Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to inspired by classic literature. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about inspired by classic literature.
Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid, and you can also use our table of contents to jump to particular topics you think your kid will enjoy.
When it comes to children’s stories about inspired by classic literature, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Wheels on the Bus to popular sellers like The Little Prince to some of our favorite hidden gems like The Night Before Christmas.
We hope this list of kids books about inspired by classic literature can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.
Goodnight Mr. Darcy - The adored children’s classic Goodnight Moon gets a classic lit makeover in this charming parody of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice novel. All of Austen’s much-loved characters are at the Netherfield Ball- In the great ballroom, there was a country dance, and a well-played tune, and Elizabeth Bennett; and Mr. Darcy surprised, by a pair of fine eyes … And don’t forget Jane with a blush and Mr. Bingley turned to mush, and a gossiping mother and father saying hush.
Cozy Classics: Pride & Prejudice - Cuddle up with a classic! In twelve needle-felted scenes and twelve child-friendly words, each book in this ingenious series captures the essence of a literary masterpiece. Simple words, sturdy pages, and a beloved story make these books the perfect vehicle for early learning with an erudite twist. Budding bookworms will delight in this clever retelling of the classics made just for them! In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, meet two devoted sisters, gossip about two rich and handsome friends, and ponder whether Elizabeth Bennet will say yes. It’s a first words primer for your literary little one! The Cozy Classics series is the brainchild of two brothers, both dads, who were thinking of ways to teach words to their very young children. They hit upon the classics as the basis for their infant primers, and the rest, as they say, is history. From Moby Dick to Pride and Prejudice, here are The Great Books of Western Literature for toddlers and their parents in board book form-mdash;a little bit serious, a little bit ironic, entirely funny and clever, and always a welcome gift.
Complete Jane Austen - This beautifully illustrated book contains all seven of Jane Austen’s novels, beautifully retold as stories for children. The retellings are true to Austen’s elegant phrasing and language, while reducing and simplifying the stories for a young modern reader, and include quotations from the original text throughout. The perfect book for children studying Jane Austen, or those who simply enjoy reading wonderful stories. Each story has an introductory plate showing all the main characters and introducing the plot, as well as single and double plate illustrations depicting scenes from the story. Includes a section all about Jane Austen, her times and her other writings. An heirloom of the future, this beautiful book is richly produced to a standard this timeless classic deserves, with a padded Hardback cover, a ribbon marker and traditional binding.
Sense & Sensibility - Observe the life and loves of the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne, in Sense & Sensibility: A BabyLit Opposites Primer. Learn the difference between big Norland Park and little Barton Cottage, happy Mr. Willoughby and sad Colonel Brandon, while hoping that one day Elinor and Marianne will leave their single days behind them and celebrate worthy marriages.
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Alice's Magic Garden: Before the Rabbit Hole . . . - Curiouser and curiouser! In this imaginative prequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice finds herself at a gray, dreary boarding school that is decidedly up the rabbit hole. From the relentless clocks to the beastly students, Alice’s world is void of color and cheer—until Alice finds a secret garden and begins tending its wilting inhabitants. When Alice’s love touches an ordinary caterpillar, a lorry bird, and a white rabbit, magical things will happen—and that, as you know, is just the beginning of the story. Filled with literary allusions and clever nods to its classic roots, Alice’s Magic Garden is a delightful prequel that begs an escape to the whimsy of Wonderland.
The Three Little Pugs - Gordy, Jilly, and Zoie love to race, chase, and play pug-of-war. But most of all, they love snoozing in their big, cozy basket. Then one day just before their morning nap, the big bad cat decides to make himself at home in the pugs’ beloved basket! Will the pugs figure out how to keep him away before they get too sleepy?
Black Beauty - Discover the magic of Anna Sewell’sBlack Beautyin this picture book, retold and stunningly illustrated by Ruth Brown for the very youngest of horse lovers. Black Beauty’s story improved the lives of horses all over the world. Seen through his own eyes, young horse lovers will be swept up in his incredible journey from a peaceful paddock to the streets of London. No matter what he encounters, nothing can break Black Beauty’s spirit. ‘A real treat for young horse-lovers’ Irish Times
Red - Red is on her way through the woods to visit Grandmother when she meets the Big Bad Wolf. What are that Wolf and all of those woodland creatures up to? This version of the classic folktale ends a bit differently. A delightful surprise awaits Red and readers in this wordless picture book featuring newcomer Jed Alexander’s exquisite two-color illustrations.
