In the world of books, rabbits are our friends and dragons are real (and love tacos). Keep your kids imaginations active and their brains sharp by trying out some or all of the top 100 books we think your kids should read by the time they turn 12. From all-time classics to new additions, scroll down to see how many you’ve already read.
1. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Filled with riddles and common-sense nonsense that even we know-it-all adults can’t answer, Alice in Wonderland is a fantastic, laugh-out-loud read-along for both parents and children. The original story may leave you tongue tied for explanations, so follow up with the Disney version if you must. 8 and up.
2. How Droofus the Dragon Lost His Head by Bill Peet
A king is hunting a kindly dragon, but one little boy not only stands up to the king, he comes up with the most creative solution of all. Author Bill Peet worked for Walt Disney for nearly 30 years as an artist, which makes the story only half the treasure with any of his books. Ages 4-7.
3. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
Travel between universes and go on an adventure that digs into the meaning of family bonding and friendship. Note to sensitive bookworms: The plot can get dark and teems with unsavory characters. Ages 10 and up.
photo: Janet Lackey via flickr
4.The Ramona Quimby Books by Beverly Cleary
Short of simply writing “anything ever written by Beverly Cleary” we’re going to be choosy by adding her star novels featuring Ramona Quimby. Spend a few years hanging out with Ramona, Beezus, Howie and the other regulars on Klickitat Street. Ages 8-12.
5. Bears in the Night by Stan & Jan Berenstain
When one bear heads out into the night, all of his siblings must follow him out the window, down the tree, around the lake and beyond. Because of the repetition of scenes and words in this book, it belongs on every new reader’s shelf. Ages 4-6.
6. Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt
Written by mom Dorothy Kunhardt, this classic lets hands-on tots get interactive with fur, sandpaper, mirrors and more. There’s even an app version for the iPad and iPhone that comes with background music and sound effects. Ages 18 months and up.
7. The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles
This is a beautifully illustrated and well told true story of the six-year-old Ruby Bridges who, in 1960, was the first African-American to attend an all-white school. Children will relate to the emotions and courage throughout the story. It’s an excellent example of connecting kids to history in a way they won’t forget. Ages 5-9.
8. Pinkalicious by Victoria Kann
It’s your modern fairytale that could have inspired Katy Perry’s entire career. After reading about a girl who turns blushing-red from eating too many pink cupcakes, your princesses and princes will be happy to eat their greens. Filled with bright colors, humor and a surprise at the very end, Pinkalicious is a great energetic read for pink fiends. Ages 5-7.
9. Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise by Sean Taylor
Owl is hungry and, being the predator he is, has a plan to capture his prey. Unfortunately, the hunter gets outsmarted in spite of his very clever disguises. That is until pizza falls victim to his clever plan. Giggles guaranteed. Ages 3-7.
10. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
“Once there was a tree … and she loved a little boy.” It only takes one read for this story of unconditional love to stick with your munchkins forever. Read it before bedtime or have them tackle it on their own. Ages 5-7.
11. Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld
Fans of Toy Story and Cars are not going to get enough of this one. Complete with catchy rhymes for smooth read-aloud flow, old-fashioned illustrations and machines with personality, Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site will be sure to cement going to bed as something to look forward to. Ages 1-3 (and up).
12. Chameleon’s Colors by Chisato Tashiro
Chameleon wants to stop changing colors, but Lion, Hippo, Elephant and all the other animals of the jungle would love to change their stripes. But the chaos that ensues with these colorful coats, soon makes Chameleon very grateful with his own skin. Your tiny animals will love the bright colors and patterns, but may not like how the entire jungle chases Chameleon at the end. Ages 4-8.
13. I Love You Stinky Face by Lisa Mccourt and Cyd Moore
The funny title will catch your eye attention first, but the story of unconditional love will have the funny face-makers in your family doing their own version of “Aww” before they go to sleep. Snugglers with especially active imaginations will get a kick out of the language. Ages 3-7.
