Classics for a Reason
Ramona the Pest

Ramona the Pest

The prolific Cleary wrote simple (and funny) stories that kids love to read. Her characters ring true because Cleary based them on her real-life friends and actual neighbors on Klickitat Street in Portland, a street just a few blocks away from her childhood home. Ramona is her best-loved character: I read every book about her, many times. Ramona the Pest is a wonderful place to start: 5-year-old Ramona heads off to kindergarten, where she learns that kindergarten—and life—are full of misunderstandings.

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Peter Pan

Peter Pan

“All children, except one, grow up,” begins this classic--and that one is Peter Pan. Adults who only know the Disney version will be surprised at what they find here, this version is both more charming and darker than Disney’s. A really excellent book on the sentence level. Appeals to the adventurous: pirates and mermaids, fairies and wild boys.

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Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins

When the East Wind blows Mary Poppins to 17 Cherry Tree Lane to care for the Banks children, nothing will ever be the same. You may be surprised at how little the original resembles the Disney version. This Mary Poppins is acid-tongued, uncompromising, and vain--but Jane and Michael Banks (and their younger siblings who didn’t appear in the movie) adore her. Each chapter brings a new adventure for the magical nanny and her young charges: tea parties on the ceiling, Christmas shopping with stars, dancing cows and talking birds.

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Charlotte’s Web

Charlotte’s Web

$17.103.95 (AUDIBLE ONLY)

A magical story of a young girl named Fern, her runt pig Wilbur, and Charlotte, the spider who saves his life. The prose is beautiful: White didn’t co-write The Elements of Style for nothing. The book’s farm setting will appeal to many kids, but it’s about so much more than that: love and loss, treachery and bravery, the seasons of life and the passing of time--and one of the best books on friendship ever written.

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The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden

A spoiled, loveless orphan and a coddled, cantankerous invalid bring a forgotten garden—and each other—to life again in this childhood classic. The themes of rebirth and renewal—and the literal spring that blooms before their eyes in their secret garden—make spring the perfect time to revisit this book, or read it for the first time, as I just did.

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