Reading aloud is a wonderful way to connect with your children when they are young. I have very fond memories of snuggling on the couch with my mom while she read our favorite books to us in the evenings.
Reading aloud also helps your kids reach their highest potential developmentally and academically. Research has shown that children who have been read to from a very young age have larger vocabularies and learn to read easier than children who haven’t been read to.1 It’s incredible how much our little ones learn by listening to us read stories!
Here are some of the most classic children’s books you can start reading to your child. We’ve organized these books by the most appropriate age groups. However, these books can be read to (and loved by) children of all ages!
30 Classic Books to Read to Your Child
Classic Books for Ages 2-5
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
This is a thirty-year-old tale of a father and his four young children as they cross a field of tall grass, wade through a cold river, struggle through swampy mud, find their way through a dark forest, fight through a snowstorm, and finally enter a gloomy cave. What will they discover? You’ll have to read on to find out!
Tikki Tikki Tembo
Three decades old, this is a story about a boy with a long name who falls down a well. Tikki Tikki Tembo is a classic re-telling of an ancient Chinese folktale that warns about the danger of having such an honorable name as Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo.
A classic story in which a stuffed bear is waiting hopefully in a toy department and finds a home with a little girl. She wants Corduroy so much that she comes to the store with her own money after her mother refuses to buy him.
Stellaluna, a fruit bat, is knocked from her mother’s safe embrace by an attacking owl and lands headfirst in a bird’s nest. Her world is turned upside down when she is adopted by the nest’s occupants and adapts to their bird habits.
The Little Red Hen
Little Red Hen is a humorous, classic tale about how we reap what we sow. The Little Red Hen wants to make a cake, but when the hen asks a cat, dog, and mouse for help, she hears, “Not I!” Guess who eats the cake by herself in the end?
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
In this classic book, the town Chewandswallow was an ordinary town with extraordinary weather. It came three times a day, at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and rained, snowed, or blew in…food! But the weather turns for the worse and the town is a mess, causing the people to fear for their lives.
The Velveteen Rabbit
At first, a brand-new toy, now an old, threadbare relic, the velveteen rabbit is saved by a magic fairy who whisks him away from Rabbitland. There, he becomes “Real” and a cherished childhood companion who will be loved forever. This is a beautiful story of transformation and redemption through a child’s unwavering love.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Alexander had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Nothing at all was right. Everything went wrong. His mom served lima beans for dinner, and there was kissing on TV! But mom reassures him that some days are like that for other people too.
Madeline is a tale with a courageous heroine, cheerful humor, and beautiful drawings of Paris. The Madeline stories are classics that have been delighting young readers for 75 years!
The Story of Ferdinand
While all the other bulls snort, leap, and butt their heads, Ferdinand prefers to sit and smell the flowers under his favorite tree. This is another story that children have loved for over 75 years.
Where the Wild Things Are
Max dresses in his wolf suit and causes havoc in the house, so his mother sends him to bed. Instead of sleeping, Max sets sail to an island inhabited by the Wild Things, who make him king and share a wild rumpus with him.
The Giving Tree
There once was a tree that loved a little boy. Every day the boy would come to the tree. He would eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunk. The tree was happy. As the boy grew older, he needed more from the tree, and the tree gave and gave and gave. This book is a touching story.
The Kissing Hand
Chester Raccoon does not want to go to school. Mrs. Raccoon shares a family secret called the Kissing Hand to help Chester feel her love whenever his world feels a little scary.
Classic Books for Ages 6 and Up
A girl named Fern saves a runt pig, names him Wilbur, and raises him in her Uncle Zuckerman’s barn. There, Wilbur finds dear friends in many of the farm animals and a clever spider named Charlotte.
For over 100 years, the story of Peter Pan has been a favorite. It is the tale of a boy who can fly and never grows up. He meets a girl named Wendy and takes her and her brothers to the fantastical world of Neverland, where they share an adventure with its magical inhabitants, including the Lost Boys, Captain Hook, Tiger Lily, and Tinker Bell.
