When young children use their fingers to turn the pages of a good book, something magical happens. The words and illustrations in the book show a world of imagination that cannot be seen on a screen. We have collected 21 classic children’s books that should be on every young reader’s bookshelf. These books include stories where the weather is unusual and exciting, as well as stories about wizards and traveling to different planets. These stories take readers to a world where animals can talk and where even difficult life lessons are easy to comprehend. So, put away the tablet and introduce children to the timeless books that influenced our own childhoods.
Classic Children’s Books for Little Kids
Almost every newborn baby receives a copy of Goodnight Moon as a gift, and there is a good reason for that. The captivating text (“goodnight room, goodnight moon”) combined with the comforting illustrations has made this story a bedtime favorite for many generations. The simplicity of the story also makes it an excellent choice for young children who are beginning to read. Suitable for ages 1 and older
It would be a mistake to exclude this straightforward tale by Robert Musch, which portrays the unwavering affection that exists between a mother and her child. Spanning from infancy to adolescence, Love You Forever demonstrates that a mother’s connection with her offspring remains unbreakable. Suitable for ages 1 and above.
With its captivating illustrations, Graeme Base’s Animalia should definitely be included in any children’s book collection. Not only do the pictures portray each letter of the alphabet, but they also contain numerous hidden games and riddles, ensuring that your kids will stay fascinated for hours. Perfect for children aged 2 to 8.
The lesson behind the story of The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper is that you can achieve anything if you have self-belief and focus. It is an essential lesson for children to learn, and the beloved blue train is a perfect messenger. This famous tale of motivation and positive thinking surpasses today’s self-help gurus. Suitable for children aged 3 and above.
Written in 1963, the classic book Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak allows young readers today to relate to the theme of being transported into an imaginary world where their problems vanish. This captivating story follows the adventures of Max as his bedroom transforms into a jungle inhabited by wild things, providing an opportunity for children aged 3-5 to let their imaginations soar.
Corduroy by Don Freeman is a delightful children’s book that tells the story of a brown bear. This bear longs to be taken home by a friend and goes on exciting adventures after being left overnight in a department store. Many children, like us, might even name their own teddy bear after the main character. This beloved classic is recommended for children aged 3-5.
Ferdinand, a timid bull, simply desires to relax under a cork tree and enjoy the fragrance of flowers. However, due to a misunderstood talent, Ferdinand ends up in the bullfights in Madrid. There, he encounters the Banderilleros, Picadores, and a courageous Matador who all attempt to provoke a fight from him but fail. This book is suitable for ages 3-5.
Discover a peaceful winter landscape as you join Peter, an African-American boy, on his adventures in The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. Peter stands out in his iconic red suit as he explores the tranquil winter wonderland illustrated by Keats. Keats’ illustrations create a humble and serene ambiance that fills us with anticipation for the winter season. Recommended for children aged 3 to 5, The Snowy Day captures the magic of a winter wonderland.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst tells the story of Alexander who is experiencing a series of unfortunate events. These events include getting gum stuck in his hair, being assigned the least desirable seat on the way to school, and being served lima beans for lunch. To discover what else goes wrong for Alexander, read this timeless children’s book suitable for ages 3-7.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs written by Judi Barrett is a memorable bedtime story (or was it?) about the small town of Chewandswallow. In this town, the weather consists of a light rain of orange juice, a covering of mashed potatoes, and piles of hamburgers. However, the story becomes truly captivating when the food becomes bigger and more extreme. This timeless children’s book remains just as enjoyable as it was when it first came out in 1987. Recommended for ages 3-7.
Ludwig Bemelmans wrote a book called Madeline, which tells the tale of a brave orphan living in an old house in Paris covered in vines. The beloved stories feature Madeline’s encounters with tigers, mice, and even a burst appendix, showcasing her bravery. As a classic and modern-day heroine, Madeline’s unique personality appeals to younger readers aged 3-8 years.
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson is a classic story about a boy named Harold who uses his vivid imagination and a purple crayon to go on various adventures. One night, Harold takes the crayon out for a walk under the moon. Through his drawings, he encounters a picnic that only serves pies, a monster protecting an apple tree, and a kind policeman who guides him back home to his own bed. This beloved book is suitable for children between the ages of 4 and 7.
Caps for Sale, written by Esphyr Slobodkina, is a humorous tale about a peddler who is trying to catch mischievous monkeys that have stolen his hats. This story is guaranteed to make your little one laugh uncontrollably. With its repetitive sentences, it is a perfect read-aloud book that will engage young listeners. Suitable for ages 4-8.
