Classic Children’s Books
Here is a list of classic children’s books you could read to your children under 6 years of age.
For the purpose of this post, we are going to take classic children’s books as books enjoyed by more than one generation.
List of Classic Children’s Books
The Panchatantra Stories
The Panchatantra stories are the oldest surviving fables of Ancient India. It was originally written in Sanskrit and has been translated into many languages including English, Hindi, Persian, Arabic, and many Indian languages. Every story has a moral value associated with it.
Legend has it that King Amarashakti, who ruled Mahilaropya in southern India, had three sons. The king appointed scholar Vishnu Sharma to teach them. But Vishnu Sharma realized that conventional tools and techniques of teaching did not work on them So he wrote stories to teach them. ‘Panch’ means five and ‘Tantra’ means principles. Panchatantra stories are segregated into 5 main categories.
The first set of stories related to winning friends
The second set of stories related to losing friends
The third set of stories to teach the lesson of thinking before acting
The fourth set of stories mention how to come out of difficult circumstances without losing things
The fifth set of stories teach about strategies for war and peace
The Jungle Book
Author: Rudyard Kipling
This is a classic book which all have read. It is a collection of short stories. Most of the characters in this book are animals, though the primary character is Mowgli. Mowgli s a man-cub who got lost from his human parents. He has been raised by a family of wolves in the jungle. He has mentors, Baloo the bear and Bagheera, the panther who teach him how to survive in the jungle. But fate has other plans for Mowgli. Hunted by Sher Khan the Tiger, Mowgli must defeat him to survive.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Author: Eric Clarke
The Very Hungry Caterpillar is hugely popular worldwide. This is a great book to educate children about the life cycle of a butterfly. It wonderfully explains how the caterpillar comes out of an egg and finally turns into a butterfly. Besides the lifecycle, it also teaches counting, color names, fruits names, junk food names and days of the week.
Author: Margaret Wise Brown
Goodnight Moon is a classic bedtime children’s storybook for very young kids. Before going to bed, the rabbit goes around the room and says goodnight to the moon and all the familiar things that surround him. Everything from the painting on the wall to the mittens is mentioned and said goodnight to.
The Gingerbread Man
The Little Gingerbread Man is a wonderful classic with such a simple and remarkable plot. The main character of the story is Gingerbread Man. A little old woman makes a gingerbread man but then he hops out of the oven. He is then chased by many, from an old woman to the old man, cow, pig, hen, and then the sly fox. The gingerbread man keeps repeating his famous line” Run ! run! run as fast you can. You can’t catch me, I am the gingerbread man.”
The Giving Tree
Author: Silverstein Shel
This is a little controversial book. Some people find it beautiful and touching and some upsetting. Children can learn about the importance of caring, giving, and how to treat others. The story beautifully illustrates the benefits we get from trees and the man’s never-ending greed.
The book tells the tale of an apple tree and a boy who loved each other. When he was young, the boy would come to visit the tree every day. The tree gave him everything he ever needed or demanded. Later, the boy visits it less and eventually stopped coming. Whenever he did come, he only came to get things from the tree-like money from the apples, house from her branches, and boat from her wood. But the tree never complained. Even in the end when tree had nothing to give to the boy, she gave her stump which the boy used as a stool. Even in the end, the tree says that she is happy.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
Author: Bill Marti
This is a lovely book and a great way to introduce colors and animals to children. There is a narrator who asks different animals what they see. The animals answer that another animal is looking at them This is repeated throughout the book. The animals are described in terms of color like a black sheep, a brown bear, a green frog, a white dog, and many more.
The Hare and the Tortoise
We all are familiar with this fable, The Hare and the Tortoise. The Tortoise, although very slow, wins the race because of his patience and perseverance, while the hare loses the game because of his arrogance and overconfidence.
Author: Rod Campbell
Dear Zoo is a children’s classic book. It was written in 1982 as a lift-the-flap board book. Dear Zoo is a fun and engaging book where kids will love lifting the flaps. It is a story about a child who sends a letter to the zoo looking for a pet. The zoo ships different animals. Each page has a flap that carefully hides the animal sent from the zoo and a clue is written on it. All these animals are sent back to the zoo for different reasons. For example, an elephant is too big, the lion is too fierce, the giraffe is too tall, the monkey too naughty. The last one proves to be perfect! The story is perfect to teach kids what kind of animals live in zoos and their suitability as pets.
Author: Don Freeman
This is a simple and sweet story about a teddy bear at a department store that desires to be chosen by a child. One little girl arrives with her mother and wants to buy it. However, her mother refuses because a button is missing in his overalls. So Corduroy tries to find the missing button by himself but with no luck. The next day, the girl visits the store again and buys Corduroy with her saved money. She sews him a button at home. The book ends with both of them hugging and saying to each other that they had always wanted a friend.
Three Billy Goat’s Gruff
This classic story is about three clever billy goats that outwit a mean troll.
