The best classic time travel books for kids

Deborah Kalb Author Of George Washington and the Magic Hat: George Washington and the Magic Hat (The President and Me, 1)
By Deborah Kalb

The Books I Picked & Why

The Time Garden

By Edward Eager, N. M. Bodecker

The Time Garden

Why this book?

Edward Eager’s books were my inspiration when I started writing the President and Me series. I picked The Time Garden here because it specifically deals with the concept of time, but most of Eager’s books would fit the bill, including Half Magic. Eager’s books, published in the 1950s and ‘60s, feature kids who have magic adventures, often through time travel but are also grounded in their own present-day reality, with issues they have to cope with in between their escapades.


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Time Cat: The Remarkable Journeys of Jason and Gareth

By Lloyd Alexander

Time Cat: The Remarkable Journeys of Jason and Gareth

Why this book?

I remember really enjoying this book as a kid. Jason and his talking cat, Gareth, embark on a series of time travel adventures, from Ancient Egypt to the Revolutionary War. Alexander was probably best known for his Chronicles of Prydain fantasy series, but Time Cat is less a fantasy story than a series of time travel episodes. I’ve always been more interested in stories that involve time travel back to the past rather than into a hypothetical future, probably because I love history.


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Tom's Midnight Garden

By Philippa Pearce, Jaime Zollars

Tom's Midnight Garden

Why this book?

This book involves a boy, Tom, who encounters a young girl, Hatty, at night outside his aunt and uncle’s house, where he’s visiting. These visits occur in a garden, which, in daytime, does not exist. Hatty appears at different ages over the course of the book, and Tom ends up discovering the secret of the midnight garden (I don’t want to reveal the ending!).


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A Traveller in Time

By Alison Uttley, Phyllis Bray

A Traveller in Time

Why this book?

Penelope, sent away to her aunt and uncle’s house (do you see a pattern here?) in the English countryside, travels back to the 16th century, the era of Mary, Queen of Scots, and becomes part of an effort to free the Scottish queen from prison. This classic novel, first published in 1939, was the inspiration for many other time travel stories.


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A Wrinkle in Time

By Madeleine L’Engle

A Wrinkle in Time

Why this book?

The absolute classic time travel story, A Wrinkle in Time is more of a science fiction novel than the others included here on my list. Meg Murry and her family travel through galaxies, not just through time. A Wrinkle in Time is the first, and most famous, of L’Engle’s Time Quintet, which also includes A Wind in the Door and A Swiftly Tilting Planet.


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