10 Classic Children’s Books That Everyone Should Read

Stories that include orphans shipped home to England from India, poor boys switched with princes, a horse who is dealt with hardship after hardship but never loses faith and a boy who outwits deadly pirates these books are “old-fashioned” classics that reward readers with characters and adventures they will remember forever.  If you have a chance to read them aloud or listen to the audiobooks on a long trip with your kids, you will be doubly rewarded.

1Treasure Island
by Robert Louis Stevenson

The wonderful thrilling story of Jim Hawkins and the dreadful, treacherous, evil pirate Long John Silver and their fateful voyage aboard the Hispaniola to find the buried treasure left by Silver's captain on Treasure Island.

2The Secret Garden
by Frances Hodgson Burnett

An unpleasant and unhappy orphan girl from India is sent to the brooding mysterious Misslethwaite Manor in Yorkshire where she meets her brooding guardian, befriends a boy who talks to animals, and discovers her imperious sickly cousin and unlocks a magical garden that brings them all to life.

3Black Beauty: The Autobiography of a Horse
by Anna Sewell

The as-told-by life of a young colt who passes from owner to owner experiencing love, hardship, cruelty, friendship and finally home. This wonderful story explores the powerful bonds that can exist between humans and animals and the powerful impact when that bond is abused or broken.

4Just So Stories
by Rudyard Kipling

Once upon a time, O my Best Beloved . . . So begins this classic collection of gloriously fanciful tales of how things in the world came to be as they are. Written by Kipling for his children and drawing on tales from India this fun collection of stories solves many pressing questions, including how the leopard got his spots. Excellent for reading together.

5The Prince and The Pauper
by Mark Twain

Two identically looking boys, one an urchin from London’s filthy lanes, the other a prince born in a lavish palace, unwittingly trade identities. Thus a bedraggled “Prince of Poverty” discovers that his private dreams have all come true—while a pampered Prince of Wales finds himself tossed into a rough-and-tumble world of squalid beggars and villainous thieves. Great fun and as amusing satire a fun read for adults too!

6Heidi
by Johanna Spyri

At the age of five, little orphan Heidi lives with her grandfather in the Alps and old man everyone but Heidi is afraid of. She comes to love her life of freedom in the mountains, playing in the sunshine and growing up amongst the goats and birds. But one terrible day, Heidi is collected by her aunt and is made to live with a new family in town. Heidi can't bear to be away from her grandfather; can she find a way back up the mountain, where she belongs?

7The Yearling
by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

No novel better epitomizes the love between a child and a pet than The Yearling. Young Jody adopts an orphaned fawn he calls Flag and makes it a part of his family and his best friend. But life in the Florida backwoods is harsh, and so, as his family fights off wolves, bears, and even alligators, and faces failure in their tenuous subsistence farming, Jody must finally part with his dear animal friend.

8Little Women
by Louisa May Alcott

The wonderful story of the March sisters Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy and their wonderful Marmee and their joys and mishaps they face as young women and as a family. Based on Louise May Alcott's childhood, this lively portrait of nineteenth-century family life possesses a lasting vitality that has endeared it to generations of readers.

9Call of the Wild
by Jack London

The combination of man and dog against the elements of the then untamed North and the anything-goes adventurous nature of Buck, the protagonist, makes for exciting reading. London draws on his turn of the century experiences during the Goldrush in Alaska when dogs were as important to survival as humans.

10The Wind in the Willows
by Kenneth Grahame

Mole, Water Rat, Badger, and the mischievous Toad live a quiet life on banks of the River Thames with the rest of their animal friends. But Toad tends to get into trouble, and his passion for cars eventually results in his being caught and kept a helpless prisoner in the remotest dungeon of the best-guarded castle in all the land.