List of children's classic books

This is a list of children's classic books published before 1985 and still available in the English language.[1][2][3]

Books specifically for children existed by the 17th century. Before that, books were written mainly for adults – although some later became popular with children. In Europe, Gutenberg's invention of the printing press around 1440 made possible mass production of books, though the first printed books were quite expensive and remained so for a long time. Gradually, however, improvements in printing technology lowered the costs of publishing and made books more affordable to the working classes, who were also likely to buy smaller and cheaper broadsides, chapbooks, pamphlets, tracts, and early newspapers, all of which were widely available before 1800. In the 19th century, improvements in paper production, as well as the invention of cast-iron, steam-powered printing presses, enabled book publishing on a very large scale, and made books of all kinds affordable by all.

Scholarship on children's literature includes professional organizations, dedicated publications, and university courses.

Before 18th centuryEdit

Title Author Year published References and Brief Introduction
Panchatantra Vishnu Sharma c. 800 BC Ancient Indian inter-related collection of animal fables in verse and prose, in a frame story format. Similar stories are found in later works including Aesop's Fables and the Sindbad tales in Arabian Nights.[4]
Aesop's Fables Aesop c. 600 BC [5][6]
Kathasaritsagara Somadeva 11th Century AD Collection of Indian legends, fairy tales and folk tales as retold by a Saivite Brahmin named Somadeva. Generally believed to derive from Gunadhya's Brhat-katha, written in Paisachi dialect from the south of India.[citation needed]
Arabian Nights unknown before 8th century AD [7][8]
Orbis Pictus John Amos Comenius 1658 Earliest picture book specifically for children.[9][10]
A Token for Children. Being An Exact Account of the Conversion, Holy and Exemplary Lives, and Joyful Deaths of several Young Children James Janeway 1672 One of the first books specifically written for children which shaped much eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century writing for children.[citation needed][11]

18th centuryEdit

Title Author Year published References
Robinson Crusoe Daniel Defoe 1719 [1][3][12]
Gulliver's Travels Jonathan Swift 1726 [1][13]
Tales of Mother Goose Charles Perrault 1729 (English) [3][2][14]
Little Pretty Pocket-book John Newbery 1744 [15]
Little Goody Two Shoes Oliver Goldsmith 1765 [16]
Lessons for Children Anna Laetitia Barbauld 1778-9 The first series of age-adapted reading primers for children printed with large text and wide margins; in print for over a century.[17]
The History of Sandford and Merton Thomas Day 1783-9 A bestseller for over a century, it embodied Rousseau's educational ideals.[18]

