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The 100 best-ever children’s books, as chosen by our readers

From the magic of Beatrix Potter to Malorie Blackman's game-changing dystopias, we asked you to share the stories that inspired your love of reading as a child.

A picture of several different children's books on a pink to blue ombre background; each book has a bright yellow shadow

18.  Elmer by David McKee (1968)

We said:  A nursery favourite featuring a wonderful elephant of many colours. Elmer and all his differences have subtly taught generations of children that it's ok to be different. 

You said:  It teaches us to be ourselves and embrace our quirks. 

thosedarkpages, Instagram

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Where to start with Jacqueline Wilson’s books

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24 must-read books for 9-12-year-olds

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24 must-read books for 6-8-year-olds

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Where to start with Terry Pratchett’s books

46. Further Doings of Milly-Molly-Mandy  by Joyce Lankester Brisley (1932)

We said:  Venture to the quaintest nooks of rural England with Millicent Margaret Amanda (or Milly-Molly-Mandy, for short), always on a fun escapade in that notorious pink-and-white striped dress.

You said:  I loved M-M-M, the tales of the haberdashery shop and making a tea cosy from bits of the family’s old clothes and the booby prize of a little white rabbit. Simple and evocative of a bygone age.

NichollsTanya, Twitter

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24 must-read books for under 5s

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The best folk and fairy tales for children

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Where to start with Roald Dahl’s books

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The best books to gift your grandchildren

Books ranked in no particular order. Some answers edited for clarity and style.

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The 100 Best Children's Books of All Time

We’re living in a golden age of young-adult literature, when books ostensibly written for teens are equally adored by readers of every generation. In the likes of Harry Potter and Katniss Everdeen, they’ve produced characters and conceits that have become the currency of our pop-culture discourse—and inspired some of our best writers to contribute to the genre. To honor the best books for young adults and children, TIME compiled this survey in consultation with respected peers such as U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate Kenn Nesbitt, children’s-book historian Leonard Marcus, the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature, the Young Readers Center at the Library of Congress, the Every Child a Reader literacy foundation and 10 independent booksellers. With their help, we’ve created two all-time lists of classics: 100 Best Young-Adult Books and 100 Best Children’s Books. Vote for your favorite in the poll below.

See 17 authors’ favorite books for young readers .

Read about how author Meg Wolitzer was inspired by Sylvia Plath’s Bell Jar .

It’s your turn:

By the editors of TIME, with reporting by Daniel D’Addario, Giri Nathan and Noah Rayman.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled Kenn Nesbitt’s name.

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30 Best Children's Books To Read With Your Kids In 2024

Books that educate, enlighten, and enliven reading with your children.

Taylor Beal has spent more than ten years working as a reading specialist, school administrator, and English teacher in education. She also has experience with students of all ages, from elementary to high school. In addition to masters in ... more

Wedetso Chirhah holds a masters degree in English Literature from Mangalore University and has over 13 years of experience in content. He has written content for more than 15 B2B websites and edited s... more

Poulami is an associate editor at MomJunction. She did her MA in English from Miranda House, University of Delhi and has qualified UGC-NET. She also holds a PG diploma in Editing and Publishing from J... more

Praven is an English literature expert. He did his bachelors in English from Delhi University and masters in English from Manipur University. Besides, he holds a certificate in multimedia design and c... more

Image: MomJunction Design Team

Keep your child engaged for hours with our list of the best storybooks for kids. If your child often complains about being bored or is attached to their phones or tabs all day, an interesting storybook can be a good way to keep them entertained. These stories offer moral values and other good lessons that your child can learn from. Reading is a nurturing habit that will help your child develop intellectually and emotionally. It helps them develop literary proficiency and promotes imagination and storytelling.

However, make sure the books are age-appropriate and not too complicated so that your child doesn’t lose interest quickly. With multiple tried-and-tested options available, choose a book that suits your child’s interests. So, take a look at the best-selling options below and choose accordingly.

Best Illustrated Picture Book: The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Best for lessons on friendship: charlotte's web, best children's rhyming story: the cat in the hat, best for bedtime reading: goodnight good dog, best for learning important values: charlie and the chocolate factory, best for learning about animals: the gruffalo, best for learning self-confidence: the ugly duckling, best for learning about simplicity: the story of ferdinand, best for encouraging curiosity: green eggs and ham, best for learning about obedience: the story about ping, 30 best children’s books to read with your kids, 1. best illustrated picture book: the very hungry caterpillar.

A newborn caterpillar is very hungry, and he eats cupcakes, lollipops and everything else, which gives him a stomach ache. He’s even snacking on the pages of the book too- leaving holes for kids to put in.

He is getting fatter and bigger and one day he is metamorphosed into a beautiful butterfly with wings of purple, green, yellow, cherry pie and orange colors.

The author introduces the concept of metamorphosis in a way kids can understand . It is a picture book with mesmerizing illustrations and bright, colorful collages which the kids will love. This review video showcasing a tester’s experience can tell you more about this book.

Age: 2+ Author: Eric Carle

2. Best For Lessons On Friendship: Charlotte’s Web

A little girl named Fern saves a pig by convincing her father not to kill him. The two become friends and Fren names him Wilbur. Wilbur is then moved to live in Fern’s uncle Zuckerman’s barn, and Fern visits Wilbur every day.

The days she doesn’t come Wilbur feels very lonely, as the other barn animals – the goats, sheep and also the rats do not want to make friends with him.

One day Wilbur finally finds a friend, a spider called Charlotte whose web is in one corner of the barn door. Soon, they learn that Wilbur will be killed for the next Christmas dinner.

But Charlotte hatches a plan which will make the Zuckermans want to have Wilbur with them forever.

This fiction book shares a story of friendship, love, and how we all should treat our friends. It’s timeless. You may watch this video to get more insight into the story.

Age: 5+ Author: E.B White

3. Best Children’s Rhyming Story: The Cat In The Hat

On a rainy day, two kids get bored as they have nothing to do sitting at home. Then, ‘The Cat in the Hat’ walks in and wreaks havoc. He’s stylish but shameless and troubles everyone with his misbehavior. He juggles others’ things and even invites his friends to litter the place more.

But, the boy finally takes a stand and orders the feline to “pack up” and leave. That is when the cat is in remorse; his whiskers and bow tie droop. Here is the video review of the book by a little bookworm.

Kids will especially love the words that rhyme so well in the well-crafted story of this best-selling book.

Age: 4+ Author: Dr. Seuss

4. Best For Bedtime Reading: Goodnight, Good Dog

It’s the story of a dog, who is not ready to sleep at night yet. But he understands night time as he sees the night lamp and hears the hum of the refrigerator. But he’s thinking about his playing in the fields and the things he heard in the day and all his interactions.

He takes a slow walk through the house and the soothing signs of night and sleep finally lull him, and he sleeps looking forward to the next day.

The interactive book beautifully portrays how a little kid refuses to sleep at night and wants to postpone it as much as possible. Also, it is available in hardcover, board book, and Kindle versions.

Age: 4+ Author: Mary Lyn Ray

5. Best For Learning Important Values: Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

Charlie Bucket, a good, kind and honest kid, is very poor and was starving to death when he wins a lottery to visit the mysterious chocolate factory of Willy Wonka, along with a lifetime supply of candies.

Only five children have won the tickets, but the other four kids are not as good as Charlie, and inside the factory, they get their comeuppance.

Augustus Gloop is a greedy boy who falls in the chocolate river; Violet Beauregarde is a chewing gum addict and is blown up into a giant blueberry when she tries to grab a stick of chewing gum. Veruca Salt is named a “bad nut” by Willy Wonka’s working squirrels and is thrown in the garbage. And Mike Teavee, a television addict, receives his deserved punishment.

It’s laughable when the kids behave terribly and when they receive punishment. Only Charlie, our hero and the good boy, is waiting to get the most beautiful surprise of his life.

The best-selling book explains the negative things through a subtle and sweet storyline so that the kids can relate to it.

Age: 6+ Author: Roald Dahl

6. Best For Learning About Animals: The Gruffalo

The Gruffalo is a rhyming story about a mouse and a monster he crafts out of his imagination. The mouse goes for a walk in a dangerous forest full of predators who are about to kill him.

But, the mouse is composed and smart and makes up stories of a fierce monster, Gruffalo, whom he is going to meet. The little mouse successfully escapes from a snake, an owl, and a fox. But, he ends up meeting the real Gruffalo he’s talking about.

But parents, don’t worry- as the Gruffalo turns out to be silly and your kids will want to read more and more.

The book has beautiful illustrations of the playful animals and the forest.

Age: 3+ Author: Julia Donaldson

7. Best For Learning Self-Confidence: The Ugly Duckling

The Ugly Duckling is a classic time-tested story of transformation that no one sees coming but is inevitable to happen. A tiny duckling is born and looks ugly. He is ostracized by the other ducks and geese.

He tries to look for new shelters and gets them too, but he never finds peace.

One day, to his and others’ surprise, he transforms into a beautiful swan and joins a flock of swans swimming in the lake.

It teaches a necessary life lesson to children that looks are not everything and can also help improve their literary proficiency.

Age: 6+ Author: Hans Christian Andersen

8. Best For Learning About Simplicity: The Story Of Ferdinand

A young bull, Ferdinand, does not butt his head with the young bulls and instead prefers to sit under a cork tree smelling flowers. He grows up to be a large and robust bull.

The men from Madrid come to the pasture one day to pick up one for a bullfight. Ferdinand accidentally sits on a bumblebee and gets stung and runs ferociously. The men rename him “Ferdinand the Fierce” as they think he’s mad and ferocious, and he’s taken away to Madrid.

All the ladies of Madrid come to see him fight, but Ferdinand is mesmerized by the flowers on the ladies’ head and lies down. Everyone is upset, except him. And he’s returned to his pasture where he peacefully smells flowers.

The story talks about the subtleness in life, however big we might become.

Age: 3+ Author: Munro Leaf

9. Best For Encouraging Curiosity: Green Eggs And Ham

A character called “Sam-I-am” annoys an anonymous character to eat a plate of green eggs and ham. But the character won’t eat, no matter what! He keeps saying, “I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam-I-am.”

But Sam-I-am keeps following him, and the unnamed character keeps refusing. Sam-I-am pesters him at eight different locations — inside a house, car, box, boat et al., when finally the character gives in, eats them and surprisingly loves them; he says, “I do so like green eggs and ham.”

This best-selling book is perfect for your kids to interest them in trying new or exotic things that they think they don’t like.

10. Best For Learning About Obedience: The Story About Ping

Ping was a little duck who lived on a beautiful riverboat on the Yangtze River. He loved his large family and his master. The last duck in line to board the riverboat at night was considered irresponsible, and Ping didn’t want to be one, because that duck would get a loud whack.

When Ping figured out that he’s going to be the last in line tonight, what did he do? He sets out on his adventurous journey on the Yangtze and finds a fascinating world of life, down the river to encounter not-so pleasing experiences.

It is an excellent book to teach children the importance of a family, friends, and obedience.

Age: 5+ Author: Marjorie Flack

11. Best For Loving The Family: The Jungle Book

This is a classic comprising short stories. It revolves around Mowgli, who is a man-cub, lost from his human parents and raised by a family of wolves who protect him with all their might, although many animals see him as a human, and therefore a threat. Mowgli is none of the sorts and loves his Jungle family.

There are animal characters, all personified, Baloo the Bear, Bagheera, the panther, and the most significant threat for all, Shere Khan, the tiger, who is always lurking around, waiting to hunt and kill.

The book is all about loving the family and being faithful to them, which will make your child’s sleepy time more gentle.

Age: 8+ Author: Rudyard Kipling

12. Best For Taking Challenges: Winnie The Pooh

Winnie the Pooh is a good bear, who loves honey and lives in the forestland of Hundred Acre Wood. His friends are a tiger Tigger, a sad gray donkey Eeyore, a fearful pig Piglet, a pompous bird Owl, and a restless Rabbit.

Pooh is a sweet bear with little brain and he’s always in trouble. But the storybook reveals how kind and brave he is when it comes to his friends — he restores the missing tail of Eeyore and sets off on an adventure with Christopher Robin to save Piglet who’s lost in the floods.

The book inspires children to take up challenges and be there for their friends.

Age: 4+ Author: A.A Milne

13. Best For Children’S Curiosity: The Snowy Day

A poor young boy wakes up one morning to a world laid with freshly fallen snow, and he goes exploring.

This book captures the beauty of children’s curiosity about a new world and their evergreen optimism.

For children, possibilities are endless, and those are beautifully captured in the book’s illustrations.

Age: 2+ Author: Ezra Jack Keats

14. Best For Simple Living: When I Was Young In The Mountains

This book tells the amazing story of Cynthia’s childhood memories in the Appalachian Mountains where she lived with her grandparents. She talks of her grandfather who was a coal miner and came home all covered in dust, except for his lips.

With those lips, he kissed her forehead every day. She describes her anecdotes of getting tummy aches from overeating fried okra and her trips to the outdoor toilet in the night. She would swim in the swimming hole where sometimes she would encounter snakes. She tells how she pumped water from the wells and carried it back to the house for a bath.

If you, as a parent, grew up in the mountains or want to teach the abundant joy of simple living, here’s a perfect book for your kid .

Age: 4+ Author: Cynthia Rylant

15. Best Value Of Sharing: The Rainbow Fish

Rainbow Fish is a shiny fish with beautiful scales of multiple colors. One day a small fish asks him if he can have one of his silver scales, but he refuses rudely; this makes the small fish upset, and he doesn’t want to play with Rainbow again.

Now his only friend is the Starfish who tells him to go to the wise Octopus for some advice. The Octopus surprisingly knew he’d be coming, as the waves told her his story.

