100 Famous Children’s Books Every Kid Should Read (Plus Free Printable)

Stories with messages that stand the test of time.

What makes children’s books famous is probably less about the awards they win and more about how many times children want to read them. The classic books on this list include some older and long-loved favorites as well as many newer entries that can now be considered must-reads for the younger set. Here’s our list of 100 famous children’s books.

(Be sure to fill out the form on this page to get your free printable list of all the books mentioned below.)

Famous Adventure and Fantasy Children’s Books

Cover of Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse by Leo Lionni

1. Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse by Leo Lionni

This book, about a real mouse who wishes he could be loved like the household toy version of him is, offers a gentle lesson in honoring our true selves. Lionni’s unique collage artwork makes this a special volume.

Buy it: Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse

Cover of Instructions by Neil Gaiman- famous children's books

2. Instructions by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Charles Vess

With allusions to fairy tales and fables, this lyrical picture book from fantasy author Gaiman is the perfect bedtime read.

Buy it: Instructions

Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg- famous children's books

3. Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg

Kids hooked on the latest Jumanji movies might be unaware that the adventures on screen began with a Caldecott Medal–winning—and delightful—picture book.

Buy it: Jumanji

Knight Owl

4. Knight Owl by Christopher Denise

One of the newest entries on this list, Knight Owl offers a combo kids love: a triumphant story featuring an unlikely hero. In this book, a tiny owl protects the kingdom from a fierce dragon—and how he does it isn’t with strength or sword but with smarts.

Buy it: Knight Owl

Poles Apart

5. Poles Apart by Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Jarvis

Though it’s sometimes surprising to learn, penguins live at the South Pole, while polar bears live at the North Pole. But when a family of penguins gets lost on their way to a picnic, the two creatures unite, and a friendship is formed. This journey crisscrosses the globe with smart humor.

Buy it: Poles Apart

Shrek- famous children's books

6. Shrek! by William Steig

Before Shrek was a world-famous cinematic ogre, he was a character in Steig’s picture book about an everyday ogre who sets off to see the world.

Buy it: Shrek

Cover of The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat

7. The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat

Santat’s Caldecott Medal–winning story of an imaginary friend awaiting his person and the journey he takes to find that person is both funny and thought-provoking.

Buy it: The Adventures of Beekle

The Digger and the Flower

8. The Digger and the Flower by Joseph Kuefler

At a construction site, other trucks go about their jobs without a second thought, but one truck notices a bud growing in the dirt. Instead of barreling ahead, Digger takes a different route—and it changes the face of the city. This is one of the famous children’s books with an important environmental message.

Buy it: The Digger and the Flower

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything

9. The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams, illustrated by Megan Lloyd

While considered a Halloween book, this tale of a brave little old woman who is in for a scary walk is just spooky enough to delight kids who enjoy mild suspense while not being so frightening it will induce nightmares.

Buy it: The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything

Famous Children’s Books That Focus on Diversity, Inclusion, and Culture

Ada Twist, Scientist

10. Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts

Part of the Questioneers series, which includes Rosie Revere, Engineer, this picture book celebration of women in STEM draws inspiration from Marie Curie and Ada Lovelace.

Buy it: Ada Twist, Scientist

Bodega Cat

11. Bodega Cat by Louie Chin

This 2019 winner of the Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection Award shows the power of picture books. Via Chip, a cat that wanders the aisles of a New York bodega (corner grocery store), this book shows what it means to know and live in a bustling community.

Buy it: Bodega Cat

Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away- famous children's books

12. Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away by Meg Medina, illustrated by Sonia Sánchez

When Daniela’s best friend, Evelyn Del Rey, announces she’s moving, it throws the girls for a loop. They’ve spent their whole lives so far doing everything together. But Medina’s sensitive book about enduring big changes offers a hopeful message and is excellent for kids coping with pals moving to new locales.

Buy it: Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away

Fry Bread

13. Fry Bread by Kevin Noble Maillard, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

This story in verse is both informational and lovely. Winner of dozens of awards, this picture book celebrates Native American traditions, families, and food, all in a warm and wonderful way.

Buy it: Fry Bread


14. Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Christian Robinson

Gaston has three poodles for sisters and somehow knows he doesn’t quite fit in—even if he works very hard at it. His sisters are just more refined than he is. After an encounter with a family of bulldogs, Gaston learns there’s been a mix-up. But maybe family isn’t about everyone being alike as much as it is about being where you’re most loved.

