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Character Growth
An Exhibit on Children's Literature

Character Growth
  • Rip Van Winkle (by )
  • Just So Stories (by )
  • Hans Brinker; Or, The Silver Skates : A ... (by )
  • Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, The (by )
  • Tale of Two Cities, A (by )
  • Three Musketeers, The (by )
  • The Little Gingerbread Man (by )
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (by )
  • A Token for Children : Being an Exact Ac... (by )
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea (by )
  • Through the Looking-Glass (by )
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (abridg... (by )
  • Ferdinand Frog (by )
  • Heidi (by )
  • Secret Garden, The (by )
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Character Growth:  An Exhibit on Children's Literature

Childhood reading builds character and books open young minds to the world and the limitless realm of imagination, and learning. Prior to the advent of mass media communication, books and letter writing were a part of the daily lives of people. Reading letters and books were considered the entertainment of the day. Recreational reading was anticipated with enthusiasm and brought joy to everyone in the home. Additionally, reading to children below age 6 helps them develop critical skills like solving mysteries, recognizing patterns, literacy and diction. In this exhibit, entitled "Character Growth:  An Exhibit on Children's Literature," the world's greatest children's writers and famed novelists, explores the most extensive digitally remastered classic children's literature in the world. From Classic Children's Literature titles, Baby's ABC Book to The Velveteen Rabbit - building character in young ones begins with parental guidance and books. 

Pre K - Elementary
Pre K - Elementary

Recreational Reading is an effective way to develop a child’s literacy skill so that they will be successful into their future. The Growing Children through Reading: A "Character Growth: Exhibit on Children’s Literature" engages classic books that can meet the literacy levels of children pre-Kinder to Kindergarten, Middle School and to High School (Head Start and Even Start Greater Collaboration Needed on Measures of Adult Education and Literacy, GAO).

Children ages 0-5 (Pre-Kinder to Kindergarten) like being read to. Ages 0 to 2 are responsive to visual images, while those aged 3 to 5 enjoy tactile learning. This age group are auditory learners who listen and respond to languages being spoken around them, which they mimic through their vocal chords.    

Baby's ABC Book is a great book to read out loud to children because of its rhyming story line and color pictures; it also introduces them to letters of the alphabet. Mother Earth's Children: The Frolics of Fruits and Vegetables is another great book that uses rhyme and pictures to teach children about different types of vegetables. This book can be accompanied with real vegetables for them to touch as they associate them with what they hear and see in the book.

Children aged 6 to 7 (1st to 2nd Grade) still like being read to, but they are learning to look at written text, read independently, and classify information. They learn self expression through reading out loud, acting, playing, art making, drawing and practicing writing. 'Twas the Night Before Christmas; A Visit from St. Nicholas is a great book for kids aged 6 because it is a poetic story about Santa Claus preparing for Christmas delivery. It can be read aloud or silently, using the colorful pictures to help students identify the different reindeer that help Santa through the night. For those aged 7, Bambi is a story of a young deer who loses his mother, seeks a mate and learns his father’s lessons about human hunters in the forest. Known as the first environmental novel, this book helps readers understand the difference between good and evil.

As children reach ages 8 to 10 (3rd to 4th grade), they are beginning to think about themselves in their social worlds. They like to read for facts and to memorize information. But they also begin to appreciate humor. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz can be read by those aged 8 as it can put the readers into the shoes of Dorothy Gale who is swept away by a cyclone to the mystical land of Oz. Through Dorothy’s journey with her friends, students can learn how to negotiate feelings of heartlessness, intellect and courage, to return back to safety. The Blue Fairy Book can be great for a 9 year old reader interested in getting lost in famous folk tales like those contained in the Grimm's Fairy Tales such as: The History of Little Red Riding Hood, Rumpelstiltskin, and Hansel and Gretel. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is great for 10 year old readers who enjoy a spooky tale about a haunted place and the headless horseman who pursues Ichabod Crane into his disappearance.

Middle School
Middle School

Middle Schoolers, between the ages of 11-13 (5th to 8th grades), are entering a time of transition. Cognitively, children in this age group move between concrete to abstract ideas, which may be a bit dogmatic. But like in elementary school, they still like reading out loud, memorizing and enjoying music and the arts. They are learning more about personal independence, and may experience family conflict. Silent reading and self reflective writing about themselves in the world suit this age group.  

The Invisible Man can be read by 11 year olds who are interested in exploring the realms of Science Fiction. Written by H.G. Wells, this book features Griffin, a student who had a laboratory accident and turned himself invisible with chemicals. Through a series of events trying to evade the town of his condition, he is eventually tracked down and killed by a mob. The Hunchback of Notre Dame is another tale of injustice, beauty and unrequited love, which could relate to the 13 year olds own feelings navigating social rules, relationships and dreams.

