50 Classic Children's Books Parents & Kids Love Best

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Classic Children's Books Parents And Kids Love Best

Everyone remembers the classic children's books they read and loved when they were younger.

Maybe it was a parent or grandparent that read it, or a favorite teacher. The memories will stick with them forever, even when they’ve graduated to more adult books, and perhaps had kids of their own reading the same book.

The best children’s stories are never old or past their prime. Like jewelry or a photo, they are a classic part of a place in time, timeless and following from one generation to the next.

Perhaps there’s a book you read as a child that you're sharing with your own kid. Maybe there’s a book you loved that is now saved in an attic. Or, maybe there’s just a story that had such a great impact on you that you never forgot it.

Take a stroll down memory lane with these classic children's books.

RELATED: 13 Best Book For Kids To Help Them Feel Better About Themselves And Their Bodies

With so many kids doing remote education and learning this year, having a crisp book in physical form can help upgrade a child’s reading collection. Plus, you can include books that can one day make a profound impact, just as those books did for you so many years ago.

1. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr.

This story is told through the eyes of a frog, a horse, and a bird. It's a great way for children to appreciate and understand animals as more than just cute, furry things, but living beings with thoughts and feelings.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

2. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

The wardrobe in this story is not clothes, but a closet door that, when children pass through, it takes them into another world. The fantasy series is about sacrifice, hope and change, all told in a fascinating backdrop.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

3. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault

This alphabet picture book is fun and entertaining, but also simple. In it, the letters are having a great time, on an adventure that involves climbing a tree. It's also a great way to study the alphabet, without realizing it's studying.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

4. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

The series tells the story of Madeline, a little girl attending a boarding school in Paris. Her school has eleven other girls, her dog Genevieve, and their adventures with their teacher, Miss Clavel.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

5. If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Numeroff

This book is all about hospitality. For example, in the event a big hungry moose visits, make him muffins so he feels welcome. Then, if he needs more, you make more muffins.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

6. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

A child who is lonely or feeling isolated may appreciate this story about two lonely children who use their imaginations to create a magical forest kingdom. Everything is possible with some creativity.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

7. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

What a fun adventure! This is an exciting story about a boy who buys and trains two hunting dogs, and all the hijinks that ensue afterward. There are also themes of grief.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

8. The Borrowers by Mary Norton

This children's fantasy novel was published just after World War II, and yet it's a timeless story about a family of tiny people who live secretly in the walls and floors of an English house, "borrowing" from the big people. It's how they survive, and it symbolizes a hard time in the history of our world.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

9. Curious George by H.A. Rey

Everyone loves Curious George! This book is about an orphaned monkey named George, and his friends the Man with the Yellow Hat, and others.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

10. Strega Nona by Tomie De Paola

This children's story is about Strega Nona and Big Anthony. With a bit of fantasty in the form of a magic pasta pot, something wild happens, nearly flooding a whole town.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

RELATED: 15 Best Mystery Book Series For Adults

11. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

This children's stories has some pretty adult metaphors. But for children, it's a beautiful fantasy world where a girl having a fever dream encounters, only to discover, there's no place like home.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

12. A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond

The book teaches us that we should always see the good in people. Adds Nevers, “It also teaches parents and kids that putting yourself in the shoes of others goes a long way.” What a great lesson!

(Purchase it on Amazon)

13. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Children love the easy-to-follow style of this book, the funny parts, the adventures, and relatable characters. The poignancy of the loss of childhood combined with the brightness of the future usually goes right over children’s heads, but it’s what makes this book a must-read.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

14. Dr. Seuss's Beginner Book Collection

You just can’t go wrong with Dr. Seuss. This collection holds the main classics: The Cat in the Hat, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, Green Eggs and Ham, Hop on Pop, and Fox in Socks. It’s fun for kids of all age.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

15. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

“This was my favorite book growing up,” says parenting writer, Felissa Allard. “The poems are so whimsical and meaningful but, most importantly, I love that the lessons are evergreen and it doesn’t talk down to children. Almost like it’s winking at you and is in on the fun or laughing at grown-ups.”

