrating I follow the 48 on and 12 off system described here: The Power of 48 Minutes.

I only use Google docs and spreadsheets at home-- I have no office software installed on my computer. Like I previously mentioned, I am up at 5 a.m. Monday through Friday without fail.

See also: all interviews in the Golden Goals series

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Golden Goals series: David Seah on clarity, creativity and productivity

This is the second article in the Golden Goals series of interviews with notable bloggers about their goals, habits and productivity systems.

I'm excited about the next blogger in this Golden Goals series because 1) he writes thoughtfully and insightfully on productivity and achieving goals and 2) I use one of his excellent productivity tools every day (the Emergent Task Planner). David Seah of DavidSeah.com is a freelance designer who writes about things that empower and inspire people, covering topics such as design, development, becoming productive, and the business of being a freelancer. He's best known in the online productivity world for his Printable CEO series.

1) What would you consider your greatest achievement in the last few years? Feel free to add other achievements or goals if you'd like.

Personally, it's been finding that I could overcome my own inertia, fear, and perfectionism to create a web presence that is a pretty authentic representation of myself. From that, good things have followed.

2) What was the key to achieving that success for you? Was there one thing, or were there a number of factors?

One of the greatest boosts was getting into the 9rules Network, which was huge to me because of what they represent: quality content. It was the first time in a long time that I'd been recognized for something I'd done that was of immense value to me, not someone else's bottom line.

I feel I'm on a path now toward success, but I'm not sure exactly what it's going to be. A commitment to following where this path leads, I think, is a key factor at work here.

3) What are the essential habits that you've formed to help you achieve your goals?

I automatically try to get to the essence of my goals so I can establish clarity in my direction before taking action. At times, this may actually mean taking action before I fully understand what I'm doing. Maintaining this dynamic balance between thoughtful planning and immediate action, I think, is helping me keep a stable perspective of what it is I'm doing.

I write a lot every day, because it clarifies my thinking and my reasoning, distilling a course of action into a few focused sentences. This creates continuity in my day, and a historical record for the next day.

4) How often do you think about your goals, review them, and take action on them?

I think about them often, though I could be more disciplined in reviewing them. The trouble is probably more like sticking to just a few goals at a time; this is something I'm working on. I'm also particularly bad at doing maintenance-type chores, unless it has something to do with keeping my computer running, so this is an area that I could certainly improve.

5) Describe how you overcome failure, how you pick yourself back up if you are struggling, and how you motivate yourself if your enthusiasm is lagging.

I've recently identified that I have two creative processes, one impulsive, the other methodical. The former energizes me, the latter drains me. When it comes to engineering-type goals, however, the equation is reversed: I find methodical development energizing, and impulsive implementation to be a source of frustration. By keeping aware of what mode I'm in, I can identify the frustration and shift into a different mindset.

I also like to figure ways around obstacles, so it's pretty rare that I feel absolutely stymied. I will lose enthusiasm, though, if I'm not working directly with someone invested in the work I'm doing. I am energized by positive-minded, conscientious, kind, self-empowered people; I find that being in a community of people like this helps inoculate myself from that horrible feeling of failure.

It's not always easy, but what keeps me going is a belief that I can do anything I set my mind to. I'm not saying that I'll do it WELL or even correctly, but there's very little stopping me from making a move in a direction I want to explore except my own attitudes. This applies to
everyone. I consider it a great victory when anyone tries to do something at all ... bravo! Even if it doesn't come out in the right way, there is always something to learn.

6) Could you describe your productivity system and any productivity tips you have for people?

I don't really have a productivity system; it's more that I have pieces of systems that I apply when the need is there. The various forms I've created target a specific kind of behavior that I have sought to optimize for improved focus, but they are not strung together into a system. I see the seeds of this in my current development, but it's not in place now. I would probably say that my fundamental tip is to strive for concreteness and clarity in all activities, to make sure that you see tangible benefit as the only acceptable result from a given action. What a good productivity system does is provide a good accounting methodology so you can measure
your progress, and provide the methodological scaffolding for whatever creative processes you are engaged in.

