Jane Austen is one of the most celebrated writers of all time. Her works are studied in schools and universities, and her style has inspired many people to continue reading and writing. However, for parents who want their kids to take up a habit of reading, Austen’s works may not be at the top of the list. Well, one does not have to go to the original piece. Fortunately, nowadays there are adaptations and versions of her novels that are perfect also for young audiences. These works retain the main plot and characters but adapt them for children. Austen’s romantic and sometimes humorous style remains, mixing it with illustrations and word choices perfect for school-age children. The words might not be the exact words of Jane Austen; however, the tone, voice, and the message that these collections provide solely belong to her.
So without further ado, let us introduce you to our top picks:
For ages 0-99:
Cozy Classics Series
In the Cozy Classic Series, Austen’s Emma and Pride And Prejudice are retold with the help of handcrafted puppets! The book uses little and simple words (such as ‘friends’, ‘love’, ‘wedding’, ‘yes’, etc), emphasizing the gorgeous designs but still retaining the magic of the story. Jack and Holman Wang are the masterminds behind this version -a funny and accessible take on a literary treasure. Both young kids and their parents will surely get a kick out of the witty punchlines in these books.
For ages 0-5:
Little Miss Austen Series
In this series of BabyLit, which is known to withstand the rough treatment of a toddler, four of Jane Austen’s works have been illustrated with rich visuals and are perfect to begin your child’s reading journey.
While Austen’s topics may be too heavy for a child to take in, they can at least be introduced in a kid-friendly way. After all, learning why judging people is wrong and reading about a village setting is suitable for any age! There are some life lessons to be had in these novels and Jennifer Adams does a great job bringing the magic of Austen to the Little Miss Austen series. Alison Oliver’s beautiful drawings also help create a pleasant atmosphere that your child will surely enjoy as they learn how to count or recognize opposites.
Goodnight Mr. Darcy: A BabyLit® Parody Board Book
Speaking of BabyLit, it is impossible not to mention the excellent parody of the most famous book GoodNight Moon. In this funny take-off, instead of saying good night to objects, we will say good night to characters from pride and prejudice! hilarious! Great for the lover of both Good Night Moon and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and can definitely also function as a coffee table book for the pare
For ages 4-7
Little People, Big Dreams: Jane Austen
While not a book written by Austen herself, this book adapts her life story. Young people will surely learn a thing or two as they read about how the author grew up reading and writing. Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara captures the inspirational journey of Jane, beginning with her family life in the countryside. The book then transforms into a moving story about how a passionate young woman became one of the most iconic figures in English literature.
The book is accompanied by eye-catching illustrations from Katie Wilson, making the story even more appealing for children. It is effortless to follow, and the sentences are simple. Children will also have a lot of fun with the free dolls, cards, and games included in the hardcover edition of this board book.
If you want a good role model for your child, you cannot go wrong with a well-accomplished novelist who valued education and broke down gender norms.
For ages 8+
Awesomely Austen – Illustrated and Retold Series
While not a book wrOnce your child can already read for himself, the next step would be this wonderful series of books, containing all six novels Austen has written. Ayisha Malik and Eglantine Ceulemans have most successfully retold the novels into inspiring tales in a fresh and funny way that kids will very much enjoy. Malik’s witty writing captures the same charm of the original, featuring more laughs that will surely grab a young reader’s heart. Ceulemans’ black and white illustrations are the perfect companion to the story, making for a visually stunning book.
For Teens and the child within you:
The Beautifull Cassandra: A Novel in Twelve Chapters
A book written by Jane Austen herself! The novelist was only twelve when The Beautifull Cassandra was born. This charming story intentionally misspells nearly 500 words as it tells a story about a young heroine who gets sucked into an adventure after stealing a hat. It is a hilarious book featuring bizarre settings and fun situations.
Somewhat as in Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland, it is featuring a satisfied protagonist returning from a whimsical experience. This edition has the help of beautiful and quirky watercolor illustrations from Leon Steinmetz. In addition, Claudia L. Johnson helps flesh out the story for modern audiences, making for a finished product that is perfect for people of all ages. Regardless of children, this is definitely a must for every Janeite. So if you haven’t read it yet, go straight to it!
There is no doubt – with the wit of the Dashwood sisters and a satirical commentary on society as seen by Elizabeth Bennet, Austen is a powerful figure who can inspire young children to find their own voice and pen their thoughts. Jane Austen books for kids are a great way for creating generations of fans within just one family, and at the same time introducing children to the wonderful world of reading.