Oxford Children's Classics Book Collection

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Little Women Oxford Classics
Thinking ahead.

The power of anticipation is a super-power that every parent has.

You got it.

But you need to use one of the strongest weapons in your arsenal.

Admittedly, it is true that the main focus of our "job" as read-aloud parents is mostly being at the right place in the right time with the right book.

Being at the bedside or dinner table tonight ready with a book.

Reading aloud is mostly about today, about "this moment".

But the spice that makes reading aloud a truly great dish is preparation.

Anticipation is the mother of all success.

But I am not talking about preparation for tomorrow.

No, no... we are talking years here.

Or why not prepare for a decade ahead?

Hey, why would any one want do that, you ask?

Looking Ahead

The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.
        Winston Churchill

Oliver Twist Oxford ClassicsThis story starts more than a year ago, when I was thinking about my own reading habits as a kid.

What really dogged me was why I persistently refused to read many of the children's classics that we had at home.

Heidi graced the shelves of our home library. I did touch the book, but never opened it.

Black Beauty stood in another bookcase, untouched.

Sometimes, I wanted to read it, but I just couldn't begin myself to begin.

Peter Pan sat unloved and abandoned.

These were the unabridged (full) versions of the books, with many words and unappealing covers.

It wasn't just me, it was the same story with my brother.
Anne Gables Oxford Classics

He didn't want anything to do with them either.

Yet, I knew they were good books.

But these books committed the ultimate sin.

They simply looked boring to us.

At least those editions that we had at home were not child-friendly.

But this is a surmountable problem.

Frankenstein Oxford Classics ShelleyWhat I understand now is that a book must at least look somewhat appealing if a child is to be intrigued enough to read it.

Put two copies of Black Beauty in the same library. One with a smashing cover, another with a boring one.

Guess what will happen.

But its not just kids, we are also guilty of "buying into" well designed products.

It is human nature.

Pollyanna Oxford Children's ClassicsAdmittedly, there are kids who fall out of this rule and will read good books regardless of what they look like. But, why take chance with your kids?

Also, I knew that books stood a much better chance to be read if they were part of a uniform series that I already liked.

Kids love books that have a similar font, size, feel, after they get used to one ... they go through them all.

They don't need to be the from the same author, necessarily. But a familiar format helps.

So, my task was clear.

Jack Holborn Oxford Classics
There are too many children's books to find lavishly illustrated copies of each one, but a well-designed series of non-illustrated children's classics?

Surely I could find one?

What is the object of our search, you ask?

We need to find a series of children's classics that is:

Sherlock Holmes Oxford Classics1. Attractively designed for kids (but without illustrations inside)
2. All of a similar format
3. Hardcover
4. Unabridged (original text)
5. Small enough to be held by smaller hands
6. Not expensive
7. Good for reading aloud and good for independent reading
8. Still in publication and with new books coming out

I thought that I would have to choose among many candidates.

But no, it was a difficult task that I set.

I could not find what I was looking for!

Looking For Perfection

The superior man thinks always of virtue; the common man thinks of comfort.

Jules Verne Oxford Around 80
Oxford, a town in South East England, was initially known as "Oxenaforda", meaning Ford of the Oxen.

A ford is a shallow place with good footing where a river or stream may be crossed by wading.

What a perfect metaphor for a bridge between today and tomorrow.

A bridge between tomorrow and yesterday, even better.

After looking at many collections of children's classics for our home library, I set my sights on The Oxford Children's Classics collection.

You could hear volumes about these books from me, but first let me give you the slogan of this collection.

The publisher - Oxford University Press - describes perfectly what the books represent:

"Unforgettable stories to treasure and return to again and again."

Indeed, when I found the Oxford Children's Classics, I knew that my hunt was over.
Pride Prejudice Oxford Classics
The range of titles was immense. The quality fabulous.

But does the Oxford Children's Collection fit the bill?

1. Attractively designed for kids? CHECK!
2. All books in a similar format? CHECK!
3. Hardcover CHECK!
4. Unabridged CHECK!
5. Small enough to be held by smaller hands comfortably CHECK!
6. Not expensive, so that a large enough collection can be assembled at home CHECK!
Anne Avonlea Oxford Classics7. Good for reading aloud and good for independent reading by kids CHECK!
8. still in publication and preferably with new books coming out CHECK!

Oxford Children's Classics keeps coming out with four new titles every year, two in spring and two in the fall.

So the collection of available titles grows every year with exciting new choices for both boys and girls.

The classics include traditional choices such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Hucklebery Finn by Mark Twain.

The list also features Oliver Twist (Charles Dickens), Treasure Island and Kidnapped (Robert Louis Stevenson) and even Mary Shelley's Frankenstein!
Kidnapped Stevenson Oxford Classics
Other exciting titles include: Little Women (Louisa May Alcott), Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen), The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (L. Frank Baum) and both of Lewis Carroll's Alice books.

