Great stories never grow old! Chosen by children’s librarians at The New York Public Library, these 100 inspiring tales have thrilled generations of children and their parents — and are still flying off our shelves. Use this list and your library card to discover new worlds of wonder and adventure!
100 Great Children’s Books has been published on the occasion of The New York Public Library’s acclaimed exhibition The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter, on view at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. The list was selected by The New York Public Library’s Jeanne Lamb, Coordinator, Youth Collections, and Elizabeth Bird, Supervising Librarian.
The Library Shop is offering special discounts on themed book sets from the 100 Great Children's Books list. Choose from curated collections such as Best Picture Books, Best Baby and Toddler Books, and Best Easy Books for children ages 4-6. Or buy a package of all 100 books and get the complete collection! Learn more.
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by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Ray Cruz (1972)
It was enough to make you want to go to Australia.
by Sydney Taylor, illustrated by Helen John (1951)
Cozy vignettes of a turn-of-the-century Lower East Side family.
by Peggy Parish, illustrated by Fritz Siebel (1963)
The queen of idioms makes her grand appearance on the page!
by Shaun Tan (2007)
Feel what it’s like to travel to a strange new land.
by Jules Feiffer (1999)
He meows, quacks, oinks, and moos, but why can’t George the dog bark?
by Kate DiCamillo (2000)
India Opa Buloni describes her first summer in a small Florida town and how an ugly stray dog who adopts her at the supermarket effects people’s lives and changes hers.
by Rachel Isadora (1979)
The syncopated rhythms of Harlem during the Jazz Age reverberate in handsome black and white art deco style.
by Rukhsana Khan, illustrated by Sophie Blackall (2010)
Little sisters can be such a pain. First, Rubina is forced to bring her sister Sana along to a friend’s party, but soon it is Sana’s turn to be the big sister when she gets an invitation of her own.
by Louise Erdrich (1999)
A warm family story, rich with fascinating details of traditional Ojibwa life, in which 7-year-old Omakayas and her family grow food, hunt, and face a time of transition.
by Lloyd Alexander (1964)
The heroic adventures of Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper in the mythical kingdom of Prydain.
by Mary Norton, illustrated by Beth Krush and Joe Krush (1953)
A small world is perfectly created in this fantasy about the miniature people who live beneath the floors of quiet old houses.
by Lucía M. González, illustrated by Lulu Delacre (1994)
“Little Havana” in Miami is the setting for this charming, bilingual picture book in which a little rooster tries to get to his uncle’s wedding.
by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Lillian Hoban (1964)
While the same old same old can be so inviting, trying something new can sometimes be even better!
by Katherine Paterson (1977)
Two outsiders create their own fantasy world and in doing so forge a friendship that survives even grief.
by Bill Martin, Jr., illustrated by Eric Carle (1967)
A gentle rhyming delight in a storytime classic.
by Esphyr Slobodkina (1938)
Naughty monkeys prove a challenge for an innocent cap seller.
by Dr. Seuss (1957)
An unexpected guest turns a rainy day into a heart-pounding adventure.
by Laurie Halse Anderson (2008)
Sold into slavery to a Tory family in New York City, Isabel schemes to free herself and her little sister while spying for the rebels.
by Vera B. Williams (1982)
Glowing colors add cheer to this story of the wonderful day when there is finally enough money to buy Mama a new chair.
by E.B. White, illustrated by Garth Williams (1952)
A story of true friendship between Wilbur the pig and Charlotte A. Cavatica, his spider savior.
by Gary Soto, illustrated by Susan Guevara (1995)
Chato has the munchies for some mousies, though the clever mousies have other plans.
by Bill Martin, Jr., and John Archambault; illustrated by Lois Ehlert (1989)
The letters of the alphabet climb a coconut tree with riotous results. A rollicking introduction to the ABC’s.
by Don Freeman (1976)
A little stuffed bear searches in vain for the button that will help to get him adopted.
by H.A. Rey (1941)
One cheeky monkey plus one man in a yellow hat equals a whole lot of trouble.
by Ingri D’Aulaire and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire (1962)
by Mo Willems (2003)
He’ll try to talk you into it, but whatever you do don’t give in to this snarky city fowl’s demands.
by Pam Muñoz Ryan (2000)
Esperanza and her mother flee their privileged lives in Mexico and find refuge in the migrant camps of Southern California during the Great Depression.
by Donald Crews (1978)
A train ride to remember with bold colors galore!
by Arnold Lobel (1970)
Toad’s a worrier and Frog’s laid back, but no matter what their differences, these two friends are there for one another.
by E.L. Konigsburg (1967)
Claudia chooses the Metropolitan Museum in New York City as the elegant hiding place for herself and her little brother when they run away from home.
