29 classic children’s books to share with your kids

Classic children's books

by Eleanor Weaver |
Updated on

Classic children's books have the power to pass through generations, and no doubt you'll be just as excited as us to share those magical stories with your little one. Those enchanting tales that captured your own imagination when you were small can be shared with your own kids and create a special bond through your love of the same story.

We've shared some of our favourite classic children's books that you'll want to add to your child's bookcase, with many classic books now available in picture books for babies and tots to make it easier for them to understand the story.

The best classic children's books at a glance:

The best classic children's book overall: Guess How Much I Love You - Buy on Amazon
The best classic children's picture book: The Very Hungry Caterpillar - Buy on Amazon
The best classic children's book collection: The Tale of Peter Rabbit - Buy on Amazon
The best classic children's book for older children: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - Buy on Amazon

Get ready to take a trip down memory lane...

Classic children's books

The best classic children's book overall

Guess How Much I Love You
Price: $11.73

This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of Little and Big Nutbrown Hares' efforts to express their love for each other. It will no doubt be a classic your child will cherish as they copy and try to show you how much they love you.

Review: "Just a lovely book. I remember this from my childhood and when I saw it on Amazon, I just had to get it to read to my baby daughter. Really sweet and heartwarming."

The best classic children's book collection

The Tale of Peter Rabbit

Rrp: $8.99

Price: $7.99

The original classic by Beatrix Potter, one of the most best-loved children's authors of all time, tells the story of a very mischievous rabbit and the trouble he encounters in Mr McGregor's vegetable garden. This board book is perfect for little hands so you can introduce them to Peter Rabbit at an earlier age, and it's full of the original, beautiful illustrations to bring the magic to life.

Review: "Purchased this to read to my children just how my mother would read this to me. Perfect children's book by a brilliant author."

The best classic children's picture book

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a lasting favourite with children and adults alike. With imaginative, colourful illustrations and clever cut-out details for the caterpillar-munched holes, follow the progress of a very hungry caterpillar as he eats his way through the week.

Review: "What is it with this book? This is the all time, number one greatest book my daughter has got. Its something about the artwork and the holes (from the caterpillar munching) that fascinates her. I have to read the same page to her hundreds of times…. hundreds I tell you!"

The best classic children's book for older children

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Rrp: $50.00

Price: $14.34

Casting spells on young readers for over 20 years, this modern classic tells the story of the boy Harry Potter, his discovery of the wizarding world, and his beginnings at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It's an incredible adventure of magic and friendship and the first of many books to capture your child's imagination.

Review: "Bought Philosophers Stone for my young cousin - obviously I've read and reread it myself over the years. She's 8 this year and reading is her absolute favourite thing so I thought this would be a good time to introduce HP. I cannot recommend the book enough for adults and children alike. It's a great book to get children interested in other books, even if you read them this and they start to read the others themselves. Just don't let them watch the films first - the books are so much better!"

Recommended

The Tiger Who Came To Tea
Price: $11.84

This classic picture book by Judith Kerr was first published in 1968 and is still a bookshelf favourite to this day! This warm and funny story tells of Sophie and her extraordinary teatime guest, a big furry, stripy tiger who ends up eating all their food.

Review: "Beautiful book, for adults and children alike. The main sentiments of this story, of course is that you should make time, to be with the ones you love/value. Even if it's just for a few hours. The illustrations are fabulous. Timeless and wonderful to pass on to your own children and so on."

Recommended

Where’s Spot?
Price: $9.67

Not only is Where's Spot? a much-loved classic, but it's also the first ever lift-the-flap book. Little ones will love joining the hunt and lifting the flaps to see where the mischievous puppy Spot may be hiding.

Review: "Nostalgia hit me like a brick with this book! I remember it from my own childhood. I've now brought it for my 8 month old son. He absolutely loves it! He runs his finger across the pages trying to find the flap and then opens and closes it many times. The card pages are wonderful for his slightly uncoordinated movements and copious amounts of dribble to keep it as a book for us all to enjoy for years to come."

Recommended

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
Price: $10.68

Who didn't chant 'We're going on a bear hunt' as a child? This book by Michael Rosen follows a family going on a bear hunt, travelling through swishy-swashy, splash-sploshy obstacles on their way. This is definitely a fun read for little ones who will love to join in and chant aloud.

