11 classical books to read to your children

Are you looking for stories to read to your kids? Here is a list of a few authors whose stories are good for reading out loud. Most of them would be interesting for different ages as well as parents themselves (no reason why only the kids would love the story).

Any of these would also be a good gift idea for children to read on their own (check with the parent on what books they already have). Also take a look also at the illustrations, quality of drawings can vary a lot depending on a publisher. An old-school book with beautiful illustrations is likely to be cherished.

1. “Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry —it’s hard to overemphasize how good this book is. An amazing story, great humor, and snappy illustrations. Includes also a strong theme of friendship, personal responsibility and traveling.

2. F.H. Burnett is a perfect author for old school stories. A recurring theme, children who have to overcome real-life issues and show a strength of character. Taking place in the past, stories are still more relatable than a usual fairy tale. “A Little Princess”, “Little Lord Fauntleroy”, “The Secret Garden” are probably the best known. Occasionally sad, but always with an eventual happy ending.

Children doing everyday things, with little to no magic

Books with strong “summer seem to last forever” feeling. Stories that could, with a little stretch of fantasy, happen to any of us.

3. A. Lindgren has a great range of books for a different age. Pippi Longstocking and Karlson-from-the-roof are great for smaller and middle school kids. “Children of the noisy village” (Bullerby), “Emily”, “Ronja, the Robber’s daughter” and Kalle Blomkvist detective stories would interest also middle-school children and older. Main characters are kids doing (mostly) everyday stuff and mischief and getting into troubles in great and funny ways.

4. Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter — extremely positive, good mood book. A little orphan girl who moves to her grumpy aunt’s place in a small village. The story is built up to show her sunny disposition helps her overcome the difficulties.

Everyday life with a slight flavor of magic

Stories of an everyday life and small adventures with an occasional magic or mystical creatures steering things up. I also included here fictional creatures living their everyday life.

5. Mary Poppins — Don’t let the musical scare you away. Mary Poppins is an exemplary lady, confident and gets things done, but have a bag full of adventures in hand.

6. The Moomin’s family stories by Tove Jansson — warm and sweet stories with a strong family and friends motive all the way through.

7. Doctor Dolittle by Huge Lofting — get your kids interested and loving the animals. The important difference from the film version is that doctor actually learns to speak animal languages through a hard work (and with the help of his parrot, who he first thought to speak human). The story is told through the eyes of a little boy who becomes the doctor’s assistant and learns on his side.

8. Dr. Seuss — obvious choice for English speakers, but some of his works have been translated. With relevant themes for a life (environmental causes for example) and wonderful pictures.

Magic is the story

Books where the magic starts the adventure and is a large part of the whole world.

9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (and the rest of The Chronicles of Narnia) — a great fantasy story.

10. Alice in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass — the foundation for a classical kid’s books. Full of fantasy, colorful characters and story twists for kids and metaphors for grownups.

11. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling — simply because no list would be complete without it, and they really are great stories.


Many of the stories above are also made into a movie or cartoon versions, but that’s no reason to settle. Let your kids spend their screen-time with one of the many of new stories that authors come up each year. The family reading time (before children learn to read and pick their own books) deserves the time-honored classics and is a great way to develop good reading habits (also for your kids).

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