When you first have kids or your friends and family start having kids, there’s always this desire to get your children into the things that you love. Books are not immune to this desire. There are so many great classic book series for children that it can be hard to choose which ones to introduce them to. As much as we might want to have our kids jump into Lord of the Rings or the Chronicles of Narnia, sometimes it might seem like an impossible task. My baby brother (currently 11) would still rather go back and read Diary of a Wimpy Kid rather than anything new. So I learned to get crafty and find ways to get him to read.
The best way to get someone to read though is to find books that they like. It sounds simple, but it’s easier said than done. But! There are some universally good books and in this list, I practically guarantee that there will be at least one classic book series for children that they’ll love. This list will only cover classic book series for kids (here’s a list for some more adult books). So that means any book that’s standalone won’t be counted or if it’s a newer release like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, I’m not counting it either.
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All set? Let’s go!
7. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
The only reason that this one is so low on the list is because I haven’t personally read it. I’ve gifted it to kids before and been told that they loved it though. Lemony Snicket captures all the endearing strangeness of Roald Dahl in this series which follows the Baudelaire siblings. They are unlucky children sent to live with an eccentric guardian. In the very first book, they have to outsmart a greedy villain and undo a plot to steal their fortune.
Review from the kids: It’s a funny story told funny.
6. The Baby-Sitter’s Club by Anne M. Martin
I have a lot of fond memories of the baby-sitters club books and they tackle lessons that are still important to this day. What do you do if your parents are divorced? Or you’re diabetic? Or your divorced parent is getting remarried? How do you balance all of that while still growing up? It’s a heart warming series with great messages for the most part and it’s aged pretty well considering it’s from the 80s. Anne M. Martin must have been ahead of her time. Now you can also get the books in graphic novel form which will help a reluctant reader get more into the story!
Review from the kids: I like Kristy the best even though she’s bossy.
5. Goosebumps by R. L. Stine
Reader beware, you’re still in for a scare. While a lot of these books end up feeling more goofy than scary they’re still a great choice for the horror fans in your life. They’re easy to read and inventive with kids fighting against living dummies, aliens, and in one case an evil sponge? Goosebump books are those kids books that end up feeling timeless and aside from some dated slang and the lack of cell phones, could have been published this year. If your kid talks your ear off about Five Nights at Freddy’s like my baby siblings do, they’ll probably love Goosebumps.
Review from the kids: It’s not real scary, but I like it. I read it before bed.
4. The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton
This is for the younger kids that you’re shopping for, but it’s hard to go wrong with the Faraway Tree series. A bunch of kids who move into a new house find a magical tree which will take them to a new world. It’s all the benefits of Narnia without the really harsh consequences for Aslan. The kids I gave it too had a blast reading it and would love to tell me about the adventures. They tried searching for their own Faraway Tree, but haven’t been able to find one yet. It’s also a good jumping off point for getting kids interested in hiking or looking at plants and trees in the forest if you want to make it into a teaching moment.
Review from the kids: Good! I want to go too.
3. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
I know. You’re looking at this and going “Is this a classic book series for children?” Well not to make you feel old, but it’s been 15 years since the first book released. Percy Jackson is a series that I haven’t read all of, but it comes highly recommended because it got my very picky brother to read something. He said that he felt it click right away when he was reading it. It’s rare for books to be able to connect with kids like this and he felt like it was speaking to him. Percy Jackson is about a kid who goes to summer camp for the gods. I don’t want to spoil anything, but you’ll get a dash of Greek mythology here all cleaned up for the kids. Now you don’t have to read about how much of a jerk Zeus was to the women he was interested in. With a focus on acceptance and how it’s like for Percy to grow up in a one parent family, friendship and adventures abound.
Review from the kids: It’s so good. Did you know it’s about gods? Someone swallowed their own kids and Zeus had to fight them in order to get his brothers out.
2. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls-Wilder
Anyone who knows me, knows that I love the Little House books. They still hold up wonderfully today with all the details and descriptions of what it was like to live back then. It’s fascinating. Growing up in a log cabin in Wisconsin is enough to make someone yearn for that simple life even as a kid. My baby sister is going to learn how to knit with me because of it. There are problems in the later books and you’ll have to be ready to explain about how they treat Native Americans and especially in the last couple books, there are things like Minstrel shows. It all totally went over my head as a kid when I read it, but it sticks out to me now. That said, there’s no classic book series for children that I would recommend more. I want everyone to read these books so badly. In fact, number one only beat it because I think it’s more universally accessible.
Review from the kids: I think I’m addicted. I can’t stop reading. I’ve read it twice.
1. Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
I feel like this is probably a given, but it’s definitely a classic series now. The first Harry Potter book is 25 years old this year. It can vote, drink, get married. All of that stuff. Harry Potter creates this brand new world which is so exciting for kids to step into. My siblings loved it. They watched the movies first and then read the books. I would say that later books can get a bit too heavy for them if they’re 10 and under, but you’re golden for the first three to four books in the series. Who doesn’t want to get lost in the Wizarding World where everything is possible and a great evil is lurking? Even though Harry Potter’s name is on the book, it’s the world that’s the star. Hogwarts is a character of its own and it’s so easy for kids to want to go there. I’ve never seen them as excited to talk about a school.
Review from the kids: I can’t wait until I’m 11 so I’ll get my owl. Do you think Dad’ll let us go to London?
Do you have any suggestions or are there things you think I’ve missed? Leave a comment below. Or if you want more posts like this? Sign up today and never miss a post!