classics reading list from pre-reader to young adult readers
This classic reading list by reading age, is
a great way to start your child reading good literature, no matter
what his or her age or interests. It's not the definitive list
(there isn't one, really) but for those days when your child just
hasn't a clue what would be good to read, this list will come
| Early Readers | New Readers
Young Readers | Young
1. Pat the Bunny
by Dorothy Kunhardt (Golden, 1940)
Rare is the toddler who hasn't stroked the snowy fur of Dorothy
Kunhardt's bunny. So common is the sweet little book, in homes,
preschools and libraries, the experience simply seems universal.
2. Dr Seuss's ABC
by Dr. Seuss (Random House, 1960)
When Random House reformatted Dr. Seuss's ABC's in 1997 as a little
board book, the transition couldn't have been more natural. It
makes learning the ABC's as natural as, well, ABC.
3. Hop on Pop
by Dr. Seuss (Random House, 1963)
Learning the joy of rhyme was never more fun than in Dr. Seuss's
classic HOP ON POP. Silly became an art form through the words
of Theodore Geisel and books like HOP ON POP.
4. Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever
by Richard Scarry, (Golden, 1963)
Richard Scarry created a tender new world when he brought Lowly
Worm, the Cat Family and hundreds of other animal characters to
life. This big book uses his world to illustrate the basics of
5. Go, Dog Go!
by P.D. Eastman (Random House, 1961)
Concepts of motion aren't always easy for a toddler to grasp.
They seem to appreciate only moving and moving faster. GO, DOG
GO! helps expand the possibilities with whimsical flare.
6. The Touch Me Book
by Pat and Eve Witte (Golden, 1961)
Pat and Eve Witte celebrate a toddler's need to touch in order
to experience, via the fur of a puppy, rubber bands, sticky tape,
a sponge and six other tactile activities.
7. Goodnight Moon
by Margaret Wise Brown, illus. by Clement Hurd (HarperCollins,
When Margaret Wise Brown first saw GOODNIGHT MOON published half
a century ago, she said she hoped to create the first book for
toddlers based on their real lives rather than fantasy. In doing
so, she opened the door to truth, even for very young readers.
8. Where's Spot?
by Eric Hill (Putnam, 1980)
Eric Hill couldn't have known Spot would become such a literary
icon when he first brought the pup to life. But children everywhere
connect to the dog's wide eyed wonder, and probably always will.
9. There's a Wocket in My Pocket
by Dr. Seuss (Random House, 1974)
Once again, Random House brought this book home to the readers
who would love it most when it reformatted and released THERE'S
A WOCKET IN MY POCKET as a little board book in 1997.
10. I Am a Bunny
by Ole Risom, illus. by Richard Scarry (Golden, 1963)
The first in a series of animal books by Ole Risom, I AM A BUNNY
simply helped young readers explore the life of an everyday rabbit.
1. The Poky Little Puppy
by Janette Sebring Lowrey (Golden, 1942)
In recent days, THE POKY LITTLE PUPPY has gone through some evolutionary
changes. Some stories based on the classic straggler have modernized
the pup's look and the text's literary style. But for my money,
stick with the original for grace and pup-lovin' fun.
by Gertrude Crampton (Golden, 1945)
Gertrude Cramptom took very young readers inside one of their
favorite wonders ---a locomotion or train --- in this classic
choo-choo of a tale.
3. Green Eggs and Ham
by Dr. Seuss (Random House, 1960)
What can be said about GREEN EGGS AND HAM that hasn't already
been said? Dr. Seuss is a master at crafting originality, and
a whiz at verbalizing fun.
4. The Cat in the Hat
by Dr. Seuss (Random House, 1957)
First graders might lament the length of THE CAT IN THE HAT. It
IS long from a 6-year-old point of view. But they will read it,
and love every page. And they will be proud of having tackled
something monumental when the task is done. Such is the magic
of Dr. Seuss.
5. Fox In Socks
by Dr. Seuss (Random House, 1965)
When my daughters were small, we played a rhyming game --- fox,
socks, locks, pocks, clocks --- challenging one another to add
to the whimsical chain. Judging from books like FOX IN SOCKS Dr.
Seuss must have played it too.
6. The Little Engine That Could
by Watty Piper (Platt & Munk, 1930)
I think I can, I think I can...recommend this inspiring classic
for all very young readers. The text is slightly challenging and
the theme is ideal. Empower your little reader with THE LITTLE
ENGINE THAT COULD.
7. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
by Eric Carle (Philomel, 1969)
Eric Carle's brightly colored VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR eats apples
and apples and apples and leaves, and learns a lesson or two along
the way. No classic list would be complete without it.
8. Where the Wild Things Are
by Maurice Sendak (HarperCollins, 1964)
Maurice Sendak essentially captured the nature of bedtime fears
and the power of conquering the same when he wrote and illustrated
WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE. And children will always recognize
9. Saggy Baggy Elephant
by Kathryn and Byron Jackson (Golden, 1947)
Being different is never easy for young children. But books like
Kathryn and Byron Jackson's SAGGY BAGGY ELEPHANT help them feel
a little less alone.
10. Tawny Scrawny Lion
by Kathryn Jackson (Golden, 1952)
Again, in TAWNY SCRAWNY LION, Kathryn Jackson empowers kids who
seem different and educates those who remain within the mainstream
abstract "normal" realm.
by A. A. Milne, illus. by Ernest Shepard (Dutton, 1926)
Reading A.A. Milne's classic WINNIE-THE-POOH isn't something most
8 to 10-year-olds will do in public. But when the lights are low
and the bed covers are pulled back, it's a remarkable experience
for these budding readers and their parents to share.
2. Where's Waldo
by Martin Handford (Little, Brown, 1987)
WHERE'S WALDO is relatively new as classics go. But because I
believe Martin Handford single-handedly opened the door to book
time for so many reluctant readers, he is wholeheartedly included
on this list.
3. The Magic Locket
by Elizabeth Koda-Callan (Workman, 1988)
Elizabeth Koda-Callan's sweet book of dreams and friendship was
a winner even without the inclusion of the gold-toned locket.
But packaging the book with the chain and bobble brought the magic
4. The Mitten
by Jan Brett (Putnam, 1989)
THE MITTEN is often seen as a holiday classic, but the gentle
grace she has crafted on each page goes far beyond seasonal glory.
The illustrations are breathtaking and the story is timeless.
5. The Story of Babar
by Jean de Brunhoff (Random House,1937)
Babar, the Elephant King and his friend Madame bring an elegance
to children's literature that is very likely without equal ---
even if it is hard to find an elephant tailor in real life.
6. Oh, The Thinks You Can Think!
by Dr. Seuss (Random House, 1975)
It's remarkable to know that Theodore Geisel can not only write
for very young readers, but can tickle the imaginations of older
kids, as he does so well in OH THE THINKS YOU CAN THINK. The man's
brilliance was endless.
7. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
by Laura Numeroff, illus. by Felicia Bond (HarperCollins, 1985)
The New York Times isn't blind to Laura Numeroff's talent. They
took notice when Harrison Ford and Glenn Close used a line from
IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE to illustrate the dangers of meeting
terrorist demands in the 1997 film, AIR FORCE ONE. I love the
book for much simpler reasons, and your kids will as well.
8. Curious George
by H.A. Rey (Houghton Mifflin,1973)
CURIOUS GEORGE is every child beneath their struggling composure.
And every child loves the impulsive little monkey because he goes
where they almost never can, and learns their lessons for them.
CURIOUS GEORGE will always be a favorite.
9. The Polar Express
by Chris Van Allsburg (Houghton Mifflin, 1985)
Chris Van Allsburg has been honored with awards, literary accolades
and praise from his illustrious professional peers --- and with
good reason. THE POLAR EXPRESS, like his other books, captures
a delicate magic in both text and rich illustration.
10. The Velveteen Rabbit
by Margery Williams (Avon/Camelot, 1979)
If being loved makes things real, THE VELVETEEN RABBIT is one
of the most "real" books ever crafted. There is something about
the spotted bunnies journey that every child can understand.
1. Where the Sidewalk Ends
by Shel Silverstein (HarperCollins,1974)
The poetry featured in Shel Silverstein's WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS
strikes a nerve when it comes to young reader funny bones. He
is humorous without trying too hard, tender without being overblown.
Young readers appreciate that balance and Shel Silverstein's style.
by James Howe (Avon/Camelot, 1980)
The mystery and adventure of BUNNICULA --- a rabbit and his forest
friends in search of missing fudge --- might sound simplistic
to adults. But children, even reluctant readers have embraced
the story as a recipe for young reader fun.
