Classic Children's Literature · Lists

Children’s Classics: Suggestion List

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We’re fast approaching the start of January and The Classic Children’s Literature Event start. Although I linked to last year’s suggestion list in my introductory post, I believe I promised a revised suggestion list for this year. Actually, rather than a revision, it is composed entirely of titles that weren’t on last year’s list. Of course, I haven’t actually read most of the suggestions in this list yet, but I’ve heard/read good things about most of these. I also can’t speak for how easy or difficult it is to find copies of many of these (especially the translations). The list is in approximate chronological order by original publication date.

  1. Hoffmann, E.T.A: The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (1816, Germany) – One to read now, perhaps?
  2. Marryat, Frederick: The Children of the New Forest (1847, England)
  3. Afanasyev, Alexander: Russian Fairy Tales (1855-63, Russia)
  4. Busch, Wilhelm: Max and Moritz (A Story of Seven Boyish Pranks) (1865, Germany)
  5. Dodge, Mary Mapes: Hans Brinker, of The Silver Skates (1865, U.S.)
  6. Carroll, Lewis: Sylvie and Bruno (1889, England) and Sylvie and Bruno Concluded (1893, England) – I don’t know much about them–which makes me curious, knowing what the Wonderland books are like.
  7. Alcott, Louisa May: Under the Lilacs (1878, U.S.)
  8. Macdonald, George: At the Back of the North Wind (1871, Scotland)
  9. Pyle, Howard: Merry Adventures of Robin Hood of Great Renown in Nottinghamshire (1883, U.S.)
  10. Kipling, Rudyard: Just So Stories (1902, England)
  11. Grahame, Kenneth: The Wind in the Willows (1908, England)
  12. Nesbit, E.: The Story of the Treasure Seekers (1899, England)
  13. Burnett, Frances Hodgson: The Secret Garden (1911, England)
  14. Montgomery, L.M.: Magic for Marigold (1929, Canada) – One of many alternatives to the more familiar Anne stories
  15. Burroughs, Edgar Rice: Tarzan of the Apes (1914, U.S.)
  16. Colum, Padraic: The King of Ireland’s Son (1916, Ireland)
  17. Lindsay, Norman: The Magic Pudding (1918, Australia)
  18. Kästner, Erich: Emil and the Detectives (1929, Germany)
  19. Ransome, Arthur: Swallows and Amazons (1930, England)
  20. Field, Rachel: Hitty: Her First Hundred Years (1930, U.S.)
  21. Streatfield, Noel: Ballet Shoes (1936, England)
  22. Atwater, Richard and Florence: Mr. Popper’s Penguins (1938, U.S.) – Why do I get the feeling that the recent movie version had little to do with this book?
  23. Volkov, Alexander Melentyevich: The Wizard of the Emerald City (1939, USSR) – I understand that this was a Soviet-era version of Baum’s famous first Oz book – perhaps a comparison of the two would make a fun project?
  24. Eager, Edward: Half Magic (1954, U.S.)
  25. Goudge, Elizabeth: Linnets and Valerians (1964, England)
  26. Jansson, Tove: Finn Family Moonmintroll  (1948, Finland)
  27. Henry, Marguerite: King of the Wind (1948, U.S.)
  28. Thurber, James: The 13 Clocks (1950, U.S.)
  29. Taylor, Sydney: All-of-a-Kind Family (1951, U.S.)
  30. Norton, Mary: The Borrowers (1952, England)
  31. Green, Roger Lancelyn: King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table (1953, England)
  32. Sutcliff, Rosemary: The Eagle of the Ninth (1954, England)
  33. Boston, L. M.: The Children of Green Knowe (1954, England)
  34. DeJong, Meindertt: The Wheel on the School (1955, Dutch-U.S.)
  35. Juster, Norton: The Phantom Tollbooth (1961, U.S.)
  36. Dahl, Roald: James and the Giant Peach (1961, Britain) – Or any of his, really.
  37. Rawls, Wilson: Where the Red Fern Grows (1961, U.S.)
  38. L’Engle, Madeleine: A Wrinkle in Time (1962, U.S.) – The first in a series.

And some post-1963 titles (I’m bending my own guidelines)

  1. Cooper, Susan: Over Sea, Under Stone (1965, England) – The first in The Dark is Rising series, a favorite of mine and for anyone who loves both Arthurian legend and fantasy.
  2. White, E.B.: The Trumpet of the Swan (1970, U.S.) – My favorite White title.
  3. Howe, James and Deborah: Bunnicula (1979, U.S.) – My dad still talks about how much he enjoyed reading this series to my brother and me.

Book Riot also had a fun post recently with a list of children’s classics that many of us know via the movie versions rather than the original books. Check it out!

And after all that–I’m feeling like I need January to be twice as long–I see too many additional books I’d like to read!

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9 thoughts on “Children’s Classics: Suggestion List

    1. One of these days I should just spend some time focusing on fairy-tales and folklore from around the world. I know the most famous stories, but outside of Grimm and some of Anderson, not too much. I can’t even remember how I came across this title, but it must have interested me enough to put in on a list!

  1. Loved reading through the list looking for some ideas, noticed The Magic Pudding, might try and make it an Australia day read. Can I suggest another author aussie children’s classic that people might find interesting, namely May Gibbs Gumnut babies books, starting with Snuglepot and Cuddlepie, they were written roughly around the same time as The Magic Pudding and are to this day an integral part of an Australian childhood.
    Looking forward to some relaxing children’s reads.

    1. Oh, by all means, suggest away! I have a very limited knowledge of children’s classics outside the U.S. and Britain, so the more suggestions the better. Glad to hear you enjoyed the list and are anticipating children’s lit reading!

  2. Just stopped by to look at the list of Children’s books. I have become an avid reader of this genre due to your blog an Children’s Classic Book Carousel (Cleo). I discovered The 13 Clocks b/c of your suggestion! Just finished Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It was a short book but filled with satire, wordplay, allusions etc. It was so good. Now I’ve got Hans Brinker ready to read….. I may borrow some of your great selections on your list!

    1. I’m so glad to hear you’re having fun with reading children’s literature! There are still so many classics I haven’t read (yet), and others I want to visit as an adult. Alice in Wonderland, for one. Feel free to borrow any of my suggestions–that’s why they are here.

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