18 Great Classic Books to Read to Your Kids

18 Classic Books to Read to Children

As you know, I am a huge fan of reading to my kids, even after they can read on their own. It’s a fun way to spend time together and it gives me the opportunity to immediately talk about issues that come up in the stories we read. Today, I thought I would share with you some of the classic books that I think make great read-alouds. There are links to my in-depth reviews on each book, and an Amazon link, in case you want to pick up a copy of your own. I hope this inspires some cozy times and creates great memories with you and your kids as you introduce them to some great classics!

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1. The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit:

This is a sweet story about siblings who have just moved to a new place and they have fun exploring and playing together. It’s an older British book, so the vocabulary is older, but it is a charming story that my kids have enjoyed. You can read my review here, and you can order this book here: The Railway Children

2. Five Children and It by Edith Nesbit:

Another great story about siblings, this one is a fairy tale set in Victorian England. Again, the language is old-fashioned, but the dilemmas the children find themselves in were very entertaining! You can read my review here, and buy it on Amazon here:Five Children and It

3. Nurse Matilda by Christianna Brand:

This book inspired the movie Nanny McPhee,  which is a Mary Poppins type story of naughty children learning how to behave. My kids enjoyed the funny situations the misbehaving children would find themselves in. There are several books in the series, but we only read the first one. You can find my review of this book here, and you can buy a copy on Amazon here: Nurse Matilda

4. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren:

This classic story of the unconventional adventurous Pippi Longstocking is a huge favorite in our house. There are lots of funny adventures that have become stories we talked about long after we had finished the book. You can read my review here, and order a copy for yourself here: Pippi Longstocking

5. Pippi Goes On Board by Astrid Lindgren:

This was another fun read, full of more Pippi Longstocking adventures. Read my review here, and order your own copy here: Pippi Goes on Board

6. Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat:

This book is about a boy who has pet owls. It was inspired by the author’s boyhood, and my kids thoroughly enjoyed the funny stories and adventures the owls brought to the boy and his family. You can read my review here, and order your own book here:Owls in the Family

7. The Borrowers by Mary Norton:

All about small people living below the floorboards of a house, they “borrow” all of their belongings from the owners of the house. This book is the first of a series of 5 books, so you could spend a lot of time getting to know these little people. Read my review here, and pick up your own copy here: The Borrowers

8. Rascal by Sterling North:

This is another book inspired by boyhood memories of raising a pet raccoon. As you can imagine, Rascal (the raccoon) gets into all kind of mischief, so this was a fun read. You can read my in-depth review here, and order a copy of the book here: Rascal

9. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster:

This classic is all about puns and wordplay. You follow a boy who is bored with life as he learns that life is full of beauty and interesting things, if you have the eyes to see. It is one of Liam’s favorite books, and a great one to read out loud. You can check out my review of it here, and order your own copy right here: The Phantom Tollbooth

10. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum:

I hate to use a cliché, but the book is so much better than the movie! We really enjoyed reading this book together. Read my review here, and pick up a copy here: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

11. Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater:

This is a very simple-to-read, short chapter book, perfect for starting off reading chapter books to younger kids. Mr. Popper finds himself the owner of several penguins, and the whole family has fun adventures taking care of their exotic pets. You can read my review here, and buy a copy for yourself here: Mr. Popper’s Penguins

12. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett:

An orphaned girl finds herself living in her strange uncle’s large home. She uncovers several mysteries, but the best is the secret garden that she works to bring back to life. This is a long book to read out loud, but it has remained one of my kids’ favorites from the books we have read together. You can read my review of it here, and pick up a copy for your family here: The Secret Garden

13. Stuart Little by E.B. White:

This is another book that has short chapters and is east to follow – a great start to reading chapter books to little ones! Stuart Little was born to a human family, but he looks remarkably like a mouse. He sets out on a journey of adventure and it is fun to see how he manages to get around as such a very small person. Read my review here, and buy a copy for yourself here: Stuart Little

14. The BFG by Roald Dahl:

All of Roald Dahl’s books are fun to read out loud! In the BFG, we meet the Big Friendly Giant and learn all about where dreams come from and all kinds of nonsense. There are lots of made-up words, which make this a fun book to read out loud. Read my review here, and pick up a copy here: The BFG

15. Danny, The Champion of the World by Roald Dahl:

This is my favorite Roald Dahl book. Danny and his father are poachers, and Danny comes up with the perfect trick to win the upper hand over the selfish rich man in town. You can read my review here, and buy a copy right here: Danny the Champion of the World

16. The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl:

This is a very short book, easy to read, but it has a weighty message against hunting. Read my review here for details, and pick up a copy for yourself here: The Magic Finger

17. Twenty and Ten by Claire Huchet Bishop:

This book is based on a true story that happened during World War II in France. Twenty French schoolchildren hid ten Jewish children from Nazi soldiers through the war. It’s a short book, but I would recommend ages 8 and up. The story is scary, but the message is good. Read my full review of it here, and order a copy for your family here: Twenty and Ten

18. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle:

This science fiction story has prompted several great moral illustrations in conversations with our kids. I read it out loud to the boys, and then David recently listened an audio version of it. You can read my review of it here, and buy a copy of it here: A Wrinkle in Time

 

So there’s my list of 18 great classics to read out loud to your kids – hope it inspires some fun times in your family! Do you have any classics to recommend for reading to children? Please share in the comments – I’d love to add to this list!

 

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If you are interested in reading these books, you should be able to find most of them at your local library. If you are interested in buying any of these books, I would love it if you bought it at your local bookstore. But, if you are planning to buy one or anything else on Amazon, please buy after clicking on our link! 

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Comments

  1. Jennifer Dages says:

    Yup, a great list. We have read or have most of them. I especially liked Twenty and Ten and The Borrowers. A few years ago I read the whole Borrowers series aloud to my kids over the summer. We all really enjoyed them.

  2. The Secret Garden and The Railway Children have both deeply impacted me, and I never read them until I was in my late 20’s! :)

  3. What I really love about your list is the fact that if I were to sit down and come up with a list of 18 classics, it would be completely different from your list! That’s nothing at all against your choices, it’s just that there are so many great books out there that there is plenty of room for hundreds of favorites!

  4. You should try:

    * Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett
    * The Basket of Flowers by Christoph von Schmid (very much recommended!)
    * Anne of Green Gables (complete series) by Lucy Maud Montgomery
    * Little House on the Prairie (complete series) by Laura Ingalls Wilder

So what do you think?

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