What makes a book a classic? Time–it has to have been around long enough to withstand the test of the years. (When a reviewer says a book is “an instant classic”, it really isn’t yet, s/he just thinks it might become one. :)) Second, the book has to address universal issues that resonate with readers. On the other hand, the story cannot have too many details that limit its appeal to a particular time or place. For example, I’ve read a couple of books written in the eighties that rely heavily on references to fashion of that period that made me roll my eyes repeatedly. However, there are books that I love precisely for their old-fashioned quaintness, but I did not include them on this list if I was constantly reminded “Wow, how the world has changed” while reading them. Popular opinion probably matters more than I would like to admit, because I believe books exist that deserve to be considered classics that are not, while others that are considered classics may not deserve the designation. But I won’t put books on this list that are classics (i.e. Edward Eager’s The Time Garden) but that I found a chore to finish. The following are books that have captivated generations of readers, including me. This list is a work in progress, and I’ll be adding to it as I discover more books that I think belong here. Suggestions are welcome!
Clicking on “my review” will bring you to my post on that book. Clicking the Goodreads link at the end of the post will bring you to a list of 131(!) time travel books. The Goodreads list is a great resource that includes reader reviews of some of the books on this list as well as of so many more.
Tom’s Midnight Garden by Phillipa Pearce, 1958. When a boy staying at his Aunt and Uncle’s home goes outside at night, he finds the simple yard has transformed into a Victorian garden, and he makes friends with a girl from that era whom he meets there. My review.
Children of Winter by Berlie Doherty, 1985. Set during the Great Plague. Do you take care of people dying of a highly contagious fatal disease and risk contracting it yourself, or leave them to die? My review.
Visit this fabulous Goodreads list, Timeslip in Children’s Fiction!