Anne of Green Gables
Anne is an eleven-year-old orphan sent by mistake to live with a lonely, middle-aged brother and sister on a Prince Edward Island farm. The first in a beloved series of books, Anne of Green Gables, shares how a young girl makes a lasting impression on everyone around her.
The Secret Garden
After losing her parents, young Mary Lennox moves into Misselthwaite Manor with her reclusive uncle, and she hates it. The only comfort Mary has is exploring the manor’s grounds. Soon, she discovers a hidden key and realizes it opens the door to an old, abandoned garden with a few secrets.
The Wind in the Willows
Rat, Mole, Badger, and Mr. Toad have delighted readers for generations with their odd adventures on and by the river and at the large residence of Toad Hall.
Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny are orphaned brothers and sisters who decide the only way to stay together is to make it on their own. The children find an abandoned boxcar in the woods, and it becomes home.
The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh
Author A.A. Milne wrote these enduring, timeless tales for his son Christopher Robin in 1926. They are stories of Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends—Piglet, Owl, Tigger, Kanga, Roo, and gloomy Eeyore—and their adventures in The Hundred Acre Wood.
A Bear Called Paddington
The Brown family meets an extraordinary bear named Paddington Bear, who had traveled all the way from Peru. Since then, their lives have never been quite the same.
Mrs. Piggle Wiggle
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle lives in an upside-down house and always has freshly baked cookies. And she knows everything there is to know about children. When one of the children in the story is misbehaving, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle has the perfect cure. And her hilarious solutions always work!
The Tale of Despereaux
Despereaux Tilling is a mouse in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea. A rat called Roscuro lives in the darkness and wants a world filled with light. And Miggery Sow is a serving girl who has a simple wish. These three characters embark on a fantastical journey and come to find one another…and each other’s help.
My Father’s Dragon
This is the story of Elmer Elevator, who learns of a captive dragon on Wild Island. Anyone who rescues the dragon from its cruel captors might be entitled to a free ride, and Elmer has always wanted to fly. Elmer stows away aboard a ship to the island, where he encounters many moody creatures.
Pippi Longstocking has crazy red pigtails, no parents to tell her what to do, a horse that lives on her porch, and a pet monkey named Mr. Nilsson. No matter what Pippi is doing, like scrubbing floors, doing math, or having a fancy tea party, her outrageous antics always seems to lead to another adventure.
The Clock family are tiny people who live underneath the kitchen floor of an old English country manor. All their tiny home furnishings, from postage stamp paintings to champagne cork chairs, are “borrowed” from the “human beans” who live above them. Their little life is going well until one of them is spotted upstairs by a human boy!
The Penderwick sisters are spending the summer on the grounds of a beautiful estate called Arundel. Soon they discover the magic of Arundel’s gardens and treasure-filled attic. They also discover Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundel’s owner, who quickly proves to be the perfect friend.
The Green Ember
The Green Ember is a fantastical adventure tale set in a time of great chaos in the world. Two brave rabbits go on an epic adventure to battle evil characters to save themselves, their friends they meet along the way, and ultimately, the kingdom.
Mr. Popper’s Penguins
Mr. Popper wishes he had seen something of the world before meeting Mrs. Popper and settling down. Most of all, he wishes he had seen the Poles and spends his spare time reading all about polar explorations. One day a friend sends him a penguin, and soon the Popper family grows to include 12 penguins, all of whom must be fed. Mr. Popper creates “Popper’s Performing Penguins, First Time on Any Stage, Direct from the South Pole,” and they go on a world tour!
This classic tale tells of the beloved Mary Poppins and how her arrival at Number Seventeen Cherry-Tree Lane forever changes the Banks family. She becomes a most unusual nanny to Jane, Michael, and the twins. Magic and adventure come to life in this whimsical story!
Do you remember any of these classics from your childhood? Which will you read to your kids? I hope you try reading one (or several!) of these classic books aloud to your child. You will make wonderful memories for them and be instrumental in their language development. Happy reading!