The Octopus advises him to share his beauty- the scales with each of his close friends. She tells him that he may no longer be the most beautiful fish, but he will discover how happy he would be.

Soon other fish ask him for scales, and he gives them all one each. The rainbow fish is now left with just one scale, but happier than ever.

This is a wonderful story to teach the value of sharing to children.

Age: 3+ Author: Marcus Pfister

16. Best Imaginary Adventure: The BFG

One night a little girl called Sophie, who lives in an orphanage, couldn’t sleep and looked out of her window. She sees a giant walking down and blowing something into the windows of every house. As he sees Sophie, he grabs and takes her away to his desert cave.

The giant explains that he was blowing dreams through those windows to enter the minds of kids. But the other giants who live in the desert are ferocious and bigger, and they want to eat children.

Now that they are friends, Sophie hatches a safety plan to rescue the children from being eaten, as the giants are headed to England. Her planning involves dreams, the BFG (Big Friendly Giant), and the Queen of England to stop the nightmare forever.

This lovely story takes children on an imaginary adventure.

17. Best Mesmerizing Rhymes: We’re Going On A Bear Hunt

Five kids along with their dog set out for a bear hunt. As they keep going, they face new obstacles: first the long, flowy grass, then a broad river, a mud land, a thick forest, and a terrific snowstorm before they enter a cave: the cave of the bear.

They all get panicked, and run home, again through all the obstacles while the bear follows them. They reach home, lock the door to the bear and hide under the duvet. They say, “We’re not going on a bear hunt again.”

Celebrating 25 years of love, this book has left an everlasting mark on children with its illustrations and mesmerizing rhymes.

Age: 2+ Author: Michael Rosen

18. The Adventures Of Pinocchio

The story starts in Italy where a carpenter Master Antonio finds a pinewood block which he plans to carve as the leg for his table. When he starts, the leg shouts out. Seeing a talking log, he gives it to his neighbor, a puppeteer, named Geppetto who’s very poor.

Geppetto carves the wood into a boy and calls him Pinocchio, and a fairy puts life into the puppet. Once Geppetto teaches the puppet to walk, he runs out of the door and into the town. Soon, he gets into trouble like a real boy and remembers the broken promises and the way he treated Geppetto. He understands that to become real; he has to think of others and open up his heart.

The lovely story carries the message of being truthful and honest.

Age: 6+ Author: Carlo Collodi

19. Best For Skill-Building: The Gingerbread Man

The American fairy tale speaks of a little old woman, who bakes gingerbread for her family. But just as her gingerbreads are baked, she opens the oven to take them out, and one of them runs away.

This gingerbread man is then chased by the little old man, followed by a cow, a pig, a horse and at last, finds himself in front of a river. The Gingerbread man cannot swim the river, as he will melt.

A sly fox tells him to jump over his tail, and he’ll help him cross the river. He foolishly does as the fox says. In the end, the fox eats the gingerbread.

This wonderful story teaches about the price one pays when someone acts without thinking. This tale now comes out in a happy, lovable version with a funny twist.

Age: 3+ Author: Catherine McCafferty

20. Best Innocent Tale: The Velveteen Rabbit

A stuffed toy rabbit, sewn from velveteen, is gifted to a little boy as a Christmas present. The boy plays with the other toys that are modern and forgets the velveteen rabbit. All the other toys snub the old-fashioned rabbit, but the wisest toy in the nursery, the Skin Horse, tells him that when given a lot of love from children, a toy magically gets transformed into a real one.

One day the boy loses one of his toys and sleeps with the rabbit. They become close again, and the rabbit is happy. But one day the boy gets scarlet fever, and the doctor advises to disinfect his room. He is taken away to the seaside, while his toys and books are going to be burnt.

The rabbit is put into a sack and left in the garden. As he sadly thinks of his life and the boy’s, a drop of tear falls on the ground. From the teardrop, emerges a flower and the flower turns into a fairy. She calls herself the Nursery Magic Fairy and tells the rabbit that he has become real as the little boy truly loves him.

She takes him away to the forest, and he’s turned into a real rabbit. On the next spring, the rabbit peeps to take a look at the boy, and the boy sees him too. The boy thinks of a resemblance between the rabbit and his velveteen rabbit, and smiles.

It is an innocent tale about the bond between a little boy and his toy.

Age: 4+ Author: Margery Williams

21. Best Moral Story: The Tortoise And The Hare

This Aesop’s fable is an all-time favorite of kids, and a cherished moral tale. This is a tale about a hare who taunts a slow tortoise all the time. One day, he challenges the tortoise into a race, and the hare laughs at the idea.

As the race begins, the tortoise moves forward slowly, while the hare runs fast ahead. Seeing his opponent coming slowly, the hare settles for a small nap. What happens when he wakes up? He wakes up to find his opponent crossing the winning race line slowly, but steadily.

The story explains the importance of stability over speed.

Age: 3+ Author: Janet Stevens

22. Best Unabridged: Just So Stories

Rudyard Kipling used to tell these bedtime stories to his daughter “just so,” or she would complain every night.

In this series of stories, it shows how any animal got its particular traits; such as, the Whale has a throat that’s tiny because he swallowed a mariner. The camel got a hump because a djinn punished him for his refusal to work longer. An Ethiopian painted himself black, so he painted a leopard’s spots too.

These charming and fascinating stories for kids showcase the author’s literary expertise, making this classic a must-read.

Age: 6+ Author: Rudyard Kipling

23. Best Interactive Tale: Where The Wild Things Are

Max is a wild and naughty child who is sent to bed without his dinner because he threatened to eat up his mother. He thought he’d show everyone how able he is when it comes to swallowing up mom.

In his mind, a forest starts growing, and he boards a ship which takes him far across oceans to the home where the wild things are. They snarl at him with their claws and roll their eyes to eat up Max. Does it make our Max afraid? No, never!

Max befriends the monsters, and they announce him as the wildest of them all. Soon, Max is bored of all the fun and his adventure; he sails back home. When he returns what does he find? His supper in his room served hot by mom.

Shouldn’t kids be reminded of their mom’s importance occasionally? They should be through such stories in this interactive book.

Age: 2+ Author: Maurice Sendak

24. Best For Child Imagination: Blueberries For Sal

Sal, a little girl, is taken to the Blueberry Hill by her mother to pick blueberries. A cub and his mother bear have also come to eat berries before the winter starts.

While Little Sal is told by her mother to collect as many berries as she can to store up for the winter, Mrs. Bear teaches the cub to eat as many as possible to store up far during winter. The family pictures differ but are substantially similar when both the bear cub and little Sal get lost and exchange their mothers.

Both the mothers realize after some minutes that their kids have gotten mixed up. In the end, they are united with their right mothers and set back home.

The story unleashes the child’s imagination.

Age: 4+ Author: Robert McCloskey

25. Best Learning About Trees: The Giving Tree

The book tells the tale of an apple tree who loves a boy. She keeps giving her everything he ever needed or demanded, and the boy takes them all, be it her branches for playing, her trunk for climbing or her apples for eating.

When he grows up, he visits less and demands materialistic things – money from the apples, a house from her branches and a boat from her wood. The tree gives them happily while the boy seeks more and more, until one day nothing is left of the tree but the stump. That too the man uses as a stool to sit upon. Even then, she is happy.

The story talks of the benefits we get from trees and the man’s unending greed in the form of its beautiful illustrations.

Age: 6+ Author: Shel Silverstein

26. Best For Imagnation: Harold And The Purple Crayon

A little boy called Harold loves his purple crayon and keeps it always. One moonlit night, he decides to go for a walk but sees there’s no moon. So he draws a half moon and a path so that he doesn’t get lost. He draws an apple tree, and also a dragon for guarding it… he keeps drawing situations as per his imagination.

He draws a window around the moon, his bed, a cover, and curls up to sleep. Having done so, he drops the chalk and sleeps.

Read this story to your toddler during their sleepy time and let them have a sound sleep all night.

Age: 2+ Author: Crockett Johnson

27. Best For Love: Make Way For Ducklings

The eight Mallard ducklings are going to meet their father, while Mrs. Mallard is helping them to cross the busy and dangerous Boston roads safely. They honk “Quack, Quack” on seeing the cars; tension is built up to see if they will be able to reach safely.

In this story, family, love, care, and survival are conveyed to kids.

Age: 2+ Author: Robert McCloskey

28. Best For Learning Humbleness: Olivia, The Spy

A little pig Olivia messes up too many things after claiming she knows how to do everything. While making a smoothie, she splatters the blueberries for she doesn’t know how to use the blender. She claims to do laundry, but throws her red socks and turns her family’s white shirts red.

Then she eavesdrops on her mom talking to her aunt, crying where Olivia could be sent until some “sense” dawns upon her. She becomes curious and goes about investigating – hiding everywhere and listening to her mom speaking to her dad.

She hears the word “institution” and gets convinced that she’s going to prison. But it was just ballet, and Olivia does another mishap. She enters through the wrong door and lands onstage when the dance is ongoing.

It’s a funny story that depicts the harms of presumption and eavesdropping.

Age: 3+ Author: Ian Falconer

29. Corduroy

A teddy bear displayed in a department store is named Corduroy. One little girl arrives with her mother, loves Corduroy and wants to get him. The mother, however, refuses because a button is missing in his overalls.

Corduroy tries to find the missing button by himself but with no luck. He loses hope. Next day, Lisa comes back to the store with the money she saved in her piggy bank and buys Corduroy. She sews him a button at home. They hug each other, like friends who always wanted each other.

The story reflects the love children have for teddy bears and is quite relatable.

Age: 5+ Author: Don Freeman

30. Best For Nurturing: Miss Rumphius

Miss Rumphius is the story of a lady Alice Rumphius, who yearned to travel and transform the world to be more beautiful. Miss Rumphius beautifies the world for the better by spreading the tiniest seeds of lupine flowers everywhere.

The coast of Maine is now filled with blossoms and Miss Rumphius is also known as the Lupine Lady.

The story conveys the message of the importance of nurturing and keeping the world beautiful.

Age: 5+ Author: Barbara Cooney

How To Choose The Right Children’s Books To Read With Your Kids?

Consider the following factors when choosing the best children’s books.

  • Engaging : Choose books with engaging storylines and exciting characters that motivate your child to continue reading and inspire them to think creatively and develop their skills.

Taylor Beal , an experienced English teacher and reading specialist, says, “Ask your child what they’re picturing in their mind as you’re reading a book to them. This method can help them make connections from the book to the fantasy worlds they are reading about and has proven to increase reading retention and comprehension.”

  • Illustration : Select books with bright illustrations to draw the child in. Beautiful pictures combined with a fun story can help your child understand the story easily while having fun.
  • Age : Check the recommended age range to ensure the book is appropriate for your child. The right book should have suitable language and content that can challenge your child’s vocabulary and imagination and nurture them. If the book is very complex, the child may lose interest.
  • Reviews: Check the reviews left by other parents to determine if a book is suitable for your child.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. When should children start reading chapter books?

You may introduce chapter books to children at the age of seven. These books are generally written for children aged seven to ten years. The books are short and introduce children to prose. They also contain vibrant illustrations to attract their attention.

2. At what age should children start reading books?

Children usually start exploring books independently at the age of three. So, this is a good age to give them their first book and let them start reading ( 1 ).

3. What are the benefits of reading books for children?

Reading age-appropriate books can help children with vocabulary, language skills, healthy behaviors, emotions, empathy, imagination, creativity, and self-confidence ( 2 ).

It is good to introduce the concept of reading to children when they are young as it becomes easier to develop the habit of reading regularly. Books teach children various values, and thus, knowledge gained from reading can’t be compared to what is learned in schools. Our list of the best storybooks for kids includes stories with diverse themes such as playful animals, tales from the past, and life lessons. Therefore, keep your child engaged and bond with them over new stories and characters.

Why Trust MomJunction?

Wedetso Chirhah writes extensively on books, kids, and more and has experience editing school books for children. He brings you this list of the best books to help you teach your child about responsibility, love, friendship, and compassion towards animals. Most of these books are easy to read and make great options for reading before bed.

The Bottom Line

It is good to introduce the concept of reading to children when they are young as it becomes easier to develop the habit of reading regularly. Books teach children various values; thus, knowledge gained from reading can’t be compared to what is learned in schools. Our list of the best storybooks for kids includes books with engaging illustrations and colorful collages like The Very Hungry Caterpillar , life lesson-teaching tales like Charlotte’s Web , and engaging books with playful animal protagonists like The Cat In The Hat . Therefore, keep your child engaged and bond with them over new stories and characters.

Infographic: How To Choose The Right Children’s Books?

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get high-quality PDF version by clicking below.

  • Reading Milestones https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/milestones.html
  • Children’s literature to promote students’ global development and wellbeing https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7036210/

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100 Classic Children's Books To Spark Young Imaginations

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Blog – Posted on Friday, May 22

100 classic children's books to spark young imaginations.

100 Classic Children's Books To Spark Young Imaginations

They say childhood unfolds mostly inside our heads, forever remembered as a unique and formative time. And if that’s true, wouldn’t we want every child’s imagination to be a space populated by friendly animals, formidable warriors, and the sheer sense of possibility?

Reading the books on this list isn’t just a ticket to a universe of boundless potential; it is also a way to connect little readers to enduring characters and magical stories that have touched generations. Share these tales with the children in your life, and you may even find yourself a little nostalgic for your own childhood!

Without further ado, here’s our definitive list of timeless favorites and incredible reads that are guaranteed to spark young readers’ imaginations.

