Mark Twain once said “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.” While books by Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl and J.K Rowling are extremely enjoyable and a lot of fun to read, a good classic is something that makes you think about life, its challenges and the courage and determination of its characters in tackling difficult situations.
Many famous writers have written some wonderful classics for children. They are delightful to read and the best time to do so is during the long summer vacations. If the thought of reading an unabridged classic is too daunting, why not choose the shorter version by publishers like Oxford Progressive Readers or Illustrated Classic Editions and get to know those timeless heroes and heroines who live within the pages of these great books.
Let’s take a look at some of the most wonderful classics ever written for children.
King Solomon’s Mines, by H. Rider Haggard
Famous hunter and explorer Allen Quatermain does not want any more adventures but then he meets Sir Henry Curtis and Captain Good. Soon the three of them are on a dangerous journey into the heart of Africa in search of King Solomon mines. They are captured by the fierce Kukuana tribesmen and taken to the terrible one-eyed King Twala. They participate in a battle to help the right king back on his throne but can they defeat the evil witch Gagool and find the diamonds hidden in the King Solomon Mines?
The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
This is a wonderful tale of three young children, Mary Lennox, Colin and Dickon who due to their friendship and courage manage to overcome their troubles and sorrows. Mary is initially sullen and lonely, while Colin is a bed-ridden cripple until they come to know about a secret garden whose key has been lost. In their quest to find the key to the garden door and bring it back to life, the children find the key to their own happiness.
Heidi, by Johanna Spyri
In this much loved classic tale, we get to meet a little Swiss girl called Heidi who is very devoted to her simple mountain home. Her life changes when she is sent to live with a rich family in Frankfurt as a companion for a sick girl, Clara. The city life does not suit her and she is extremely unhappy. Heidi longs to go back to her gruff old grandfather, the Alps and the goats. Clara comes to visit her but what happens when Peter spitefully sends her wheelchair crashing down the mountains? Well, you’ll have to read the book to discover the end.
Around the World in 80 Days, by Jules Verne
This wonderful book tells the story of Phileas Fogg, an English gentleman who makes a fantastic trip around the world as a bet. He has to complete his journey within 80 days or he will lose all his wealth. With his French servant Passepartout, he travels around the world on train, steamboats and elephants. He is pursued by a detective who mistakes him for a notorious criminal and is determined to catch him. You will know whether Phileas Fogg wins his bet or loses everything when you read this funny, timeless classic.
The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis
Consisting of not one book but seven, this masterpiece series is considered a must read for children all over the world. Four children step through a wardrobe door in a huge country house and reach the magical land of Narnia where animals can talk and a wise lion, Aslan rules all the beasts. There are grand battles between good and evil and many adventures and journeys which are chronicled in this magical series. The books are sure to keep you occupied and out of trouble all summer!
A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
This is a heart-warming riches-to-rags-to riches story of Sara Crew, an intelligent and kind-hearted girl whose father leaves her in a boarding school in London. When the snobbish headmistress discovers that Sarah’s father has died penniless, she makes Sara a servant in the same school. But how does the little princess behave in her new circumstances, you will know only when you read this book.
Treasure Island, by R. L. Stevenson
This book brings you the blue seas, bloodthirsty pirates, treasure maps marked with an X and hidden sea-chests containing unimaginable wealth and of course, the unforgettable character of Long John Silver. Treasure Island is a wonderful tale featuring the exciting adventures of young Jim Hawkins who finds a treasure map and outsmarts a gang of mutinous pirates to bring the treasure home.
The Hobbit, By J. R. R. Tolkien
In a quest to win a portion of treasure guarded by an evil dragon, Bilbo the hobbit makes an adventurous journey into unknown territories. If you are a fan of fantasy and make-believe worlds, then read ‘The Hobbit’ to meet a wide variety of magical creatures like the hobbits, wizards, elves, man-eating trolls, evil goblins, giant spiders and of course dragons.
Some other classics that you might enjoy are The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne, Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, Woman in White and The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, Kidnapped by R. L. Stevenson, and A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.
So during these summer holidays curl up with these classic tales and explore the wonderful worlds they take you to. What will make the experience even better is that after reading the book, try to watch their movie adaptations and decide whether you enjoy the book more or the movie. Don’t forget the popcorns!