These classic children’s books from the 1950s will lead us into the second half of the twentieth century.
As with my other classic book lists, I bumped a few famous titles (Charlotte’s Web, anyone?) off the list to make room for a few new books that may be less well known, but just as worthy of a space on your bookshelf. After all, why populate the web with yet another repetitive “best books list” (useful as they are)?
Below I’ve included both American and European authors (British and Swedish), their are several whimsical choices – others are sport more realistic writing so it’s my hope there is something for everyone. (Note: I chose these books based on my — and my kids’ — opinions, and included affiliate links should you wish to learn more about a selection.)
The Family Under the Bridge. (1958) At Christmas time in Paris, Armand, a self-proclaimed hobo who loves his responsibility-free life, takes a homeless family under his protection. In doing so he decides it might not be so bad to have permanent ties after all. Read this sensitive, touching story with your children during the holiday season.
The Children of Green Knowe. (1954) Tolly goes to live with his grandparents in their ancient but magical English manor house. He meets a few new playmates to keep him company. He discovers, however, they are not quite of this world. There are six Green Knowe books. Read them all.
Half Magic. (1954) Four siblings find a magical coin which turns out to be a wish-granting talisman. The catch? It only grants half a wish at a time.
The Wonderful O. (1957) If you are an island with the name Ooroo, you’d better hope that a nasty pirate doesn’t land on you and banish the letter “O” because when he d_es, y_u w_n’t be able t_ st_p the hilari_us cha_s. This book will be thoroughly appreciated by grown-ups, so put it on your read aloud list.
Tom’s Midnight Garden. (1958) In the 1950s, Tom goes to live with his uncle and aunt where a clock strikes 13, there is a gorgeous but mysterious garden and his playmate is from the 19th Century. Beautiful, eerie, moving and wondrous.
Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf. (1955) It’s so annoying when desirable books are readily available in the UK but not here is the US! As you might guess from the title, Polly readily outwits a not-so-shrewd wolf who would like nothing better than to eat her for dinner. Storr’s storytelling ability is just as clever and witty as her heroine. A great read aloud for younger listeners.
Karlson on the Roof. (1955) The author of Pippi Longstocking also wrote several amusing and charming books about a little man who flies around with a propeller attached to his back. Karlson is a little bit of a trouble-maker, but he is lots of fun.
The Wheel on the School. (1954) In Holland, Lina and her friends wonder why there are no longer any storks in their village. They work together to build a nest for the birds on the school, and in doing so discover their individual and collective strengths. I know that sounds boring, but I swear, it’s not! A Newbery Medal book with delightful illustrations by the late great Maurice Sendak.
Carbonel: The King of Cats. (1955) This is the first book in a magical trilogy by Barbara Sleigh. Young Rosemary’s new cat turns out to be royalty and she and her friend, Jack, get caught up in an adventure and mystery in their quest to break the witch’s spell.
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