Want to teach your kid a real-life lesson? Some days stink. From beginning to end, the 1972 classic tale Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day ($8) humors readers with a woeful tale of one lad's miserable day.

Judith Viorst's book starts:

I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there's gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on a skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

As you flip the pages, one might expect the childlike ramblings to turn into a sunny story of smiles and laughter. However, Alexander (and the reader), discover that some days are just destined to be well, terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. Cranky Alexander is dealt one blow after another; prizeless cereal boxes, teacher scrutiny, peer rejection, sibling rivalry, tooth cavity, shoe shortages, and lima beans for dinner. Even the family cat deserts him at bedtime.

While nobody wishes such downhearted days for their child, it is a valuable lesson worth teaching — things don't always go your way.