by James Marshall (1972)
A pair of hippopotami navigate the highs and lows of a perfect friendship.
by Lois Lowry (1993)
At the Ceremony of the Twelves, Jonas begins to learn the horrifying truth about the perfect society he has grown up in.
by P.D. Eastman (1961)
A strange little Zen easy reader with a madcap energy entirely of its own.
by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd (1947)
A beloved bedtime classic, both lovely and soothing.
by Allen Say (1993)
A young man struggles with both loving his new land and feeling homesick for the Japan he left behind.
by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Dave McKean (2008)
Brought up by the Dead, Bod is hunted by an assassin, befriends a murdered witch, and prepares himself for life beyond the burying ground.
by Dr. Seuss (1960)
Methinks Sam’s friend doth protest too much.
by Crockett Johnson (1955)
With crayon firmly in hand Harold creates whole worlds for himself and his readers.
by Louise Fitzhugh (1964)
Shocking in its honesty, Harriet spies on friends and strangers alike until her secret observations get her in trouble.
by J.K. Rowling (1998)
A down-trodden orphan is summoned to an elite academy of wizards to fulfill his destiny.
by Gary Paulsen (1989)
When his plane crashes in the Canadian wilderness, Brian and his single hatchet must survive the wild elements alone.
by J.R.R. Tolkien (1937)
A rich imaginative tale of dragons, dwarves and the ageless search for gold. Rooted in authentic Saxon lore, but written and illustrated with humor and charm.
by Louis Sachar (1998)
Why does Stanley’s juvenile detention center in the Texas desert require each boy to dig a 5-foot hole every day? An inventive narrative puzzle filled with twists and turns.
by Brian Selznick (2007)
In this epic tale set in a Paris train station, a young boy finds unexpected allies as he reconstructs his father’s mysterious machine.
by Simms Taback (1999)
From coat to button, not a single stitch is wasted.
by Chris Van Allsburg (1981)
One afternoon Judy and Peter play a jungle game and find it becoming all too real.
by Yuyi Morales (2003)
Grandma Beetle’s so smart she could outwit death itself, and that’s just what she has to do when Senor Calavera comes to call.
by Kevin Henkes (1996)
The beloved mouse adores her teacher until the terrible day when he confiscates her wonderful new fashion accessories.
by Jerry Pinkney (2009)
The Serengeti has never looked more majestic than in this nearly wordless fable illustrated with exquisite watercolors.
by C.S. Lewis (1950)
The old theme of good against evil is restated in a tale that creates its own world of magic.
by Virginia Lee Burton (1942)
A heartwarming story of surviving change and finding just the right place for you.
by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1943)
An allegorical tale of a stranded pilot and a boy from beyond the stars. “One sees clearly only with the heart.”
by Jacqueline Woodson (2003)
When his teacher introduces him to poetry, 11-year-old Lonnie Collins Motion finds a new way to talk about his friends, his family, and even his crabby foster mother. A verse novel for the ages.
by Ed Young (1989)
Three sisters match wits with a wily wolf.
by Ludwig Bemelmans (1939)
Sometimes when you’re the smallest you also have to be the bravest.
by Robert McCloskey (1941)
Mother duck has to keep her babies, Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack in line. And it’s certainly nice to have a friend in your corner when trying to cross a busy Boston street.
by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake (1988)
She may have the worst parents in the world and a truly terrifying headmistress, but thanks to her loving teacher Miss Honey, Matilda finds ways to outsmart all the villains in her life.
by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Floyd Cooper (1994)
“…the most splendiferous girl in town.” Two friends bring out the best in each other in thirteen high-spirited rhymes.
by Wanda Gág (1928)
When an old man sets off to find a cute little kitty, he ends up with millions of cats, billions of cats, millions and billions and trillions of cats.
by Harry Allard, illustrated by James Marshall (1977)
The truly terrible children of Room 207 are about to meet their match in the odious Miss Viola Swamp!
by Richard and Florence Atwater; illustrated by Robert Lawson (1938)
Take one ordinary house painter, add in some kooky penguins, and watch as the results get a little crazy!
by Robert C. O’Brien (1971)
A group of tech savvy rats come to the rescue of a widowed mouse and her children.
by John Steptoe (1987)
A kind sister and a selfish sister vie for the love of a king in a story inspired by a folktale from Zimbabwe.
by Ruth Stiles Gannett, illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett (1948)
Elmer Elevator tries to rescue a baby dragon in distress from an island full of dangerous animals. A great read-aloud filled with adventure.
by Helen Recorvits, illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska (2003)
Desperately embarrassed by her name a little girl from Korea comes to understand that even in English her name is still “shining wisdom”.
by Ian Falconer (2000)
An amusing portrait of a precocious little pig with artistic sensibilities and a flair for fashion.
