The best children's books for all ages

Looking for a good story? The best kids' books are ready to send little readers on an incredible journey!
Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock
By Elizabeth Bird, Allie Early, Hannah Doolin, Time Out Kids contributors and Danielle Valente |

Want to raise a little bibliophile? We’ve got you covered. Our roundup of the best children's books is a great way to introduce your youngsters to the literary scene. They’re guaranteed to fall in love with a variety of characters, series and authors.

Your mini bookworm will also be exposed to fun genres—poetry with Shel Silverstein, mystery with the likes of Nancy Drew and of course, classics such as Anne of Green Gables. No matter what children’s books they opt for, they’ll definitely look forward to starting a new chapter each day.

Grab those bookmarks (or e-readers). It’s time for TBR lists everywhere to grow!

After your crew has tackled all of the best kids' books on our list, send them to the best kids’ libraries in NYC to browse the aisles, scope out the best storytimes for kids in NYC and gear up for vacation with one of these summer reading programs.


Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

A big move to New Jersey throws ‘tween Margaret Simon for a loop. Losing all her friends back home and starting a new school is almost too much to bear. With no one to talk to at such a confusing age, Margaret chooses God to be her friend and all around go-to for advice, requests and funny observations, in this humorous and heartwarming coming of age story. Ages 9–12.


Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

The Cuthberts intended to adopt a boy to help with matters on the farm. What they got, however, was a rambunctious red-headed girl named Anne Shirley, who has become one of the most irresistible protagonists in children’s lit. Ages 8–12.

Photograph: Courtesy

Frindle by Andrew Clements

Nick Allen is a walking thesaurus. The ingenious young boy came up with the brilliant idea to call a pen a frindle, and when things catch on in the school hallways—and even his town—a bit of chaos ensues. Ages 8–12.

Photograph: Courtesy

Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz

These frighteningly delightful tales are as irresistible on Fourth of July as they are on Halloween. Any little horror aficionado will delight in the creepy illustrations and stories that guarantee to turn dreams to nightmares. Anyone will certainly think twice before entering that graveyard on a dare after skimming through this fan-favorite. Ages 8 and up.


Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin

Looks like humans aren’t the only creatures who appreciate extra guac on Taco Tuesday. As much as dragons love the Mexican staple, with every taco comes a hint of salsa...and a whole lot of trouble for the mythical animals. Ages 3–7.

Photograph: Courtesy

Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene

Readers everywhere have been captivated by the adventurous (and at times frightening) mysteries that teen super sleuth Nancy Drew has gotten herself into. Kick off the whole series with the first title in the collection, The Secret of the Old Clock. Ages 8–12.


Hardy Boys series by Franklin W. Dixon

Nancy Drew’s male counterparts, the Hardy Boys, kick off their mystery-solving stories with The Tower Treasure, which follows the story of the young fellas who have to find a dying criminal’s stash of goods and clear the name of their friend’s father in the process. Ages 8–12.

Photograph: Courtesy

My New York by Kathy Jakobsen

You didn’t think we’d leave out a story about our favorite city, did you? This beautifully illustrated tale explores the most iconic NYC sites through the eyes of a little girl who is writing to her friend in the Midwest about all of the fun that awaits them in the Big Apple. Ages 4–8.

Photograph: Courtesy

Miss Nelson Is Missing by Harry G. Allard Jr.

The poorly-behaved students in room 207 don’t know how lucky they have it with Miss Nelson until the wretched Miss Viola Swamp steps in to take her place. $7, Ages 4–7.

Photograph: Courtesy

The Giver by Lois Lowry

How would it feel to live in a world without emotions? It wouldn’t. When a young boy is tasked with the title of the Receiver of Memory, he begins to understand the complex problem of living in a community that must conform. Ages 12 and up.


Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Did you know that Maurice Sendak, Caldecott Medal-winning author of Where the Wild Things Are, illustrated more than 50 books for other authors before writing his own? The picture book—which only contains around 300 words—dives deeply into a child’s imagination after he is punished for bad behavior. Ages 3–6.


