You are what you read
In choosing a story, simply follow the advice of C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia, who said, "No book is really worth reading at the age of 10 which is not equally worth reading at the age of 50." In addition to the titles mentioned in the article, here are some suggestions for reading with kids.
Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss (Random House, 1940) : An elephant cares for an abandoned egg.
A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson (Simon and Schuster, revised edition, 1999) : Poetry to celebrate childhood before technology.
The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S.Lewis (HarperCollins, 2007, boxed set) : Series of seven books about four kids who enter a magical world through a wardrobe.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (HarperClassics, 1998) : A sullen orphan learns to love life by tending a garden.
Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne (HarperCollins, 2003) : Lovable Pooh makes friends in the Hundred Acre Wood.
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien (HarperCollins, 2007) : Bilbo Baggins finds a magical ring that sets the stage for The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming (Random House, 2005) : By the creator of James Bond, it's good vs. evil in a flying car.
The Borrowers by Mary Norton (Gale Group, 2005) : First of a delightful series about tiny folk who live, hidden, amongst humans.
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (Bullseye Books, 1988) : Bored Milo learns how to live after he drives through a mysterious tollbooth with his toy car.
Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie (Scholastic, 2002) : Wendy and Peter against evil Captain Hook.
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery (Sterling, 2004) : The endearing story of a spirited orphan adopted by an older couple.
The Once and Future King by T. H. White (Ace, 1987) : Adventures of King Arthur and his knights.
The Underneath by Kathi Appelt (Atheneum, 2008) : A calico cat befriends a bloodhound on the bayou.
Eragon by Christopher Paolini (Random House, 2003) : Written by a 15-year-old, first in a series about a boy and a dragon.
The Angel Experiment by James Patterson (Little, Brown, 2007) : First in the Maximum Ride series; kids-part human, part bird-escape from the lab where they were created and discover special abilities.
The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare (Sandpiper, 1997) : Not a "religious book," the story of a young Jew at the time of Christ and his struggles with Jesus' message of love.
The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio by Lloyd Alexander (Henry Holt & Co., 2007) : Daydreaming Carlo journeys on the Road of Golden Dreams.