If you're feeling overwhelmed by the number of great children's books to read, you can also take our 30-second quiz below to narrow it down quickly and get a personalized children's book recommendation 😉

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Picture Books

1. guess how much i love you by sam mcbratney and anita jeram.

story books name for child

Starting us off on a sweet note is a little tale that will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside. Even without directly saying that the two Nutbrown Hares in the story are father and son, Guess How Much I Love You beautifully demonstrates familial love through its tender dialogue and lively illustrations. Not to mention that Little Nutbrown Hare’s creative ways of expressing his affection are sure to resonate with every imaginative child! 

2. Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees

Gerald the Giraffe is impressively tall, but that comes at a cost: his gangly form stands in the way of his dancing along with the other animals. To help prove the title Giraffes Can’t Dance wrong, a friendly cricket appears just as Gerald is about to give up and imparts this nugget of wisdom: “Sometimes when you’re different, you just need a different song.” As young readers watch Gerald embrace his unique melody, they’re reminded in this children's book about diversity that they, too, can chase even the wildest dreams. 

3. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Sendak’s unusual drawing style may have been ill-received in his early career, but it later became lauded for its ability to capture the untamed wanderings of young minds. And nowhere is this more potent than in his best-known book: after Max has been sent to his bedroom without dinner due to his “wild” behavior, Where the Wild Things Are takes him on an adventure in his own room. But while Max can sail down the river and into the mysterious jungle of his mind as much as he likes to, he never loses complete sight of home. When he needs something imagination can’t provide — like a hot supper waiting for him outside his door — his parents will always be there for him. 

4. If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff

Other than offering adorable (yet realistically messy) illustrations of what it's like to have kids around, If You Give a Pig a Pancake also carries an important message: it’s never too early to get children thinking from a different perspective. As Pig’s demands leap from pancakes to bubble baths, this domestic adventure shows children how silly and ridiculous their random requests might appear to those who look after them. 

5. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd

Goodnight Moon features a soothing bedtime ritual of a young bunny who wishes goodnight to the world. From the bears in the picture frame to the comb on the nightstand, every inanimate object comes to life just so they can send the bunny into slumber. This cozy little picture book is the perfect bedtime story to carry children into their dreams. 

6. Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold

Upon Tar Beach ’s pages of colorful and childlike illustrations float the youthful hopes and dreams of a young girl. From her family’s humble abode — whose rooftop she optimistically calls “tar beach” — she dreams of flying over the glimmering New York skyline and cherishing all the good things the city has to offer. Ringgold balances the nuances of a struggling home life with the irresistible ideas of gliding through the night sky, drawing children into the storyworld and nudging them to think deeper about their own world at the same time. 

7. The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr

This whimsical tale of a tiger who crashes little Sophie’s tea party has been adapted for the theater and for the television screen time and again. The narrative itself is simple: a friendly but hungry tiger rings Sophie’s doorbell just as she and her mother are about to settle down for afternoon tea. They decide to welcome him in, and watch in wonder as he happily enjoys their snacks. It’s a strange setup for adults, but for children, this odd little tale is exactly what their wild imaginations crave. 

8. No Matter What by Debi Gliori

Get ready for another story about parents’ unconditional love for their children. In the snuggly setting of their home, Small comes up with all sorts of scenarios in which Large, his parent, might not love him anymore. He sees himself turn into a ginormous bug, a crocodile, a grizzly bear — but like the title No Matter What sums up, Large will love him regardless of what he becomes. 

9. Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox and Julie Vivas

Wilfrid Gordon lives by an old people’s home, and he forges a particularly close friendship with Nancy, who’s losing her memory. In discovering the many forms that memories can take for each person, Wilfrid gathers up an array of his own mementos — things in which he found happiness and sadness — to help Nancy recover some of her memories. Adorably told and dreamily illustrated, as if the whole book itself is a flashback, Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge captures the fresh mindset of youth, and inspires children and adults to think beyond themselves. 

10. Elmer by David McKee

Elmer is a patchwork elephant whose personality is as vibrant as his skin. While his personality and physical differences often make him the life of the party, Elmer wonders what it’s like to be like the rest of his herd for once. As he figures out a way to tone down his colors, Elmer realizes the importance of his individuality, thereby reminding young readers that they don’t have to change for anyone. 

11. Five Minutes’ Peace by Jill Murphy

Meet another elephant family in Five Minutes’ Peace . Mrs. Large tells her elephant children to take care of themselves so that she can have just five minutes to herself. Turns out, in a house with three elephant children, just five peaceful minutes is a tall order. This perfect portrayal of the continuous buzz of a young family will leave kids giggling at the spitting image (so to speak) of themselves on the pages. 

12. Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers

Not every book to spark imagination has to be other-worldly, as Oliver’s Jeffers’ Here We Are would show you. Jeffers gives an all-round review of what children will encounter on this planet as they mature — going from demonstrating Earth’s place in space to sketching human’s place in nature. He shows them that life is wondrous enough as is, and as they grow up, it’s important to continue approaching the world with care and kindness. There’s a reminder that even adults can benefit from!

13. Zog by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheppler

Zog the dragon has the aspiration that all parents wish their children had: he wants to be the best student at his school. Unfortunately, he’s not blessed with natural grace, and he clumsily stumbles around class trying to earn a star from his teacher. Zog is funny, endearing, and highly imaginative, and makes striving to be a good student an entertaining journey (contrary to popular belief). 

14. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The collage illustration style of this title alone makes it a classic. The jagged pieces of colored paper come together to tell the story of a caterpillar’s metamorphosis. As our caterpillar crawls through the holes in the book, he grows larger and eventually cocoons himself in preparation for his transformation. For many children throughout generations, The Very Hungry Caterpillar has been, and continues to be, how they start to learn about nature and its miraculous processes. 

15. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

Did you grow up in a household that had drawings on the wall? Many parents try to keep this from happening, but most children feel the opposite, so the story of Harold and the Purple Crayon will resonate with us all in different ways. Harold might only have one color at his disposal, but that doesn’t mean that his doodles are limited: he can go on walks in the moonlight and meet dragons and hungry moose. To Harold, there’s nothing from his imagination that he can’t bring to life. 

16. Olivia by Ian Falconer

Who says children’s books can’t be minimalist? Olivia traces the wandering thoughts of Olivia, the household name for young porcine characters before Peppa Pig came along, through simplistic pictures mainly in black-and-white. Those simple design choices act as the perfect background for Olivia’s interests — from fashion to painting — to pop out and draw the readers’ eyes. 

17. Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman and Caroline Binch

Grace is indeed amazing — she’s unafraid to transform herself into just about any character in her favorite stories, from Joan of Arc to Aladdin. But when a school audition comes for the role of Peter Pan and Grace nominates herself, her friends discourage her from going after the part. Luckily, the story’s far from over: Amazing Grace goes on to encourage children to dream far and wide, reshaping themselves without worrying about what other people think. 

18. Clifford, the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell

Emily Elizabeth has a big red dog called Clifford. Beyond having a coat of fur that can be seen from miles away, Clifford is also gigantic . It might seem odd at first, but through the animated drawings of this picture book , Bridwell shows that Clifford is just like any other pet — a loyal, trustworthy, and perhaps a little mischievous friend who will always have their child’s back. 

19. Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff

Speaking of giant friends, Danny has a friend so large he struggles to go outside and play. Danny and the Dinosaur follows the two characters’ day out after their chance encounter at the museum (and isn’t that every child’s dream?). Danny shows the Dinosaur his world, and the Dinosaur tries to help people out as much as possible. The 1950s style is gloriously nostalgic, and the story itself never ceases to entertain. 

20. The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds 

We often think of creativity as some sort of innate ability, rather than something that we work toward. The Dot turns this notion upside down by telling the story of young Vashti’s artistic journey. She begins having little faith in her abilities, but her teacher encourages her to just start somewhere, even with only a dot. When Vashti sees this dot framed on the wall of her teacher’s office, it lights a fire within her and she begins to strive for something better. Eventually, Vashti becomes a great artist and even inspires others who initially doubted their abilities. 

21. The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn, Ruth E. Harper, and Nancy M. Leak

Even the most outgoing boys and girls have days where they just want to stay home with their parents rather than go to school. They’ll see themselves in Chester, a little raccoon who’s reluctant to leave home. When he confesses this to his mother, she kisses his hand and tells him that whenever he misses home, Chester can raise his hand to his cheek and feel the love she has for him lingering there. The Kissing Hand helps us remember that sometimes, all we need for our minds to conjure are realistic and comforting images of home.

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

Defying all expectations you might have made based on its name, The Book With No Pictures is absolutely the volume to pick up if you want to grab children’s attention. In place of lively images is the conversational tone and hilarious text, which offers kooky directions — one of which requires the reader to state that he’s a robot monkey who taught himself how to read. With or without pictures, there's no book that better embodies an active imagination than this one.

23. The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss

Any list of classic children’s books that doesn’t mention Dr. Seuss is incomplete. So many of his books have become indelible parts of kids’ childhood, and The Cat in the Hat is possibly the most notable among them. If you haven’t already, follow Sally and Conrad’s home adventure with a mysterious and mischievous Cat in his big red-and-white hat! It’s the classic story of children wreaking havoc while their parents are away, before scrambling to fix everything just in time to innocently welcome them back. 

24. Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy by Lynley Dodd

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy has everything you need in a children’s book: spirited illustrations of fuzzy, lovable pets and fun-to-read rhythmic verses. Turning the usual stereotype on its head, the story features a gang of dogs running away from a rugged cat. The story may be simple, but Dodd’s strength lies in the vivacious word pictures that she paints. 

25. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw

Get ready to be dazzled by the intricate drawings and heartwarming story of Love You Forever , which follows the life of a mother and her son who grows up from being a baby to becoming a father himself. Through every stage of his life, whether or not she approves of what he does, at the end of the day, she’ll always hold him and remind him that she loves him. The tearjerker lines come at the end of the book where the mother grows old: now, her son holds her instead. 

26. The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas and Helen Oxenbury

We’ve all heard of the Big Bad Wolf, but have you read The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig ? Beyond inverting the roles of the characters, this charming retelling of the well-known tale also changes up the houses they build — the Wolves, with the help of various other animals, end up surviving the Pig’s wrath by building a den out of flowers. The fragrant blooms remind the Pig of a powerful lesson: that life is about enjoying little pleasant things, rather than sabotaging others.

27. Corduroy by Don Freeman 

Corduroy is about the titular teddy bear in a department store. A young girl’s mother refuses to let her buy Corduroy and bring him home because they don’t have the money — and, more importantly, because he’s missing a button on his overalls. So Corduroy decides to find the missing button himself. In the night, he roams the department store, ducking the security guard in the hopes of one day getting a friend and a home. Little does he know, a happy ending is in store: the girl is coming back for him whether he has that button or not. 

28. Winnie and Wilbur series by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul

Since the publication of the first title in 1987, Winnie and Wilbur has been entertaining children endlessly with its silly stories and vibrant illustrations. Winnie is a witch in the most stereotypical sense of the word: pointy-nosed, wiry-haired, and she wears a pointed cap. But far from being evil, Winnie’s whimsical nature takes her on an array of misadventures with Wilbur, her loyal pet cat. 

29. The Story of Babar by Jean de Brunhoff

Babar is another little elephant children can’t help but love. The Story of Babar is, however, more somber than the other adorable animal tales we’ve seen so far. After his mother is killed by hunters, Babar flees to the city to start a new life. But even amidst the urban glamor, Babar misses his home and family in the jungle. When he decides to return, he receives a heartwarming surprise that the kingdom of his childhood still waits for him. 

30. Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry

What starts out as a simple introduction to life along a country track full of animals turns into much more: a story about kindness and teamwork. The titular character of Little Blue Truck sees a dump truck who got stuck in the mud and tries to help him, although his solo efforts only get them deeper into the muck. Thankfully, Blue has made plenty of friends on his way on the track, and they rally together to help the vehicles roll out of the mud. 

31. A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon

Worried about your children succumbing to peer pressure? Hopefully A Bad Case of Stripes will deter them. Meet Camilla Cream: a young girl who likes lima beans, but won’t eat them because her friends don’t like them. Yet as soon as she begins abstaining from lima beans, she begins to experience inexplicable symptoms — her skin develops multi-colored stripes, and then her body starts taking strange shapes. No doctor can diagnose or cure her, until an old lady gives her the miracle solution: some lima beans to eat. 

32. Eloise by Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight

Eloise lives in The Plaza Hotel in New York, but the fancy city setting doesn’t stop her from messing around. She seems to make her own rules as she goes around discovering the hidden corners of the Plaza, leaving her nanny trailing behind and trying to maintain order. Eloise might give children some dangerous ideas to wreak havoc in their own homes, but can also keep them seated for a while as they are drawn into her story and immerse themselves in her practical jokes. 

33. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

Even though the first edition was printed over a century ago, The Tale of Peter Rabbit remains a staple of children’s literature. This bestseller features the cutest, most endearing bunny you’ve ever seen — the hungry Peter Rabbit. Despite the warning from his mother, Peter enters the vegetable garden of Mr. McGregor to nibble on his goodies. Trouble comes when Peter overeats and is caught red-handed by the angry farmer, whom he now has to evade in order to return to his family.

34. Tuesday by David Wiesner 

Tuesday is an almost entirely wordless picture book about a regular Tuesday — that is, if your regular Tuesdays involve following a group of frogs flying around town on magical lily pads. This playful and atmospheric book takes children on an expedition to explore the nocturnal world, and leaves their imagination roaming by hinting at what’s to come next Tuesday night…

35. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig

William Steig’s Sylvester and the Magic Pebble tells the heartwarming tale of Sylvester, a young donkey with a great fondness for pebbles. One day, Sylvester finds a magic pebble which grants him any wish. Before he can make it home, though, a scary lion appears and shocks Sylvester into making an ill-advised wish. Now a modern classic, the sweet donkey’s emotional story reminds young readers of the importance of family and gratitude.

36. Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say 

Allen Say’s Grandfather’s Journey chronicles his grandfather’s lifelong journey, crossing the globe from Japan to California, in breath-taking watercolor paintings that will stay in children’s minds long after they close this book. It’s a well-crafted, thoughtful exploration of the experience and legacy of migration.

37. Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China by Ed Young

Lon Po Po tells the Chinese variant of the famous Little Red Riding Hood fairytale. In misty, haunting illustrations, readers are introduced to three fearless young girls who unwittingly let a wolf into their home, thinking that their grandmother has returned. In the face of danger, the girls band together in a dark twist that is guaranteed to surprise Western readers. 

38. Tomie dePaola’s Mother Goose by Tomie dePaola

A staple volume on any childhood shelf, Tomie dePaola’s Mother Goose is a collection of well-loved nursery rhymes. Featuring warm and colorful drawings of famous characters like Humpty Dumpty and Little Miss Muffet, this book promises plenty of joy for preschoolers — they won’t realize it now, but these sweet rhymes will linger in the back of their minds for many years to come.

39. The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton

The protagonist of this wholesome book is a little house that finds itself gradually surrounded by an ever-expanding city. While it remains unchanged, the house witnesses the appearan ce of cars, apartment blocks, and subways — all of which are fascinating, until the house finds itself longing for good old birdsong. First published in 1942, The Little House has been accompanying generation after generation as they grow up and experience changes in cities and in the countryside for themselves. 

40. The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth

The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth is based on a story by Leo Tolstoy — and, as this fact would suggest, it asks some pretty philosophical questions by picture book standards. But that’s not to say this beautifully illustrated book is in any way inaccessible. Muth’s young protagonist, Nikolai, learns a lot about living in the present, and readers of any age can glean a bit of wisdom from his wanderings.

41. Millions of Cats by Wanda Gág

Wanda Gág’s Millions of Cats is a classic, if ever there was one. Published in 1928, this is the oldest American picture book still in print, and it isn’t hard to see why! The tale focuses on an old and very lonely couple who decides to adopt a cat, but they soon find themselves spoiled for choice — there are hundreds of cats, thousands of cats, millions and billions and trillions of cats to choose from! 

For elementary readers

42. the lorax by dr. seuss.

Famous as Dr. Seuss’s favorite out of all his works , The Lorax is sadly even more relevant in the present day than it was at the time of its publicat ion in 1971. This colorful, unconventional book addresses the dangers of environmental destruction and warns against greed and consumerism in ways that simultaneously engage and inform children. 

43. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein

With A Light in the Attic , a collection of playful poetic shenanigans, Shel Silverstein will entertain y oung readers until the end of time. Whimsical and utterly wacky in the best possible way, this little book of rhymes will have children laughing in heartbeat. And topping it off are the cute illustrations!

44. Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile by Bernard Waber

Lyle is a happy New Yorker. He loves construction cranes, ice rinks, shopping malls, and especially the Victorian house on East 88th Street in which he lives with the Primm family. Lyle also happens to be a crocodile, a fact that his neighbor , Mr. Grumps, and his cat Loretta have trouble accepting. But Mr. Grumps and Loretta are wrong to judge others without knowing them, and Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile does a wonderful job of sending young readers this message. 

45. A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond and Peggy Fortnum

If you were to find a bear wearing a sign saying, “Please look after this bear” in London’s Paddington station, what would you do? Mr. and Mrs. Brown decide to do exactly what the sign says — they take the bear home and name him Paddington. So begin the adventures of A Bear Called Paddington , prompted by the mishaps and misunderstandings of his new life in Notting Hill.

46. Miss Nelson is Missing! by Harry Allard and James Marshall

A quirky classic published in 1977, Miss Nelson is Missing! is an amusing story featuring a very naught y class whose teacher, Miss Nelson, one day disappears . The children are now faced with the horrible substitute Miss Viola Swamp, who, among other abominable things, cancels story hour! Outraged and over-burdened with homework, the class of Room 207 sets out to find Miss Nelson, going as far as consulting the police in their desperate attempt to regain what they always had but never appreciated.

47. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince is an enigmatic little book for children and adults alike. The titular little prince leaves his tiny planet, on which rests his beloved rose, and journeys to several other planets, eventuall y reaching Earth. Somber, polite, and inquisitive, the prince’s curious travels and remarks make for a heartwarming and poignant tale.

48. Raggedy Ann Stories by Johnny Gruelle

Raggedy Ann reached the American public as a real doll in 1915, then made her appearance in a book in 1918. Ann has now been a moral companion to young childr en for over a hundred years, helping as they learn about life as well as entertaining them. The sweet and wise Raggedy Ann Stories will likely be revisited many times by readers as they grow up.

49. Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne

Thi s silly old bear needs no introdu ction — Winnie-the-Pooh has captured the hearts of many generations, and continues to be loved. Pooh’s adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood are hilarious, sweet, and thought-provoking. For all his silliness, Pooh gives young children a masterclass in friendship with his loyalty, kindness, and optimism. And besides, is it really possible not to empathize with a bear who’s always wondering what it will eat next?

50. Ramona series by Beverly Cleary

Few characters in children’s books have a personality as strong as Ramona Quimby’s, the star of Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series. Fearless, stubborn, intelligent, and creati ve, Ramona’s boundless energy radiates from the pages. Her antics as sh e progresses from kindergarten to elementary school promise a kind of entertainment that never gets old, as demonstrated by the undying popularity of the series.

51. Fairy Tales from Around the World by Andrew Lang and H.J. Ford

Once u pon a time, Scotsman Andrew Lan g compiled folk fairytales from around the world, edited them to make sure they were suitable for young audiences, and then published them as twelve canonical ‘fairy books.’ Fairy Tales from Around the World is a selection of these tales, lavishly illustrated and brimming with magic. We’ve all read the Western classics — now why not discover something new?

52. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White and Garth Williams

E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web is a tender tale of friendship and cooperation. It takes as protagonists Wilbur, a young piglet, and Charlotte, a spider, who live in the same barn. The two develop a strong bond as Wilbur’s life comes under threat and Charlotte tries to prevent this by making the farmers see his value. A heart-rending story that doesn’t shy away f rom the difficult concepts of loss and death, Charlotte’s Web will have a special place in lit tle readers’ hearts long after their first read.  

53. Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

If, in the darkness of a London night, you’ve glimpsed the little figures of children gliding through the air, above countless chimneys an d through the starry night, it’s likely you’ve witnessed Peter Pan, Wendy, and her two brothers on their way to Neverland. If not, you can still join these innocent and free-spirited children on their marvelous adventures with mermaids, pirates, and fairies in Peter Pan the novel, a timeless classic about childhood mischief and innocence.

54. Mary Poppins series by P. L. Travers

P. L. Travers’s Mary Poppins series — another famous classic set in the city of London — follows a nanny by the same name who possesses magical powers. Blown in by the East wind to No. 17 Cherry Tree Lane, Mary Poppins delights the five Banks children with several visits, all recounted in the series that inspired celebrated musical and movie adaptations.

55. Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne

In Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Treehouse series, Jack and Annie travel through time and space on special missions. It all starts on a day just li ke any other, when the two stumble upon a treehouse. Some of the volumes in this series t arget more advanced readers, while others are written for younger children, so there’s a book for everyone, no matter their age!

56. My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

You pro bably don’t need much convincing to pick up a book that features a dragon. And r ightly so, because Ruth Stiles Gannett’s My Father’s Dragon is a delightful story with fantastical elements to pull little readers right in. Elmer Elevator, the protagonist, is here to rescue the dragon — but first he must make his way past tigers, a rhino, and a lion, among other things.

57. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle

“It was a dark and stormy night.” So begins Madeleine L’Engle’s mind-blowing A Wrinkle in Time , a sci-fi adventure for children that many writers credit as the initial inspiration for their writing careers. Siblings Meg and Charles embark on a perilous journey through the cosmos in a n attempt to find their lost scientist father; on the way, they grapple with questions as large as the universe itself.

58. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a well-established classic that has been entertaining little readers with its nonsensical peculiarities since 1865. Dig into this wondrous novel and follow in Alice’s footsteps down a rabbit hole and away into a worl d of wonder, grinning Chesh ire cats, and “mad” tea parties.

59. Nicholas by René Goscinny

René Goscinny’s Nicholas (Le Petit Nicolas) is a hilarious fictional account of life as a child in 1950s France. Accompanied by illustrations from the creator of the famous comic Asté rix , the book details the many antics of the schoolyard and is populated by the distinct randomness of a mismatched set of classmates. These unruly children are sure to earn young children’s affection!

60. The Secret Seven series by Enid Blyton

The Secret Seven series follows a mystery-solving society of seven children: Janet, Jack, Peter, Colin, Barbara, Pam, and George. And let’s not forget their beloved and helpful Cocker Spaniel, Scamper! Privy to in-group passwords and exclusive treehouse meetings, the reader cannot help but relish the passionate secrecy the group maintains.

61. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

For over a hundred years, the story of orphan Mary Lennox and her new life with her uncle in his gloomy Yorkshire manor house has been enchanting little readers. Atmospheric and mysterious, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden is a beautiful and magical novel ab out finding human connec tion where you least expect it.

62. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

No adult is beyond the scrutiny of this Swedish pig-tailed redhead. Pippi may possess superhuman strength — but it’s her bold and completely unapologetic attitude that make her stand out! Astrid Lindgre n’s beloved Pippi Longstocking has achieved iconic status and been translated into more than forty languages. It’s just one of those books everyone needs to read.

63. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

A moving Canadian classic, Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables recounts the adventures of Anne, an orphan girl on Prince Edward Island. In this coming-of- age story, Anne makes a lot of mistakes but also does a lot of growing up, although she never loses her optimism and id ealism. For Anne, the world is a hopeful place, and it’s hard for this feeling not to rub off on her reader.

64. Matilda by Roald Dahl

We’ve all, at some point, stared hard at inanimate objects in an attempt to induce them to move, as did Matilda. A champion of nerds, Matilda is a voracious reader and mathematics whizz, who unfortunately attends a nightmare of an elementary school (with the exception of her sweet teacher, Miss Honey). Roald Dahl’s Matilda is a funny, deeply satisfying book that refuses to treat children as children, thereby providing a perspective that millions of readers appreciate.

65. D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths by Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire

Squabbling gods, vengeful goddesses, brave heroes, strange beasts — the magical, mythical world of ancient Greece has it all. D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths tells immersive stories that have endured since ancient times in a gorgeously illustrated tome following the adventures of deities and mortals alike.

66. The Secret Lake by Karen Inglis 

The Secret Lake follows siblings Stella and Tom, who are transported to their home as it was almost 100 years prior. What unfolds is a page-turning time-travel mystery that leaves readers wishing they could use time-warping themselves to read faster, desperate to know what happens next.

67. The Arrival by Shaun Tan 

The Arrival is a wordless graphic novel that requires no text to sweep you along on a father’s emigration journey. Each drawing is an exploration that evokes endless emotion; he struggles to adjust to his strange new home and feels sad and lost as an outsider. Eventually he begins to find solace in his adopted community, and the powerful images welcome us in along with him.

68. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

The Tale of Despereaux calls itself “the story of a mouse, a princess, some soup, and a spool of thread” — and it weaves a charming tale of how these unlikely things find themselves together. Little mouse Despereaux Tilling embarks on an epic adventure perfect for bedtime reading.

69. Samantha: An American Girl series by Maxine Rose Schur

Samantha Harrington is an orphan who lives with her grandmother on a wealthy estate in 1904 New York, and her lonely life gains sudden excitement when the impoverished Nellie moves in next door. In the Samantha: An American Girl series , readers are transported to a bustling turn-of-the-century household, exploring complicated themes of class differences and gender inequality while pursuing Samantha and Nellie on their rebellious revels.

70. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

The Westing Game is as playfully inventive as its title might imply. Sixteen strangers are invited to the reading of Samuel W. Westing’s will and compete for the chance to inherit his fortune. Soon, the game is afoot — sending you to piece together a thrillingly plotted and knotted puzzle of wordplay, disguise, and intrigue. 

71. Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin

The Village of Clear Sky is a peculiar place with no moon, and young Rendi seems to be the only one to notice how strange it is. The arrival of an enigmatic storyteller soon sweeps him away with the power of her words, and Starry River of the Sky unfurls as an enchanting reimagining of Chinese folktales with vibrantly colored illustrations.

72. The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards

Written by Julie Andrews Edwards — yes, that Julie Andrews — The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles is a fantastical account of four travelers’ pursuit of the curious creature that is the whangdoodle. Professor Savant and three children, Lindy, Tom, and Ben, venture to Whangdoodleland and this new destination explodes with wonder and whimsy.

For middle-grade readers 

73. how to train your dragon by cressida cowell.

The fantasy series that inspired the hit movies, How to Train Your Dragon follows young Viking Hiccup and his dragon Toothless as Hiccup begins his quest to become a hero . These endearing misfits prove their mettle as they soar through the sky and carry us away.

74. Nobody’s Boy by Hector Malot

This largely overlooked French novel (originally titled Sans Famille ) takes its readers on a journey through France along with the orphaned Remi, who becomes a street entertainer. Hector Malot's Nobody’s Boy is a fascinating, carefully-paced journey to the past that offers meaningful lessons about family, resilience, and friendship.

75. Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg 

You’ll never look at board games the same way. Jumanji is a jungle adventure game where anything encountered in the game soon comes to life — including hungry jungle beasts. The story is accompanied by surrealist pencil drawings by Van Allsberg that leap off the page. As the game warns, "Do not begin unless you intend to finish" — but you will have no trouble getting through this thriller.

76. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine is the Cinderella retelling that we all need. Stubborn, intelligent, and driven, Ella proves to be a princess for our times as she defies the “gift” of obedience she’s been awarded. Ella Ench ant ed is more than a sweet tale — it has a serious point to make, and it’s no coincidence that this novel is a massive success with young readers.

77. Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis’s enduring Chronicles of Narnia series follows an array of protagonists who are magically transported to the fantastical realm of Narnia, where they encounter the strange creatures that live there and are called to adventure by the lion Aslan. These masterfully told stories capture the wonder of escaping to new worlds and stepping into fabulous histories.

78. The Witches by Roald Dahl

Imagine you're a young boy training your pet mice in a hotel ballroom, only to discover you're sharing the room with an annual conference of witches on the hunt for children. That’s exactly the position the protagonist of Roald Dahl’s dark tale The Witches finds himself in — but to find out how he gets out of it, if he does at all, you’ll have to read this topsy-turvy book!

79. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Everything about Milo’s life feels woefully dull. That is, until a tollbooth arrives in his room with no explanation. Driving through The Phantom Tollbooth , Milo finds himself in a strange place of loopy logic where language and arithmetic butt heads and he can’t seem to find Rhyme or Reason. Milo’s bizarre ride of wit and wordplay forever shatters any claim that life is boring.

80. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg

Claudia isn’t running away from home with her brother Jamie — she’s running to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. But they soon realize their hiding place is home to more than just paintings and statues. Featuring two young amateur sleuths who uncover all of kinds of secrets and mysteries, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is a work of art in itself.

81. Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz

Doesn’t everyone, at some point or another, dream of being a teenage spy? Fourteen-year-old Alex Rider does not have much of a choice when he is recruited into espionage by M16. But over the course of the Alex Rider series , as he learns to vex villains and navigate webs of intrigue, Alex soon becomes one of Britain’s most brilliant secret agents. James Bond who?

82. The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini

Comprised of four novels set in the fictional kingdom of Alagaësia, The Inheritance Cycle is a saga of the teenage Eragon’s quest to depose the evil King Galbatorix. With the help of his dragon Saphira, Eragon blazes a fiery path to heroism. These novels may be hefty, but they’re still impossible to put down.

83. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

In Little Women , the four March sisters seem to live in their own little world. Alcott brings these characters to life in all their charisma and complexity, making us feel like part of the family (or at least wishing we were). The text richly evokes its Civil War-era setting and makes pointed commentary on the period’s society and politics. Still, its tale of sisterhood and female self-determination is timeless.

84. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Bilbo Baggin is a humble hobbit who just wants to stay safe and comfortable at home… but the wizard Gandalf has other plans. The Hobbit is a fantastical exploration as this reluctant hero is whisked away on a search for treasure. Bilbo strays far from home, and so does the reader who traverses this mythical landscape alongside him.

85. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

The Harry Potter series requires no introduction: the enormously popular saga of the Boy Who Lived is a household name and pure magic. Rowling’s wizarding world has cast a spell on readers of all ages still eagerly awaiting their Hogwarts acceptance letter and imagining what house they would be sorted into. The lengthy novels are jam-packed with unforgettable characters and magical mythology, and readers will fly through them faster than Harry’s Thunderbolt.

86. The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

The impeccably-named Bastian Balthazar Bux is bullied and neglected, leading him to seek solace in books. Soon, he escapes into the world of The Neverending Story , which draws him into the fabled realm of Fantasia. What unfolds is an entrancing metafictional fantasy about an ordinary boy on a soul-searching journey and the imaginative power of reading.

87. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling 

Kipling’s collection of classic stories, The Jungle Book centers on the wild adventures of “man-cub” Mowgli who’s raised in the jungle by wolves. Filled with colorful animal characters like Baloo the bear, Shere Khan the tiger, and Bagheera the panther, the tales are an immersive exploration into the thrills and perils of the jungle and of growing up.

88. Redwall by Brian Jacques

The peaceful mice of Redwall are under siege from an army of rats — and they are willing to do anything to defend themselves and their friends. The series is filled with courageous creatures and inventive language, and the epic battles between good and evil erupt in excitement and bittersweet emotion with every clash of swords. 

89. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Journey down the Mississippi River along The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn , an unforgettable chronicle of boyhood adventure and self-discovery. The novel grapples with serious topics like the evils of slavery and what it means to be “civilized,” and its sharp ear for dialogue and richly wrought characters make Huck Finn’s voice one that you can’t get out of your head.

90. The Giver by Lois Lowry 

In the dystopian novel The Giver, 12-year-old Jonas lives in what he initially thinks to be a utopia: a community where Sameness prevails to eradicate difference and pain. Everything changes when he becomes the next Receiver of Memory, inheriting all of humanity’s emotion and history before Sameness came into effect. The Giver is a powerful account of the dangers of conformity and the imperative of seeing things differently.

91. Holes by Louis Sachar 

Stanley Yelnats IV is 14 and cursed. He’s been sent to the juvenile detention center Camp Green Lake in the middle of the Texas desert for a crime he didn’t commit, all because of his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing great-great-grandfather. Louis Sachar’s blisteringly funny Holes weaves together past and present, and Stanley and his fellow delinquents soon find themselves digging deep into hidden history and the secrets under the dried-up lake.

92. Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter

The name Pollyanna has become synonymous with enduring optimism, and this story of a young orphan who is sent to live with her spinster aunt is endlessly cheery and endearing. Pollyanna has an almost magical effect on everyone she encounters and charms us all with her bright outlook.

93. Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner 

Set in 1880s Sydney, Seven Little Australians recounts the mischievous exploits of the seven Woolcot children. They constantly play pranks on their stern father and young stepmother, and you can always count on them to be up to no good.

94. Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene

The Nancy Drew character has evolved over the course of decades and a lengthy series of books and ghostwriters, but has always remained America’s most enterprising young sleuth. There’s always another mystery to get to the bottom of, and nobody is better at unravelling the intrigues of the everyday than Nancy Drew.

95. The Hardy Boys series by Franklin W. Dixon

Like their counterpart Nancy Drew, Frank and Joe are teenage amateur detectives able to outwit even the most conniving criminals, and discover the truth in cases that left adults stumped. At this point, there are hundreds of The Hardy Boys mysteries to choose from, so there will never be a shortage of small-town intrigue.

96. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Nobody “Bod” Owens is just like the rest of us. Except he lives in a graveyard. And was raised by ghosts. Equal parts haunting and hilarious, Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book is an eerie exploration of mystery, murder, phantoms, and family.

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

Munchkins, witches, flying monkeys, magic slippers: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has it all. Dorothy’s path along the yellow brick road to the Emerald City, accompanied by her much-loved companions the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion, is a timeless journey of friendship and finding yourself far from home. It is, as the title suggests, absolutely wonderful.

98. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

The Mysterious Benedict Society is formed by four gifted children who are enlisted on a mission to investigate L.I.V.E. (Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened). These whip-smart kids struggle to solve the puzzle of L.I.V.E.’s true intentions, and their unveiling of secrets and government conspiracies makes for an intense and intelligent thriller.

99. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Lemony Snicket’s thirteen-part A Series of Unfortunate Events tells the woeful saga of the three orphaned Baudelaire children, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, and Count Olaf’s evil machinations to get his hands on their family fortune. Each darkly comedic installment adds a new twist to the misery of the Baudelaires, and there’s nothing more unfortunate about the series than not reading it. 

100. The War of the Worlds by H G Wells

In The War of the Worlds , Martians crash-land in the English countryside. Soon enough, they start zapping people with heat rays and battling the British army, and the country descends into chaos. Wells’ science fiction masterpiece is an exhilarating clash of worlds as the human species fights for its survival.

Looking for more books to spark children’s curiosity? Check out our list of 60 Best Fantasy Books for Kids!

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13 Best Books About Names and Their Importance

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Learning and pronouncing a person’s name correctly is respectful and kind. These picture books about names share stories of hurt feelings, correcting when people don’t say your name right, learning the story behind your name, and feeling proud of your name.

My oldest daughter’s name is Annika. Yes, we thought a few people might say it wrong, but it’s been way more than a few. Most people say it wrong. (It rhymes with Monica. And Hannukah. It’s not that hard.) But my shy daughter eventually stopped correcting people, including teachers, even her high school advisor, because they would persist in saying it wrong. (Even her flatmates say her name incorrectly.) Now that she’s 21, she’s asked her friends to call her a new, easier name. Which is SO sad for my husband and me, but I do understand. She’s tired of the rudeness, disrespect, and hurt feelings.

Pronouncing names correctly is RESPECTFUL and KIND. It is the best thing you can do to show that you care for someone. Saying someone’s name correctly models to others (your kids, your students, other humans) how to be a decent human being. Not to mention, respect for a person’s name is essential to being a good friend.

When I was a teacher, I struggled with remembering names. Admittedly, I used name tags way longer than my co-workers. But I worked hard at it. Since it wasn’t a strength, I’d quiz myself at night to match names and faces. Why? Because knowing someone’s name (and saying it right) makes a student feel known, welcome, and valued. That should always be our goal as educators.

Please read these children’s books with your preschool and elementary-age kids and students. Teach the next generation how important names are! And how kindness means saying someone’s name correctly.

Best Books About Names

story books name for child

My Name is Saajin Singh by Kuljibder Kaur Brar, illustrated by Samrath Kaur When Saajin goes to school, his teacher says his name incorrectly and so do his classmates. At home, Saajin’s parents tell him that even grown-ups make mistakes. The next day, he tells the teacher the correct pronunciation of his name, and the teacher apologizes.

story books name for child

The Boy Who Tried to Shrink His Name by Sandhya Parappukkaran, illustrated by Michelle Pereira This is a good book about a boy with a long name. He learns to skateboard step by step and then teaches a new friend how to say his long name in the same way, syllable by syllable.

story books name for child

Kantiga Finds the Perfect Name written by Mabel Mnensa, illustrated by Chantelle Burgen Thorne NAME Kantiga, a South African girl, wants to change her name. When she tells her grandmother, her grandmother shares a folktale about a village ruler who walked to get water with two pots, one of which was cracked. When questioned about the waste of water, the village leader shows the path she’s walked from the well to her home that is filled with flowers and plants that grow new fruits and vegetables every day that her dripping pot watered. The water gains magical powers through the crack in the clay pot, called a Kantiga. After hearing the story about her name, Kantiga embraces her name.

story books name for child

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes Chrysanthemum LOVES her name! When she gets to school and her classmates make fun of her name. Poor Chrysanthemum feels wilted…until she meets her music teacher!

story books name for child

Alma and How She Got Her Name  by Juana Martinez-Neal Alma Sofia Esperanza Jose Pura Candela thinks her name is too long …until her father explains about each person she was named for — like Esperanza, Alma’s great-grandmother who hoped to travel. This helps Alma make a personal connection to each person she’s named for. With Esperanza, she says, “ The world is so big! I want to go see it, Daddy! ” Names are important. This story would be a wonderful way to talk with your child about not just your child’s name but the names in your family, too. Soft, muted colors give this story a nostalgic atmosphere.

story books name for child

My Name is Elizabeth  by Annika Dunklee, illustrated by Matthew Forsythe Elizabeth loves her name — “ I like that it’s nine letters long…And I like all the neat things my mouth does when I say it. ” But she doesn’t like when people call her Lizzy or Beth or Betsy. She’s had enough and announces to the world that her name is Elizabeth, “ But you may call me Elizabeth .” Blue and white backgrounds with white and orange characters give this book a unique retro feel. It’s a book for anyone who loves their given name — and doesn’t want to be called anything else.

story books name for child

Millions of Maxes  by Meg Wolitzer, illustrated by Micah Player What do you do when you find out other kids have YOUR same name? The one and only Max goes to the park where he discovers that he is NOT the only Max in the world. He befriends two other Maxes who, he realizes, are different than him. Together, they search for one of the Max’s pink pinecone and meet yet another Max — a dog Max. Later at bedtime, Max tells his parents his realizations that he’s not the only Max but that they’re all unique so it’s okay with him. Read this with children to introduce the idea of other people having the same name, I predict it will spark important conversations.

story books name for child

That’s Not My Name by Annosha Syed Mirha is so excited to go to her first day of school. When she gets there, the other kids say her name wrong which hurts her feelings. Her mom helps Mirha understand the importance and meaning of her name. This empowers MIrha to return to school and correct her classmates’ pronunciation.

story books name for child

My Name written by Supriya Kelkar, illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat Filled with gorgeous illustrations and figurative language, a child reflects on their name that gives their classmates pronunciation troubles and mean giggles, a name that marks the child as being different. Then, the child’s family remind the child that their name also means giggles and love and spices and family, and much more. “ My name means I’m me. Your name means you’re you .”

story books name for child

My Name is Yoon  by Helen Recorvits, illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska Yoon loves writing her name in Korean, but her father insists she must write her name in English.  Yoon decides she isn’t sure about her name in English and wonders if another name would be better.

story books name for child

Thunder Boy  by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Morales Thunder Boy wants a name all his own, not just a smaller version of his dad’s name. So he begins brainstorming the best name, all the while figuring out who he is.  The story is humorous and playful while placing importance on knowing yourself.

story books name for child

“You’re Called What?” by Kes Gray, illustrated by Nikki Dyson And for something different, silly, and animal-related, this is a goofy book about unique animal names.

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Melissa Taylor, MA, is the creator of Imagination Soup. She's a mother, former teacher & literacy trainer, and freelance education writer. She writes Imagination Soup and freelances for publications online and in print, including Penguin Random House's Brightly website, USA Today Health, Adobe Education, Colorado Parent, and Parenting. She is passionate about matching kids with books that they'll love.

