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The 8 Best Classic Books to Read to 5 to 9 year olds

Reading to my children before bed is one of my favourite parts of the day!

Not only is it a chance to snuggle up and share a story together but it is also a great opportunity to talk about vocabulary and comprehension. Research suggests that reading to your children boosts foundational literacy skills.

Recently we have been reading some classic books with our 6 and 8 year old and it has been so fun sharing some old favourites and discovering some new ones too.

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classic books to read to your 5 to 9 year old:

1. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

This touching story of the unlikely friendship between a spider and a pig is a great way to introduce your kids to chapter books.

It is, of course, a movie too (which famous kids book isn’t these days?) but the rhythm and pacing of the book makes it a brilliant read to share with kids.

The story contains some beautiful illustrations to keep your child’s interest and the writing is interesting and accessible. Just try not to cry too hard at the ending!

2. The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark by Jill Tomlinson

If your child is scared of the dark (or even if they are not) this book is a winner.

It’s the wonderful story of the baby owl Plop and his journey to talk to as many people as possible about why the dark is a ‘good thing’ in an effort to overcome his fear is sure to help put your children’s worries to rest.

The kids will really relate to Plop with his incessant appetite and hilarious attempts at flying; and the ever decreasing patience of the parent owls is a good fillip for the parents too!

3. The Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

As a child of the 1980s I grew up watching the TV show of the same name but I had never actually read the book, so I was excited to read it to my own children.

The book follows Laura and her sisters as they set off in their wagon to build a new home with their family in the wilds of frontier America.

My kids loved the animals in the book and I marveled at the descriptions of how Pa knocked up everything… from the family’s cabin to a rocking chair, often on his own with a bare minimum of tools or (seemingly) effort!

It’s good, wholesome fun – not as fast-paced as many modern books – but all the more restful and enjoyable for it.

The Book People also have a great box-set-bargain where you can get the whole series of seven books about the family’s adventures – at time of writing, for less than a tenner:

4. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

The cover of the book Anne of Green Gables - a classic editionThis story of orphan Anne’s new home in Green Gables with grumpy Marilla and kindly Matthew had us roaring with laughter.

Anne is such a wonderfully drawn character – so strong and wistful – her inability to speak in short sentences making a good lung capacity for the reader essential!

The adversity Anne faces and the scrapes she gets into sparked lots of really interesting conversations with the children on what was right or wrong and how to be true to yourself – but considerate of others at the same time and how those two things can often come into conflict.

5. Stuart Little by E. B. White

This sweet story follows the Little family who rather unexpectedly have a mouse for a son. Stuart is a wonderful character and his adventures in his tiny car kept the children engaged with the story.

This is another great kids book made into a movie (even two movies now!) which can help with young children who want to imagine or picture the character’s you’re reading about.

Don’t let the fact they may have already seen the movie of a book put you off. It’s often fun to compare and contrast – which bits made it into the movie and which didn’t? And why? Sometimes there are utterly new bits in the movie that were never in the book too.

6. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

This series by Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren centres on the delightfully kooky and independent Pippi Longstocking.

Lindgren (and Pippi) have become something of an institution in Sweden – there’s even a theme park Astrid Lindgren’s World dedicated to Lindgren’s creations, like Pippi.

Pippi’s unusual life, fierce independence and strength of character make her a great role model for children. As you’d expect there are several books in the series, so some great bargains to be found from shopping around too:

7. The Sheep Pig by Dick-King Smith

The cover of The Sheep Pig bookThis charming book was made into the film Babe and the original story has a lot to offer young readers.

Essentially the story helps to teach children that they can be square pegs in round holes… and still succeed in life.

It has a gentle, heart-warming message sure to inspire young readers, especially if your child is struggling to find their place in the world at a new school, with a new sibling or at similar life-changing moments for kids:

8. Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers

Picture of three Mary Poppins series books - part of the series of 5 storiesHaving only watched the film it was really interesting to then read the book to my children and see how it differs.

Obviously there are no songs, but the essentials of the story about the magical nanny remain.

Our kids really love this series — so much so it’s already featured in a couple of different places on our blog:

Some elements are quite dated (such as calling the pram “a perambulator”) but this makes for good conversations about vocabulary and how it changes over time, however the essentials of the story – such as characters and storyline – are very appealing to younger children.

Again, there are multiple books in the series — so if you’re kids (like ours) really fasten on to the characters and the story there are some bargains to be found by shopping around for box-sets like this one from The Book People which includes five Mary Poppins tales across three books.

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