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9 Classic Books for Kids

Reading is an essential part of a child's upbringing. It helps develop language, critical thinking and communication skills, logic and, perhaps most importantly, a wondrous sense of imagination. Books also can serve as a child's best friend and companion throughout the journey that is growing older. Though there are thousands of children's books in the world, some are considered classics because of their ubiquitous moral significances, relatable characters, and enchantingly happy (or in some cases, not-so-happy) endings. 

Here are nine classic children's books that every child should have the pleasure to read.

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood

Howard Pyle's 1883 novel is one of the first successful tellings of the legend of the heroic English outlaw, Robin Hood, in a way that is comprehensible for children. The novel serves as the inspiration for many of today's most beloved adaptations, including Disney's 1973 film, Robin Hood (in which all the characters are, of course, animals, and noticeably un-English). What's most notably absent from the Disney film is Pyle's whimsical use of the old English idioms of the day, which offer children the perfect opportunity to absorb the sort of phraseology that may enhance their language.

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King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table

Roger Lancelyn Green's 1955 children's novel is perhaps one of the most elegant attempts to assemble the complete stories of the legend of King Arthur for children to read. King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table follows a young Arthur from his drawing of the sword from the stone, to the final tragedy of the Last Battle. Green's novel offers children a far more complete view of the Arthurian legend than the Disney version, and it wouldn't be amiss to have a copy on any child's bookshelf.

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

A treasured classic in most American hearts and households, L. Frank Baum's novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was phenomenally successful from its initial release in 1900. The story follows Dorothy, a young Kansan girl who is unceremoniously thrown into another dimension by way of tornado, and who must band together with three other lost souls to find the Wizard of Oz, each hoping for a solution to a personal problem. A tale of witchcraft, wizardry, and the power of friendship, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz teaches children that at the end of the day, you don't need magic to overcome what feel like insurmountable obstacles.

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The Arabian Nights

The Arabian Nights is a beautifully spun collection of stories that has laid the foundation for modern storytelling. The story follows a King who, slighted by an unfaithful wife, marries a succession of virgins, and executes each one after their wedding night. Finally, the vizier offers his daughter, Scheherazade, to the king. In a bid to postpone her execution, Scheherazade tells the king a story on the night of their marriage, but does not finish it. The next night, she finishes her tale and begins a new one so he postpones her execution again. So it goes on for 1,001 nights. The Arabian Nights offers children a fantastic introduction to the concept of myth, storytelling, and a glimpse into world foreign to their own.

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THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS

For more than a century, The Wind in the Willows and its endearing protagonists – Mole, Mr. Toad, Badger, and Ratty – have enchanted children of all ages. This novel is an example of a remarkably simple concept that succeeds only because of Grahame's incredible sense of style and elegantly imagined characters. Set in pastoral England, and now deeply renowned in British children's literature, The Wind in the Willows is a charming story of adventure, morality, and camaraderie between four unlikely friends.

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Oliver Twist

Charles Dickens' classic novel tells the story of the orphan Oliver Twist, who runs away from the workhouse only to be taken in by a den of thieves. The novel, which exposes the cruel treatment of orphans in mid-19th century London, is satire of the deep fractures found in the society at the time. Buried in the nuance of language, Dickens' darkly comedic telling of the bleak life of Oliver Twist not only appeals to a youthful sense of humor, but also delves into the differences between good and evil, or whether there is even any difference at all. 

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The Selfish Giant and Other Stories

When the Selfish Giant decides to build a wall around his garden to prevent the children from playing in it, it becomes barren and stuck in perpertual winter. It takes a wonderful event and the heart of a young boy for him to realize the error of his ways. A classic tale for children, 'The Selfish Giant' is presented here with all of Oscar Wilde's other fairy stories - 'The Happy Prince', 'The Nightingale and the Rose', 'The Devoted Friend', 'The Remarkable Rocket', 'The Young King', 'The Birthday of the Infanta', 'The Fisherman and His Soul' and 'The Star-Child' - brought to life by Philip Waechter's bright and imaginative illustrations.

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The Jungle Book

Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book is a collection stories about Mowgli, a boy raised in the jungle by wolves, and his animal counterparts. The fables each have their own moral, teaching the reader about life, friendship, fear, and self-discovery. But they also constitute a complex literary work of art in which the whole of Kipling's philosophy of life is expressed in miniature. The stories, a mixture of fantasy, myth, and magic, are underpinned by Kipling's abiding preoccupation with the theme of self-discovery, and the nature of the 'Law'.

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Egyptian-American food enthusiast born in Chicago, raised in Beirut, and living in Dublin. Regional Ambassador at Bookwitty. Intimately familiar with the term "identity crisis".