Review: "I love this book. Reading this to my baby boy, brings back memories of when I was a child. The sing-song nature of the verses is extremely soothing for my child - ideal before bedtime! I'm glad I bought the hardback version - it will certainly last a lot longer, as my teething baby quite often tries to take a bite out of it!"

Recommended

Where The Wild Things Are
Price: $16.62

After being sent to bed for being a 'wild thing', Max's bedroom transforms into a jungle, and he sails to an island full of The Wild Things. A story bursting with adventure, it's a great book for sparking a child's imagination.

Review: "I love this book as it is from my childhood. I got it at such a great price on here that I couldn't resist. It is a gift for my 12 month old son so he can grow with this great book. The quality of the book is also very high as the pages are nice and thick. Storyline is just fantastic and so worth a bedtime read. The delivery was so fast and packaging was great. I am so please with this book and highly recommend it for any person or family!"

Recommended

Dogger

Rrp: $12.99

Price: $11.36

This heartwarming picture book by Shirley Hughes creates a reassuring world for children. It tells the endearing story of how Dogger, the much loved toy dog, was lost and finally found again, bringing plenty of joy to little ones who probably have a similar favourite toy or teddy of their own.

Review: "This was one of my favourite books as a child and I bought if for my goddaughter. It's a great read, has a lovely story and always made me smile when I read it."

Recommended

elmer book
Price: $10.17

Who could resist this loveable, joyful elephant? This modern classic celebrates differences and diversity through Elmer, the colourful patchwork elephant, who stands out from his fellow grey elephants. He tries to fit in by disguising himself, but they love him just the way he is!

Review: "Purchased for a friend's baby shower as a book I enjoyed as a kid. Its Elmer, what more can I say. Great little story about a patchwork elephant with a cute message, and overall a super colourful book. Arrived in perfect condition. Great buy!"

Recommended

The Cat in the Hat
Price: $16.60

With fun and fantastical rhymes, The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss is a worldwide favourite. When Sally and her brother are left home alone on a dull day, the Cat in the Hat comes to brighten their day! Full of mischief and mayhem and a great book for early readers.

Review: "What's not to like about The Cat in the Hat? I am a grown woman and bought it for myself, for the pure indulgence of reading it again, as I once did to my children when they were small. Oh okay, I might share it with my 6-year-old grandson 😉 but really, it was for me! Love it."

Recommended

A Bear Called Paddington
Price: $8.60

For nearly sixty years, Paddington Bear has touched the hearts of adults and children worldwide with his earnest good intentions and humorous misadventures. Treat your child to the original tale of the extraordinary bear that appeared at Paddington Station.

Review: "I love reading Paddington Bear, I bought this to bring back my childhood. The stories are well told and much better than modern ones you get now. Recommended for your little ones bedtime reading! When I was little I drove my dad mad with Paddington, I had him read it every night!!"

Recommended

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Price: $9.43

With a chocolate river, crafty squirrels, and mysterious Oompa Loompas, young readers will enjoy this Roald Dahl masterpiece just as much as we did. Take a trip into Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory full of sweets and wonder.

Review: "After running out of books to read and keep my boys interested in I decided to buy this classic as I always loved it as a child and I got it straight to my kindle. It appeals to both of my boys aged 12 and 5, they absolutely love it and now can't get to bed quick enough ready for the next chapter! I will definitely be buying more classics from Roald Dahl and hopefully make them into my boys favourites too!"

Recommended

Winnie-the-Pooh
Price: $8.67

Introduce this silly old bear, Winnie-the-Pooh, to your little ones who can dive into his adventures with his loveable friends in the Hundred Acre Wood. In this story, Pooh gets into a tight place, nearly catches a Woozle and heads off on an 'expotition' to the North Pole.

Review: "I purchased this wonderful book as a gift for my grown up daughter to read to her daughter when she gets a bit older. The detail in the book is wonderful and my daughter was thrilled with it."

