When our family packed all our belongings and moved to India, I felt somewhat like Teddy Roosevelt.

In his biography he told how he was educated by traveling the world with trunks full of books that they brought on the ship as the crossed the Atlantic.

Our travel time was significantly less as we flew on a plane across the Atlantic, but we did pack suitcases full of books.

During our five month escapade in India, Daddy would read each night from the Illustrated Classic Series and other classics.

Here are eighteen of the favorites we enjoyed as a family (ages 3 to 32):

1. Heidi

My seven year old daughter loves this story- a young orphaned, unloved girl who wins the heart of her grandfather and friends. She lives wild and free in the Swiss Alps until she's sent to live in the city. But she'll do anything to get back to her mountain home that she misses desperately.

2. Treasure Island

A favorite of my 6 year old son- pirates, treasure, adventure- what more could you ask for?

3. Anne of Green Gables

What girl doesn't like amazing orphan Anne spelled with an 'e', with her vivid imagination and passion for living? She sure to enthrall and capture your heart.

4. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

A first time for me (the mom), I really enjoyed, along with the kids, Jules Verne's classic science fiction tale of the adventures under the surface of the ocean, as prisoners of the brilliant but strange billionaire Captain Nemo.

5. Robinson Crusoe

One of my husband and my favorites, a classic tale teaching wonderful lessons, with lots of adventures and personal conflicts and triumphs. Robinson Crusoe is the lone survivor of a shipwreck and spends many long, lonely years surviving on a deserted island.

6. Journey to the Center of the Earth

Another good one by Jules Verne that our family enjoyed together for the first time. Adventure, discovery,  danger and daring as they travel deeper and deeper into the earth.

7. Little Britches

Not an illustrated classic, but a great story that daddy and I especially enjoyed, along with our older two.  Based on a true story about life on the frontier. A slightly sad ending however, but such was life during that time.

8. Gulliver's Travels

The strange and ironical travels of Gulliver, an English man, who visits a land where he is a giant, and also a a land where he is the miniature, illustrating how things can change according to your point of view. Great observations of the quirks of humanity and of our 'social conditioning'.

9. Little Princess

My little princess loves this story. The daughter of a wealthy soldier, Sarah Crewe travels from India to England to live at a boarding school. However, when her father passes away, instead of the wealth and ease she once enjoyed, she is now impoverished and cruelly treated. Always the 'little princess' she continues to act with kindness, grace and compassion.

10. Count of Monte Cristo

A favorite classic of my husband, and a great story to share with your kids. Edmond Dantes has a wonderful life and is about to marry his beautiful fiancee, but is wrongfully accused of treason by his 'best friend' and sent to prison for 13 years. See how he gets his revenge, but then learns that forgiveness is better for his own soul.

11. Last of the Mohicans

Most of the Illustrated Classics are at the right listening level for our 8 and 6 year old, but this one seemed a little out of their understanding. We only read parts of it before we moved on to another choice. Still a great story to share with the right audience.

12. The Jungle Book

The classic tale of the 'man cub' raised by wolves in the jungle, who is friends with a bear, a panther and elephants, but the hated enemy of Sher Khan the tiger. A fun read.

13. The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood

Robin Hood and his Merry Men work to bring justice to the poor from a corrupt government. A great tale of adventure and

14. Jane Eyre

Orphan Jane Eyre endures a difficult and unkind childhood. As a young adult she takes a position as a tutor to a young girl who's guardian she soon falls for, and he for her. But he has a dark secret that could spoil the happiness they have both been searching for.

15. The Secret Garden

Spoiled and lonely Mary lives in India with her indifferent parents. When they die from malaria, she is sent to live with a distant relative in England who lives in a strange house with a strange secret. She finds the key to a locked and forgotten garden that result in the healing of her heart and those in the house she lives in.

16. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn have lots of adventure as they witness a murder, search for gold and get lost in a cave, plus much more.

17. Black Beauty

The classic tale of a horses life that illustrates the importance of being kind and caring to animals, showing the differing degrees in human personality and character. A favorite of my daughter.

18. Great Expectations

I remember reading books like these in high school, but I don't think I ever understood them. Reading them with my children in a condensed version helped me to better understand what the story was all about. Pip has hopes of becoming a gentlemen because of his love for the beautiful and proud Estella. The orphaned apprentice to a blacksmith, he feels he has no hope of achieving his dreams, until his fortune changes. But who is his benefactor?

Image credit: twchoi11

What classic stories have you read with your children that you've really enjoyed? Please share a comment below.



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5 Responses

  1. Pokerspiel

    I must digg your post therefore other folks can see it, really helpful, I had a tough time finding the results searching on the web, thanks.

    – Norman

  2. Kimberly Herbert

    Why read these badly abridged versions instead of the original? I was always insulted as a kid to be given a book like this like the person was saying I wasn’t smart enough to handle the real book.

  3. Sarah

    When my son was little we read every night as well. Some of his favorites were: The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Stuart Little, Ramona Quimby, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Superfudge, A Wrinkle in Time and The Boxcar Children.

    Happy Reading!


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