The Classics: Getting a Head Start on Children’s Literature


Every parent wants to make sure their children have the best start in school, and when it comes to reading, one great way to give them a head-start is through the classics of children's literature. The great authors of literature wrote stories that can capture the imagination of any child, and even in the early grades, these classics will help children increase their vocabulary, reading fluency, and comprehension.

The Classics in Kids Literature

Oliver Twist

When kids enter high school, one of the first authors teachers will require them to read is Charles Dickens. Dickens is known for writing epic masterpieces with nuanced themes and images, and while not all of his books are appropriate for children, even the youngest members of the family will enjoy Oliver Twist. The orphan's journey through London takes many twists and turns, and Dickens created colorful characters like Fagin, the thief master. Children will love the story, and it's an easy introduction to the world of Victorian literature.


Anne of Green Gables

Great books with strong female heroines are fantastic way to introduce girls to the classics. One of the most beloved classics is Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Anne Shirley is the kind of heroine that young women relate to: independent, headstrong, and prone to find adventures in life.  Anne of Green Gables is the first in a series of books about Anne, which means parents can keep their children reading great stories for months.

A Girl of the Limberlost

Another great classic that's often overlooked is A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter. As one of the earliest American filmmakers, Ms. Stratton-Porter made a lasting mark as both a successful magazine columnist and novel writer, and her fame spread around the world. She was known for creating episodic stories with complex narratives, and when children read complex narratives written with them in mind, they develop the skills to dissect more detailed novels later in their school career.

Alice in Wonderland

Some children are drawn to video games and fantasy worlds, and for parents of those children, there are classics that can transport them to wonderful new worlds. Readers the world over have been delighted by Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. It's considered the best novel in the nonsense genre, and children have laughed and enjoyed Alice's adventures for over a century. This classic piece of literature will prove to any skeptical child that old books can be fun books, too.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Young readers can find another magical world in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. Best known for the film version featuring Judy Garland, the original story is even more fanciful, yet it also hints at some of the problems Baum saw at the turn of the twentieth century. Since it's both a fantasy novel and a political allegory, the book is appropriate for older and younger readers.

Tales from Shakespeare

Possibly the greatest classic author of all time is William Shakespeare, but reading the Bard's works is often out of reach for children. Another classic can help bridge the gap, introduce children to Shakespeare, and get them ready to read his plays and sonnets later on in their school career. Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb retells Shakespeare's plays with humor and rich description. Children of all ages have been delighted by these stories, and by letting kids read the stories before having to read the plays, they'll be better prepared to face the difficulties of iambic pentameter.

Getting children to read can be a difficult task, and some parents overlook the classics in favour of new novels that are untested by time. These great books, however, will not only help children reach their educational goals, they're interesting and engaging stories that the whole family will enjoy. Even Mom and Dad might find themselves picking up these page turners.

What were your favorite books to read when you were a kid?

Supplied by Joe Shervell for

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