02 September 2021 (updated)

The Best Classic Children's Books for Kids of All Ages

There's nothing like a favorite story to bring your family together. Here are some essential classic children's books to inspire kids from age 3 to age 10 and beyond!

For decades, researchers have recognized the benefits of reading to your kids. Children who have been read to demonstrate higher cognitive skills and tend to score higher on various tests. While there are so many innovative modern books, there's something especially cozy about being able to share favorite classic fairy tales or other adventures across generations.

Classic stories and adventures can captivate our imagination and can transport us to places beyond our present place. Reading helps build resilience, which is especially key during this crazy season of social distancing and a global pandemic.

Here are a few classic children's books sure to enchant audiences young and old for years to come.

Best Classics for Babies and Toddlers

Goodnight Moon- Margaret Wise Brown. The simple illustrations and words of this book still make me a little sleepy. As a mom, I can only relate all-too-well to the quiet old lady whispering, "Hush!"

The Very Hungry Caterpillar- Eric Carle. There's something so satisfying about seeing the little hungry caterpillar grow from a little thing into a big, fat caterpillar before the inevitable metamorphosis. 

Brown Bear, Brown Bear- Bill Martin, Jr. The simple rhythmic writing and illustrations are sure to be a big hit with little ones. It's a definite must-read for toddlers.

Pat the Bunny- Dorothy Kunhart. There are plenty of fancier interactive books for babies and toddlers that might be a little more durable. Yet this charming book and the soft bunny tummy remain a favorite.

Best Illustrated Classic Books for Preschoolers

Where the Wild Things Are-Maurice Sendak. Your little ones will love this classic book, which tells the story of Max, King of the Wild Things! Just make sure this doesn't inspire too many wild rumpuses at your house!

Madeline- Ludwig Bemelmans. Bemelmans combines delightful illustrations with perfect rhymes to tell the story of young Madeline and her friends. Be forewarned- after reading this book, your child might also want their appendix out, too!

The Tale of Peter Rabbit- Beatrix Potter. Beatrix Potter's classic tales- often involve animals with cute tails of their own, especially Peter Rabbit. While your kids might also love watching the new adventures of the Peter Rabbit movie, our favorite animated version of the books are these from the 1990s. They're a little slower but bring Beatrix Potter's magical drawings to life in a way that's faithful to the original books.

Make Way for Ducklings- Robert McCloskey. Mr. and Mrs. Mallard and their brood go on a gorgeous journey through Boston. Enjoy their adventures in this classic tale.

Green Eggs and Ham- Dr. Seuss. You can't go wrong with Dr. Seuss, one of the great pioneers of children's literature! This simple tale of Sam-I-Am is an ideal book for early readers.

Today, I Will Fly- Mo Willems. Mo Willems has a plethora of fabulous kids' books, and those in the Gerald and Piggie series will continue to delight generations.

Best Classics for School-Aged Kids

The Adventures of Winnie the PoohA.A. Milne. Kids of all ages will love this book. Be sure to check out Finding Winnie, as well, which tells the true story of the inspiration behind this famous bear.

Alice in Wonderland- Lewis Carroll. With vibrant characters and a surreal plot, it's a beautiful adventure into the tumultuous world of wonderland.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory- Roald Dahl- Another classic story complete with vivid characters and plenty of literary treats.

Where the Sidewalk Ends- Shel Silverstein. Everyone needs a great book of poetry, and these zany poems are sure to delight your kids as you read aloud those silly words together.

Best Classic Children's Books for Young Adults

A Wrinkle in Time- Madeline L'Engle. A Wrinkle in Time is a sci-fi novel that tells the story of Meg Murray and her journey to save her father as she travels across time and the universe.

Little Women-Louisa May Alcott. The adventures of the four March sisters will captivate young readers today, as it did nearly two centuries ago when it first came out.

Anne of Green Gables- L.M. Montgomery. What young girl doesn't wish she had the imagination and spunk of young Anne Shirley. As the first story in this series, it's one you and your children will want to read again and again.

The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe- C.S. Lewis. Who wouldn't want to be transported to Narnia through an unassuming wardrobe? This delightful book still enchants readers of all ages decades after its initial publication.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer- Mark Twain. Young readers will enjoy exploring the world of Tom and Huck along the Mississippi River.

The Power of Classic Books

Great books have the power to transport us to places beyond ourselves, increase our understanding of the world, and make us happy. So be sure to enjoy some of these tales again and again.

What are some of your favorite classic children's books? Be sure to share your picks with friends and family on FamilyApp!

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