‘Classic’ novels are ones so extraordinarily well-written that they are still being read decades after first being published. As a result, recently written novels aren’t considered classics because they haven’t been around long enough yet, even though many us who enjoy books are sure we can identify new novels that will some day be considered classics.

Below you will find a list of some of the ‘classics’ suitable for readers in grade four and up. Some of them are traditionally considered children’s novels and others are considered adult novels, but all of them are important enough that you should learn a little bit about them before you start high school.

Don’t think that you have to read the original version of each novel. The important thing is to know a little bit about each novel and let it become part of your general knowledge. So, while the quality of the writing is definitely the best in the original version,  it is fine if you read an adaptation, listen to the story on tape, or even watch the movie version.

Especially suitable for younger readers:
Barrie, J.M. Peter Pan. (1911)
Baum, Frank. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. (1900)
Bond, Michael. A Bear Called Paddington. (1958)
Burnett, Frances Hodgson. The Secret Garden. (1911)
Carrier, Roch. The Hockey Sweater. (1984)
Carroll, Lewis. Alice in Wonderland. (1865)
Carroll, Lewis. Through the Looking Glass. (1872)
Cleary, Beverly. Dear Mr. Henshaw. (1984)
Cleary, Beverly. Ramona and her Father. (1978)
Cleary, Beverly. Ramona the Pest. (1968)
Collodi, Carlo. Pinocchio. (1881)
Cooper, Susan. The High King. (1976)
Dahl, Roald. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. (1964)
Dahl, Roald. Danny, the Champion of the World. (1975)
Dahl, Roald. James and the Giant Peach. (1961)
de Angeli, Marguerite. The Door in the Wall. (1950)
Enright, Elizabeth. Gone-away Lake. (1958)
Estes, Eleanor. The Hundred Dresses. (1945)
Estes, Eleanor. Ginger Pye. (1950)
Estes, Eleanor. The Middle Moffat. (1943)
Estes, Eleanor. Rufus M. (1944)
Farley, Walter. The Black Stallion. (1941)
George, Jean Craighead. My Side of the Mountain. (1960)
Grahame, Kenneth. The Wind in the Willows. (1908)
Lawson, Robert. Rabbit Hill. (1945)
Lewis, C.S. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. (1950)
Lofting, Hugh. The Story of Dr. Dolittle. (1923)
MacDonald, George. The Princess and Curdie. (1883)
Milne, A.A. The House at Pooh Corner. (1927)
Milne, A.A. Winnie-the-Pooh. (1958)
Montgomery, L.M. Anne of Green Gables. (1908)
Mowat, Farley. Owls in the Family. (1962)
Nesbit, Edith. Five Children and It. (1908)
Nesbit, Edith. The Railway Children. (1968)
North, Sterling. Rascal. (1964)
Norton, Mary. The Borrowers. (1952)
O’Dell, Scott. Island of the Blue Dolphins. (1960)
Paterson, Katherine. Bridge to Terabithia. (1978)
Paterson, Katherine. The Great Gilly Hopkins. (1979)
Porter, Eleanor H. Pollyanna. (1913)
Rawls, Wilson. Where the Red Fern Grows. (1962)
Richler, Mordecai. Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang. (1975)
Saint-Exupery, A. de. The Little Prince. (1943)
Salten, Felix. Bambi. (1923)
Smucker, Barbara. Underground to Canada. (1977)
Spyri, Johanna. Heidi. (1880)
Steig, William. Abel’s Island. (1977)
Travers, P.L. Mary Poppins. (1934)
White, E.B. Charlotte’s Web. (1952)
White, E.B. Stuart Little. (1945)
Wilder, Laura Ingalls. Little House in the Big Woods. (1932)

DaCosta, Barbara. Mighty Moby. New York: Little, Brown and Co., 2017.
Beautifully designed. Powerfully illustrated. Wondrously retold with a new ending. A perfect bedtime story for listeners 6 to 10 years old.

Kastner, Erich. Emil and the Detectives. New York: Overlook Press, 2014, 2007.