I have, however, created a number of useful forms that could be integrated as a component of one's personal productivity system. I think the most generally useful form I've made from a productivity perspective has been the Concrete Goals Tracker, because it does a good job of really focusing you on benefit-bringing activity ... if you've taken the time to really pick
good goals. This form is particularly good if you're defining yourself or your business. I like how it brings focus without overloading you with accounting.

The next most useful forms are probably the Task Progress Tracker [original and Destruct-o-matic versions], the Emergent Task Timer, and the Emergent Task Planner. The TPT is a top-down project tool to help you define and track what specific things need doing. The ETT, on the other hand, allows you to see what you've ended up doing without stricter planning. Each form applies to a certain situation or kind of work personality, I think. The ETP, finally, is more of a daily planning worksheet for more general use.

The concepts introduced by these tools and others, combined with the other various insights I've had, probably do form the basis of a "system" of productivity, and I look forward to putting this together over the next year.

Golden Goals series: Secrets to the success of J.D. Roth (of Get Rich Slowly)

This is the first article in the Golden Goals series of interviews with notable bloggers about their goals, habits and productivity systems.

The first in the Golden Goals lineup is J.D. Roth of Get Rich Slowly, which is probably the most successful personal finance blog around. But it's not just his success that brought me to invite J.D. to be a part of this series. He's most definitely a notable blogger, but I've admired J.D. ever since I discovered his blog for his common sense approach, his sincere writing style, and his philosophy that building wealth is not something that should happen overnight. He's the opposite of the Get Rich Quick marketers -- he builds wealth like he's built his blog -- one gold brick at a time.

1) What would you consider your greatest achievement in the last few years? Feel free to add other achievements or goals if you'd like.

My greatest achievement has been finding a purpose. For years I plodded through life with no real objective. I was going through the motions. I hated my job. I felt like I had failed, had left the promise of my youth unfulfilled.

When I was young, I wanted to be a writer. But like most early goals, I was more attracted to the idea than to the actual practice. I didn't actually know what it meant to be a writer. For a decade after I graduated from college, I didn't write anything. In the late 90s I began to keep a web journal. In 2001, this became a blog. With time this blog became an outlet for my writing urge.

Last year I realized that blogging could be a legitimate use of my writing skills. It also became apparent that I might be able to make money at it. So here I am today, writing for money. It's not at all like what I expected it would be, but in a way it's better. I write every day. I do research. I'm helping people. I have a purpose.

2) What was the key to achieving that success for you? Was there one thing, or were there a number of factors?

I think there were several factors that allowed me to achieve success.

For one, I've always maintained a ready mind. I am curious about things. I'm open to new experiences. This has allowed me to see opportunities that I might otherwise have missed.

Second, when I understood what it was I intended to do, I applied myself with diligence. Previously I'd always been something of a slacker. But when I had a goal, a purpose, I threw myself at it with passion. I worked hard.

Finally, I've tried to approach my goals with a balance of personal vision and the wisdom of others. I read and listen to what others have to say about the subject, but I temper their viewpoints with my own opinions. There are a lot of people out there who will tell you that this is the way to run a web site or this is the way personal finance should be approached. I don't believe there is one right way. I take bits of advice from others and put them to work for me, but I forge my own path when I feel it is warranted.

3) What are the essential habits that you've formed to help you achieve your goals?

Hard work! Seriously.

I recently purchased an old book (from the 1920s, I think) entitled "Touchstones of Success". It features interviews with successful men of the day. Nearly all of them cite the same two factors: their mothers and hard work. My mother had little to do with my current success. But hard work has had everything to do with it.

I write nearly every day, often for several hours. I read constantly. I'm always absorbing information from books, magazines, and web sites. Sometimes it's overwhelming. I recognize that by devoting myself so wholly to my goals now that I am sacrificing other momentary pleasures. I tell myself that I enjoyed these pleasures over the past ten years, back when I had no purpose. Sure I had fun in the moment, but I felt unfulfilled. I feel fulfilled now. And maybe after a few years of hard work I can relax, and reap the rewards over the rest of my life.

