Thursday, June 19, 2014

Classic Books for the Kids' Summer Reading List

by Amanda Forester

Today was the last day of school for my kids and as their thoughts turned to how they would enjoy their summer, mine turned to how to keep their little brains from atrophying over the summer break.  I am determined to keep their skills sharp by doing a little homeschooling over the summer. Shhhh, don't tell them yet.  I'm trying to figure out a way to break it to them that won't lead to something akin to the silent scream look.

One of the educational activities we all can agree on is reading.  They enjoy hearing many different books and request politely (translation: demand incessantly) that I read to them at least a little bit before they go to bed.  With all the excitement of the end of school, I forgot that we had just finished White Fang by Jack London and we needed a new book. 

I try to read classic books to them that they wouldn't pick up for themselves, things that are a bit above their reading level or that need some explaining to make it understood. This is all well and good, but it takes a bit of forethought, which I had neglected to do, so I quickly ransacked the house looking for something to read.  Now don't get me wrong, we have lots of books in the house, but between my love of historical romance and my husband's love of military history, most books are not exactly kid-friendly.

I finally came across one of my favorites from my tween years - The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy.  You see I did find a historical romance after all!  After explaining that this was the Scarlet Pimpernel, not the Scarlet Pimple, and giving a brief history lesson of the French Revolution, we settled down to enjoy the adventure. 

This has got me thinking about classic books every kid should read (or have read to them) as they are growing up.  Here are my thoughts:

A Christmas Carol  
by Charles Dickens

Anne of Green Gables  
by Lucy Maud

Bear Called Paddington  
by Michael Bond

Charlotte's Web
by E.B. White

The Hobbit
by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
by C.S. Lewis

Little House in the Big Woods
by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Little Women
by Louisa May Alcott

Peter Pan
by J.M. Barrie

Pippi Longstocking
by Astrid Lindgren

Ramona the Pest
by Beverley Cleary

Secret Garden
by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Three Musketeers
by Alexandre Dumas

To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee

Tom Sawyer
by Mark Twain

Treasure Island
by Robert Louis Stevenson

Winnie the Pooh
by A.A. Milne

Wrinkle in Time
by Madeleine L'Engle

I'm sure there are many deserving books that should be included.  What are some of your classic books every kid should read?


  1. What a great list. For older kids, I'd add The Diary of Anne Frank. For younger kids, many of the Dr. Seuss books--such as Cat and the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, Go Dog Go and Hop on Pop--should be on the list.

    1. Absolutely! Those are great classics I'd enjoyed (albeit at different times).

  2. I think you got them all. Maybe add a Hardy Boys book? But you aren't really going to read them The Scarlet Pimpernel or The Three Musketeers, are you? I mean, I love those stories, but they were boring for me at times, and I read them by choice in college. Princess Galen is just starting to be able to sit for longer stories, and I'm enjoying reading more developed plots. As long as there are pictures, she's happy. We also do a lot of audio books, and she listens and turns the pages when the signal sounds. Nice break from always hearing mom, though I must say I have a very dramatic reading voice.

    1. I've found the kids will sit still and listen to me read to books they would never read themselves. It helps to read in funny accents! :)

  3. Don't forget the science fiction books...the Andre Norton or Robert Heinlein ones written for kids started my love of the genre...and I moved on to Asimov, Silverberg, Zelazny, Clarke and the rest!