Buy it: Gaston

I Am Every Good Thing

15. I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James

The charismatic narrator of this book is a Black boy who tells the reader exactly who he is, as well as the things people assume he is that he tells us he is not. The award-winning author-illustrator team delivers an important message to all readers to avoid the unfair, incorrect, and racist labels society often places on Black boys.

Buy it: I Am Every Good Thing


16. Jazz by Walter Dean Myers, illustrated by Christopher Myers

Unwrapping and celebrating each type of jazz—from bebop and ragtime to boogie and improvisational—through rhythmic poems and kinetic illustrations, this book claimed myriad awards for good reason. It sprawls, sings, zips, zags, and likely will create some young fans of the musical form too.

Buy it: Jazz

Julián Is a Mermaid

17. Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

Winner of the Stonewall Book Award, this picture book’s message of self-love and self-expression is a beautiful one. Julián, after seeing women dressed as mermaids, is so dazzled that he wants to be just like them. But he worries what his abuela will think when she finds him in full mermaid garb. Fortunately, his grandmother celebrates him rather than scolding him.

Buy it: Julián Is a Mermaid

Cover of Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena- famous children's books

18. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson

CJ and his grandma’s bus ride is more than a journey to a destination—it’s also an education in appreciating the beauty woven throughout everyday life.

Buy it: Last Stop on Market Street

Martin's Big Words

19. Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Martin Luther King Jr. by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Bryan Collier

This Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Honor book uses quotes from some of the civil rights leader’s greatest speeches to tell the story of his life. Collier’s collage art blends watercolor paintings with various textures and patterns, making this book as beautiful as it is enlightening.

Buy it: Martin’s Big Words

Ruby's Chinese New Year

20. Ruby’s Chinese New Year by Vickie Lee, illustrated by Joey Chou

If you’ve ever wondered how the Chinese zodiac came to be, this book explains it. While delivering a Chinese New Year card to her grandmother, Ruby encounters each of the zodiac’s 12 animals and learns the stories behind them. This is a great and fun introduction to Asian traditions.

Buy it: Ruby’s Chinese New Year

Cover of Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold

21. Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold

Award-winning author and artist Ringgold’s most well-known picture book blends fiction, autobiography, and Black history in a story about a young girl whose dream to go wherever her fancy takes her comes true for a night. She’s lifted from the tarred rooftop of her apartment building to see the world around her.

Buy it: Tar Beach

The Crayon Man- famous children's books

22. The Crayon Man by Natascha Biebow, illustrated by Steven Salerno

Any kid who’s ever been awed by the array of colors included in a big yellow box of Crayola crayons will adore this biography of Edwin Binney, the man who invented them. He literally brought color to kids’ worlds.

Buy it: The Crayon Man

The Day You Begin- famous children's books

23. The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López

There are times in life when we all feel like we don’t quite fit in. And for some kids, that feeling can be persistent. This is one of the famous children’s books that offers words of encouragement to help kids connect with others even when it takes a little bravery.

Buy it: The Day You Begin

The Hundred Dresses

24. The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin

This Newbery Medal winner is an enduring story of being brave enough to stand up for others. Wanda Petronski wears the same dress every day but claims to have 100 dresses at home to fend off her classmates’ taunts. One girl decides to stand up for Wanda rather than say nothing.

Buy it: The Hundred Dresses

The Proudest Blue

25. The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad and S.K. Ali, illustrated by Hatem Aly

It’s two sisters’ first day of school, and one’s first day of wearing the tradition Muslim head covering for women, a hijab. But when Faizah sees that her older sister’s hijab isn’t met with welcoming words from everyone, she learns what it means to have courage.

Buy it: The Proudest Blue

The Undefeated

26. The Undefeated by Kwami Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Alexander originally performed this poem for ESPN’s program of the same name. The ode to Black life in America—which won multiple awards when it was published in 2020—doesn’t shy from addressing the traumas of slavery, segregation, and injustice but is ultimately triumphant and uplifting, making references to works by Martin Luther King Jr., Gwendolyn Brooks, and Langston Hughes.

Buy it: The Undefeated


27. Watercress by Andrea Wang, illustrated by Jason Chin

When her Chinese immigrant parents stop the car while driving through Ohio in order to cut watercress by the side of the road, the girl in this story is embarrassed. But she soon learns that the plant reminds her parents of home and their heritage. This is one of the autobiographical famous children’s books that won the Caldecott Medal and a Newbery Honor.

