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How to Introduce Young Kids to Classic Literature and Books

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How to Introduce Young Kids to Classic Literature and Books

How to Introduce Young Kids to Classic Literature and Books

Why Should Kids Read Classic Literature?

When you read to your child, you should provide a mix of material that is at their level of understanding and beyond their level of understanding. Books they can easily understand can be fun and enjoyable, but books that are beyond their current reading ability can provide a challenge that broadens their understanding, knowledge, and vocabulary. And that can help them do better in school.

Reading classic literature is a great way to do this. Classics are classics for a reason. They're the books that have remained popular for several generations because they are appealing to children.

How to Introduce Classics to Young Readers

  1. Start introducing classics to children as early as 5 or 6 years of age.
  2. Continue to read to your kids through the elementary school years, even if they're good readers themselves. Let them read easier books to themselves. You can read the more challenging classics.
  3. Before you introduce the original version of a book, try to find abridged or other simplified versions. Many early readers and picture books provide a basic overview of classic stories. If possible, start with those. If not, try to find an abridged version.
  4. Before you start reading, give your child an overview of the story. If you have never read the book yourself, search online for overviews or reviews. Giving your child an overview can pique their interest and the story will make more sense.
  5. When you read a classic aloud, you may have to do quite a bit of explaining to make the story understandable. As you get further into the book, the amount of explanation will most likely decrease.
  6. If you feel that some sections of the book are either inappropriate or way beyond your child, skip them.
  7. Don't read too much at a time. Three to five pages a day should be enough unless your child wants more. You may be able to increase this amount if your child's understanding has increased.
  8. If you feel that a book is just too hard and requires too much explanation, and if your child is uninterested and tuning out, stop reading and move on to another book. Like adults, children have different tastes. If one book doesn't work, don't give up. Move onto something else.
How to Introduce Classic Literature to Young Children

How to Introduce Classic Literature to Young Children

Classics for Young Children

The following are classic books that you can introduce to young readers: kindergarten and elementary students. Many are available in an abridged form:

  • Treasure Island
  • Little Women
  • A Little Princess
  • The Prince and the Pauper
  • The Adventures of Pinocchio
  • Beatrix Potter books
  • The Nutcracker
  • Oliver Twist
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
  • Watership Down
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Wind in the Willows
  • Peter Pan
  • Anne of Green Gables
  • The Little Prince
  • The Secret Garden
  • Jungle Book
  • The Call of the Wild
  • Winnie the Pooh
  • The House at Pooh Corner
  • Little House on the Prairie
  • Charlotte's Web
  • Emily's Runaway Imagination
  • Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
  • Swiss Family Robinson
  • A Christmas Carol
  • The American Girl Series*

* American Girl novels aren't classics but their historical books are fantastic. They introduce kids to various time periods in American history.

Where to Find Great Free Classical Literature for Kids

  • Many classic books are available online for free.
  • is a great place to find classic literature for kids.
  • Online books are great if you have an eReader or a tablet.
  • Look for used literature classics at library book sales or used bookstores.

More on Reading and Books for Children:


LT Wright (author) from California on July 24, 2015:

Bernadette Harris,

I've found with reading to my kids you can expand their knowledge a lot with challenging material. It does require lots of explanations but it's worth it when their vocabularies explode.

Book Bug on July 24, 2015:

Wow, this takes me back! I read a lot of those book on your list as a kid. :) The best child classics are the ones that can speak to both kids and grown-ups, which is where you separate the good books from the ones that are just passing fads. Good themes are universal, after all, and I am strongly of the opinion that good literature shouldn't be "watered down" for kids. They need to be challenged like everyone else. Love your opening paragraphs. Great hub. Thanks for sharing!

LT Wright (author) from California on August 18, 2012:

Thanks Desi.

Desi Halse on August 18, 2012:

What a helpful guide this is. Thank you.