Recommended

Charlotte’s Web
Price: $8.81

Joyful, funny, and deeply moving, Charlotte's Web is the story of a little girl and her farmyard friends who are trying to save Wilbur, their very special pig. It's a timeless story about the power of friendship, and celebrating what makes everyone special.

Review: "Absolutely love this book. My 7 year old read it this summer and we talked a lot about friendship and loyalty. It's brilliant for that age group. It is a bit old fashioned but not too old fashioned as to lose a 7 year old's interest. I am now reading it at bedtime to my 6 year old and he quite likes it. I need to explain the themes a bit more but he is happy to chat about them. It still makes me cry decades later at the end! A real children's wonder of a book."

Recommended

Mary Poppins
Price: $13.74

More than 80 years since we first met Mary Poppins, this original, classic story is still charming readers and transporting new fans into the mysterious world of everyone's favourite magical nanny. It's alive with adventure and that Mary Poppins' magic!

Review: "It's a long time since I read the original Mary Poppins stories and I had forgotten how many lovely little details there are. Mary Poppins like Winnie the Pooh and Jemima Puddleduck have helped to make childhood magical. Today's children need wonderful magical characters like these more than ever."

Recommended

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Price: $7.99

Perfect for children who are full of weird and wacky imagined stories, this book will go down a treat. In a strange world with even stranger characters, Alice meets a grinning cat and a rabbit with a pocket watch, joins a Mad Hatter's Tea Party, and plays croquet with the Queen. A fantasyland that'll have been enthralled.

Review: "One of my favourite books as a child. Now as an adult I thought I would give it another go. Can't believe how quickly I was lost in the world of Alice and just completely forgot about the world around me. Great for all ages and a timeless classic."

Recommended

Pippi is a young girl that loves spending her days arranging wild, exciting adventures to enjoy with her neighbours, Tommy and Annika, and telling outrageous stories. She's quirky and a little rebellious, perfect for little ones with their own free spirit.

Review: "I read this book as a little girl and remember laughing along with Pippi as she had her adventures and showed that you can have huge strength both physically and of character no matter who you are. I think she's a great role model for kids, she might be a little mischievous at times but she has a kind heart and is a loyal friend."

Recommended

Matilda
Price: $10.16

Another Roald Dahl classic comes the story of Matilda. She's a brilliant girl with a magical mind who loves to read, despite her parents. She uses her newfound magic to change her story and shows just how extraordinary children can be, especially in the face of bullies.

Review: "Probably my second favourite Roald Dahl book behind The BFG. I decided to read it again as an adult and enjoyed it as much as when I was a child. There is still a magic in Roald Dahl's books that few authors match."

Recommended

The Velveteen Rabbit is an all-time favourite classic and tells the story of the Velveteen Rabbit's journey towards becoming 'real' through the love of a child. With messages about the importance of love and inner beauty, this book is sure to delight young readers.

Review: "I've read about this book in an article and decided I had to buy it. This is the best edition with beautiful illustrations, in my opinion. It has a beautiful message and it's a great read for children and adults alike.
I highly recommend it!"

Recommended

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
Price: $53.44

The most loved of all the Chronicles, this wonderful tale can be enjoyed again and again. Lucy and her siblings step into the Professor's wardrobe to step out again into a snowy forest. A magical world of Narnia, a land of unicorns, centaurs, fauns, and the evil White Witch, they help Aslan, the great lion, to free the country's creatures.

Review: "LOVE IT! Very fun and impossible to put down! The characters were very funny and the idea of a secret world inside a wardrobe is amazing. Definitely recommend to people 8 and up."

Recommended

Little Women

Rrp: $12.50

Price: $11.25

This classic coming-of-age American story follows the lives of the four March sisters from childhood to womanhood. They couldn't be more different but are united in their love for each other and their struggles to survive during the Civil War.

Review: "Bought this for my granddaughter. She loves the story which is a classic and the book is very nicely presented."

Recommended

The Hobbit
Price: $18.29

This classic, bestselling fantasy novel from Tolkien tells of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit, who is whisked on an adventure with the company of dwarves and Gandalf the wizard to raid the treasure of Smaug the Magnificent - a dragon. It's full of exciting adventure and the magic of Middle-Earth.