The Story of My Life, about the life of Helen Keller and her teacher Anne Sullivan, can be read by 12 year old readers interested in stories of resilience despite obstacles. Although Keller was born deaf and blind, she became an influential lecturer and social activist for people with disabilities. The Wonderful Adventures of Nils is a story about a mischievous child cursed into a little person by a mythical dwarf. Twelve year old readers might identify with Nils, who finds himself caught in various trials to prove that he is reformed into a better person, in order to return to human size.

High School
High School

High School youth continue to experience intense emotions of family and relationships, with an expanded sense of school responsibilities and future pressures.  It is a time to expose them to literature that expands their thinking on social issues, and prepares them for the challenges of adulthood. Youth aged 14 to 15 (8th to 10th grades) develop capacity for abstract thinking, which includes anxiety, but also exploration of lofty ideas, values and social issues. The Brothers Karamazov could be read by 14 year olds who are thinking about the effects of tumultuous society on the family and the importance of finding love and connection with them despite the changes. Similarly, Romeo and Juliet reflects angst of forbidden love that 15 year olds might be familiar with.

Ages 16 (11th Grade) readers develop their abstract thinking, applying ideas to current and future situations as well as to broader issues. The Metamorphosis is an interesting read for this age level because it is about Gregor Samsa who wakes up as a large insect, which wreaks havoc on his family’s routine. The book raises questions about people living dreary careers and lives, family expectations, and the injustice of being treated as dispensable.

Those aged 17-18 (12th Grade) continue to have abstract thinking but also develop practical problem solving skills. They increasingly demand emancipation and look forward to higher education. For those aged 17, The Lost Continent: The Story of Atlantis could be a great book to expand the imaginations of this group through exploring past worlds, increasing a sense of possibility for their own futures. The Yellow Wallpaper would be a great read for 18 year olds to explore themes of women’s rights and health as was written in a time when women were depicted as mentally weak and fragile, to be controlled by patriarchal medical and professional institutions. This can infuse young people with a sense of history about past injustices, and inspire them to make a difference in their world.


Baum, Lyman Frank.  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  Chicago: G.M. Hill Company, 1900.

Dostoyevkey, Fyodor. The Brothers Karamazov. (n.p.) 1900.

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. The Yellow Wallpaper. New York: Feminist Press, 1899.

Gordon, Elizabeth.  Mother Earth's Children: The Frolics of Fruits and Vegetables. Chicago: P.F. Volland & Company, 1914.

Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. Grimm's Fairy Tales. Ed. by Edna Henry Lee Turpin. New York: Maynard, Merrill and Company, 1903.

History of Little Red Riding Hood, The. London: J.L. Marks, 91 Long Lane, Smithfield, 1850.

Hugo, Victor. The Hunchback of Notre Dame. 1831. Reproduced by World eBook Library, 2005.

Irving, Washington. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.  (n.p.)  1820.  Reproduced:  World eBook Library, 2005.

Kafka, Franz. The Metamorphosis. (n.p.) 1912. Reproduced: Blackmask Online, 1999.

Keller, Helen. The Story of My Life. New York:  Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1905.

Lagerlöf, Selma. The Wonderful Adventures of Nils.  New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1912.

Lang, Andrew.  The Blue Fairy Book.  Longmans, Green & Company, 1889.  

Moore, Clement Clarke.  'Twas the Night Before Christmas; A Visit from St. Nicholas. Boston: Houghton Miffin Company, 1912.

Saalfield. Baby's ABC Book. World Public Library Association, 2007.

Salten, Felix.  Bambi. Trans. Whittaker Chambers. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1929. Reproduced: World Public Library Association, 2007.

Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. London: J. Pattie, Brydges Street, Covet Street, 1839. Project Gutenberg Consortia Center, 1998.

U.S. Government Accounting Office. "Head Start and Even Start Greater Collaboration Needed on Measures of Adult Education and Literacy: Greater Collaboration Needed on Measures of Adult Education and Illiteracy." Washington D.C., March 2002.

Wells, H.G. The Invisible Man (n.p.) 1897. Reproduced by World eBook Library, 2002.

Burroughs, Edgar Rice. The Lost Continent: The Story of Atlantis. New York: Ballantine Books, 915. Reproduced: World eBook Library, 2005.