Mystery and adventure lovers will love the inclusion of A Study in Scarlet & Other Sherlock Holmes Adventures (Arthur Conan Doyle) and The Hound of the Baskervilles by the same author, as well as Jules Vernes' Around the World in Eighty Days.

Other perennial favorites include The Wind in the Willows (Kenneth Grahame), The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett), The Jungle Book (Rudyard Kipling), Jack Holborn (Leon Garfield) and The Call of the Wild (Jack London).
Secret Garden Oxford Classics
I know what you are curious about, too. Are L. M. Montgomery's books also in the collection? Yes, for now, the collection features Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea, but you also have The Railway Children (E. Nesbit), Pollyanna (Eleanor Porter) and Black Beauty (Anna Sewell).

Is that all? Well, no! My fateful Heidi (Johanna Spyri) is also in the collection, as well as Noel Streatfeild's Party Shoes and K.M. Peyton's Flambards.

This collection was the answer to my prayers.

Now, my kids will have a collection of the best in children's literature available at home - and in an attractive package.

Alice Wonderland Oxford Classics
I know that classics can readily be found at a library.

But I also know that by putting this attractive collection straight into our home library, I am increasing the chances that they will be read with love.

With lavishly illustrated covers and a tactile small hardback format, these children's classics also are the perfect gift.

There is nothing nicer than helping kids to start their own gorgeous library with treasures like these.
Tom Sawyer Oxford Classics
These books are published with a durable colorful covers (without dust jackets), with an equally pretty front and back cover.


Reading boils down to love of books. So why not help this love take a deep root?

Beautiful books can help our kids to take notice of these classical works.

Beauty awakens the soul to act.

Oxford Children's Classics books are available from bookstores in the US:


and other countries:

Amazon UK
Amazon CA


  1. Thank you for sharing a great find with us.  I, too, notice that my children many times judge a book by its cover and will turn to an appealingly illustrated cover over a plain or simple older binding.  Great post as usual!

  2. Thank you for your warm words Leslie M.P. !

    I am especially happy to read about your own experience with your children and their choices. We can embrace the reality of how children (and adults, in fact) choose books by finding the most attractive versions of great books.It sometimes requires just a little extra effort on our part. Nothing more. I really appreciate you taking the time to comment!Read Aloud DadRe: @2ee1216130610cdefbdc6957c600e278 

  3. I want one of each, not just for the kids in my life but for me!!!  I love the covers, they are so appealing.  Thnaks for bringing these books to our attention and have a fabulous Christmas 

  4. Hi Darlene,

    Thanks so much for your kind Christmas wishes! 

    The books are indeed - as you say - very appealing! They are so, so cute when you hold them in your hands. When I received the first two books, I knew we must have them all. 

    Reading classics has never been so attractive!

    Thanks for leaving a comment! 

    Read Aloud Dad

    Re: @8310eb5503078d5f7dcae477607de4bd 

  5. You are a book-buying fiend, and I really like that about you. :)

    Yours in literacy,

  6. Hi Jennifer,

    Thank you so much for your charming comment.

    Believe it or not - you just gave me the inspiration to write my new post! 

    I just published the new post at http://www.readalouddad.com/2011/12/your-child-is-bored-celebrate.html

    I love your blog and your blog description! So cool!

    Thanks so much!

    Read Aloud Dad

    Re: Jennifer Arrow 

  7. I like to encourage children to read the classics. These books just might do it for them!

  8. Hi Cathy,

    Love your approach! Kids + classics = perfection. 

    Indeed, sometimes we need to give kids just a little helpful nudge to get them interested in classics .

    Hopefully these books will help millions of kids to fall in love with the best of children's literature. 

    I know I fell in love again :-)

    Read Aloud Dad

    Re: @d136f83a1cdd3c026f0467cf1b0eec5d 

  9. I can't get my kids to read these classics either. I think the issue is exactly what you say: FONT size! I am glad to know that good versions exist ... I think it would be wonderful for them to be exposed to these great books! I guess the issue is that there are a zillion good books from when I was a kid that are competing and some of the classics seem really old fashioned (and not relevant to their lives). 

  10. Hi PragmaticMom,

    You always put a smile on my face - as you put your finger on the problem.

    Indeed, books are also competing for the attention of our kids and there are literally zillions of good choices as you say.  

    Another problem with the classics is that they use sentence structures, ideas, words and concepts that are not immediately familiar. 

    The effect of this is to slow down and challenge the reader. Additional effort needs to be invested. 

    The reader has to adapt to the book, while the trend in modern publishing is - of course - to adapt books to readers and their expectations. 

    It is a different ball game. But it has its positive effects too. 

    Reading classics is not for the feeble-hearted. But we can help our kids to become heroes :-)

    Read Aloud Dad

    Re: @2f04fd44b02f5004c4fadc411b33b1aa