4) How often do you think about your goals, review them, and take action on them?

Not often enough. Perhaps once every three to six months.

What usually happens is this: some crisis will cause me to re-evaluate my current situation and where I'm headed. I'll spend a day or two thinking about my goals. I'll set them down on paper (or a text file, actually). This process is pretty intense, and I'm very focused on it. But once I've set my goals down, I rarely refer to them again unless I stumble upon them in doing some sort of clean up. I feel like this is one area of my life that could be improved.

5) Describe how you overcome failure, how you pick yourself back up if you are struggling, and how you motivate yourself if your enthusiasm is lagging.

I used to let failure get me down, but more and more I'm learning to roll with it, to learn from my mistakes. For example, I recently was asked to give a radio interview about the country's negative savings rate. I agreed to do so. But when the station phoned me and I went on the air, I froze. I had stage fright. I couldn't remember even the most basic facts. I talked and talked and talked, but I didn't say anything. It was an embarrassment. I could have let this get me down -- I did feel a little bummed -- but instead I decided to view it as a learning experience. I e-mailed the show's host, and she offered some tips for how to improve next time. (I'm also planning to take a Dale Carnegie public speaking course once I have enough web income saved.)

When my enthusiasm is lagging, I take time off to recharge. I get up and turn off the computer. It's easy for me to get wrapped up in my work, to become so focused that I neglect other aspects of my life, particularly physical fitness. When this happens, it can be like I'm beating my head against a wall. I'm working extra hard, but getting little done. At times like this, I've learned to stop, to take a break, to ignore all of the things that I "have to do". For example, a few weeks ago I had several important pieces I needed to get written. Things just weren't coming together. I'd written for hours, but felt like it was all rubbish. It came time to attend a friend's birthday party, but I told my wife I couldn't. I had to stay home and write. She persuaded me to go, and I'm glad I did. We spent three hours roller skating. It was exhilarating. I'm serious. Those three
hours roller skating did more to improve the quality of my writing for the next week than anything else I might have done.

6) Could you describe your productivity system and any productivity tips you have for people?

The key to my system is: JUST DO IT.

I have a bad habit of putting things off. I've learned that if I want to get things done, I just need to do them. For example, I've adopted an e-mail system that is based on a hybrid of those suggested by Merlin Mann and Gina Trapani. When e-mail comes in, I try to act upon it immediately. (In practice, my e-mail box actually has about 100 messages in it, waiting to be processed.) I find that by taking care of e-mail now, people respect my responsiveness.

Another key is to prioritize things. I am actually attempting to actively maintain six separate blogs. I love each of them, but I have to make certain sites higher priorities than others. It used to be that my personal site was my top priority. Now Get Rich Slowly has taken that position. It's more important for me to generate new content for GRS than it is for me to, say, post an entry at my animal intelligence site.

As for the mechanics of my system: they're pretty rudimentary. I'm actually looking for a better way to work. Currently I use BBEdit on a Mac. A wide screen is essential to my work, so I bought a 17" laptop. I keep a browser window on the left side of the screen and a BBEdit window on the right side. Whenever I find something that's worthy of writing about, I create a new document. I have hundreds of documents on my hard drive, most of which are half-completed
articles about personal finance, animal intelligence, or vintage popular culture. I keep a couple of important text files as constant reference:

  • Schedule file - This lists the next week's worth of planned entries at Get Rich Slowly. It also lists when I most recently updated each of my other sites, along with any upcoming scheduled entries for them.
  • Idea file - As I mentioned, most of the time if something seems like a good article topic, I start a new text file. But I also have a separate text file that I use simply as a dumping place for ideas that occur to me.


I've found that I profit greatly from reading, watching, and hearing other success stories. I know this probably seems trite, but I don't care. It works. Reading sites like 43 Folders and Lifehacker and Mutual Improvement keep me focused on the positive. (I'm hoping that Get Rich Slowly helps people do that with their money goals.) I have an iPod. I have a subscription at audible.com. Every month I get two books. One of these is usually fiction of some sort, but the other is some sort of self-improvement book. I'm careful to seek out highly-regarded books -- there are few things worse than a bad self-help book -- and then I listen to these on my commute. They are amazing.