Buy it: Watercress

The Cat Man of Aleppo

28. The Cat Man of Aleppo by Karim Shamsi-Basha and Irene Latham, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu

During the Syrian Civil War, Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel stayed behind to drive an ambulance, bringing wounded fellow citizens to safety—and then also began tending to the cries of cats left as their owners sought refuge. This true story of caring and courage is a Caldecott Medal winner.

Buy it: The Cat Man of Aleppo

We Are Water Protectors

29. We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Michaela Goade

Inspired by Indigenous-led movements to protect the Earth’s most valuable resource, water, this Caldecott Medal winner centers on one young water protector’s quest to safeguard the precious asset.

Buy it: We Are Water Protectors

Famous Children’s Fairy Tales, Folktales, and Fables

Anansi the Spider- famous children's books

30. Anansi the Spider by Gerald McDermott

Anansi the spider, a character from Ashanti folklore, is tiny, but he outsmarts many larger foes. McDermott’s Caldecott Honor–winning take on the tale uses African art motifs to celebrate this resourceful arachnid.

Buy it: Anansi the Spider

Fables- famous children's books

31. Fables by Arnold Lobel

Lobel, author of the Frog and Toad books, brings his clever mind to this compilation of original fables. Each delightful fable teaches its own life lesson.

Buy it: Fables

Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm

32. Fairy Tales From the Brothers Grimm, by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, illustrated by various illustrators

Including some of the most famous children’s books from the Brothers Grimm, this edition is a great introduction to some of their tales and includes the works of several well-known illustrators, including Quentin Blake, Oliver Jeffers, and Emma Chichester Clark.

Buy it: Fairy Tales From the Brothers Grimm

Mother of Sharks

33. Mother of Sharks by Melissa Cristina Márquez, illustrated by Devin Elle Kurtz

Written by a globally renowned shark scientist, this book blends the writer’s childhood memories of discovering aquatic life with fantastical details to create a spellbinding story that celebrates a much-misunderstood creature of the sea, sharks.

Buy it: Mother of Sharks


34. Rumpelstiltskin by the Brothers Grimm, retold and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky

What distinguishes this telling of Rumpelstiltskin from versions included in other Brothers Grimm collections are Zelinsky’s gorgeous paintings throughout. Fairy-tale-loving children may want to seek out his fine-art renderings of other famous children’s books too.

Buy it: Rumpelstiltskin

Cover of St. George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges- famous children's books

35. Saint George and the Dragon retold by Margaret Hodges, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman

Hodges’ retelling of a segment from Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, in which St. George slays the dragon that’s been terrorizing the land, has all the elements of fairy tales kids crave. And as Albert Einstein once said, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

Buy it: Saint George and the Dragon

Strega Nona- famous children's books

36. Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola

Strega Nona is the sole keeper of a magical pasta pot that brings forth a never-ending supply of noodles. When the good witch heads to see a friend, Big Anthony tells his Calabrian town he’ll work the pot—and the results are both disastrous and hilarious. DePaola’s story is a charming classic.

Buy it: Strega Nona

The Gruffalo

37. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler

A small mouse knows he’s easy prey in the deep, dark wood, but he has brains to spare and outwits his many foes by inventing the Gruffalo, a creature with large teeth and sharp claws. This rhyming tale of wit winning over might has sold more than 13.5 million copies.

Buy it: The Gruffalo

The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

38. The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

Aesop’s fables are an enduring childhood mainstay. Multi-award–winning artist Pinkney has adapted many of them in glorious picture-book form, and his gorgeous take on the tale of a lion and a mouse who learn that a kindness-first approach has deep value is one of his best.

Buy it: The Lion and the Mouse

Famous Classic Children’s Books


39. Corduroy by Don Freeman

Corduroy the teddy bear has sat for a long time on his department store shelf—probably thanks to his outfit missing a button and him looking quite worn. But little girl Lisa sees in him a friend and brings Corduroy home in this start to his many adventures.

Buy it: Corduroy

Dear Zoo

40. Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

A wonderful lift-the-flap book, Dear Zoo will be read so many times that the pages’ little doors will likely wear out, as kids open each one to discover which animal the zoo has delivered.

