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Classic Books for Kids

Updated on February 8, 2011

Great Books for Kids

There's nothing better for kids than to read a few classic books. These are books that have withstood the test of time because they speak deeply to children as well as to adults. Here is a selection of high-quality classic books for children. They have the power to enrich a child's life and to open his or her mind to other world and other possibilities. 

Where the Red Fern Grows

You don't have to be an animal lover to feel for the protagonist and his beloved hunting dogs. The book is written at about a 5th grade reading level, but I do know a third grader who read it and loved it dearly. If your child loves dogs or just craves an adventure story, Where the Red Fern Grows is a fantastic addition to his or her library. If you haven't read the book yourself, be aware that it does have an Old Yelleresque ending. 

The Red Badge of Courage

Long considered a great book for young boys, there is no reason why a girl wouldn't like it as well. The protagonist is a boy, however, and the book does center on soldiers fighting in the Civil War, so there are many girls who may simply not be interested in the subject matter. It's more than just a "war" book, though- the themes center on envy, pride, maturity and bravery. It's a classic that has been a favorite among several generations for its extremely dynamic protagonist who changes greatly as his adventures make him into a more mature person. It's a classic coming-of-age tale.

A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time is a classic book for kids who like fantasy or just a good, imaginative story. Kids who are interested in science and the possibilities that may exist in our scientific future may also love it the way that millions of other children have over the past few decades. The book is a Newbery Award winner from 1963. The reading level is young adult-  would put it at about eight to 13, though older teenagers certainly enjoy it too.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

If ever there was an iconic boy's figure, it's Tom Sawyer. Mischievous, irresponsible, and possibly a little lazy, he's a character that every kid can relate to. There's a reason why this one has been around for so long without losing its audience- it's relatable, funny, thought provoking and more. There are few characters quite like Tom Sawyer, and kids who never get to read about his are missing out on one of the best reading pleasures of childhood. 

Little House on the Prairie

Little House on the Prairie is one of the most beloved children's books of all time. It's a fantastic lesson in history as well as a book that young kids can identify with. Yes, it's hard to identify with living in a log cabin and having to build a barn for your cattle, but it's easy to identify with Laura's wish to disobey her parents and her hopes and fears. With everything that has changed in the 100+ years since the story's setting, kids are basically the same- they want to have fun and they wish they didn't have so many rules. They fear danger but they trust in their parents to keep them safe. They love their pets just like Laura lover her bulldog Jack, and they hate to move and leave their friends behind.

Ramona Quimby, Age 8

Ramona Quimby is a cute, quirky character that any kids can easily relate to. Boys and girls can both find humor in this book, one of the best from Beverly Cleary. It has plenty of funny moments and plenty more that make kids realize that every kid has to do things that they don't want to do. All of those embarrassments and annoyances that we forget later in life loom large to an eight-year-old, and they're all right there in front of Ramona. Kids with older siblings can especially sympathize with a younger sibling who never quite gets the attention anted from the older one. The reading level is about 2nd to 6th grade levels, and it is a Newbery Honor book.


Blubber is a powerful tale of bullying and peer pressure. Pressured into bullying a classmate, a girl goes through dread, fear, anger and more as she weaves her way through the minefield that is junior high politics between girls. It's gritty, it's real- it's life for girls at any school, any decade. Being in or out of the group is a tightrope that girls walk every day, and Blubber shows them that they aren't alone in that struggle. Girls who have been bullied can sympathize with the Blubber character, but they also get to see behind the curtain and into the mind of the bully. Kids who have been bullies themselves can use the book as a way to see both sides, sympathizing with the bullied girl and seeing that there really is another way after all.


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    • Lynn Savitsky profile image

      Lynn Savitzky 2 years ago from New Jersey

      Ramona Quimby, Age 8 is still one of my all-time favorites, and Red Fern is a tearjerker but a great book and the hero still gets a lot of time with his dogs before the ending.

      Gotta disagree about Blubber, though. The heroine's extremely unlikeable and poor Linda barely gets any compensation for her suffering. It hit too many raw nerves for me.