Best 100 childrens' books of all time

The best children's stories have a shelf life of eternity. Here are our top 100 children's books.

By Today's Parent and Kelsey Miki
Best 100 childrens' books of all time

100 top children’s books of all time


By Ezra Jack Keats, Puffin Books
Join Peter as he experiences the wonder of winter’s first snow fall. Nothing says ‘new possibilities’ like the fresh canvas of a snowy day.

The Snowy Day Book Cover: A Child in Snow Near Traffic LightsPhoto: Puffin Books

Night Cars

By Teddy Jam (Matt Cohen) and illustrated by Eric Beddows, Groundwood Books
Lyrical prose and rich illustrations portray a tired father’s imaginative explanations of the nighttime noises outside the window. Billed as the Canadian Goodnight Moon.

Night Cars Book Cover: Child Standing By WindowPhoto: Groundwood Books


Grumpy Bird

By Jeremy Tankard, Scholastic
When Bird wakes up, he’s too grumpy to eat, play or even fly, and instead starts stomping through the forest on foot. But his oblivious, happy-go-lucky friends stick to him like glue, turning Bird’s walk into an inadvertent game of follow-the-leader that makes Bird even grumpier.

Grumpy Bird Book Cover: A Blue BirdPhoto: Scholastic

Guess How Much I Love You

By Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram, Candlewick Press
It is impossible not to sigh and aw-w-w over the sweet illustrations of Little Nutbrown Hare in various stages of sleep and play as he and Big Nutbrown Hare describe their love for each other.

Guess how much I love you book cover: A rabbit with outstretched armsPhoto: Candlewick Press

Everyone Poops

By Taro Gimo, EDC Publishing
It’s a part of life that no one can escape. Not even elephants! Little ones and parents alike will get a kick out of this humorous biology lesson. 

Everyone poops book cover: A child, horse, duck, and applePhoto: EDC Publishing


The Very Hungry Caterpillar

By Eric Carle, Penguin Random House
Layered under the imaginative die-cut pages are lessons about counting, the days of the week and the magic of metamorphosis.

The very hungry caterpillar book cover: A cartoon caterpillarPhoto: Penguin Random House

Where’s Spot?

By Eric Hill, Puffin Books
The first lift-the-flap children’s book has toddlers readily identifying with the rascal puppy Spot, who is hiding from his mother, Sally.

Where's spot book cover: Spot the dog looking in a boxPhoto: Puffin Books

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

By Bill Martin, Jr. and illustrated by Eric Carle, Henry Holt & Co.
A page-turner that ignites in readers the desire to glimpse a blue horse, a purple cat and the next brilliant thing that follows.

Brown bear brown bear what do you see book cover: A cartoon bearPhoto: Henry Holt & Co.


PRESCHOOL: Dragons Love Tacos

By Adam Rubin and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri, Dial Books
Everyone knows that dragons breathe fire, but did you know that dragons love tacos? Just make sure you don’t serve them with spicy salsa…

Dragons love tacos book cover: A dragon eating tacosPhoto: Dial Books

The Day the Crayons Quit

By Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, Philomel Books
All Duncan wants to do is colour. The only problem? All his crayons have quit! Will he ever be able to get them to come back? 

The day the crayons quit book cover: Cartoon crayons on strikePhoto: Philomel Books

The Giving Tree

By Shel Silverstein, HarperCollins
There once was a tree who loved a little boy. Learn the true meaning of conditional love in this heartbreaking classic every parent will relate to and every child will come to understand. 

The giving tree book cover: Child catches apple falling from treePhoto: HarperCollins


Press Here

By Hervé Tullet, Chronicle Books
In this magical and interactive book, readers are instructed to press, shake and tilt the pages to experience a whirlwind of whimsy. A celebration of imagination and ingenuity, Press Here will have children and parents alike transfixed.