What a rollicking adventure! This classic novel from Germany – first published in 1929 and now translated into over 50 languages  – tells the story of Emil’s adventures while travelling to Berlin to visit his grandmother. Emil falls asleep on the train and when he wakes up, he discovers all his money has been stolen. Emil is not one to give up. He enlists the help of other boys and catches the thief, much to everyone’s delight. This new translation by W. Martin uses colloquialisms familiar to modern readers and includes an introduction by Maurice Sendak as well as the original line drawings by Walter Trier.

Suitable for grades 7 and up:
Alexander, Lloyd. The High King. (1969)
Alcott, Louisa May. Little Women. (1868)
Armstrong, William H. Sounder. (1970)
Austen, Jane. Persuasion. (1818)
Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. (1813)
Bronte, Emily. Wuthering Heights. (1847)
Burnford, Sheila. The Incredible Journey. (1961)
Defoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe. (1719)
Dickens, Charles. A Christmas Carol. (1843)
Dickens, Charles. Oliver Twist. (1837)
Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. (1887)
Garfield, Leon. Jack Holborn. (1964)
Garfield, Leon. Smith. (1967)
Gipson, Fred. Old Yeller. (1957)
Hinton, S.E. The Outsiders. (1967)
Kipling, Rudyard. The Jungle Book. (1894)
Kjelgaard, Jim. Big Red. (1945)
L’Engle, Madeline. A Wrinkle in Time. (1963)
London, Jack. Call of the Wild. (1903)
London, Jack. White Fang. (1906)
Mowat, Farley. Lost in the Barrens. (1956)
Nichol, Barbara, reteller. Tales of Don Quixote. (2004; originally 1605 by Miguel de Cervantes)
Orwell, George. Animal Farm. (1945)
Pyle, Howard. The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. (1883)
Rawling, Marjorie K. The Yearling. (1938)
Sewell, Anna. Black Beauty. (1877)
Smucker, Barbara. Days of Terror. (1979)
Speare, Elizabeth Speare. The Bronze Bow. (1962)
Speare, Elizabeth Speare. The Witch of Blackbird Pond. (1959)
Steinbeck, John. The Red Pony. (1933)
Stevenson, Robert Louis. Treasure Island. (1883)
Stevenson, Robert Louis. Kidnapped. (1886)
Tolkein, J. R. R. The Hobbit. (1937)
Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings. (1954)
Trease, Geoffrey. Word to Caesar. (1955)
Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. (1884)
Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. (1876)
Twain, Mark. The Prince and the Pauper. (1881)
Ullman, James Ramsey. Banner in the Sky. (1954)
Verne, Jules. Around the World in Eighty Days. (1873)
Verne, Jules. Journey to the Center of the Earth. (1864)
Voigt, Cynthia. Dicey’s Song. (1983)
Wells, H.G. The Time Machine. (1895)
Wyss, Johann D. The Swiss Family Robinson. (1812)

Suitable only for more mature readers:
Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. (1953)
Dickens, Charles. David Copperfield. (1850)
Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. (1861)
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. (1859)
Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan. The Hound of Baskervilles. (1902)
Dumas, Alexandre. The Three Musketeers. (1844)
Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. (1954)
Hugo, Victor. Les Miserables. (1862)
Irving, Washington. Rip Van Winkle. (1819)
Melville, Herman. Moby Dick. (1851)
Scott, Walter. Ivanhoe. (1820)
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. (1818)
Stoker, Bram. Dracula. (1897)
Swift, Jonathan. Gulliver’s Travels. (1726)
Knowles, John. A Separate Peace. (1959)
Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. (1960)
Weisel, Elie. Night. (1960)
Biographies of classic writers:

Hopkinson, Deborah. Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen. New York: Balzer & Bray an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2018.

“Nothing ever fatigues me but doing what I do not like.”

“The real evils, indeed, of Emma’s situation were the power of having rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself.”

“For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn.”

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, most be in want of a wife.”

Jane Austen was born in England over two hundred years ago. But her novels still entertain people all around the world. This biography tells the story of how she grew up to become a famous writer. The detailed ink and watercolour illustrations by Qin Leng, the style and size of the text, and the layout of the pages all combine to create a delightful picture book highly recommended for curious readers 9 to 15 years old.






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