Classic Literature: Children’s (The ‘School in a Book’ Series)

Here is a collection of the stories I often try to remember at bedtime, but can’t.  My plan is to use the handy links in this list to read most of these to my kids at least several times in the coming years. Also, while they’re still young, I’m going to read them summaries of some of our great ancient stories (like the Illiad and the Odyssey) to give them a jump on classic literature before they’re old enough to read them on their own.

The links take you to either free, full-text versions of the book or story or free online summaries as appropriate. Just pull up this list on your phone or tablet and your complete children’s literature education is ready to go.

A few notes on reading to your kids: If you like, just read. Good syntax and rhythm is an education in itself. However, you might want to incorporate reading comprehension into your experience. You can do this by asking your child to summarize the story or to tell you what they think it means. Both of these tasks prepare them for competence in writing, an activity that depends on clear thinking and good organization. Some education professionals say that most college students can’t correctly identify the main points of a given text; don’t let this be your kid. (Older kids need to start outlining texts in writing as soon as they’re ready.)

Essential Classic Fairy Tales

Grimm’s Fairy Tales (including Briar Rose, The Frog Prince, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, Tom Thumb, Rumpelstiltskin, The Golden Goose and more in their original versions), Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Aesop’s Fables (including The Fox and the Grapes, The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs, The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing and more in their original versions), Aesop
Andersen’s Fairy Tales (including The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Real Princess/The Princess and the Pea,The Little Match Girl and more in their original versions), Hans Christian Andersen
The Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling
Just So Stories, Rudyard Kipling
The Sleeping Beauty and Other Fairy Tales from the Old French (including Sleeping Beauty, Blue Beard, Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast in their original versions), Charles Perrault
Favorite Fairy Tales (including Little Snow White, The Ugly Duckling, Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, Jack and the Beanstalk, The Three Bears and more in their original versions), Logan Marshall
The Tales of Mother Goose (including Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Little Thumb, Puss in Boots, Little Red Riding Hood in their original versions), Charles Perrault
Mother Goose’s Nursery Rhymes (including Ba Ba Black Sheep, Dickery Dickery Dock, Hey Diddle Diddle, Humpty Dumpty and many more in their original versions), various authors
Important stories of the Bible
The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, Richard Francis Burton
The Tortoise and the Hare
The Pied Piper
Chicken Little
The Little Mermaid
The Ant and the Grasshopper
Little Bo-Peep
The Three Billy Goats Gruff
The Gingerbread Man
The Owl and the Pussy Cat
Androcles and the Lion
Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves
The Happy Prince
The Blind Man and the Elephant
The Story of Little Boy Blue
The Snow Queen
Father Frost
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
Stories about Paul Bunyan
The Gift of the Magi
St. George and the Dragon

Additional Classic Fairy Tales

The Blue Fairy Book, The Orange Fairy Book, The Lilac Fairy Book, The Yellow Fairy Book (including Thumbelina) and more by Andrew Lang
The Cat and the Mouse: A Book of Persian Fairy Tales, James Neill
Irish Fairy Tales, James Stephens
The Irish Fairy Book, Alfred Perceval Graves
The Scottish Fairy Book, Elizabeth Grierson
The Norwegian Fairy Book (including Per Gynt and more), Clara Stroebe
More Russian Picture Tales, Valery Carrick
The Chinese Fairy Book, Richard Wilhelm
A Chinese Wonder Book, Norman Hinsdale, Pitman
Myths and Legends of China, E.T.C. Werner
Other Chinese folk tales
Japanese Fairy Tales, Yei Theodora Ozaki
Myths and Legends of Japan, F. Hadland Davis
Other Japanese folk tales
The Literature of the Ancient Egyptians, E.A. Wallis Budge
Egyptian Tales, W.M. Flinders Petrie
Other Egyptian folk tales
Indian Fairy Tales, Joseph Jacobs
Other Indian folk tales
African folk tales

Classic Children’s Books:

Peter Rabbit and other stories by Beatrix Potter
Where the Sidewalk Ends, Shel Silverstein
The Little Engine that Could, Watty Piper
The Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss
How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Dr. Seuss
The Lorax, Dr. Seuss
Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Seuss
Oh, The Places You’ll Go, Dr. Seuss
The Velveteen Rabbit, Margery Willems
Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak
Goodnight, Moon, Margaret Wise Brown
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein
Winnie-the-Pooh, A. A. Milne
Harold and the Purple Crayon, Crockett Johnson
Pipi Longstocking, Astrid Lindgren
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Judith Viorst
Matilda, Roald Dahl
Madeline, Ludwig Bemelmans
James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
Are You My Mother?, P.D. Eastman
Amelia Bedelia, Peggy Parish
Corduroy, Don Freeman
The Curious George series, H.A. Rey
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and other books by Mo Willems
The Frog and Toad series, Arnold Lobel
Miss Nelson Is Back, Harry Allard
Everybody Needs a Rock, Byrd Baylor
Once There Were Giants, Martin Waddell and Penny Dale
The Father Bear series, Else Homelund Minarik and Maurice Sendak
The Encyclopedia Brown series, Donald J. Sobol
The Monster at the End of This Book, Jon Stone and Michael Smollin
The Magic School Bus series, Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen
Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday, Judith Viorst and Ray Cruz
The Marshmallow Incident, Judi Barrett and Ron Barrett
Georgie and the Robbers, Robert Bright
Each Peach Pear Plum, Janet and Allan Ahlberg
This Moose Belongs to Me, Oliver Jeffers
Guess How Much I Love You, Sam McBratney
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle
Love You Forever, Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw
I Love You Through and Through, Bernadette Rossetti-Shustak and Caroline Jayne Church


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