Press here book cover: A yellow buttonPhoto: Chronicle Books

The Gruffalo

By Julia Donaldson and illustrated b Axel Scheffler, Pan MacMillan
During a walk in the woods, a cunning mouse evades the dinner plate of various forest creatures by inventing the fearsome Gruffalo. However, when he is suddenly faced with a real Gruffalo, he must once again outsmart his foe, proving that you don’t have to be the biggest to be the strongest.

The gruffalo book cover: A cartoon beast and mouse in a forestPhoto: Pan MacMillan

Can’t You Sleep Little Bear?

By Martin Waddell and illustrated by Barbara Firth, Candlewick Press
Warm watercolours capture Big Bear’s tender attempts to banish all dark from the cave so Little Bear feels safe enough to sleep.

Best 100 childrens' books of all timePhoto: Candlewick Press


Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

By Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault, and illustrated by Lois Ehlert, Simon & Schuster
Infectiaous, playful rhyme sends the alphabet on a romp up a coconut tree.

Cover art for Chicka Chika Book BoomPhoto: Simon & Schuster

Goodnight Moon

By Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd, HarperCollins
Wise Brown’s quiet poetry has lulled generations of children to sleep and enticed millions of families to hunt for the mouse on every page.

Cover art for goodnight moonPhoto: HarperCollins

Alligator Pie

By Dennis Lee and illustrated by Sandy Nichols, HarperCollins
Margaret Laurence once said of Lee’s inaugural poetry collection that “you can almost hear the skipping ropes slapping on the sidewalk.”

Alligator pie cover artPhoto: HarperCollins


Maisy the Mouse Series

By Lucy Cousins, Candlewick Press
According to Cousins, Maisy “drew herself” one day when Cousins was doodling, and has since become one of the best-loved characters in children’s books.

Best 100 childrens' books of all timePhoto: Candlewick Press

Doctor De Soto

By William Steig, Square Fish
An unscrupulous fox wonders if it would be “shabby” to eat his dentist once his toothache is cured, then finds himself outsmarted by the clever Doctor De Soto.

Doctor de soto cover artPhoto: Square Fish

Max and Ruby Series

By Rosemary Wells, Puffin Books
The illustrations of curious three-year-old Max and bossy seven-year-old Ruby incite as much fun as the words.

Max and Ruby preschool pranks cover artPhoto: Puffin Books


More, More, More, Said the Baby

By Vera B. Williams, HarperCollins
Three stories of crazy-for-you affection, starting with Little Guy being chased by his daddy, who catches Little Guy and throws him high, swings him all around and gives him a kiss right in the middle of his belly button. “More,” laughs Little Guy. “More. More. More.” The book explodes with colour, each word an assortment of hues, each baby uniquely adored.

Best 100 childrens' books of all timePhoto: HarperCollins

The Cat in the Hat

By Dr. Seuss, Random House Books for Young Readers
Written in response to an article in Life magazine that lamented the boring reading lessons in schools, The Cat in the Hat employed 223 words from primary reading lists and single-handedly killed “Dick and Jane.”

The cat in the hat cover artPhoto: Random House Books for Young Readers

Curious George

By Margaret and H.A. Rey, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
George embodies the irresistibly lovable little monkey in all small children.

Curious George cover artPhoto: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


Love You Forever

By Robert Munsch and illustrated by Sheila McGraw, Firefly Books
This sentimental favourite showcases a mother’s undying devotion to her child, which eventually comes full circle.

Love you forever cover artPhoto: Firefly Books


By Ludwig Bemelmans, Puffin Books
It is a lovely moment of drama and fun when Miss Clavel discovers 11 wailing little girls who yearn to have appendicitis just like Madeline.

Madeline cover artPhoto: Puffin Books

Make Way for Ducklings

By Robert McCloskey, Viking Books
A delightful story about a duck family in Boston’s Public Garden that crosses a heavily trafficked street with the help of the police department.

