Top Ten Tuesday: Classic Children’s Books

May 14, 2013 Top Ten Tuesday 12

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature/meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  I’m skipping this week’s scheduled topic to focus on Children’s Book Week with a list of my Top Ten Classic Children’s Books

Alphabetically by author, the following were among my favorite “older” classic children’s books when I was young (and still are.)  Most of these are at least 90 years old; some are even older.  And there are more than ten.  Also, I wasn’t particularly into pirates or swashbuckling adventure as a child, so some of these will appeal more to girls than boys.

  • Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott.  Also Little Men and Jo’s Boys, which may be more appealing to boys (but are not quite as good.)
  • Eight Cousins, by Louisa May Alcott
  • Peter Pan, by J. M. Barrie 
  •  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum 
  • The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett (I prefer Tasha Tudor’s illustrations)
  • A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett (also illustrated by Tasha Tudor)

  • Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll.  Actually, I had a love-hate relationship with these, because Wonderland was so… randomly weird.  But it didn’t keep me from re-reading them.
  • The Princess and the Goblin and The Princess and Curdie, by George MacDonald, and also his shorter tale, The Light Princess (I loved William Pene du Bois’s illustrations for the latter.)

    • Anne of Green Gables, by L. M. Montgomery (the whole series, really, but the first book is best for middle grade readers)
    • Pollyanna, by Eleanor Porter*
    • Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, by Margaret Sidney

    • Heidi, by Johanna Spyri.  (It’s important to get a good translation; the prose in some of them is plodding and dull.)
    • The Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann David Wyss.  Shipwreck and adventure, family style. 


    * Just a note: Pollyanna isn’t the insipid Little Miss Sunshine that most people think. She is raised in poverty, then loses her beloved father and has to live with an unloving aunt.  Pollyanna’s habit of always looking for something to be glad about is hard won, and not even she can muster it all the time, despite years of practice.  I’ve always liked her.

    Next come ten of my favorite “newer” children’s classics — which I’m defining as anything written in the last 80 years or so, that has stood the test of time.  Again, they’re alphabetical by author, and there are more than ten.  And I’ve stuck with books that are generally considered children’s or middle-grade rather than young adult (although L’Engle could go either way.)

    • The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Black Hearts in Battersea, by Joan Aiken.  The whole series is good, but the first two are my favorites.
    • The Children of Green Knowe and The Treasure of Green Knowe, by L. M. Boston.  I like the other Green Knowe books, but these two are sheer magic.
    • The Melendy quartet, by Elizabeth Enright.  The Saturdays, The Four-Story Mistake, Then There Were Five, and Spiderweb for Two
    • My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George
    • Linnets and Valerians and The Little White Horse, by Elizabeth Goudge.  This is really cheating; the two books aren’t related, and the latter is a fairytale while the former is more realistic (well, mostly.)  But I love them equally.
    • Brighty of the Grand Canyon, by Marguerite Henry.  Yes, I liked Misty of Chincoteague, but my best-loved Henry book was this story of a little burro in the Grand Canyon.
    • A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, and A Swiftly Tilting Planet, by Madeleine L’Engle


      • The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis.  All of them. Except maybe The Last Battle.
      • Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner, by A. A. Milne 
      • Swallows and Amazons, Swallowdale, and We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea, by Arthur Ransome.  There are others in this series, but I think these three are the best.
      • Ballet Shoes, by Noel Streatfeild


      • Charlotte’s Web, by E. B. White
      • The Little House series, by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

      12 Responses to “Top Ten Tuesday: Classic Children’s Books”

      1. Jan

        Wow! You have some great books here…some I haven’t thought of in years. Brighty was one of my favorite books. I think we read it aloud in class when I was in second or third grade. And my son and I read The Wizard of Oz and many other Oz books together. So many great books and memories. Thanks for a great list.

      2. Bea

        You have some fantastic books there and a few I’ve never heard of. I always liked Brighty too, poor little donkey.

        • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

          Thank you! They bring back fond memories for me, too — twice over now, since I read most of them to my now college-age daughter. Someday, perhaps I’ll read them to my grandchildren!

          Thank you for the link; I’ll go check it out!