Classic Children's Stories
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Classic Children\'s Stories

Every year thousands of books are published but they don't become classic books for children.

Very few of them survive more than one printing or reach classic status. By this, I mean a book that is known by at least two generations of children. It is a book parents remember and pass onto their children.

Well-known classic children’s books are those read by a number of generations

Many of the children’s books regarded as classics are more than a century old. These books are the product of the late Victorian and Edwardian ages and represent a new focus on children as children not young adults.

Books such as

Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling

The books children were forced to endure before these books were such titles as ‘As Token for Children -In Two Parts’ which included information about children who had a joyful death after living exemplary lives. This book was published in 1975 by James Janeway, a Puritan minister.

Another title published in 1818 is ‘The History of the Fairchild Family'. The history is composed of moralistic stories emphasizing hell and damnation for any child who was disobedient.

Perhaps at that time it was fortunate that very few children could read!

Fundamentalist religion eventually lots its grip. Compulsory education for children aged 5-13 in England and Wales was mandated in 1870 and the industrial revolution was bringing people into villages and towns.

As children were educated, there was a demand for children’s books and the number of titles published grew enormously. Books for children were also published in other countries.

Classics are produced in each generation.

Books published in the 1950’s now recognised as classics are:

The Narnia series – C.S. Lewis

The Hobbit – J.R.R Tolkien

Charlotte’s Web – E, B. White

More titles are continually added to the list.

Author’s whose books are regarded as classics today are:

Shel Silverstein

Roald Dahl

Dr Seuss

Eoin Colfer

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling will be regarded as classic books for sure. Her books are already among the most popular children's books of all time.

The Characteristics of a Classic Book

  • It doesn't have to be old. Readers are aware when a book will last the test of time.
  • People recognise the book explains something about the human condition. Even though parts of it date its theme doesn't.
  • It inspires readers across the generations.
  • It is recognised as having quality. But not all quality books become classics.
  • It pleases adults (the people who buy it) and children (the people who read it).
  • It has literary quality and is recognised as such. Popularity doesn't give a book literary quality. This is not being precious. Literature is art and art has techniques.

Enid Blyton is still very popular, but none of her titles have been regarded as the best books for children. She does not present themes that involve eternal truths.

Classic books speak to the human condition no matter what the story line is. It is recognised that her books have a valuable place in a child’s life and they probably always will.

Books are classics that have that star quality. Something we all recognise but can’t explain.

Most of us have a book or books we remember from childhood. These are our classic books.

Future generations will have access to many classic titles preserved from the past and they will also come into contact with the classics of their own generation.

Street Talk

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