One of the most important aspects of fostering a passion for reading is the reader’s ability to choose books that intrigue them.
Classics have stood the test of time and criticism because they yielded important learning opportunities, diverse (and, at times, difficult) insights, graceful prose, and a portrayal of basic principles unmatched by any other books.
This is not to suggest that classics are somewhat ‘superior’ to contemporary works, classics are unique in their own way. It is for this reason that we should make children read these books at least every so often.
1. Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Mark Twain was one of the best chroniclers of childhood in the nineteenth century, and his cherished book The Adventures of Tom Sawyer captures the pure joy of becoming a boy.
The central character of this novel is based on a man Twain met while working as a reporter in San Francisco. The real-life Tom Sawyer was a fireman who told Mark Twain about his childhood experiences.
Twain was so enthralled by the stories that he wrote four books based on the real-life Sawyer’s tales.
2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda and many more by Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl was a spy, a fighter pilot, a chocolate historian, and a medical inventor among other things.
He also wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The BFG, and a plethora of other original, timeless, and well-loved children’s books. For many, he is indeed the best storyteller on the planet.
Dahl died in 1990, but his legacy lives on. His books are still some of the most popular among children, and film and theatre versions of his stories are made on a regular basis.
3. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Secret Garden is about Mary Lennox, an especially vain and rude young lady. She stays in India at the start of the novel, but is forced to flee to her uncle’s mansion in England to avoid a crippling cholera epidemic.
The novel is about how Mary’s character and another are transformed by the discovery of a hidden garden.
4. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Green Gables, an old-fashioned farm outside of Avonlea, has beckoned generations of readers into the special world of Green Gables.
Anne Shirley, an eleven year old orphan, arrives in this lush corner of Prince Edward Island only to learn that the Cuthberts — elderly Matthew and his strict girlfriend, Marilla — wish to adopt a boy rather than a fiery redhead daughter. But before they can take her out, Anne, who needs more space for her creativity and a real family, totally converts them.
Anne of Green Gables is a beloved masterpiece that explores all of a child’s insecurites, desires, and hopes when they grow up. It is also a wonderful portrayal of a period, a place, a family… and most importantly, love.
5. Famous Five by Enid Blyton
Enid Mary Blyton was an English children’s writer. Her books have been among the best-sellers since the 1930s.
Blyton’s books are still enormously popular and have been translated into 90 languages. She wrote on a wide range of topics including education, natural history, fantasy, mystery, and biblical narratives and is best remembered for her Noddy, Famous Five, Secret Seven, and Malory Towers.
Enid Blyton wrote a collection of children’s fantasy books known as The Famous Five. In 1942, the first novel, Five on a Treasure Island, was published. Julian, Dick, Anne, and Georgina (George) are four young children who, along with their puppy Timmy, go on adventures.
6. The Blue Umbrella by Ruskin Bond
The Blue Umbrella is a tale about Binya, a young girl from the Himalayan mountains who falls in love with a Blue Umbrella.
A visitor gives her the blue umbrella in exchange of her leopard claw necklace. Binya parades around with her new umbrella, which she claims is the most beautiful in the village. Ruskin Bond is a British-born Indian writer.
He lives in Landour, Mussoorie, India, with his family members. His contribution to the development of children’s literature in India has been recognised by the Indian Council for Child Education. In 1992, he received the Sahitya Academy Award for his novel in English, Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra.
In 1999, he received the Padma Shri, and in 2014, he received the Padma Bhushan.
7. Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome
Jerome was an English humorist and writer who is best known for his satirical travelogue Three Men in a Boat. He was born in the English town of Caldmore and grew up in a poor family in London.
In the book, J. and his mates George and Harris, martyrs of hypochondria and general seediness, conclude that a trip up the Thames would be ideal for them. However, with tow-ropes, inaccurate weather predictions, and tins of pineapple chunks, they could hardly anticipate the difficulties that lie ahead, let alone the destruction left in the path of J.’s little fox-terrier Montmorency.
Three Men in a Boat was an immediate hit when it was released in 1889, and it hilariously caught the mood of the day and is yet timeless.
8. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
In what may be Dickens’ best book, orphaned Pip is apprenticed to the filthy work of the forge. But dreams of becoming a gentleman, and one day, under mysterious circumstances, he finds himself in possession of “great expectations”.
Charles D was a Victorian author and social critic who produced some of the world’s most well-known fictional characters. He is widely considered as the greatest novelist of the century.
Over his lifetime, his works achieved immense success. And by the twentieth century, reviewers and intellectuals had recognised him as a literary genius. His short stories and novels have a long lifetime.
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