If anyone's curious about possible books to read from this genre, I recommend Tom Butler-Bowdon's "50 Success Classics", which provides brief summaries of fifty such titles. This book itself is highly motivational. And one can build a great success library from its recommendations. (Complete list here: 50 Success Classics)

Monday, March 12, 2007

This week: Golden Goals series of interviews with notable bloggers

This week Zen Habits will have a treat for its readers: the Golden Goals series of interviews with notable bloggers about how they achieve their goals, their most important habits, their productivity systems and more.

The Golden Goals series will start by featuring the following four bloggers:

More bloggers will be featured in the Golden Goals series in the future, but this is this week's lineup. Personally, I love reading about how others achieve their goals, about their habits, and their productivity systems, and I hope this will help give insight into some of the best bloggers around, as well as inspire us to achieve greater heights.

The first of the series will start tomorrow!

Zen Habits March Challenge, Step 3: Evaluate your progress

Every Monday is Weekly Review on Zen Habits.

Five days ago, I challenged my readers to join me in setting and achieving a single goal in the
Zen Habits March Challenge. Step 1 of this Challenge was to create a plan, and Step 2 was to report your progress.

OK, we're a week into the March Challenge, and this is a good time to step back and look at how we're doing. If you're not doing the March Challenge, these steps are still a good way to see, hands on, how to go about setting and achieving goals.

Reflect on your week
If you've been tracking your progress some way, either through commenting on Zen Habits, a journal, a chart, a log, or an online service, you've got a great way to look back on the last week. If not, you can still reflect on what you've done throughout the week and think about whether you're doing as well as you planned.

How are you doing? Have you met your goals for the week? If so, celebrate! If not, now is a good time to take some steps to put you back on track.

Re-evaluate your goals, and your obstacles
If you're not doing as well as you'd hoped, there are several steps you can take:

  1. Adjust your goals. This is my recommended solution. It may be that you bit off too much, too soon. When starting a goal program, I highly recommend you start small. Take baby steps. Go for something you know you can achieve. That way, you'll definitely make it, and feel great, and then you can move on to higher elevations. It may seem cheap to shoot for something too easy. Take my word for it -- sticking with something for more than a week feels great, even if it seems easy.
  2. Evaluate your obstacles, and make a plan. Why didn't you reach your goals for the week? What stood in your way? It's dangerous to ignore this reason. Did you not feel motivated? Not have enough time? Did something pop up at the last moment that made you reschedule? Whatever the reason, it's best to plan for what you'll do if that reason repeats.
  3. Re-focus. Perhaps you just lost focus. You need to re-commit yourself, tell the whole world about it, and find a way to maintain that focus daily. Put up a poster, or print your goal out in large letters. Put up your goal plan for everyone to see. Maintaining your focus is the No. 1 thing you can do to stay with your goals over time.
  4. Step up the motivation. Perhaps you didn't feel too motivated. Go back to the Top 20 Motivation Hacks, and see if there are others you can use. The more motivation tricks you use in concert with each other, the better.
You can do this! Whatever you do, stay positive and stay focused. Do not let a little slip in your progress get you down. Creating new habits is a skill, and it takes practice. You won't get it on the first try. If you have any doubts, any thoughts in your head that say you can't do it, SQUASH THEM NOW! And replace them with positive thoughts. That's the best thing you can do to get back on track.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Best All-Time Children's Books

Reading to your kids is one of the all-time best things you can do with them, and for them. I love reading to my kids, and they love reading with me. It is some of the best quality time ever, and sharing a good book with a child is just a wonderful feeling.

I've compiled a list of my all-time favorite children's books -- a list that can start any child's library. It's a starting point, to be sure -- I'm sure you can think of many more to be included. But these are books I truly love (and my kids do too) and I think most kids and parents will love them. These are mostly time-tested classics, so there might not be too many surprises here, but sometimes it's useful to be reminded of books we've forgotten about.

