26 Mar
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Favorite Classic Children’s Books

15 Classic Children's Books

I like to peruse bookshelves when I’m in people’s homes. I’m always on the lookout for new books to read, for me and my children. Most of the children’s book collections I see are mainly contemporary as far as original publishing dates. We own a decent number of children’s books published 50 years ago or more, and those classics are some of our most read.

Older books have a tone different from contemporary books. Illustrations on older books seem to use more subdued colors or rely on black and white. There are a few classic children’s book series we collect that started 50 years or more ago, but aren’t on the following list: Clifford by Norman Bridwell, Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans, and Curious George by H.A. Rey, to name a few. Two authors listed several times below, Virginia Lee Burton and Robert McCloskey, are great go-to gifts for children. I have yet to find one of their books I don’t find appealing.

15 Favorite Children’s Books Written Before 1960

  1. The Big Honey Hunt by Stan and Jan Berenstain — This was written as a stand-alone with no planned sequel. The Berenstain Bears are currently written by Stan and Jan’s son, Mike, with over 300 titles in the series. The Berenstain Bears are my favorite children’s book series. I feel compelled to buy titles we don’t own when I see them. Currently we have over 175 Berenstain Bears books. Because of this series alone, I can’t be trusted in the children’s book section of a bookstore, especially a used bookstore.
  2. The Digging-Est Dog by Al Perkins — This book is a rhyming tale of a dog bought at a pet store who doesn’t know how to dig.
  3. Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton — I love that the red tractor in this book is named Katy instead of Bob or Bill. She’s a workhorse teaching reliability and perseverance.
  4. Billy And Blaze by C.W. Anderson — The first book in the Billy and Blaze series. We discovered the series when our youngest son was three and infatuated with all things horse and cowboy. Billy and Blaze was first published in 1936 and reads like it’s from a simpler yet still formal time. Billy, a little boy, wears a long-sleeve button shirt and tie when riding Blaze.
  5. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey — This is the 1942 Caldecott Award recipient which is given for best artistic work. It’s not surprising Make Way for Ducklings is one of my all-time favorite illustrated children’s books.
  6. And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss — This is the one that started it all. Dr. Seuss’ first children’s book is a true classic full of wonderful, imaginative scenes and characters.
  7. Spotty by Margret Rey — Spotty is the story of a bunny who doesn’t quite fit in his family and the journey he goes on to find a sense of belonging.
  8. Put Me in the Zoo by Robert Lopshire — The story is about an animal trying to find where he fits with his gifts. A little girl and boy help him find his answer. I’m still not quite sure what kind of animal he is…tiger?
  9. Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey — Again Robert McCloskey won me over with his illustrations from the pot-bellied stove to the car to the mom picking berries in a skirt and cardigan.
  10. Katy No-Pocket by Emmy Payne — Katy the kangaroo teaches resourcefulness and problem solving as she tries to figure out how to carry her baby.
  11. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virgina Lee Burton — This story fits in well with our society’s current trend to refurbish and reuse items instead of throwing them out.
  12. The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf — Every single time we see a bull alone in a field, someone mentions Ferdinand and the cork tree. It’s a classic tale of knowing when it’s important to fight and when it’s better to sit.
  13. Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business by Esphyr Slobodkina — My children’s favorite part of this book is to act out what the peddler does when he finds out what happened to his caps.
  14. The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton — Each turn of the page illustrates a slightly different time frame for a little house. My daughter enjoys comparing the illustrations to see what’s different. She uses the book like an I Spy book.
  15. Corduroy by Don Freeman — Corduroy the stuffed bear is an iconic children’s book figure. There are several other books with Corduroy as the main character. The original is by far my favorite.

What are your favorite older (classic) children’s books your family enjoys?

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