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Personalised Christening or Baptism Book of Nursery Rhymes

Customise with Child's Name, Occasion Date and Personal Message

Modern Christening Gift Book of Blessings Personalised for Baby

Customise with the Child's Name, Christening / Baptism Date and Personal Message

Modern Christening Gift Book of Blessings Personalised for Baby

Our Personalised Christening / Baptism Gift Book of Nursery Rhymes

Customise with Child's Name, Christening / Baptism Date and Personal Message

Personalised Christmas Story Book for Children

Our Fabulous Personalised Christmas Story Book for Children

Every child's name creates an unique rhyming christmas story., even short names have extra stories so every book is packed full of magic., what others are saying, holly, bedfordshire.

"We purchased this book for my cousins little boys christening. They absolutely loved it. It's very well made, has beautiful illustrations and we could add a personal message inside the book, we added the date of the christening so it can be remembered for years to come. Would recommend the hardback as that's what we got and its looks amazing. A superb keepsake gift. Thanks"

Katie, Holloway

"I have bought this item for my husband for Valentine's Day to read to our son (something he loves doing each night) and I just know he's going to love it! The beginning of the book has a lovely personalised message for him too. Very happy and would most certainly recommend. Lovely gift for a birthday or christening. Very special item, very good service."

Mrs Jenkins, Carlisle

"I was over the moon to receive the personalised story book in super quick time and it's absolutely perfect. Lovely quality and the story created by my little boys name (each letter of the alphabet has its own mini story) is wonderful."

"A lovely, unique storybook with a very professional look; fantastic quality hardback cover, print and illustrations. Bought as a keepsake gift for a friend's newborn - they absolutely loved it (as did I!)."

Stella, Hertford

"Absolutely fabulous book - so beautifully made and I can't wait to give it to my niece who I know will totally LOVE it. I was in touch with the seller also and he was so incredibly helpful in getting it dispatched within a certain time frame. I cannot recommend this product highly enough. REALLY good value for money. Thank you so much!"

Carol, Devon

"First time i have ordered this book and it definitely wont be the last..what an amazing book It ticked all the boxes. Amazing illustrations and a great story. my nephew loved his gift..the quality is amazing!! The best personalised gift for children ive seen in a long time and definitely value for money... You will not be dissapointed!!"

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"Brilliant book, I gave it as a christening present and the parents loved it, a lovely keepsake for the future."

Peter T, Suffolk

"The book was far superior to what I had imagined. I expected a storybook with my granddaughter's name thrown in here and there, but it was much better than that. The letters of her name were cleverly crafted to be part of the story, all written in verse and set in bright, lively illustrations. It's something she will love now, and keep for years to come."

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Who are my magic name.

My Magic Name are a family run business that make unique personalised children's books. We believe our books should be given as gifts that will become forever keepsakes for life. Each book is lovingly handmade and the highest quality of materials are used so each book can last a lifetime.

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It's easy. All you have to do is look at our collection of unique personalised children's books and select which one you want. Then add the child's name, a personal message if you want to, and depending on which book any other details that may be required, and that's it. We'll do our magic and transform all your details into the book for you. We'll then print your personalised gift and deliver it right to your front door!

Why are personalised books such great gifts

We believe children nowadays need a little helping hand to spark the imagination and to learn the love of reading. And what could be better than a book with their name on or even being part of the story or character within the book. Our books could help raise confident, creative, book loving kiddiwinks.

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Our personalised children's book range from £21.95 to £28.99 and depend on which book and what format you select. We have a low cost paperback, deluxe hardback and a luxury cushioned cover option. Our hardback book is our most popular as it makes the perfect keepsake gift.

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Black History Month for Kids: Google Slides, Resources, and More!

30 Inspiring Book Characters Every Child Should Know

Some old, some new, all fabulous!

Esperanza from Esperanza Rising and Jabari from Jabari Jumps, as examples of inspiring children's book characters

One of the greatest gifts books give us is the opportunity to connect with characters that resonate with us. We form a deep attachment to characters that make us laugh and make us think, and most importantly, teach us valuable life lessons. When it comes to children’s literature, there are just so many amazing children’s book characters to choose from! Narrowing down the list is almost impossible, but we managed to pull together this list of 30 of the most-loved children’s book characters, old and new.

(Just a heads up, WeAreTeachers may collect a share of sales from the links on this page. We only recommend books our team loves!)

1. Ada Twist from Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty

Ada Twist, Scientist, as an example of children's book characters

Ada’s mind is like a popcorn maker bouncing questions around 24/7. Her story is a celebration of insatiable curiosity, girl power, and the rewards of perseverance.

Buy it: Ada Twist, Scientist at Amazon

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

Alexander and the The Horrible, Terrible, No Good Very Bad Day, as an example of children's book characters

Ever have one of those days? Well, from the minute he wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, Alexander is having a bummer of a day. This story gives readers a hilarious glimpse into the thought process of a young boy with a serious case of the grumps.

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

3. August Pullman from Wonder by R.J. Palacio

August Pullman from Wonder, as an example of children's book characters

Auggie, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face, tugs at our heart strings and teaches us the power of a good heart and a strong mind.

Buy it: Wonder at Amazon

4. Brian from The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig

Brian from The Invisible Boy, as an example of children's book characters

We’ve all seen this boy—the shy, sweet one who has so much to offer but can’t quite connect with his classmates. Brian’s story teaches us about the power of kindness and inclusion and encourages us to keep our eyes open for the invisible ones in our own circle.

Buy it: The Invisible Boy at Amazon

5. Charlie Bucket from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Charlie Bucket from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, as an example of children's book characters

When Charlie Bucket finds one of the golden tickets to the opening of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, he has no idea what an adventure he’s in for. Honest and kind, brave and true, Charlie is a hero among spoiled, greedy brats who in the end triumphs.

Buy it: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at Amazon

6. Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Charlotte from Charlotte's Web, as an example of children's book characters

A children’s literature icon, Charlotte is a paragon of patience and wisdom as she guides Wilbur the pig through his trials and tribulations. In the end she makes the ultimate sacrifice, leaving us brokenhearted but grateful to have known her.

Buy it: Charlotte’s Web at Amazon

7. CJ from Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena

CJ from Last Bus to Market Street, as an example of children's book characters

CJ lives in the poor part of the city and wonders why his life looks different than his friends’. Luckily, he has his grandmother to help him see the beauty, and fun, in the world around them. His spirit encourages us to look for the good in life.

Buy it: Last Stop on Market Street at Amazon

8. David from No, David by David Shannon

David from No, David, as an example of children's book characters

David is a young boy bubbling over with enthusiasm and curiosity. And more often than not, it lands him in hot water. With a mischievous smile and an unswerving sense of humor, David embodies the joie de vivre that we are all born with.

Buy it: No, David at Amazon

9. Delphine from One Crazy Summe r by Rita Williams-Garcia

Delphine and her sisters from One Crazy Summer, as an example of children's book characters

When Delphine and her two sisters spend the summer with their mother in Oakland, they find themselves in a different world. Set on the cusp of the civil rights movement, Delphine’s worldview expands exponentially as she grows up before our very eyes.

Buy it: One Crazy Summer at Amazon

10. Dory from Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon

Children's Book Characters- Dory Fantasmagory

Ignored by her older brother and sister, charming, energetic Dory is left to her own (sizable) imagination as she goes on adventures with her imaginary friend Mary. Hilarious and heartwarming, you can’t help but fall in love with Dory.

Buy it: Dory Fantasmagory at Amazon

11. Edward from The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

Children's book characters- Edward Tulane

Edward is a fine china rabbit who lives many lives. As we follow him along on his journey through the hands of different boys and girls, we experience the joys and heartbreak of a life well-lived.

Buy it: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane at Amazon

12. Emmanuel from Emmanuel’s Dream by Laurie Ann Thompson

Children's book characters from Emmanuel's Dream

When Emmanuel was born in Ghana, West Africa, with a deformed leg, his prospects were dim. But with the love and encouragement of his beloved mother, he not only survived but thrived. Based on the life of inspirational athlete and disability rights activist Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, this story delivers a powerful message about overcoming differences by believing in yourself.

Buy it: Emmanuel’s Dream at Amazon

13. Esperanza from Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Children's book characters- Esperanza Rising

When a tragedy upends Esperanza’s life of privilege and wealth into one of poverty and uncertainty, she has to find the strength to rise above her difficult circumstances and bring hope to her ailing mother.

Buy it: Esperanza Rising at Amazon

14. Mrs. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus series by Joanna Cole

Children's Book Characters -Mrs. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus

If only every child could have a magical teacher like Valerie Frizzle, the world would be a better place. With her trademark wackiness and boundless energy, she leads her students (and our readers) on unforgettable journeys.

Buy it: The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks at Amazon

15. Frog and Toad from the Frog and Toad Series by Arnold Lobel

children's book characters- Frog and Toad

Among the most beloved children’s book characters are Frog and Toad. Sweet and simple, their stories of friendship and loyalty bring us back to a more innocent time in a way that is so very satisfying in today’s complicated world.

Buy it: Frog and Toad Are Friends at Amazon

16. Greg Heffley from Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Children's Book Characters- Greg Heffley from DIary of a Wimpy Kid

Author Jeff Kinney admits he based Greg on his own worst qualities in middle school and high school. Sometimes a hero, sometimes a zero, but always entertaining—he’s a guy that kids can relate to.  

Buy it: Diary of a Wimpy Kid at Amazon

17. Irene Bobbin from Brave Irene by William Steig

Children's Book Characters -Brave Irene

Brave Irene, the dressmaker’s daughter, has to deliver a gown to the palace. Despite the challenge of a fierce snowstorm, Irene pushes through with cleverness and determination. Told by master storyteller William Steig, you can’t help but cheer for Irene to make it to the finish line on time.

Buy it: Brave Irene at Amazon

18. Jacob from Jacob’s New Dress by Sarah Hoffman

children's book characters from Jacob's New Dress

One of the earliest books that tackled the unique challenges faced by children who don’t identify with traditional gender roles, Jacob’s story opens your heart and mind to children who are questioning. 

Buy it: Jacob’s New Dress at Amazon

19. Jabari from Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

Children's Book Characters - Jabari from Jabari Jumps

Jabari is sure he’s ready for the high dive. But as his turn nears, he employs some hilarious stall tactics. Encouraged by his patient dad, he keeps us on the edge of our seat until he takes his triumphant plunge.

Buy it: Jabari Jumps at Amazon

20. Junie B. Jones from the series by Barbara Park

children's book characters- Junie B. Jones

Junie B. Jones is endlessly entertaining as she makes her way from home to school. Filled with curiosity and wonder, her adventures provide us the unique privilege of experiencing the world through the eyes of a kindergartner.

Buy it: Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus at Amazon

21. Lilly from Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes

Children's Book Characters -Lilly from Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse

Sometimes despite our best intentions, our enthusiasm gets the best of us. Free-spirited Lilly tries to contain her excitement about her new purse, but her impetuousness wins out. We can all relate as we witness her pint-sized thought process and root for redemption from her beloved teacher Mr. Slinger.

Buy it: Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse at Amazon

22. The Lorax from the story by Dr. Seuss

Children's Book Characters - Dr. Seuss' The Lorax

One of the most influential children’s book characters, the Lorax captivates us with his message of environmental awareness, bringing a critical issue to the forefront in a clear, kid-friendly way. Sowing the seeds for future activists, he assures us that no action taken is too small.

Buy it: The Lorax at Amazon

23. Max from Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

children's book characters- Max from Where the Wild Things Are

A romping ode to bad behavior, Max is wildly relatable as he transforms from a defiant, naughty boy into a little one who is cured by a good night’s sleep and his mother’s love.

Buy it: Where the Wild Things Are at Amazon

24. Molly Lou Melon from Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell

Children's Book Characters -Molly Lou Melon

Molly Lou is so endearing because she lets her freak flag fly. And in the process, she opens the eyes of her classmates and inspires them to be the best, true version of themselves.

Buy it: Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon at Amazon

25. Nate from the Nate the Great series by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

best children's book characters- Nate from Nate the Great

Like his predecessors before him (Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, and others) Nate the Great has a knack for solving mysteries. With 29 books and counting, the character has inspired young detectives everywhere with his Sam Spade persona and clever sidekick Sludge the dog.

Buy it: Nate the Great: Favorites at Amazon

26. Olivia from the series by Ian Falconer

Children's book characters- Olivia the pig

Olivia is a fashionable pig who is a whirling dervish of creative energy and delightful shenanigans. Kids of all ages can be inspired by her unshakeable sense of self as she unapologetically makes her way through life.

Buy it: Olivia at Amazon

27. Percy Jackson from The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Children's Book Characters -Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

Greek mythology and the modern world collide when 12-year-old Percy Jackson is accused of stealing Zeus’ master lightning bolt. Despite his struggles with ADHD and dyslexia, he uses his wits and indomitable spirit to clear his name and claim his birthright.

Buy it: The Lightning Thief at Amazon

28. Stanley Yelnats from Holes by Louis Sachar

children's book characters- Stanley Yelnats from Holes

What do you do when the cards just seem to be stacked against you? Stanley blames the family curse when he is sent to a juvenile detention camp but soon finds himself on a wild adventure searching for buried treasure.

Buy it: Holes  at Amazon

29. Unhei from The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi

children's book characters from The Name Jar

New girl Unhei is tempted to adopt an American name in order to fit in at her new school. But in the end, she finds the courage to be herself. A touching tale about embracing your differences and celebrating your unique heritage.

Buy it: The Name Jar at Amazon

30. Viola Swamp from Miss Nelson Is Missing! by Harry Allard

Viola Swamp, as an example of children's book characters

Sweet teacher Miss Nelson reaches the end of her rope with her unruly, misbehaving students. So, she decides to teach them a lesson with the help of her horrible alter-ego Viola Swamp.

Buy it: Miss Nelson Is Missing at Amazon

Who are your all-time favorite children’s book characters? Come share on our WeAreTeachers Helpline group on Facebook.

