Greatest children's books of all time

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[This was compiled form numerous sources, and it is offered as a set of ideas. I can't imagine a universe in which everything on the list would be appropriate for anyone's particular needs. But mayb there will be a few choices that hit the spot]



--Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day // by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Ray Cruz (1972) It was enough to make you want to go to Australia.

--All-of-a-Kind Family // by Sydney Taylor, illustrated by Helen John (1951)
Cozy vignettes of a turn-of-the-century Lower East Side family.

Amelia Bedelia // by Peggy Parish, illustrated by Fritz Siebel (1963)
The queen of idioms makes her grand appearance on the page!

--Anne of Green Gables // by L.M. Montgomery [saw movie]

Are You My Mother? // by P.D. Eastman

--Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret // by Judy Blume (1972)

The Arrival // by Shaun Tan (2007) Feel what it’s like to travel to a strange new land.


--The Bad Beginning // by Lemony Snicket and Brett Helquist [saw movie]

Bark, George // by Jules Feiffer (1999) He meows, quacks, oinks, and moos, but why can’t George the dog bark?

--Because of Winn-Dixie // by Kate DiCamillo (2000)
India Opa Buloni describes her first summer in a small Florida town and how an ugly stray dog who adopts her at the supermarket effects people’s lives and changes hers.
[saw movie]

--Ben’s Trumpet // by Rachel Isadora (1979) The syncopated rhythms of Harlem during the Jazz Age reverberate in handsome black and white art deco style.

Big Red Lollipop // by Rukhsana Khan, illustrated by Sophie Blackall (2010) Little sisters can be such a pain. First, Rubina is forced to bring her sister Sana along to a friend’s party, but soon it is Sana’s turn to be the big sister when she gets an invitation of her own.

The Birchbark House // by Louise Erdrich (1999) A warm family story, rich with fascinating details of traditional Ojibwa life, in which 7-year-old Omakayas and her family grow food, hunt, and face a time of transition.

Birds // by Kevin Henkes and Laura Dronzek

Black on White // by Tana Hoban (May 27, 1993)

Blackout // by John Rocco

--The Book of Three // by Lloyd Alexander (1964) The heroic adventures of Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper in the mythical kingdom of Prydain.

--The Borrowers // by Mary Norton, illustrated by Beth Krush and Joe Krush (1953)
A small world is perfectly created in this fantasy about the miniature people who live beneath the floors of quiet old houses.

The Bossy Gallito/El Gallo De Bodas: A Traditional Cuban Folktale // by Lucía M. González, illustrated by Lulu Delacre (1994) “Little Havana” in Miami is the setting for this charming, bilingual picture book in which a little rooster tries to get to his uncle’s wedding.

Bread and Jam for Frances // by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Lillian Hoban (1964)
While the same old same old can be so inviting, trying something new can sometimes be even better!

--Bridge to Terabithia // by Katherine Paterson (1977) Two outsiders create their own fantasy world and in doing so forge a friendship that survives even grief. [saw movie]

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? // by Bill Martin, Jr., illustrated by Eric Carle (1967) A gentle rhyming delight in a storytime classic.

Bud, Not Buddy // by Christopher Paul Curtis (Sep 14, 2004)


Caps for Sale // by Esphyr Slobodkina (1938) Naughty monkeys prove a challenge for an innocent cap seller.

--The Cat in the Hat // by Dr. Seuss (1957) An unexpected guest turns a rainy day into a heart-pounding adventure.

Chains // by Laurie Halse Anderson (2008) Sold into slavery to a Tory family in New York City, Isabel schemes to free herself and her little sister while spying for the rebels.

A Chair For My Mother // by Vera B. Williams (1982) Glowing colors add cheer to this story of the wonderful day when there is finally enough money to buy Mama a new chair.

--Charlotte’s Web // by E.B. White, illustrated by Garth Williams (1952) A story of true friendship between Wilbur the pig and Charlotte A. Cavatica, his spider savior.

