Moomah the Magazine
Classic Book Round Up

Classic Book Round Up

Some worry that children these days are so wedded to their screens that they just can't sit still long enough to hear a story read to them. We couldn’t disagree more. We set out to create a go-to list for our readers full of classic books that have stood the test of time. Books that children of all ages just can’t get enough of - timeless stories that never grow old.

We consulted the best of the best for this list; a group of early childhood educators who have taught generation after generation of school children. We don't know anyone with more knowledge of what kids love than these ladies, comprised of primary and elementary school teachers and librarians that have been teaching young children for over 50 years. 

The books they selected are a few out of thousands read to eager students (and their own children), that truly capture the hearts and imaginations of their listeners, begged to be heard again and again. Each book chosen shares the common qualities of strong characters, either human or animal with whom a child can identify, a strong presentation of right vs. wrong, and a frequent sense of humor.

Year after year, the stories on this list have been read to classrooms full of children, and even today in an age of pads and gadgets, the cry is always, "Please! Can't you read just it one more time!?"

PREschool (or age 3) and up


1. DEAR ZOO, Rod Campbell. Simple and repetitive, a great way to teach your kids about animals.
2. ASK MR BEAR, Marjorie Flack. A community-building adventure hunt for the right gift for a boy's mother's birthday.
3. A SICK DAY FOR AMOS MCGEE, Philip Stead. A story about a zookeeper, animals, friendship, and kindness.


4. GOSSIE AND GERTIE, Olivier Dunrea. A sweet book about friendship.
5. THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR, Eric Carle. The story of the caterpillar who eats his way into metamorphosis! 
6. EVERYWHERE BABIES, Susan Myers. Great images to help baby to understand his social context.


7. BARN DANCE, Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault. Lots of rhythm and toe-tapping late at night out in the barn!
8. BLUEBERRIES FOR SAL, Robert McCloskey. Gathering a harvest and preserving food for the winter, by people and bears.

primary and up


1. CAPS FOR SALE, Esphyr Slobodkina. The humorous tale of a peddler and a band of mischievous monkeys.
2. HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON, Crockett Johnson. One boy, one purple crayon and lots of imagination.
3. LITTLE TOOT, Hardie Gramatky. The story of the little energetic tug boat.


4. MAKE WAY FOR DUCKLINGS, Robert McCloskey. The adventures of a duck family in Boston.
5. THE STORY OF BARBAR, Jean de Brunnoff. A young elephant escapes being captured by moving to the city to learn.
6. CARS AND TRUCKS AND THINGS THAT GO, Richard Scarry. Come across every vehicle known, and even some unknown.


7. HERMAN THE HELPER, Robert Kraus. The cutest little octopus shows how one tiny creature can be a big help, even to himself!
8. LITTLE FUR FAMILY, Margaret Wise Brown. Story with a sweet sense of adventure, tender love and belonging.
9. IN THE NIGHT KITCHEN, Maurice Sendak. An adventure that children love, especially when Mickey falls into the batter.


10. ONCE A MOUSE, Marcia Brown. Caldecott Medal Winner for illustration, this Indian fable comes to life with magical woodcuts.
11. THE LITTLE ISLAND, Margaret Wise Brown. The enchanting illustration reminds us that all creatures in nature are connected to one another.


12. FLAP YOUR WINGS, P.D. Eastman. When the egg hatches, that baby bird they expected is not a bird at all, but an alligator.
13. SYLVESTER AND THE MAGIC PEBBLE, William Steig. Wonderful language, comical illustrations, magic, and undying love.
14. MADELINE, Lugwig Bemelmans. The adventures of a little girl and her imagination in Paris.


15. WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS, Shel Silverstein. A book of comedy filled poems that will play with your imagination.
16. OH, WHAT A BUSY DAY, Gyo Fujikawa. A big book full of little drawings to get lost in, with all of the best parts of a kids day.
17. THE TIGER WHO CAME TO TEA, Judith Kerr. A story about the best way to entertain an unexpected house guest - at tiger!


18. WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, Maurice Sendak. The classic story of Max and the "wild rumpus."
19. THE KEEPING QUILT, Patricia Polacco. The story of a family and their quilt that remains the symbol of their love and faith.

elementary and up: third GRADE +


1. A WRINKLE IN TIME, Madeleine L’Engle. A sci-fi tale that stresses good vs. evil, in an attempt to rescue a father from evil.
2. PIPPI LONGSTOCKING, Astrid Lindgren. The young girl with the red pigtails and no parents to tell her what to do.
3. CROSSING, Philip Booth. 1940's, midwest, and the train's a comin', 100 cars long. Great rhyme and rhythm.


4. JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH, Roald Dahl. A story of adventure when James plants a magical seed which grows and rolls.
5. THE SUMMER OF THE SWANS, Betsy Byars. Sara, a blooming teenager is becoming tired of taking care of her mentally challenged brother, Charlie, and fails to take him to view the seasonal swans, which results in disaster. 
6. MRS FRISBY AND THE RATS OF NIMH, Robest C. O'Brien. An organized society of rats have escaped from experiments. 

upper elementary and up: fourth grade +


1. ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS, Scott O'Dell. Wonderful adventure story about a very resourceful young girl.
2. THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND, Elizabeth Speare. Witch hunting during the 1600's.
3. THE MAGICAL MONARCH OF MO, L. Frank Baum. A fanciful story with glorious illustrations.


4. MYSTERY AT THUNDERBOLT HOUSE, Howard Pease. A mysterious story about early San Francisco and the earthquake.
5. THE LION'S PAW, Robb White. A great adventure story, and a great story about resourceful kids.
6. NANCY AND PLUM, Betty MacDonald. A favorite story about brave and resourceful little girls. A modern Little Princess.

DISCLAIMER: Though we've grouped these books roughly by age, it should be reiterated that these stories are all timeless and children of all ages still love them no matter how old. Some of the books in the Primary catagory are fantastic to read aloud to pre-readers, and are great a few years later when your child has begun to read herself.

As one of our contributors to this list said, "NOTE. It should be acknowledged that this list was comprised of a reader who is now 82 years old. This list of SOME favorite books, is doubtlessly quite different from the list of a younger reader. I suspect that one reason I chose to be  a teacher was so that I could continue for many years enjoying these stories and sharing them with children." -Joan Dayton.

Thank you to our contributors: 
Helen Williamson, Cora Wright, Lin Ashlock, Lissy Clark, Gail Hatch, Tracy Ashlock, Judi Hamberg, Judy Fiset, Margaret Erickson, Betsy Lester, Kathi Wilson, Shirlee Jack and Joan Dayton.

Posted in: Discover & Learn   

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Wilma rabidoux said…

I am happy to know that some one is encouraging young ones to read. I am 75 and grew up on Zane grey black stallion   I have encouraged my children and grand children to read. I’m ecstatic when a grand child text me and ask what i am reading or my 21year old granddaughter text and says. Lets go to Barnes and noble.  For a few hours.  A good conversation always evolves over a book. I will gladly buy books   From my limited resources

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