Classic Children’s Books By The Decade: 1960s

Welcome to the 1960s!
Here we are back with some more classic children’s books. This time with kid books from the 1960s. I think a lot of these titles will be familiar to you. There are many “top 10″ books  from the 1960s, like A Wrinkle in Time or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But as usual, I’ve left those “big name” books off this list.

Classic childrens books from the 1960s

Last week on my facebook page I revealed 5 books that didn’t quite make it on to the 1950s list. I’m going to do the same this week, so if 10 books from the 1960s isn’t enough for you, then like my facebook page and you’ll get a new 1960s book recommendation each day this week! Fun, right?

Don’t forget you can always peruse my master list of books for some more ideas. {Note: I love all these books and have included affiliate links should you wish to learn more about a title.}

The Iron Man: A Children’s Story in Five Nights. (1968) Made into an animated picture, this books is known in the US under the title The Iron Giant. A gigantic iron man saves the world from a deadly alien threat. The book differs substantially from the movie. Younger listeners will love it as a read aloud.
A Wizard of Earthsea. (1968) Award-winning author Ursula K. Le Guin will be familiar to fans of children’s fantasy literature. This is the first book in her Earthsea series and introduces us to the young man, Ged, who discovers that he is full of magic. This one is for fans of Tolkein and is at a reading level probably best for ages 12 and up.

The Egypt Game. (1967) The Egypt Game is a well known title and on most “top kid novels of all time” lists, but I am including it on this list because for some reason I never heard of it until very recently! A group of friends hang out near an old curio shop and engage in some imaginary world building. Mysterious and suspenseful, it will be especially loved by kids who like all things Egyptian.

Charlotte Sometimes. (1969) In her English boarding school, Charlotte wakes up to find that she has been transported back to 1918 and into the body of another girl. Interesting tidbit: Penelope Farmer’s book was the inspiration for The Cure’s rock song of the same name;  you can listen and watch the video here and read Farmer’s account of her connection to The Cure’s song on her blog.
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. (1962) I remember loving this book as a child, and as an adult I love the alliterative title. It takes an ultra talented author like Joan Aiken to turn what could easily be a predictable, Gothic plot into an exciting, suspenseful tale. Two cousins persevere against all odds when they are thrown under the protection of rather sinister guardian with the Dickensian name of Mrs. Slighcarp.

Owls in the Family. (1962) A couple of young boys have hilarious adventures in rural Saskatchewan when they try to adopt wild baby owls. My boys laughed out loud throughout this book. Charming, old-fashioned fun.

Terrible, Horrible Edie. (1960) Rebellious, spirited, creative and utterly lovable 10-year old Edie gets into all kinds of scrapes but will charm you every time she draws upon her own resilience to solve her problems.

Island of the Blue Dolphins. (1960) I thought I should probably leave this off the list because it is a well-known book, but I love it so much. It’s a brilliant and touching survival story about a Native American girl who is stranded on an island and must learn to live on her own.

When Shlemiel Went to Warsaw. (1968) Eight short fables based on traditional Jewish stories. A few are about some very foolish people and would be good for kids who like stories with a high silliness factor. The author won the Nobel Prize in 1978.

The White Stone. (1964) Despite the fact that it will be very difficult to find, I can’t help but add the Swedish classic The White Stone to the list. Fia and her only friend Hampus engage in competition  over a magical white stone. An intriguing tale of friendship.

Visit my other posts in this series:
Classic Children’s Books: 19th Century
Classic Children’s Books: 1900s
Classic Children’s Books: 1910s
Classic Children’s Books: 1920s
Classic Children’s Books: 1930s
Classic Children’s Books: 1940s
Classic Children’s Books: 1950s
Classic Children’s Books: 1960s
Classic Children’s Books: 1970s
Classic Children’s Books: 1980s
Classic Children’s Books: 1990s

Disclosure: I choose book recommendations based on books I know and love. All my book lists use affiliate links to help support the cost of running this blog and the time it takes to make these lists for you.

