If you are looking for kids classic fiction, the 60s and 70s are not the only golden eras where kids literature flourished, the 80s also served up many classics that have stood the test of time and remain popular with children today.
[Related: Best 60’s Children’s Books]
80’s children’s books hold a special place in the hearts of millennials, those who grew up during that time. From fantastical tales of adventure to heartwarming stories of friendship and self-discovery, the 80s offered a wide array of classic children’s literature.
[Related: Best 70’s Children’s Books]
In this post, we’ll take a trip down memory lane and revisit some of the best children’s books from that unforgettable decade. So dust off your old copies, grab a cozy blanket, and join us on this nostalgic journey through some of the most beloved books of the 80s.
1. Wayside School Is Falling Down, by Louis Sachar
“Wayside School Is Falling Down” is a hilarious chapter book by Louis Sachar, featuring the zany characters of Wayside School. In this book, Miss Mush serves up her famous Mushroom Surprise in the cafeteria, causing some interesting side effects. Meanwhile, the students prepare for class picture day by wearing their craziest outfits, including striped bikinis and birthday tattoos.
2. I Can Do It Myself, by Emily Perl Kingsley
In “I Can Do It Myself” by Emily Perl Kingsley, the beloved Sesame Street characters showcase their independence by listing all the things they can do on their own. From brushing their teeth to tying their shoes, the characters take pride in their ability to be self-sufficient. The book encourages young readers to also develop their own sense of independence and self-reliance.
3. The Dragon and the Wild Fandango, by Patty Wolcott
In “The Dragon and the Wild Fandango” by Patty Wolcott, a dragon surprises a group of dancers by joining in on their fandango. The dragon’s enthusiastic participation leads to chaos and hilarity as the other dancers try to keep up with the dragon’s wild and unconventional moves. The story is told through playful and colorful illustrations that capture the dragon’s joyous spirit and the excitement of the dance.
4. The Fox With Cold Feet, by Bill Singer, Dennis Kendrick
“The Fox With Cold Feet” by Bill Singer and Dennis Kendrick is a children’s book that tells the story of a young fox who is struggling to keep his feet warm in the cold snow. The book features large-frame comic strips that vividly illustrate the dilemma of the young fox. In an attempt to keep his feet warm, he tries to use a pail, an old nest, an ear muff, and a scarf as makeshift boots.
However, each of these attempts proves to be unsuccessful, and the young fox is left with cold and uncomfortable feet. Through the course of the book, the young fox learns the importance of being prepared and finding appropriate solutions to his problems.
6. The Amazing Mumford presents all about bones, by Jocelyn Stevenson
“The Amazing Mumford presents all about bones: Featuring Jim Henson’s Sesame Street muppets” by Jocelyn Stevenson is a children’s book that features the magician character, the Amazing Mumford, from Sesame Street. In the book, Mumford performs a magic show, producing X-ray type pictures out of his hat to demonstrate what the skeletons of various animals and humans look like.
The book offers a fun and engaging way for children to learn about the skeletal systems of different creatures, including birds, fish, reptiles, and mammals, including humans. The illustrations and simple language make the content accessible and entertaining for young readers.
8. Hidden Picture Puzzle Coloring Book, by Anna Pomaska
The “Hidden Picture Puzzle Coloring Book” by Anna Pomaska is a children’s activity book that offers a double treat for young readers who love to color and solve puzzles. The book features imaginative scenes, including elves, fairies, and other magical creatures, with hidden objects cleverly worked into the designs.
Children can search for animals, numbers, letters, and other items as they color the pictures. The book contains thirty-one pictures, each with its own unique objects to hunt for, such as fish, birds, rabbits, umbrellas, and ice cream cones.
Captions for each picture provide storylines and indicate the numbers and kinds of items to locate. Solutions to the puzzles are provided in the back of the book. With charming illustrations and engaging puzzles, the “Hidden Picture Puzzle Coloring Book” is a fun and entertaining activity for children.
9. George Washington’s Breakfast, by Jean Fritz
“George Washington’s Breakfast” by Jean Fritz is a Newbery Honor-winning children’s book that presents a fun and engaging take on history. The story follows George Washington Allen, a determined boy who is eager to learn all there is to know about his namesake, including what the first president ate for breakfast.
