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The best books for children from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s

You'll be unsurprised to learn that a certain boy wizard made our list. But read on and you'll also find some lesser-known gems that we're betting your kids will want to pass along to their own children one day.

Ages 3 and under | Ages 3 to 7 | Ages 7 to 10 | Ages 10 and up | More expert picks


We're Going on a Bear Hunt 
By Michael Rosen, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury (Margaret K. McElderry, 1989; board book, 1997)
A family—drawn in Oxenbury's trademark cheerful style—gamely sets out on an adventure and finds more than anyone bargained for. You'll love "squerching" your way through this one together.

"More More More," Said the Baby 
By Vera B. Williams (HarperCollins, 1990; board book, 1997)
A multiethnic trio of adult-child pairs, rendered in a rainbow of watercolors, scamper, coo and giggle. Subtitled "three love stories," this rhythmic, rhyming cuddle of a book begs to be read aloud ("your two little feet / good enough to eat").

From Head to Toe 
By Eric Carle (HarperCollins, 1997; board book, 1999)
The esteemed collagist playfully depicts animals and children arching their backs and wriggling their hips, inviting youngsters to do the same. Leonard Marcus calls this beginner's workout "a deceptively simple book about anatomy, nature, movement and make-believe."

No, David! 
By David Shannon (Blue Sky/Scholastic, 1998)
It's a concept every child can relate to: How many different ways can a parent say no? Yet no matter how badly a kid messes up, he'll always hear "I love you" in the end. Lest you think the book more sappy than sassy, fan Jon Scieszka calls the artwork "perfectly demented."

Bark, George 
By Jules Feiffer (HarperCollins, 1999)
Little kids love to meow like cats and moo like cows—and so, apparently, does puppy George, much to the chagrin of his exasperated mom. Pulitzer Prize--winning cartoonist Feiffer tells his story with endearingly expressive sketches and delivers a sure-to-provoke-discussion surprise ending.


Incredulous because we overlooked your faves? Don't get mad; set us straight! Email kids@timeoutny.com with your new classic picks. 

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