14. The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss and Crockett Johnson
Patience is a rare trait in our youngest ones, and where better to learn it from than the eloquently illustrated The Carrot Seed? Crockett Johnson’s illustrations evoke a calm atmosphere along with the book’s message about delayed gratification. Ages 4-8.
15. Llama, Llama, Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
Infectious rhymes make this book an ideal and memorial bedtime tale for your sleepers. On top of the amazing artwork and detailed facial expression of the baby llama, Llama, Llama, Red Pajama also teaches kids patience and reassurance that mom is not far away. Ages 2-5.
16. Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems
With Dad in charge, a trip to the laundromat is blissful fun until Trixie leaves her Knuffle Bunny behind. New Yorkers will especially love the black and white photos of Brooklyn, which are paired with colorful illustrations. Get your mini-me’s favorite toy ready, they’ll be asking for it after the last page. Ages 2-5.
17. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
There’s no sugar coating friendships and mean girls when it comes to Harriet the Spy. When Harriet’s friends find her notebook with all the truthful but awful things about them, Harriet has to find a way to mend her friendships. It’s a lengthy, but great beginner’s read into the world of novels. Age 9 and up.
photo: Tara Faul via flickr
18. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Odds are your kids are somewhat familiar with the movie (or maybe they’ve seen the broadway hit, Wicked) but many people have not read the book that started it all. Get to know your favorite cowardly/courageous lion, genius scarecrow and other beloved characters on a much more intimate level. Parents, this one makes a stellar bedtime story that will last for nights. And if you don’t want to see it end, there are actually 14 books total in the Oz series. Ages 8-12.
19.The Junie B. Jones Series by Barbara Par
If you’ve got a kid with sass (or were a kid with sass!) this is the series for you. Start with Junie B.’s adventures in Kindergarten and read along as she progresses through school dealing with all the typical issues, like a stupid, smelly schoolbus, friend jealousy, tooth loss and more. Ages 6-9.
20. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd
For cuddlers who are embarking on their first night alone, Goodnight Moon is start to what they’ll soon demand as “story time.” Everything (mostly) rhymes in this story as Bunny says goodnight to everything around him. Ages 2-6.
21. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Got a pre-teen who hates reading? Hand them Harry Potter. Praised for inspiring kids to read, the Harry Potter Series is an entire new world to explore. And thanks to Rowling’s penchant for being extremely detailed, things of the book have become real life—Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, anyone? Of course, read the books before watching the movies. Ages 11 and up.
22. Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
By popular children’s author Judy Blume (Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret), Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing is an entertaining read about Peter, a nine-year-old boy, who learns how to get along with his lil brother Fudge. Ages 9 and up.
23. Beatrix Potter: The Complete Tales by Beatrix Potter
With 23 books in the collection, kids will discover more than just Peter Rabbit as they read up on the adventures of all manner of woodland creatures in these early 20th century stories. Ages 3-7.
24. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Candy lovers who will get a sugar high from all the delectable descriptions in Roald Dahl’s arguably most famous work. When Charlie Bucket gets the most coveted golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, a tasty adventure that’ll stretch kids’ creativity like everlasting gum. Ages 8-12.
25. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Who knew a hole puncher was an inspiration to one of the most famous children’s books in the world? Kids will delight in reading (and counting) all the treats that the caterpillar noms through while learning about metamorphosis. Plus, there’s almost nothing as much fun as poking your finger through the holes of each food. Ages 2-6.
26. Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesa Cavallo
Don’t let the title fool you: this recent collection is appropriate for boys and girls, any time, day or night. Beautifully illustrated, the book contains the life snapshots of 100 heroic women, told in a voice that kids can relate to. Ages 4-101.
27. The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers
Henry loves books so much he literally eats them to a point where he gets a tummy ache. Jeffers uses snappy dialogue and illustrations so amazing and colorful we’d be tempted to take a bite out of his book too. Ages 3-8.
photo: Jennifer Roberts via flickr
28. Elephant & Piggie Series by Mo Williems
Pink and grey may become your sidekick’s favorite colors after getting through this early reader series by the kiddie scribe extraordinaire. The comic book style sets it apart from most children’s’ books, with Piggie’s speech in pink and Gerald’s (the elephant) in grey. Ages 3-5.
29. Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business by Esphyr Slobodkina
This humorous story of a peddler chasing after mischievous monkeys for his hats will have your teeny rascal holding their stomach in stitches. A twist on the saying, “Monkey see, monkey do,” Caps for Sale is a timeless read-aloud with repetitive sentences that invite listeners to join in. Ages 4-8.
30. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr and Eric Carle
Does your toddler have the makings of an Eye-Spy pro? Designed to help tykes associate colors and meaning to objects, Carle’s memorable illustrations along with Bill Martin Jr.’s sing-song text will really get their search gears kicking. Ages 2-5.
31. Diary of A Wimpy Kids Series by Jeff Kinney
Originally a web series that was brought to life by popular demand, Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a fictional middle schooler’s musings of his daily adventures. Just like a kid’s diary, the series’ books are filled with hand-written notes and simple drawings to go along with the text. Ages 8-12.
32. George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl
Watch out—your tinkerer’s hands will itch to play with mixing after reading Dahl’s magical and humorous plot. Just remember to tell your mixologists that George’s recipe isn’t real. Ages 7 and up.
33. Holes by Louis Sachar
Wrong place, wrong time, but nevertheless extremely lucky — Stanley Yelnats IV’s time in Camp Green Lake will have your campers swallowing the book whole. Ages 8-12.
34. The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood
This is a lovely recitation of the quiet things in life: “coloring in the lines quiet,” “right before you yell, ‘SURPRISE!’ quiet,” “bedtime kiss quiet.” The tone and gentle illustrations (featuring porcupines and teddy bears and other humorous animals) make it just right for settling down before sleep. Ages 3-8.
35. Curious George Stories by H. A. Rey and Margret Rey
Munchkins all over relate to Curious George’s inquisitive nature. Where does this go? What does this do? This brave and lovable monkey tackles his imagination while undoubtedly delighting your critters’ own mind. Ages 4-8.
36. Franklin the Turtle Series by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark
Join Franklin the Turtle on his Woodland adventures as he encounters everyday situations like going to school, having a bad day, getting lost and even asking for a pet. Your sport will admire the way Franklin navigates through his problems like a budding adult. Ages 6-7.
37. My Weird School (and Other Books) by Dan Gutman
Known for the Baseball Card Adventures, My Weird School, the Million Dollar series and countless others, Gutman writes readers that entice the most reluctant readers. Stories run from goofy, non-traditional, off the wall and just plain wacky, which will massively appeal to your cheeky ones. Ages 6-10.
photo: WCPL, Pa via flickr
38. Babar the Elephant by Jean de Brunhoff
Originally published in a French children’s book, Babar first made an English-language appearance in the early 1930s and has since become a memorable read for so many people. The stories follow the beloved pachyderm as he befriends a kind Old Lady; goes on a hot air balloon ride with his friend, Celeste; and engages his fellow elephants to build a magnificent city. Ages 4-8.
39. Captain Underpants Series by Dav Pilkey
Forget Superman—Captain Underpants is the hero of the day in Dav Pilkey’s hysterical comic series. Tricksters will engulf book after silly book of Captain Underpants versus crazy villain. Rumors of a Dreamworks movie in 2017 are on the horizon too. Ages 8-12.
40. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Published in 1908, take a trip back in time to the delights of Toad Hall and the Wild Wood where Rat, Mole, Badger and Toad undertake adventures along the river bank. Ages 4 and up.
41. I Am Rosa Parks (Ordinary People Change the World) by Brad Meltzer
You are never too young to learn about real-life heroes and Brad Meltzer’s “I Am” series proves it. I Am Rosa Parks shows kids how Rosa Parks dared to stand up for herself by staying seated and refusing to give up her seat. Not only will they learn about her courage and her role in helping to end bus segregation and fight for Civil Rights, they will be empowered with the idea that one person, one small act, can change the world. Illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos. Also in the collection are I Am Jackie Robinson, I Am Amelia Earhart and I Am Martin Luther King Jr. Ages 5-8.
