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Family Life: 10 of the best classic children’s books

Make-A-Wish UK

If you’re reading aloud as a family, or looking for tales for your children to read alone, this list of classics will stir some major nostalgia from your own childhood and give your children some incredible literary journeys to take themselves on! Check these out:

hungry caterpilla

1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar - Eric Carle

Written by Eric Carle and first published in 1969, this is a classic tale and tells the story of a hungry caterpillar eating his way through various foods until getting a tummy ache and turning into a beautiful butterfly! Aimed at children under 5 – this is a great story that’ll turn bedtime reading into lots of fun.

gruffalo.

2. The Gruffalo – Julia Donaldson

A beautifully illustrated book that follows a small mouse that walks through the woods meeting lots of woodland predators including snakes and owls. To warn them off, the mouse tells them about a scary fictional monster with big teeth – the Gruffalo! A wonderful rhyming tale that your children will want to read over and over.

peter rabbit

3. The Tale of Peter Rabbit – Beatrix Potter

Peter, a young rabbit, lives with his large family on Angel McGregor farm. His parents always warn him to stay out of the farmer’s garden, but Peter is tempted by the lovely food being grown and one day sneaks under the fence into the forbidden garden – but is caught by Mr McGregor! The first in the series of many animal tales – this is one not to be missed off your bookcase.

bear hunt

4. We’re going on a bear hunt! - Michael Rosen

Aimed at young children, this book follows a family overcoming different obstacles on a walk to find a bear! Based on a classic children’s rhyme, this story is great fun and will have your little ones (and you) humming the tune for days.

james and the giant peach

5. James and the Giant Peach –  Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl wrote James and the Giant Peach in 1961. Dahl tells the story of James, a young orphan who finds his way into a giant, magical peach after running away from his evil aunts. The story follows him and his new friends, giant garden bugs, on a huge adventure with their giant peach in the search for a better life. The book, illustrated by Quentin Blake is a humorous tale and in true Dahl-style, includes lots of wonderful rhymes for you and your family to enjoy.

wind in the willows

6. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

First published in 1908, this enchanting tale follows the adventures of woodland creatures during the ever-changing British seasons. The main characters, Ratty, Badger, Mole and Toad are four characters no childhood should be without! Take your children on their motorcar adventure and plan this into your children’s reading time.

jk rowling

7. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – JK Rowling

The first in the series was published in 1997. Now a worldwide-phenomenon - Rowling takes readers on the adventure of an 11 year old boy who’s just discovered he’s a wizard. Harry’s thrown into the magical and captivating world of wizardry when he joins Hogwarts – the school for wizardry! Aimed at slightly older children, but loved by at a wide audience, and followed by 6 more books – this really is a series for everyone to enjoy!

five on a treasure island

8. The Famous Five – Five on Treasure Island – Enid Blyton

First published in 1942, The Famous Five novel features the adventures of a group of young children, Julian, Dick, Anne, Georgina and their dog Timmy. Taking place in the school holidays on their return from boarding schools – the children are sent to their Aunts for the summer at Kirrin Bay where their adventure begins when they find a shipwreck. Let your children’s imaginations run wild with this literary classic – that doesn’t end there, this book is followed up by lots more adventures from the five!

hobbit

9. The Hobbit – J R R Tolkein

The Hobbit was published in 1937 and follows the surreal and out-of-this-world adventures of home-loving hobbit Bilbo Baggins. One day his life is turned upside-down when he’s approached by Gandalf, a wizard, and 13 dwarves who need his help hunting down treasure that’s guarded by Smaug the dragon. Bilbo’s thrown into a whirl-wind quest that takes him out of his rural life in the Shire and into the sinister wild of the black forest and beyond. Also check out the Lord of the Rings trilogy which then follow this tale and continue the adventures of the hobbits, dwarves and elves.

alice in wonderland.j

10. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

The tale of Alice was written in 1865. The book begins with Alice, a young girl, chasing a white rabbit and falling down a long rabbit hole into a strange and surreal world. Alice needs to make her way through this fantasy world, meeting out-of-this world characters including a grinning Cheshire cat, an advice-giving caterpillar, a talking rabbit and a difficult to please Queen. This enchanting tale will captivate your children and should be one on the list for bedtime reading – especially if your children are over the age of 10!

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