There are some stories we come back to again and again, years after we’ve read them. There are some stories that stick with us forever, no matter how much the world has changed—the stories that changed our lives as children, the stories that fueled our imaginations, the stories that kindled a love for reading.
And here we are, as adults, going back to the books we used to cherish as children. Farmhouses and small cottages; fields full of flowers; bread and cheese dipped in goat milk; fireplaces and harsh winters—it’s the beauty of these images, more than the story itself, that is imprinted upon our minds.
C. S. Lewis was right when he wrote to his granddaughter, “One day, you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” The children’s classics mentioned below are five of the many timeless tales out there that have gripped even the hearts of adults.
Anne Shirley is an eleven-year-old orphan, adopted by the Cuthbert siblings—Matthew and Marilla—and sent to live in their little farmhouse called Green Gables on the outskirts of Avonlea. But, as Anne arrives there, she discovers, to her utter distress, that the Cuthberts wanted a boy to help with the farmwork, not a girl.
But Anne’s imagination has already run wild. With a penchant for using big words and a knack for creating otherworldly stories on the spot, Anne had already envisioned what her life at Green Gables would be like—and Matthew, to Marilla’s dismay, had taken a liking to this little girl who simply never stopped talking.
From her constant misadventures and mistakes to her unabashed apologies and bold utterances, Anne Shirley is a delightful character. This is indeed a timeless classic that you must revisit as an adult.
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When I think of Heidi, I remember the breathtaking descriptions of her little village and the harsh winters in her grandfather’s house up in the mountains—and her meals, often just some toasted goat cheese with bread and fresh goat’s milk, but the image conjured up by the writer is a beautiful one.
Heidi is an orphan girl sent to live with her gruff grandfather high up in the mountains. Known to everyone as a hot-tempered man, Heidi’s grandfather soon comes to love her in his own way. Harboring a deep mistrust of the village and its people, he even refuses to send her to the village school—until her aunt returns and takes her away to be the companion of a girl called Clara in the city. Clara is rich but sickly. Heidi, although initially feeling cooped up and miserable, soon bonds with this invalid girl, and goes on to change her life.
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“After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die.”
Charlotte’s Web, written in plain but beautiful language, is about a nervous pig, a friendly spider, and an unlikely friendship between them that will leave you in tears. Literally. Wilbur the pig is sad and depressed, alone in a pen, when he meets Charlotte the large grey spider who loves spinning stories on her web.
The unusual friendship that blooms between them, and the story that follows—full of joy, love, loss, and death—will forever remain in your heart. Charlotte’s Web, written by E. B. White, the author of Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan, is truly a masterpiece.
You can find the book here.
Written more than a hundred years ago, The Railway Children is the story of three young children living ordinary lives when their father is taken away by two mysterious men. Unable to attend school because of their father’s disappearance, the three siblings (Roberta, Peter, and Phyllis) grow to love the railway nearby, and soon bond with the stationmaster and the porter.
A beautiful story that shows the hardships of life when a parent is taken away while preserving the naivety of its young characters, The Railway Children is written for children but loved by all—regardless of age and time.
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“If I am a princess in rags and tatters, I can be a princess inside. It would be easy to be a princess if I wore a cloth of gold, but it is a great deal more of a triumph to be one all the time when no one knows it.”
This story of a young girl, Sara Crewe, whose comfortable life comes to a drastic end when her father dies an untimely death, teaches us all some beautiful lessons. Even when forced to work as a servant when once treated with so much importance, Sara refuses to give into despair—instead, she uses her vivid imagination to make her life far more interesting than that of the girls who ridicule her. She never loses her kindness, never gives up on her fantasies, and soon sees her fortunes change once more.
The book is available here.
These children’s classics are full of hope and beauty and life, and revisiting them not only brings back memories of our own childhood but also teaches us some valuable lessons.
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Sharika Hafeez is a nerd, and she’s proud of it. Growing up, she fell in love with books and writing, and is currently following her undergraduate degree (for some mysterious reasons) in Physics. She likes procrastinating by watching the stars with a steaming cup of tea, composing poetry in her head.