Find these children’s book characters and more in our amazing roundup of the best books for kids of all ages. , you might also like.

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We make personalized books for kids and we love it. In fact, a NAMEE book is the perfect gift for a growing boy or girl. It's also the best gift for parents looking to bond more with their child. We're honored so many children, moms, dads and families have fallen in love with creating custom books. Create your child or yourself as a character, pick your stories and even write a fully customizable dedication that will be printed in your children's book. From bedtime to birthdays and ABC's to emotions (and more), reading has never been more exciting than when children or family members see themselves illustrated! This may be the most special gift you ever give someone.

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While our books are written for children, they're great gifts for parents, babysitters and family members too! Anyone you want your child to bond with, this is a gift for them as much as it is for your child. There's no age limit on enjoying these books. NAMEE personalized books are for kids ages up to 10 years old. They are perfect for beginners to mid-level readers. We even have a very young listeners who are still in mum's tummy. Every story is inspired from the imaginations of our own team's children. We do, of course, clean up the language, but we like to think our stories are written for kids, by kids.

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NAMEE personalized books are customisable books for kids, and the main character in every adventure is your child! You enter your child's name and customise their appearance, and they'll appear throughout the entire book, on every page. You can personalize gender, eyes, hair type, skin tone, freckles, glasses and more. Every NAMEE personalized book also allows you write a special message to your child. It is printed directly into the book and completely free to include.

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Our books are made in the EU, in a publishing house that has over 30 years of experience in printing books. If you want to find out more about our printing partners, please contact us at  [email protected] .

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Book News & Features

Maurice sendak delights children with new book, 12 years after his death.

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Elizabeth Blair

story books name for child

An image of Mino from Maurice Sendak's posthumous book Ten Little Rabbits. Maurice Sendak/HarperCollins Publishers hide caption

An image of Mino from Maurice Sendak's posthumous book Ten Little Rabbits.

In Ten Little Rabbits, a new posthumous picture book by Maurice Sendak, Mino the Magician waves his wand and, poof, a rabbit appears. Another wave and out springs a second and then a third. By the forth rabbit, Mino yawns. By the sixth, he's annoyed. Ninth, he's exasperated, as the rabbits crawl all over him. So back they go, one rabbit at a time, giving readers the chance to count up and back again by the time Mino is done.

But it's the unruly rabbits and Mino's many facial expressions that kept this reader turning the page. Once again, Sendak's knack for capturing just about every kind of emotion is on full display, 12 years after his death, in this book being brought to the public for the first time.

story books name for child

Look no further than 5-year-old Maurice Sendak (circa 1933) to see the model for Max, Pierre, Johnny and now Mino the Magician in Ten Little Rabbits . The Maurice Sendak Foundation hide caption

Sendak fans will immediately recognize Mino. While their names and adventures might be different, the boys in Chicken Soup With Rice, Where The Wild Things Are , One Was Johnny — Mino, Max, Pierre, Johnny — and other Sendak stories look very similar.

"Well, he's Maurice," says Lynn Caponera, executive director of The Maurice Sendak Foundation. "He" also didn't look like most of the other boys in children's books in the 1950s, says curator Jonathan Weinberg.

"Maurice really had created a kind of child that isn't...the prettiest little boy. He has a kind of...an ethnic look, Jewish, almost European look to it. And Maurice was the child of Jewish-Polish Americans," Weinberg says.

"The characters of my earlier books are really only sort of cockamamie self-portraits," Sendak told Terry Gross, host of WHYY's Fresh Air in 2003. "Unfortunately, I look like Max and the Wild Things, as children tell you in their brazen way. 'Oh, Mommy, he looks like the Moishe , the big, wild thing.' And you just want to crack them."

A whistling night owl

Sendak had no heirs when he died in 2012, but Caponera and Weinberg were like family to him. They first met Sendak when they were kids, 11 and 10 years old respectively. Weinberg says Sendak and his partner Eugene Glynn, a psychiatrist, were like "surrogate parents." Glynn "was my mother's best friend," he says.

story books name for child

Ten Little Rabbits is a new, count-along picture book by Maurice Sendak, published 12 years after he died. HarperCollins Publishers hide caption

Ten Little Rabbits is a new, count-along picture book by Maurice Sendak, published 12 years after he died.

Lynn Caponera's family lived down the street from Sendak and Glynn's Ridgefield, Conn. home. Her brother took care of the property, which was built in 1790, and Sendak once called Caponera's mother "a saint."

Maurice Sendak began sketching a count-along picture book starring Little Mino the Magician around 1961, the same time he started Nutshell Library.

When Caponera was 18, she moved into an apartment on the property and helped take care of the house and the dogs. She quickly learned that Sendak was a night owl. Her apartment was right underneath his studio.

"So I would hear him like all night whistling and playing music," she recalls, "And you could hear when things were going right. He would be whistling like crazy. So like actually whistling while he worked." She adds it was "a really wonderful way to come up in the morning and see what he did."

Weinberg adds that Sendak, "could whistle entire operas from beginning to end" — a claim that is difficult to fact-check. But some of his fantasy sketches actually note on the back what song he was whistling when he was working on them.

story books name for child

Artist Maurice Sendak signs prints July 26, 1990 in New York. Susan Ragan/AP hide caption

Artist Maurice Sendak signs prints July 26, 1990 in New York.

Like some of his characters, Sendak had a mischievous streak. His very first job was designing window displays for FAO Schwarz. On a recent visit to Sendak's home, Caponera points out a little toy crow from the store whose likeness shows up in Hector Protector.

Sendak got it during a contest among the workers " to see what you could steal from the store," Caponera laughs, "Maurice was very proud that he said he got a train set out once and...so besides being a great illustrator, apparently was a good thief."

Sendak's studio is as he left it

Weinberg says Sendak "was constantly learning and teaching himself" different styles and "emulating" other artists.

Throughout Sendak's home there is all kinds of art everywhere: 19th century oil paintings and photographs, Winslow Homer engravings from Harper's Weekly , mechanical toys Sendak made with his brother, a vast collection of Mickey Mouse memorabilia and much more.

story books name for child

Maurice Sendak's home studio, left, remains as it was during the time he was working there, down to the sweater on the chair and the slippers on the floor. He kept an image of Lewis Carroll's Alice, right, by his desk for inspiration. Meghan Collins Sullivan/NPR hide caption

His studio is almost exactly as it was when Sendak was alive, says Caponera. Slippers on the floor, sweater draped over the chair, art supplies on his desk. "Cheap...cake paints" like the kind you'd "use in kindergarten," she notes.

Among the many photographs by Sendak's desk is one of Alice Liddell, the girl who inspired the main character in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures Under Ground. She doesn't look too happy; Sendak loved it.

"Maurice used to say that he really identified with that photo because, you know, being an illustrator is a very lonely job," Caponera says. "You're usually hours and hours doing tedious work at a drawing table by yourself. So he liked to think that Alice was sort of looking over him and that she looked so dejected because she's so tired."

Overseeing Sendak's legacy can be "daunting," Caponera says. She says she's confident he would have approved of the new edition of Ten Little Rabbits .

He initially thought the count-along picture book would be part of Nutshell Library , his 1962 collection of pocket-size books Alligators All Around , Chicken Soup with Rice , One Was Johnny , and Pierre. But "he decided to go in a different direction because the other books in Nutshell Library are much more elaborate," Weinberg says.

Eventually, in 1970, Sendak turned Ten Little Rabbits into a 3.5 x 2.5-inch pamphlet for a fundraiser for Philadelphia's Rosenbach Museum.

story books name for child

Ten Little Rabbits was originally created in the style of the books that are part of the Nutshell Library. In 1970, Sendak turned it into a 3.5 x 2.5-inch booklet for a fundraiser for Philadelphia's Rosenbach Museum. Meghan Collins Sullivan/NPR hide caption

Ten Little Rabbits was originally created in the style of the books that are part of the Nutshell Library. In 1970, Sendak turned it into a 3.5 x 2.5-inch booklet for a fundraiser for Philadelphia's Rosenbach Museum.

This is the third posthumous book of Sendak's to be published, after My Brother's Book (2013) and Presto and Zesto in Limboland (2018). And in addition to the new book, Caponera and Weinberg have organized a major retrospective of Sendak's work that will head to the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles in the spring and then to the Denver Art Museum in the fall.

Caponera says Sendak's instructions for how to guide his legacy were pretty much "You'll know what to do."

It's evident he trusted her. Nine months before he died, at age 83, Sendak did a sweeping, poignant interview with Terry Gross. He reflected on his career, losing extended family in the Holocaust, depression, getting older and, as he put it "trying to understand what it means to be an artist."

Gross asked him if he had someone helping him. Sendak told her about Lynn Caponera. "She is a youngish lady who puts up with my oldness; that is, I'm fighting and struggling against," he says. "She puts up with my bad behavior and she loves me and I love her."

Meghan Collins Sullivan edited this story for radio and the web. Isabella Gomez Sarmiento produced the audio.

Correction Feb. 6, 2024

An earlier version of this story misspelled Jonathan Weinberg's last name. It has been corrected here.

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Children’s book tells the story of Pluto’s discovery

Clyde Tombaugh

Sunday is the 94 th anniversary of Pluto’s discovery. It was spotted by a young farmhand–turned–astronomer named Clyde Tombaugh, who scoured the skies night after night from Flagstaff’s Lowell Observatory. His story is told in a new children’s book called Needle in a Haystack.

KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke with Sedona author Diane Phelps Budden about how she hopes Tombaugh’s journey to the stars will inspire children to chase their dreams.

Tell me a little bit about Clyde Tombaugh. Who was he and what was so interesting about his story to you?

I was very impressed that this young man, who came from a very poor background on a farm… He did not have a college degree, he desperately wanted one…. He had an uncle back in Streater, Illinois, who he always credits with introducing him to astronomy and lighting the fire.… When he finally found out what his dream was for himself, he set out to decide how he was going to achieve that. That impressed me. Many people, including me, we have ideas of the things we’d like to accomplish or things we see for ourselves, and we don’t track them down like Clyde did.

So he figures out he has this dream of being an astronomer, how does he end up at Flagstaff at Lowell Observatory?

He had watched his dad in his struggle to make a decent living on the farm… and shortly after he graduated from high school there was a huge, huge hailstorm and it destroyed all the crops. The money from those crops he wanted to use to go to college. The money was gone. He said to his dad, “I have to leave. I can’t stay here anymore. I don’t want to be a farmer where my work depends on the weather.” Of course, his parents were very sad to see him, but they saw what his strengths were to be an astronomer so they helped him move on his way… and I credit his parents for letting him go.

So he writes a letter to folks at Lowell Observatory.

A couple of them… and they desperately needed someone who would work for little pay and knew some things about astronomy, they could see how precise a personality he had, and they thought “This is the guy we need right now, we want to find a new planet.”

So let’s talk about that big moment. He sets out to find a planet. How does that happen?

Yes, he does… The kind of thing he did for almost a year would normally today be done by a computer… He didn’t have any of that, he captured everything he saw, every image he took, all his comments, in journals…. So he would take the photos and put them in this thing called a blink comparator. So he could move them back and forth cause he was looking for something that had moved in a period of time, say a week apart. He looked and looked and looked and finally on Feb 18 he saw it, and it was Pluto…. Oh my gosh, it wasn’t just Lowell and Flagstaff and his family, the whole world was excited. I wondered maybe it that was the case because he was the first American to find a planet, but also the Depression was settling in, and that was such sad times, but this would have been exciting, uplifting news… Even the New York Times printed a headline. That’s really getting big.

Putting Flagstaff on the map there.

Why did you want to tell this children’s book? What is important about this story for children to hear?

It was so inspiring…. and I knew the kids would be excited about knowing the story behind Pluto… His dream came true. That’s a wonderful story when someone’s dream comes true.

Diane, thank you so much for sharing this story with us.

Thank you for having me, Melissa.

Lowell Observatory will celebrate Pluto’s discovery at the I Heart Pluto Festival in Flagstaff this weekend.

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5 Book Reviews You Need to Read This Week

“she is invested in the muck of collective life, with all of its brutalities, ironies, and ambivalences.”.

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Our feast of fabulous reviews this week includes Amal El-Mohtar on Kelly Link’s The Book of Love , Megan Milks on Lucy Sante’s I Heard Her Call My Name , Isabella Trimboli on Helen Garner’s The Children’s Bach , Alexandra Jacobs on Diane Oliver’s Neighbors and Other Stories , and Claire Dederer on Sheila Heti’s Alphabetical Diaries .

Brought to you by Book Marks , Lit Hub’s home for book reviews.

“Seven years in the making, The Book of Love —long, but never boring—enacts a transformation of a different kind: It is our world that must expand to accommodate it, we who must evolve our understanding of what a fantasy novel can be. Reviewing The Book of Love feels like trying to describe a dream. It’s profoundly beautiful, provokes intense emotion, offers up what feel like rooted, incontrovertible truths—but as soon as one tries to repeat them, all that’s left are shapes and textures, the faint outlines of shifting terrain …

It’s common to read a book with a strong sense of place and say that the setting is a character in the story. But in The Book of Love , it’s more correct to say that characters provide the story’s setting: Each ‘Book’ is a dwelling place to experience a life, and taken together, the result is immense. As C.S. Lewis wrote of heaven and John Crowley wrote of fairyland, the further in you go, the bigger it gets—an experience that recalls the process of getting to know a person … The Book of Love  does justice to its name. Its composition, its copiousness, suggests that love, in the end, contains all—that frustration, rage, vulnerability, loss and grief are love’s constituent parts, bound by and into it.”