The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The idea of writing a book for kids that manages to cover colors, counting, days of the week, healthy eating and the process of metamorphosis sounds impossible. All the more reason to admire what might well be the world's most perfect picture book. As Carle himself once said of his work, it's a book of hope for any child who feels small and helpless and wonders if they'll ever grow up. In other words, it's for the future butterflies of the world. Good thing Carle's editor convinced him to make the book about a caterpillar instead of Carle's original Willie Worm. Ages 6 months–3 years.


Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Fall down the rabbit hole with Lewis Carroll’s spectacularly imaginative children’s book about a very, very curious young girl. The little ones will adventure through a topsy-turvy world, complete with a white rabbit, a Cheshire cat and a vengeful Queen of Hearts. Adults will love it too—there’s plenty of mind-bending philosophy to keep parents on their toes. All ages.


The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss

Perhaps Seuss’ most classic tongue-twisty adventure, The Cat in the Hat offers pages upon pages of eye-catching illustrations and fun-to-read rhymes. Much to the dismay of a practical pet fish, Cat in the Hat shows up at the house while Sally (and her brother)’s parents aren’t home and—with the help of Thing One and Thing Two—totally trashes the place. What happens next? You’ll need to read on to find out. Ages 3–6.



Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

The No. 1 sleepytime rhyme award goes to Brown, who created the rare book that can be read a hundred times over without ever becoming tiresome. Amazingly, the quintessential bedtime story wasn't a hit in its day (1947), but the sheer levels of comfort it offers have made it a go-to book for generations of families. Ages 6 months–3 years.


Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

"Where's Papa going with that axe?" The world's greatest first line accompanies the animal tale, recounted with a child's wisdom, that kids remember and love long after they've put it down. Even if a young reader's closest association with a pig consists of pork chops at dinner, all kids can identify with Fern and Wilbur—and when they grow up and have children of their own they'll find themselves identifying with Charlotte. Ages 8–12.


The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

On Christmas Eve in the middle of the night, a train magically appears outside a little boy’s home, and it’s headed to the North Pole. What adventure is in store? Who will meet Santa and receive the first gift of Christmas? This book is easy to fall in love with, and the masses agree: After its release in 1985, The Polar Express soon became a Caldecott Medal–winner (and a Christmas classic). Ages 4–7.


The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

Warning: This book will make your children forever obsessed with the lives of the world’s littlest creatures—even the ones that destroy your garden. Now more than a century old, The Tale of Peter Rabbit details the life of some very naughty bunnies—and the farmer that hopes to rid his property of them for good. Ages 3–6.


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. Ages 8–12.


The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

It may always be winter and never Christmas in this magical land, but Narnia's lure has always enthralled young readers. When four kids stumble into a new world, the evil White Witch who rules there has no idea what she's in for. Ages 8–12.


Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

This cool collection of 130 children’s poems is sure to get little ones giggling (just try reading “Me Stew” or “Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me Too”). Where the Sidewalk Ends is also a great book for beginner readers to tackle tongue-twisters. Ages 6–8.


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

Even the 2000s kids who said, “I don’t like reading!” (for the most part) were charmed into becoming bookworms by this particular story, which went on to rank as one of the top five bestselling books of all time. Secrets, magic, a young underdog kicking butt...what’s not to love? Ages 8–12.


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. Ages 3–6.


The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

If you've got a kid who seems to have read everything in her path, then hand her a universe where each person's soul is an animal companion and where heroine Lyra searches relentlessly for her kidnapped friend. Ages 8–12.


The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

The urban cityscape takes on a wintry luster when the iconic, red-snowsuit-donning Peter explores the bright white world of a new snowfall. Though it caused a stir in its day for featuring an African-American boy, Keats's classic has since become beloved the world over. Ages 6 months–3 years.


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. Ages 8–12.


