For many of us, the first book we remember getting really lost in will have been a classic – The Famous Five, a Roald Dahl book, The Chronicles of Narnia, Tolkien… The book I remember discovering most vividly is Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield, which I still re-read now.
We are lucky to be living through a golden age in children’s publishing with so many fantastic children's authors and brilliant new books coming out every day. However, there is also something magical about sharing an old favourite of your own.
Classics are simply books that have stood the test of time. However, when we tell kids they must read them for the beautiful language and historical context, children can feel put off fearing that the text will be heavy going and the story irrelevant to their lives.
The truth is that the best children’s classics are famous for a reason – the stories are gripping, the characters well-drawn, the settings enchanting, they spark the imagination. Great stories, full of mystery, tension and clever plots are accessible to all, no matter how long ago they were written.
Children’s book characters like Alice in Wonderland, Paddington, Mary Poppins and Bilbo Baggins have become part of our vernacular. From Disney to CBeebies, West End stages to toy shops, they pop up everywhere. Classic children's books are a link to our history and, some would argue, an essential part of our education.
Classics are not just for older readers either – classic baby books, toddler books and picture books like The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Each Peach Pear Plum are still rated as all-time favourites by Toppsta reviewers.
The list is endless! But here are some of our favourite classics for kids of every age. We look forward to hearing what the next generation of young readers think…