Kid-Lit: The 10 Best Children’s Books of All Time

best children's books
Photo by Cultura/REX/Shutterstock (2877942a) Model Released - Kids in Garden VARIOUS
Photo by Cultura/REX/Shutterstock
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* Whether you have a child or not, you’ll love these nostalgic kid classics
* Classic illustrated picture books for story time, bedtime, and even college graduation
* Resurrect your childhood bedtime ritual with these heartwarming reads

Bedtime read-alouds have become a night-time tradition in family households for over a century. Even today, despite Kindles and iPads becoming the golden standard for reading, the pleasure and bonding experience you get from reading a tangible, illustrated story to your child is irreplaceable and totally technology-resistant.

Reading to young children–even infants–has been shown to have profound and enduring benefits to children’s cognitive development and may impact their success in later life. You don’t have to sit down with a full-on novel to reap the benefits. Picture books are great way to get the youngster’s engaged in learning, and it will help them recognize and make connections with names and objects in the world too.

1. Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do You See?

This 1967 picture book features vibrant illustrations of animals (and a teacher) written in a question and answer format, encouraging participation from the audience. It’s a great anytime story for young toddlers who are just beginning to talk and make relative connections with their surroundings.

Brown bear book amazon Image courtesy of Amazon


2. Runaway Bunny

Margaret Wise Brown’s first children’s book, this classic story visualizes the power of unconditional love for a parent and child through two rabbits. When a boy bunny decides he wants to runaway and be on his own, his mother promises to follow him wherever he goes. He takes on a number of different imaginary disguises to outrun his mother, but she finds him every time. Children with separation anxieties will be comforted by the mother’s ability to find him each time and parents with children of all ages will choke up, relating to this mother’s unwavering pursuit to find her son, regardless of his mistakes.

Runaway Bunny Image courtesy of Amazon


3. Corduroy 

This book tells the story of a teddy bear for sale at a department store named Corduroy, who comes to life to find his missing button, and eventually finds a new home with a young girl named Lisa and her family. The story has a subtle moral undertone too; Author Don Freeman highlights the contrast between luxury consumerism versus the simple things in life like family, making it a nice read for the 3-5 age group.

Corduroy book amazon Image courtesy of Amazon


4. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

Numeroff’s classic is a circular tale following the adventure of a young boy after he gives a mooching mouse a cookie. The illustrations were rendered by Felicia Bond, and have been acclaimed for attention to detail.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie Image courtesy Amazon


5. Goodnight Moon

This classic picture book has been a bedtime story classic since first published in 1947. With exuberant illustrations by Clement Hurd, the book follows a boy through his bedtime ritual, saying goodnight to an array of different items in his home, including his room and a red balloon. It’s part story and part lullaby for children, and adult art lovers will continue to be inspired by Hurd’s fauvist-inspired illustrations.

Goodnight Moon amazon Image courtesy of Amazon


6. Love You Forever

This one’s a bit of a tear jerker, and while it’s deceptively simple, it’s also one of the most moving stories of all time. Brought to life by Sheila McGraw’s poignant illustrations, the story follows the relationship between a mother and her son, following them through life’s stages. Each page shows mother cradling the son from infancy to adulthood. At the end of the book, the grown up boy is pictured cradling his elderly mother in his arms (pass the tissues, please).

Love Your Forever book amazon Image courtesy of Amazon


7. Stellaluna

Through the story of Stellaluna, an orphaned fruit bat raised by birds, readers learn about uniqueness, individuality, and making friends with those who are different than us. The 1994 book is animated with compelling, lifelike illustrations and an engaging yet warm dialogue that according to teachers, resonates well with kindergartners through third-graders.

Stellaluna amazon Image courtesy of Amazon


8. Where The Wild Things Are 

One of the more popular titles in the kid-lit canon, Where The Wild Things Are was adapted into a wildly popular feature film in 2009. The story follows a young boy who is sent to bed without dinner after dressing up in his wolf costume and misbehaving. His room magically transforms into a jungle-like setting, paralleling his imaginations about such a place. When he becomes homesick, he finds himself back home with dinner waiting for him. A classic story with an engaging plot and underlying the-grass-isn’t-always-greener theme. A must-read for the youngsters pre-k and up.

Where The Wild Things Are amazon Image courtesy of Amazon


9. The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Eric Carle’s story, The Very Hungry Caterpillar has been regarded as one of the most iconic children’s classics of all time. Readers follow a young caterpillar eating his way through the week, chomping down an apple, two pears, and a variety of other foods while also learning about colors and numbers throughout his food-filled journey.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Image courtesy of Amazon


10. Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

One of Dr. Seuss’–also known as Theodor Geise’sl– most beloved works, Oh The Places You’ll Go is an animated self-help book of sorts, that’s full of wisdom for all ages. While it’s been grouped-in with the “kids” genre, it also is a great gift for college grads, twenty-somethings in a quarter-life crisis, or anyone who needs a reminder that while life’s journey often presents us with steep hurdles, “you can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

Oh The Places You'll Go Image courtesy of Amazon

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