Buy it: Dear Zoo

Extra Yarn

41. Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen

A little girl has a self-replenishing box of yarn that allows her to knit scarves and sweaters aplenty for everyone in town. But when an evil archduke wants it, offering her lots of money, she refuses to sell. This modern fairy tale will give kids plenty to think and talk about.

Buy it: Extra Yarn

The Story of Ferdinand

42. The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson

A true classic with a wonderful message, Ferdinand will capture kid and adult hearts alike, as he has for years. Ferdinand isn’t like the other bulls: He’s gentle, peaceful, and flower-loving. And in this story, he has no need to change any of that.

Buy it: The Story of Ferdinand

Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel, as an example of famous children's books

43. Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel

Sweetly funny and often quite moving, Lobel’s Frog and Toad stories appeal as they follow friends enjoying the pleasures of each other’s company.

Buy it: Frog and Toad Are Friends

Cover of Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman- famous children's books

44. Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman

Dogs and cars, what more could kids want? Using only 75 different words, this energetic picture book captures toddlers’ interest before they’re ready to read, and then transitions to be the perfect beginning reader book when kids enter school.

Buy it: Go, Dog. Go!

Cover of Goodnight Moon

45. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd

It’s likely no surprise to find this children’s classic listed here. Brown channels the simple joy of a child’s bedtime routine in a story that’s as much a quiet meditation as it is the perfect nighttime read.

Buy it: Goodnight Moon

I'll Love You Forever book cover.

46. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Sheila McGraw

Warning: This one’s a tearjerker. A story of unconditional love that will stay with you long after you turn the last page, this book follows a mother and son through the cyclical pattern of life as the roles of parent and child evolve over time.

Buy it: Love You Forever

In The Night Kitchen

47. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

Though Sendak’s best-known book is the also-classic Where the Wild Things Are, this fantastical adventure about a boy whose dreams take him to a magical and oddball kitchen of bakers taps into childhood flights of fancy.

Buy it: In the Night Kitchen

Library Lion

48. Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

When a lion makes his way into the library for story hour, he’s issued one rule: Don’t make noise. But when a beloved librarian has an accident, Library Lion has to break the rule to do what’s right.

Buy it: Library Lion

Millions of Cats

49. Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag

A lonely man and woman decide that they’ll bring a cat into their lives but can’t decide on one and instead end up having to choose among scads of cats! How that gets done is the story in this Newbery Honor book.

Buy it: Millions of Cats

Mister Dog: The Dog Who Belonged to Himself

50. Mister Dog: The Dog Who Belonged to Himself by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Garth Williams

Another Little Golden Book, this one holds the distinction of being authored by Margaret Wise Brown of Goodnight Moon fame. Though published many years ago, the story of a dog and a boy who each belong to themselves is charmingly bizarre and captivating to kids.

Buy it: Mister Dog

On the Night You Were Born- famous children's books

51. On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman

Children love to hear about when they were babies, and they deserve reminders that they’re each special and adored. Tillman’s ode to the ways our kids change our lives for the better is the perfect bedtime read to accompany a nice cuddle.

Buy it: On the Night You Were Born

The Color Kittens

52. The Color Kittens by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen

Brush and Hush are the kittens who create all the colors of the world. In this playful and whimsical book from Margaret Wise Brown, kids will find their favorite color celebrated and their imagination ignited.

Buy it: The Color Kittens

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

53. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce, illustrated by William Joyce and Joe Bluhm

A book bittersweet and beautiful, this celebration of stories—all our stories—is the kind of tale that captivates kids and gets the adults reading to them thinking about the big questions too.

Buy it: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

The Little Red Caboose

54. The Little Red Caboose by Marian Potter, illustrated by Tibor Gergely

Another iconic Little Golden Book, this one is bound to be familiar to parents already. But kids have much to gain from this sweet story, even if they may never have seen a red caboose in real life. The caboose of this book is downtrodden because he never gets any of the attention the steam engine does. But what a reward is in store when he has a chance to save the day and find his spotlight.

Buy it: The Little Red Caboose

The Poky Little Puppy

55. The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey, illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren

One of the original 12 Little Golden Books published when the label began in 1942, this particular puppy has remained a kid favorite ever since. In fact, it’s the bestselling picture book of all time!

Buy it: The Poky Little Puppy

Cover of The Snowy Day Board Book- famous children's books

56. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

Keats’ Caldecott Medal–winning book depicts the adventure and wonder of a young boy who steps out into a city made new by a blanket of snow. Readers will be unable to resist its tender magic.