Through his persistent research and investigation, George discovers the answer to his question, as well as some interesting insights into George Washington’s life. The book combines history, biography, research, cooking, and a determined child in a plot that is both humorous and educational. With likable illustrations and lively storytelling, “George Washington’s Breakfast” brings history alive and offers a painless way for younger and reluctant readers to learn about the past.
10. The Housekeeper’s Dog, by Jerry Smath
“The Housekeeper’s Dog” by Jerry Smath is a children’s book that tells the story of a playful dog who loves to roll, scratch and play with bones. However, after attending Madame de Poochio’s School for Dogs, the dog undergoes a transformation and becomes quite different. The school teaches the dog manners and how to behave properly.
As a result, the once-playful dog becomes a well-behaved and polite companion. Through colorful illustrations and engaging storytelling, “The Housekeeper’s Dog” highlights the importance of obedience and manners for dogs. It is a fun and educational read for young children.
12. The House That Biff Built, by Janet Campbell
“The House That Biff Built: Featuring Jim Henson’s Sesame Street Muppets” is a children’s book written by Janet Campbell that takes the reader through the process of building a house. The story begins with the drafting of the plans and follows the construction of the house through to the final stages. Along the way, various characters from Jim Henson’s Sesame Street, including Biff and Sully, help with the building process. The book culminates with a housewarming party to celebrate the completion of the project.
13. The Littlest Angel, by Charles Tazewell
“The Littlest Angel” is a fictional story by Charles Tazewell about a young angel who is struggling to adjust to his new life as a cherub in heaven. Despite being surrounded by beauty and wonder, the little angel is homesick for Earth and finds it difficult to fit in with the other angels. The story explores themes of nostalgia, homesickness, and the difficulties of adapting to new environments. It also touches on the holiday of Christmas, but it is not the main focus of the story.
14. The Castle in the Attic, by Elizabeth Winthrop
“The Castle in the Attic” by Elizabeth Winthrop is a children’s book about a boy named William who receives a mysterious model castle from his caretaker, Mrs. Phillips, who is leaving. The castle is perfect in every way, complete with a drawbridge, moat, and tiny knight.
When William picks up the tiny silver knight, Sir Simon comes alive in his hand and tells William a story of wild sorcery, wizards, and a kingdom in need of saving. William embarks on a fantastic quest to another land and time to battle an evil wizard and a fiery dragon. Hoping the castle’s magic holds the key to getting his friend to stay, William goes on an exciting adventure filled with magic, bravery, and danger.
15. Five Run Away Together, by Enid Blyton
“Five Run Away Together” by Enid Blyton is the third book in the Famous Five series. In this adventure, the group of friends discovers that someone has been on George’s island, and they find a mysterious trunk locked away on Kirrin Island. Thinking they might be on the trail of smugglers, they hear a child scream and realize they might be onto something more dangerous.
16. The Whipping Boy, by Sid Fleischman
“The Whipping Boy” by Sid Fleischman is a briskly told tale of adventure and mistaken identity. It follows Prince Brat and his whipping boy, who inadvertently trade places after becoming involved with dangerous outlaws. Despite their differences, they must rely on each other when they find themselves taken hostage after running away. The book is full of suspense and colorful characters, with brief action-packed chapters and black-and-white illustrations by Caldecott Honor artist Peter Sís.
17. Ladybird Classics: The Secret Garden, by Hodgson Burnett Frances
The Ladybird Classics edition of “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett is a beautifully illustrated introduction to the classic story for younger readers. The book has been abridged and retold to make it suitable for sharing with children aged 5 and up, while still retaining all the important elements of the original story, including the mysterious locked garden. The detailed illustrations throughout the book help to bring this beloved tale to life.
18. Dear Mr. Henshaw, by Beverly Cleary
“Dear Mr. Henshaw” is a novel by Beverly Cleary about a boy named Leigh Botts who moves to a new town with his mother after his parents’ separation. Struggling to cope with his anger towards his absent father and make new friends, Leigh finds solace in a class assignment where he writes to his favorite author, Mr. Henshaw. When Mr. Henshaw responds, the two form an unexpected friendship that helps Leigh navigate and heal from life’s growing pains