Review: "The best way to enjoy and truly understand J R R Tolkien's classic masterpiece The Lord of the Rings is to invest a little time in reading The Hobbit. Not necessarily first, but certainly at some point. The writing styles of each book are quite different. The Hobbit was originally intended for the pleasure of children and was, I understand, created with that purpose in mind. Even so, it can be enjoyed by children of all ages."

Recommended

The Secret Garden tells the story of a young girl who loses her parents very suddenly and is then forced to swap her warm Indian home, for a bleak English manor house. But in this house, she uncovers many secrets and finds herself along the way in the wondrous playground of flora and fauna.

Review: "This was one of my all-time favourite reads as a child. I am yet to find a ten-year-old girl who does not love this story."

Recommended

The Little Prince
Price: $7.68

The Little Prince is not just a classic tale - it's the bestselling children's book of all time! After an aircraft pilot crashes in the desert, he's greeted by a young boy from another planet who tells his stories of intergalactic travel. It's a beautiful, mindful and thought-provoking story well suited to kids and adults.

Review: "It's an old story which I used to read at school and now wanted to introduce it to my children and discuss the meaning behind it. It's a cute little book which actually needs a bit of time to read. Very pleased with it. Thank you."

Recommended

Surrounded by the secret beauty of riverbanks and forests, this much-loved classic tells the tale of Mole and his fun adventures with his animal friends Ratty and Badger and the slightly more chaotic adventures of Toad. It's charming and a lesson of how friendship can overcome any obstacle.

Review: "A family favourite in a new illustrated book which would be a perfect addition to any child's bookcase and would make a wonderful gift. A lovely reminder that the best children's classics can be read over and over no matter what age you are."

Recommended

What Katy Did follows the adventures of a twelve-year-old American girl, Katy Carr, who intends to be beautiful and beloved but is instead untidy, tall, and gangling. When an accidental fall from a swing seems to threaten her hopes for the future, she overcomes her difficulties with good humour, kindness, and pluck.

Review: "I didn't read the What Katy Did series as a child so decided to buy some of them now. They are lovely, beautifully written and entertaining even as an adult. Recommended from ages 8 to 80."

Recommended

Peter Pan
Price: $13.67

We're off to Neverland! If your kid is a fan of the Disney favourite, they're sure to love the classic storybook by J M Barrie. Full of the same characters with pirates, mermaids, Lost Boys and more, they'll be going on a literary adventure of their own.

Review: "A 'must have' for young and old. My wife and I took our great-grandchildren to see Peter Pan as a Christmas play and I thought I should read the story before we went. Absolutely fascinating and really great writing! Both stories in this book come to you as stimulating and enjoyable experiences, recreating a little of the wonderful world of childhood and 'imagination' for 'young people' of any age."

Recommended

Swallows and Amazons
Price: $11.82

Swallows and Amazons is a classic children's adventure book that follows the play of two families of children in the Lake District. It's a summer full of discovery, friendship and outdoor adventures with sailing, camping fishing, and a play fight between the Swallow and Amazons.

Review: "We bought this for our 7 year son for Christmas as he had seen the film on TV just before. The book did not disappoint - it's a classic. Very well written, with incredible detail about the characters, the boats and the terrain. Our son loved it. Recommended."

What makes a children's book a classic?

Typically, a classic children's book refers to a book that has been around for decades, made an impact on a generation, and can still be enjoyed by little ones today.

However, what you call a classic may be different from someone else. These could be books you grew up with, the stories frequently spotted in your local library, or the books that you shared with your parents as a child. There a modern classics, like Harry Potter and Roald Dahl's books, plus vintage classics like Wind in the Willows and Peter Pan, and some may have been more impactful for you and your childhood compared to others.

Regardless, if there are any books you adored as a child, we would definitely recommend sharing them with your little one. Not only will it create and bring back fond memories for you, but these wonderful moments will no doubt become favourite memories of theirs as well.

Eleanor Weaver is the Deputy Homes & Garden Product Editor and has been a writer for titles such as Mother&Baby and Yours. In her role, she has researched and recommended the best products for parents, from breast pumps to toys, nursery décor to car seats. She's also kept a keen eye on celeb mums and influencers to share what they've been using to help make parenting that little bit easier.

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