Buy it: The Snowy Day

The Velveteen Rabbit

57. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, illustrated by William Nicholson

First published in 1922, this enduring classic is about a toy rabbit that becomes the most cherished of toys in its owner’s nursery. Weathering many years by the boy’s side, the rabbit gets the chance to become real in this beautiful ode to the power of love.

Buy it: The Velveteen Rabbit

Hungry Caterpillar

58. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Everyone knows this book, and for good reason. Watching a tiny caterpillar chew his way through his own personal buffet on his way to becoming a gorgeous butterfly is pure delight, especially thanks to Carle’s signature illustrations.

Buy it: The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Where the Wild Things Are

59. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Perhaps the quintessential ode to childhood and imagination, Sendak’s book is about a child whose tantrum prompts him to take a fantastical visit to his own wild side. While the monsters he meets there may be utterly unreal, this is one of the famous children’s books that brims with true emotions.

Buy it: Where the Wild Things Are

Famous Funny Children’s Books

Cover of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad, No Good Day by Judith Viorst- famous children's books

60. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Ray Cruz

While many children’s books tend toward the upbeat and sunny, the reality of being a child is that some days really do not go your way. Viorst understood this, and that’s why her Alexander and his litany of things gone wrong remains such a kid favorite.

Buy it: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Cover of Busy Busy Town by Richard Scarry, as an example of famous children's books

61. Busy, Busy Town by Richard Scarry

The clever creatures of Scarry’s Busy Town—from Huckle the Cat to Lowly Worm—and the myriad details he includes in every illustration make Busy Town a place that keeps kids busy as they discover something new in every scene.

Buy it: Busy, Busy Town

Click, Clack, Moo

62. Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin

Farmer Brown’s cows aren’t your average bovines. They can type. They can also draft letters to Farmer Brown, with lists of demands. Hijinks and hilarity ensue.

Buy it: Click, Clack, Moo

Curious George

63. Curious George by H.A. and Margret Ray

From his first book on through countless sequels, Curious George has had adventures, hatched plans, and been a beloved companion to the Man in the Yellow Hat. Children continue to find him irresistible many years after his debut in 1941.

Buy it: Curious George

Cover of Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems

64. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems

Willems’ characters, from Knufflebunny to Elephant and Piggie, are extremely well known in kid circles, but the pigeon is perhaps the most like a child himself. Sometimes stubborn, often curious, always hilarious, this Pigeon tome is a must-have.

Buy it: Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

Dragons Love Tacos

65. Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri

In this hilarious book, we learn the until-now unknown fact that dragons adore tacos. But if they eat salsa that’s spicy in the slightest, chaos results.

Buy it: Dragons Love Tacos

Eloise- famous children's books

66. Eloise by Kay Thompson, illustrated by Hilary Knight

Hotels can be fascinating places to kids (and, let’s face it, adults), and the Plaza Hotel in New York is the pinnacle. Eloise is 6 and resides at the Plaza, making the most of each day with her exuberant and joyful decadence.

Buy it: Eloise

Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich- famous children's books

67. Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich by Adam Rex and Steven Malk

Silliness and soft scares abound in this 19-poem collection paying homage to classic monsters of books and film. Each poem delves into the more mundane aspects of being a terrifying legend. Kids will love the laughs and clever art.

Buy it: Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich

Grumpy Monkey

68. Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne Lang, illustrated by Max Lang

Jim, the chimpanzee star of this book, knows it’s a beautiful day—so why can’t he be happy about it? In fact, why is he absolutely ready to have a meltdown? This book has a sweet and funny approach to big emotions that kids will appreciate.

Buy it: Grumpy Monkey

How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?- famous children's books

69. How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mark Teague

It seems every child goes through a dinosaur obsession. In this book, kids see the ways dinosaurs’ personalities shine through various bedtime famous children’s books.

Buy it: How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?

Cover of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff- famous children's books

70. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond

Numeroff’s mouse asks for a cookie, but its sweet tooth sets off a chain of events that feel like spending the day with an idea-filled kid, and that’s exactly why this book and its companion volumes have endured.

Buy it: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen- famous children's books

71. I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

Klassen is one of picture books’ most well-known names, partly thanks to this excellent story. This simple story of a bear in search of his hat incorporates a sly twist at the end.