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The Little Mermaid - A classic fairy tale gets a fresh twist in this vibrant Caribbean spin on the Little Mermaid! The Little Mermaid longs to know about the world above the ocean. When she’s finally old enough to visit, she falls in love with a prince! A sea witch agrees to give the mermaid a potion that will make her human—but the spell will be broken if the prince doesn’t love her too! Set in the Caribbean, with beautiful illustrations by Puerto Rican illustrator Nivea Ortiz, this fifth book in the Once Upon a World series is the same beloved fairy tale but it’s totally reimagined. Once Upon a World offers a multicultural take on the fairy tales we all know and love. Because these tales are for everyone, everywhere.
Great Expectations: A Babylit Storybook - In Great Expectations: A BabyLit Storybook, preschoolers follow Pip’s story, learning about the value of family and friends, fortune and loss, and love. Easy-to-follow, engaging text combined with original quotes and beautiful artwork create a book to be treasured through childhood and beyond. BabyLit(R) primers have become the chic, smart way to introduce babies to the most beloved and readable literature of our time. Gibbs Smith is now presenting a delightful collection of picture books, lovingly designed and crafted for young children. Each book retells a story from the literary canon, bringing a classic to life for an entirely new audience. Stephanie Clarkson began her writing career as a journalist at Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper and continues to write for the British press while dreaming up stories for children. Steph has written everything from pocket money books to gift titles and is the author of Sleeping Cinderella and Other Princess Mix-ups. She lives in Surrey, England. Mike Byrne lives in the Surrey countryside with his wife, cat, and two young sons where he spends his days doodling and illustrating children’s books fuelled only by tea and biscuits. Mike is the illustrator of Sproutzilla vs. Christmas and My Colourful Chameleon.
Pride and Prejudice: A BabyLit Storybook - BabyLit Storybooks are a great way to introduce young readers to the classics, with easy to read storylines and bright illustrations. They are part of the bestselling BabyLit series, which provides a literary education for your brilliant children. In Pride & Prejudice, children are invited into the Regency period to meet the Bennet sisters, Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bingley, and other beloved characters from Jane Austen’s classic tale. Elegant balls, surprise proposals, and a visit to Pemberley are just a few events to look forward to in this story about appearances, misunderstandings, and love. Quotes from the original text are woven throughout this retelling, and the imaginative artwork will engage readers of all ages. This is a book to be treasured throughout childhood and beyond. BabyLit® primers have become the chic, smart way to introduce babies to the most beloved and readable literature of our time. Now presenting a delightful collection of hardcover lap books for early readers and their parents. Each book in the BabyLit Storybook series retells a story from literary canon with easy-to-follow text and engaging artwork. These delightful, engaging books are ideal for ages 3 to 7, with their oversized trim and sturdy pages, but will be enjoyed by children and adults alike.
Lizzy Bennet's Diary - Jane Austen’s beloved heroine Lizzy Bennet tells the story of Pride and Prejudice in her own words in an illustrated diary created by Marcia Williams. When Lizzy Bennet’s father gives her a diary, she fancies she will use it to write a novel, as her real life is exceedingly dull. Then the handsome Mr. Bingley moves to nearby Netherfield Park, and suddenly life is every bit as thrilling as a novel would be. Who will he dance with at the Meryton ball? Who is his haughty friend? Will Lizzy ever receive a marriage proposal? Readers will have to read her diary to find out! Marcia Williams offers a lively introduction to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in a highly illustrated scrapbook-diary format, featuring such novelties as foldout notes from sisters and suitors, an elegant bill of fare, and an invitation to the ball.
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Cinderella - With a single word and an accompanying illustration on each spread, the youngest readers can enjoy these classic fairy tales.
Sootypaws: A Cinderella Story - In this Cinderella retelling, Sootypaws the mouse lives with her stepmother and sisters, who are rats in all senses of the word. But with a little help from her woodland friends, Sootypaws finds her way to the ball to meet her prince—and the two decide to ditch the castle. In the end, Sootypaws and the prince kick off their shoes and run barefoot into the meadow, where all the animals welcome them and they live mousily ever after.
Hansel and Gretel - Bernadette Watt’s classic illustrations in a newly repackaged edition. In this beloved Brothers Grimm tale, an evil stepmother sends Hansel and Gretel into the woods. Hungry and lost, they stumble upon a house made of gingerbread . . . but should they trust the old woman inside?
