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Top 10 Classic Children’s Books


14 OCT 2019

We all have our favourite books that we remember reading time and again as children; each one special to us for different reasons.

Regardless of how many good new books come out, there will always be a handful that everyone will have read and cherished and that should be shared with future generations.

Here are ELF’s top 10 classic children’s books:

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt – Michael Rosen (1989)

After reading the title of this book, it’s impossible for anyone who has read it not to start humming the infamous tune “we’re going on a bear hunt, we going to catch a big one…”.

This classic big book follows the adventure of five children and their dog as they set out on a mission to find a bear; except when they actually find a bear they go into a state of panic and run home as fast as they can.

On their way back to the safety of their duvet they encounter multiple obstacles that force them to think about how to overcome the problems set out before them. If they can’t go over it, and they can’t go under it, and they can’t go around it, they must go through it!

This is a great book for helping children to understand the concept of problem solving and teaching them to work together to eliminate issues.

Owl Babies – Martin Waddell (1992)

This classic 90’s book tells the tale of three young owlets who wake up one night to find their mother is gone.

As the panic sets in, the owlets become anxious and afraid at the absence of their mum. But fear not, their mother returns promptly following her midnight flight and the owlets quickly calm down.

This book plays into a fear that we all had as children: temporary separation from a parental figure. It’s a great tool for showing children that not every absence is bad, nor will it lead to something terrible.

Elmer – David McKee (1989)

Perhaps the best children’s book for promoting self-confidence and embracing your differences, Elmer is a timeless classic that has had a special spot in school libraries everywhere since its release.

The story follows Elmer, an elephant with a larger-than-life personality that matches his vibrant skin.

Unlike the other elephants in his herd, Elmer is not grey. Elmer has colourful patchwork skin that makes him stand out from his friends, and often makes him feel lonely and an outsider.

To combat his different appearance, Elmer decides to paint himself grey with some berries and, upon doing so, notices that the herd start treating him differently.

Although this seems like a good thing at first, Elmer can’t hide who he really is underneath his dullen exterior. His jokey mannerisms soon give it away to other elephants who he really is, and they all burst out in a roaring laughter.

Elmer learns that being different isn’t a bad thing, and the other elephants learn that it’s our differences that make us the people we are. This is perhaps one of the most valuable lessons anyone can learn in life.

Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White (1952)

Charlotte’s Web is a tale that has been told throughout generations. It tells the tale of Wilbur – a pig – and his spider friend, Charlotte. Wilbur is a livestock pig and is in danger of being sent to slaughter, but Charlotte tries her utmost hardest to persuade the farmer not to kill Wilbur through weaving messages in her web.

This is a story of an unlikely friendship and shows that when we can help those in need, we should.

Matilda – Roald Dahl (1988)

If you haven’t read the book, you’ve probably seen the film. Matilda is a plucky young girl who is born into a rather unloving family. Her father is dishonest; her mother disinterested. Despite the obstacles thrown at her by her family, Matilda never lets her determination to be different and to be educated faulter.

This is perhaps one of the most notable stories’ of never giving up, no matter how hard it gets.

The Gruffalo – Julia Donaldson (1999)

When a mouse decides to take a walk through the forest, he is plagued by animals trying to eat him. The mouse is clever though and creates a fictional character called the Gruffalo. The mouse tells each animal trying to eat him that he is on his way to dine with his friend, the Gruffalo – who by coincidence – happens to enjoy eating all of the animals who have threatened the mouse. The animals are terrified of the Gruffalo and flee, leaving the mouse to continue his walk.

However, the mouse soon encounters a real Gruffalo who wants to eat him. The cunning mouse tells the Gruffalo that he, the mouse, is the most feared animal in the forest and takes the Gruffalo on a walk to show him. When the animals who previously tried to eat the mouse see him with the Gruffalo, they are terrified, and so the Gruffalo – impressed by the mouse – decides not to eat him.