Buy it: I Want My Hat Back

Let's Go for a Drive

72. Let’s Go for a Drive! by Mo Willems

Every kid needs some Elephant and Piggie in their lives. Willems’ popular series spans many volumes, and this particular story—about a road trip that doesn’t quite go as planned—is a Theodor Seuss Geisel (yes, that Seuss) Honor book and an excellent introduction to this endearing odd couple.

Buy it: Let’s Go for a Drive!


73. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

Many decades on from her original publication, Madeline remains as spunky as ever. The brave little Parisian girl stars in this book and its five sequels.

Buy it: Madeline

Miss Nelson Is Missing!- famous children's books

74. Miss Nelson Is Missing! by Harry Allard, illustrated by James Marshall

In the ultimate book about why kids shouldn’t take advantage of a very nice teacher, Miss Nelson’s class gets the surprise of their lives when Miss Viola Swamp enters the picture.

Buy It: Miss Nelson Is Missing!

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild- famous children's books

75. Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

Mr. Tiger is tired of his formal trappings. Walking upright and wearing a suit is just not for him. So he goes wild. Peter Brown’s rollicking picture book about being yourself is a roar of a good time.

Buy it: Mr. Tiger Goes Wild


76. Olivia by Ian Falconer

Olivia, the lead pig of this picture book, could replace Peppa as kids’ favorite porcine animal. She’s mischievous and relatable, especially for toddlers, who can follow her through subsequent famous children’s books’ adventures.

Buy it: Olivia

Penguin Problems

77. Penguin Problems by Jory John, illustrated by Lane Smith

Defying expectations that penguins be cute and full of joy, the penguin star of this book is decidedly over it. This penguin’s laments about life in Antarctica—about the freezing weather, the predators, and the fact that it’s hard to spot his mom and dad in the penguin crowd—are wildly funny.

Buy it: Penguin Problems

Cover of Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) by Julie Falatko

78. Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask To Be in This Book!) by Julie Falatko, illustrated by Tim Miller

Picture books that pose a great question are must-haves, and this one has a hilarious premise that’s brilliantly executed. When Snappsy the Alligator wants to have a run-of-the-mill alligator day, an annoying narrator intrudes, suggesting he spice things up a bit.

Buy it: Snappsy the Alligator

Cover of Stuck by Oliver Jeffers- famous children's books

79. Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

Some of the best famous children’s books take absurdity very seriously, and Jeffers’ book—about a boy who tries to get his kite out of a tree by throwing a series of increasingly strange objects into the same tree (also getting them stuck)—will prompt gales of laughter.

Buy it: Stuck

The Book with No Pictures

80. The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak

Maybe it’s odd to include a book with no pictures on a list that’s nothing but picture books. But even without illustrations, this book does what a good picture book should: engages kids from start to finish. Parents and teachers should read it aloud to maximize on its potential to yield giggles galore.

Buy it: The Book With No Pictures

Cover of The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt

81. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

What goes on in the community of a crayon box? The crayons let kids know in this whimsical and thoughtful epistolary picture book in which each color drafts a letter of its grievances to their owner, young Duncan.

Buy it: The Day the Crayons Quit

The Great Indoors

82. The Great Indoors by Julie Falatko, illustrated by Ruth Chan

When humans depart on a camping trip, the animals in the forest get to go on a vacation of their own—in the humans’ home! This is one of the funny famous children’s books that flips the script on family trips.

Buy it: The Great Indoors

The Incredible Book Eating Boy

83. The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers

Jeffers’ many picture books are all must-haves for a child’s library, but this one holds particular appeal for kids who positively love to read. The titular boy adores books and the knowledge inside them so much, he begins to devour them, with mixed results.

Buy it: The Incredible Book Eating Boy

Cover of The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone- famous children's books

84. The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone, illustrated by Michael Smollin

This Little Golden Book has become a mainstay in toddler libraries for its ingenuity and its suspense. As kids read, Sesame Street pal Grover begs kids not to turn the page lest they encounter a monster—but who can resist the temptation to see what (or who) awaits at the very end?

Buy it: The Monster at the End of This Book

There's a Nightmare in My Closet

85. There’s a Nightmare in My Closet by Mercer Mayer

Is there anything more relatable to a kid than fear of the dark—or what’s in the closet or under the bed when they go to sleep at night? Mayer turns this common fear into something fun and inventive.

