What are the best 'classic' children's books?(73 Posts)
I've finally got round to unpacking my old collection that I bought (and boxed!) before my kids were born. I spent a very happy childhood with my nose permanently in a book and wanted to create a collection of classics to share with my nieces and my own children (and maybe grandchildren way off in the future!) and now the eldest is 4 I am getting excited about reading some of them to him. I have quite a few Winnie the Pooh, Just William, Peter Rabbit leading on to things like Treasure Island, Swallows and Amazons, Charlotte's Web and The Railway Children.
I feel I'm missing Enid Blyton (but which books?) and now I can't think of what else to add to my wish list?
What others could I look out for that are classic (especially primary school age) children's books?
Richard scarry books, I loved lowly worm
Lots of mine mentioned already... I kept my copies of Peter Rabbit, Roald Dahl and Narnia for my kids, along with Charlotte's Web and Alice in Wonderland.
Other classics my daughter (age 7) has loved include A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Railway Children, The Borrowers. Laura Ingall Wilder books def on my list her her to read along with The Secret Garden.
My (advanced reading) 5 year old LOVES Allan Ahlberg - Please Mrs Butler poems, and the book Woof! which I remember my brother reading as a child.
I've always been disappointed that my girls so far have not been that into Winnie the Pooh, though the 5 year old is quite keen on Paddington.
Lots of good ideas here.
I loved all the Dark is Rising books, too! Plus Susan Cooper's other books
Joan Aitken books eg Nightbirds on Nantucket, Wolves of Willoughby Chase etc
Willard Price books eg Amazon Adventure, Lion Adventure, Volcano Adventure
I also vividly remember reading and enjoying books by the Australian writer Victor Kelleher, but I'm not sure he's so well known now; The Hunting of Shadroth, Master of the Grove.
Mallory Towers and the Chalet School books
I used to read all the Peanuts comic books my Dad had, which I loved too.
Plus all the other classics mentioned above - absolutely loved Winnie the Pooh and Paddington, and had almost forgotten about Teddy Robinson!
Ramona The Pest and all other Beverley Cleary ones are good too - she does seem to remember what it was really like being a little child. The problems Ramona faced are the kind that most children will be able to identify with.
We also read:
Teddy Robinson (Joan G Robinson, wrote other series)
Mrs Pepperpot (Alf Proysen)
The Moomins (Tove Jansson)
Jill Crewe books (Ruby Ferguson) - pony/riding stories
Enid Blyton: Famous Five, Secret Seven, all the Mysteries (i.e. the Rockingdown Mystery), Mr Meddle, Mr Twiddle, Mr Pink-Whistle, Faraway Tree etc
Jill Tomlinson (The Owl Who Was Afraid of The Dark and others)
The Borrowers series (Mary Norton)
Milly Molly Mandy (Joyce Lankester Brisley)
Just William (Richmal Crompton)
Bobby Brewster stories (H E Todd)
This is a selection from those my sister and I read, my brothers preferred other stuff. But we read far, far more than they did. You've got a lot of time to build up a collection if your eldest is only four!
A word of warning though - I tried to interest a boy of 7 in Mrs Pepperpot and he looked contemptuous and baffled. It's
traumatic not nice if a child dislikes something close to your heart, especially if you fondly imagined enjoying it together.
The Tree That Sat Down
At the back of the North Wind
The Wind on the Moon
Love so many of these! I also loved The Box of Delights, great to read at Christmas time (even now!). I've kept a lot of my books to pass onto my daughter - can't wait to read Little Women with her. Since becoming an adult I still read children's books every now and then. I loved Harry Potter, the Hunger Games series and His Dark Materials. My daughter who will be 2 next month is named Lyra after the Philip Pullman character (the only girl's name we could agree on). Books are so important in our family, I hope our daughter continues the tradition!
A Little Princess
Jux - thank you! I'd completely forgotten about The Wind on the Moon and At the Back of the North Wind. I adored them as a child and am off to order them now for DS.
Lostintoys, tbh, when I re-read The Wind on the Moon with dd, I thought it wasn't that great. She enjoyed it, but it's not one of her favourites.
Dear MNetters-saw this on twitter and thought someone might be interested nominate your fave out of print children's classic and Hesperus Press might reprint it with your introduction!
Anything by Janet and Alan Ahlberh. I loved the 'Please Miss Butler' poetry book
Another vote for Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh.
My absolute favourite.
Secret garden is DS1's
For little people Winnie the Witch and DD's other fav. No room on the broom.
Herb the vegetarian Dragon is lovely too.
DD2 is a philistine who likes Jackie Wilson and Cassie Cassidy.
Swallows and Amazons when children are a little older.
Also, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
I liked a lot of horse books. The Silver Brumby books or the Black Stallion books are good for either boys or girls.
All the kids in my family especially liked Orlando the Marmalade Cat, which my grandmother had lots of at her house. I have bought a few and am trying to get hold of more, they are either expensive or difficult to find these days. The pictures are beautiful.
Quentin Blake books like 'Patrick' were also really great picture books.
My nieces have both loved Babette Cole's books recently.
Gerald Durrell's 'The Talking Parcel' is a good fantasy novel for younger kids too, not too scary.
Oh yes!!! Orlando the Marmalade Cat! We only had that one. We was deprived.
Also, Mary Plain VIP, which I recently found amongst my (RIP) brother's books.
And Quentin Blake makes anything good.
We had some french books from my mum's childhood which I remember very fondly; lots of and Asterix, obviously but one about a mouse called Anatole. I think he became a perfumier, but it's been 50 years!
Also The Jackdaw of Rheims, which was my grandmother's. The pictures always made me a bit scared, gave me that shiver, which is fine when you're safely cuddled up with your gran!
That was meant to be "lots of Babar...."
children's books I loved:
stig of the dump
danny the champion of the world
tom's midnight garden
pippi longstocking books
st clares/malory towers books
children of cherry tree farm
what katy did series
i would recommend:
swallows and amazons
little house on the prairie
shapeshifter by ali sparkes and quite a few of her other books
killer cat series
silverstreet farm series
little leap forward
the boy with the magic numbers
Magic Faraway Tree for little ones
The Otterbury Incident - C Day-Lewis
The Mouse & His Child - Russell Hoban
The Tree That Sat Down - Beverley Nichols
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler – E. L. Konigsburg
And most of the usual ones named above: Narnia, Pullman, Blyton, Teddy Robinson, Tom's Midnight Garden/Secret Garden/Little Princess/Railway Children, Moomins, Stig of the Dump, Treasure Island, The Silver Sword, The Outsiders, Bridge to Terabithia, Tuck Everlasting, Milly-Molly-Mandy...
I just had a look at the "recommend an out of print children's book" competition but I have missed the closing date . Doubly sad because I thought today that someone in publishing should do a trawl through all the really amazing out of print children's books that cost an arm and a leg on Abe Books or similar and just reprint them. Can someone who's in publishing explain why that's not a really good idea? I've already got four suggestions which were greatly beloved by me as a child:
Rebecca's World by Terry Nation
Amelia Anne and the Green Umbrella by Constance Heward
Bottersnikes and Gumbles by SA Wakefield
Brown Mouse by Frank Jennens
And one I have only read about but which sounds fab and costs upwards of £400 on Amazon - Need a House? Call Miss Mouse by George Mendoza.
The Secret Garden
My Naughty Little Sister
The Trebizon series
Milly Molly Mandy
My Side of the Mountain
The Gift from Winklesea
These are the books I read as a child and have also read to my dcs
Join the discussion
Please login first.