What are the best 'classic' children's books?

(73 Posts)
babybouncer Mon 02-Sep-13 11:20:49

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?

MortifiedAdams Mon 02-Sep-13 11:22:15

Famous Five
Twins at St Claires
Mallory Towers

Should all be good to tick.off Enid Blyton.

Get the set of Roald Dahl

Alice in Wonderland

MortifiedAdams Mon 02-Sep-13 11:22:46

The Railway Children
Oliver Twist

Takver Mon 02-Sep-13 11:29:25

Teddy Robinson
Noel Streatfield esp Ballet Shoes
Professor Branestawm
Narnia books
Sophie books by Dick King Smith

I'd avoid Michael Morpurgo as in my experience they have to read them endlessly at school!

babybouncer Mon 02-Sep-13 11:34:02

Wow that was quick! I've just read the suggestions and gone 'yes, of course!' to each one (except Teddy Robinson, which I'm off to look up now...).

ouryve Mon 02-Sep-13 11:34:57

Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner. I still dip into them, occasionally.

TakingThePea Mon 02-Sep-13 11:36:01

Picture books?

The Tiger Who Came To Tea
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Brown Bear Brown Bear
Rosies Walk

MortifiedAdams Mon 02-Sep-13 11:39:12

Funny Bones

My Naughty Little Sister series

JuliaScurr Mon 02-Sep-13 11:57:19


JuliaScurr Mon 02-Sep-13 11:58:17

Blyton - Wishing Chair; Faraway Tree

JassyRadlett Mon 02-Sep-13 12:00:37

The Secret Garden, and as much E Nesbit as you can handle (in my world, that is 'all of it').

dyslexicdespot Mon 02-Sep-13 12:02:42

Books by:
Astrid Lindgren ( the brothers Lionheart, Ronia the robbers daughter...)
Tove jansson
Laura Ingels wilder ( the little house books)
Ursula leguin (sp ?)

DeWe Mon 02-Sep-13 12:17:04

Little House books
Children at Greene Knowe (and possibly chimneys too)
Wolves of Willaby Place
Emile and the Detectives
School at the Chalet
Willard Price adventures
Little WHite Horse
No Boats on Bannermere (may be expensive)

Willemdefoeismine Mon 02-Sep-13 12:18:33

Dewe I totally agree about the Greene Knowe books (never read them as a child, have read the whole series to DD and love them!)

Little House on the Prairie
The Harry Potter series
The Chalet School Books (there's loads)

ShadeofViolet Mon 02-Sep-13 12:28:18

Roald Dahl - especially Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and The Witches.

tywysogesgymraeg Mon 02-Sep-13 12:31:23

I cant believe no one has mentioned Black Beauty!

Also The Silver Sword by Ian Serallier.

Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield

ElephantsAndMiasmas Mon 02-Sep-13 12:58:51

Oh yes to Green Knowe, Teddy Robinson (I'd forgotten him! smile) and E. Nesbit, who writes siblings in such a realistic argumentative manner.

Dick King-Smith is a lovely writer who made me a vegetarian taught me to be kind to animals.

Try to get a good big book of poems/rhymes for children, something they can flick through when they get old enough to try to read on their own. Children love poems before they realise poetry's thought of as "difficult".

Flower fairies poem books are beautiful and great for kids who like being in the garden (and there are boy and girl fairies, which is a nice ruddy change).

LauraChant Mon 02-Sep-13 13:54:40

I don't know if it counts as a classic or how well known it is but I couldn't wait to introduce DS to The King of the Copper Mountains

iseenodust Mon 02-Sep-13 14:01:51

Yes to all of the above
Proper Paddington chapter books.

Takver Mon 02-Sep-13 14:34:29

Another one - again not so well known - but an absolute favourite of mine for reading aloud: Martin Pippin in the Daisy Field. (Out of print but looks like it will be reprinted soon by Red Fox.)

Takver Mon 02-Sep-13 14:34:48

Oh, and I'd add proper Wombles chapter books to the Paddington ones.

Periwinkle007 Mon 02-Sep-13 15:29:28

Worst witch
Gobbolino the witches cat
the Enid Blyton ones I enjoyed the most were the 'something of adventure' ones. castle, ship etc.
non fiction - Usborne. you HAVE to have some usborne ones, we love looking at them with the kids, the 'See Inside' ones are particularly good I think.
Wombles I agree but Paddington really are my favourite.
my old copies of The Naughtiest Girl in the School have gone down well with our girls.
trying to think what else we had in the loft. Ballet Shoes, Swish of the Curtain, Secret Garden, Heidi.

tywysogesgymraeg Mon 02-Sep-13 17:31:35

Puppy Longstocking and the Anne of Green Gables series are good too.

Also What Katy Did, and Little Women.

trice Mon 02-Sep-13 22:06:12

The Hobbit, I am David, Children of the new forest, Stig of the Dump, Archers Goon (anything by Diana Wynne Jones), Tom's midnight garden.