First Stories: Rapunzel - “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your golden hair!” First Stories: Rapunzel is the perfect introduction for young children to this classic fairytale. Push, pull, and turn mechanisms bring the story to life and introduce all the main characters: Rapunzel, the handsome prince, and of course the wicked witch! This well-loved fairytale is beautifully imagined for a new generation by children’s illustrator Dan Taylor.
Want to see books about fairy tales?
The Twelve days of Christmas - Jan Brett’s The Twelve Days of Christmas has long been a holiday favorite. Now this classic picture book has been redesigned for maximum legibility as a charming board book, perfect for sharing the wonder and magic of Christmas with Jan Brett’s youngest fans.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - Celebrate Christmas with this Classic Board Book edition of Robert L. May’s famous Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Every year at Christmastime, everyone—young and old alike—has one catchy, joy-inspiring song stuck in their heads: “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer!” Now fans of the most famous reindeer of all-time will fall in love with the original story, written by Robert L. May in 1939. Rudolph, a youthful reindeer buck who possesses an unusual luminous red nose, is teased and excluded by his peers because of this trait. One particularly stormy Christmas Eve, Rudolph manages to prove himself after Santa Claus catches sight of his nose and asks him to lead his sleigh for the evening. Rudolph agrees, saving Christmas, and is finally treated the way he deserves by his fellow reindeer!
The Velveteen Rabbit - This beautiful gift edition includes an exclusive downloadable reading by Juliet Stevenson. When the Velveteen Rabbit first arrives in the nursery, he is snubbed by the other toys. But the Rabbit soon makes friends with the Skin Horse, who explains how toys can become “real” if they are loved enough. The Velveteen Rabbit longs for this to happen, and one day he finds that he has become the Boy’s very favorite toy. They play together through a long, golden summer, Rabbit becoming shabbier and shabbier as he becomes real to the boy who loves him. The rabbits in the garden think otherwise — how can Rabbit be real when he can’t leap and hop? When Boy takes ill with scarlet fever and Rabbit must be discarded, a magical fairy appears to transform him into a real, wild rabbit, though her parting words remind him that he was always real to the Boy. A perfect gift for delivering an old favorite to a new generation, this beautifully illustrated version of Margery Williams’s time-honored tale is the first in a series of Nosy Crow classics.
Bah! Humbug! - A timely retelling of A Christmas Carol for the whole family about a smartphone-obsessed dad. This Christmas, join Michael Rosen and Tony Ross with their unforgettable retelling of Charles Dickens’s beloved holiday classic. Harry Gruber plays the role of Scrooge in his school’s production of “A Christmas Carol,” and he is extra nervous about tonight’s performance because his father is in the audience — not away for business, as usual. Will the story’s message of Christmas cheer and the redemptive power of love reach his father’s distracted Scrooge heart?
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Alice in Wonderland: A Babylit Storybook - In Alice in Wonderland: A BabyLit Storybook, preschoolers can tag along on Alice’s beloved adventure, meeting new friends and defeating powerful enemies. Easy-to-follow, engaging text combined with original quotes and beautiful artwork create a book to be treasured through childhood and beyond. Part of the BabyLit Storybook Series. BabyLit primers have become the chic, smart way to introduce babies to the most beloved and readable literature of our time. Gibbs Smith is now presenting a delightful collection of picture books, lovingly designed and crafted for young children. Each book retells a story from the literary canon, bringing a classic to life for an entirely new audience. After training as an editor in London, Mandy Archer went on to become the Head of Children’s Books for BBC Worldwide, nurturing such characters as Wallace & Gromit, Bob the Builder, and the Teletubbies. Since then she has written many titles, ranging from board books for babies right up to teen fiction. Mandy lives in England. Annabel Tempest has illustrated everything from children’s books and greetings cards to maps and packaging. She lives in England in Somerset.
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, and Six More - Seven superb short stories from the bestselling author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The BFG! Meet the boy who can talk to animals and the man who can see with his eyes closed. And find out about the treasure buried deep underground. A cleaver mix of fact and fiction, this collection also includes how master storyteller Roald Dahl became a writer. With Roald Dahl, you can never be sure where reality ends and fantasy begins.
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Treasure Island - Ahoy, me hearties! Join Jim Hawkins as he sails the open seas searching for treasure and learning shapes along the way in Treasure Island: A BabyLit Shapes Primer. Spy the OVAL of Long John Silver’s eye patch, the TRIANGLES in the sails of The Hispaniola, and the CROSS that marks the spot of lots o’treasure! But watch your back because dead men tell no tales.
