Growing Reader


Dickens for Kids:
10 Books to Introduce the Great Author to Children

by Keith Rice

Charles Dickens was one of the most influential and brilliantly talented writers to ever pick up a pen. His works have endured for generations of readers, as beloved in their own day as they are now. However, his complex and often byzantine plots can feel a little daunting when we think about introducing this master storyteller to our budding bookworms. There’s much for young readers to love in the world of Dickens, though — wonderfully eclectic characters, thrilling adventures, and oft-heartwarming morals.

Here are 10 stories to introduce readers of all ages to Charles Dickens and his Victorian England filled with orphans, expectations, and Christmas spirits, including adaptations of Dickens geared toward young readers, engaging looks into the author’s life, and a few kid-friendly classics straight from the author’s quill.

  • Getting to Know Dickens

  • Sometimes the best way to encourage your kids toward the classics is to help them get to know the writers behind these celebrated tomes. There are few literary icons more fascinating than Charles Dickens, as readers will learn from these books.

  • A Boy Called Dickens

    by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by John Hendrix

    A perfect picture book for preschoolers and growing readers, A Boy Called Dickens is a delightful introduction to the legendary writer. Much like the characters that populate his novels, Dickens himself had a fascinating, hardscrabble childhood that laid the groundwork for much of his literary output. It’s a story populated with larger-than-life characters sure to captivate the little bookworms in your life.
    (Ages 4 - 8)

  • A Ghost Tale for Christmas Time

    by Mary Pope Osborne, illustrated by Sal Murdocca

    Magic Tree House is the bestselling children’s series of all time for a reason. Mary Pope Osborne’s captivating adventures are great reads for middle grade children. With A Ghost Tale for Christmas Time, Jack and Annie find themselves whisked away to the fog-shrouded streets of Victorian London to lend a hand to Charles Dickens in a thrilling escapade.
    (Ages 7 – 10)

  • Charles Dickens: England’s Most Captivating Storyteller

    by Catherine Wells-Cole

    Drawing on Dickens’s personal letters, his collected works, and the author’s own rags-to-riches story, Charles Dickens transports readers to Victorian England for an immersive, highly visual view into the life of the man behind some of literature’s most enduring characters.
    (Ages 8 - 12)

  • Great Adaptations

  • One of the smoothest entry points into the Dickens canon are these compelling adaptations for kids based on his most popular works.

  • Oliver Twist

    by Charles Dickens, illustrated by Jean Zallinger, adapted by Lester M. Schulman

    Oliver Twist is the beloved tale of a wayward orphan who finds himself caught up with a gang of charismatic thieves and is among Charles Dickens's best-known novels. This adaptation from the Stepping Stones Book collection is the perfect way to introduce your young readers to a literary classic and chapter books.
    (Ages 6 - 9)

  • Classic Starts: Great Expectations

    by Charles Dickens, illustrated by Eric Freeberg

    This classic coming-of-age stage story is one of the author’s greatest literary achievements. In this adaptation, Dickens’s intricately woven plot has been scaled for younger readers. Fortunately, the life-altering and thought-provoking adventures of young Pip are no less engrossing or thrilling.
    (Ages 7 - 9)

  • Illustrated Stories from Dickens

    by Charles Dickens, illustrated by Barry Ablett

    Illustrated Stories from Dickens is an excellent broad introduction to the great works of Charles Dickens. The five novels here, retold for young readers, represent the author’s most beloved novels and feature beautiful illustrations. This one’s a great read for storytime, but it’s also one kiddos can tackle on their own.
    (Ages 7 - 9)

  • Dickens Tales Kids Can Read

  • For older readers who are ready to take on Dickens’s original works, these books are wonderful places to start.

  • The Magic Fishbone

    by Charles Dickens, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin

    As one of the few stories that Charles Dickens wrote explicitly for children, The Magic Fishbone is a must for any young reader. It is a delightfully quirky and enchanting fairy tale centering on a young princess and magical fishbone. The perfect introduction to Dickens’s inimitable style with the sort of heartwarming message people of all ages can enjoy.
    (Ages 6 - 10)

  • A Christmas Carol

    by Charles Dickens, illustrated by Mary Kate McDevitt and Mark Peppe

    A Christmas Carol is arguably Charles Dickens's best known novel. It is a true Christmas classic that has permeated the popular conception of the holiday season. Over the course of one frigid Christmas Eve, miserly and miserable Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by three Christmas spirits seeking to show Scrooge the error of his baleful ways. The result is a heartwarming and brilliantly realized holiday fable perfect for the entire family.
    (Ages 8 - 10)

  • David Copperfield

    by Charles Dickens

    Based in part on Dickens’s own life, David Copperfield introduced some of the author’s most endearing and wonderfully sinister characters. It is a story of young David Copperfield’s journey from an impoverished and unhappy childhood to life as a celebrated novelist. Demonstrating Dickens’s unmatched ability to balance comedy and tragedy, it’s a perfect introduction for middle grade readers.
    (Ages 10+)

  • Great Expectations

    by Charles Dickens

    Great Expectations is, in many ways, Charles Dickens’s masterpiece. It was his next-to-last novel and reads like a stylistic capstone on what came before. Featuring a quintessential bildungsroman tale, Great Expectations is the thrilling story of a young man growing toward adulthood and coming to terms with all that means. It is one of Dickens's most challenging novels for young readers, but also sure to be a thought-provoking one.
    (Ages 10+)

What are some of your favorite Charles Dickens stories to share with young readers?