–Amal El-Mohtar on Kelly Link’s The Book of Love ( The New York Times Book Review )

“Over the past decade or so, trans memoir has tended to fall into two categories. There’s the straightforward version penned by a newly out public figure—directed to a mainstream audience and organized around transition as a main event (or series of events). Then there’s the more self-consciously stylized work of personal nonfiction by a non-famous writer who is trans—who might engage with the form of the transition narrative but do so with a wink, a shrug, or a metaphorical or conceptual conceit (running, weather, jokes). This second category is in a vexed and critical relationship with the first, which does not give back, unaware that its enemy exists. Lucy Sante’s new book, I Heard Her Call My Name , tilts toward the first (no surprise: see the subtitle), but in some ways bridges both categories …

This is not the first record that Sante has shared of her life, and hardly the only one. What makes I Heard Her so compelling is how Sante uses this new trans lens to retell a life already told … Coming out in her sixties has entailed a painful confrontation with this former self but is an ‘enormous relief.’  I Heard Her is a sustained and joyful exhale … Sante writes from this space of serenity. The warm, companionate narrator Sante has let loose is the book’s most moving achievement. It’s a beautiful clarity of self to be invited into, and Sante’s is a remarkable life to see anew, through this rush of intimacy and wonder.”

–Megan Milks on Lucy Sante’s I Heard Her Call My Name   ( 4Columns )

The Children's Bach

“Seclusion rarely registers in Garner’s books: She is invested in the muck of collective life, with all of its brutalities, ironies, and ambivalences. In her fiction, these relations play out in the home, a place elastic and unstable, where people are constantly being brought in or shoved out. A couple is never just a couple; there are kids and sisters and friends and former partners to look after. Even when she stopped writing about the interchangeable intimacies of the sharehouse, Garner examined relationships and obligations in flux, the strange new clusters that could form under such mercurial circumstances.

It’s as if the sticky fingerprints of the era’s unrealized promises of freedom, sex, and reconfigured families could never fully be scrubbed off. They are all over The Children’s Bach , Garner’s second and best novel, in which the sedate joys and monotonous order of family life are shaken and, eventually, fall to pieces. With its slippery form and flickering perspectives, the novel offers its own kind of disturbance to the conventions of the domestic drama. The Children’s Bach inverts Goethe’s famous description of chamber music as ‘rational people conversing’: In Garner’s hands, it becomes a clamor of voices, images, and instruments that prove to be unreliable and full of doubt. Love and understanding are fought for anyway.”

–Isabella Trimboli on Helen Garner’s The Children’s Bach ( The Nation )

“At a moment when short stories seem less regular launchpads for long careers than occasional meteors , reading these is like finding hunks of gold bullion buried in your backyard. Oliver’s primary topic—she didn’t have enough time on this earth to develop many—was the private bulwark of the family, during a time when Jim Crow ‘separate but equal’ laws still ruled the South … Such luminous simplicity is deceptive; these stories detail basic routines of getting through difficult days, but then often deliver a massive wallop. That might just be a variant on the phrase ‘you people,’ the cold shock of casual, legitimized racism spoken out loud or as internal monologue …

Neighbors and Other Stories is not wholly polished; how could it be? The experimental ‘Frozen Voices’ whorls around and around confusingly, repetitively—something about an affair? A plane crash? ‘I never said goodbye,’ the narrator intones again and again.  Jet magazine was one of the few periodicals to say goodbye to Diane Oliver with an obituary. Thanks to this collection, The New York Times  now belatedly bids a full-throated hello.”

–Alexandra Jacobs on Diane Oliver’s Neighbors and Other Stories ( The New York Times )

“I read it over the holiday season, when lots of people were coming and going from the house, and everyone seemed to want to know more about it. Their curiosity turned quickly to skepticism—the historically correct response to the avant garde. So, to answer the question: Yes. Absolutely. The book is boring. Sometimes. It’s also thrilling, very funny, often filthy, and a surprisingly powerful weapon against loneliness, at least for this reader. How it achieves all this has to do with the sentences themselves, but even more than that with the unlikelihood of their arrangement; it’s the sentences’ crackpot proximity to one another that makes them sing (admittedly a very odd song) …

Heti’s structure allows her to represent the mind wandering; but also the way it loops and doubles back on itself, reworking over and over the same problems (intractable writing projects, envy of a successful friend, a stubborn attraction to difficult and dominating men). None of this appears wildly novel on its face: the representation of consciousness is hardly a newfangled concern for a book, and Heti’s commitment to the alphabet recalls the work of other experimentalists in narrative restriction, such as Georges Perec, whose novel La Disparition doesn’t contain a single letter ‘e.’ Even so, Alphabetical Diaries ends up, I think, in truly surprising territory. Heti has outsourced authorship to the alphabet; it is in charge of arranging the material; it supersedes time itself. In this way, Heti disrupts the tidying up of identity that memoirists unconsciously perform.”

–Claire Dederer on Sheila Heti’s Alphabetical Diaries ( The Guardian )

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A photograph of the writer Lucy Sante, who is sitting in a banquette, with one hand on her cheek and the other on the table in front of her.

What It’s Like to Transition in Your Late 60s

Lucy Sante recounts the trials and joys of her gender transition in the memoir “I Heard Her Call My Name.”

Lucy Sante’s transition began after she made digital images of her male self as a woman. “When I saw her,” she writes, “I felt something liquefy in the core of my body.” Credit... Erik Tanner for The New York Times

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By Dwight Garner

  • Published Feb. 3, 2024 Updated Feb. 5, 2024
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I HEARD HER CALL MY NAME: A Memoir of Transition , by Lucy Sante

“I want to change my sex,” Patricia Highsmith wrote in her diary in 1948. “Is that possible?”

It is a longing that has existed as long as we have. Now comes Lucy Sante with a memoir, “I Heard Her Call My Name,” about transitioning in her late 60s from male to female. She can hear what some of you are thinking. She fears that, by coming out as transgender now, she will be thought to be “merely following a trend, maybe to stay relevant.” She worries her transition will be viewed as a timely shucking of male privilege, a suit of armor that has grown heavy and begun to rust, or as a final bohemian pose, or as something more literary to do in semiretirement than sucking on a Werther’s Original.

Sante worries too about her byline, her newly “dead” one, as if someone had shot it. It “was, in a sense, my shop sign,” she writes. “Would I be risking my public identity as a writer by changing it?” Her books include a classic work of urban history, “ Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York ” (1991) — it always seems to be on a front table at the Strand bookstore, where she used to run the paperback department — and the well-regarded “ Evidence ” (1992) and “ The Factory of Facts ” (1998). At one point, she writes, she considered publishing a memoir that began: “This book is by Luc Sante, although it was written by Lucy Sante.” Yet here, happily, is Lucy entire. It is an ideal letter, her added “y,” to symbolize a fork in the road.

We are living in what appears to be, pun barely intended, a transitional moment. Without dismissing the punitive effects that anti-trans bills are having on lives in some states, including the right to publicly exist, it is possible to recognize that trans existence is slipping into the vital center. Take for example the forthcoming Will Ferrell documentary, “ Will & Harper ,” the toast of the Sundance Film Festival. It is about Ferrell’s cross-country road trip with his best friend of 30 years who is transitioning. Writing in The Washington Post , Jada Yuan called the documentary “so generous and gentle about explaining trans-ness to older generations that it feels like it should be shown in schools and toured around the country as a vital, lifesaving tool.”

“I Heard Her Call My Name” might function, for older readers, in a similar manner. Beware, though: Sante is not as cuddly as Ferrell. Like a shark, she has an extra row of teeth. “I’m urban, concrete, disabused,” she writes. She was a New Jersey kid, the only child of immigrants from Belgium. She attended Columbia and her sensibility was formed on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the 1980s, where she ran with a crowd that included pre-fame Nan Goldin and Jean-Michel Basquiat. She worked as the editor Barbara Epstein’s assistant at The New York Review of Books, a launching-pad placement, before becoming a critic and a writer and teaching for many years at Bard College.

The cover of Lucy Sante’s book, “I Heard Her Call My Name: A Memoir of Transition,” is a sepia-toned photograph of a woman shown covering her face with her hands. The title and the author’s name are in red.

Her memoir is moving for many reasons, but primarily for its observations about aging and vanity, as seen through the separated colors of a prismatic lens. She has, in her late 60s, begun to shrink. She has back problems, knee problems and kidney stones. She is told that, because her facial hair has gone gray, she cannot have laser treatments to remove it. These would have been vastly quicker and less expensive than the painful weekly electrolysis she must undergo instead.

The better news is that she gets to go shopping, and she takes us with her. The reader experiences these vividly written scenes as if they were montages from an updated, late-life version of “Legally Blonde” — “Legally Platinum,” perhaps.

I learned that an empire waist on a long torso will make the wearer look pregnant, that shapeless things like sweatshirts only flatter 20-year-old bodies, that flouncy tops require considerable mammary buttressing, that puffy shoulders make me look like a linebacker, that suspiciously cheap clothes are best avoided for both moral and aesthetic reasons, that wanting to look like the model in the picture does not constitute a valid reason for buying the garment.

Reading “I Heard Her Call My Name” sometimes put me in mind of a throwaway line from “Detransition, Baby,” Torrey Peters’s shrewd 2021 novel: “Many people think a trans woman’s deepest desire is to live in her true gender, but actually it is to always stand in good lighting.” Sante’s wrestling with her vanity also brings out some of this book’s darkest moments. She is subject to intense moments of self-doubt and impostor syndrome. There is a bleakly funny moment when, on a friend’s Instagram, she sees a photo of “a wig atop an upright stick, and I felt an instant shock of recognition.”

Sante writes that, from nearly the beginning, she absorbed every cultural detail that had to do with “the matter of boys changing into girls.” She filed all this material away. “It was the consuming furnace at the center of my life.” Was it a sign that her first sexual experience, as young Luc, involved a trip to the emergency room because of a uniquely painful condition called phimosis, “a congenital narrowing of the opening of the foreskin so that it cannot be retracted”? (Talk of genitalia is otherwise mostly elided in this memoir.) She would go on to marry twice and to have a son.

The urge to transition became undeniable during Covid . In early 2021, she found FaceApp, which has a gender-swapping feature. The images, some of which are printed in this book, floored her. “She was me,” Sante writes. “When I saw her I felt something liquefy in the core of my body.” She showed them to her partner of 14 years, who was confused by what Sante was trying to tell her. They ended up parting ways. They were both upset and torn. “It was not so much that I had betrayed Mimi’s trust, but that I had never honestly earned it,” Sante writes.

The book presents a life in layered stages. We shift back and forth between present and past. The present has greater impact. We are with Sante as she tries on wigs, joins support groups, finds an endocrinologist and begins to take subcutaneous injections of estrogen. She practices sitting like a woman, to shake off what she thinks of as her lifelong imitation of masculinity. She was tired of, she writes, “trying at all times to mount a production titled ‘Luc,’ written and directed and produced by and starring me.” She gets into jewelry. She has a mani-pedi. On a deeper level, she senses herself becoming more open toward the world. She finds that she is becoming more social, less shut down.

One of the things that make this memoir convincing is that it is, on a certain level, unconvincing. Sante is a writer with a lot of peripheral vision. Below and beyond the press of her sentences, you sense her working as both her own private investigator and her defense attorney. Is femininity some kind of test that she still might not pass? The book is powerful because this has always been true: Ambivalence is more convincing than stone certainty. Masculinity had long been Sante’s oversold thesis, and here came the more honest and understated antithesis.

“I Heard Her Call My Name” will not be, I hope, the final memoir from Lucy Sante. It’s a story worth following, to watch her ring the bells that will still ring. Her sharpness and sanity, moodiness and skepticism are the appeal. She does not try to arrange herself in a consistent mellow light. As Sarah Moss wrote in “ Summerwater ,” her excellent 2020 novel, in a line that I will only paraphrase: Being “a little old lady” does not stop you from wanting to smack people.

I HEARD HER CALL MY NAME : A Memoir of Transition | By Lucy Sante | Penguin Press | 226 pp. | $27

Dwight Garner has been a book critic for The Times since 2008, and before that was an editor at the Book Review for a decade. More about Dwight Garner

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In Lucy Sante’s new memoir, “I Heard Her Call My Name,” the author reflects on her life and embarking on a gender transition  in her late 60s.

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    Ten Little Rabbits is a new, count-along picture book by Maurice Sendak, published 12 years after he died. Lynn Caponera's family lived down the street from Sendak and Glynn's Ridgefield, Conn ...

  25. Rachel Carson's Sky Writing Is Now a Picture Book

    Feb. 9, 2024, 5:00 a.m. ET. SOMETHING ABOUT THE SKY, by Rachel Carson. Illustrated by Nikki McClure. A cloud is a spell against indifference, an emblem of the water cycle that makes this planet a ...

  26. Children's book tells the story of Pluto's discovery

    Sunday is the 94 th anniversary of Pluto's discovery. It was spotted by a young farmhand - turned - astronomer named Clyde Tombaugh, who scoured the skies night after night from Flagstaff's Lowell Observatory. His story is told in a new children's book called Needle in a Haystack. KNAU's Melissa Sevigny spoke with Sedona author ...

  27. 5 Book Reviews You Need to Read This Week ‹ Literary Hub

    February 15, 2024. Our feast of fabulous reviews this week includes Amal El-Mohtar on Kelly Link's The Book of Love, Megan Milks on Lucy Sante's I Heard Her Call My Name, Isabella Trimboli on Helen Garner's The Children's Bach, Alexandra Jacobs on Diane Oliver's Neighbors and Other Stories, and Claire Dederer on Sheila Heti's ...

  28. Book Review: 'I Heard Her Call My Name,' by Lucy Sante

    Lucy Sante recounts the trials and joys of her gender transition in the memoir "I Heard Her Call My Name.". Lucy Sante's transition began after she made digital images of her male self as a ...