Classics for Kids

You may have noticed from our book lists so far that we lean toward the sci-fi/fantasy/fairytale with our kids.  So far, I haven’t been terrribly successful in interesting them in historical type stuff.  Even the American Girls series haven’t done it for my girls, and though my son will read anything about the history of baseball, he isn’t ready for anything else that isn’t all adventure and mystery.

My oldest daughter (who is nine and an avid reader) has tried out Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables, but never made it far.  Too much description.  Too little action.  That’s just the way she’s wired, and that will probably never really be her genre, but I’m not giving up.  I think I’ll try again in a couple of years when the sweet love story aspect is more interesting to her.  (Okay, that will basically be later this year, but whatever.)  I’m also going to hand her Little Women as soon as I think she’s ready.  Because every girl just needs that book.  (How much will she love Jo?  So, so much.)

In the mean time, though, the English teacher in me is proud to say that there are a few classics out there that have enough adventure in them to have already caught my kids attention, even as young as 8.  In a couple of cases, they’ve read the simplified children’s version, but I was thrilled that they were getting into the stories.  So.  If you’re thinking your kids are too young for the classics, here are a couple that might surprise you.

Classic Stories That Can Still Thrill An 8-year-old

  • The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss – What is it about figuring out how to survive on a deserted island that is just so dang appealing?  Whatever it is, my son agrees with me that this book is the best.  I do recommend a children’s version of this to simplify the language a bit.
  • Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain – From the moment that Tom tricks his friends into whitewashing the fence for him, my kid was hooked.  Tom is clever and funny and his adventures are exciting.  Mark Twain totally understood what it was like to be a boy.
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett – This is the first classic my daughter got into.  We did a children’s version of this one to cut out some of the lengthy descriptions, but the friendship aspect of this book is so wonderful that it drew her in right away.
  • Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink – Definitely in the same genre as Anne and Laura Ingalls, but this little book has some more exciting action to it that got my daughter’s attention in a way that the others didn’t.  She got a little bogged down in the middle, but she made it through and in the end told me that it was great.

Okay, just a few to get you started.  I’m sure there are a lot more out there that we haven’t explored yet.  Too busy reading Harry Potter, I guess.  We’d love to hear any suggestions from the rest of you.  What are your kids favorite classics?

Sunday, Aug. 3:  HA!  I knew it.  After I posted this on Friday, I recommended to my 9-year-old that she try reading These Happy Golden Years, starting her on the Little House books with the love story.  Sure enough, she finished that in 24 hours and wants to read the others.  It’s all about strategy, people.  And about trying to remember what it felt like to be nine.  I’m not the best at this, but I’m getting better. 

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