Here is a list of read-alouds that are classic but might not be at the top of your mind. For the sake of this post, I’m defining a ‘read-aloud’ as a J Fiction book that parents would read aloud to their kids (not a picture book) and, in terms of what makes a classic, I’ve looked for books that have been around for 30 years or more and have stayed popular, to some degree, the whole time. There are so many great books that meet this criteria, this is less than scratching the surface. Please add your own suggestions in the comments area!
Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney
Published in 1948 but set much earlier, the books the poor but cheerful Pepper family. It’s a charming book with just enough misfortune and just a mean enough villain to add drama–but don’t worry, there’s a happy ending.
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
In 1687, Kit is forced to leave her privileged life in the Caribbean to live with her aunt and uncle in Puritan Connecticut. It is a brutal change–filled with misunderstandings, mistakes and chores. Lots of chores. Kit befriends an old woman living on the edge of town and ends up being tried for witch craft.
Half Magic by Edward Eager
Four siblings, facing a dull summer, find a coin that grants wishes–but only half the wish. As you can imagine, things don’t go quite as expected.
The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White
A retelling on the Arthurian legend–great!
Animal Family by Randal Jarrell
A lonely hunter living by the sea finds a family, one by one, starting with a mermaid. By the end of the book the family includes a man, mermaid, bear, lynx and perfect little boy. A really delightful book made more delightful by Maurice Sendak’s illustrations.
And, for something entirely different, don’t forget about fairy tales! The Andrew Lang fairy books have been popular since the first one appeared in 1889–some stories are well known but there are strange gems–like ‘Rosenella’ where the princess is multiplied twelve times and then each of those twelve princesses is carried away by giant humming bees.