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  • Writer's pictureJulie Branstetter

A Case for Classic Literature for Kids & Teens

Updated: May 18, 2023


This is a growing list of classic literature I personally recommend for children of various ages to read. Classics should be a staple in our literary pantry and homeschool curriculum; they play an important role in providing a well rounded education for our children. Classics are valuable because they offer learning experiences, sometimes through difficult perspectives, elegant writing styles, and a variety of essential values.


Some Benefits of Reading Classics


* Improves reading comprehension and critical thinking skills. Classic books of all kinds have themes, symbols, and other important elements. When your children have a chance to explore these elements themselves, they can start to build an understanding in how to analyze texts, and improve their reading comprehension and critical thinking abilities.

* Expands Vocabulary Language changes from era to era. In reading classic books, it is common to come across words and phrases that are new to your child. Their vocabulary expands, and, as a result, they become better writers, readers, and communicators. * Moral Messages Through the classics, it is possible to see how the world has changed (either for the better or worse) over time. Classics help to incorporate historical and cultural knowledge into your child's reading material. Information about how the people of past thought and acted is revealed from page to page of every book, and catching onto these themes help children to develop their own psychological world view.

* Inspiration

Many modern authors have been inspired by classic literature. The classics have a rich history of inspiring some of our favorite modern works. Even if your child never becomes an author, the classics help them to become better writers and communicators, and this expands benefit into many areas of their lives.


* Patience

Reading classics often helps to teach a child that patience and diligence comes with reward. Many classics present stories with more than one plot, and they may take longer to build characters and settings before presenting conflict and conclusion in the story. An impatient reader may find this tedious and boring, especially in modern times when instant gratification is embedded into every aspect of culture. They may want to put a classic down early-on, but when encouraged to continue with the story, they eventually discover that it is one of their favorite books. Learning to stick through a book with great detail and discover joy as a reward teaches children patience which will benefit them in many areas of life.


* Emotional Self Regulation

Let's face it! Those of us who've read classics know, they don't always have a happy ending. Sometimes classics are hilarious, and sometimes they are torturous and can leave a profound emotional impact. Working through classics can help to teach children and teens emotional self regulation as they work through the conflicts and conclusions of a great variety of stories that don't always end the way we want them to. We know we all wanted Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester to find each other again in the end, but finding him blind and maimed was a bit of a shock. No matter how much we'd like to change the ending, that's the way it is, and that's also the way life is sometimes.


Here's my initial list, but I will be adding to it over time. This is a great place to start if you are looking for something for your child or teen to read. Look at the age recommendation on them to be sure they are age appropriate for your child. Some of them are for very little children, others are for teens. You may easily find these at your local library or if you need to purchase one and would like to save money, consider using Thrift Books or Second Sale.


Little Women - Louisa May Alcott, 1868 A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle, 1962 Charlotte's Web - E. B. White, 1952 Grimm's Fairy Tales

Peter and Wendy - James Matthew Barrie, 1911 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl, 1964 The Giving Tree - Shel Silverstein, 1964 Where the Wild Things Are - Maurice Sendak, 1963 Anne of Green Gables - L. M. Montgomery, 1908 The Snowy Day - Ezra Jack Keats, 1962 Goodnight Moon - Margaret Wise Brown, 1947

The Velveteen Rabbit - Margery Williams, 1922 The Wonderful Wizard of OZ - L. Frank Baum, 1900 The Tale of Peter Rabbit - Beatrix Potter, 1901 The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain, 1876 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1911 The Phantom Tollbooth - Norton Juster, 1961 Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson, 1882 Winnie-the-Pooh - A. A. Milne, 1926 Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Annotated Book - Lewis Carroll, 1865 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame, 1908 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee, 1960

The Story of Doctor Dolittle - Hugh Lofting, 1920 Matilda - Roald Dahl, 1988 The Hobbit - J. R. R. Tolkien, 1937 The Hiding Place - Corrie Ten Boom, 1974

Stuart Little - E. B. White, 1945 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens, 1843 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis, 1950 Black Beauty - Anna Sewell, 1877 Where the Red Fern Grows - Wilson Rawls, 1961 Make Way for Ducklings - Robert McCloskey, 1941 The Sword in the Stone - T. H. White, 1938 Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain, 1884 A Little Princess - Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1905 The House at Pooh Corner - A. A. Milne, 1928 The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, 1943 Beezus and Ramona - Beverly Cleary, 1955 Romana the Pest - Beverly Cleary, 1968

Little House in the Big Woods - Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1932 Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry - Mildred D. Taylor, 1976 Heidi - Johanna Spyri, 1881 Pippi Longstocking - Astrid Lindgren, 1945 The Swiss Family Robinson - Johann David Wyss, 1812 Mary Poppins - Pamela Lyndon Travers, 1934 Pollyanna - Eleanor H. Porter, 1913 James and the Giant Peach - Roald Dahl, 1961 Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea - Jules Verne, 1870 Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell, 1949 The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925 The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Series - Arthur Conan Doyle, 1892

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare - William Shakespeare, 1594 - 1634

Wuthering Heights - Emily Brontë, 1847 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen, 1813

Don Quixote - Miguel de Cervantes, 1605 Moby-Dick - Herman Melville, 1851 The Catcher in the Rye - J. D. Salinger, 1951 The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde, 1890 Dracula - Bram Stoker, 1897 Lord of the Flies - William Golding, 1954 Animal Farm - George Orwell, 1945 The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas, 1846 Emma - Jane Austen, 1815 Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison, 1952 Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Illustrated - Robert Louis Stevenson, 1886 Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury, 1953 The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1850 The complete Works of J.R.R Tolkien - J.R.R. Tolkien 1937

Crime and Punishment -Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1866 A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens, 1859 Persuasion - Jane Austen, 1817 Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe, 1958 The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway, 1926 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert, 1856

The War of the Worlds - H. G. Wells, 1898 The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank, 1947 The Stranger- Albert Camus, 1942 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey, 1962 The Awakening - Kate Chopin, 1899 The Time Machine - H. G. Wells, 1895 Stories & Poems by Edgar Allen Poe - Edgar Allen Poe, @1840



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