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The 50 best books for kids

We've put together a top 50 list of best books for kids including The Cat in the Hat, Harry Potter and more.

11
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A wild mix of mystery and gothic underpinnings, this delightful story reads like a child-friendly version of Jane Eyre. It also happens to contain the most unlikable, spoiled protagonist you've ever met (at the beginning, anyway). HarperCollins. Ages 8 to 12.

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12
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

Spouting the truths grown-ups don't want to hear, Harriet has no equal even today. Her notebook and spy missions around New York City have inspired whole legions of girls—and boys—to become writers as well. Random House. Ages 8 to 12.

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13
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Golden tickets, Oompa Loompas, bratty children and even poverty collide in Dahl's best-known tale. If you've only ever seen the film, take time out to see what all the fuss is really about. Penguin. Ages 8 to 12.

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14
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

Before Eloise, before Fancy Nancy, even before Junie B. Jones, the true childhood heroine with spunk ah-plenty was dear sweet Madeline. The glory of old Paris and the pluck of a girl with a heart combine in the most endearing of ways. Penguin. Ages 3 to 6.

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15
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The idea of leaving your cozy home for adventure and possible death is beautifully conveyed in Tolkien's English classic. More kid-friendly than the later Lord of the Rings sequence, this tale of trolls, orcs, a smooth-talking dragon, hungry spiders, giant eagles and more balances literary excellence with good old-fashioned action. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Ages 8 to 12.

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16
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Boredom leads to high adventure when lackluster Milo rides a tiny car through a tollbooth and finds himself in a magical land. It pulls off the unusual feat of intertwining clever wordplay and mathematics into a single cohesive story. Random House. Ages 8 to 12.

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17
Curious George by H.A. Rey

The Complete Adventures of Curious George by H.A. and Margret Rey

Curiosity may have killed the cat but for this simian it's only led to some pretty wacky adventures. George is the perfect stand-in for any antsy three-year-old, which may account for why his popularity only continues to rise. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Ages 3 to 6.

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18
Holes by Louis Sachar

Holes by Louis Sachar

One of the rare books to win both a Newbery Medal and a National Book Award, the story follows Stanley Yelnats as he grapples with the curse that has followed his family for generations. The book with a mystery at its core is by turns funny, heartbreaking and deeply thoughtful. Macmillan. Ages 8 to 12.

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19
Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary

Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary

It's impossible not to identify with Cleary's deeply human heroine, an irrepressible newbie kindergartner who, despite her good intentions, always seems to be doing something wrong. HarperCollins. Ages 6 to 9.

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20
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr., illustrated by Lois Ehlert

The catchy rhythmic alphabetics in Martin's uniquely bubbly concoction make even the most stodgy adult reader sound good. The story of 26 little letters that climb to the top of a palm tree is a modern-day classic that will have your tots tapping their tiny toes. Simon & Schuster. Ages 6 months to 3 years.

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