In a society where books are readily available and new titles are published daily, it is easy to look past older titles without even giving them a second glance, particularly when selecting a book for a younger reader. There are trendy new books that are relevant to today’s young people on every shelf. Why look back into the past for titles that may be hard to find and harder to acquire when it’s so much easier to select titles off of the best seller list?
There are a few very simple reasons. First and foremost, authors of the past tended to write much cleaner works. There is no worry that an inappropriate word, much less an inappropriate scene (or three) slipped into the book, whether it was because an editor wasn’t paying attention or because they no longer consider those types of scenes a problem. Second, they were far less violent, and used much simpler contexts to get their point across. Today’s fiction relies greatly on shock value, and the shock value both less necessary and easier to procure in the past. Third, children and teens written into these books tended, overall, to be much more respectful of their parents and authority figures in general. They remained within the bounds of the rules, and when they stepped outside them, they were punished appropriately.
Entirely aside from the value of the books themselves, there is also a simple joy in sharing your old favorites with your children—or even going back further and sharing their grandparents’ favorites! Seeing them through their eyes may give you a fresh new enjoyment of the old titles and even allow you to take a walk down memory lane.
So which books are worth digging off of dusty old library shelves for a second look, and which ones should be doomed to obscurity? Check out the list for a few top picks. Then, visit the comments. What old books—classic literature at its finest—would you like to see included? Which books do you think should remain in the past?