42. The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone
Starring your cute, loveable, furry pal Grover, this picture book is a unique story where Grover asks the reader not to finish the story because there’s a “monster at the end.” The plot twist teaches your page turners the concept of completing a book from beginning to end. Age 3-7.
43. James and The Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
A magical peach takes James and six talking garden bugs on a wildly unforgettable journey from England to New York. The book is slightly frightening and keeps your bookworms on edge, but Dahl keeps the action tame. Just be prepared for a peachy request for the juicy fruit (or pop in the Disney film). Ages 8-12.
photo: Tower Hill Botanic Garden
44. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
With only 338 words and beautiful illustrations, Sendak’s chronicle of Max and the Wild Things will stick with your lil’ king long after they’ve grown out of their tantrums. Reign over curious monsters and find comfort in a bowl of soup with this classic story. Ages 4-8.
45. The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Despite not having a single clue what Turkish Delights were, our mouths watered for some right at the beginning of C.S. Lewis’ most famous work. Pick the The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (or start from the beginning of The Chronicles of Narnia with The Magician’s Nephew) for a truly epic tale of good versus evil. There’s magic, talking animals, complex characters and a huge battle at the end. Ages 8 and up.
46. There’s a Wocket in My Pocket by Dr. Seuss
Sometimes we all feel quite certain there’s a jertain in the curtain…this classic, wonderful, whimsical book of rhyme encourages young readers to get creative and silly with language. Ages 2-3.
47. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Mistakenly sent to a farm, imaginative and talkative Anne (that’s Anne with an E) navigates life as a girl in school and town while bringing vitality and adventure into her brand new home. This is the first of an eight-book series, so if you love this one keep on going! You won’t be disappointed. 7 and up.
photo: Wikmedia commons
48. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Enter the vibrant and mysterious world of The Secret Garden, where orphan Mary is sent to a lonely mansion in Yorkshire and learns about kindness and friendship. Age 8-11.
49. Box Car Children Series by Gertrude Chandler Warner
Independence drives the Alden children on adventures where their moral fiber and family bond is tested. You won’t find a set of siblings more admirable than the Aldens. Ages 7-10.
50. The Borrowers by Mary Norton
First published in 1952, this award-winning story of tiny people who live underneath the floor of an English country manor stands the test of time. For anyone who loves tiny things and DIY dollhouse furnishings, this book is full of nothing but ideas. Just don’t be surprised if your kids start to “borrow” certain items. Ages 7-10.
51. Stone Soup
This folk tale hails from many countries, but the core message of cooperation and kindness remain the same. Read this story while boiling away, it really does make a clever recipe. There are dozens of variations available. Ages 4-8.
52. The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith
These eccentric spoofs on the classic fairytales will make mom, dad and babe laugh together. A naughty narrator, clumsy characters and a smart-aleck tone makes this book perfect for any story time skeptic. Ages 3 and up.
53. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Explore a tranquil winter wonderland with Peter, an African-American boy who dons a rather iconic red suit. Keats’ illustrations have a humble and peaceful aura that makes us eager for winter. Ages 3-5.
54. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
This seven-year-old French girl will have your maestros claiming how much they love their bread, butter and most of all, each other. Madeline’s chic outfits and polite behavior will have you saying, “Oui,” whenever this story is pulled from the shelves. Age 3-8.
55. Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson
Read on in anticipation to see how these three baby owls react to their mother’s return from her night flight. Ages 3-7.
56. Skippyjon Jones Series by Judy Schachner
These rhymes and the adorable Skippyjon Jones will steal your kittens’ hearts with plenty of jokes and roll-off-the-tongue language. Ages 5-8.
57. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
There’s a statue in Boston Public Garden of McCloskey’s mother duck and her eight ducklings. Your fluffy waddler is going to want to visit the Boston park after seeing all the popular spots on paper. Ages 6-8.
58. Corduroy by Don Freeman
Everyone loves teddy bears, and there’s no furry friend more lovable than Corduroy. This small teddy bear in overalls, waiting to become someone’s best friend, is a classic story for all generations. Ages 3 and up.
