Beyond Huck Finn

Many parents think that Mark Twain is a good writer to recommend to their kids… to a point. And I’m here to say they are correct. But I believe that point is far beyond the line most parents know they can cross. Certainly many of Mr. Clemens’ stories aren’t family-friendly. Still, many more of them are, and in my humble opinion Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are entirely overrated. So, as an enormous Mark Twain fan and a parent myself, I’m dedicating this blog to showing other parents the best Twain titles for their children… beyond Huck Finn.

First, however, I will start with a few you should never let your kids read.

  • “A Dog’s Story”: Written from the point of view of a mother dog who is betrayed in the very worst way. Not safe for kids… and I wouldn’t recommend it to parents, either. Unless you like depressing stories.
  • The mysterious Stranger: This is one of my favorite of Twain’s works. And children can read it, in my opinion. However, I am placing it here as some parents might not want their children reading a story where Satan (Lucifer) is a PROtagonist.
  • “What is Man?”: A deep discussion on the meaning of life. Very pessimistic.
  • “The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson”: WONDERFUL story for adults. A bit too deep and depressing for kids.

I’m sure there are others, but even I haven’t read all of his works and I’m sure I’ve missed many that I have read as well. However, if I run across any more I’ll let you know.

Now, for titles that kids should totally read!

  • “The Diary of Adam and Eve” or “Eve’s Diary” or “Extracts from Adam’s Diary”: A hilarious and kid-safe take on the classic Adam and Eve story.
  • “The Awful German Language”: Twain ruminates on how hard it is to learn German… with hilarious results!
  • “Advice to Little Girls”: If your girl knows and/or likes big words, this is a good one to read. Or read it with her and teach her some new vocabulary words… and have a laugh with her, too.
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court: Time travel. Knights. Magic. Action!
  • The Prince and the Pauper: You probably already know this one. Yes, it’s by Mark Twain. 🙂
  • “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”: A whimsical, silly take on frog racing, with an important moral about honesty.

Please let me know if you try any of these and what your children thought. You might have to “translate” a bit for younger children, and please read the above recommended stories yourself before introducing them to your kids, as what offends me might not be the same as what offends you.

Happy reading!


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