Counting on the Classics

This weekend, our dear friends gave our 14-month-old daughter her first volume of classic literature, Pride and Prejudice. Well, it’s not the version she might encounter by high school, but a new baby-friendly counting primer.

Here’s an excerpt:

1 English village

2 rich gentlemen

3 houses

4 marriage proposals

5 sisters

Actually, that’s half the entire book (at least I didn’t give away the ending!). This “Little Miss Austen” edition, by Jennifer Adams (with art by Alison Oliver), is a product of BabyLit, which has also put out classics such as Jane Eyre, Alice in Wonderland, and Romeo and Juliet in 10-page, picture-and-number board-book form.

I happen to think this is a wonderful idea. I hope they make more. So here are some of my suggestions—including a few they are probably yet to (and never will) consider—with excerpts.


A Tale of Two Cities

1 tale

2 cities

5 years

100s of severed heads


War and Peace

1 Napoleonic invasion

5 aristocratic families

131 main characters

1,440 pages


The Catcher in the Rye

1 angst-riddled breakdown

2 nuns

3 days in New York City

44 uses of the word “phony”


Animal Farm

1 pig-instigated revolution

2 legs bad

4 legs good

7 commandments


Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

1 motorcycle race

2 or more versions of reality

6 types of recreational drug

14 visions of anthropomorphic desert animals



1 Pulitzer Prize

2 gender identities


The Hunger Games

1 annoying cat

2 adolescent love interests

13 districts

24 tributes

23,500,000 copies sold


Some other obvious possibilities include Two Gentlemen of Verona, Slaughterhouse Five, Catch-22, and 100 Years of Solitude. What are your suggestions?