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Honest History’s Reading Guide Part 4: Classics

Child reading a book

This is the fourth and final installment in our Honest History Reading Guide. We hope you’ve enjoyed all of the guides, and that these lists are revisited throughout the school year for you to use as inspiration for a book report project or just general browsing to find a new, great read. Because, as you know, we absolutely encourage a lifelong love of reading.

Below you’ll find our recommendations for classic books for children and adults alike. We’re defining classic by those time-tested tales that readers reach to time and time again, for generations, because of their themes, characters, and storylines. 

We hope you enjoyed our other reading guides: fantasy, science fiction, and mythology. There was certainly plenty to choose from—and be sure to let us know what you read and loved. Share with us on Instagram and as a kids magazine, we love hearing from you! There’s a handy Book Log Guide below so you can always keep track of all your reading.

As you know, we always support using your local library, but if you do purchase a magazine subscription or book, we love doing so from Bookshop. They source books from independent bookstores around the country, so you can feel good about supporting a locally-owned small business.

Happy reading!

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Classic Books for Kids:

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White — A poignant story about an unconventional friendship between a spider and a pig. This book is humorous, heartwarming, and heart-wrenching. 

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis A magical wardrobe transports four siblings into another world, the world of Narnia, where an evil queen rules and it’s always winter. The children, along with their new talking animal friends, must destroy the queen to save Narnia for the true ruler, Aslan.

To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee (middle grade) — A gripping, heart-wrenching, and wholly remarkable tale of coming-of-age in a South poisoned by virulent prejudice, it views a world of great beauty and savage inequities through the eyes of a young girl.

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L’Engle — Meg, along with her brother Charles Wallace and friend Calvin, travel through time to rescue her father who is being held on a distant planet by an evil presence known as “IT.” They meet up with a very interesting trio, named Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which along the way.

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson — When Leslie ventures to the secret place of Terabithia in the woods she created with Jess, she’s tragically killed. Jess learns to cope with his grief through art, imagination, memories, and running.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery — Anne, an eleven-year-old orphan, is sent by mistake to live with a lonely, middle-aged brother and sister on a Prince Edward Island farm and proceeds to make an indelible impression on everyone around her.

girl reading Anne of Green Gables

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolken (middle grade) — Tolkien’s writing is ethereal, his vivid imagery and detailed descriptions fully immersing you into his fictional world of Middle-earth. Join Bilbo Baggins as he finds himself roped into a quest to defeat Smaug the dragon.

The Giver by Lois Lowry — Told with deceptive simplicity, this is the provocative story of a boy who experiences something incredible and undertakes something impossible. In the telling it questions every value we have taken for granted and reexamines our most deeply held beliefs.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett — Opening the door into the innermost places of the heart, The Secret Garden is a timeless classic that has left generations of readers with warm, lifelong memories of its magical charms.

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor — Set during the Great Depression in America's Deep South, this award-winning novel makes readers feel both the insidious harm of institutionalized racism and the unrelenting dignity of the Logan family in the face of such prejudice. 

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (middle grade) — A dramatic and enduring work of fiction that laid the groundwork for the YA genre. S. E. Hinton's classic story of a boy who finds himself on the outskirts of regular society remains as powerful today as it was the day it was first published.

The Lord of the Flies by William Golding (middle grade) — Labeled a parable, an allegory, a myth, a morality tale, a parody, a political treatise, even a vision of the apocalypse, Lord of the Flies is perhaps our most memorable novel about “the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart.”

child reading book

For Adults:

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott — Grown-up Meg, tomboyish Jo, timid Beth, and precocious Amy. The four March sisters couldn't be more different. But with their father away at war, and their mother working to support the family, they have to rely on one another, even when life becomes especially hard. 

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas — Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantes is confined to the grim fortress of If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and he becomes determined not only to escape, but also to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration.

East of Eden by John Steinback — Steinbeck created his most mesmerizing characters and explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of identity, the inexplicability of love, and the murderous consequences of love's absence.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelly — Written when Mary Shelley was only 20 years old, Frankenstein has been hailed as both a landmark of Gothic horror fiction and the first modern science fiction story.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros — The remarkable story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Told in a series of vignettes, this masterpiece is a classic story of childhood and self-discovery.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury — A disturbing dystopian novel stressing the dangers of willful ignorance and the censorship of knowledge. Ray Bradbury’s writing is stunning, and the grim future he predicts is haunting.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier — A 1938 Gothic novel that depicts an unnamed young woman who impetuously marries a wealthy widower, before discovering that both he and his household are haunted by the memory of his late first wife, the title character.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald — This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. It’s the story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island.

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith — The beloved American classic about a young girl's coming of age at the turn of the century, the story is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen — The romantic clash between the opinionated Elizabeth and her proud beau, Mr. Darcy, is a splendid performance of civilized sparring. And Jane Austen's radiant wit sparkles as her characters dance a delicate quadrille of flirtation and intrigue.

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison — Set in the author's girlhood hometown of Lorain, Ohio, it tells the story of black, eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove. Pecola prays for her eyes to turn blue so that she will be as beautiful and beloved as all the blond, blue-eyed children in America. A powerful, unforgettable novel, and a significant work of American fiction.

Classic novels

Here’s how to log your reads

(Note: Print the below and write to record, or copy and paste into your own document to type out your answers.)

Book title:


Number of pages: 

List of main characters:

Describe your favorite character:

What is this book about?

What was your favorite part of the story?