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10 Childhood Classics That All Kids Should Read

Foster a love of reading with these powerful books

Vicky McDonald
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Published on: July 01, 2022

kid-reading-book-beside-lake

When you are young, reading can sometimes feel like a chore or something you must do for school. It just takes a special type of book to make you realize that reading is magical and can you take you on a journey to a whole new world. I bet you can still remember the first book that broke your heart, changed your life or was simply unputdownable. Some books have such a powerful impact that the story stays with you forever. We recently asked ParentMap readers to name the most memorable book from their childhood. Here are their 10 favorite classics that we think all kids should read at least once. 

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

"Charlotte’s Web" feels like the first deep and eye-opening book that kids get to encounter. It’s a tale of friendship, love and life, and it is the kind of book that stands the test of time. Ages 5–9

“Lord of the Flies” by William Golding

This riveting book is required reading in many schools and colleges, and for good reason. It’s an epic tale that all kids should read. Ages 7 and older

“Island of the Blue Dolphins” by Scott O'Dell

This story tells the tale of a Native American girl who gets left behind on an island and must tap into her resourcefulness to survive. This is girl power from another era, but still feels fresh and exhilarating today. Ages 8–11

“Bridge to Terabithia” by Katherine Paterson

According to one Amazon reviewer, “This book should come with a warning label and a box of Kleenex.” It's a heartbreaking story all about the importance of friendship.” Ages 9–12

“Where the Red Fern Grows” by Wilson Rawls

This timeless tale of a boy and his dogs is heartbreaking and beautiful in equal measure.  Ages 9–12

“My Brother Sam Is Dead” by James Lincoln Collier

This classic Newbery Honor Book is set during the American Revolution and is about difficult choices people have to make during war. Ages 10 and older

“The Giver” by Lois Lowry

This teen novel is set in a utopian world without poverty, homelessness or crime. A 12-year-old boy discovers that all is not what it seems and has a difficult choice to make. This book is an engrossing read for both kids and adults. Ages 10 and older

“That Was Then, This Is Now” by S.E. Hinton

Though originally published in 1971, this tale about teen friendships and the unpredictable nature of life is still relevant.  According to one Amazon reviewer, “The ending makes me want to jump out a window, but I absolutely loved this book.” Ages 12 and older

“Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck

The book is set during the America Depression and is about two men trying to find a way to make a living in California as farmhands. It’s a provocative tale about the perils of pursuing the American Dream. Ages 14 and older

“My Sweet Orange Tree” by Jose Mauro de Vasconcelos

This Brazilian book has been published in multiple languages and is loved by kids all around the world. According to one Amazon reviewer, “This book could thaw the coldest of hearts.” Ages 14 and older

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