By BCR Staff
Posted February 2015
“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”
-Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Books teach, entertain, console, help us better understand others, and help us feel understood. You can read almost anywhere, at almost any time. Books are portable, and affordable. Eight dollars will buy you a movie ticket, good for two hours of fun, which is great, but it will also buy you a book, good for many hours of life-enriching stories. The heroes in books inspire us, and as children, we learn many lessons from these heroes. The value of hard work, the significance of compassion or the love of another. Books help us step into the life of a person different than us, which helps develop empathy. When we read a book we can gain some understanding of what it’s like to be another race, gender, religion, socio-economic class, or nationality. Books, even fictional works, give us insight into history. Indeed, as Jackie Kennedy said, books are the best way of all to enlarge our worlds.
But where does one begin? There are so many books out there, and we can’t read them all. Which books will capture your child’s imagination? Broaden their horizons? Answering these questions is the goal of our list of the top one hundred children’s books. This list is further divided by age into five categories. The age groups are as follows: 2-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-11, and 12+ years old. This is not the age at which a child should be able to read the books, but the age at which the book is for children whose parents, relatives, or caretakers wish to read to them. Each child develops differently, and so different children will be ready to read these books on their own at different ages. That is a decision for the parents to make. Our list is intended to serve as a guide to the books no child should miss during their development.
Each category contains twenty of the most prominent, influential works of children’s literature ever written. Some books on this list, and the stories they contain are hundreds of years old, some were written just a decade or less ago. The age isn’t important so much as the quality, critical reception, and for older books, their enduring nature and ability to appeal to audiences throughout the generations.
There is no objective means of comparing such great works and solidifying a hard and fast ranking. While the entries are numbered, these numbers reflect nothing more than the subjective evaluation of the book as an essential part of literary development based on several factors including critical reception, how the book has been regarded throughout history, and the book’s popularity. All of these books are important and should be experienced.
Finally a note on the age ranges. While the books are categorized by age range, this is simply for the sake of convenience and to give readers of this article an idea of which books are suitable at which ages. However for individual books we give an age suggestion such as 7+ or 10+. This is because no one is ever really too old to read these books. Without further ado, we present our picks for the 100 best kids’ books of all time.
Top 100 Children’s Books of All Time – Ages 2-5
Top 100 Children’s Books of All Time – Ages 6-7
Top 100 Children’s Books of All Time – Ages 8-9
Top 100 Children’s Books of All Time – Ages 10-11
Top 100 Children’s Books of All Time – Ages 12 and up