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The Best Overall Books for Kids

Updated August 3, 2021 13.1k votes 765 voters 56.9k views126 items

List RulesBooks for kids ages 4-9

The best overall books for children, ranked by readers of all ages. Anyone can vote on this kids' book list, which makes these rankings a trustworthy way to find out which books your kids will love. Is a title missing? You can also add your own books to this list, and see how your taste stacks up against everyone else's. No matter if your kids are 9 year old budding lit experts, 5 year-olds just beginning to read on their own, or pre-schoolers still having you read aloud -- these are the books you remember and hope your own kids will.

For children in pre-school or younger, check out this list of the best books for toddlers or the best new children's books.

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  • 1
    263
    36

    First Published1960

    Genres (Book)Children's literature

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Green Eggs and Ham is a best-selling and critically acclaimed children's book by Dr. Seuss, first published on August 12, 1960. As of 2001, according to Publishers Weekly, it was the fourth...  more
  • 2

    First Published1957-11-24

    Genres (Book)Children's literature

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is a children's story by Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel written in rhymed verse with illustrations by the author. It follows the Grinch, a grouchy, solitary creature who...  more
  • 3
    243
    39

    First Published1957-12-22

    SubjectsCat, Anthropomorphism

    Genres (Book)Picture book, Children's literature

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Cat in the Hat is a children's book written and illustrated by Theodor Geisel under the pen name Dr. Seuss and first published in 1957. The story centers on a tall anthropomorphic cat, who wears...  more

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    #2 of 52 The Best Dr. Seuss Books#1 of 36 The Best Childrens Books About Cats

  • 4

    First Published1964

    SubjectsChocolate, Classics, Adventure, Family, Folklore

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Fiction, Fantasy

    Original LanguageWelsh Language, English Language

    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a 1964 children's book by British author Roald Dahl. The story features the adventures of young Charlie Bucket inside the chocolate factory of eccentric...  more

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    #60 of 103 The Best Selling Books of All Time#18 of 704 Books That Changed Your Life

  • 5
    205
    47

    First Published1963

    SubjectsEducation, Games, Classics, Adventure, Children's film

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Picture book, Children's literature, Fiction, Fantasy

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Where the Wild Things Are is a 1963 children's picture book by American writer and illustrator Maurice Sendak, originally published by Harper & Row. The book has been adapted into other media several...  more

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    #6 of 33 The Books That 90s Kids Loved To Read While Growing Up#10 of 16 Children's Books You Didn't Realize Kids Are Still Reading

  • 6
    239
    71

    Charlotte's Web

    E. B. White

    First Published1952

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Children's literature

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Charlotte's Web is a children's novel by American author E. B. White and illustrated by Garth Williams; it was published on October 15, 1952, by Harper & Brothers. The novel tells the story of a...  more

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    #8 of 117 The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written#2 of 51 The Best Books for Second Graders

  • 7
    193
    49

    The Lorax

    Dr. Seuss

    First Published1971-08-12

    SubjectsConsumerism, Ecology, Knitting, Environmentalism

    Genres (Book)Children's literature, Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Lorax is a children's book written by Dr. Seuss and first published in 1971. It chronicles the plight of the environment and the Lorax, who speaks for the trees against the greedy Once-ler. As in...  more
  • 8

    First Published1950

    SubjectsEvacuations of civilians in Britain during World War II

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Fantasy

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a high fantasy novel for children by C. S. Lewis, published by Geoffrey Bles in 1950. It was the first published of seven novels in The Chronicles of Narnia...  more

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    #1 of 71 Required Reading That You Actually Ended Up Loving#3 of 20 If You've Read More Than Four Of These Books Or Series, You're A Real Fantasy Nerd

  • 9
    178
    51

    Goodnight Moon

    Margaret Wise Brown

    First Published1947

    SubjectsMoon, Rabbits, Classics, Animal

    Genres (Book)Children's literature, Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Goodnight Moon is an American children's picture book written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd. It was first published on September 3, 1947, and is a highly acclaimed example of...  more

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    #4 of 97 The Greatest Books to Read to Kids#1 of 57 The Best Books for Toddlers

  • 10

    First Published1960

    Genres (Book)Children's literature

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish is a 1960 children's book by Dr. Seuss. It is a simple rhyming book for beginning readers, with a freewheeling plot about a boy and a girl and the many amazing...  more
  • 11

    First Published1961

    SubjectsClassics, Drama, Adventure

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Fiction, Fantasy

    Original LanguageFrench Language, English Language

    James and the Giant Peach is a popular children's novel written in 1961 by British author Roald Dahl. The original first edition published by Alfred Knopf featured illustrations by Nancy Ekholm...  more

