For my next book list in the Classic Children’s Books series we are headed into the Roaring Twenties! I love this collection of children’s books from the 1920s and I think you may even find some books that are new to you!
As with my previous classic book posts, this list is not meant to be a “top 10” book list — otherwise you might see heavy-hitters like Winnie-the-Pooh. But since you already know about Winnie, here are 10 books from the 1920s which are less likely to be on your radar and still worth reading.
Don’t forget, that while reading classics is still worthwhile, books can contain problematic representations and stereotypes. Please discuss these openly with your children! We want kids to be informed readers and recognize where we’ve gone wrong as well as what we’ve done right!
Have you read any of these? Leave a comment and tell us which are your favorites, or which you look forward to reading. (Note: covers and titles are affiliate links.)
The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook by Joyce Lankester Brisley. (1928) Thank goodness fellow bloggers introduced me to these stories. The storybook contains 21 stories of old-fashioned fun perfectly formulated to make you smile. Unlike a lot of books on my Classic Children’s Books lists, this one is terrific for even the youngest children.
Just William. (1922) William and his ragtag group of friends create hilarious mayhem wherever they go, usually at the expense of self-serving adults. This is the first book in a well-know British series of William stories. At Project Gutenberg.
Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kästner. (1929) This German novel was was of the first books to feature a juvenile detective. When Emil is sedated with laced chocolate and robbed on a train of his grandmother’s money he doesn’t want to let his family down and sets out to solve the crime himself. Fast-paced and suspenseful, this story will keep young readers (or listeners) eager for the resolution.
The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting. (1920) This seems to be one of those books that everyone has heard of but few have read. Don’t do yourself that disservice, you’ll meet a host of interesting characters including the intriguing pushmi-pullyu. There are twelve Dolittle books, this is the first and the second, The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle, won the Newbery in 1922.
The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly. (1929) Don’t let the awful cover above put you off this book. The combination of 15th century Poland, alchemy, the Philosopher’s Stone (sound familiar?), intrigue and a villain named “Peter the Button Face” won a Newbery for author Eric P. Kelly.
Emily of New Moon. (1923) This is the first in a trilogy about the sensitive Emily, an orphan who now lives with her less-than-sensitive relatives. She grows to love her new home, however, thanks to the companionship of some special friends. The second book, Emily Climbs is particularly good. There is an HTML only text at Project Gutenberg Australia. This book is out of copyright, so I’m hopeful it will be PG USA soon. In the meantime here are all of the available books by L.M. Montgomery at Project Gutenberg.
Hitty, Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field. (1929) A story told entirely from a doll’s point of view. Hitty travels the globe, getting lost and found in unusual places. A Newbery Medal book.
The Children of Odin: The Book of Northern Myths. (1920) Myths and legends of all cultures should be part of every child’s literary heritage. Although Padriac Column did win two Newbery medals for other works, I chose to include this book since I love all things Nordic. At Project Gutenberg (you can find all his available books at Project Gutenberg here).
The Midnight Folk. (1927) UK Poet Laureate penned this intriguing tale. Young Kay Harker embarks on a hunt to find his grandfather’s treasure in this suspenseful and fantastical story. On his journey, which begins every night at midnight he encounters magical, imaginative beings like witches, mermaids and talking toys.
The Magical Land of Noom. (1922) Best known for his Raggedy Ann and Andy stories, Johnny Gruelle also wrote this magical story of siblings, Johnny and Janey, who build a flying machine and explore a magical world with… (wait for it..) their grandparents. Fans of the Raggedy books will recognize a lot of Gruelle’s trademark magical food plants and quirky imps. This book is no longer under copyright, but I could not locate a free online edition.
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: 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