The Greatest Children’s Literature Classics

With so many new books being published for children daily, it’s easy to forget the great books we grew up with. The only thing that keeps a list of all-time greatest children’s books from being exorbitantly long is that books have only been written specifically for children for about a hundred and fifty years. And for the first few decades they were few and far between and mostly written as primers and lessons. Many lists of “best children’s books” feature very few classics, preferring to focus instead on more current fare. Granted, the more current fare is timelier for children and deals more extensively with the myriad issues that face children today. But true classics transcend time. Most classics have, at their heart, a lesson; but sometimes, they’re just plain great fun! It may be a little more difficult to find these great classics, but you’ll find them well worth the time it took and no child should grow up without reading at least some of them.

Ã?Â? The Secret Garden Frances Burnett Hodges Two lonely children secretly restore a locked garden.

Ã?Â? The Little Princess Frances Burnett Hodges A privileged girl loses everything except her imagination.

Ã?Â? Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel Virginia Lee Burton Big diesel machines threaten to put Mike Mulligan out of business until he agrees to take on a big job

Ã?Â? The Black Stallion Walter Farley A boy and a horse are shipwrecked on an island and learn to love and trust one another.

Ã?Â? A Wind In The Willows Kenneth Grahame Four animal friends share friendship and adventures as they travel about and fight to save one friend’s home.

Ã?Â? The Jungle Book Rudyard Kipling A collection of stories set in the jungle using animals to give moral lessons.

Ã?Â? The Story of Ferdinand Munro Lear The story of a bull that prefers sitting under a tree smelling the flowers to being fierce and fighting.

Ã?Â? The Call of the Wild Jack London The story of a dog used to being the king of his home who is captured and eventually becomes able to survive in the wild.

Ã?Â? Anne of Green Gables Lucy Maud Montgomery The story of an orphan girl sent to live with a brother and sister who were expecting a boy. Her spirit and imagination provide for lively reading. The first in a series.

Ã?Â? Black Beauty Anna Sewell The story of a beautiful horse’s life from a pampered beginning to back and spirit-breaking work and back to a life of leisure.

Ã?Â? Heidi Johanna Spyri An orphan girl, raised by her aunt, is sent to life first with her grandfather in the mountains and then as a paid companion to a sickly girl. Both girls find better health when they return to the mountains.

Ã?Â? The Red Pony John Steinbeck Four short stories based on Steinbeck’s youth in turn-of-the twentieth century California.

Ã?Â? Treasure Island Robert Louis Stevenson A coming-of-age adventure story complete with buccaneers and buried treasure.

Ã?Â? Swiss Family Robinson Johann David Wyss A Swiss family is shipwrecked on a deserted island. The discover and develop all the necessaries of life.

Ã?Â? The Railway Children Edith Nesbit A mother and her three children move to the English countryside after the husband/father is falsely imprisoned. The children find amusement watching the trains on the nearby railway and make new friends.

Ã?Â? Cheaper By The Dozen Frank Bunker Gilbreath Jr. & Ernestine Gilbreath Carey Based on the authors’ real life experiences in a family of fourteen with efficiency experts for parents.

Ã?Â? The Five Little Peppers And How They Grew Margaret Sidney A fatherless family in the 19th century, living in poverty but happy is befriended by a very rich gentleman. First in a series.

Ã?Â? The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle Hugh Lofting The adventures of a doctor who can speak the language of animals and prefers them to human patients.

Ã?Â? Aesop’s Fables Aesop Fables primarily using animals to teach moral lessons. Fables include: “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” and “The Tortoise and The Hare.”

Ã?Â? Little Women Louisa May Alcott The story of four young girls growing up during the Civil War. The first in a series.

Ã?Â? Peter Pan J.M. Barrie The adventures of the Darling children when the venture with Peter Pan (a boy who never grows up) to Neverland.

Ã?Â? The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Frank L. Baum Dorothy and her dog Toto are swept up in a tornado and dropped into Oz where Dorothy befriends a Scarecrow, a Tin Man and a Cowardly Lion, battles a wicked witch, meets a wizard and learns there’s no place like home. First in a series.

Ã?Â? The Story of Babar Jean de Brunhoff The story of an orphaned elephant who leaves the jungle to visit the city. He returns to the jungle to bring the benefits of civilization. First in a series; after Jean de Brunhoff’s death, the series was continued by his son Leon.

Ã?Â? The Yearling Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings The story of a young boy growing up in the south after the Civil War. Because all of his siblings have died, the boy yearns for a pet and soon adopts a fawn. Trouble ensues as the fawn grows.

Ã?Â? Stuart Little E.B. White The adventures of a mouse adopted into a human family. Other E.B. White classics are Charlotte’s Web and The Trumpet of the Swan.

Ã?Â? Where The Red Fern Grows Wilson Rawls The story of a boy who raises two dogs and eventually has to deal with their
deaths.

Ã?Â? Mr. Popper’s Penguins Richard and Florence Atwater Mr. Popper, a house painter, and his family come into the possession of a male penguin. When his health begins to fail, they decide to take in a female to keep him company and she soon begins to lay eggs. How will the Poppers keep the penguins take care of twelve penguins?

Ã?Â? Old Yeller Frederick Benjamin Gipson In post-Civil War Texas, a dog adopts a family. Over time the dog and the oldest son develop a deep bond.

Ã?Â? Little House In The Big Woods Laura Ingalls Wilder Semi-autobiographical story of a family living in the woods during the late 19th century. First in a series.

Ã?Â? The Complete Adventures of Curious George H.A. and Margaret Rey A monkey is taken from the jungle by a man in a yellow hat to the city. The curious little monkey gets into all sorts of trouble in a series of books.

Ã?Â? The Song of Hiawatha Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Epic poem based on the Ojibway Indians.

Ã?Â? Make Way For Ducklings Robert McCloskey A pair of mallard ducks decided to raise their family on an island in a small pond in a Boston park. McCloskey is also the author of the classic Blueberries for Sal.

Ã?Â? James And The Giant Peach Roald Dahl James is sent to live with his terrible aunts. A strange man offers him the ingredients for a magic potion but James drops them on his way into the house. A single peach mysteriously grows to twice the size of the tree it is growing on. One night James crawls into the peach and discovers life-sized bugs. When the peach breaks off the tree, the bugs and James band together through a journey that ends up in New York City.

Ã?Â? The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupery A young prince spends his day tending to the asteroid he lives on. He leaves to discover what life is like on other asteroids and meets a series of foolish adults. As much an adult book as a children’s book.

Ã?Â? The Little Engine That Could Watter Piper A little engine is called in to pull a train load of gifts to children when larger engines fail.

Ã?Â? The Phantom Tollbooth Norton Juster A young boy drives through a magical tollbooth into the Kingdom of Wisdom and embarks on a noble quest.

Ã?Â? The Giving Tree Shel Silverstein A moral tale of the relationship between a boy and a tree.

Ã?Â? Island of the Blue Dolphins Scott O’Dell Based on the true story of Juana Maria, a Nicoleno Indian marooned on an island for eighteen years.

Ã?Â? Charlie And The Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl Charlie Bucket is one of the winners of a trip into Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. The other children who win seem to represent four of the seven deadly signs and find themselves in near death predicaments.

Ã?Â? Where The Wild Things Are Maurice Sendak The imaginary adventures of Max, who is sent to his room for misbehaving and soon finds himself in a world filled with wild creatures.

It’s a toss up who will enjoy these books more-you or your children. They are sure to bring back wonderful memories!

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