Chato’s Kitchen // by Gary Soto, illustrated by Susan Guevara (1995) Chato has the munchies for some mousies, though the clever mousies have other plans.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom // by Bill Martin, Jr., and John Archambault; illustrated by Lois Ehlert (1989) The letters of the alphabet climb a coconut tree with riotous results. A rollicking introduction to the ABC’s.

The Composition // by Antonio Skarmeta and Alfonso Ruano [2003]

Corduroy // by Don Freeman (1976) A little stuffed bear searches in vain for the button that will help to get him adopted.

Counting Kisses // by Karen Katz

--Curious George // by H.A. Rey (1941) One cheeky monkey plus one man in a yellow hat equals a whole lot of trouble.


D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths // by Ingri D’Aulaire and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire (1962)

Dear Juno // by Soyung Pak and Susan Kathleen Hartung

--Diary of a Wimpy Kid [saw movie]

Diary of a Worm // by Doreen Cronin and Harry Bliss

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! // by Mo Willems (2003) He’ll try to talk you into it, but whatever you do don’t give in to this snarky city fowl’s demands.

The Dot // by Peter H. Reynolds (Sep 15, 2003)


An Egg Is Quiet // by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long

Esperanza Rising // by Pam Muñoz Ryan (2000) Esperanza and her mother flee their privileged lives in Mexico and find refuge in the migrant camps of Southern California during the Great Depression.


Freight Train // by Donald Crews (1978) A train ride to remember with bold colors galore!

--Frog and Toad Are Friends // by Arnold Lobel (1970) Toad’s a worrier and Frog’s laid back, but no matter what their differences, these two friends are there for one another.

--From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler // by E.L. Konigsburg (1967)
Claudia chooses the Metropolitan Museum in New York City as the elegant hiding place for herself and her little brother when they run away from home.


George and Martha // by James Marshall (1972) A pair of hippopotami navigate the highs and lows of a perfect friendship.

--The Giver // by Lois Lowry (1993) At the Ceremony of the Twelves, Jonas begins to learn the horrifying truth about the perfect society he has grown up in. [saw movie]

The Giving Tree // by Shel Silverstein (1964)

--Go, Dog. Go! // by P.D. Eastman (1961) A strange little Zen easy reader with a madcap energy entirely of its own.

Good Night, Gorilla // by Peggy Rathmann [1996]

--Goodnight Moon // by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd (1947)
A beloved bedtime classic, both lovely and soothing.

Grandfather’s Journey // by Allen Say (1993) A young man struggles with both loving his new land and feeling homesick for the Japan he left behind.

The Graveyard Book // by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Dave McKean (2008)
Brought up by the Dead, Bod is hunted by an assassin, befriends a murdered witch, and prepares himself for life beyond the burying ground.

--Green Eggs and Ham // by Dr. Seuss (1960) Methinks Sam’s friend doth protest too much.

Grumpy Bird // by Jeremy Tankard


Harold and the Purple Crayon // by Crockett Johnson (1955) With crayon firmly in hand Harold creates whole worlds for himself and his readers.

Harriet the Spy // by Louise Fitzhugh (1964) Shocking in its honesty, Harriet spies on friends and strangers alike until her secret observations get her in trouble.

--Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone // by J.K. Rowling (1998) A down-trodden orphan is summoned to an elite academy of wizards to fulfill his destiny.

Harvesting Hope, the story of Cesar Chavez // by Kathleen Krull and Yuyi Morales

Hatchet // by Gary Paulsen (1989) When his plane crashes in the Canadian wilderness, Brian and his single hatchet must survive the wild elements alone.

Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes // by Annie Kubler

Hi! Fly Guy // by Tedd Arnold

--The Hobbit // by J.R.R. Tolkien (1937) A rich imaginative tale of dragons, dwarves and the ageless search for gold. Rooted in authentic Saxon lore, but written and illustrated with humor and charm.