This book has long been a favourite of children and so we had to include it on our list for its imaginative narrative and problem-solving mouse.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit – Beatrix Potter (1902)

Having sold tens of millions of books worldwide, Peter Rabbit is one of the best-selling novels of all time.

This timeless classic tells the tale of Peter, a disobedient rabbit who ignores his mother’s instructions to stay out of the vegetable garden. His hunger gets the better of him and he enters the garden for a snack, only to be seen by Mr. McGregor and chased into hiding.

Having lost his both his clothes and his bearings, Peter finds himself in a sticky situation trying to get back home.

Peter is a prime example of why it’s important to always follow instructions – if not out of respect, for your safety.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle (1969)

This picture book was the first of its kind when it was released. The big pictures and minimal text made it effortless for smaller children to read and understand – making it an instant hit and a sure-fire classic.

In this book children can follow the story of a hungry caterpillar as he eats and eats and grows into a butterfly. Carle managed to make one of the most complex evolutions incredibly accessible for children of all ages; something which is rarely done.

The Princess and the Pea – Hans Christian Anderson (1835)

When a young prince finds himself in need of a wife, he encounters many imposters who claim to be princesses. When another so-called princess arrives at his door, the prince’s mother comes up with an ingenious test to see whether the girl really is royalty.

The mother places a pea under lots of mattresses and the following day asks the girl how she slept. The girl claims that she had a restless night because she felt something hard in her mattress, which affirms to both the prince and his mother that she must be a real princess because only a princess would feel a pea under so much bedding.

Although this is not educational, this book is an age-old tale that really gets the imagination going in young children.

Jack and the Beanstalk – Joseph Jacobs (1890)

It is thought that the origins of Jack and the Beanstalk are thousands of years old, but the most popular and widely printed version came from Jacobs in the late 1800’s.

The story follows a poor boy called Jack who disobeys his mother’s instructions to sell their cow and instead swaps it for some magic beans. Jack’s mother throws the beans on the ground in anger, and the next morning Jack wakes up to find the beans have sprouted a giant beanstalk.

Naturally, Jack climbs the beanstalk and finds that at the top is where a giant lives. Whilst avoiding the giant, Jack makes several trips to steal riches from the giant such as golden coins, a goose that lays gold eggs and a magic harp. Upon seeing Jack stealing the harp, the giant follows Jack down the beanstalk until it is cut. The giant falls to his death, leaving jack and his mother with the stolen goods to live on.

Although not entirely moral, this is a classic story that shows just how much trouble you can get in by stealing.

Book Storage

Having somewhere safe and secure to store your favourite books is vital in order to keep them organised and free from damage.

We know that big books are a favourite amongst small children and there are a few in this list, so we have developed a range of book storage options especially for big books.

Our big book storage range includes a Big Book Holder which is a basic solution to storing your picture books. The six slots can each store multiple books, allowing you to keep countless large books stored away in one place. With four castor wheels, you can easily move and transport the unit between rooms. In addition, the neutral beech wood finish means that this book holder will match any décor either in the home or in a classroom.

For a slightly more colourful and unique solution, why not try the Bubblegum Big Book House? Like the Big Book Holder, the Bubblegum Book House has multiple slots to store all your big books and is mounted on castor wheels. However, the biggest difference is that addition to the slots there is roof-shaped trim that is perfect for displaying your favourite literature. The main unit comes in a neutral beech shade, but you can choose from four vibrant colours for the upper trim.

If you’re looking for a more traditional solution, why not try the Kinderbox With Legs? With a choice of trim colours and number of bays, this Kinderbox is perfect for storing both big and small books. The beech frame will complement any space, whilst the bright coloured legs will add a splash of colour.

We have an entire School Library Furniture range full of different types of book storage solutions. If you need advice on which option is best for you, or if you want to find out more about what we can provide, Contact Us or call our sales team on 01733 511121.