10 Children's Classics from the 1980s


The 1980s are here!

Classic Kids' Books 1980s

It's, like, a totally awesome decade, dude.

I'm really happy with this list of classic children's books from the 1980s even though using the term "classic" is becoming more and more suspect as we close in on the 21st century. As with all my classic book lists, my aim is not to rehash the most famous books of the decade. Instead, I want to introduce you to a few titles that you may not be familiar with but are still worth reading. I'm also very pleased that this list contains a number of books which are quite suitable for younger audiences, both in reading level and subject matter. It's my hope that there is something for everyone on this list.

As I did in previous weeks, I will be offering up a bonus 1980s title each day this week on my facebook page, so head on over there to like the page (click "add to interest lists" on the drop down menu). If you missed the previous weeks' bonus books you can scroll down the timeline to discover what you missed.

So what do you think? What 1980s books are your favorites?

american black folktalesThe People Could Fly. (1985) I love finding short story collections to include on these lists. Celebrated children’s author Virginia Hamilton put together this wonderful collection of Black American Folktales. There are several categories of tales ranging from animal trickster tales, tales of the supernatural and slave tales of freedom. At the end of each short story, Hamilton includes her notes on the origin of the tale and its dialect. My sons like me to read from this book during dinner.

1980 Beverly ClearyDear Mr. Henshaw. (1983) I’m embarrassed to say that when I was a kid I did not read this book because it suffered from what I considered to be a very boring title. My loss! Through letters and diary entries addressed to his favorite author, Leigh Botts works through his feelings about his parents’ divorce, making friends at a new school and the mysterious lunch thief. One of the most appealing aspects of this book is that Cleary realistically conveys the complex and urgent voice of an 11 year old boy. Epistolary novels for children are rare and this one is eminently readable Also, bonus points for the action being located in one of the small towns near where I grew up!

louis sacharWayside School Is Falling Down. (1989) From the gifted author of Holes, this is a crowd pleasing, witty book that you should not pass over. There are 30 stories for the 30 floors of wacky Wayside School. Each chapter is a self-contained, clever joke. Both kids who love the silly and ridiculous and parents who appreciate well-written, humorous books will find something to charm them. This is the second book in the series. My 7 year old has read all of them again and again and still asks me to read a chapter aloud now and then.

lois lowryNumber the Stars. (1989) Even though Lowry’s Newbery winner remains popular to this day, I am including it here because I have yet to include a book about World War II. Plus, sometimes a book is so moving I feel compelled to put it on the list. In 1943 Denmark, 10 year old Annemarie and her family risk their lives to help their Jewish friends escape the Nazis. diana wynne jonesHowl's Moving Castle. (1986) The late Diana Wynne Jones wrote loads of fantasy novels and you might recognize the title of this one because it was made into a successful animated movie. However, it’s such a captivating book, don’t limit yourself to the film version. Young Sophie is transformed into an old woman by The Witch of Waste and the only way to break the spell is to seek out the Wizard Howl in his bizarre moving castle. The complexity of the story makes it better for older kids, ages 10+.


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