19th centuryEdit

Title Author Year published References
The Swiss Family Robinson Johann Rudolf Wyss 1812-3 [1]
The Nutcracker and the Mouse King E. T. A. Hoffmann 1816 [19]
Ivanhoe Walter Scott 1819 [20]
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Washington Irving 1819 [1][21]
Rip Van Winkle Washington Irving 1820 [1][22]
Grimm's Fairy Tales Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm 1823 (English) [3][23]
A Visit From St. Nicholas Clement Clarke Moore 1823 [3]
Tales of Peter Parley About America Peter Parley (pseudonym) 1827 [3]
Oliver Twist Charles Dickens 1838 [1]
Nicholas Nickelby Charles Dickens 1839
A Christmas Carol Charles Dickens 1843 [1][2]
The Three Musketeers Alexandre Dumas, père 1844
Fairy Tales Hans Christian Andersen 1846 (English) [3]
The Children of the New Forest Frederick Marryat 1847
Slovenly Peter Heinrich Hoffmann 1848 (English)
David Copperfield Charles Dickens 1850 [1]
The Wide, Wide World Elizabeth Wetherell (pseudonym) 1850 [3]
The King of the Golden River John Ruskin 1851 [3]
A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens 1853 [1]
The Coral Island R. M. Ballantyne 1857
Tom Brown's Schooldays Thomas Hughes 1857 [3]
Great Expectations Charles Dickens 1861 [1][24]
The Water Babies Charles Kingsley 1863 [3]
A Journey to the Center of the Earth Jules Verne 1864 [1]
Little Prudy Rebecca Sophia Clarke 1864 [25]
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Lewis Carroll 1865 [1][2]
Max and Moritz Wilhelm Busch 1865
Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates Mary Mapes Dodge 1865 [1]
Little Women Louisa May Alcott 1868 [1][3][2]
Ragged Dick Horatio Alger, Jr. 1868 [3]
Lorna Doone R. D. Blackmore 1869
Mrs. Overtheway's Remembrances Juliana Horatia Ewing 1869 [26]
Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea Jules Verne 1870 [1]
At the Back of the North Wind George MacDonald 1871 [1]
The Brownies and other Tales Juliana Horatia Ewing 1871
The Princess and the Goblin George MacDonald 1871 [3]
Through the Looking-Glass Lewis Carroll 1871 [1][3]
A Dog of Flanders Ouida 1872
What Katy Did Susan Coolidge 1873 [3]
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Mark Twain 1876 [1][3][2][27]
Black Beauty Anna Sewell 1877 [1][3]
The Adventures of Pinocchio Carlo Collodi 1883 [1][3][2][27]
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood Howard Pyle 1883 [2][27]
Nights with Uncle Remus Joel Chandler Harris 1883
Treasure Island Robert Louis Stevenson 1883 [1][3][2][27]
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain 1884 [1][27]
Heidi Johanna Spyri 1884 (English) [3]
King Solomon's Mines H. Rider Haggard 1885
Kidnapped Robert Louis Stevenson 1886 [1][2]
Little Lord Fauntleroy Frances Hodgson Burnett 1886 [1][3]
The Happy Prince and Other Tales Oscar Wilde 1888
The Blue Fairy Book Andrew Lang 1889
The Jungle Book Rudyard Kipling 1894 [1][3][2][27]
Seven Little Australians Ethel Turner 1894 [3]
The Second Jungle Book Rudyard Kipling 1895 [1]
Moonfleet J. Meade Falkner 1898
The Black Corsair Emilio Salgari 1898
The Reluctant Dragon Kenneth Grahame 1898
The Story of the Treasure Seekers E. Nesbit 1899