If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff

Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond’s classic tale of a hungry little mouse is a must–read; When a hungry little guy shows up on your doorstep…what do you do? If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to want some milk…and a straw…and much, much more. Be sure to read other favorites in the series like If You Give a Moose a Muffin. Ages 4–8.


The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

Love is strong enough to make magic—it’s true! Waiting patiently for a chance to be played with after being given to “The Boy” at Christmastime, the little tattered velveteen rabbit finally gets his wish and more, when he becomes the boy’s favorite cherished toy. The unconditional love the two share gives them the strength to help each other through the roughest moments of their lives. Ages 4–8.


A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

If you thought dealing with braces was bad, wait until you encounter Meg’s problems. The youngster had to journey to a new planet to save her father—and the world—from evil lurking throughout. Luckily, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which are there to help. Ages 8 and up. 


Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

Even younger siblings will sympathize with Peter, the eternally put upon older brother to the irrepressible—not to mention voracious—Fudge. There are loads of great Judy Blume novels in the world but the travails and rewards of having a loving, flawed family have never been shown to better effect. Ages 8–12.


Doctor De Soto by William Steig

Like a modernized fable, this finely wrought story follows a mouse who outwits a hungry fox thanks to his foresight and mastery of dentistry. Steig may be better known as the author of Shrek but this simple tale is the one that will truly capture your child's heart. Ages 3–6.


Eloise by Kay Thompson

A pampered little girl who resides on the top floor of the Plaza Hotel invites young readers along on her adventures throughout the luxurious NYC establishment. She seeks out fun by sneaking into weddings on the premises, spying on the wealthy guests and pestering the maids as they made their rounds—all with her pug, Weenie, and turtle, Skipperdee, in tow. Ages 4 and up.


From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

Let's be honest. What New York City kid wouldn't want to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art if he had the chance? Two children not only live the dream but solve a mystery as well when they run away from home with a well thought-out plan. Ages 8–12.


The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne

Adorable tales about a chubby and often confused teddy bear, paired with Ernest H. Shepard’s sweet illustrations, make for a timeless collection of stories. Each chapter takes us on a new adventure, whether hunting for a Woozle with Piglet in the Hundred Acre Wood or celebrating Eeyore’s birthday with the rest of the crew. Ages 4 and up.


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). Ages 8–12.


Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.

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. Ages 6 months–3 years.


Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems

Journey alongside little Park Sloper Trixie as she and her pop take a trip to the local laundromat. The only issue? She leaves her stuffed bunny behind—understandably a huge (yet hilarious) problem her father needs to fix. Ages 3–6.


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. Ages 8–12.


A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein

Great poet or the world's greatest children's poet? Either way Silverstein remains the very best way to get kids interested in poetry—and magically have them memorizing it as well. Subversive in the safest sense, this book has never gone out of print for good reason. Ages 8–12.


The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer

When a little boy brings home a salamander from the woods, his mother asks, “Where will he sleep?” and “Where will he play?” Determined to make his room the ultimate salamander home, he imagines his room as a beautiful forest. Ages 3–7


Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

Everyone knows the tale of Sam–I-Am! And everyone also knows that he does not like green eggs and ham. Find out the places he will not eat it (or will he?) in Dr. Seuss’s whimsical book filled with excellent rhymes and quirky illustrations. Ages 3–7.


Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

From the moment he gets out of bed, 11-year-old Alexander meets one misfortune after the other, and finds no comfort from his family. As Judith Viorst takes us through Alexander’s bout of bad luck, Ray Cruz’s colorful and detailed illustrations help us understand why he’s vowed to move to Australia. Ages 2–4.


Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

There’s more magic in a purple crayon than one might think…and this little boy’s found it! The story follows Harold on a moonlit stroll where he’ll draw up an exciting landscape, drawing himself out of some sticky situations. Ages 4–8.


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. Ages 8–12.