DeWe Mon 02-Sep-13 22:07:06

And Lord of the Rushie River. I think it's by the same person as Flower Fairies
Princess and Curtie
Dark is Rising series
101 Dalmations
Moon of Gomrath/ Weirdstone of Brisingamen (not sure about that spelling)
The Hobbit
Charlotte's web

Smartiepants79 Mon 02-Sep-13 22:14:06

Rosemary Sutcliff - the eagle of the ninth especially.
The Dark is Rising - I LOVED this.
The weird stone of brisingamen.
Mrs Frisby and the rats of nimh.

Smartiepants79 Mon 02-Sep-13 22:15:49

The iron giant
Stig of the dump
Dick king smith.
Anne Fine

LizzieVereker Mon 02-Sep-13 22:21:40

The Secret Garden

notyummy Mon 02-Sep-13 22:28:23

Yes yes to Silver Sword. Also The Machine Gunners and When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit are both amazing.

The mouse and his child Russell Hoban grin

DollyClothespeg Tue 03-Sep-13 21:18:08

Anne of Green Gables (loved that book!)

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

Enid Blyton:
- The Magic Faraway Tree
- The Famous Five
- The Secret Seven
- The Adventurous Four

The Tiger Who Came To Tea
The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Mr Men series by Roger Hargreaves
(also the Timbuctoo series by Roger Hargreaves too)

Quangle Tue 03-Sep-13 21:24:18

yy to the Silver Sword (sob) and
I am David (sob, sob)

For poems, AA Milne, When We Were Very Young is fantastic. Also I Love This Poem is a great collection for children by children.

And my all time childhood favourite is a not very well known book called The Animal Family by Randall Jarrell.

I didn't grow up with this but have just read DD (6) Emil & The Detectives and it was a huge hit.

SuiGeneris Tue 03-Sep-13 21:29:32

Robinson Crusoe
A man called Friday
20.000 leagues under the sea
Silver skates
The four mosqueteers
Sarah Crewe (or the princess in the garret)
Little Lord Fauntleroy
The little prince
Tom Sawyer
Huckleberry Finn
Pippi Longstocking
The Greek myths (in a bowdlerised version adapted for children)
Collections of fairy tales (the proper versions, not the Disneyfied ones), but be careful if the children are impressionable: I had nightmares from Bluebeard and Hansel and Gretel....

Some of these are very very old-fashioned, but very much fun.

Yy to the little prince it's unusual and beautiful and unforgettable grin

I've just finished reading "The Land of Green Ginger" by Noel Langley to DS (who is 7) and we've really enjoyed it together. I remember loving it as a child.
I agree with a lot of the suggestions above others I have enjoyed rediscovering with DS include;
Moomins (Tove Jansson)
Mrs Pepperpot stories (Alf Proysen)
Green Smoke (Rosemary Manning)
The Phantom Tollbooth (Norton Juster)
Nicolas stories (Goscinny - the guy who wrote Asterix)

Enjoy smile

Periwinkle007 Wed 04-Sep-13 22:01:48

ooh I have some Nicolas ones in the loft - had forgotten about them.

Ponders Wed 04-Sep-13 22:09:35

Harry the Dirty Dog grin

I agree with most of what's already been posted but you'll need to wait a few years before starting some of them if your eldest is only 4

My own mind has gone blank apart from Harry (oh, Clifford is good too while I'm on dogs)

Ponders Wed 04-Sep-13 22:11:37

The elephant ones - the Large family? Can't think of any titles just now...

Ponders Wed 04-Sep-13 22:13:58

Large books by Jill Murphy who also wrote the Worst Witch. 5 Minutes' Peace etc

DTisMYdoctor Wed 04-Sep-13 23:46:51

Some great suggestions here, and a big YY to Roald Dahl. I'm currently working through reading them to DS (5) and he adores them. Just finished BFG.

sassafrassj Tue 10-Sep-13 14:20:53

The Betsy-Tacy series also deserve a mention. Ten books that take the friends from their meeting at age 5 to marriages. Great writing.

MotherBluestocking Tue 10-Sep-13 14:59:02

Wholeheartedly endorse much of the above.
My five-year-old has loved:
My Naughty Little Sister (Shirley Hughes)
The Dribblesome Teapots (Norman Hunter - great fun for grown-ups too)
Anything by Roald Dahl
Harry Potter 1 and 2

Books I loved at the beginning of my reading journey included the following:
Enid Blyton Adventure series (The Valley of Adventure was the first 'proper' book I ever read!)
Little Women (first in an abridged version)
Noel Streatfeild - Ballet Shoes, Tennis Shoes, The Painted Garden etc
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Rosemary Sutcliffe - The Eagle of the Ninth is quite heavy going for little ones, but there are some simpler ones - The Armourer's House, for example
Cynthia Harnett - wonderful stories of medieval London
Just William
Biggles (trying to think of some more chappish titles here!)
All the Victorian-orphan classics - Anne of Green Gables, Pollyanna, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, What Katy Did
The Secret Garden, Little Lord Fauntleroy
The Borrowers (Mary Norton)
C S Lewis, obvs

- but I think I've probably gone on quite long enough!

henmum Tue 10-Sep-13 15:19:10

Hilary McKay - The Exiles, The Exiles at Home, Dog Friday, The Amber Cat
My daughter and I both enjoyed these a lot when she was about 8-9, the scene in The Exiles at Home where the younger children are sitting in the dog kennel making marmalade sandwiches to sell to their school friends had me laughing with tears running down my face.
I would second Teddy Robinson, and Jeremy James, we had them on tape, good for age about 5+

claraschu Tue 10-Sep-13 15:24:27

Loads of my favourites have been mentioned but no one has suggested Dr Dolittle books, all of which I absolutely loved, and so do my children.

