Today, I have a list for you of “oldies but goodies.” These books were all published before 1955, and yet, they stand the test of time without feeling archaic. Several of these, I have fond memories of from my own childhood, while others we came across because of Sonlight homeschool curriculum’s lovely lists of read-alouds for every age. Some of those books have been just so-so for our family, but these are the ones that have stood out, that the older ones periodically say to me, “Mom, I just can’t wait till my little sister (or brother) is old enough that we can read that one again together. She’ll love it so much!”
In case you’re just now joining us in this series, I’m doing this series in response to a number of questions I’ve received from moms and dads of five to eight year olds whose children have become very good readers and want to read chapter books but don’t know what to read. And they, like me, have no desire for their children to be reading middle grade books even though they are capable of doing so because of the issues they deal with like crushes on boys, trouble with teachers and parents, jealousy and cliques, bad attitudes, and the fact that a lot of them deal with good and evil in ways that is beyond where little ones need to be.
So, please enjoy our newest top ten list of oldies but goodies for young kids. (This post contains affiliate links to Amazon to assist you in finding the books we are talking about. If you click on them and buy the book(s) or even go on to buy something else, we will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.)
1. B is for Betsy by Carolyn Haywood was published in 1939, but has been reprinted a number of times and is now even available for Kindle. I was surprised to find out that this book, as well as the rest of the series about Betsy, have never been out of print! In this book, Betsy is starting first grade and is a little nervous about it, but the year turns out to be full of fun new experiences and friends. The ensuing books each find Betsy one year older.
2. Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace, first published in 1947, is about two five-year-old girls who become the best of friends. It is a sweet story about their friendship and the things they do together and how they learn to be friends with others as well.
3. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White was published in 1952, and, I was surprised to find out, was, in fact, not E.B. White’s first book. We’ll get to that one a few books down from here! I can’t imagine there’s anyone out there who doesn’t know this book, but sometimes it’s nice to be reminded when you’re racking your brain for a book recommendation for your kid. 4. Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes from 1951 is a rollicking adventure about a family’s new dog who is surprisingly intelligent. There are hilarious capers and antics in this one and a mystery to solve when the dog goes missing.
5. Here’s a Penny by Carolyn Haywood in 1944 is about a little boy who has been adopted and his fun and adventurous friend who doesn’t understand what that means. He sets out to prove that his family is as real as hers. It introduces adoption in a very natural, non-contrived way, but most of the book is about the typical childhood adventures of the main character, Penny, and his friend Patsy. This is a great book for little boys!
6. Homer Price by Robert McCloskey, published in 1943, is a comedic look at small-town America for kids. The adventures Homer has are laugh-out-loud funny, and this was a book our whole family really enjoyed.
7. Stuart Little was actually E.B. White’s first book, published in 1945. I remember loving this book as a kid, even though it seemed kind of weird that a mouse would be born to a human family. Once I got past that, I loved reading about his adventures in New York City with his parents, his older brother George, and Snowbell the cat. I’ve always liked Stuart’s mixture of shy thoughtfulness and love of adventure.
8. Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne. Do I really need to say more? Actually, maybe I do. If your only knowledge of Winnie-the-Pooh is the Walt Disney version, please, please, please take the time to snuggle up with your kids and read the original, published in 1926, and just as delightful as the day it was written!
9. Little Pear by Eleanor Frances Lattimore was first published in 1931. The author was an American who was born and grew up in China and based many of her 57 books on her experiences growing up there. This was her first book and is about a young boy who lives in a small village in China. I love how this story highlights that, although Little Pear’s lived a long time ago and in a very different country and culture, he is much like any little kid today–always on the lookout for excitement and adventure!
10. Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski in 1945 is another book I remember very fondly from my own childhood. My children also really enjoyed it, but it does have some mixed reviews on Amazon due to its realistic portrayal of feuding neighbors, so if you’re concerned, you may want to give this one a short read-through yourself before handing it to your children. I was excited to see that it is available as an audio book through the Kindle Unlimited program as are many of Lois Lenski’s books.So there’s our list. Are there any oldies that I’ve missed? What would you add to this list?