Make way for ducklings cover artPhoto: Viking Books


Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

By Virginia Lee Burton, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
The spirited telling of how a steam shovel named Mary Anne is captivating for its unabashed delight in all things mechanical.

Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel cover artPhoto: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

The Paper Bag Princess

By Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko, Annick Press
Princess Elizabeth rescues, and then dumps, handsome Prince Ronald, who disapproves of the paper bag she wears instead of burnt clothes.

Paper bag princess cover artPhoto: Annick Press

The Polar Express

By Chris Van Allsburg, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
The majestic illustrations of this Caldecott Medal winner illuminate the simple, heartwarming story about how believing in Santa Claus keeps us young at heart.

The polar express cover artPhoto: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


Scaredy Squirrel

By Mélanie Watt, Kids Can Press
Squirrel has his share of wacky fears, which he unwittingly confronts in a laugh-out-loud way that inspires young readers to take small risks of their own.

Scaredy squirrel cover artPhoto: Kids Can Press

Stanley’s Party

By Linda Bailey and illustrated by Bill Slavin, Kids Can Press
Bored canine Stanley discovers that nothing actually happens when he sneaks up on the forbidden couch, and so dancing, fridge-raiding and a full-blown party ensue.

Stanley's Party Book CoverPhoto: Kids Can Press

Stella, Star of the Sea

By Marie-Louise Gay, Groundwood Books
Stella’s irrepressible “leap before you look” and “invent if you don’t know” philosophies make for some creative explanations to her little brother Sam about the sea.

Best 100 childrens' books of all timePhoto: Groundwood Books


Zoom at Sea

By Tim Wynne-Jones and illustrated by Eric Beddows, Groundwood Books
When a cat who loves water finds a map to the sea, he has a thrilling, wholly original adventure.

Zoom at the sea cover artPhoto: Groundwood Books

The Story of Ferdinand

By Munro Leaf and illustrated by Robert Lawson, Grosset & Dunlap
In a lovely testament to self-assured individuality, Ferdinand the bull prefers relaxing under a cork tree and smelling the flowers to the snorting and butting of his peers.

The story of Ferdinand cover artPhoto: Grosset & Dunlap

Where the Wild Things Are

By Maurice Sendak, HarperCollins
After threatening to eat his mother up, Max is sent to his room. Once there, he sails off to where the wild things are. He becomes king of these fearsome, and goofy, creatures, leads them on a wild rumpus, then returns home to a hot supper. The honest and uncompromising nature of childhood lives inside the carefully crafted pages and vivid illustrations of this wonderful and much-loved book.

Where the wild things are cover artPhoto: HarperCollins


The Story of Babar

By Jean De Brunhoff, Random House Books for Young Readers
A young orphaned elephant rises from wild animal to the toast of high society (in a smart pressed suit) and ultimately to king of the elephants.

The story of Babar cover artPhoto: Random House Books for Young Readers

Where the Sidewalk Ends

By Shel Silverstein, HarperCollins
Silverstein’s first collection of children’s poetry, at once clever, funny and profound, dares all dreamers to try extraordinary things.

Where the sidewalk ends cover artPhoto: HarperCollins

Harold and the Purple Crayon

By Crockett Johnson, HarperCollins
Armed with nothing but his purple crayon and creativity, Harold embarks on a wild adventure of his own devising. A whimsical ode to the power of a child’s imagination.

Harold and the purple crayon cover artPhoto: HarperCollins


The Olivia Series

By Ian Falconer, Simon & Schuster
What adventure will Olivia get into next? Follow along with “everyone’s favourite precocious pig,” in this iconic and award-winning series of sweet stories.

Olivia collection cover artPhoto: Simon & Schuster

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus

By Mo Willems, Disney-Hyperion
When the bus driver has to leave, you are left with only one task—under no circumstances can you let the pigeon drive the bus. However, that pigeon can sure be convincing… 

Don't let the pigeon drive the bus cover artPhoto: Disney-Hyperion

Green Eggs and Ham

By Dr. Seuss, Random House Books for Young Readers
Where would you eat green eggs and ham? In a house? In a box? With a fox? With a goat? With simple rhymes and only 50 words, this is a great beginner book to introduce a new generation of readers to the magic of Dr. Seuss. 