For Younger Readers
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Harold Crockett. One of my most, most favorite books for younger kids. Great imagination, great character. I still wish I could be Harold.

  • Go, Dog. Go!, by P.D. Eastman. Often the book that has taught my kids to read. Warning: they might ask you to read this an infinite amount of times. But that's a good thing for them.
  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault. The thing I love about this book is its rhythm. It's so fun to read. Also teaches about the alphabet.
  • Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak. I can never get enough of this book. It is truly awesome. Great drawings, great imagination. If I had to choose just 10 books on this list, this would be one of them.
  • Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown. Kids just love this book. Perfect for toddlers.
  • Corduroy, by Don Freeman. One of my favorite books as a little kid. This lovable teddy bear will always have a special place in my heart.
  • Guess How Much I Love You, by Sam Mcbratney. I love you all the way to the moon and back! Fun to read this with your kids, and then later compete to see how much you love each other.
  • If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Joffe Numeroff. This was a favorite for my kids. I love the drawings.
  • The Complete Adventures of Curious George, by H.A. Rey. He's now an international icon, but Curious George has always been one of the most lovable characters in literature.
  • In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak. This is Sendak at his best. He has such a wonderful drawing style, and can tell stories with the best of them.
  • Horton Hatches the Egg, by Dr. Seuss. Speaking of the best of them, Dr. Seuss is it. He's a legend, of course, and everything he wrote is amazing, so it's really impossible to choose, but I love this Horton book, as well as the next two by Seuss. This book is characteristic of Seuss's early days.
  • There's a Wocket in My Pocket!, by Dr. Seuss. A great tongue-twister book, this is the epitome of much of his silly, fun stuff.
  • The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss. His most socially conscious book. Although many of his books have a message, this is the most overt. It talks about the dangers of industrialism and environmental damange, in such an easily understood manner that any kid could get it.
  • The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein. If Seuss is the best, Silverstein is right behind him. If I had to list just 10 books here, this book would be one of them. Such a sweet, sad, true book, with great drawings of course.
  • The Five Chinese Brothers, by Claire Hutchett Bishop. I read this as a little kid, and forgot about it until rediscovering it with my kids in recent years. It's a classic, and will be loved by any kid.
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein. Classic Silverstein, this book and the next are full of incredible poems and drawings that will delight any reader, young or old.
  • A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein. More from perhaps the greatest children's poet of all time.
  • The Missing Piece, by by Shel Silverstein. OK, I should stop with the Silverstein, but I really cannot get enough of him. There's actually a series of books along the lines of the Missing Piece, all of them with interesting life lessons, and wittily drawn. Read them all.
  • The Story of Babar, by Jean De Brunhoff. Another classic, this was a staple of my childhood, and just as good today as 30 years ago.
For Middle Readers
  • James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl. I don't know how he does it, but Dahl has a way of telling stories that is just magical. He creates such real and deep characters, little kids who you cannot help but love and empathize with. This and the next two books are among his greatest, but one should not rule out BFG, his poetry or any of his other stories.
  • Matilda, by Roald Dahl. Perhaps my favorite Dahl book. While reading this book, you want to have Matilda as a friend, and during the time you are with her, she is your friend.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl. A classic, of course, and yet another poor kid who inevitably enters your heart.
  • The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Originally published in French, this classic is so unique, I cannot really describe it. If you haven't read it to your child, please do.
  • Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White. Warning: this book will make you and your child cry. But it is worth the sadness for the wonderfulness you will discover.
  • The Borrowers, by Mary Norton. What a fun and adventurous book. Every kid will love this.
  • Stuart Little, by E.B. White. This is an admirable little character that will delight all children.
  • Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh. Written in the hard-boiled detective style, this is just a lot of fun.
  • Encyclopedia Brown Solves Them All (Encyclopedia Brown), by Donald J. Sobol. This is actually a series of books about Leroy Brown, a brilliant kid who solves neighborhood crimes. I could not get enough of this as a kid, and my son loves it too.
