20 Outstanding Classics for Kids

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Are you a book nerd like me? If so, you might want to see if your favorite classics for kids would appeal to the young readers in your life.

From picture books to chapter and middle grade books, these classic children’s books have unforgettable characters and plots written by renowned authors.

Now you can introduce your favorite classic stories to your children with KinderGuides, engaging picture books that retell literary classics for kids.

As far as classics for kids, I wondered why kids would want to read these classic stories. Some don’t and some do. It’s as simple as that. Some kids love the classic books. And if they don’t move on to a different book list. Honestly, there are so many amazing contemporary books as well, I don’t subscribe to the belief that any one book is essential reading. Let kids read what they are interested in reading.

classics for kids

But, if you want to try some classics for kids, starting with picture books, here’s a list of popular choices.

Classics for Kids

Picture Books

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
I think this is the perfect board book — interactive, sequential, repetitive (that’s a good thing for young children), and beautifully illustrated. It’s a must-own, best buy! (As is any Eric Carle book.)

Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.
A classic for kids for a good reason — babies and toddlers love predicting what comes next while learning animal and color words. It’s a kid-favorite board book and one of the best you’ll read. I love giving this as a gift but oftentimes, it’s a duplicate of someone else’s gift so I’d suggest picking another book from this list.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
I adore this book beyond reason and still have it memorized. It’s a beautiful story about saying good-night to everything in a room and one of my kids’ all-time favorite books ever. Start reading it when they’re babies– it’s a fun tradition! (Find Goodnight Moon Read Alikes here.)

Corduroy by Don Freeman
The sweetest story ever, this is the story of a stuffed bear who wants a friend. After an exciting night exploring the department store, a little girl comes back to buy him and becomes his new friend.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendick
Max gets sent to his room for being too wild…and has an exciting adventure on an island as the king of the wild animals. After a while, he misses home and gets there just in time to eat his meal which is still home.

KinderGuides: Engaging Picture Books Retell Literary Classics for Kids

The Odyssey by Fredrick Colting and Melissa Medina with illustration by Yeji Yun
This picture book shares the main events of Odysseus’s epic journey home. As you know, it took 20 years of challenges for him to return home. After the long war against Troy, Odysseus and his men start for home but can’t seem to catch a break. A cyclops traps them, giants gobbles his men up, and Circe turns his men into pigs, just to name a few of the issues. No doubt kids will enjoy Odysseus’ colorful, magical adventures. The writing is skillful, rich with voice and humor, just right for young readers.

KinderGuides The Odyssey is filled with vibrant, colorful illustrations that depict the action. Older kids will enjoy taking the 8 question quiz, reading the key words, and reading the story’s analysis all at the back of the book.

Classics for Kids

Written with lots of personality, Kinderguide’s Pride and Prejudice shares the Jane Austen story of Elizabeth and Darcy in an engaging, delightful way. For example, after learning Wickham is a “bit of a trickster” the book goes on to say, “Hmm…perhaps Darcy isn’t so bad after all?” Similar questions peppered throughout Pride and Prejudice catch kids’ attention, especially readers who are just hearing the story for the first time.

Pride and Prejudice by Melissa Medina and Fredrik Colting is filled with lovely, happy illustrations by Lett Yice. Like the other books, you’ll also find keywords, quiz questions, an analysis, a story summary, and more about the author, Jane Austen.

KinderGuides: Engaging Picture Books Retell Literary Classics for Kids

Charlotte Bronte wrote the classic novel Jane Eyre. Now KinderGuides is bringing it to children as a beautifully illustrated Jane Eyre picture book. The original story is complex but the authors, Melissa Medina and Fredrik Colting, deftly translate it into a kid-friendly, spellbinding story that you’ll enjoy reading with your children. Plus, who doesn’t love a happy ending? Especially after all that drama!

Chapter Books, Middle Grade Books, YA Books

classics for kids

Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
A classic for kids, this novel follows the adventures and friendships of animals in England, including Rat, Mole, Toad, and Badger.

classics for kids

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Anne is an exuberant, talkative 11-year-old being fostered by a brother and sister. This classic for kids shows how she begins to find a home with her new family and changes their lives for the better.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
A classic for kids, this is the warmhearted story of four sisters when their father is at war and they’re struggling with money but always have enough love to go around.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Of all the classics for kids, this exciting adventure is one of the most famous. The story takes young Jim Hawkins on a pirate ship with Long Joohn Silver to find treasure. It’s dark but also exciting and atmospheric.

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, illustrated by F.D. Bedford
Wendy follows her brothers, who’ve left with Peter Pan to visit the Lost Boys on Neverland. On the island, the sinister Captain Hook and his pirates chase Peter Pan and Tinkerbell. But, Wendy wants to get her siblings home safely– they just don’t want to.

King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green
You might think you know the story of King Arthur, but this book will share the history of young Arthur and the sword in the stone all the way to the Holy Grail and his Last Battle. A classic for kids and one of my husband’s childhood favorites.

Call of the Wild by Jack London
Buck is a stolen St. Bernard-Shepard dog who starts this story working as a sled dog in Alaska–then must survive in the wilderness.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, illustrated by Tasha Tudor
Mary is orphaned and moves into her aloof uncle’s house. Her only solace is the secret garden and her two new friends. Be aware as you read that this is one of those classics for kids that is stereotypical and racist.

classics for kids

Twenty Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
A classic for kids and adults, this is a science fiction book by the French Jules Verne about a Captain named Nemo and his submarine the Nautilus. Captain Nemo and two others journey around the world and under the ocean.

classics for kids

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
If you love horses, you’ll love this classic book. It’s an emotional, sometimes sad and cruel, story about a horse who was mistreated time after time by humans.

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Everyone has seen the movie based on the book, but the book gives readers more details about the story that weren’t in the movie version. These classics for kids are a series!

Heidi by Johanna Spyri, illustrated by Alice Carsey
When Heidi is orphaned at age 5, she moves in with her grumpy grandfather in the Alps. Heidi’s cheerful disposition thaws her Grandfather and makes her a beloved friend who she helps when her friend gets seriously ill.

Are you a book nerd like me? If so, you might want to see if your favorite classics for kids would appeal to the young readers in your life.

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