Following on from the very popular 50 Classic Picture Books to Read with Children list, today I am sharing 20 Classic Chapter Books and story collections as shared by friends of the Childhood 101 Facebook page. These are the books that we loved as children (this selection is of books published prior to 1980) that are great for reading aloud with children (or for independent readers) aged 5-8 years of age. (For those with older children, stay tuned for our tween and teen lists that are coming very soon).
Some see these classic books as not conforming with modern social values so please do take a moment to read reviews and age recommendations for any titles you are unfamiliar with (I haven’t personally read them all). Each title is linked to an Amazon page where you can find further information.
I hope this list re-connects you with a story or two that you had forgotten all about and that you will take pleasure in re-visiting with the children in your life.
20 Classic Chapter Books for 5-8 Year Olds
3. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. First published in 1908.
This classic tale of the adventures of Mole, Ratty, Badger and the lovable rogue, Mr Toad, is one of our personal favourites.
4. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. First published in 1900.
Follow the adventures of Dorothy and Toto as their Kansas house is swept away by a cyclone and they find themselves in the land of Oz. Here Dorothy meets the Munchkins and joins the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion on an unforgettable journey to the Emerald City, where lives the all-powerful Wizard of Oz.
5. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White. First published in 1952.
Some Pig. Humble. Radiant. These are the words in Charlotte’s spiderweb as Charlotte shares her feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, who simply wants a friend and the love of a girl named Fern, who saved Wilbur’s life when he was born the runt of his litter.
6. Raggedy Ann Stories by Johnny Gruelle. First published in 1918.
The first collection of stories starring Raggedy Ann, the rag doll who comes to live in Marcella’s nursery and quickly becomes a leader amongst the toys. Through all of their adventures, Raggedy Ann remains calm and optimistic, looking for the good in every situation.
7. The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs. First published in 1918.
The fabulous adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, two gum-nut brothers, who head off on a quest through the Austrailian bush to see ‘humans.’
8. Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie. First published in 1911.
One starry night, Peter Pan and Tinker Bell lead the three Darling children over the rooftops of London and away to Neverland-the island where lost boys play, mermaids splash and fairies make mischief. But a villainous-looking gang of pirates lurk in the docks, led by the terrifying Captain James Hook. Magic and excitement are in the air, but if Captain Hook has his way, before long, someone will be walking the plank and swimming with the crocodiles.
9. Mr Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater. First published in 1938.
House painter Mr Popper dreams of Arctic explorations. When Popper is sent a penguin, life for his family is never quite the same again. They go from one penguin living in the icebox, to housing 12 penguins, all of whom must be fed! “Popper’s Performing Penguins, First Time on Any Stage, Direct from the South Pole” is born and their on tour adventures are captivating hilarious to children.
10. The Adventures of the Wishing Chair by Enid Blyton. First published in 1937.
When searching for a gift for their mother, Mollie and Peter find a magic wishing chair with the power to grow wings and fly. The chair takes them home and they decide to keep the chair in their playhouse and that is when the adventures really begin!
11. The Tale of Peter Rabbit (and other stories in the series) by Beatrix Potter . First published in 1902.
The original adventures of the cheeky little rabbit who always manages to find himself in a scrape…and always manages to escape.
12. The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner. First published in 1924.
The adventures of four orphaned children, Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny who create a home for themselves in an abandoned boxcar in the forest before going to live with a kind uncle.
13. The Complete Book of the Flower Fairies by Cicely Mary Barker. First published in 1927.
Beautiful illustrations and captivating verse, perfect for any fairy lover.
14. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. First published in 1964.
Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory is opening at last but only five lucky children will be allowed inside! Join the kind and honest Charlie Bucket and his Grandpa as they enjoy the experience of a lifetime!
15. The Enchanted Wood (1939), The Magic Faraway Tree (1943) and Folk of the Faraway Tree (1946) by Enid Blyton.
When Jo, Bess and Fanny move to a new home, an Enchanted Wood is on their doorstep and when they discover the Faraway Tree it proves to be the beginning of many magical adventures! Please note: Most modern editions of this series do not contain the original text, there have been name changes and changes in character behaviour. Plus many of these editions lack the original illustrations. For those seeking the original text, pre-loved is the way to go.
16. Dot and the Kangaroo by Ethel Charlotte Pedley. First published in 1899.
A little girl named Dot becomes lost in the Australian outback and is helped to find her way back home by a friendly kangaroo.
17. Milly Molly Mandy series by Joyce Lankester Brisley. First published in 1928.
The simple stories of Milly Molly Mandy’s busy little adventures in a small village in the countryside are completely engaging and satisfying.
18. Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol. First published in 1963.
The first in the series of 29 Encyclopedia Brown books, sharing the adventures of Leroy Brown, aka Encyclopedia Brown, a ten-year-old star detective who helps solve all manner of mysteries in his town.
19. Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl. First published in 1970.
The adventures of clever Mr Fox, his adoring wife and their four small children as they continually outsmart three nasty, not so bright farmers who have teamed up to stop Mr Fox from stealing their livestock.
20. Tales Of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume. First published in 1972.
Fourth grader Peter has many problems but the biggest of them all is his little brother, whom everyone calls “Fudge.” Everyone likes Fudge because he’s the cute one but Peter just finds him and his antics downright annoying.
Are any of your childhood favourites on this list?