Green eggs and ham cover artPhoto: Random House Books for Young Readers


I Want My Hat Back

By Jon Klassan, Candlewick Press
Bear has lost his hat, and no one seems to know where it is. Will he ever find it? Humorous illustrations help to bring the story to life, and involve you in the mystery.

I want my hat back cover artPhoto: Candlewick Press


By Kay Thompson and illustrated by Hilary Knight, Simon & Schuster
Join in the mischievous fun of Eloise, the quick-witted little girl who lives on the “tippy-top floor” of New York’s Plaza Hotel. Along with her Nanny, pet pug Weenie and turtle Skipperdee, the adventures and antics of Eloise continue to entertain future generations of readers.

Eloise at the plaza cover artPhoto: Simon & Schuster

We Are In a Book

By Mo Willems, Disney-Hyperion
In this interactive and self-reflexive story, best friends Gerald the elephant and Piggie the pig realize that they are in a book—a book that’s being read by you! However, while playing with the reader is really fun, the two begin to question exactly what will happen when the book comes to an end.

We are in a book cover artPhoto: Disney-Hyperion


Harry the Dirty Dog

By Gene Zion and illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham, HarperCollins
Harry loves to get messy, but hates to take a bath. Sound familiar? An entertaining book for young readers who love dogs and hate bath time.

Harry the dirty dog cover artPhoto: HarperCollins

The Real Mother Goose

By Blance Fisher Wright, Scholastic
Despite the plentiful variety of nursery rhyme editions that surface regularly, it is this version, with its beloved illustrations, that is still going strong after nearly a century.

The real mother goose cover artPhoto: Scholastic

The Tale of Peter Rabbit

By Beatrix Potter, Frederick Warne
This quintessential cautionary tale, with its intimate, conversational tone, humorously warns young readers about the perils of misbehaving.

Peter rabbit cover artPhoto: Frederick Warne


The Story About Ping

By Marjorie Flack and illustrated by Kurt Wiese, Grosset & Dunlap
Spunky little duck Ping is accidentally left behind on the Yangtze River one night, where his scary misadventures prompt him to be on time the next evening.

The story about Ping cover artPhoto: Grosset & Dunlap

EARLY READERS: The Captain Underpants Series

By Dav Pilkey, Scholastic
When two fourth-graders hypnotize the mean Principal Krupp, they accidentally bring to life Captain Underpants—a superhero from their homemade comic books. Many adventures, and fart jokes, ensue in this endlessly entertaining series.

Best 100 childrens' books of all timePhoto: Scholastic

Geronimo Stilton Series

By Edizioni Piemme, Scholastic
Geronimo Stilton, a mild-mannered mouse from New Mouse City on Mouse Island, just wants a quiet, simple life, writing stories for The Rodent’s Gazette. However, he can’t seem to avoid getting involved in all levels of high jinks! In this first book of the series, Lost Treasure of the Emerald Eye, Geronimo takes readers on a wild treasure hunt when his sister Thea (who has a book series of her own!) finds a mysterious map that takes our hero on a journey he won’t soon forget!

Geronimo siltion series lost treasure of the emerald eye cover artPhoto: Scholastic


Rainbow Fairies Series

By Daisy Meadows, Scholastic
When Rachel meets Kirsty on the ferry to Rainspell Island, they don’t know that they are about to embark on a magical adventure. It all begins in the series’ first instalment Ruby the Red Fairy, when the two new friends find Ruby the fairy in a pot at the end of rainbow. They learn that Ruby and her fairy sisters, each a different colour of the rainbow, have been cast out of Fairyland by the villainous Jack Frost, and must return before their home is lost to grayness.