The book “The Paper Bag Princess” by Robert Munsch tells the story of Princess Elizabeth who has a wonderful life. However, everything is destroyed by a dragon, including her clothes, and the dragon also kidnaps her prince. Instead of passively waiting to be rescued, the courageous and determined protagonist puts on a paper bag and saves the prince. However, she discovers that the prince is not as amazing as she thought. This well-known children’s book has a powerful feminist message and is enjoyable for children aged 4 to 7.
Classic Kids’ Books and Novels for Older Children
Madeline was the smallest among twelve little girls who lived in two straight lines in an old house in Paris covered with vines.
Madeline is not afraid of anything, not even tigers or mice. The Madeline stories feature a lovable and brave protagonist, lighthearted humor, and delightful illustrations of Paris, making them timeless classics that retain their ability to captivate readers for over 75 years.
During the Civil War, Louisa May Alcott’s renowned story illustrates the lives of the March sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. Despite their limited funds, the sisters and their companions find solace in their strong bond with one another.
This Newbery Medal-winning novel is set in the Deep South and narrates the tale of Sounder, a remarkable coon dog, and the impoverished sharecroppers who are his owners.
During the challenging years of the 19th century in the South, a boy of African-American descent and his impoverished family face scarcity of food. Every night, the boy’s father goes out with their dog, Sounder, in search of sustenance, and as time passes, the man’s despair intensifies.
When food appears unexpectedly on the table one morning, it appears to be a fortunate event. However, the sheriff and his deputies are in close proximity. Despite the difficult times looming over them, the beloved Sounder shows unwavering determination to support the family he loves.
Sounder is a classic novel that portrays the unity of an African-American family amidst the oppressive racism and cruelty they encounter. People who appreciate enduring tales about dogs, like Old Yeller and Where the Red Fern Grows, will discover many aspects to embrace in Sounder.
The Wizard of Oz
Dorothy Gale and her dog Toto are snatched up by a tornado, which in a terrifying moment of darkness, whisks them away from Kansas and transports them directly to Oz.
All Dorothy desires in this enchanting realm of magic and peril, inhabited by Munchkins, flying monkeys, conversing mice, and combative trees, is to return to her home.
In order to have their wishes granted by the wizard of Oz, Dorothy, Toto, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion need to follow the Yellow Brick Road and find the Wizard of the Emerald City. However, before their wishes can be granted, they must accomplish the seemingly impossible task of defeating the Wicked Witch of the West, who possesses great power.
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
Margaret Simon, who is nearly 12 years old, recently relocated from New York City to the suburbs. She is eager to fit in with her new acquaintances. When she receives an invitation to become part of a clandestine club, she enthusiastically accepts. However, as the girls begin discussing topics such as boys, bras, and their initial menstrual cycles, Margaret begins to question her own normalcy. Certain aspects of maturing are difficult for her to discuss, even with her friends. Luckily, Margaret has someone else in her life whom she can confide in – someone who always lends a listening ear.
The Secret Garden
After being left without parents due to a cholera outbreak, a young girl named Mary Lennox is sent to stay with her uncle in Yorkshire. Feeling unhappy and isolated, Mary is given the opportunity to independently explore the house and its surrounding area. Eventually, she stumbles upon a hidden garden which becomes a source of solace for her. With the help of her friend Dickon and the kind gardener, Ben Weatherstaff, Mary restores the garden to its previous beauty. Furthermore, she assists her cousin, Colin, in regaining his health and brings happiness back into her uncle’s life.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Alice, bored of reading a book without any pictures, gazes upwards and spots a white rabbit wearing a waistcoat. Intrigued, she decides to pursue him. In her pursuit, Alice tumbles down a rabbit hole, leaving behind the world of logic and entering a realm filled with absurdity. She encounters a beverage that causes shrinkage, a cake that induces growth, a cat that hovers and possesses the ability to vanish, a tea party trapped in an eternal time cycle, and a wrathful queen who rules over a deck of playing cards. These bewildering elements overwhelm Alice as she navigates through her perplexing surroundings.
Walk Two Moons
Newbery Medal winner Sharon Creech uses her unique and beautiful writing style to skillfully combine two stories, one humorous and one melancholic, resulting in a touching and captivating narrative about the intricacies of love, grief, and the depth of human feelings.
Thirteen-year-old Salamanca Tree Hiddle, who takes pride in her rural upbringing and her Native American heritage, embarks on a journey from Ohio to Idaho with her unconventional grandparents. During the trip, she shares the tale of Phoebe Winterbottom with her grandparents, which involves receiving enigmatic messages, encountering someone who could be described as mentally unstable, and having her mother vanish without a trace.
While Sal entertains her grandparents with Phoebe’s incredible tale, her own narrative starts to unravel – the narrative of a thirteen-year-old girl who longs to be reunited with her mother who has disappeared.