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Must-read Classics for Kids

By Philip Nicosia

Reading should always be an integral part of growing up. It should always start in the home and encouraged even until the children are already grown up. It is only in this way that they learn the value of reading which they can carry on until their twilight years and then pass on to their own children and grandchildren.

From the time they are born, children are exposed to nursery rhymes and then to the fairy tales. Once they are a little older and are able to widen their understanding of surrounding, the children’s classics should be gradually introduced. These classics are worth reading because they impart lessons relevant to life and insights that will help them comprehend the world they are living in.

There are numerous classic children’s books to choose from and we’re sharing some of the most well-known stories. These stories never grow old as they can be read over and over again even by adults.

Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travel” is one of the most popular classic of English literature. Originally titled “Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World,” the novel narrates the travels of Lemuel Gulliver, a surgeon-turned ship captain. First published in 1726 and amended in 1735, the book became very famous as soon as it was published.

Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is considered by contemporary critics and scholars as one of America’s greatest works of art. Originally published in the U.S. in 1885, the book was an instant best-seller when it first came out. Just last month (January 2007), Time Magazine ranked the book in the fifth place in their 10 Greatest Books of All Time list. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn relates the adventures of “Huck” and his relationship with Jim, a runaway slave. The two escaped north on the Mississippi River using only a raft and encountered several adventures along the way that made them closer.

The Swiss Family Robinson written by Swiss pastor Johann David Wyss imparts important family values. First published in 1812, the novel tells of a Swiss family who got shipwrecked in the East Indies while on their way to Port Jackson, Australia. The book has the father narrating the experience of his family of six from the time they got shipwrecked to surviving life in a remote island somewhere near New Guinea. The family consists of the intellectual father, his wife who has excellent culinary skills and four energetic sons. While struggling to survive on the island for more than 10 years until their rescue, the family members showed resourcefulness and resilience and built their own abode.

Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” was first published in 1843 and became an instant hit selling six thousand copies in one week. Dickens originally wrote the book to be able to pay off a debt but surprisingly, it ended up being one of the most famous and enduring Christmas stories of all time. A Christmas Carol is a story of morality about an old and bitter miser by the name of Ebenezer Scrooge. Working as a financier and money-changer, he has always wanted to accumulate his wealth and disregards other things including friendship, love and the Christmas season. However, he was made to realize life’s importance other than money in just one evening prompting him to finally change his life and become more generous, kind-hearted. In the end, he also learned to honor Christmas with all his heart.

“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum should not be forgotten. The book, about the adventures of Dorothy in the Land of Oz, is one of the best-known stories in American pop culture and has been translated into more than 40 different languages. It is considered the first purely American fantasy for children that blends traditional magic like witches and early 20th century American symbols like cyclone, a scarecrow and a man made of tin. The book is America’s best-loved homegrown fairytale and one of the most-read children’s stories.

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