(Purchase it on Amazon)

16. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Is Harry Potter a classic yet? To Allard, it is, adding, “My 7-year old and I just started reading it together and I had forgotten how many important lessons are woven throughout those books... There are so many strong female characters and they’re often rolling their eyes at the boys, which is nice to see. The messages of friendship and loyalty are great for kids to see in action.”

(Purchase it on Amazon)

17. The Frog and Toad Collection by Arnold Lobel

In this book series, the central theme is the friendship between a frog and a toad, as they try new and different adventures — trying to fly a kite, cleaning Toad's dirty house, and not putting off their chores. While it’s a children’s book with light themes, it’s really about friendship, understanding those different than us, and the dangers of isolation.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

18. Casey at the Bat by Ernest Thayer

This poem is about Casey, a baseball player who is overconfident and ends up bringing his team down because of his own ego. This story teaches humility but also the value of being part of a team. This is something even adults can learn from.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

19. Elmer by David McKee

This is a timeless story about trying to fit in when you feel different from those around you, as depicted by Elmer, a multicoloured elephant who lives among a grey herd. He tries to hide his true self, but ultimately learns his uniqueness is why everyone loves him. It's a great story about racism and bigotry, and how to be better.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

20. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

This was one of the first children’s books to feature a Black lead character who was not caricatured in some way. The theme is an innocent but meaningful snowy day adventure that showcases creativity and imagination.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

RELATED: 16 Powerful Life Lessons We Can All Learn From Children's Books

21. Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton

Katy is not a little girl, but a brave tractor. It’s her job to push a bulldozer in the summer and a snowplow in the winter, which is how everyone else can get to work and do their jobs. It’s a beautiful story about endurance and to just keep chugging along.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

22. The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper

Another great story about the value of hard work, but also positive thinking. You may not be a train engine, but you can keep moving forward and meet your goals. It’s a wonderful way of explaining perseverance to children.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

23. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

This is the book about a bunny saying "goodnight" to everything around: "Goodnight room. Goodnight moon!” It’s a simple, delightful story that helps children to appreciate the value and beauty of everything around them.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

24. The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown

In this book, the bunny wants to run away. His mother, though, tells him that "if you run away, I will run after you!” It shows the steadfast love of a mother for her child, and the unwavering support that a bunny (or child) can count on.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

25. May I Bring a Friend? by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers

For the child who loves royals, this is something for them. This is the story of a boy who gets invited to visit the king and queen. He then asks if he can bring a friend the next time he visits. It’s a great story about acceptance.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

26. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

This is the legendary story of a famous chocolate factory (and chocolate factory owner!), and 5 children who are lucky enough to win a contest to go visit him. Read the adventures that unfold.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

27. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

This story is about everything from friendship to creativity and imagination, and even coping with the phases of life. Charlotte has feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, but he wants to be her friend. We also meet Fern, who saved Wilbur's life when he was born the runt of his litter.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

28. Stuart Little by E.B. White

Even mice love a great adventure in this story about friendship and finding a lost partner. This book is about a mouse who goes on a great adventure to find his best friend: a bird.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

29. The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

While this is a story of strange situations and witty dialogue, it’s also about friendships that endure, even in the most unlikely of pairings. 

(Purchase it on Amazon)

30. The Velveteen Rabbit by A.A. Milne

Yes, it's another bunny story, but this one is different. In this case, a stuffed animal is brought to life purely by the love of a young boy. It shows the enduring power of love and devotion.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

RELATED: The Real Story Behind The Book 'Love You Forever' Is Actually Very Sad

31. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

Even kids sometimes have very bad days. Every parent can certainly relate to that. This book (and the telling of Alexander’s pretty rotten day) will help to put it all into perspective.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

32. Are You My Mother? by PD Eastman

A sad story, but a hopeful one. It's about a baby bird who falls out of a tree and goes on a great search to find their mom. It’s a great tool for learning to read, and also shows the power of perseverance and hope.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

33. Corduroy by Don Freeman

While as an adult the idea of being locked in our favorite department store sounds pretty exciting, it’s very scary for children. This happened to a teddy bear, and he tells of his great adventures overnight in the store.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

34. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

Nature is wonderful and it’s up to the next generation to protect it so that it exists for future generations. This book  tells the story of all the gifts a tree gives throughout its long life. The story is also a bit of a love tale, as it’s about the relationship between the tree and a young boy.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

35. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

A young boy accidentally drops his magic crystals on a peach tree. The peach then grows as big as a house and leads to exciting adventures, in typical Roald Dahl fashion.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

36. The Very Hungry Caterpiller by Eric Carle

This may be about a hungry caterpillar, but the greater meaning of this story is about growth and growing up. Ultimately, the caterpiller will grow into a beautiful butterfly, which shows developing children that change is not scary, and can be wonderful.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

37. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

A young girl falls through a rabbit hole into a strange and exciting world. It's all about creativity and imagination, and learning about people and things different from you.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

38. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

This fantasy story is about the restorative powers of love and forgiveness, and how that love can heal all. It's something even adults can learn about.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

39. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

This book looks into what exactly reality is and what it isn't, and how we can know the difference. It all starts with a walk at night looking for the moon... and it's not there.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

40. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

This is a wonderful story about exploration and discovery, as told through children on a space travel journey. There are some pretty complicated themes, so you may need to read it with your child and expect questions.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

RELATED: The 7 Best, Most Entertaining Podcasts For Little Kids

41. Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

Some great children’s books are those that are identifiable to children in similar situations.

“This historical fiction novel follows a foster kid named Bud who leaves his foster home after mistreatment to search for his biological father,” says Afoma Umesi. Along the way, he finds friendship, music, and family.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

42. Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

This is quite an inspiring tale of a girl who is non-verbal and in a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy.

Adds Umesi, “The kids at her school just don't know that she's a genius with a photographic memory, but they're about to find out. Draper explores the challenges of disability and changes the way we look at disabled people, whether or not they're geniuses.”

(Purchase it on Amazon)

43. One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Sometimes, real themes are mixed into a fantasy environment. “Another work of historical fiction in which three sisters are shipped off to their mother for the summer, only to be sent by her to a Black Panther summer camp,” Umesi says. It's filled with summer camp antics, plenty of history, and family drama.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

44. The Bears' Vacation by Stan and Jan Berenstain

Many of us grew up on the Berenstain Bears books. This one takes you on a fun trip to the beach with activities including snorkeling, sailing, swimming, surfing, and exploring. It's a great trip down memory lane as an adult.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

45. John Henry: An American Legend by Ezra Jack Keats

African-American folklore hero John Henry tells his story in an easy to follow rhyming picture book. It's a great way to introduce your children to a very important part of history.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

46. Legends of Paul Bunyan by Harold W. Felton

This is the timeless story of lumberjack hero, Paul Bunyan. It collects all sorts of legends and folklore about his life and adventures, and it's a great classic to add to your collection.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

47. A Pueblo Indian Tale: Arrow to the Sun by Gerald McDermott

This is a beautiful retelling of a legend, and tells the timeless story of a boy searching for his father, having to pass through all sorts of ceremonial chambers to prove his heritage and reach his goal. It’s an important message about perseverance and overcoming boundaries.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

48. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

This is the legendary story of a little boy named Max who is sent to his room with no dinner and then has a dream where his bedroom is transformed into a forest full of “wild things.” After some adventure, Max misses his mom and understands how hard it is to be her, the one in charge.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

49. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Both kids and adults love this modern classic because of its simplicity, honesty, and eye-opening perspective on the world. This book tells the story of a young prince's travels through the universe, and the wisdom he gains along the way.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

50. The BFG by Roald Dahl

“It tells the story of the unlikely friendship between a giant and a little girl,” says Barbara Nevers, founder and CEO at NeoLittle. This book teaches children and adults not to judge people according to their appearance but by their actions. The Giant in this book, although scary, turns out to be the kindest character.

(Purchase it on Amazon)

RELATED: 18 Important Children's Books That Can Help Kids Understand Polyamory

Aly Walansky is a NY-based lifestyles writer who focuses on health, wellness, and relationships. Her work appears in dozens of digital and print publications regularly. Visit her on Twitter or email her.

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