Best 100 childrens' books of all timePhoto: Scholastic

The Frog and Toad Series

By Arnold Lobel, HarperCollins
Grumpy Toad and carefree Frog are best friends. And, while Frog’s optimism seems like the glue that holds them together, Toad has his own shining moments. Once, finding Frog looking too green, Toad goes to great pains to make him feel better. The friends’ great loyalty guides them throughout the four books of their adventures.

Frog and toad are friends cover artPhoto: HarperCollins

Henry and Mudge

By Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Suçie Stevenson, Simon & Schuster
In this winsome first-reader (the first in the series), single child Henry realizes how much he loves his drooling, 180-pound dog, Mudge (who grew out of seven collars in a row), when Mudge goes missing.

Henry and Mudge cover artPhoto: Simon & Schuster


Sam Who Never Forgets

By Eve Rice, HarperCollins
While he has lovingly tended to all the other animals, it appears that Sam the zookeeper has forgotten to feed Elephant. Will Elephant have his hay?

Sam who never forgets cover artPhoto: HarperCollins

The Hockey Sweater

By Roch Carrier, translated by Sheila Fischman and illustrated by Sheldon Cohen, Tundra Books
A classic Canadian parable, based on a real incident in Carrier’s childhood, finds humour and horror in the protagonist’s predicament of having to wear the hockey sweater of the rival Maple Leafs.

The hockey sweater cover artPhoto: Tundra Books

Little Bear

By Else Homelund Minarik and illustrated by Maurice Sendak, HarperCollins
Little Bear’s relationships help him learn about love in this warm and witty series.

Little bear cover artPhoto: HarperCollins


Something from Nothing

By Phoebe Gilman, Scholastic
A rich retelling of an old Jewish folk tale in which Joseph’s cherished baby blanket is transformed into successively smaller but wonderful items over the years.

Something from nothing cover artPhoto: Scholastic

The Magic Treehouse Series

By Mary Pope Osborne, Random House Books for Young Readers
An addictive blend of fascinating facts, time travel and easy-to-read short chapters where books are the portal to adventurous time periods.

The magic treehouse series cover artPhoto: Random House Books for Young Readers


By Wendelin Van Draanen, Yearling
A thoroughly enjoyable romp with a modern superhero, class nerd Nolan Byrd, who assumes a secret identity to expose class bully Bubba Bixby.

Shredderman cover artPhoto: Yearling


The Spiderwick Chronicles

By Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, Simon & Schuster
Thirteen-year-old Mallory and nine-year-old twins Jared and Simon are forced to move with their mother into the dilapidated Spiderwick Estate belonging to their great-aunt Lucinda. Once there, they discover a curious field guide to an array of mythical creatures, and find themselves sucked into the dark and dangerous world of faeries. Detailed illustrations, deliciously cryptic clues and three strong protagonists (bossy Mallory, eccentric Simon and troubled Jared) combine for a wholly satisfying read.

The spiderwick chronicles cover artPhoto: Simon & Schuster

The Velveteen Rabbit

By Margery Williams, Egmont 
The charming and sentimental story about how a favourite toy becomes real when loved to pieces.

The velveteen rabbit cover artPhoto: Egmont

The Sheep-Pig

By Dick King-Smith, Puffin Books
When Fly the sheepdog adopts Babe the pig and saves him from the family freezer by teaching him how to herd sheep, Babe teaches Fly about friendship. This book is the basis for the beloved family movie Babe.

The sheep pig cover artPhoto: Puffin Books


MIDDLE GRADE: Diary of a Wimpy Kid

By Jeff Kinney, Amulet Books
When starting middle school Greg Heffley just wants to fit in. However, no matter how hard he tries, his dreams of popularity seem to continually evade his reach. Read along as Greg learns the important lessons of growing up, documenting each new challenge and milestone in heartfelt, and often hilarious, diary entries. A super relatable story for anyone who ever felt like an outcast.