LadyFlumpalot Tue 10-Sep-13 15:26:25

"Children of the New Forest", "The Psammead" and a massive YY to "I Am David"

AmIGoingMad Tue 10-Sep-13 15:33:14

Allan Ahlberg 'heard it in the playground'

And yes to mrs pepper pot- I'd forgotten about her!

jongleuse Tue 10-Sep-13 17:04:47

Just been slavering over the Folio Society catalogue-gorgeous editions of many old favourites including Ballet Shoes, Anne of Green Gables and The Wizard of Oz. Also Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising sequence, CS Lewis's Narnia books and Rosemary Sutcliffe. Horribly expensive but would make a lovely christening or birthday present..

emmalaybourn Tue 10-Sep-13 17:09:58

TH White - the Sword in the Stone (even better than the cartoon film)
and The Little Grey Rabbit Stories by Alison Uttley for gentle nostalgia

lostintoys Tue 10-Sep-13 19:13:41

The Mary Poppins books, anything by E. Nesbit, The Family at One End Street, Tom's Midnight Garden, all the Noel Streatfield books, Tintin.

annie06 Tue 10-Sep-13 20:06:01

'Dogger' by Shirley Hughes
'The Far Away Tree' series by Enid Blyton (the language is a bit 'jolly hockey sticks' but that's part of the fun!)
'Gangsta Granny' by David Walliams
Also, Holly Webb is an author that my 8 year old daughter has just discovered and is really enjoying.

Kikibee Tue 10-Sep-13 20:10:02

Richard scarry books, I loved lowly worm smile

Vickisuli Tue 10-Sep-13 20:43:24

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.

barmygirl Tue 10-Sep-13 21:06:21

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!

TheNoodlesIncident Tue 10-Sep-13 21:59:48

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)
Roald Dahl
Jill Crewe books (Ruby Ferguson) - pony/riding stories
E Nisbet
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)
Aesop's Fables
Milly Molly Mandy (Joyce Lankester Brisley)
Just William (Richmal Crompton)
Noel Streatfeild
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. sad

Jux Wed 11-Sep-13 10:37:06

The Tree That Sat Down
At the back of the North Wind
The Wind on the Moon
Precious Bane

JennCo76 Wed 11-Sep-13 20:58:06

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!

Devora Wed 11-Sep-13 21:04:35

A Little Princess
Ballet shoes
Charlotte Sometimes

lostintoys Thu 12-Sep-13 07:03:07

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.

Jux Thu 12-Sep-13 09:55:13

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.

jongleuse Thu 19-Sep-13 20:03:25

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!

babykittle Thu 19-Sep-13 20:19:56

Anything by Janet and Alan Ahlberh. I loved the 'Please Miss Butler' poetry book

babykittle Thu 19-Sep-13 20:20:19

...Sorry Ahlberg

NoComet Thu 19-Sep-13 20:29:23

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.

snowqu33n Mon 23-Sep-13 09:26:52

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.

Jux Wed 25-Sep-13 12:25:01

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!

Jux Wed 25-Sep-13 12:25:47

That was meant to be "lots of Babar...."

BlackeyedSusan Wed 25-Sep-13 22:02:52

children's books I loved:
stig of the dump
danny the champion of the world
tom's midnight garden
secret garden
pippi longstocking books
st clares/malory towers books
charlotte sometimes
narnia books
mrs pepperpot
railway children
children of cherry tree farm
what katy did series

i would recommend:
little women
swallows and amazons
little house on the prairie

newer writers
harry potter
shapeshifter by ali sparkes and quite a few of her other books
worst witch
killer cat series
silverstreet farm series
little leap forward
the boy with the magic numbers

WansteadG Wed 25-Sep-13 23:59:47

Magic Faraway Tree for little ones

Colyngbourne Thu 26-Sep-13 11:28:11

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...

scarecrow22 Sun 13-Oct-13 16:10:13

<marking place>

Quangle Mon 14-Oct-13 22:49:59

I just had a look at the "recommend an out of print children's book" competition but I have missed the closing date sad. 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 shock - Need a House? Call Miss Mouse by George Mendoza.

Mumzy Wed 16-Oct-13 14:41:20

The Secret Garden
The Borrowers
My Naughty Little Sister
Narnia Series
The Trebizon series
Milly Molly Mandy
My Side of the Mountain
The Gift from Winklesea
The Diddakoi
These are the books I read as a child and have also read to my dcs

Mumzy Wed 16-Oct-13 14:42:16

Forgot "Anne of Green Gables"

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