Most of the books I read are between 300 and 500 pages. Many are completely unsuitable for young children or tweens. I enjoy a little romance, a lot of action, and fantastical elements. Books like that often come with a high death count, explicit sex, and/or elements like war and loss that might frighten younger kids.
Some older books, however, are simple (enjoyable) reads with characters you can't help but fall in love with and a lack of violence appropriate for young readers. This year, I have been enjoying a wide range of these titles including Nancy Drew books and Winnie the Pooh. These books are great for a relaxing read in between giant YA novels and are short enough to finish in less than a day. I highly recommend checking some of them out.
Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene
The first Nancy Drew book, The Secret of the Old Clock was published in 1930 but this famous series has over sixty books released between the 1930s and 1970s. The books were created to be a light-hearted series for young readers (particularly young girls) in a time when nothing felt light-hearted. The books were published during economic crises, wars, and more but no matter what, Nancy Drew the detective solved the crimes, beat the bad guys, and did it all while looking superb. Her friends Bess, George, Dave, Burt, and Ned often helped her along with a portion or the entirety of the mysteries, and despite the difficulties real-world people faced with money, Nancy Drew was able to visit exotic places, buy gifts and clothes, and eat meals at restaurants regularly. The books were created to be an escape from the world and that is exactly what they became for many readers.
One little-known fact about the Drew books is that there is more than one author! Carolyn Keene was actually as many as six different women writing the books. Each woman wrote the book they worked on alone however, the author of the series changed from book to book. Carolyn Keene was a creation of Edward Stratemeyer and his Stratemeyer syndicate. Stratemeyer invented the pen name for the series and hired different women to write under it. In each of the books, Nancy and her friends are described explicitly in the same way. The first chapter also notes Nancy's previous mystery and the final chapter concludes by describing the next mystery by name.
Nancy Drew holds a special place in my heart. When I was young, my mother read the Nancy Drew books with one of my younger sisters. I often listened in as well and we all laughed at Nancy's ability to constantly get knocked out and left unconscious. Not a single one of the books includes death so the only way to put the main character's life in danger was to have her kidnapped, knocked out, or both. More recently, I have purchased a number of Nancy Drew novels from the library book store (and book sale). Many of the books were purchased for $0.20. This year, I have read three Nancy Drew books and I am in the middle of a fourth (that's not including the ones I read last year!). The books include The Strange Message in the Parchment (book 54), The Mysterious Mannequin (book 47), The Secret of the Golden Pavilion (book 36), and The Sky Phantom (book 53). All are excellent books and they have been turned into numerous movies and TV shows.
Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne
I love Winnie the Pooh perhaps even more than Nancy Drew. While Winnie the Pooh is more of a children's book than Nancy Drew, I recently read the first book and fell in love with the characters all over again. The books are hilarious and so incredibly sweet. Even if you aren't a child (or reading to a child) they are perfect books for quiet time before bed or to read while drinking a cup of tea. I was very lucky to find an old copy published in the 1930s at a library book sale for $0.20. The copy has a few marks on it but it is stunning and makes me feel warm inside when I sit down to read it. The books were originally published in the 1920s and have since been made into a plethora of movies and TV shows. Disney even took on the honey-addicted bear in 1966 and they have since created rides, merchandise, and more for the friends from the hundred-acre-woods.
Many suggest that the books are a representation of different mental problems. Pooh Bear has an eating disorder of some kind, Tigger is hyperactive and potentially has ADHD and Rabbit is neurotic and likely has a form of OCD. Not to mention the depressed Eyore. Personally, I like to think that the books weren't created for this purpose. While many mental disorders can be connected to the animals in the series, I prefer to think of it as a book (and story) first rather than a reflection of these characteristics and the problems they get us into. As a young girl, I had a purple dressing gown with Eyore on the back and I loved Pooh Bear and Tigger. More importantly, I am attached to the game "Pooh Sticks" which was invented by A. A. Milne. Those participating in the game chose sticks, drop them into a river or creek from a bridge, and watch to see which arrives at a chosen destination first. I often played this game with my family on walks and I have fond memories of doing so (particularly when I played with my Grandma).
Paddington Bear by Michael Bond
Paddington Bear is a slightly more recent "classic." In fact, depending on one's definition of classic, the book may not even fall into the category. The Paddington series was first published in 1958 and more books followed A Bear Called Paddington in the 50s and 60s. More recently, Paddington has made it to the big screen with movies like the one released in 2014. These movies are sweet and funny (like all the classics on this list) and follow the bear through all his mishaps and mischief.
Just like I did with the other books, I was able to acquire a copy of A Bear Called Paddington from the library book sale for $0.20. I read it during my time spent between houses (in Air BnBs and the like) and found it to be the perfect book for me when I needed a laugh and a light-hearted story. In the midst of everything that was going on (colds, transferring houses, living on my own for the first time, wondering if I would ever find a permanent place), Paddington's misunderstandings and chaos were the perfect things for me. I loved the book and would love to read more. I highly suggest locating a copy for yourself.