Diary of a wimpy kid cover artPhoto: Amulet Books

The Baby-Sitters Club

By Ann M. Martin and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier, Scholastic
This re-imagining of Ann M. Martin’s classic series The Baby-Sitters Club brings Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacey back together, only now in graphic novel form! Martin’s words, read and loved by generations of young readers, are given new life with Raina Telemeier’s illustrations, as the story of how four best friends form not only a club of babysitters, but also lifelong bonds of friendship, unfolds for a whole new wave of readers.  

The babysitters club cover artPhoto: Scholastic


By Deborah Howe and James Howe, Simon & Schuster
The family dog recounts how the family cat becomes obsessed with saving everyone from a suspected vampire bunny.

Bunnicula cover artPhoto: Simon & Schuster



By Ursula K. Le Guin and illustrtaed by S.D. Schindler, Scholastic
Four winged kittens take flight to escape the filth and perils of city life, and discover high adventure and a safe home in the country. 

Catwings cover artPhoto: Scholastic

The Cricket in Times Square

By George Selden and illustrated by Garth Williams, Yearling
When a country cricket from Connecticut is accidentally transported to the 42nd Street subway station in New York City, he finds friends, shelter and a hidden talent he never knew he had. 

The cricket in times square cover artPhoto: Yearling

Henry Huggins

By Beverly Cleary, HarperCollins
Set in small-town America in the 1950s, this tale of eight-year-old Henry’s antics with his new-found mutt, Ribsy, evokes a simpler time and plenty of laughs.

Henry huggins cover artPhoto: HarperCollins


Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang

By Mordecai Richler, Tundra Books
Richler’s delightfully dreadful plot, heaped with cheeky humour, finds two-plus-two-plus-two-year-old Jacob in prison for the unpardonable sin of insulting a grown-up.

Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang cover artPhoto: Tundra Books

Mr. Popper’s Penguins

By Richard Atwater and Florence Atwater, Little Brown Young Readers
Eleven “orking” and “gooking” penguins descend on the Popper household to find fame, fortune and more than a little chaos.

Mr. Popper's Penguins cover artPhoto: Little Brown Young Readers

The Mouse and the Motorcycle

By Beverly Cleary, HarperCollins
Ralph the mouse’s elation that he can actually ride the toy motorcycle of his new human friend, Keith, sparks a night of lively, comic adventure.

Mouse and the motorcycle cover artPhoto: HarperCollins


My Father’s Dragon

By Ruth Stiles Gannett and illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett, Random House Books for Young Readers
Nine-year-old Elmer Elevator travels to Wild Island to rescue an enslaved baby dragon, armed with two dozen pink lollipops, some rubber bands, chewing gum and a fine-toothed comb. First book in a trilogy.

My father's dragon cover artPhoto: Random House Books for Young Readers

Ramona Quimby, Age 8

By Beverly Cleary, HarperCollins
Ramona gets herself into a ton of hilarious trouble with her inability to compromise and her fierce need to be understood, qualities young readers readily see in themselves.

Best 100 childrens' books of all timePhoto: HarperCollins

Sideways Stories from Wayside School

By Louis Sachar, Penguin Random House
Thirty quirky short stories about an unconventional school with horrifyingly delicious characters such as the ghastly Mrs. Gorf, who turns kids into apples until she is turned into one herself…and is then eaten!

Sideways stories cover artPhoto: Penguin Random House


Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

By Judy Blume, Puffin Books
The mischievous meddling and annoying cuteness of Peter’s little brother Fudge will resonate with anyone who’s been bitten by sibling rivalry.