Children's Literature Collections
Children’s literature collections are great tools to not only build young people’s literacy skills; they can also provide them with language to understand their own thoughts and feelings, and to introduce them to broader societal issues.  The Growing Children Through Reading: An Exhibit on Children’s Literature explores grade-appropriate books that meet literacy levels of students as they grow from pre-Kinder to High School.  Explore more age-appropriate books in the collections below


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Top 100 books on Classic Children's Literature

  • Rip Van Winkle (by )
  • Just So Stories (by )
  • Hans Brinker; Or, The Silver Skates : A ... (by )
  • Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, The (by )
  • Tale of Two Cities, A (by )
  • Three Musketeers, The (by )
  • The Little Gingerbread Man (by )
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (by )
  • A Token for Children : Being an Exact Ac... (by )
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea (by )
  • Through the Looking-Glass (by )
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (abridg... (by )
  • Ferdinand Frog (by )
  • Heidi (by )
  • Secret Garden, The (by )
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Top books on Contemporary Children's Literature

  • Curious George and the Pizza : Preformed... (by )
  • Otto : Preformed by Wally Amos (by )
  • The Beckonong Cat, Based on a Japenese F... (by )
  • The Very Greedy Bee : Preformed by Wally... (by )
  • Where the Wild Things Are : Preformed by... (by )
  • Giggle, Giggle, Quack : Preformed by Wal... (by )
  • Loony Little: An Environmental Tale : Pr... (by )
  • Jump, Frog, Jump : Preformed by Wally Am... (by )
  • Love You Forever : Preformed by Wally Am... (by )
  • The Cat in the Hat : Preformed by Wally ... (by )
  • The Lion and the Mouse : Preformed by Wa... (by )
  • The Wolf and the Lamb : Preformed by Wal... (by )
  • Clifford The Big Red Dog : Preformed by ... (by )
  • Peter's Chair : Preformed by Wally Amos (by )
  • Green Eggs and Ham : Preformed by Wally ... (by )
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Top 100 books on Children's Early Learning

  • The Hey Diddle Diddle Picture Book (by )
  • Song of Hiawatha, The (by )
  • Anne of Green Gables (by )
  • Mother West Wind's Animal Friends (by )
  • Just So Stories (by )
  • The Ugly Duckling (by )
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit (by )
  • Three Blind Mice (by )
  • The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle (by )
  • The King of the Golden River, Or the Bla... (by )
  • The Hey Diddle Diddle Picture Book (by )
  • The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes : ... (by )
  • Pollyanna (by )
  • Pollyanna (by )
  • King of Golden River (by )
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Children's Literature Collection

  • Astoria Volume Ii (by )
  • The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson Vail... (by )
  • Raggedy Andy Stories : Introducing the L... (by )
  • The Pied Piper of Hamelin .. (by )
  • Oliver Twist (by )
  • The House Without a Key (by )
  • The right of the strongest (by )
  • The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson Vail... (by )
  • Aesop's Fables : A New Translation (by )
  • The Bubble Book (by )
  • The Man with the Twisted Lip (by )
  • The Homely Heroine (by )
  • Ozma of Oz (by )
  • Ska-Denge (Beaver for Revenge) (by )
  • Walter O'Niel, or, The pleasure of doing... 
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  • Necessary Basis of the Teacher's Tenure (by )
  • Science ; Volume 2 : No 35 : Feb 1881 
  • Establishment and Firm Size (Including L... (by )
  • Transforming the Speed of Business with ... (by )
  • Ventilation in Relation to Mental Work (by )
  • Methods of Teaching in High Schools (by )
  • Bulletin of the World Health Organizatio... (by )
  • Nurse and Doctor Examining Throat and Te... (by )
  • Public Health Reports 1896 1970 ; Volume... 
  • The Works of Sir William Temple, bart; V... (by )
  • Garcia Moreno : Presidente de la Republi... Volume Vol. 2 (by )
  • Light Artillery Drill, Horse Battery, Wh... (by )
  • Les Procedes Dart de Tacite Dans les His... 
  • Recorder (Mar. 1912); Volume: XVIII, no.... (by )
  • Studien zur Geschichte der Spanischen un... (by )
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Audio Books Collection

  • History of Pompey the Little, The (by )
  • Little Colonel's Holidays, The (by )
  • When We Two Parted (by )
  • Apology for Sadness, An (by )
  • History of England from the Accession of... (by )
  • Treasure, The (by )
  • Hohenzollerns in America, The (by )
  • Famous Affinities of History: The Romanc... (by )
  • From the Earth to the Moon (by )
  • Black Moth, The (by )
  • Favole di Jean de La Fontaine: Libro 12 (by )
  • Memoir of Jane Austen (by )
  • Short Ghost and Horror Collection 011 (by )
  • Voyage Towards the South Pole and Round ... (by )
  • Story of the Other Wise Man, The (by )
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DjVu Editions Classic Literature