Jabberwocky - The slithy toves and borogoves invite you to take an adventure through the tumtum trees in Jabberwocky: A BabyLit Nonsense Primer. Jennifer Adams cleverly pulls text from Little Master Carroll’s original poem and pairs it with Alison Oliver’s bright and cheery illustrations to create a whimsical tale.
Anna Karenina - Introduce your little fashionista to classic fashions in Anna Karenina: A BabyLit Fashion Primer. Elegant illustrations of beautiful gowns, uniforms, hats, gloves, cloaks and more are paired with quotes from Little Master Tolstoy’s masterpiece to create a sophisticated book full of the finest fashions.
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Basil and the Cave of Cats - Named one of “13 Detective Book Series You Obsessed over as a Kid” by Buzzfeed.com and the inspiration for a hit Disney film, the masterful Great Mouse Detective series is now available to a whole new generation of readers! Basil the mouse detective sets off on a journey to solve one of the greatest mysteries of mousedom: Do miniature cats exist? Leading mouse scientists aren’t certain, but they believe that answers can be found in India. As Basil sets sail for the Far East—and the lost island of Kataarh—danger stalks him at every turn. Will Basil successfully unravel the mystery of these mini-cats and their mouse king?
Basil and the Big Cheese Cook-Off - Named one of “13 Detective Book Series You Obsessed Over as a Kid” by Buzzfeed and the inspiration for a hit Disney film, the masterful Great Mouse Detective is back and scurrying off to Paris to discover who’s threatening the organizers of the Great Cheese Cook-off! Basil the mouse detective is called to Paris when the organizers of the Great Cheese Cook-off (an international culinary competition) start receiving threats against the event. Who could want to deprive all of mousedom of one of its tastiest nights? Basil immediately suspects Ratigan, who has escaped yet again and was seen lurking around Paris (and who, perhaps, holds a particular grudge against the event’s organizers). He sets off on his investigation at the event’s location, the Parisian College of Cooking (where local foodie mice hide out and take advantage of the school’s kitchens after the human students have departed each evening). But Basil is baffled when circumstantial evidence shows that it couldn’t have been his old enemy after all. With one suspect crossed off the list, it’s up to Basil to find out what’s going on—before those anonymouse threats ruin the Cook-Off—for good!
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Wonderful, Wicked, and Whizzpopping - An interactive introduction and fresh new look at Roald Dahl’s world and characters! A brilliant extension to Dahl’s wonderful stories, this book gives fascinating insights into the characters and events from Roald Dahl’s writing in a humorous, exciting and downright gloriumptious way. For the very first time, the stories behind the stories–like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG, Matilda, and more–are brought to life in this brand new title. Inside, Quentin Blake’s iconic illustrations are combined with imagined letters, artifacts and news clippings, and editing notes from Dahl himself, to bring all of Roald Dahl’s characters alive. Whether you have read all of Roald Dahl’s stories, or are just beginning to enjoy them, this is a great companion book that will help you delve even deeper into Roald Dahl’s worlds!
Reign of Outlaws - Robyn Hoodlum’s acclaimed story comes to a rousing conclusion in this high-adventure retelling of the classic Robin Hood tale that Rick Riordan hailed as “compelling.” When twelve-year-old Robyn Loxley set out to save her parents, she never could’ve predicted that she would become Robyn Hoodlum, leader of the rebellion against the harsh government led by Ignomus Crown. But Robyn’s attempt to free her parents has failed, and on top of that, her friends have been captured. And now Crown has given her 72 hours to turn herself in—or else. Now Robyn must decide between sacrificing herself, saving her parents and friends, or advancing the rebellion. With the stakes higher than ever, will Robyn be able to succeed? With an unforgettable heroine and a diverse band of characters, readers will be on the edge of their seats in this action-packed, much-anticipated series conclusion.
Laura Ingalls Is Ruining My Life - A life on the prairie is not all its cracked up to be for one girl whose mom takes her love of the Little House series just a bit too far. Charlotte’s mom has just moved the family across the country to live in Walnut Grove, “childhood home of pioneer author Laura Ingalls Wilder.” Mom’s idea is that the spirit of Laura Ingalls will help her write a bestselling book. But Charlotte knows better: Walnut Grove is just another town where Mom can avoid responsibility. And this place is worse than everywhere else the family has lived—it’s freezing in the winter, it’s small with nothing to do, and the people talk about Laura Ingalls all the time. Charlotte’s convinced her family will not be able to make a life on the prairie—until the spirit of Laura Ingalls starts getting to her, too.
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