Judy Blume tales of a fourth grade nothing cover artPhoto: Puffin Books

The Iron Man

By Ted Hughes, Faber & Faber
Nobody knows where the giant Iron Man came from. With a head as big as a bedroom and an insatiable appetite for metal, he enrages the local farmers by eating their tractors and threshers. Recognizing that the giant is simply hungry and not evil, a young boy named Hogarth befriends him just in time for the Iron Man to conquer a monstrous space dragon that arrives to destroy the world. This is not simply a rock ’em, sock ’em boy’s war story. Former British poet laureate Hughes (also famous for his tragic marriage to the American poet Sylvia Plath) writes with spare, evocative language to tell an entrancing story, part science fiction and part fairy tale, about the seductive power of evil and how peace can defeat it.

The iron man cover artPhoto: Faber & Faber

Winnie the Pooh

By A. A. Milne and illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard, Puffin Books
Generations of kids have been enchanted by Milne’s whimsical stories about the beloved “bear of little brain” and his friends, who find wonder and mystery in the most ordinary things.

Winnie the pooh cover artPhoto: Puffin Books


Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

By Lewis Carroll, Simon & Schuster
C.S. Lewis said no book is worth reading at age 10 that is not equally worth reading at age 50. Carroll’s classic stands this test of time, as adult and child alike identify with poor Alice, who grows and shrinks and tries to make sense of her nonsensical world.

Alice's adventures in wonderland cover artPhoto: Simon & Schuster

Anne of Green Gables

By Lucy Maud Montgomery, Simon & Schuster
The exuberance with which the feisty red-haired orphan accidentally dyes her hair green and bakes a cake full of liniment pulls us headfirst into her quirky hurricane.

Anne of green gables cover artPhoto: Simon & Schuster

The Borrowers Series

By Mary Norton, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
The idea that tiny people called borrowers live beneath the floorboards of our houses, frame postage stamps as art and use matchboxes for drawers is the charming anchor for these daring adventures.

The Borrowers cover artPhoto: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


Bridge to Terabithia

By Katherine Paterson, HarperCollins In this powerful story of friendship and loss, the imaginary kingdom of Terabithia is where Jess and Leslie learn to cope with life when it’s not so beautiful.

Bridge to terabithia cover artPhoto: HarperCollins

Bud, Not Buddy

By Christoper Paul Curtis, Laurel Leaf Guided by his own “Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar Out of Yourself,” 10-year-old Bud Caldwell’s half-baked odyssey to flee his abusive foster home and find his supposed father will make you laugh and cry.

Bud not buddy cover artPhoto: Laurel Leaf

Charlotte's Web

By E.B. White and illustrated by Garth Williams, HarperCollins In the beloved story of a little pig named Wilbur who is saved from an untimely death by Charlotte the spider, readers are transported into the barn which smells of the “perspiration of tired horses and the wonderful sweet breath of patient cows.” White’s lyrical prose lulls his readers into a celebration of senses, encouraging them to find the wonder in every moment. The story confronts the reality that the passage of time — and friends — is inevitable, and portrays change not as a tragedy, but as a door to new opportunities.

Best 100 childrens' books of all timePhoto: HarperCollins


The Chronicles of Prydain Series

By Lloyd Alexander, Holt Books for Young Readers The urgent quest in this mythical world is pursued by fallible protagonists and buoyed with more than a pinch of humour.

The chronicles of prydain cover artPhoto: Holt Books for Young Readers

The Harry Potter Series

By J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury Perhaps just as magical as his wizarding abilities is the way Harry Potter took the literary world by storm and got kids (and their parents) reading again.

Harry Potter and the philosopher's stone cover artPhoto: Bloomsbury


By Gary Paulsen, Simon & Schuster A young boy survives a plane crash and goes on to spend 54 days — filled with obstacles and triumphs — alone in the wilderness.

Hatchet cover artPhoto: Simon & Schuster



By Louis Sachar, Laurel Leaf Stanley Yelnats’ no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing great-great-grandfather started a family curse that is lifted when events as palindromic as Stanley’s name lead him to retrace his ancestor’s tracks.

