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Top 5 children’s classics to read

5 Children's Classics to Read
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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Funny, delightful, or even heart-wrenching: these classics of children’s literature will inspire your kids.

With the variety of children’s books out there, how do you pick the ideal one for your kids’ bedtime story? Why not go for one of the all-time classics? We have selected some of the finest from the English-speaking world.

For the youngsters: The Complete Tales – Beatrix Potter

Dripping imagination from every page, this collection will provide your kids with years of entertainment. Including the original illustrations and all of Beatrix Potter’s delightful stories, these tales are beautiful to read and look at. They follow the lives of gorgeously whimsical characters such as Peter Rabbit, Miss Moppet, Tom Kitten and more. Ideal for younger children.

For the little heroes: The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis

For slightly older children of 6+, C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia represent the ideal beginner’s introduction into high fantasy. Telling stories of heroic deeds, epic battles between good and evil, and an exciting and detailed fantasy world, this volume includes all seven parts of Lewis’s magnum opus.  Both you and your children will love this gem, which even includes full-colour illustrations to enhance the experience.

For the emerging poets: The Happy Prince and Other Tales – Oscar Wilde

While Oscar Wilde is mainly known for his endless wit in criticising the English upper classes in his comedies, The Happy Prince and Other Tales is a perfect addition to your children’s book collection. Featuring five beautifully written fairy tales and the original illustrations by Charles Robinson, this volume is amazingly intoxicating. It contains a wonderfully witty sense of humour and heart-wrenching melancholia. This makes these stories special and a great way to introduce children to more artful literature – and gradually to adult fiction.

For the indulgent dreamers: Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carrol

Lewis Carrol, another witty writer who will bring your kids much joy, is a must-feature on this list. His famous Alice in Wonderland is hilarious, clever and imaginative. It’s ideal to fuel your kid’s dreams and help them be creative. From the Mad Hatter to the Queen of Hearts, there are endless details to love in this book.

For the inspired explorers: The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling

The ideal adventure plot for your kids, Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book tells the story of Mowgli, the human child adopted by a family of wolves. Hunted by the tiger Shere Khan, Mowgli has to team up with Bagheera and Baloo to overcome his enemy. While the Disney film is well done, it only gives you a brief glimpse into the lovely world that you and your child can discover as you make your way through this book. Kipling’s writing is beautiful, and this edition contains gorgeous illustrations to enjoy. There’s no doubt that you and your children will fall in love with this timeless classic.

Alternative: get your kids into the classics with modern retellings

While children under 12 are certainly too young to read heavy-going literature like Charles Dickens or Homer, it can be beneficial to introduce them to these works at an early age. Look out for retellings of the classics, such as this child-friendly retelling of Shakespeare or this imaginative anthology of Greek mythology for kids. If your offspring develop a love for these timeless classics, they will love the idea of being ‘forced’ to read the originals at school.