This might be the best book I've read all year. Kids can read it, sure. I probably would have loved it when I was little, but I think I would have missed out on all the undertones that Kipling pours into every story.
First you should know that Rudyard Kipling was born and raised in India, studied in England and lived his married life in Vermont. He sounds like a pretty rugged guy, maybe on par with Bear Grylls. So he knows what he's talking about when it comes to lions and elephants and the rest of the bunch.
Secondly, I have to say that Mowgli is a bad ass. I mean he hangs out with wolves all day and then kills Shere Kahn with his bare hands. Hardcore. I want to be him.
There's more to The Jungle Books than action. These are stories about a deep-rooted disenchantment with the modern world. In one story, "Letting in the Jungle," Mowgli becomes upset with a small Indian village that's been encroaching on the forest, so with the help of Hathi the elephant, they topple every building in the town. There's sticking it to the man for ya. Mowgli 1, Urban Sprawl 0. This theme pops up in almost every story.
Kipling also creates an order within Jungle life. It's a natural order, not one fabricated with plastic by men in ties. In the jungle hierarchy, humans are pretty far down - again, dissatisfaction with modern living - but Mowgli spans the gap. He's more than just an action adventure star. He's the model citizen, that which we should emulate.
There are some other jewels here other than the Mowgli stories. "Rikki Tikki Tavi" is excellent. If you never read this when you were little, it's not too late. If you did read it, I think it merits a second look.