20th centuryEdit

Title Author Year published References
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz L. Frank Baum 1900 [1][3][2][27]
The Tigers of Mompracem Emilio Salgari 1900
Five Children and It E. Nesbit 1902 [3]
Just So Stories Rudyard Kipling 1902 [1][3][2]
The Tale of Peter Rabbit Beatrix Potter 1902 [3][2]
King Arthur and His Knights Howard Pyle 1902-3
The Call of the Wild Jack London 1903 [1]
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm Kate Douglas Wiggin 1903 [1]
A Little Princess Frances Hodgson Burnett 1905 [1][3]
The Railway Children E. Nesbit 1906
White Fang Jack London 1906
Anne of Green Gables Lucy Maud Montgomery 1908 [1][3]
The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame 1908 [1][3][27]
The Secret Garden Frances Hodgson Burnett 1909/1911 [1][3][2]
Peter and Wendy J. M. Barrie 1911 [2] Based on the author's play Peter Pan (1904)
The Lost World Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 1912
Pollyanna Eleanor H. Porter 1913 [3]
The Magic Pudding Norman Lindsay 1918 [28]
Raggedy Ann Johnny Gruelle 1918
The Story of Doctor Dolittle Hugh Lofting 1920 [1][3][2]
The Heart of a Dog Albert Payson Terhune 1921 [1]
Juan Bobo Puerto Rican school children 1921 [29]
The Velveteen Rabbit Margery Williams 1922 [1]
The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle Hugh Lofting 1922 [1]
The Dark Frigate Charles Boardman Hawes 1923 [1]
Smoky the Cowhorse Will James 1926 [1]
Winnie-the-Pooh A. A. Milne 1926 [1][3][2]
The House at Pooh Corner A. A. Milne 1928 [1][3]
Bambi Felix Salten 1928 [1]
The Trumpeter of Krakow Eric P. Kelly 1928 [1]
Emil and the Detectives Erich Kästner 1929 [30]
Swallows and Amazons Arthur Ransome 1930–1931 [3]
Little House in the Big Woods Laura Ingalls Wilder 1932 [1]
Mary Poppins P. L. Travers 1934
Ballet Shoes Noel Streatfeild 1936
The Hobbit J. R. R. Tolkien 1937 [1][3][2][27]
The Sword in the Stone T. H. White 1938
My Name Is Aram William Saroyan 1940 Children's immigrant experience in the US
Curious George H. A. Rey 1941
Five on a Treasure Island Enid Blyton 1942
Johnny Tremain Esther Forbes 1943 [1][2]
The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 1943 [1][31]
Pippi Longstocking Astrid Lindgren 1945 [1][32]
The Little White Horse Elizabeth Goudge 1946
Thomas the Tank Engine Wilbert Awdry 1946
Goodnight Moon Margaret Wise Brown 1947 [2][33]
Finn Family Moomintroll Tove Jansson 1949 [34]
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe C.S. Lewis 1950 [1][3][2][27]
Charlotte's Web E. B. White 1952 [1][35][36]
The Borrowers Mary Norton 1952
The Children of Green Knowe Lucy M. Boston 1954
The Hundred and One Dalmatians Dodie Smith 1956
Harry the Dirty Dog Gene Zion 1956
The Cat in the Hat Dr. Seuss 1957 First high quality limited-vocabulary book, written for early readers[citation needed]
Tom's Midnight Garden Philippa Pearce 1958
A Bear Called Paddington Michael Bond 1958
The Rescuers Margery Sharp 1959
The Weirdstone of Brisingamen Alan Garner 1960
James and the Giant Peach Roald Dahl 1961 [1]
The Phantom Tollbooth Norton Juster 1961 [1]
Where the Wild Things Are Maurice Sendak 1963
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl 1964 [1]
A Wizard of Earthsea Ursula K. Le Guin 1968 With its sequels, it broke ground for epic fantasy in several ways: the first book had a non-white hero, the later books explored the role of gender in fantasy and power, and the quest structure is not good vs. evil but balance.[citation needed]
Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret Judy Blume 1970 approached puberty more openly than children's books had in the past.[citation needed]
Watership Down Richard Adams 1972
A Taste of Blackberries Doris Buchanan Smith 1973 Taboo-breaking children's book (Grades 4-6) concerning a child's first grief experience. HarperCollins. 19th edition published 2005.[37][38]
The Neverending Story Michael Ende 1979
Jumanji Chris Van Allsburg 1981
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾ Sue Townsend 1982

