I love sharing my favorite under-the-radar classic children’s literature and these classic books from the 1960s is my latest book list in my series of the best books of the 20th century. I found a lot of 1960s books to choose from so I picks books from different genres and threw in some British, and even a Swedish classic.
These 1960s classics also make great read alouds. You’ve probably even seen a few of them on my other lists because I love them so much! Of course there are many classics published in the 1960s that I could have put on the list but I hope you will find some new-to-you books! (Note: book covers and titles are affiliate links.)
And once you’ve read these 1960s chapter books you can peruse this list of 1960s picture books!
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken. (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.
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 by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. (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 by Penelope Farmer. (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.
Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat. (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 by E.C. Spykman. (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.
Ribsy by Beverly Cleary. I love this stand alone book about Henry Huggins’ dog. Poor Ribsy gets lost, but has amusing adventures before he finally finds his way back to Henry.
Zlateh the Goat and Other Stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer. This is a long time favorite book of mine. If you are not familiar with Chelm, there is no time like the present. Chelm is a village of fools and the seven Elders are the most foolish of all. There are seven stories in all, each with a little lesson to be gleaned, but read them for the light-hearted humor and a few giggles.
The Animal Family by Randall Jarrell (1965). A quirky book we nonetheless enjoyed as a read aloud. A hunter who lives alone cobbles together an unusual family with a “mermaid”, bear, wild cat and a boy.
The White Stone by Gunnel Linds. (1964) 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: 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