When I look back (like, WAY back) into my reading life, these are the standouts. There were many books thrust into my hands by the adults in my life, but these are the ones I remember.
THESE are the classic books that ignited my fire for reading and helped me realize that while the books I find worth reading might not be easy, they definitely did not have to be boring.
This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one and make a purchase, I make a small commission (at no cost to you!).
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
I remember getting turned off in the first few pages of this one because the main character was such a spoiled brat, and so I picked it up and put it down many times before I finally gave it a real chance. The character arc along with the mystery of this one caught my attention and then it became a favorite. I even heard my dad mention recently that it was one of the first books he ever read and loved. It’s a classic with some adventure that I think everyone should read.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
I was lucky enough to read this in my 6th grade English class. My English teacher, Mrs. Brooks, clearly saw the look in my eyes when we were engaging in class discussions because she later recommended I read Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy on my own. I was completely enthralled and amazed that these types of books could ALSO be books I could study in school. An epic adventure with a classic good vs. evil struggle, this fantasy will capture you page one.
Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
I call this one my historical fiction “gateway” book. It definitely started my love for studying the Civil War and my admiration for Abraham Lincoln. It lead to so many other historical fiction (and nonfiction) experiences across many different time periods and events, and I almost never see it mentioned or hear it talked about in my bookish circles. Note: This is one I would definitely recommend you NOT judge by its cover.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
I am not sure I can say anything about this one that has not already been said. It is long and maybe a little slow for some but it is a wonderful story, especially for young girls. I particularly love the messages about sacrifice and how Alcott portrayed the beauty of living a simple, modest life.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This I read in high school (9th grade, if memory serves) and it was one of the only times (that I can remember) that required reading was also unputdownable. The messages about racism, love, community, and family, all from the perspective of a spunky little girl, combined with a thrilling story, gave me the experience I am now constantly attempting to replicate in my reading life. I even wrote a piece on this one for She Reads: 12 Books Like To Kill a Mockingbird.
What classic books for kids do you think need to be added to this list? Tell me which ones got YOU excited about reading!
If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:
10 Classic Books to Read if You Think Classic Books are Boring, 10 Amazing Books You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of, Best Books of 2019: New Releases, Best Books of 2019: Back List, 6 Most Recommended Audiobooks