by Rita Williams-Garcia (2010)
Three sisters are shipped off to California to stay with their estranged and distant mother at the height of the Black Panther movement.
by Virginia Hamilton, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon (1985)
In this mystical tale, slaves brought to America find the power to fly away to freedom in a timeless tale of hope.
by Norton Juster, illustrated by Jules Feiffer (1961)
Complaining of boredom, Milo travels through a tollbooth to a ridiculous land where Rhyme and Reason are lost.
by Maurice Sendak (1962)
When a hungry lion asks you if you’d like to be his lunch, it’s probably unwise to answer “I don’t care”.
by Patricia Polacco (1994)
After a former slave saves the life of a white soldier on a Civil War battlefield they forge an all-too-brief friendship.
by Astrid Lindgren (1950)
Outlandish fun is sure to follow the girl who lives on her own with a monkey, a horse, and a fortune in gold coins.
by Beverly Cleary (1968)
The year Ramona Quimby becomes a kindergarten dropout.
by Mitali Perkins, illustrated by Jamie Hogan (2007)
Naima, a Bangladeshi child, uses her artistic talents to save her family’s livelihood. A tale of using your wits to escape hard times.
by Mildred D. Taylor (1976)
Segregation and bigotry are no match for Cassie Logan and her large loving family in Depression-era Mississippi.
by Paul O. Zelinsky (1986)
Can you guess his name? Stunning paintings in the late medieval style take a classic fairy tale to new heights.
by Philip Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead (2010)
Zoo animals fret when their beloved keeper catches a cold and doesn’t show up for work one day.
by Ezra Jack Keats (1962)
A little boy explores the first city snow of the year from snow angels to a snowball tucked away safely into his pocket.
by Grace Lin (2012)
Rendi, a sullen young runaway stranded in a remote Chinese village, discovers secrets, stories, and the location of the missing moon.
by Ann Cameron, illustrated by Ann Strugnell (1981)
Five humorous stories about mischievous Julian, his little brother Huey, and his warm and caring family.
by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson (1936)
Bulls are supposed to snort and kick and fight but Ferdinand has other ideas.
by Tomie dePaola (1975)
Big Anthony gets into big trouble with a magic pasta pot.
by Leo Lionni (1963)
A brave little fish learns to survive his ocean home by using his brains instead of his size.
by William Steig (1969)
Sometimes wishes come true . . . even the bad ones.
by Judy Blume (1972)
Peter must survive the antics of his little brother Fudge in this hilarious tale set in New York City.
by Julius Lester, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney (1987)
The beloved trickster tales from black tradition skillfully retold in vivid contemporary language.
by Faith Ringgold (1991)
Cassie has a wondrous dream of swooping through the city from a Harlem rooftop on a starry night.
by Molly Bang (1983)
A father gently counts his daughter to sleep. Tender.
by Tomie dePaola (1985)
Classic nursery rhymes, both familiar and unknown, are deftly mixed together by this picture book master.
by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith (1989)
All he was doing was trying to borrow some sugar. Alexander T. Wolf tells his side of the story.
by David Wiesner (1991)
While the town sleeps, an eerie flotilla of frogs flies through on lily pads.
by Eric Carle (1969)
It’s a counting book, a days of the week story, a tale of colors, a die-cut wonder, and a memorable read-aloud rolled up in one!
by Christopher Paul Curtis (1995)
A road trip to grandma’s for ten-year-old Kenny and his “weird” family is filled with humor until it is marked by the tragedy of a church bombing.
by Ellen Raskin (1978)
Multimillionaire Samuel Westing reaches from the grave to make his heirs compete in a game of his own devising.
by Rebecca Stead (2009)
Miranda grows increasingly alarmed as she finds mysterious notes tucked into her personal belongings that foretell a coming death. Not all is as it appears to be in this intriguing New York City tale.
by Mem Fox, illustrated by Judy Horacek (2004)
Woolly kooks go amuck in this seemingly simple story.
by Maurice Sendak (1963)
Sometimes when you’re having a bad day you need to go to a place where you can be a monster.
by Verna Aardema, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon (1975)
The trouble began when mosquito told lies so big that iguana put sticks in his ears to block out the sound. A stunning West African folktale.
by A.A. Milne, illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard (1926)
There is nothing like having a group of friends who are always there for you. Lovable quirks and all.
by Madeleine L’Engle (1962)
Three children cross time and space to rescue Meg’s father from the evil, pulsating It.
© The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations, 2013.
Support for The New York Public Library’s Exhibitions Program has been provided by Celeste Bartos, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos and Adam Bartos Exhibitions Fund, and Jonathan Altman. Additional support for The ABC of It has been provided by the Bertha and Isaac Liberman Foundation, Inc., in memory of Ruth and Seymour Klein.