Holes cover artPhoto: Laurel Leaf


By Cornelia Funke, Scholastic Meggie’s father unwittingly reads some nightmarish villains out of a book and into the real world in this dark and gripping fantasy. 

Inkheart cover artPhoto: Scholastic

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

By C.S. Lewis, HarperCollins J.R.R. Tolkien argued that publishing the chronicles of Narnia would hurt Lewis’s reputation as a serious writer, but few can resist the magic door into a world where animals talk and epic battles are waged.

The lion the witch and the wardrobe cover artPhoto: HarperCollins


Little House on the Prairie Series

By Laura Ingalls Wilder, HarperCollins The physical and emotional struggles of pioneer life captured in these books were largely lost in the TV series, as was the unique character of Pa, truly larger than life on the page.

Little house on the prairie cover artPhoto: HarperCollins

The Little Prince

By Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt A timeless tale that explores the essence of love and loneliness while gently exposing the foibles of adulthood.

The little prince cover artPhoto: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Peter Pan

By J.M. Barrie, Puffin Books The “innocent and heartless” tale of Neverland and the Lost Boys, with pirates, crocodiles and the tantalizing concept of never growing up.

Best 100 childrens' books of all timePhoto: Puffin Books


By Brian Jacques, Penguin Random House Vintage Children’s Classic This epic adventure of the mice of Redwall Abbey contains the elements of all grand quests: tragedy and comedy, danger and wonder, a despicable villain and an inspiring hero.

Redwall cover artPhoto: Penguin Random House Vintage Children's Classic

The Secret Garden

By Frances Hodgson Burnett, Penguin Random House Bantam Classic The story of how spoiled, ill-tempered Mary and lonely, bedridden Colin are transformed through their efforts to bring a mysterious, abandoned garden to life.

The secret garden cover artPhoto: Penguin Random House Bantam Classic

A Series of Unfortunate Events

By Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler), HarperCollins The unrelenting bad fortune that plagues the Baudelaire orphans propels you through these books’ dark, droll pages like a rubbernecker at a car crash.

A series of unfortunate events cover artPhoto: HarperCollins


By Natalie Babbitt, Square Fish After drinking from a magic spring, the Tuck family became immortal — a fact that 10-year-old Winnie Foster discovers after stumbling upon the eternally 17-year-old Jesse Tuck in the woods one morning. Compelled to make Winnie understand that the family legacy is more curse than blessing and must be kept secret, the Tucks steal her away. While Winnie’s affection for the family grows — as does her infatuation with handsome Jesse — she also comes to see that living forever means that life passes you by.

Tuck everlasting cover artPhoto: Square Fish

The Wind in the Willows

By Kenneth Grahame, Pan MacMillan The madcap adventures of Mole, Ratty, Toad and Badger expose lessons of friendship and morality with rich metaphor and burlesque comedy.

The wind in the willows cover artPhoto: Pan MacMillan

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

By L. Frank Baum, Signet  Described as the first truly American fairy tale, Baum’s classic story sends us on a weird and wonderful journey to learn that sometimes you have to get lost in order to be found.

Best 100 childrens' books of all timePhoto: Signet


A Wrinkle in Time

By Madeleine L’Engle, Pan MacMillan Likeable characters who stumble and grow make this more than just great science fiction.

A wrinkle in time cover artPhoto: Pan MacMillan


By R.J. Palacio, Knopf Books for Young Readers Auggie Pullman was born with a rare facial deformity, a characteristic that makes it hard for him to fit in. This inspirational and uplifting story about overcoming adversity reminds all readers that true beauty lies below the surface. Make sure to catch the film adaptation, starring Jacob Tremblay and Julia Roberts coming to theatres in late 2017!

Wonder cover artPhoto: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Read more: 100 best Canadian kids' books of all time 16 empowering books with strong female characters 15 creative ways to get kids reading (that really work!) 

This article was originally published on Feb 01, 2018

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