Holes // by Louis Sachar (1998) Why does Stanley’s juvenile detention center in the Texas desert require each boy to dig a 5-foot hole every day? An inventive narrative puzzle filled with twists and turns.

--The House at Pooh Corner // by A. A. Milne and Ernest H. Shepard

--The Hunger Games // Suzanne Collins. [2008] [saw movie]


Interrupting Chicken // by David Ezra Stein

--The Invention of Hugo Cabret // by Brian Selznick (2007) In this epic tale set in a Paris train station, a young boy finds unexpected allies as he reconstructs his father’s mysterious machine. [saw movie "Hugo"]

Ivy + Bean // by Annie Barrows and Sophie Blackall


Joseph Had a Little Overcoat // by Simms Taback (1999) From coat to button, not a single stitch is wasted.

--Jumanji // by Chris Van Allsburg (1981) One afternoon Judy and Peter play a jungle game and find it becoming all too real. [saw movie]

Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book // by Yuyi Morales (2003)
Grandma Beetle’s so smart she could outwit death itself, and that’s just what she has to do when Senor Calavera comes to call.


Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale // by Mo Willems (Jul 12, 2004)


--The Lightning Thief: (Percy Jackson..., Book 1) // by Rick Riordan [saw movie]

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse // by Kevin Henkes (1996) The beloved mouse adores her teacher until the terrible day when he confiscates her wonderful new fashion accessories.

Lincoln: a Photo-biography // by Russell Freedman

The Lion and the Mouse // by Jerry Pinkney (2009) The Serengeti has never looked more majestic than in this nearly wordless fable illustrated with exquisite watercolors.

--The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe // by C.S. Lewis (1950) The old theme of good against evil is restated in a tale that creates its own world of magic.

The Little Engine That Could [Easy-to-Read] // by Watty Piper (Sep 26, 1986)

The Little House // by Virginia Lee Burton (1942) A heartwarming story of surviving change and finding just the right place for you.

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, & the Big Hungry Bear // by Don Wood & Audrey Wood [1998

--The Little Prince // by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1943) An allegorical tale of a stranded pilot and a boy from beyond the stars. “One sees clearly only with the heart.”

Living Sunlight // by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm

Llama Llama Red Pajama // by Anna Dewdney

Locomotion // by Jacqueline Woodson (2003) When his teacher introduces him to poetry, 11-year-old Lonnie Collins Motion finds a new way to talk about his friends, his family, and even his crabby foster mother. A verse novel for the ages.

Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story From China // by Ed Young (1989)
Three sisters match wits with a wily wolf.


--Madeline // by Ludwig Bemelmans (1939) Sometimes when you’re the smallest you also have to be the bravest.

The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks // by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen

--Make Way for Ducklings // by Robert McCloskey (1941) Mother duck has to keep her babies, Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack in line. And it’s certainly nice to have a friend in your corner when trying to cross a busy Boston street.

Martin’s Big Words // by Doreen Rappaport and Bryan Collier

Matilda // by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake (1988) She may have the worst parents in the world and a truly terrifying headmistress, but thanks to her loving teacher Miss Honey, Matilda finds ways to outsmart all the villains in her life.

The Maze of Bones // by Rick Riordan

Meet Danitra Brown // by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Floyd Cooper (1994) “…the most splendiferous girl in town.” Two friends bring out the best in each other in thirteen high-spirited rhymes.

Millions of Cats // by Wanda Gág (1928) When an old man sets off to find a cute little kitty, he ends up with millions of cats, billions of cats, millions and billions and trillions of cats.

Miss Nelson is Missing! // by Harry Allard, illustrated by James Marshall (1977)
The truly terrible children of Room 207 are about to meet their match in the odious Miss Viola Swamp!

--Mr. Popper's Penguins // by Richard and Florence Atwater; illustrated by Robert Lawson (1938) Take one ordinary house painter, add in some kooky penguins, and watch as the results get a little crazy!

