Every child’s wide-eyed dreams begin with some of the greatest classic children’s books. Whether it’s Peter Pan, Bambi, or White Fang, these classic stories never fail to inspire a love of learning. Their timeless storytelling has inspired generations of kids, firing the imaginations of children worldwide.
When it comes to children’s books, there’s no such thing as a dispute between what is classic and what is modern. Some of the characters and their actions might seem a bit outdated to an adult. But in a child’s mind, they are a source of continuous fascination. And kids gradually integrate them into their world.
To dream is a right shared by everyone, regardless of their age or inclination. But for children, the imagination is a good way of develop their personal skills and broaden their horizons.
So, whether you’re looking for that perfect book to read aloud, there’s always a story for you there.
Here are some of the most beloved classic children’s books that you should have in your home.
Best Classic Children’s Books
1. White Fang – Jack London
White Fang is probably one of the most popular books for children in the history of English Literature. The plot of the novel revolves around a young pup, who is a three-thirds wolf and goes by the name of White Fang.
White Fang is the sole survivor of a feisty female wolf pack leader who managed to survive a famine against all odds. After White Fang and his mother return to their master, who lives in an Indian village, White Fang is encouraged by his owner, known by the name of Gray Beaver, to be vicious and to fight other dogs.
The lone wolf is passed on to many cruel masters until he meets Scott, a gentleman, who manages to tame White Fang and to teach him the values of obedience and love towards his family.
White Fang and Scott return to California, where the wolf has puppies with the family’s dog, named Collie.
Regarding classic children’s books, this one is a must-have. You can opt for the unabridged version of the book or the illustrated version. Alternatively, you can read the book on the internet.
2. Eloise – Kay Thompson
Eloise can only be described as being that precocious little girl that lives at the Plaza Hotel in the fair city of New York. The little girl is inquisitive about everything around her, and she always has an answer to everything.
Apart from this, Eloise knows the hotel by heart, and she can tell you all about the people living there. Moreover, Eloise, who is not a lady, per se, loves to hear interesting facts about people who are not boring.
Explore the city of New York and learn what it’s like to be a young little girl living by herself in one of the most luxurious areas of the city.
3. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
Follow the adventures of Mole, Rabbit, Toad, Badger, and their group of friends as they set through the English countryside. Their journey is riddled with funny happenings and colorful characters.
It all begins one day when Mole, tired of doing his annual spring cleaning, decides to go outside for a little fresh air. Now on the surface above his burrow, he immediately befriends Rabbit and Toad. All three of them, along with other characters, set out to explore the English countryside high and low.
4. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
The story of The Secret Garden begins with Mary Lennox, a sickly young girl, who everybody finds ugly and nasty. For a short period, Mary lives with her father, a British captain, and her beautiful mother in India.
Due to her ill-tempered ways, her parents trust the child to several native servants and prevent her from having any contact with the outside world. Unfortunately, a cholera outbreak kills Mary’s parents, forcing her to return to England, where she stays for a while with a clergyman and his family.
Mary’s life will take a turn for the better when the clergyman decides to send the girl to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven, master of Misselthwaite Manor.
Craven shares Mary’s foul temper because he is a widower. Shortly after arriving at her uncle’s manor, Mary learns about the existence of a secret garden that belonged to Craven’s departed wife.
5. Rip Van Winkle – Washington Irving
Washington Irving’s masterpiece echoes through time, and is deemed one of the most beloved American short stories for both children and adults. Rip Van Winkle is a simple man, living a prosperous and quiet life in a Dutch village located in the Catskill Mountains.
His life would be blissful indeed, had it not been for his shrew of a wife, who constantly nags him about everything. One day, Van Winkle decides to go out hunting in the mountains. On his way, he encounters Henry Hudson’s party, with whom he drinks.
After having one too many mugs of beer, Rip falls asleep in the forest. He wakes up after more than 20 years, discovering that everything around him has changed completely, from his little hamlet, which is now a fully fledged city, to the Yankee Hotel, placed ostentatiously in the middle of the town.
6. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – Washington Irving
Ichabod Crane is a dashing young man from Connecticut. He travels to the town of Sleepy Hollow to take charge of his commission as a school teacher. In this fair city, townsfolk have a thing for supernatural encounters. Then Crane meets Katrina Van Tassel, the daughter of a local merchant.
Crane must strive to win Katrina’s heart and hand, but things go way out of hand. Crane hears the tale of a Headless Horseman, who haunts the local church.
7. The Tales of Mother Goose – Charles Perrault
This adorable and enchanting collection of children’s stories and nursery rhymes has to be one of the most sought-after classic children’s books. Mother Goose, the character that gives the book its name, is a kind old lady who tells children fantastic stories while she works with her spindle.
Some of the most beautiful stories brought to life by Charles Perrault are “Puss in Boots,” “Cinderella,” “Sleeping Beauty,” and “Little Red Riding Hood.”
8. The Nutcracker and the Mouse King – E.T.A. Hoffmann
Hoffmann’s tale about the Nutcracker and the battle against the evil Mouse King is one of the most enduring Christmas stories. The author tells the story of Marie Stahlbaum, a girl whose favorite toy is a Soldier Nutcracker.
One night, the Nutcracker comes to life, and after defeating the mischievous Mouse King in battle, takes Marie away to visit a magical kingdom populated by talking porcelain dolls.
9. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
Louisa Marie Alcott tells the story of the March sisters, named Jo, Beth, Meg, and Amy. It’s Christmas time, and the March family, stricken by poverty and war, sits around the cozy fire. To cast away the gloom, the four sisters decide to buy some gifts.
But they soon realize that buying gifts for themselves will be selfish. Instead, they decide to buy something for their poor mother. Upon receiving their gifts, the mother begins to read her husband letters to the girls. He has been serving as a chaplain on the front lines.
10. Bambi – Felix Salten
Bambi is, by far, considered one of the most adored classic children’s books. Felix Salten tells the story of a young deer named Bambi, who lives a quiet life in the forest. Bambi spend her time playing with friends. But winter comes, and Bambi realizes that the woods, although quiet and peaceful, hold more dangers than she previously thought.
These are the most popular classic children’s books every family should have in their home. Give your child a chance to dream, and always encourage him or her to be inquisitive about everything.