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Comments

  1. I read The Wolves of Willoughby Chase to my daughters (six and seven, at the time) and they LOVED it. (Here’s the link to our review: http://www.inhabitingbooks.com/2011/03/wolves-of-willoughby-chase-by-joan.html)
    I reread Island of the Blue Dolphin a ton of times when I was twelve. I can’t wait ’til my girls discover that one. (I’m still torn as to whether I want to read it aloud or just wait for them to discover it on their own.)
    I read The Iron Giant for the first time about a year ago, I think. Odd little story. (I have to say that I think, for once, I prefer the movie version which is, as you said, quite different, but makes the giant much more accessible/understandable to kids.)

    • Mom and Kiddo says:

      Wolves is such a fun book and I agree that it makes an entertaining read aloud.
      I know what you mean about The Iron Giant. I might agree with you. As far as animated movies for kids, it was pretty good.

  2. I think I’m most intrigued by “When Shlemiel Went to Warsaw. Wonder if Emma’s old enough to enjoy it?

  3. What an awesome list! I don’t know the owls one (but it sounds great) or the Singer one and actually NEVER heard of the lsland of Blue Dolphins – the others were all favourites of mine but I didn’t read The Iron Man until I was an adult. The 60s was such a fab decade for children’s literature – I could happily read all of these books again today. My other picks would be The Silver Crown by Robert C Obrien, Peter’s Room by Antonia Forrest, Over sea, under stone by Susan Cooper, My side of the mountain by Jean Craighead George and A kestrel for a knave by Barry Hines (not whether these would be too well-known for your list). Harriet the Spy as well but agree it is (deservedly) already very widely read.

    • Mom and Kiddo says:

      When you read Island of the Blue Dolphins you are in for a real treat. It’s so fabulous. Thanks for those other suggestions. I think I might have read The Silver Crown as a kid. It sounds familiar, but I have read the others — except I know I read My Side of the Mountain as a kid, I just don’t remember it at all! And I agree, the 60s do seem to be particularly rich with books we now consider to be classics.

  4. Read The Wolves of Willoughby Chase as a kid and loved it. And don’t forget its sequel, Black Hearts in Battersea. Owls in the Family was a lot of fun too. Didn’t read The Egypt Game until I was an adult. But my favorite children’s book from the 60s, hands down, is Harriet the Spy.

    • Mom and Kiddo says:

      I adore Harriet the Spy! The reason it’s not on the list is simply because I thought many people would already be familiar with the title. I confess that I’ve not read the sequels to Wolves.

  5. This list gives me lots of books to look forward to reading to my girls when they are older!

  6. I just read at Educating Alice (http://medinger.wordpress.com/2012/10/22/celebrating-joan-aikens-wolves-of-willoughby-chase/) that there is a fabulous new audio edition of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase available. I might have to re-read that one, as it keeps coming up. I loved many of Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s books as a kid (and still do), though The Egypt Game isn’t my personal favorite of her titles. Thanks for sharing a fun list!

  7. I loved The Egypt Game as a child and Snyder’s The Changeling. As an earlier commenter mentioned, I too wonder about whether to read a book with my children or let them discover it on their own. I love the shared experience but I also remember savoring and losing myself in books I read on my own as a child. It is a balance I struggle with. Right now I am really enjoying discovering books that are new to us all.

    • Mom and Kiddo says:

      Thanks for your comment, Erin. I agree that it’s a struggle to decide which books to read aloud. My imperfect method is to choose read aloud books that I think my sons will be less likely to read by themselves. For example, books with girl protagonists! It’s not a perfect science, of course.

      One thing I do notice is that he often re-reads books we’ve read aloud. I love seeing him do that because I know he is experiencing the book from yet another perspective!

  8. I read Earthsea as an adult and liked it. I also wonder which of these books would be appropriate for my “super-reader” to read on her own and which ones will go “whoosh” over her head. Choices, choices :)

    • Mom and Kiddo says:

      It’s tricky. I’ve been trying to put a variety of reading levels on these lists. Some are definitely better for older kids. Most of these 1960s books are better as read alouds, but she might like Owls in the Family. As long as she doesn’t object to the fact that the two protagonists are boys! :)

  9. One to recommend: Stig of the Dump by Clive King, published 1963. About a boy who finds a prehistoric man living in a nearby quarry.

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