James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

A peach is definitely not just a peach, at least not in this story, anyway. James Henry Trotter’s Mom and Dad are killed by a rhino and he’s sent to stay with his nasty aunts, where he embarks on a journey he’ll not soon forget. After dropping magical crystals near a dilapidated peach tree, a peach grows and grows, housing giant new friends and a gargantuan adventure. Ages 8–12.


My Father's Dragon by Ruth Gannett Stiles

The first installment of a series that's as spellbinding as it was when it was released in 1948 is the tale of Elmer Elevator, a boy determined to track down and save a baby dragon from a host of silly-scary, island-dwelling animals. Ages 6–9.


Olivia by Ian Falconer

Bound to please the aesthetics of parents and the wild imaginings of their kids, Olivia is a one-of-a-kind piggy. No doubt the book's elegant palette of black, red and white will be a welcome relief to those seeking something that isn't sparkly, pink or dipped in glitter. Ages 3–6.


The Mitten by Jan Brett

This beautiful tale, written and illustrated by Jan Brett, is bound to be a new wintertime favorite for your family. A young boy receives a pair of white mittens from his grandmother, but when he drops one in the snow, several woodland creatures use it to seek shelter from the cold! Youngsters will giggle at the vivid drawings of a mole, rabbit, hedgehog and more trying to squeeze into the cozy mitten together. Ages 4–8.


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

There’s no stopping our favorite inquisitive monkey. His curiosity has led to many adventures that has transcended across various generations. Ages 3–6.


Paddington by Michael Bond

A dapper young bear, dressed in a red hat and rain slicker, shows up in London’s bustling Paddington Station with no more than a suitcase full of marmalade. The Brown family takes him in, unprepared for the mischief that Paddington and their children, Jonathan and Judy, will get into together. Ages 4–8.


Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

Conceited Rainbow Fish is proud of his beautiful, shiny scales—and he’s very lonely indeed. Pfister’s colorful book shows the importance of sharing to find friendship and happiness. Ages 2 and up.


Matilda by Roald Dahl

Matilda needs to introduction. One of Roald Dahl’s most popular characters, the young girl reads stories well beyond her years, but sadly must endure wacky educators and less-than-stellar parents. Of course, we can’t help but fall in love with her magical abilities—and her concentration when tackling a new book. Ages 8-12.


Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

Growing up is a difficult part of life, but if you had the chance to stay young forever, would you? When 10-year-old Winnie Foster meets the peculiar Tuck family deep in the woods near her home, they share the secret of a magical fountain with her—one that would allow her to freeze her childhood eternally. Ages 9– 12.


Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats

Oh how Peter wishes he could whistle for his dog! He tries and tries but nothing comes out, in this beautifully illustrated story by The Snowy Day author Ezra Jack Keats. But there’s no giving up for this little boy, and when he finally does manage to produce a whistle, Willie indeed comes running. Ages 1–4.


The Quiltmaker's Gift by Jeff Brumbeau

Money can’t always buy happiness, and a talented quiltmaker can’t be bought. Even a wealthy greedy King can’t move this virtuous quiltmaker, who would rather be banished than to indulge the selfish patriarch. That is, until they make a deal that helps him see the true meaning of kindness and wealth. Ages 4–8.


Wonder by R.J. Palacio

A ten-year-old boy with a constellation of facial deformities struggles to navigate school for the first time. He braves comments from bullies about his appearance, but makes some true friends who defend him against the hurtful whispers. This novel is a wonderful way to teach kids that “when given a choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.” Ages 8–12.


Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco

Celebrated author and illustrator, Patricia Polacco, tells the story of her personal struggle with dyslexia and the teacher who gave her the courage to persevere. Any kids who have been frustrated with learning hurdles will love reading about fifth-grader Trisha and patient Mr. Falker, who helps her to work through the frustrations of her disability. Ages 5 to 8.


The Story of Babar: The Little Elephant by Jean De Brunhoff

Translated from Jean de Brunhoff’s French original, Babar delights readers big and small. After his mother is killed by a hunter, Babar runs away from the wild—in the process, he meets a very sweet old lady. With her help, he returns to the forest (and picks up a royal title)! Ages 4–8.


Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman

Little Heather’s favorite number is two. She has two elbows, two pets…she even has two mommies! When she goes to school for the first time, she learns that all families are different, and that it doesn’t matter who makes up a family—it matters that the people in it love one another. Ages 4–8.


Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish

Well-intentioned maid, Amelia Bedelia, always puts her best effort forward to please the Rogers family, but just can’t seem to get it right. She often misunderstands instructions (or takes them too literally) leading to silly mistakes like “dressing” the chicken—in overalls and socks. The original title has been followed by over 40 books, which are still being printed. Ages 4–8.


Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

There is no surefire method to teach kids about the Holocaust but Lowry's gentle story of bravery and heroism resonates with readers everywhere for its candor and sensitivity. Be sure to keep an eye out for the Little Red Riding Hood references throughout. Ages 8–12. 


The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Follow the adventures of Rat, Mole, Toad and Badger across the English countryside as they swim, feast and adventure in this children’s classic. Ages 6 and up.


The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch

Stories where the insipid princess and her no-name prince ride off into the sunset can get old quickly. In this Munsch classic, a princess rescues the prince for a change and then with a sudden flourish of girl power, decides she has better things to do than marry an egotistic dweeb. Ages 3–6.


Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman

Talk about separation anxiety: This baby bird loses his mother from the moment he's hatched. Yet his search for his primary caregiver never feels scary. Often mistaken for a Dr. Seuss book, Eastman's classic taps into an emotion all kids can understand. Ages 3–6.


The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Katniss Everdeen’s dystopian YA has captured the attention of kids—and adults—across the country with its fight-to-the-death games broadcasted on live TV. The trilogy is just as addicting on the page and screen. Ages 12 and up.


Chocolate Me! by Taye Diggs and Shane W. Evans

This bright picture book is a unique tool, great for helping comfort kids who feel self-conscious about looking different than their peers. A young boy is made fun of for the color of his skin, but an important lesson from his mother makes him realize that his differences are what make him special. Ages 4–8.


Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe

A princess story with an African setting, this fabulous fairy tale about two beautiful sisters who vie for the hand of their ruler punishes the greedy and rewards the good. As an added bonus, the king is himself a delightful character. Ages 3–6.


Stellaluna by Janell Cannon

When a baby fruit bat is separated from her mother during an owl attack, she finds herself in a bird’s nest alongside feathered youngsters Pop, Flitter and Flap. As Stellaluna tries to coexist with the birds, she’ll discover all the ways she’s different, while readers learn about the interesting characteristics that have. Ages 4–8.


Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes

Lilly is definitely the teacher’s pet. However, things go awry during a show-and-tell session where she presents the class with goodies inside her purple plastic purse. What happens after Lilly gets her beloved purse taken away? Ages 3–6.


Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik

The perfect easy reader is difficult to define, but Minarik's adorable baby bear comes awfully close. The extra treat of Maurice Sendak's art (pre–Where the Wild Things Are) shows that he could be a master of cute when he wanted to be. Ages 3–6.


Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina

Hats plus monkeys equals hilarity. One of the all-time great read-alouds, the story of a man who loses his caps thanks to some light-fingered simians is sure to earn giggles from your listeners. Ages 6 months–3 years.


Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

Based on the true story of The Lost Woman of San Nicolas, Scott O’Dell’s first children’s book tells the tale of a young woman who lives on the Island of Ghalas-at with her tribe. After an encounter with a ship of strange visitors, her life will change forever. Ages 7–10.


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. Ages 6–9.


Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Williams

In NYC, we’ve seen all types of oddities on public transportation, but a pigeon dying to get behind the wheel of a bus would definitely be shocking. Swipe your Metrocard for this adorably hilarious tale. Even better? Toddlers can choose their own adventure with this tale. Ages 3–5.


Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola

All Italian grandmas love whipping up a bowl of pasta, but Strega Nona is different. This magical little old lady has the ability to cure people in town with her powers. As magical as she is, there’s certainly a problem when her help, Big Anthony, eats all the goods. Ages 4–8.


Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Rather than a rags-to-riches story, this riches-to-rags tale follows a rich Mexican landowner's daughter who loses everything and must start over again in America. Set during the Great Depression, it's a book of hope that's ideal for kids with a penchant for realism. Ages 8–12.


The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper

The virtues of this classic children’s tale live on, more than 80 years after it was first published. When a winding train needs help making its way over a high mountain, it tries enlisting help from large engines nearby. The only one willing to help is very small, but with a bit of effort and lots of conviction, it might be able to get the job done. Ages 3–5.


Corduroy by Don Freeman

Don Freeman’s lovable story of Corduroy the teddy bear was rejected several times before being published in 1968—and it’s since becomes on of the top picture books of all time! The stuffed animal ventures out into the department store at nighttime in search of the missing button for his overalls. Can he find it and fix himself up so that a child will take him home? Ages 3–8.


Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt

This cute touch-and-feel book is one that almost everyone remembers from their childhood (it was first published in 1940!), and it continues to please little ones today. Tots get hands-on with each turn of the page as they feel the soft “fur” of a rabbit, look in a reflective “mirror” and more. Ages 1–3.


Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke

Set in modern-day Africa, Nigerian-born Atinuke's charming heroine navigates her ridiculously large extended family, keeps an eye on her twin brothers, Double and Trouble, and comes to understand how lucky she is in a book that deserves to become a classic. Ages 6–9.


Black Beauty by Anna Sewell 

In one of the most original and poignant animal stories of our time, Black Beauty recounts his life while living with myriad owners, some loving and gentle, others cruel and damaging—but all the while, the horse’s spirit and strength remain intact. Ages 9–12.


Old Yeller by Fred Gipson

Everyone’s favorite stray dog is introduced in this classic tale of danger, loyalty and love in the old wild west. Disheveled and worse for wear, Old Yeller stumbles into the life of Travis and his family, and he proves to be a lifelong pal who keeps them safe and shows them the true meaning of friendship along the way. Ages 8–12.


The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The Little Prince meets a stranded pilot in the desert and shares tales of his adventurous treks to all the planets in the galaxy, capturing the heart of everyone who reads this cherished translated telling. All Ages.


The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

What wouldn’t this tree do for this little boy? Nothing, that’s what? Shel Silverstein masterfully weaves a tale of unselfish love and unending sacrifice as, starting with apples and shade, a tree gladly gives more and more to a boy over the years, eventually giving all of itself. Ages 6–8.


Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney

As far as he can hop and up to the moon—that’s how much Little Nutbrown Hare loves his Papa. But Big Nutbrown Hare loves his boy even more. Just how much? The ways to express their love for one another is infinite, and the two go back and forth, comparing their mutual adoration to the beautiful world around them. Ages 2–5.


The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Getting kids interested in Greek mythology is easy—just read the first book in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series. The first of Rick Riordian’s popular adventure novels, The Lightning Thief introduces readers to the protagonist, a 12-year-old boy who constantly runs into trouble due to his unique and odd abilities. Turns out his family ties to Poseidon might have something to do with his behavior issues. Ages 10–14.


Love You Forever by Robert N. Munsch

This sweet, gentle tale of a mother’s love and the evolving relationship of a parent and child takes you through the years of a boy growing from a baby into a man while displaying the true power of a mother’s unconditional love, and the eventual role reversal that adulthood brings. Ages 2 and up.


Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss

Whimsical and wise, this colorful classic explores the ups and downs on the journey of life. In his clever, lighthearted rhyming fashion, Dr. Seuss presents the prickly times on the road ahead in a manageable light for young readers. Ages 5– 10.


Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley

As if by magic, this die-cut masterpiece hands kids the power to invoke a monster, then does away with him piece by piece until at last they can say with pride, "And don't come back until I say so." Ages 3–6.


