Almost everybody has a book that they remember from their childhood. A book that got them hooked on reading, that changed the way they view storytelling—a book that had fun pictures or enticing characters that made them want to learn more. Classic books are classic for a reason. No matter how old they get, they still have the same impact on a generation.
Here, we’ll talk about some of the best classic children’s books that every child and adult should read. While there are so many great books out there, we’ve narrowed it down to 5, so you can start small.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Ever had a terrible day…or week?
“Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” is a classic for a reason: it’s relatable. Everybody has bad days, and that includes kids. They don’t want to go to school. They have arguments with their friends. They trip and fall and even get gum in their hair. The premise of this picture book is that Alexander, from the moment he wakes up, is having a rotten day. While this might sound like an incredibly negative read, this charming book offers great teaching moments and reflections for kids and adults.
The authentic moments of true embarrassment mixed with elements of humor color the book and make it a true joy to read, even if it’s about a grumpy kid. Not only will you enjoy reading it to your little one, but they can also learn that it’s ok to have a bad day sometimes — and that they can talk about it!
The Little Engine That Could
An American folktale that has graced the bookshelves of parents and teachers since the 1930s, “The Little Engine That Could” is a classic tale of perseverance. In the story, a train’s locomotive breaks down, yet it must get over a large mountain. The locomotive has treats and toys for the little children on the other side of the mountain and must have them delivered.
All the long trains refuse to carry the broken-down locomotive over the mountain. The trains in the story are treated as anthropomorphisms, which means they’re given human qualities. The ones that choose not to help believe they’re too good for the broken-down train, or they’re too tired to do so. All seems lost until a small engine that “thinks they can” decides to step up to the challenge.
One of the morals of the story is to always try your best and think positively about your attempts. By staying optimistic and never doubting your abilities, you’ll never miss any opportunities.
Winnie the Pooh
There have been many iterations of “Winnie the Pooh” over the years, including movies, TV shows, and comic strips. But the one medium that never fails to capture the hearts of children is the original books. The original books can be found in “Winnie the Pooh the Complete Collection.” The books chronicle the early days of Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin, as well as the many other characters found in the Hundred Acre Wood.
“When We Were Very Young,” the first-ever Winnie the Pooh book, was first published in 1924 and is part of this collection. The book is filled with delightful poems, illustrations, and the first-ever appearance of the famous bear. Other titles in the box set include “Winnie the Pooh,” “The House at Pooh Corner,” and “Now We Are Six.”
The classic tales are perfect for bedtime reading and will most certainly serve as a treasured memory for your little one.
The Secret Garden
One of the most famous titles in the world of children’s literature, “The Secret Garden,” was first published in 1911. This is a book worth considering because it was written for both adult and children audiences, making it an excellent choice for family or group reading if you have multiple children at different ages.
“The Secret Garden” was ranked #15 among all-time children’s novels in a survey published by School Library Journal, and for a good reason. It tells the story of a young child, Mary, who is isolated and feels unloved. After her parents pass away, the book follows Mary as she’s sent to live with her uncle, who has a charming walled garden that is kept locked away. The story is filled with mystery, lively characters and the belief that goodness is at the center of every human. It’s a wonderful book to read chapter by chapter out loud to your young ones, or perfect for silent reading if your child is a bit older.
The Velveteen Rabbit
A timeless tale of friendship, acceptance, and honesty, “The Velveteen Rabbit” chronicles the life of a stuffed rabbit who longs to be real. The stuffed rabbit is a favorite toy to a small boy who takes him on adventures and treats the rabbit as if it were his real-life furry friend. But after the boy becomes seriously ill with a fever, the doctor orders that the boy’s room be disinfected and all his toys thrown out or burned—including the rabbit.
First published in 1922, the story has been republished time and again due to its heartfelt message. We won’t ruin the ending for you, but it does allow for discussion around acceptance, dreams, and letting go. The picture book is also great for young kids who are still learning to read or those who prefer to still use images as context clues.
Start Reading the Classics
Classic children’s books are a staple for any bookshelf or bedtime reading session, and they’re great for all ages. Do you have a favorite classic book that wasn’t mentioned? If this list reminded you of a book you read as a child, write it down and add it to your list!
All the books mentioned in this article are available for purchase on our website at a discounted price, plus many, many more. Keep browsing to find your favorite classics!
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