  • Walden Or, Life in the Woods (by )
  • The Winters Tale (by )
  • Tess of the Durbervilles (by )
  • The Third Part of Henry the Sixth (by )
  • Twelfe Night, Or What You Will (by )
  • The Taming of the Shrew (by )
  • Elegies (by )
  • The Second Part of Henry the Fourth (by )
  • The Tragedie of Romeo and Juliet (by )
  • Mansfield Park (by )
  • The Sea Wolf (by )
  • Pride and Prejudice (by )
  • The Life of Tymon of Athens (by )
  • Moby-Dick or the Whale (by )
  • Paradise Lost (by )
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Educational Resource Collection

  • The U.S. Department of Educations (by )
  • Understanding the No Child Left Behind A... (by )
  • President Bushs Historic Investment in E... (by )
  • Archived Information Ready-To-Learn Tele... (by )
  • Department of Education the Secretary of... (by )
  • Direito Administrativo 1 [e-Mí­dia] (by )
  • Department of Education [Rin 1820 Za31] ... (by )
  • President Bushs Historic Investment in E... (by )
  • Nclb Making a Difference in Utah (by )
  • Department of Education [Cfda No : 84. 3... (by )
  • Maryland State Department of Education C... (by )
  • Evaluation of the Magnet Schools Assista... (by )
  • Number, Timing, And Duration of Marriage... (by )
  • Department of Education Submission for O... (by )
  • Department of Defense Department of the ... (by )
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Educational Videos

  • Measuring cost of living --inflation and... Volume Macroeconomics series (by )
  • Inverse trig functions : Example: Calcul... Volume Basic trigonometric ratios series (by )
  • Art History: Dada : Dada Duchamp and the... Volume Art History series (by )
  • The why of algebra : Why all the letters... Volume Algebra series (by )
  • Corporate taxation : Is Limited Liabilit... Volume Finance and capital markets series (by )
  • TEDtalks Mission Blue Voyage : Greg Ston... (by )
  • TEDtalks Global Conference 2009 : Caroly... (by )
  • Modern Cryptography : The Discrete Logar... (by )
  • Foreign exchange and trade : Currency Ex... Volume Finance and capital markets series (by )
  • Exponent properties : Exponent Propertie... Volume Algebra series (by )
  • Maclaurin and Taylor series : Generalize... Volume Calculus series (by )
  • Ancient Greece : Exekias, Attic black fi... Volume Art History series (by )
  • High Renaissance : Raphael, Galatea, c. ... Volume Art History series (by )
  • Art History: Architecture : Gordon Bunsh... Volume Art History series (by )
  • Public goods and externalities : Negativ... Volume Microeconomics series (by )
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Project Gutenberg Consortia Center

  • Plato and Platonism (by )
  • The Odyssey (by )
  • Familiar Letters on Chemistry (by )
  • The Rise of the Dutch Republic, 1568 (by )
  • On the Duty of Civil Disobedience (by )
  • The Head of Kay's (by )
  • Ghosts I Have Met and Some Others (by )
  • Das Leben und der Tod des Koenigs Lear (by )
  • The Nabob (by )
  • The Life of Sir John Oldcastle (by )
  • Selected Prose of Oscar Wilde (by )
  • Celtic Fairy Tales (by )
  • Burke's Speech on Conciliation with Amer... (by )
  • The Perils of Certain English Prisoners (by )
  • Wolfert's Roost and Miscellanies (by )
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  • A Guide to Russian Literature (1820-1917... (by )
  • Everyday Classics : Seventh Reader : Ame... (by )
  • English Synonymes Explained in Alphabeti... (by )
  • Flash Gordon : Vol. 1, Issue 34 Volume Vol. 1, Issue 34 (by )
  • The Ion of Euripides, Now First Translat... (by )
  • The Ladies' College and School Examiner.... 
  • The Century : a Popular Quarterly : Volu... (by )
  • Scientific American : Volume 0013, Issue... (by )
  • Roy Rogers: Issue 77 Volume Issue 77 (by )
  • Verhandlungen der Gesellschaft für Erdk... (by )
  • Shakespeare's Heroines on the Stage : Vo... (by )
  • Sermons (by )
  • The poetical Works of Vincent Bourne (by )
  • Revue des deux mondes; Volume: 1887:06:0... 
  • Notes on the Works and Days of Hesiod: W... (by )
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