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Introductory Classic Literature for Young Children

Updated on April 8, 2021

A lot of classic books have stood the test of time and continue to be loved by young readers today, but you need to be selective when dealing with very young children. This is a list of classic books broken down by age. A classic book that's great for a seven or eight-year-old may not interest a five or six-year-old.

Classic Books for 5 and 6 Year Olds

Wind in the Willows (Abridged Version) - You can try reading the original but it may be too difficult for this age group. There are a few different abridged versions of this book. I read the one by G.C. Barrett and it kept my kids' attention. The Wind in the Willows follows the adventures of Mole, Water Rat, Badger, and Toad of Toad Hall. Toad and Rat sail the river and get lost in the Wild Wood, where they meet Badger. Toad gets arrested and has to escape from prison. While he is in jail weasels take over Toad Hall. The friends have to drive out the weasels.

Charlotte's Web - Kids love talking animals, so this is another fun classic. Charlotte's Web tells the story of a spider who comes up with a plan to save a pig from being slaughtered.

The Adventures of Pinocchio (Original) - Kids love the adventures of this mischievous puppet who tries so hard to be good but always ends up doing the wrong thing and suffering the consequences. You can get it for free from Showing the movie first may make the book more understandable even though the plots are completely the same.

Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner - These are two of the original Winnie the Pooh books. The various stories are beautifully told and very funny. They should be a hit with most kids.

The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter - Children will enjoy the colorful and fun tales about Benjamin Bunny, Jemima Puddle-Duck, Tom Kitten, and Miss Moppet. These books are also available at

Classic Books for 7 and 8 Year Olds

The Secret Garden (Original or Abridged) - Kids will be intrigued by the story of three kids who sneak into a forbidden garden to bring it to life. If you decide to read the original, be prepared to cut out some parts that are either boring or inappropriate.

Little House on the Prairie (Original) - The story of Laura Ingalls and her family traveling to Kansas in a covered wagon should be fascinating to most children in this age group. Be prepared to cut out some parts.

Dr. DoLittle (Original) - A doctor shuns human patients to treat animals instead. He can speak to the animals in their own languages.

Sherlock Holmes (Children's Versions) - The Classic Starts version of various Sherlock Holmes stories is a great place to start.

Jules Verne Books (Abridged) -

  • Around the World in Eighty Days
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas

Little Women (Abridged) - Follows the lives of the four March sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, from childhood to womanhood.

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH - Some parts of this book will be difficult for this age group but kids will be fascinated by the story. Mrs. Frisby is a mouse with a seriously sick son who will die if he is moved from their winter to summer home. She must get the help of a group of highly intelligent rats who escaped from a science lab. They must move her home before the plough destroys it and kills her son. This is a thrilling story that kids will love.

Anne of Green Gables (Abridged) - The original may be too difficult for many children, so try to find an abridged version. I bought the version by Dalmation Press. The original is available for free at, so you can try it to see if your child likes it. This story follows the comical adventures of orphan Anne Shirley when she goes to live with an elderly brother and sister.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2012 LT Wright


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