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I imagine there are several children's books which would satisfy the above specifications, but the first one that comes to my mind is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.
Through very simplistic pictures and a fairly simple story line, this book has become somewhat of an icon for lessons concerning selfless love, giving, and growing up.
If you've never read it, the basic story line follows the relationship between a young boy and a tree. The tree loves the boy and wishes to show this love by giving the boy whatever he needs. As the boy grows up, his age is marked by a new life adventure (innocent play, young love, money, settling down in a house, travel, rest). At each stage of life, the tree gives another part of itself to make the boy happy, and in turn, the tree is happy. Of course, in the end, all that is left of the tree is a stump, and all the boy (now an old man) needs is a place to sit.
For children and adults alike, this book paints a simple picture of human nature. It demonstrates our changing desires as we grow older. Through a basic theme of friendship, it shows the way a relationship can change through time (the boy's use of the tree) but that love and commitment can remain constant.
This book opens up the possibility for discussion on several issues, which could be tailored to almost any age. Young children who may not have experienced most of the life stages the boy goes through at least would know someone who has (they could think about older siblings, parents, or grandparents). They can relate to the changes and growth by putting people they know in each stage. The book could simply be used as a platform for talking about friendship and what it means. Young children can also relate to the tree's creativity of what it is able to give the boy. This provides a broader perspective of giving of ourselves. While the apples on the tree are the tree's gifts, kids can look at the talents and gifts they personally have to give to others.
Two of my favorite books were introduced to me by my 7 year old daughter years ago. One was Guess How Much I Love You which really addresses the infinite and all encompassing love of a parent for his or her child. The other was The Giving Tree. Clairewait summarized it wonderfully. I will add, however, that at 7 years old, when my daughter asked me to read it to her at the book store, she said to me, "I don't think it's a very nice book." Even at that age she recognized that the relationship was one sided and brought both joy and sadness to the tree.
I think that the answer to this question is going to depend on the child and their experiences. A child growing up in rural United States is going to relate it to their own life experiences, which are going to be much different than a similar aged child growing up in the middle of a large city in the United States.
Sean Covey's 7 Habits of Happy Kids is book I recently started using to engage young learners to think beyond their egocentric lives. The basic principles support a balanced, healthy lifestyle, as well as, essential problem solving skills and strategies. I find that using this text, not only encourages and supports a positive behavior system, but presents problems relative to a young child's life (studying for a test, setting goals, etc.).
I am not sure what age group you are looking for, but I would recommend the Berenstein Bears series. These books teach simple moral lessons in a world that closely but does not completely resemble our own. Children learn not to be greedy, not to lie, and overall how to behave in polite society. Reading these books allows us to ask children what they would do, leading to self-discovery
The Giving Tree is certainly a great one. I know it may be simplistic, but I also always loved the book about the worst day ever, Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day.
In looking back on it as an adult and a father, I just like it because it gives this picture of the worst things ever happening, but also the resolution at the end where things turn out ok.
Bad things happen to everyone but the ability to accept that and move on is vital and I think this book does a good, albeit simple, job of demonstrating that.
Plus, I just really love the title.
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