59. A Series of Unfortunate Events Books by Lemony Snicket
A 13-book series not for the faint of heart: if fire, threats, nefarious plots or uncomfortable clothing throws you, this is not the collection for you. As the introduction warns you, “Proceed, but cautiously.” Ages 8-12.
60. Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
A recreation of an ancient Chinese folktale about the boy with the long name who fell down a well, this classic and beautifully illustrated book has enraptured generations of readers. Add your littles to the list. Ages 4-8.
61. Andersen’s Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen
If you want the real story of The Little Mermaid or The Princess and the Pea, this classic collection is a must for any bookshelf. Fair warning, these older versions of the stories may seem ominous compared to the modern re-tellings. Ages 6 and up.
62. Grimm’s Fairy Tales by The Brothers Grimm
Brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm traveled the countryside in the early 19th century gathering the stories of the people and then retold them into a volume of tales that have evolved into some of our most infamous stories including Rapunzel, Cinderella and Hansel and Gretel. Like the Andersen’s tales, these are the less “Disney-fied” versions of enduring fairy tales. Ages 6 and up.
63. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
Written using only a variety of 50 words, Green Eggs and Ham is a great pre-reading book that even we enjoy perusing through again and again. The most picky toddlers might even learn a thing or two about trying anything once. Ages 3-7.
64. The Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen and Kevin Hawkes
A lion in the library should cause chaos, but not in this case! This charming story teaches kids to follow the rules but also develop their own judgment on when it’s okay to break them. Ages 4-8.
65. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White and Garth Williams
Many of us can credit Charlotte’s Web for teaching us the words “humble,” “radiant” and “salutations.” Remember to prepare tissues for this story of love, friendship and community. Ages 8-11.
66. Who’s Driving? by Leo Timmers
Figure out who is driving what vehicle! Is it the rabbit, the snake, the pig or any of the other adorable animals that trot through the pages? Timmers’ book is a guessing game and story all in one. Ages 2-5.
67. Olivia the Pig Series by Ian Falconer
Featured on stamps, TV shows and even on an iPad app, Olivia the Pig is one of the most beloved characters of children’s stories. Olivia’s love for life will rub off on even the quietest of kids. Ages 3-5.
68. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
Also known as How Toys Become Real, Williams’ book is much like the story of Pinocchio, a toy who wants to become real. And this super-soft rabbit’s quest to become real will have your buddy hugging their toys to sleep all night long. Ages 4-8.
69. I Stink by Kate & Jim McMullan
It’s hard to pick just one of these books, told from the POV of the machine and detailing a night on the job. In I Stink we find a belching dual-op garbage truck. We’re also fans of I’m Dirty (backhoe), I’m Cool (a zamboni) and I’m Brave (fire truck). Get them all! We won’t stop you. 4 and up.
70. Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel
Sledding in winter to eating ice cream on hot summer days, Frog and Toad are best friends who go on leisurely adventures. These five poignant short stories are an ideal start for new readers. Ages 4-8.
71. Pippi Longstocking Series by Astrid Lindgren
With superhuman strength, Pippi Longstocking’s playful and unpredictable personality will capture your buccaneers’ attention from page to page. Get ready to hear giggles at Pippi’s oddball behavior echoing through your home. Ages 5-8.
72. The Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne
Ancient riddles, magic spells and journeys to the past of knights and dinosaurs—The Magic Tree House series is hailed as a great tool to jumpstart your kiddos into reading. Ages 6-8.
73. I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
Have you seen my hat? Gentle bear is on the lookout for his missing red cap, and guess where he finds it? This is one of those books that doesn’t require words on every page to tell the story and will leave your kiddos guessing and giggling. As fun to read for grown-ups as for littles. Don’t miss: This Is Not My Hat and We Found a Hat. Ages 4-8.
74. Press Here by Herve Tullet
A totally interactive book that asks readers to press dots, move the book around and all manner of things making each page a surprise. Watch as each page brings multiplying dots and more. It’s funny and clever. They’ll read it on repeat. Ages 2-6.
