Top Ten Classics of Children's Literature

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With all the wonderful new books being published, it can be easy to forget just how stunning the old classics were. Every child should read these ten books. Every adult should re-read them. These are our absolute favourites that we'll cherish forever. Why not tell us about yours? Younger children will want to check out the Top Ten Timeless Picture Books To Treasure Forever.


The Sword in the Stone by T H White

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Full of the same kind of humorous anachronisms as 'A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court', 'The Sword In The Stone' is a wonderful and moving book. It is perfect for children interested in myth and legend and for any children who love fantasy, adventure and humour. Which, it's probably fair to say, is most children. With a challenging vocabulary, it's suitable for 9s and up. Full review...

The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis

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The most wonderful fantasy series ever written for children. Don't miss it and don't let them miss it either. And don't forget to check the back of your wardrobe. Full review...

Call of the Wild by Jack London

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For confident readers, teens and adults too, The Call Of The Wild is a timeless classic. It has a challenging, but appropriate vocabulary, great pace and high romance in bucketloads. Bookbag recommends it for reading aloud to children in early primary school years and for reading alone for confident late primary readers and teens and adults of all ages. Full review...

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L'Engle

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A Wrinkle In Time is a classic piece of sci-fi fantasy for children. It's a very fashionable genre for the young ones just now and Bookbag recommends it as of considerably better quality than much of the gubbins currently on the bookshop shelves. Children will very likely want to read it more than once. Full review...

Esio Trot by Roald Dahl

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Esio Trot has the traditional Dahl hallmarks of eccentricity, surrealism, and humour. It is also missing the more radical elements in Dahl's work for older children - the naughty adult, the abuse of power, the questioning of authority. As such, it makes a great introduction to the great man for children of six or seven and up. Buy this one first. Then buy The Twits. Then buy the rest. They will all be favourites. Full review...

Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder

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Farmer Boy is a deliciously sensuous book, mostly about food. It is, after all, the way to every young boy's heart. There are lots of moral messages, but the book is always inviting and never preachy. It's perfect for confident readers aged 9 and up who are interested in times gone by. Full review...

Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce

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Re-issued to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the original publication this book is rightly regarded as one of the best books in children's literature. It's highly recommended by The Bookbag. Every child should have a copy. Full review...

Charlotte's Web by E B White

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A wonderful fantasy story for children with deep roots in reality. It'll make you cry. It'll make them cry. It'll also make you all smile. Lots. Simple, direct writing and a dash of humour make Charlotte's Web equally suitable for reading aloud by parents and for younger children confident at reading alone. Full review...

Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling

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Delightfully droll, outrageous and silly, these folk tale retellings by Rudyard Kipling may be old, dated even, but they will never be out of date. They are best for reading aloud to little ones of about three up until they're less little ones of about eight. The lovely thing about them is that you will enjoy them as much as they will. Full review...

The Owl Service by Alan Garner

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The Owl Service is a slightly creepy tale of the way the world of myth and legend can collide with the world of today. Amidst the magic, some political ideas are introduced. It's a vivid book, full of dialogue. A wonderful - and challenging - read for the early teens, it comes highly recommended by Bookbag. Full review...

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