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    #67 of 331 The Top Must-Read Books of All Time#276 of 1,236 The Best Novels Ever Written

  • 12
    134
    34

    Three Little Pigs

    Heather Amery, Betty Root

    SubjectsFolklore, Animal

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Children's literature

  • 13

    First Published1972-06

    SubjectsGames, Drama, Family

    Genres (Book)Children's literature

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, published in 1972, is an ALA Notable Children's Book written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Ray Cruz. It has also won a George G....  more
  • 14
    134
    50

    Little House in the Big Woods

    Laura Ingalls Wilder

    First Published1932

    SubjectsLiterature, Classics, 19th century, Wisconsin, Family

    Genres (Book)Western, Children's literature, Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Little House in the Big Woods is a children's novel by Laura Ingalls Wilder published in 1932. The book is the first in the Little House series, which is based on decades-old memories of Wilder's...  more
  • 15
    156
    69

    First Published1900-05-17

    SubjectsMusic, Wizards, United States of America, 20th century, History

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Fantasy

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a children's novel written by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W. W. Denslow. Originally published by the George M. Hill Company in Chicago on May 17, 1900, it has since...  more

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    #18 of 20 The Best Books That Have Been Banned#14 of 102 The Best Books About Wizards

  • 16
    116
    37

    First Published1955

    Genres (Book)Children's literature

    Harold and the Purple Crayon is a 1955 children's book by Crockett Johnson. This is Johnson's most popular book. It led to a series of other books, and inspired many adaptations....  more
  • 17
    178
    45

    Matilda

    Roald Dahl

    First Published1988

    SubjectsEducation, Humour, Classics, Adventure, Schools

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Humour, Children's literature, Fiction, Fantasy

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Matilda is a children's novel by British author Roald Dahl. It was published in 1988 by Jonathan Cape in London, with 232 pages and illustrations by the notable illustrator Quentin Blake. It was...  more
  • 18
    135
    56

    The Giving Tree

    Shel Silverstein

    First Published1964-10-07

    SubjectsTrees, Classics

    Genres (Book)Picture book, Children's literature, Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Giving Tree is a children's picture book written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein. First published in 1964 by Harper & Row, it has become one of Silverstein's best known titles and has been...  more

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    #31 of 61 Novels with the Best Love Stories#2 of 24 Good Books for 6 Year Olds

  • 19
    118
    47

    Beezus and Ramona

    Beverly Cleary

    First Published1955

    SubjectsClassics, Family

    Genres (Book)Children's literature, Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Beezus and Ramona is a 1955 children's novel written by Beverly Cleary. It is the first of Cleary's books to focus on Ramona Quimby and her sister Beatrice, known as Beezus. Beezus and Ramona is...  more
  • 20
    137
    69

    The Hobbit

    J. R. R. Tolkien

    First Published1937-09-21

    SubjectsWizards, Literary, Epic film, Literature, Classics

    Genres (Book)Children's literature, Fiction, Epic, Fantasy

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Hobbit, or There and Back Again is a fantasy novel and children's book by English author J. R. R. Tolkien. It was published on 21 September 1937 to wide critical acclaim, being nominated for the...  more

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    #11 of 20 20 Books That Deserve Much Better Adaptations Than They Got#9 of 102 The Best Books for Teens

  • 21

    First Published1990-01-22

    Genres (Book)Children's literature

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Oh, the Places You'll Go! is a book written and illustrated by children's author Dr. Seuss. It was first published by Random House on January 22, 1990, making it his last book published in his...  more
  • 22
    167
    48

    Are You My Mother?

    P. D. Eastman

    First Published1960-06-12

    Genres (Book)Children's literature

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Are You My Mother? is a children's book by P. D. Eastman published by Random House Books for Young Readers on June 12, 1960 as part of its Beginner Books series. Based on a 2007 online poll, the...  more
  • 23

    First Published1970

    Genres (Book)Children's literature

    Frog and Toad Are Friends is the first book in the Frog and Toad series published in 1970 by the American author of children's stories, Arnold Lobel....  more
  • 24

    First Published1985

    Genres (Book)Children's literature

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is a children's book written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond. Described as a "circular tale," it is Numeroff and Bond's first collaboration in what came...  more
  • 25
    125
    62

    Stone Soup

    Marcia Brown

    First Published1947

    SubjectsFrance, Classics, Folklore

    Genres (Book)Children's literature, Fiction

    Stone Soup is a book by Marcia Brown....  more
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List Rules: Books for kids ages 4-9