Buy it: There’s a Nightmare in My Closet

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs

86. The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith

We all know the fairy tale, but Scieszka turns the classic story of The Three Little Pigs on its ear with this—possibly dubious—version that tells the Big Bad Wolf’s side of the tale.

Buy it: True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!

Cover of The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse, by Mac Barnett

87. The Wolf, the Duck & the Mouse, by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen

This winner of the E.B. White Read-Aloud Award is another relatively new entry for this list, but it will no doubt remain on lists for years to come. When a duck and a mouse are swallowed by a wolf, they decide to make a home in his belly.

Buy it: The Wolf, the Duck & the Mouse

Yes Day! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

88. Yes Day! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

Rosenthal leverages children’s ultimate question—what if they got to do whatever they’d like for a day?—in this more recent kids’ classic book.

Buy it: Yes Day!

Famous Rhyming and Poetry Children’s Books

Big Words for Little People

89. Big Words for Little People by Jamie Lee Curtis, illustrated by Laura Cornell

Many celebrity authors put out picture books that are purely vanity projects. Jamie Lee Curtis isn’t one of them. The actress’s many books are kid and parent favorites, and this particular one not only will enhance your little one’s vocabulary, it will also leave you with the warm and fuzzies.

Buy it: Big Words for Little People

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

90. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault, illustrated by Lois Ehlert

The alphabet song gets a major upgrade in this kid classic, where the letters bounce, romp, and keep the beat on their race up the coconut tree.

Buy it: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Forever Young cover

91. Forever Young by Bob Dylan, illustrated by Paul Rogers

The perfect picture book reminds young and old to celebrate the wonders of childhood and the marvels of growing older and wiser. The lyrics from Dylan’s “Forever Young” make for a sweet lullaby of a picture book.

Buy it: Forever Young

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site

92. Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

So many kids go through a construction-trucks phase that every library needs at least one book devoted to the big machines. This sweet one covers all the vehicles with a lullaby’s lilt.

Buy it: Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site

Green Eggs and Ham

93. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

Chances are this one is already on your shelf. But if not, you must try Green Eggs and Ham and its memorable rhymes and mischievous lead, Sam-I-Am.

Buy it: Green Eggs and Ham

Seven Little Postmen

94. Seven Little Postmen by Margaret Wise Brown and Edith Thacher Hurd, illustrated by Tibor Gergely

While the postal service is not quite what it used to be, mail is still fascinating, especially to children. This Little Golden Book about the many stops and steps it takes to get mail from one place to another might just inspire kids to send a letter to a loved one.

Buy it: Seven Little Postmen

Library Mouse

95. Library Mouse by Daniel Kirk

Sam is a library mouse who loves to read, and one day he decides to write a book of his own. But because he can’t visit the library the way a person can, he secretly shelves his stories and eventually encourages the kids of the library to write their own.

Buy it: Library Mouse

Cover of The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle

96. The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle

Everyone knows Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and they are certainly among some of the most famous children’s books out there. The prolific children’s author-illustrator created an array of characters, each of them memorable. The quiet cricket, who can’t make a sound as he meets other insects, is one of the best. The book also makes chirping sounds that the littlest readers love.

Buy it: The Very Quiet Cricket

Where the Sidewalk Ends- famous children's books

97. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

Possibly every child’s first favorite poet, Shel Silverstein had a way of writing famous children’s books that could go from bizarrely captivating to soul-stirring and deep. This collection and his others are must-haves.

Buy it: Where the Sidewalk Ends

Interactive Famous Children’s Books

I Spy- famous children's books

98. I Spy: A Book of Picture Riddles by Jean Marzollo, photos by Walter Wick

Fantastic to look at and explore, the I Spy series combines Wick’s intricate and imaginative photographic setups with Marzollo’s clever and confounding riddles to make for one of the best famous children’s books around.

Buy it: I Spy

Cover of Press Here by Herve Tullet- famous children's books

99. Press Here by Hervé Tullet

Tullet’s clever picture book launched a trend toward interactive page turns. As kids flip through this set of colorful instructions, they’re asked to smush, poke, press, and shake the book, making it as much an inspiration to play as it is a call to read.

Buy it: Press Here

Where's Waldo?- famous children's books

100. Where’s Waldo? by Martin Handford

The iconic Waldo, in his red-and-white striped sweater and hat, will always be worth finding. Hunting for Waldo in hilarious crowd scenes keeps kids busy and giggling.

Buy it: Where’s Waldo?

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