3. The Tale of Peter Rabbit
by Beatrix Potter (Frederick Warne, 1902)
More classic rabbits to capture young reader imaginations in THE
TALE OF PETER RABBIT. Beatrix Potter's rabbit families are remarkably
human without losing their animal charm. Her stories are just
4. Charlotte's Web
by E.B. White, illus. by Garth Williams (HarperCollins, 1952)
E.B. White has captured the essence of friendship and loyalty
in his story of the pig Wilbur and Charlotte, his unlikely arachnid
friend. Generations have been grateful for his skills. Generations
to come will doubtless follow suit.
5. The Little Prince
by Antoine de Saint Exupery (Harcourt Brace, 1943)
Learning to appreciate what you've got is a tough lesson to learn,
regardless of age. That same concept, expertly illustrated in
Antoine De Saint Exupery's THE LITTLE PRINCE, makes this a book
for all ages.
6. Charlie and The Chocolate Factory
by Roald Dahl (Knopf, 1964)
When this Roald Dahl classic was made into a motion picture (Willy
Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) it experienced a renewed popularity.
But the sometimes dark lessons learned in the original book are
what have made the story a classic.
7. The Indian In the Cupboard
by Lynne Reid Banks (Avon/Camelot, 1982)
Again, Hollywood gave Lynne Reid Banks their ultimate nod when
they made THE INDIAN IN THE CUPBOARD into a full-length feature
film. But the timeless story of imagination and personal responsibility
are the real magic here.
8.Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes
by Eleanor Coerr (Dell, 1979)
Death and lasting recollection are complex topics both expertly
covered in Eleanor Coerr's classic young reader novel, SADAKO
AND THE THOUSAND PAPER CRANES. It is tender literature at its
9. The Incredible Journey
by Sheila Burnford (Bantam, 1984)
Disney recognized the spirit of THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY and made
the animal tale of survival and loyalty into a full-length feature
film. The book covers the topics with even greater finesse.
10. James and the Giant Peach
by Roald Dahl, illus. by Nancy Burkert (Puffin,1988)
Clamation effectively brought James and his insect family to life
just two years ago, thanks to the magic of Disney and PIXAR productions.
But the root of brilliance was always alive in Roald Dahl's sometimes
dark young reader novel.
Young Adult Readers
1. The Outsiders
by S.E. Hinton (Dell, 1968)
Gang violence and the emotional impact that follows were explored
even in the late '60's by famed YA Author S.E. Hinton and her
classic book, THE OUTSIDERS.
by Jack Schaefer (Bantam, 1963)
"He rode into our valley in the summer of '89, a slim man, dressed
in black. 'Call me Shane,' he said. He never told us more." So
begins Jack Schaefer's classic tale of a mysterious cowboy.
3. Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret
by Judy Blume (Dell, 1972)
Judy Blume is considered the queen of feminine teen-aged self
examination, and proves it in ARE YOU THERE, GOD? IT'S ME MARGARET.
It is a simple, on target story of growing up a girl in America.
4. Where the Red Fern Grows
by Wilson Rawls (Dell, 1974)
WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS follows a young Ozark boy through his
childhood and the acquisition of two beloved hound dogs. Together,
they experience danger, adventure, love, and sorrow.
5. The Catcher In the Rye
by J.D. Salinger (Little, Brown, 1951)
J.D. Salinger captured a place in YA literary history by telling
the story of a troubled 16-year-old and the two-day emotional
bender he experienced after being expelled from prep school.
6. A Wrinkle In Time
by Madeleine L'Engle (Dell, 1973)
Madeleine L'Engle A WRINKLE IN TIME was awarded a Newbery Medal
in 1963 and combines theology, fantasy, and science via a story
of time travel, the love of a family and the classic battle between
good and evil.
7. Island of the Blue Dolphins
by Scott O'Dell (Dell, 1971)
A young Indian girl abandoned on a beautiful but isolated island
off the coast of California, survives 18 years of solitude and
discovers her own courage and self- reliance.
8. The Black Stallion
by Walter Farley (Random House, 1977 OP)
When young Alec is stranded on a tropical island, he finds his
best and most loyal friend is a wild, remarkable stallion. Together,
they build a friendship that lasts a lifetime.
by William H. Armstrong (HarperCollins,1972)
SOUNDER is Armstrong's classic story of a black sharecropper,
his family, and their loyal dog.
10. Fallen Angels
by Walter Dean Myers (Scholastic, 1988)
Walter Dean Myers captured a slice of history and heart wrenching
truth in FALLEN ANGELS, a story set in war torn '60's-era Vietnam.
Young Perry discovers volunteering for a tour of duty in 'nam
will prove infinitely more challenging than college --- especially
considering the black soldiers are asked to face down the most
dangerous of encounters.