The Mitten by Jan Brett (Oct 4, 1996)

Moo, Baa, La La La! // by Sandra Boynton [1982

--Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH // by Robert C. O’Brien (1971) A group of tech savvy rats come to the rescue of a widowed mouse and her children.
[saw movie]

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale // by John Steptoe (1987) A kind sister and a selfish sister vie for the love of a king in a story inspired by a tale from Zimbabwe.

My Father’s Dragon // by Ruth Stiles Gannett, illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett (1948) Elmer Elevator tries to rescue a baby dragon in distress from an island full of dangerous animals. A great read-aloud filled with adventure.

My Name is Yoon // by Helen Recorvits, illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska (2003)
Desperately embarrassed by her name a little girl from Korea comes to understand that even in English her name is still “shining wisdom”.

My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother // by Patricia Polacco (1998)


No No Yes Yes // by Leslie Patricelli

Not a Box // by Antoinette Portis [2006]


Olivia // by Ian Falconer (2000) An amusing portrait of a precocious little pig with artistic sensibilities and a flair for fashion.

One Crazy Summer // by Rita Williams-Garcia (2010) Three sisters are shipped off to California to stay with their estranged and distant mother at the height of the Black Panther movement.

Owl Moon // by Jane Yolen and John Schoenherr


Pat the Bunny (Touch and Feel Book) // by Dorothy Kunhardt (May 1, 2001)

Peek-a Who? // by Nina Laden

The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales // by Virginia Hamilton, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon (1985) In this mystical tale, slaves brought to America find the power to fly away to freedom in a timeless tale of hope.

--The Phantom Tollbooth // by Norton Juster, illustrated by Jules Feiffer (1961)
Complaining of boredom, Milo travels through a tollbooth to a ridiculous land where Rhyme and Reason are lost.

Pierre: A Cautionary Tale in Five Chapters and a Prologue // by Maurice Sendak (1962)
When a hungry lion asks you if you’d like to be his lunch, it’s probably unwise to answer “I don’t care”.

Pink and Say // by Patricia Polacco (1994) After a former slave saves the life of a white soldier on a Civil War battlefield they forge an all-too-brief friendship.

Pippi Longstocking // by Astrid Lindgren (1950) Outlandish fun is sure to follow the girl who lives on her own with a monkey, a horse, and a fortune in gold coins.


Ramona the Pest // by Beverly Cleary (1968) The year Ramona Quimby becomes a kindergarten dropout.

Rickshaw Girl // by Mitali Perkins, illustrated by Jamie Hogan (2007) Naima, a Bangladeshi child, uses her artistic talents to save her family’s livelihood. A tale of using your wits to escape hard times.

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry // by Mildred D. Taylor (1976) Segregation and bigotry are no match for Cassie Logan and her large loving family in Depression-era Mississippi.

Rules // by Cynthia Lord

--Rumpelstiltskin // by Paul O. Zelinsky (1986) Can you guess his name? Stunning paintings in the late medieval style take a classic fairy tale to new heights.

The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd (Jan 3, 2006)


Sarah, Plain and Tall // by Patricia MacLachlan

--The Secret Garden // by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A Sick Day for Amos McGee // by Philip Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead (2010)
Zoo animals fret when their beloved keeper catches a cold and doesn’t show up for work one day.

Smile! // by Raina Telgemeier

The Snowy Day // by Ezra Jack Keats (1962) A little boy explores the first city snow of the year from snow angels to a snowball tucked away safely into his pocket.

Starry River of the Sky // by Grace Lin (2012) Rendi, a sullen young runaway stranded in a remote Chinese village, discovers secrets, stories, and the location of the missing moon.

The Stories Julian Tells // by Ann Cameron, illustrated by Ann Strugnell (1981)
Five humorous stories about mischievous Julian, his little brother Huey, and his warm and caring family.