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc Nesbit, Eva Marie. "Classic novels". Cullinan & Person 2003. pp. 171–175.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Silvey 1995, pp. xi–xvi
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am Hunt 2001, p. xvi–xxii
  4. ^ Vijay Bedekar (27 December 2008). "Seminar on 'Suhbashita, Panchatantra & Gnomic Literature in Ancient & Medieval India'". Institute for Oriental Study, Thane. Archived from the original on 20 August 2012. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
  5. ^ Silvey 1995, p. 3
  6. ^ Temple, Olivia; Temple, Robert K. G. (translators) (1998). Aesop, The Complete Fables. New York: Penguin Classics. ISBN 0-14-044649-4.
  7. ^ Silvey 1995, p. 25,86
  8. ^ Lyons (2008). Three tales from the Arabian nights. translated by Malcolm C. Lyons, Robert Irwin, and Ursula Lyons ; with an introduction by Robert Irwin. London: Penguin. ISBN 978-1-84614-158-4.
  9. ^ Epstein, Connie C. (1991). The Art of Writing for Children. Archon Books. p. 2. ISBN 0-208-02297-X.
  10. ^ Comenius, John Amos (1999). Orbis Pictus : [Orbis Sensualium Pictus. A world of things obvious to the scenes drawn in pictures] ([Faks.Repr.] ed.). Kessinger. ISBN 978-0-7661-0825-7.
  11. ^ Janeway, James (1994). A token for children : being an exact account of the conversion, holy and exemplary lives and joyful deaths of several young children in two parts. To which is added, A token for the children of New England / by Cotton Mather. Pittsburgh, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications. ISBN 978-1-877611-76-6.
  12. ^ Defoe, Daniel (2001). Robinson Crusoe (Modern Library paperback ed.). New York: The Modern Library. ISBN 978-0-375-75732-7.
  13. ^ Swift, Jonathan (2002). Rivero, Albert J. (ed.). Gulliver's travels. Based on the 1726 text : contexts, criticism (1st ed.). New York: Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-95724-2.
  14. ^ Perrault, Charles (1963). The complete fairy tales of Charles Perrault. Illustrated by Sally Holmes ; newly translated by Neil Philip and Nicoletta Simborowski ; with an introduction and notes on the story by Neil Philip. New York: Clarion Books. ISBN 978-0-395-57002-9.
  15. ^ Newbery, John, ed. (2009). A Little pretty pocket-book. Dodo Press. ISBN 978-1-4099-4974-9.
  16. ^ Welsh, Charles (2010). Goody Two Shoes (reprint ed.). Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 978-1-162-75622-6.
  17. ^ Pickering, Samuel F., Jr. John Locke and Children's Books in Eighteenth-Century England. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1981. ISBN 0-87049-290-X.
  18. ^ Darton, F. J. Harvey. Children's Books in England: Five Centuries of Social Life. 3rd ed. Rev. Brian Alderson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (1982), 146.
  19. ^ Hoffman, E.T.A. (2003). The Nutcracker : the heirloom edition. Illustrated by Don Daily. Philadelphia: Running Press. ISBN 978-0-7624-1668-4.
  20. ^ Scott, Sir Walter (2000). Ivanhoe (1st Tor ed.). New York: Tom Doherty Associates. ISBN 978-0-8125-6565-2.
  21. ^ Irving, Washington (1990). The legend of Sleepy Hollow. Introduction, afterword by Charles L. Grant] (1st Tor ed.). New York: Tom Doherty Associates. ISBN 978-0-8125-0475-0.
  22. ^ Irving, Washington (1993). Rip Van Winkle and other selected stories (1st Tor ed.). New York: TOR. ISBN 978-0-8125-2332-4.
  23. ^ Grimm, Jacob; Grimm, Wilhelm (2006). Owens, Lily (ed.). The complete Brothers Grimm fairy tales (Deluxe ed.). New York: Gramercy Books. ISBN 978-0-517-22925-5.
  24. ^ Nesbit gave an incorrect date of 1863 for the publication. See, for example, Robert L. Patten (1978), Charles Dickens and His Publishers, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 288–293, ISBN 0198120761
  25. ^ "Little Prudy". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  26. ^ Secret Gardens: A Study of the Golden Age of Children's Literature by Humphrey Carpenter, 1985, Part II, Chapter 1: "It seemed to open the door to a new way of writing for, and about, children"
  27. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Baskin, Barbara H.; Harris, Karen. "Classics". Silvey 1995, pp. 140–142.
  28. ^ Hunt 2001, p. 36
  29. ^ Journal of American Folklore, Vol.34, p. 143; by J. Alden Mason & Aurelio M. Espinosa, ed.; 1921 Retrieved 2013-05-31.
  30. ^ Hunt 2001, p. 361
  31. ^ Hunt 2001, pp. 569–570
  32. ^ Hunt 2001, pp. 406–407
  33. ^ Hunt 2001, p. 97
  34. ^ Silvey 1995, p. 350
  35. ^ Introducing Children's Literature: From Romanticism to Postmodernism by Deborah Cogan Thacker, Routledge, 2002, page 123
  36. ^ 100 Best Books for Children by Anita Silvey, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004, page 131
  37. ^ "Doris Buchanan Smith". St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers. Gale Biography In Contex. Retrieved 29 April 2011.
  38. ^ Trelease, Jim (2006). The Read-Aloud Handbook. New York: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated. p. 236. ISBN 978-0-14-303739-2.

Further readingEdit