75. My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
This classic and Newbery honor book published first in the 1940, starring Elmer Elevator. Elmer packs his bag (with two dozen pink lollipops, rubber bands, chewing gum, and a fine-toothed comb) and heads out on a rescue mission to save a flying baby dragon. Ages 4-8.
76. The Encyclopedia Brown Series by Donald J. Sobol
Help Leroy Brown, Boy Detective, crack the cases his father (the chief of police) can’t solve. Each chapter includes a mystery with answers at the back, making it a great chance to problem solve, talk about observation and read again and again. There are 29 novels in all, published between 1963-2012. Ages 8-12
77. There’s a Nightmare in My Closet by Mercer Mayer Mercer Mayer is known mostly for his Little Critter books (and we can all relate to the Just Go to Bed!) but this picture book is special, funny and tenderly addresses nighttime fears. Ages 3-7
78. Goodnight Already by Jory John
Bear is so tired, he feels he could sleep for months. His neighbor Duck, on the other hand, has never felt so awake. Maybe he’ll just go see what Bear is up to. A hilarious all-dialogue story, great fun to read aloud and reminiscent of Elephant and Piggie. Ages 3-8.
79. Clementine by Sara Pennypacker
Clever, creative and not-so-common third-grader Clementine lives in an apartment building in the city with her artistic parents: she’s like a modern-day Ramona Quimby who tackles all the big issues: being sent to principal’s office, getting a new sibling, having a best friend who is opposite of her, and more. There are more books in the series too! Ages 7-10.
80. The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson
The unique look of this book, with its black-and-yellow scratchboard illustrations by Beth Krommes, are what will draw you to it first. The text, a cumulative poem beginning, “Here is the key to the house,” is simple and elegant and matches the pictures to a tee. Ages 1-6.
81. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi & Ron Barrett
What if all of your food actually just came from the sky? It rains maple syrup (you know you’re having pancakes) it snows mashed potatoes and you never know what the wind will blow in. But things aren’t always coming up ‘burgers in the Land of Chewandswallow. Ages 4-8.
82. Just Go to Bed by Mercer Meyer
The Little Critter books may not be trendy but there’s something about those scraggly, overall-clad characters that kids just adore. In this installment, our hero is cranky about having to go to bed, and trots out one creative, hopeful scenario after another to delay the inevitable. Patient Dad has a comeback for each one. Ages 1-5.
83. The Ivy and Bean Books by Annie Barrows
The adventures of two unlikely friends will have kids tackling issues and learning how being different from one another can be an asset. Especially when you are taking on things like newspaper publishing, global warming and summer camp. Ages 6-10.
84. The Mysterious Benedict Society books by Trenton Lee Stewart
For any fans of the A Series of Unfortunate Events, this excellent collection features genius orphans battling an evil villain. Older kids will love trying to solve the brainteasers and mysteries. Ages 10 and up.
85. The Cricket in Time Square by George Selden
This 1961 Newbery Honor Book was likely required reading for parents when they were kids. Share the story of these New York City dwellers with your kids: Tucker the Mouse, Chester Cricket, Tucker and Harry Cat, who meet in the subway and explore the city like no one else can. Ages 6-9.
86. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Got kids who complain about being bored? This is the story for them! When Milo opens up a mysterious box to reveal a tollbooth, he begrudgingly sets it up to play with it. Driving his toy car through the tollbooth he is transported to another world where he must solve riddles and use logic and creativity to help his fellow travelers. He’s anything but bored anymore! Ages 8-12.
87. The Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Starting with 4-year-old Laura in the Big Woods of Wisconsin and detailing life during the late 1800s as the Ingalls family moves from state to state, town to town by wagon. Sometimes living right out of their wagon, others in a fine little cabin, this Midwestern classic endures. Parents should know that the pioneer attitude toward Native Americans can be disturbing and should be discussed with kids. That being said, there is no greater collection for life on the prairie and a view of American history through a child’s eyes. Ages 8-12.
88. Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
This best-selling book about a little girl with big dreams has spawned several equally fun sequels (Iggy Peck, Architect and Ada Twist, Scientist). The illustrations support the theme with a blocky font and grid background, and the bouncy rhyme begs to be read aloud. The awesome hook here is that Rosie is the descendent of the famous Rosie the Riveter and is determined to follow in her grandmother’s groundbreaking footsteps. Ages 4-8.
89. Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise by Sean Taylor
Owl is hungry and, being the predator he is, has a plan to capture his prey. Unfortunately, the hunter gets outsmarted in spite of his very clever disguises. That is until pizza falls victim to his clever plan. Giggles guaranteed. Ages 3-7.
90. Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin
One of several books by the dynamic duo of author Adam Rubin and illustrator Daniel Salmieri, you’ll find yourself suggesting this one for story time again and again. Dragons love tacos but they can’t eat spicy food. When your house burns down, lesson learned. Right? We also love Secret Pizza Party and Robo-Sauce by this duo. Ages 3-7.
91. The Quickest Kid in Clarksville by Pat Zietlow Miller
Alta is the quickest kid in Clarksville, Tennessee, just like her idol, Wilma Rudolph, who went on to win three medals in the 1960 Olympics. Even though Alta has holes in her shoes and faces her toughest competition yet (a new girl with new shoes), she knows she can win, just like Wilma. From foot races to the big parade in Wilma’s honor, Alta shows what it means to be a true champion. Ages 5-8.
92. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
It’s hard to not keeping putting Dr. Seuss books on this list, but The Lorax holds a special place in the library of children’s books. In true Seussian genius, the greater issue of deforestation and industrialization is told in jolly, lulling rhymes. The best part is the message at the end: kids can help! Ages 6-9.
93. Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
When a young fruit bat is separated from her mother, a bird family takes her under their wings to raise her. It doesn’t take long to see her bat behavior is different from that of the daytime adoptive family. But one night Stellaluna is reunited with her bat family, but she learns that differences really make us all the same. Ages 4-7.
94. The Paddington Bear Books by Michael Bond
A bear in a hat and jacket wandering around Paddington Station in London, with no more marmalade to eat: well that’s a sad thing until a family takes pity on him and brings him home. Little do they know that you can take the bear out of the forest but the forest will always remain…and madcap adventures ensue throughout this series. Ages 8-12.
95. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
There’s no such thing as a gruffalo, or is there? Invented by a mouse trying to outsmart the hungry predators who are trying to capture him, the Gruffalo is a terrible creature of the woods. He’s made up, of course. But what’s that over there in the woods? Ages 3-7.
photo: loren javier via flickr
96. Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne
The first in the series of books (published in 1926!) that gave birth to the characters we have come to treasure, join Pooh and Christopher Robin in the Hundred Acre Wood for adventures with their pals Tigger, Piglet, Rabbit and Eeyore. This is the book that started it all! Ages 8-12 (but there are many variations for children of younger ages).
97. The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak
Comedian B.J. Novak has written a book that is not surprisingly, guaranteed to make kids laugh, mainly because it makes parents say ridiculous things. Designed to be read out loud by a grown-up, kids will request you read it again and again, even though it actually has no pictures. Ages 5-8.
98. Dorrie and the Blue Witch by Patricia Coombs
This is Dorrie. She is a witch. A little witch. Her hat is always on crooked and her stockings never match. So begins this and nearly every Dorrie book by Coombs, about this young witch who always saves the day, in spite of the fact that the grown-ups around her don’t always listen. The illustrations are unparalleled. Ages 4-8.
99. The Moomintroll Series by Tove Jansson
Enter the magical Moominvalley where Finnish author Tove Jansson has created a world of imaginary creatures that are just almost like a familiar person or animal you may know. Beloved by Finnish children for generations, the chapter book series is full of fairy-land-like exploits with the star of the show being lovable Moomintroll himself. Great summer reading! Ages 9-12.
100. The Great Mouse Detective Books by Eve Titus
Basil of Baker Street is on the case along with his faithful assistant, Dr. Dawson. These parodies of the Sherlock Holmes novels set in mousie times will thrill any fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Holmes novels as they read along with their kids. Ages 6-9.
What other books would you add to this list? Tell us in a comment below.