The best classic children's books for all ages

Some children's stories become classics for a reason, loved and shared by generation after generation. Here's our edit of the best classic children's books.

25/05/2020
3 minutes to read

Which books did you love as a child? Did you jump down the rabbit hole with Alice or swing through the jungle with Mowgli? Here are thirteen classic children's books to pass on to the next generation, that you'll love reading to your child too.

Classic children's books for 0 - 2 year olds

Dear Zoo

by Rod Campbell

Book cover for 9781529017571

This lift-the-flap classic children's book has been loved for over 35 years. Lift the flaps to discover the animals the zoo has sent –  a monkey, a lion and even an elephant! With bright, bold artwork, Dear Zoo is a must for every toddler's bookshelf.

Goodnight Moon

by Margaret Wise Brown

Book cover for 9781509829460

This classic children's book for bedtime has lulled thousands of children to sleep. In a great green room a little rabbit is tucked up snugly and safely in bed and is getting ready to say goodnight to all the familiar things in his room, one by one. 

Classic children's books for 3 - 5 year olds

Peace at Last

by Jill Murphy

Book cover for 9781509862597

Mr Bear is finding it hard to sleep. With Mrs Bear's snores, the ticking of the clock and the dripping kitchen tap, can he ever go to sleep? Peace at Last is a classic bedtime book children will return to again and again.

The Gruffalo

by Julia Donaldson

Book cover for 9781509804757

The Gruffalo is an undisputed classic story, featuring a quick-witted mouse who ventures into the deep dark wood and meets an owl, a snake . . .  and a hungry Gruffalo! 

Classic children's books for 6 - 8 year olds

Peter Pan

by J. M. Barrie

Book cover for 9781909621633

J. M. Barrie’s thrilling tale of the boy who refuses to grow up is a classic story that never gets old. Follow the Darling children as they are whisked away to Neverland to meet the Lost Boys and battle the villainous Captain Hook.

The Teddy Robinson Storybook

by Joan G. Robinson

Book cover for 9781447292739

Teddy Robinson has been enchanting readers since his first appearance in 1953. In this collection of stories, join Teddy Robinson as he has a birthday party, goes to the hospital and plays at the seaside. He's sometimes shy and sometimes a bit of a show-off  – but Teddy Robinson is the best friend any child could have. 

Gobbolino the Witch's Cat

by Ursula Moray Williams

Book cover for 9781509860364

With his sparkly whiskers and magic tricks, no one could mistake Gobbolino for a simple kitchen cat, but that's just what the witch's kitten wants to be. Instead of learning how to turn mice into toads for the witch's brew, Gobbolino sets out on an adventure to find a family and a home of his own.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

by Lewis Carroll

Book cover for 9781447279990

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland have been enchanting children for over 150 years. Alice is quick-witted, determined and resourceful. In her extraordinary adventures she meets a series of unforgettable characters, from the bossy White Rabbit to the grinning Cheshire-Cat and the Mad Hatter.

Classic children's books for 9 - 11 year olds

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

by Ian Fleming

Book cover for 9781447213758

Commander Caractacus Pott buys his family their first car. It looks like a wreck, but once restored it turns out to be no ordinary vehicle: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a magical car which can fly, swim and even think. First published in 1964, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was James Bond creator Ian Fleming's only children's book.

The Island of Adventure

by Enid Blyton

Book cover for 9781447262770

For Philip, Dinah, Lucy-Ann, Jack and Kiki the parrot, the summer holidays in Cornwall are everything they'd hoped for. Until they begin to realize that something very sinister is taking place on the mysterious Isle of Gloom . . . 

Enid Blyton is one of the most successful children's authors of all time. Her stories of magic, adventure and friendship continue to enchant children the world over, including The Island of Adventure, the first book in the Adventure series.

The Jungle Book

by Rudyard Kipling

Book cover for 9781909621817

First published by Macmillan in 1894, The Jungle Book is the classic collection of animal tales. The short stories and poems include the tale of Mowgli, a boy raised by a pack of wolves in the Indian jungle. We meet the tiger Shere Khan, Bagheera, the black panther, Baloo, the 'sleepy brown bear', and the python, Kaa. 

Classic children's books for 12 years and up

The Little Prince

by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Book cover for 9781509811304

A pilot who has crash-landed in the desert awakes to see an extraordinary little boy. 'Please,' asks the stranger, 'will you draw me a little lamb!' Baffled by the little prince's incessant questioning, the pilot pulls out his pencil and starts to draw. As the little prince's curiosity takes them further on their journey together, the pilot is able to piece together an understanding of the tiny planet from which the prince has come and of his incredible travels across the universe.

First published in 1943, The Little Prince is heartbreaking, funny and thought-provoking classic book for children and adults alike.

Forever

by Judy Blume

Book cover for 9781447281047

Judy Blume is the godmother of teen fiction and Forever is still the bravest, freshest, fruitiest and most honest account of first love, first sex and first heartbreak ever written. First published over 40 years ago, it is a book that remains ahead of its time

A Song for Summer

by Eva Ibbotson

Book cover for 9781529012248

When Ellen Carr abandons grey, dreary London to become housekeeper at an experimental school in Austria, she finds her destiny. Swept into an idyllic world of mountains, music, eccentric teachers and wayward children, Ellen brings order and joy to all around her. But it's the handsome, mysterious gardener, Marek, who intrigues her  – Marek, who has a dangerous secret. As Hitler's troops spread across Europe, Ellen has promises to keep, even if they mean she must sacrifice her future happiness. . .