Top Ten Classics for Kids

Top Ten Classics (for kids)

Top Ten Tuesday
Here’s another list idea from the good folks over at the Broke and Bookish. Making the classics for kids is my own spin, as is posting about Tuesday on Wednesday (though that part wasn’t really planned.)

anneofgreengablesAnne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Do I really need to say more? I read Anne and the Emily of New Moon series over and over again. Is it an introvert/extrovert thing? As a child, extremely introverted, I liked Emily better, but as an adult, I’ve come back to Anne more often. Like many on this list, it’s usually cited as a classic for girls, but I have imposed it on most of the boys in my life with good results as well. Imagination is for everyone, after all.

balletshoesBallet Shoes by Noel Streatfield
Orphan girls making a family and following their dreams in WWII London, including ballet, acting, and automotive engineering. Another classic with more boy appeal than you’d think on first glance – I think my son went for this on the wartime experience angle.

borrowersThe Borrowers by Mary Norton
Really, what child doesn’t find the idea of tiny people living secretly inside our houses intriguing? Did you leave small useful objects out in your house for the Borrowers, too?

hobbitThe Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
This is one that I loved as a child and my son also loves, even though there are neither children nor sympathetic girls in it at all.

lionThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
The portal fantasy where kids from our world find out they are the foretold by prophecy storyline feels overdone these days, but this one still holds up amazingly well, especially as a read-aloud or audiobook.

LittleWomen7Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Is it the way that Alcott captured the realities of life with siblings and their various personalities that has helped this stay beloved for so long?

mistressmashamsMistress Masham’s Repose by T.H. White
This isn’t as well-known as White’s The Once and Future King, but it’s the one I went back to over and over again. Ill-treated orphan Maria finds a small population of Lilliputians, and must figure out a way to deal with them ethically. This looks like one I’ll have to read aloud to the boy, as it doesn’t look like it’s available on audiobook.

momoMomo by Michael Ende
I still need to read the most recent English translation of this yet – I first read it for a children’s literature class in Germany, where it quickly gained the special place in my heart that friends informed me it’s long held in Germany. It’s the story of an orphan girl who rescues a time-obsessed city from the truly frightening Gray Gentlemen, who smoke people’s saved time.

pippiPippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
Generations later, rule-breaking but kind-hearted Pippi is just as charming and revolutionary as she was when she was first published.

secretgardenThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The magical story of the healing power of friendship and nature, with at least two of the three child characters starting out quite unlikeable before their redemption. Another one my son loved on audiobook.

swallowsandamazonsSwallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
England’s Lake District in the 1930s, populated by self-reliant children in sailboats having all kinds of adventures.

wrinkle50thA Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
Smart, geeky kids risk everything to save their parents in this modern classic, one I was willing to bet my best friend was better than both the other books in the series (at the time) put together.

Even stretching my ten to a dozen, I haven’t had room for all the books I consider classic enough to impose on my children – but this will do for a start. What are your favorite classics from childhood and for children?

About a library mama

I'm a librarian and book worm who believes that children and adults deserve great books to read.
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13 Responses to Top Ten Classics for Kids

  1. I have tried to read The Hobbit (last year, as an adult) and I just couldn’t get into it. After reading Fellowship, I found the writing to be SO different! I wish I had read it when I was in Elementary/Middle school. Then I may have loved it!
    Thanks for stoppin’ by! Have a great week!

    • Thank you for visiting, too! hmm… I think it makes all the difference in the world that my father, who loves Tolkien, read it aloud to me, with different accents for all the races. It’s hard not to like anything presented with so much enthusiasm and skill – but I also have many friends who’ve been unable to get into Tolkien as adult women.

  2. Eric says:

    Despite the difficulties, I think you have to consider “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card.

  3. That’s pretty intense if you read some of these as a child by yourself. If I was 10…I’d totally steer clear from some of these based on length alone!

    Cheers,
    joey via. thoughts and afterthoughts

    • Maybe you’re right that not all of these are good for 10-year-old…. though 10-year-olds vary so much, and it also makes a huge difference if you’re reading to yourself or being read to. I know the Borrowers, the Hobbit, the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Swallows and Amazons at least were all books my parents read to me before I was 10. I was an ambitious reader, too, and while I can’t remember for sure when I first read all these books, I feel pretty safe saying I read all but Momo while still in elementary school. My son, going into 4th grade, listens at a very advanced level & would probably be interested in most of these books, but wouldn’t be willing to read any of them to himself. Content-wise, maybe Anne and Little Women are better for middle school and up, but the others I think are solidly middle grade. What do you think?

      • That’s actually really difficult to comment on considering that I, and everyone else that I knew during that age (speaking to elementary kindergarten-8), were all about playing indoors/outdoors. So I wasn’t involved with books to a great extent during that time to say whether or not they’d be great reads or not. All the book reports during this time for me were pretty much duds as well. The only real book that I read pre-highschool was Hinton’s Outsiders. But I think that was cause it was a unit study so being guided through to understand things/concepts/what-have-you is definitely a necessary step in encouraging the dialogue of what reading can be about. Which is why it’s great that you’d read books of greater difficulties to get your son’s feet wet even more (if that makes sense)!

      • Wow! It’s fun to get a perspective from someone with such a different childhood, book-wise! I remember reading “Heidi” at 7, and was more the type of kid who had to be pushed to stop reading and go outside for a bit. And we also had no TV, so that reading – aloud or separately – was mostly what we all did for entertainment. I’m glad you found guided study helpful – I hated book reports and discussions & am glad they aren’t always killing the joy of reading.

  4. Kaja says:

    Hi!
    I did a children’s classics list as well! http://ofdragonsandhearts.com/2014/07/top-ten-tuesday-childrens-classics/ It’s funny – I also put The Secret Garden and The Hobbit on the list, but I didn’t care for Little Women and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe much :) But I agree, it’s a struggle to keep the list down to just a couple of titles; there are SO MANY good children’s classics out there!

    • I had to go back and look – I’ll comment on your blog, too. There are several on your list that I loved, too, and some (shame!) that I’ve not gotten around to reading. I’m not sure why Little Women struck such a chord with me, though, and I am kind of surprised that Lewis still works for me as an adult – you’re certainly not alone in finding him too preachy these days.

  5. My favorite classics I have read as a child were: The Swiss Family Robinson, In Desert and Wilderness, Pippi Longstocking, The Jungle Book, Heidi, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and everything by Jules Verne. As you can see I mostly read/loved adventure books & based in nature.

    • Oh, good books! I really liked Swiss Family, Heidi, Tom Sawyer and (maybe not as often) The Jungle Book, though that’s the only one I’ve read with my son so far. I’ve only done one Jules Verne, as an adult, thought it was very fun & I should read more. And I’ve never heard of In Desert and Wilderness, though based on your other favorites, it should be fun!

  6. You’ve hit on all of mine! Except for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland– though to be honest I didn’t really get into that until I was a (young) teenager, and some of the humor is so complex that I imagine it might be harder to REALLY appreciate much younger.

    I’m pretty thoroughly an introvert, but it was Anne I latched onto even as a kid. I think she was pretty much who I WISHED I was, which was good enough for me!

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