I’m always scanning lists of the best children’s books, looking for something new and wonderful for my daughter and I to read together. Often times, though, these lists by experts don’t include the books my daughters loves best, so I’ve decided to make my own list of the best children’s books. Which of your kid’s favorite books have made my list, and which will be new to you? Let’s find out.
1. The “Olivia” Series by Ian Falconer
Olivia the Pig is a precocious porcine fashionista with loads of confidence and a thing for the color red. She’s the star of Ian Falconer’s series, named, of course, after her, and she'd be delighted to be featured first on my list of the best children's books. Start with the first book, and work your way through the gloriously rendered, wickedly funny, and incredibly sweet stories, including the last one, Olivia and the Fairy Princess.
2. The “Little” Series by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Jen Corace
These books are clever and sweet, and include tales of a pea who hates eating candy (Little Pea), a pig who hates a mess (Little Oink), and an owl who just wants to go to bed early, like his friends (Little Hoot). My daughter loves all three, but her favorite is Little Pea. The illustrations are wonderfully expressive and the stories are darling.
3. The “Little Biddle” Series by David Kirk
Most of us are familiar with David Kirk’s lushly-colored Miss Spider, but though less well-known, his Little Biddle series is just as sweet and beautifully illustrated. My little girl’s favorite is Little Bunny, Biddle Bunny, who leaves his mother’s crowded nest for a day of freedom and adventure, only to miss the crowd of tails and ears at the end of the day. This is growing up, right?
4. “the Little Prince” by Antoine De Saint-Exupery
A classic! Regardless of how we adults interpret the symbolism of the characters and meaning of the plot, children will enjoy the adventures of the Little Prince and his friend, who narrates the tale. My daughter’s favorite part, of course, is the boa constrictor drawing bit at the beginning.
5. “the Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein
As a child, I loved this book, as does my daughter. It becomes a very different tale when read as an adult – it makes me cry, actually – but it’s wonderful. Read it with your little one, and see what they take away from the story of a little boy growing up with his very generous, loving tree.
6. The “Pigeon” Books by Mo Willems
Poor Pigeon! He can’t drive the bus, he can’t have a puppy, he can’t stay up late, he has to share his hot dog… but most recently, he gets a cookie, so it’s not all doom and gloom for the Pigeon. Mo Willems’s books, featuring Pigeon, are humorous and brilliant. They provide so many “learning moments” between laughs. And Duckling! So cute!
7. “the Unexpectedly Bar Hair Day of Barcelona Smith” by Keith Graves
I don’t understand why this book isn’t more popular. The story has a moral, and a good one, at that! It tells the tale of Barcelona Smith, something of a control freak, who has a bad hair day. This unexpected flaw in his otherwise perfectly planned life leads to adventures. And bugs in his teeth. But still.
8. The “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” Series by Jeff Kinney
Self-centered and decidedly wimpy, Greg Heffley, the lead character in Jeff Kinney’s “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series, is an honest, unflinching representation of middle-school boys around the country, and possibly, the world. I adore Rowley – he’s a model of independence and compassion – and he makes an ideal companion to Greg. The first few books in the series are the best, and do try to read them in order.
9. The “Harry Potter” Series by J.K. Rowling
Would any list of the best children’s books be complete without Harry Potter and his friends? The books grow in maturity along with the title character and his friends. The subject matter develops nicely, as do the characters and ongoing conflict between the young wizard and his evil nemesis. The first book is perhaps the best, and likely made an entire generation of children wonder whether, when they had their next birthday, they’d get their own summons to Hogwarts.
10. The “Babymouse” Series by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm
This lengthy series is my daughter’s favorite. It’s more comic book than chapter book, but it’s funny and cute and, oddly enough, rather realistic. Babymouse faces many of the same issues that most pre-teen girls do, from catty (pun intended) frenemies to annoying younger brothers to hard school work and embarrassing parents. We love Babymouse!
There’s such variety here, so there’s sure to be something on this list your own little ones will love! Which of these books do your kids enjoy, and which do you think will become new favorites? Or is there another children’s book or book series you can recommend?