The 1960s was a time of great change and progress, and children’s literature was no exception. During this decade, some of the most beloved books for young readers were published, with stories that continue to capture the imaginations of kids today.
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From tales of adventure and courage to stories about self-discovery and friendship, there are countless classic 1960s childrens books worth revisiting. Here is a list of some of the best ones from this era that will take you back in time and show why these titles remain timeless classics.
1. It’s Like This, Cat, by Emily Neville
It’s Like This, Cat by Emily Neville is a 1964 Newbery Award-winning novel about the coming of age story of 14-year-old Dave who lives in New York City. After getting into an argument with his Pop, Dave is nearly hit by a car until Kate, the local cat lady, saves him.
Taking in the stray tom, Dave finds a confidante as well as new friendships and experiences. This 1960s novel offers an atmospheric journey of the city through stickball games, pastrami sandwiches, music and theater.
2. Always Room for One More, by Sorche Nic Leodhas
Always Room for One More, by Sorche Nic Leodhas, is a heartwarming tale of generosity and kindness. The story is set in Scotland and follows the adventures of Lachie MacLachlan, a generous man living with his family in a tiny house in the heather.
Whenever anyone passes by on a stormy night, Lachie is always ready to open his door and welcome them in. He’s sure that no matter how many people come, there will always be room for one more.
3. The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats
The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats, is an iconic children’s book that has been beloved by millions of readers since it was first published in 1962. The story follows the adventures of a young boy named Peter, who puts on his snowsuit and explores the world around him.
He discovers the joys of playing in the snow, the beauty of a winter landscape, and the wonder of discovering something new. This book is a timeless classic that captures a child’s joy in the world around them and their excitement to explore it.
4. The Cricket in Times Square, by George Selden
The Cricket in Times Square: Revised and updated edition with foreword by Stacey Lee, by George Selden is a beloved classic which follows the adventures of Tucker, a street-wise city mouse, and his two friends Harry Cat and Chester Cricket. Chester, who ended up in the heart of New York City after following the aroma of liverwurst into someone’s picnic basket, is a charming and curious cricket who has a lot to learn about the hustle and bustle of city life.
5. A Wrinkle in Time Movie Tie-In Edition, by Madeleine L’Engle
A Wrinkle in Time Movie Tie-In Edition, by Madeleine L’Engle is a classic of children’s literature beloved around the world. The novel won the 1963 Newbery Medal and has been adapted into a major motion picture featuring an all-star cast including Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pine and newcomer Storm Reid.
6. Zlateh the Goat and Other Stories, by Isaac Bashevis Singer
Zlateh the Goat and Other Stories, by Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer, is a collection of magical folktales set in the village of Chelm. The stories focus on the foolish behavior of different characters, from seven Elders to an irresponsible bridegroom and four silly sisters who mix up their feed in bed one night. But there are also tales of heroism, such as Zlateh the goat who risks her life to save her family.
7. The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein
The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein, is a touching and meaningful parable about the power of giving and love. It tells the story of a boy who visits a tree every day to play, eat her apples and swing from her branches.
As he grows older the boy begins to ask for more and more from the tree, which is always willing to give, until finally the tree has nothing left to give. This story illustrates the beauty and power of selfless giving and love, as well as a serene acceptance of another’s capacity to love in return.
8. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, by Joan Aiken
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, by Joan Aiken is a classic story about two cousins, Bonnie and Sylvia, whose parents have left them in the care of the cruel Miss Slighcarp. The girls soon find their once happy home turned into a prison-like orphan school, but with the help of Simon the gooseboy and his flock, they manage to escape and embark on a journey to free Willoughby Chase from Miss Slighcarp’s clutches.
9. Time of Wonder, by Robert McCloskey
Time of Wonder, by Robert McCloskey, is a classic tale of one summer spent on a Maine island. The story follows the daily life of a family on the island, and begins with an evocative description of its rocky shores and the passing of time.
Throughout their stay, they experience the beauty and serenity of rain, foggy mornings, sailing, the thrill of a hurricane, and the tranquility that envelops them as they prepare to leave. The story is told with poetic language and beautiful illustrations that bring the island to life.
10. Once a Mouse…, by Marcia Brown
Once a Mouse…, by Marcia Brown is an Indian fable about the life of a small mouse that is threatened by large jungle predators. In order to save it, a kindly hermit uses magic to turn the mouse into a cat, then a dog, and finally a majestic tiger.
However, this transformation also has consequences – when the tiger becomes vain and ungrateful, the hermit’s magic diminishes and he is returned to his humble beginnings. Marcia Brown’s beautiful woodcuts bring this story to life with exceptional beauty.
11. Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell
Island of the Blue Dolphins is a Newbery Medal-winning classic by Scott O’Dell that tells the story of Karana, an Nicole o Indian girl who was left alone on San Nicolas Island off the coast of California for eighteen years.
Karana had to be resourceful to contend with the wild dogs that killed her brother, the Aleutian sea otter hunters, and a precarious food supply. Her courage, self-reliance, and grit have inspired millions of readers in this timeless tale.
12. Terrible, Horrible Edie, by E.C. Spykman
Terrible, Horrible Edie is the story of the titular character and her adventures set in a summer house on the sea. Edie is the youngest sibling of two snooty brothers, one fancy-pants sister, and two baby half-sisters.
With her father and stepmother away for the summer, Edie has to find a way to keep up with the rest of her family. She embarks on an exciting adventure filled with sailing, mystery-solving, and even a hurricane. Through it all, Edie proves that she is not so terrible and horrible after all.