--The Story of Ferdinand // by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson (1936)
Bulls are supposed to snort and kick and fight but Ferdinand has other ideas.

Strega Nona // by Tomie dePaola (1975) Big Anthony gets into big trouble with a magic pasta pot.

Swimmy // by Leo Lionni (1963) A brave little fish learns to survive his ocean home by using his brains instead of his size.

--Sylvester and the Magic Pebble // by William Steig (1969) Sometimes wishes come true . . . even the bad ones.

Sylvia Long's Mother Goose // by Sylvia Long


Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing // by Judy Blume (1972) Peter must survive the antics of his little brother Fudge in this hilarious tale set in New York City.

--The Tales of Uncle Remus: The Adventures of Brer Rabbit // by Julius Lester, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney (1987) The beloved trickster tales from black tradition skillfully retold in vivid contemporary language.

Tar Beach // by Faith Ringgold (1991) Cassie has a wondrous dream of swooping through the city from a Harlem rooftop on a starry night.

Tea With Milk // by Allen Say

Team Moon // by Catherine Thimmesh

Ten, Nine, Eight // by Molly Bang (1983) A father gently counts his daughter to sleep. Tender.

Through My Eyes // by Ruby Bridges

Tomie dePaola’s Mother Goose // by Tomie dePaola (1985) Classic nursery rhymes, both familiar and unknown, are deftly mixed together by this picture book master.

--The True Story of the Three Little Pigs // by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith (1989) All he was doing was trying to borrow some sugar. Alexander T. Wolf tells his side of the story.

--Tuck Everlasting // Natalie Babbitt

Tuesday // by David Wiesner (1991) While the town sleeps, an eerie flotilla of frogs flies through on lily pads.


--The Very Hungry Caterpillar // by Eric Carle (1969) It’s a counting book, a days of the week story, a tale of colors, a die-cut wonder, and a memorable read-aloud rolled up in 1!


The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 // by Christopher Paul Curtis (1995)
A road trip to grandma’s for ten-year-old Kenny and his “weird” family is filled with humor until it is marked by the tragedy of a church bombing.

The Westing Game // by Ellen Raskin (1978) Multimillionaire Samuel Westing reaches from the grave to make his heirs compete in a game of his own devising.

What Do People Do All Day? // by Richard Scarry [1968]

What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? // by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

When Marian Sang // by Pam Munoz Ryan & Brian Selznick (2002)

When You Reach Me // by Rebecca Stead (2009) Miranda grows increasingly alarmed as she finds mysterious notes tucked into her personal belongings that foretell a coming death. Not all is as it appears to be in this intriguing New York City tale.

Where Is the Green Sheep? // by Mem Fox, illustrated by Judy Horacek (2004)
Woolly kooks go amuck in this seemingly simple story.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon // by Grace Lin (Apr 12, 2011)

Where the Sidewalk Ends // by Shel Silverstein (1974)

--Where the Wild Things Are // by Maurice Sendak (1963) Sometimes when you’re having a bad day you need to go to a place where you can be a monster. [saw the movie]

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears // by Verna Aardema, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon (1975) The trouble began when mosquito told lies so big that iguana put sticks in his ears to block out the sound. A stunning West African folktale.

--The Wind in the Willows // by Kenneth Grahame

--Winnie-the-Pooh // by A.A. Milne, illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard (1926)
There is nothing like having a group of friends who are always there for you. Lovable quirks and all.

--A Wrinkle in Time // by Madeleine L’Engle (1962) 3 children cross time and space


Yoko // by Rosemary Wells


Zen Shorts // by Jon J. Muth and Jon J. Muth [2005]

Hundred greatest books for kids
Scholastic books

--8 The Diary of a Young Girl

92 What Shall We Do With the Boo Hoo Baby?
93 We the Kids
94 I Took the Moon for a Walk
95 A Single Shard
96 Gossie
97 The Adventures of Captain Underpants
98 First Words
99 Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices
100 Animalia

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