The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth

In this classic tale for children, three important questions are answered: “What is the best time to do things?" "Who is the most important one?" "What is the right thing to do?” We all want to be the kindest people we can be, and with help from the wise old turtle Leo, Nikolai learns the answers to these essential questions. Ages 4–8.

The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith

This collection of stories turns the standard idea of “happily ever after” on its head. The thick book includes the tales of an Ugly Duckling who grows up to be a Really Ugly Duck, a princess who kisses an actual frog, and a squabble between Cinderella and Rumpelstiltskin. Ages 3–7.

Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss

The determined and loveable Horton the elephant has a big lesson to teach, and we all need to hear it! Through adventure and the silly word play that one can expect to enjoy in any Dr. Seuss book, a child will laugh their way into realizing that each of us matter, we all have something special to offer, and “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Ages 5–8.


Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

A kid living alone with no parents and one monkey? Sounds bizarre, but that’s just Pippi Longstocking. The girl full of pep and personality in the little house called Villa Villekulla hilariously dances with robbers, fights the strong man at the circus and gets into silly shenanigans all over town. Ages 9– 12.

Little Owl’s Night by Divya Srinivasan

Waking up from his daytime slumber, the little owl is excited about enjoying each night as he watches his friends Skunk, Frog, Cricket and Hedgehog go about their evening business. Little Owl wonders if the day is as magical as the night, but falls asleep before his mama can describe it. A great peek inside the beauty of the night, for little ones afraid of the dark. Ages 3–5.


Encyclopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobol

A children’s version of Sherlock Holmes, this series by Donald J. Sobol lets curious readers delve into the detective genre through young sleuth, Leroy Brown. Nicknamed Encyclopedia for his vast range of knowledge, he welcomes neighborhood kids to present their cases in his garage before setting out to solve the mystery. Ages 8–12.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Don't let the 533 pages fool you—it is mesmerizing (and fast!) from page one onward. Selznick's groundbreaking mix of text and images, about an orphan seeking a family and a forgotten filmmaker in his twilight years. Ages 8–12.


Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi

This straightforward book for little ones gets right down to the point—everybody poops! A perfect pick for kids struggling with potty training, this one’s for the parents. Ages 1 and up.

George and Martha by James Marshall

Nobody does wry hippos like Marshall. These easy books manage to pack big laughs with incredibly simple words and tell tales of true friendship along the way. Ages 3–6.


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. Ages 8 to 12.

Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino

Guessing is the name of the game in this classic feel-good story full of rhymes and tongue twists. With the help of a few loveable friends, Lloyd the baby llama is on a quest to figure out just which animal everyone’s mama is, including his own. Ages 4–8.

Photograph: Courtesy

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? By Eric Carle

Toddlers can’t help but love Eric Carle’s classic with pages of brightly-colored animals and lively text. No shelf is complete without this addition. Ages 2–5.

Photograph: Courtesy

The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowry

This popular little pup has made his way out from under the fence and into the hearts of kids for more than 70 years. The adventures of this inquisitive pooch will likely live on in children’s lit forever. Ages 2–3.

Photograph: Courtesy

The House With the Clock In Its Walls by John Bellairs

Lewis is tickled when he discovers that his uncle and uncle’s neighbor are witches. But when the youngster decides to dabble with magic for himself, things take a turn. He resurrects the spirit of Serenna Izard, who once owned his uncle’s home. Not too horrific right? Well, when Lewis realizes Serenna has a clock that can destroy mankind as we know it, suddenly magic turns into mayhem. Ages 8–12.

Photograph: Courtesy

Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar

If your kiddos thought their school was weird, they should check this out. Wacky things take place at this spot that soars 30 stories high, and the 13th floor is the most bizarre of them all. Ages 8–12.

Photograph: Courtesy

Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

Move over Batman, there’s a new vigilante in town. Who better to tackle the likes of Dr. Diaper and Professor Poopypants than this fearless protagonist? Ages 7–10.