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100 Great Children’s Books | 100 Years

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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.

Download the PDF or browse the list below.

What’s on your list of great children’s books? Let us know!

#GreatChildrensBooks | facebook.com/NYPL

 


 

A

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Ray Cruz (1972)
It was enough to make you want to go to Australia.

 

All-of-a-Kind Family

by Sydney Taylor, illustrated by Helen John (1951)
Cozy vignettes of a turn-of-the-century Lower East Side family.

 

Amelia Bedelia

by Peggy Parish, illustrated by Fritz Siebel (1963)
The queen of idioms makes her grand appearance on the page!

The Arrival

by Shaun Tan (2007)
Feel what it’s like to travel to a strange new land.

 

B

Bark, George

by Jules Feiffer (1999)
He meows, quacks, oinks, and moos, but why can’t George the dog bark?

Because of Winn-Dixie

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.

Ben’s Trumpet 

by Rachel Isadora (1979)
The syncopated rhythms of Harlem during the Jazz Age reverberate in handsome black and white art deco style. 

Big Red Lollipop

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.

The Birchbark House 

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.

The Book of Three

by Lloyd Alexander (1964)
The heroic adventures of Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper in the mythical kingdom of Prydain.

The Borrowers

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.

The Bossy Gallito/El Gallo De Bodas: A Traditional Cuban Folktale

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.

Bread and Jam for Frances

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!

Bridge to Terabithia

by Katherine Paterson (1977)
Two outsiders create their own fantasy world and in doing so forge a friendship that survives even grief.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

by Bill Martin, Jr., illustrated by Eric Carle (1967)
A gentle rhyming delight in a storytime classic.

 

C

Caps for Sale

by Esphyr Slobodkina (1938)
Naughty monkeys prove a challenge for an innocent cap seller.

The Cat in the Hat

by Dr. Seuss (1957)
An unexpected guest turns a rainy day into a heart-pounding adventure.

Chains

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.

A Chair For My Mother

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.

Charlotte’s Web

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.

Chato’s Kitchen

by Gary Soto, illustrated by Susan Guevara (1995)
Chato has the munchies for some mousies, though the clever mousies have other plans.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

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.

Corduroy

by Don Freeman (1976)
A little stuffed bear searches in vain for the button that will help to get him adopted.

Curious George

by H.A. Rey (1941)
One cheeky monkey plus one man in a yellow hat equals a whole lot of trouble.

 

D

D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths

by Ingri D’Aulaire and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire (1962)

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

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.

 

E

Esperanza Rising

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.

 

F

Freight Train

by Donald Crews (1978)
A train ride to remember with bold colors galore!

Frog and Toad Are Friends

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.

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

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. 

 

G

George and Martha

by James Marshall (1972)
A pair of hippopotami navigate the highs and lows of a perfect friendship.

The Giver 

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. 

Go, Dog. Go!

by P.D. Eastman (1961)
A strange little Zen easy reader with a madcap energy entirely of its own.

Goodnight Moon

by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd (1947)
A beloved bedtime classic, both lovely and soothing.

Grandfather’s Journey

by Allen Say (1993)
A young man struggles with both loving his new land and feeling homesick for the Japan he left behind.

The Graveyard Book

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.

Green Eggs and Ham

by Dr. Seuss (1960)
Methinks Sam’s friend doth protest too much.

 

H

Harold and the Purple Crayon

by Crockett Johnson (1955)
With crayon firmly in hand Harold creates whole worlds for himself and his readers.

Harriet the Spy

by Louise Fitzhugh (1964)
Shocking in its honesty, Harriet spies on friends and strangers alike until her secret observations get her in trouble.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

by J.K. Rowling (1998)
A down-trodden orphan is summoned to an elite academy of wizards to fulfill his destiny.

Hatchet

by Gary Paulsen (1989)
When his plane crashes in the Canadian wilderness, Brian and his single hatchet must survive the wild elements alone.

The Hobbit

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.

Holes

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.

 

I

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

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.

 

J

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat

by Simms Taback (1999)
From coat to button, not a single stitch is wasted.

Jumanji

by Chris Van Allsburg (1981)
One afternoon Judy and Peter play a jungle game and find it becoming all too real.

Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book 

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.

 

L

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse

by Kevin Henkes (1996)
The beloved mouse adores her teacher until the terrible day when he confiscates her wonderful new fashion accessories. 

The Lion and the Mouse

by Jerry Pinkney (2009)
The Serengeti has never looked more majestic than in this nearly wordless fable illustrated with exquisite watercolors.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

by C.S. Lewis (1950)
The old theme of good against evil is restated in a tale that creates its own world of magic.

The Little House

by Virginia Lee Burton (1942)
A heartwarming story of surviving change and finding just the right place for you. 

The Little Prince

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.”

Locomotion

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.

 

Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story From China

by Ed Young (1989)
Three sisters match wits with a wily wolf.

 

M

Madeline

by Ludwig Bemelmans (1939)
Sometimes when you’re the smallest you also have to be the bravest.

Make Way for Ducklings 

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.

Matilda 

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.

Meet Danitra Brown 

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.

Millions of Cats

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.

Miss Nelson is Missing!

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!

Mr. Popper's Penguins

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!

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

by Robert C. O’Brien (1971)
A group of tech savvy rats come to the rescue of a widowed mouse and her children.

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale

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.

My Father’s Dragon

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.

My Name is Yoon

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”.

 

O

Olivia

by Ian Falconer (2000)
An amusing portrait of a precocious little pig with artistic sensibilities and a flair for fashion.

One Crazy Summer

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.

 

 

P

The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales

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.

The Phantom Tollbooth

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.

Pierre: A Cautionary Tale in Five Chapters and a Prologue

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”.

Pink and Say

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.

Pippi Longstocking

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.

 

R

Ramona the Pest

by Beverly Cleary (1968)
The year Ramona Quimby becomes a kindergarten dropout.

Rickshaw Girl

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.

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

by Mildred D. Taylor (1976)
Segregation and bigotry are no match for Cassie Logan and her large loving family in Depression-era Mississippi.

Rumpelstiltskin

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.

 

S

A Sick Day for Amos McGee

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. 

The Snowy 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.

Starry River of the Sky

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.

The Stories Julian Tells

by Ann Cameron, illustrated by Ann Strugnell (1981)
Five humorous stories about mischievous Julian, his little brother Huey, and his warm and caring family.

The Story of Ferdinand

by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson (1936)
Bulls are supposed to snort and kick and fight but Ferdinand has other ideas.

Strega Nona 

by Tomie dePaola (1975)
Big Anthony gets into big trouble with a magic pasta pot.

Swimmy

by Leo Lionni (1963)
A brave little fish learns to survive his ocean home by using his brains instead of his size.

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

by William Steig (1969)
Sometimes wishes come true . . . even the bad ones.

T

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing 

by Judy Blume (1972)
Peter must survive the antics of his little brother Fudge in this hilarious tale set in New York City.

The Tales of Uncle Remus: The Adventures of Brer Rabbit

by Julius Lester, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney (1987)
The beloved trickster tales from black tradition skillfully retold in vivid contemporary language.

Tar Beach

by Faith Ringgold (1991) 
Cassie has a wondrous dream of swooping through the city from a Harlem rooftop on a starry night.

Ten, Nine, Eight

by Molly Bang (1983)
A father gently counts his daughter to sleep. Tender.

Tomie dePaola’s Mother Goose

by Tomie dePaola (1985)
Classic nursery rhymes, both familiar and unknown, are deftly mixed together by this picture book master.

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs

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.

Tuesday

by David Wiesner (1991)
While the town sleeps, an eerie flotilla of frogs flies through on lily pads.

 

V

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

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!

 

W

The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963

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.

The Westing Game

by Ellen Raskin (1978)
Multimillionaire Samuel Westing reaches from the grave to make his heirs compete in a game of his own devising.

When You Reach Me 

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.

Where Is the Green Sheep?

by Mem Fox, illustrated by Judy Horacek (2004)
Woolly kooks go amuck in this seemingly simple story.

Where the Wild Things Are

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.

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears

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.

Winnie-the-Pooh

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.

A Wrinkle in Time

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.

 

Book List Host: 
3
URL: 
http://www.nypl.org/childrens100
Resource Language: 
English
List Year: 
2013

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