  • Magic Tree House Series, by Mary Pope Osborne. A very long series (over 30 last time I counted) of fun, adventurous and educational books. It covers stuff kids love, like dinosaurs and ninjas and knights and wizards, and makes history come alive. My son is in love with this series.
  • Junie B. Jones series, by Barbara Park. Another great series, this one appeals more to girls who are beginning to read.
  • The Ramona series, by Beverly Cleary. Yet another series, this one appeals to both boys and girls. I loved it as a kid.
  • How to Eat Fried Worms, by Thomas Rockwell. Now on the big screen, this book has portrayed elementary school life accurately for several generations of kids.
  • Freckle Juice, by Judy Blume. This author, Judy Blume, has such an insight into the young mind that any child, young or old, will identify with her characters. This book, and the next, are just two samples from her lovely collection -- any Judy Blume book will be excellent.
  • Superfudge, by Judy Blume. Your kid will crack up at this book, and have a lot of fun with the characters.
  • The Great Brain, by John D. Fitzgerald. One of my all-time favorite series as a kid. I recommended it to my son, who loves to read but thought this would be boring. He fell in love with it. Told you so!
  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E. L Konigsburg. A timeless novel, the characters in this book come alive for a great adventure.
  • The Book of Three (The Chronicles of Prydain), by Lloyd Alexander. This is actually a series of books, all of which are so perfect you don't want them to end. This tale about a pig-keeper's assistant has been entertaining young readers for generations, and is a must-read.
  • Westmark Trilogy, by Lloyd Alexander. Another series by a true master, this is for slightly older kids than the last series, but just as amazing.
For Older Readers
  • The Chronicles of Narnia Box Set, by C.S. Lewis. What can I say about this series that not everyone knows? Nothing really, except that every new generation falls in love with it as if it were the first time. And for them, it is. Be sure your child is among them.
  • Eragon (Inheritance, Book 1), by Christopher Paolini. One of the more recent books on the list, this was an instant classic. Though it's about dragons, it will appeal to both boys and girls.
  • Harry Potter Paperback Box Set (Books 1-6), by J.K. Rowling. This series has been super-hyped in the media ... and in my opinion, it lives up to the hype. I got into the series a little late, but read every book to my daughter and am now going through it for a second time with my son. These are the type of books that will hook children on reading.
  • The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkein. How I love this book, and always have. I loved it before I was able to get into the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and though the trilogy surpasses the original Hobbit, this little book has a special place in my heart. It will in your child's heart as well.
  • Watership Down, by Richard Adams. This book so enchanted me when I first read it, in middle school, that I read it several times during my teen-age years after that, and even once or twice in adulthood. It leads you through such an adventure, such an emotional journey, and from the perspective of a few rabbits!
  • Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. This is required reading for most middle school students, and rightfully so. As a teen-ager, reading about an island controlled by kids was just too cool.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. This is a gripping story with great characters. You can't go wrong with this one.
  • The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger. This book hits the teen-ager reader with a pop! between the eyes. A main character that swears! And we're encouraged to read it. Salinger creates a character that is true, and timeless, and captures the experience and sensibilities of youth extremely well. I will always love him for this book.
  • Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Trilogy, by Ann Brashares. I haven't actually read this book, but my daughter did, and loved it. It got her reading again, after a brief hiatus, and for that, I have to recommend the book. Plus I liked the movie.
  • The Giver, by Lois Lowry. A kind of chilling book, but engaging nonetheless.
  • Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson. Classic story being rediscovered by a new generation because of the recent movie, this story about two fifth graders who create a secret kingdom in the woods called Terabithia will stir your heart.
  • A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle. This warm, loving book has been cherished by so many. Follow the Murry family in its adventures in all the books of this series.
  • Inkheart, by Cornelia Caroline Funke. This writer has such a great imagination, and this ode to books and book lovers will be highly enjoyed by your child. Also read the Thief Lord.
What are your favorite children's books? Let us know in the comments.

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