Once three goats eat all the grass on their side of their field and want to go to a bigger field on the other side of a bridge. But they are scared to go to another side as a mean and nasty troll lives under it. They come up with an idea. First, the smallest goat goes and when the troll stops him, he tells the troll to wait for the next goat, which is far bigger than him. The troll lets him go and then stops the next bigger goat who follows him. The second goat also promises that there’s a bigger goat coming, so the troll lets him cross again.
Finally, the biggest goat comes and he challenges the troll to a fight. He knocks him off the bridge, where he floats downriver, freeing the bridge for anyone to cross as they please.
We’re going on a Bear Hunt
Author: Michael Rosen
The story uses rhythm and repetition which is wonderful for young readers and children who are building their vocabulary When reading it to children, the rhyming makes it very fun to read out loud. The story is about a family going on a bear hunt. They pass through various obstacles to reach the bear’s cave. But once they reach the cave and come eye to eye with this bear, they quickly change their minds and rush back through all the obstacles to their home.
The Cat in the Hat
Author: Dr. Zuess
The Cat in the Hat is probably one of the most famous children’s books Dr. Seuss has ever written. Two children, Sally and Sam, are home alone when their mother goes out for the day. They’re having a really boring day. Suddenly, they’re graced with a surprise visit from a stranger, the Cat, He assures them that their mother will not mind him being there. After he is let in, the cat creates havoc in their house, smashing and dropping items. Before the Cat leaves, he cleans up his mess, When Sam and Sally’s mother returns home, nothing is wrong. She asks the children what they did while she was out, but the children are reluctant to answer. The story comes to an end with the question, “What would you do if your mother asked you?”
Little Red Riding Hood
The Little Red Riding Hood is a classic children’s story and is among the most popular fairy tales in the world and I am sure everybody knows the plot. It’s a story of a girl named Little Red Riding Hood who has to pass through the forest to deliver food to her grandmother. On her way, she meets a fox who wants to eat her.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
This story is about a girl Goldilocks who comes upon a house in a forest. She goes in and helps herself to porridge, sits in the chairs, and sleeps on the beds. Meanwhile, the bears who own the house come home, and much to their surprise they discover goldilocks has eaten their porridge, sat on their chairs, and slept on their beds. When Goldilocks sees and hears the bears, she gets scared and jumps from the bed, and runs away as fast as she can.
The Wizard of Oz
The Wizard Of Oz is a story about a trip to a magical fairyland but it is not about a prince or princess. It’s about a country girl named Dorothy trying to find her way home after she lands up in another place due to a cyclone. And on her way to her home, she meets many friends with some shortcomings. They were all disheartened due to their flaws. In the end, they all overcome their flaws, and the story ends with Dorothy back home safe and sound. The original novel is written for kids 12 and up. But there are various adaptations for young kids too.
The Little Red Hen
The Little Red Hen is the story of a hen who finds grain and asks her friend’s cat, dog, and mouse to help her plant and tend the wheat. But they all refuse to help. So, she does the chores herself. The hen requests the others to help her bring the wheat to the mill so that she can make the flour. She also asks to help them to bake bread from the flour. But her lazy friends refuse once again. This time the hen not only does all the work herself but enjoys the bread by herself, too as nobody helped her.
Peter Pan is a child who never wants to grow up. He visits children in their dreams. When the children grow up, they no longer recall Peter.
Once, he takes Wendy and two boys, John and Michael, off to Neverland on an adventure. The lost boys are taken care of by Wendy because she has a motherly instinct. She helps direct the boys to fight the pirates and Captain Hook. She tries to persuade Peter Pan to allow her to travel with the little boys back home because she knows they will be adopted by her parents. Also, she invites Peter. Peter admits he really doesn’t want to grow up and is reluctant to allow Wendy to come back home because she’s going to grow up. Wendy returns home, grows up, and has her own daughter, Jane.
Jane is visited by Peter and sees Wendy as an adult. Jane and Peter set off on a Neverland adventure, much as Wendy once did.
Jack and the Beanstalk
This is a classic traditional story. There are many versions of this story. It is about a boy, Jack who lives with his mother. They are very poor and their only source of income is cow. When the cow stops making milk they decide to sell her. But Jack sells cow to an old man in exchange for magic beans. His mother gets angry and throws the beans out of the window. The next day a beanstalk grows out of it and Jack climbs it to discover a giant living at the top. Jack tiptoes into the Giant’s house and finds gold, a magic harp and a magic hen and takes away these things. Then Jack is followed by the giant. Jack cuts the beanstalk after that so that the chase comes to an end.
The Pied Piper of Hamelin
There are various adaptations for young children of the classic tale of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. It is about a town, Hamelin which is overrun by rats. The Pied Piper arrives to sort out the problem with his magic tune. But the mayor refuses to pay him and he retaliates by using his instrument’s magic power on their children, leading them away like he did with the rats.
Hope you find this list of classic children’s books for kids useful! Let me know your suggestions in the comments section.