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Subject: "Children’s" literary classics that you would re-read as an adult rss

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Rob
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I read a recent article on Salon celebrating the 100th anniversary of The Wind in the Willows. It made me recall just how enduring and endearing that story is, and it made me think about other so-called "children’s" classics that would be still be very satisfying to re-read as an adult. I’m not saying I’d put all of my other reading aside just to re-read them. But they are legitimate works that have been somewhat sullied with the "children’s" classification (or perception). Some of them – like Black Beauty - were mainstream novels in their time. Here’s a few I can think of:

The Wind in the Willows – mythical and magical
Peter Pan – a ripping good yarn
Black Beauty – solid story w/ lots of social commentary
Little House on the Prairie series – good story w/ lots of period detail and commentary.
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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Trippy.
Anything by the Brothers Grimm - Also trippy.
The Oz series - Lot of good stuff here.
The Pippi Longstocking series - Well fleshed out fantasy.

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Richard Hedke
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I read Crime and Punishment to my kids just like my Grandma did for me at bedtime. Puts them out in a jiffy.
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I've read Little House books many times over the years.

I would add Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass to this list. I loved those as a kid and it was interesting to read them again with an adult perspective.
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Chronicles of Narnia - C.S. Lewis
Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
Treasure Island & Kidnapped - Robert Louis Stephenson
Charlotte's Web - E. B. White

Also, most of the Newberry Medal winners and honorable mentions are FANTASTIC reads!!

Children's Lit & YA Lit ROCKS!!!
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How "classic" are we talking? I still enjoy The Phantom Tollbooth and The Westing Game, but those are a little more recent than your examples.
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The Wind in the Willows--I was always a fan of action and adventure, but something about the relaxed, easy style of this book drew me in.
The Phantom Tollbooth--He had a marvelous way with words--and he loved to play with them. I'd like to think that reading Juster was the beginning of my career path.
A Wrinkle in Time--Everything L'Engle wrote was just great, so this represents her entire oeuvre. Her books never felt as though they were for children; she never spoke down to them. Plus, it was one of my first forays into science fiction.
Alice in Wonderland
and Through the Looking Glass--Classics. The best childrens books are full of wonder and shot through with dread.
Jungle Book--I think Kipling is underappreciated.
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Amy Wiles
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The Narnia series
Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass

Unfortunately, I didn't read any "classic" children's literature as a child. I read it in middle school and high school of my own volition. That's not to say I didn't read or wasn't read to as a kid.

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Rob
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Verkisto wrote:
How "classic" are we talking? I still enjoy The Phantom Tollbooth and The Westing Game, but those are a little more recent than your examples.


Well, the term "classic" has really been watered down over the years (apparently, the Steelers game this past weekend was an "instant classic"). I prefer the traditional understanding: the work in question has to have been around for decades, and been compared favorably to not only contemporary works, but also all works that came after it.
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Modern Kid Lit I read as an adult 'cause it wasn't written when I was a kid:

Norman Tuttle on the Last Frontier by Tom Bodett
Tom took his humorous stories about Norman from his books and radio shows and tailored them for the young adult market to create a very funny and often touching coming-of-age story.
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MWChapel wrote:
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Trippy.
Anything by the Brothers Grimm - Also trippy.
The Oz series - Lot of good stuff here.


Ditto

MWChapel wrote:
The Pippi Longstocking series - Well fleshed out fantasy.


I guess I don't have good memories of Pippi because I was forced to read excerpts in "reading" classes in elementary and middle school.

I think of The Hobbit as a children's book because I read it as a child.

Edit - Stupid grammar
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If it's not, this should be a classic: The Neverending Story by Michael Ende (1979 - 1st English, 1983)

If you thought the movie was good at all, the book is fantastic. The book goes on beyond the movie. (Actually, there is a second movie, but it's pretty iffy.)

I actually read it the first time as an adult (of 20). Not only is it a great read, the hardback is a fantastic work of art. There are two colors of font, with one color signifying that you're reading the story of Bastian, and the other color signifying that you're reading the Neverending Story along with Bastian. Ende plays with this two font/two narratives concept in parts of the story. Also, each chapter starts with a full page illustration of the First letter of the chapter done in these two tones. (I noticed myself as I went through that each chapter actually begins with each letter of the alphabet in order from A to Z! The book is filled with these kinds of cleverness.) The story itself is incredibly creative, and contains many clever fantasy plot developments and a few very touching moments.
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The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken is very readable as is The Borrowers by Mary Norton. The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin is a classic suitable for kids and adults. Stig of the Dump by Clive King.

For older stuff then Robinson Crusoe is still great.

The Just William and Biggles books are still enjoyed by many an adult. As are Swallows and Amazons.

As any fule kno the molesworth books are great for adults.
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Rob
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It may not fit my exact definition above, but I just remembered:

Watership Down - great story w/ some heartbreaking moments.
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Sinister Dexter wrote:
It may not fit my exact definition above, but I just remembered:

Watership Down - great story w/ some heartbreaking moments.


Not considered kid lit.

And is one of my all-time favorite books.
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jeffwiles wrote:
I guess I don't have good memories of Pippi because I was forced to read excerpts in "reading" classes in elementary and middle school.


Nothing kills appreciation for a good book better than having it assigned in school.

Go to Amazon, pick any great classic novel, then read all the 1-star reviews. Nearly every single one starts, "I was forced to read this for school."
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The Phantom Tollbooth was the first title that came to mind when I saw this thread. I read it as a kid and a few more times as an adult. About ten years ago, Norton Juster came to Portland to do a reading. I brought my copy of the Tollbooth with me and had him sign it. It is the only autographed book in my collection.
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Erik D
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Sinister Dexter wrote:
Peter Pan – a ripping good yarn


MWChapel wrote:
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Trippy.
The Oz series - Lot of good stuff here.


I've read Lost Girls... does that count?
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I actually just finished re-reading it recently, Where the Red Fern Grows, it is on loan to my brother who wanted to re-read it also.
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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (and Phantom Tollbooth)
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming (of James Bond fame)

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A Wrinkle in Time is one of the best introductory sci-fi stories ever written.

James and the Giant Peach will get reads to my children for as long as they will listen.

Charlotte's Web is another amazing tale for kids that's a heart wrenching for adults just the same.
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Any of the best children's stories are good to read as an adult.

I'm reading The Secret Garden to my 6 year old and enjoying it as much as she does. She's reading The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe to me, and I like that too (although it's not quite as good as Secret Garden IMHO). During the Fall I read The Hobbit to her, and that was also great. She got so into it at times!
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Lloyd Alexander: The Chronicles of Prydain
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It's probably not canonical and only very approximately a children's book, but I nonetheless feel compelled to include Peter S. Beagle's beautiful fairy tale The Last Unicorn.
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Little Women
The Little House books (If you make it to the "The First Five Years," you can see the interesting progression from childhood to married life.)
Jacob I Have Loved
Island of the Blue Dolphins
A Wrinkle in Time

Well, most of the Newberry Medal winners are well worthy of a read in adulthood.
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