Meredith Bartolo Pappas

What makes a chapter book a classic? By the definition of the word classic, this is an extraordinary book that has stood the test of time.

This definition includes books that have been around for decades, but also leaves room for new books that are sure to remain relevant for years to come.

With so many amazing chapter books for children, it’s hard to narrow down the list of what could be a classic chapter book, but here are twenty not to be missed:

20 Classic Chapter Books for Children

Phantom Tollbooth
Illustration by Norman Juster and Jules Feiffer
The story of a young boy and a dog who embark on an unforgettable adventure through a mysterious toll booth. This article is so clever and engaging, this one is sure to keep you reading.

Classic Children's Chapter Books
Bridge to Travisia
by Kathryn Patterson
In this complex book, two children become friends and a desperate attempt to build a magical place in the woods ends in tragedy. Suitable for children aged 10 and up, this is a moving portrait of true friendship and grief.

Classic Children's Chapter Books
by Lois Lowery
At first, the world 12-year-old Jonas lives in seems almost utopian, but things start to look less than perfect after he gets a job as a memory receiver. The job became a challenging and powerful task that would forever change the trajectory of his life. Beautiful and heartbreaking, this story is a stand-alone book, but can be read alongside the other three works that make up The Giver Quartet.

Author: Lysel Shutliffe
A true classic as it reimagines one of the most iconic characters, Little Red Riding Hood. Read all about her life, including her mysterious grandmother in the woods. Leisel Shurtliff also wrote Rump and Jack about two other classic characters, Rumpelstiltskin and Jack and the Beanstalk, which are also very engaging.

Classic Children's Chapter Books
a wrinkle in time
by Madeleine L’Engle
A favorite children’s fantasy book, this story is about the unique characters that make up the Murry family, and Meg Murry’s friend Calvin. They embark on a dangerous adventure to find their scientist father, but who knows if they will find him or be able to return home. If you liked this one, there are other great books about the interesting Murry family as well.

From the Miscellaneous Papers of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
by E. L Konigsberg
Have you or your kids ever wondered what it would be like to live secretly in a museum? Brother and sister James and Claudia run away from home and learn what museum life is like in this classic book for children 8 and up.

Classic Children's Chapter Books
Anna Fleur
by atinook
Anna is as sweet and fun as her name is, and this book series is a great start for early readers, or as a great read-aloud with younger children, preschoolers and beyond. Anna lives in Africa with her African father and Canadian mother, twin brothers and many family members around her. They travel a lot, from beach trips to visiting her grandmother in snowy Canada, so these books offer a lot of insight into different parts of the world. There are eight books in this set, which can be read in any order.Another similar series for slightly older children is #1 car spotteralso by Atinuke, tells the story of a boy and his life in a village in Africa.

Journey to the West
by Alan Ruskin.
Such a clever book! Mysteries abound as an interesting group of people gather to read the will of an eclectic man. Filled with puzzles, riddles, twists and turns, this book is absolutely engrossing. Because of the theme and the idea of ​​murder, this is a classic book best for older kids.

the only ivan
Catherine Applegate, illustration by Patricia Castelao
Learn what it’s like to be an animal in captivity, with little love and attention from Ivan, a gorilla forced to live in a mall enclosure. Sometimes poignant and difficult to read due to the subject matter, this is a tender and well-written book.

Classic Children's Chapter Books
mr popper’s penguin
Illustration by Richard Atwater and Florence Atwater
The book is full of silly fun, about a house painter, Mr. Popper, who is surprised to receive mail from Penguins. He and his family train them, and next thing you know, they’re a popular travel act. There are some outdated social concepts in this book, but most are just very entertaining and loved by preschoolers and above.

king and keira
Illustrated by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers
Kayla and her dog King enjoy solving mysteries together in this sweet series. These lovable characters make each of these engaging and simple readers a joy to read aloud or for beginners to devour on their own.

Stradiaz has something to say
Angela Dominguez
Angela Dominguez is an accomplished picture book author and illustrator, her first novel for older children. Based on her own upbringing, the book shows how bilingualism can be challenging at times, especially for a social girl like Stella. A cute story with Spanish words for kids 8 and up.

Classic Children's Chapter Books
Unicorn in the barn
Jacqueline Ogburn, illustrated by Rebecca Green
A young boy named Eric discovers that the vet who bought his grandmother’s house has a secret love of magical animals like unicorns and talking cats. He becomes her apprentice, along with her headstrong and moody daughter, and grows with a deep friendship and love for animals. There’s some swearing and a section where Eric is accidentally shot and injured by some hunters, but it’s easy to change if you read it aloud together. Touching and fast read.

Frog and toad series
Arnold Lobel
This is not a traditional chapter book, as each chapter is an independent story, but it is suitable for beginners. Frog and Toad truly embody the idea of ​​being best friends, and most of their stories are just goofy fun for the youngest readers. Great way to teach the short story format.

Classic Children's Chapter Books
come back from the inside out
Author: Thanhha Lai
A unique and lyrical book written in verse form, this is the story of a refugee family fleeing their vibrant homeland in Vietnam during the war. Be sure to read the interview with the author in this book, as this is based on her life. For older children, ten years and older.

beyond the bright sea
by Lauren Walker
Another one is sure to tug at your heartstrings. As a baby, the crow was discovered and raised on a small island. But at the age of twelve, she was thrust into a dangerous journey of discovery. There are some scary elements to this story, so it’s best for anyone ten and up.

Classic Children's Chapter Books
a kind family
Sydney Taylor
The only book on this list that takes place at the turn of the century, this book is a quirky tale of five siblings living with their parents in New York City. It’s a series, but the first book is the sweetest.

girl drinking the moon
by Kelly Barnhill
The book reads like an old folk tale and has some scary concepts, but once you’ve read it, it’s hard to put down! The book is tight and dark at times, and is best read for older kids curled up under a blanket.

choose your own adventure
by RA Montgomery
These books can’t be beat! They’re not always the most dynamic stories, but who doesn’t love interactive stories where you can go on your own adventures? ! Reading is great fun, and they’re often a great way to engage kids who might not like reading…but. Nearly fifty of them are in print, with many different outcomes for each book.

Rin’s Rowan
by Emily Rhoda
If you like action and adventure, this wonderful series won’t let you down! Rowan is a kind, dreamy boy who doesn’t feel like he fits in with his tight-knit community of powerhouses, but it’s his mind and heart that help him save his village and people time and time again. Each book is a thrilling journey filled with tender moments and loyal friendships.

There are so many wonderful classic chapter books for children out there, and this list is just a small selection of what children and adults alike can enjoy now and for generations to come. What are your favorite classic chapter books?

About Meredith Bartolo Pappas

Meredith is a licensed teacher with nearly two decades of educational experience. Her specialties are holistic learning, early literacy and social-emotional development. She is also a reading expert, artist and mother of two. She loves all things bookish, magical, and cozy. Find her on and Instagram @sharingcircleeducation.

Classic Children's Chapter Books

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