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Best Children’s Books: 30 Magical Children’s Books (By Age)

Arthur Worsley
by Arthur Worsley
M.A. Psychology, Oxford. McKinsey Alum. Founder & Editor at TAoL..
7 MINUTE READ

Best Children's Books

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Looking for the best children’s books of all time?

You’re in the right place.

Why Good Children’s Books Matter

As someone who believes deeply in the power of reading to change lives, I’d love my kids grow up loving books.

Which is why, despite my normal focus on nonfiction book recommendations, I decided to gather this list of the 30 best children’s books of all time.

I hope you enjoy it. I hope you find something here that makes bedtime more magical (or brings back a nostalgic smile).

And I hope the best children’s books on this list help your kids start a habit that will serve them for a lifetime.

A Quick Note on Age Ranges

I wanted to give you more structure than just lumping all the best children’s books ever written into one list. But that decision comes with a caveat because…

I hate sticking age labels on books.

Why?

First, because the best book for your child is ANY book that keeps them spellbound, happy and helps them fall in love with reading.

And second, because there’s a huge difference between what books a child might enjoy reading with you versus to read by themselves.

Short story: You know your child so use the age ranges below as a guide (not a measuring stick) and don’t be afraid to explore any of the wonderful books below, regardless of age and experience.

With that in mind, here’s TAoL‘s list of the best children’s books of all time…

The 30 Best Children’s Books of All Time

Why these best children’s books and not others? The best children’s books of all time below are the top picks from my long list of scores of books on entrepreneurship, ranked by a combination of Goodreads rating, number of Goodreads reviews and first publication date. The aim is to surface what’s most loved, what’s most popular and what’s proven timelessly relevant.

Think something’s missing? Leave a comment or email me and I’ll add it to the next round of updates. I honestly love hearing from you so please, do get in touch!

The 10 Best Children’s Books for 2-4 Year Olds

Here are 10 best children’s books for 2-4 year olds from my database…

Best Children's Books: Green Eggs and Ham
1. Green Eggs and Ham – Dr. Seuss
Published 1960 // 64 pages // Rated 4.3 over 668,300 reviews on Goodreads
Best Children's Books: Goodnight Moon
2. Goodnight Moon – Margaret Wise Brown
Published 1947 // 32 pages // Rated 4.3 over 327,900 reviews on Goodreads
Best Children's Books: The Tale of Peter Rabbit
3. The Tale of Peter Rabbit – Beatrix Potter
Published 1901 // 72 pages // Rated 4.2 over 221,500 reviews on Goodreads
Best Children's Books: Corduroy
4. Corduroy – Don Freeman
Published 1968 // 32 pages // Rated 4.3 over 203,800 reviews on Goodreads
Best Children's Books: Madeline
5. Madeline – Ludwig Bemelmans
Published 1939 // 44 pages // Rated 4.2 over 200,400 reviews on Goodreads
Best Children's Books: Where the Wild Things Are
6. Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak
Published 1963 // 37 pages // Rated 4.2 over 774,900 reviews on Goodreads
Best Children's Books: The Very Hungry Caterpillar
7. The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle
Published 1969 // 26 pages // Rated 4.3 over 430,700 reviews on Goodreads
Best Children's Books: The Cat in the Hat (The Cat in the Hat, #1)
8. The Cat in the Hat (The Cat in the Hat, #1) – Dr. Seuss
Published 1957 // 61 pages // Rated 4.2 over 469,500 reviews on Goodreads
Best Children's Books: Love You Forever
9. Love You Forever – Robert Munsch
Published 1986 // 32 pages // Rated 4.4 over 192,500 reviews on Goodreads
Best Children's Books: The Sneetches and Other Stories
10. The Sneetches and Other Stories – Dr. Seuss
Published 1961 // 65 pages // Rated 4.3 over 65,000 reviews on Goodreads

The 10 Best Children’s Books for 4-7 Year Olds

Here are 10 best children’s books for 4-7 year olds from my database…

Best Children's Books: The Giving Tree
1. The Giving Tree – Shel Silverstein
Published 1964 // 64 pages // Rated 4.4 over 969,800 reviews on Goodreads
Best Children's Books: How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! – Dr. Seuss
Published 1957 // 64 pages // Rated 4.3 over 359,600 reviews on Goodreads
Best Children's Books: The Story of Ferdinand
3. The Story of Ferdinand – Munro Leaf
Published 1936 // 72 pages // Rated 4.4 over 88,500 reviews on Goodreads
Best Children's Books: Oh, the Places You'll Go!
4. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! – Dr. Seuss
Published 1990 // 44 pages // Rated 4.4 over 310,200 reviews on Goodreads
Best Children's Books: A Light in the Attic
5. A Light in the Attic – Shel Silverstein
Published 1981 // 176 pages // Rated 4.3 over 399,600 reviews on Goodreads
Best Children's Books: Winnie-the-Pooh (Winnie-the-Pooh, #1)
6. Winnie-the-Pooh (Winnie-the-Pooh, #1) – A.A. Milne
Published 1926 // 145 pages // Rated 4.3 over 294,400 reviews on Goodreads
Best Children's Books: Where the Sidewalk Ends
7. Where the Sidewalk Ends – Shel Silverstein
Poems and Drawings
Published 1974 // 176 pages // Rated 4.3 over 1,238,200 reviews on Goodreads
Best Children's Books: The Lorax
8. The Lorax – Dr. Seuss
Published 1971 // 72 pages // Rated 4.3 over 307,500 reviews on Goodreads
Best Children's Books: The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales
9. The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales – Jacob Grimm
From Snow White and Rapunzel to Hansel, Grettel and Little Red Riding Hood, The Grimm Fairytales are the original, fantastical collection of folklore and fairytales that have both preserved and deeply influenced Western culture and storytelling – by authors and brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.
Published 1812 // 880 pages // Rated 4.3 over 140,400 reviews on Goodreads
Best Children's Books: The Velveteen Rabbit
10. The Velveteen Rabbit – Margery Williams Bianco
Published 1922 // 40 pages // Rated 4.3 over 239,700 reviews on Goodreads

The 10 Best Children’s Books for 7+ Year Olds

Here are 10 best children’s books for 7+ year olds from my database…

Best Children's Books: The Little Prince
1. The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
A hauntingly beautiful novella that addresses themes of loneliness, friendship, love, and loss through the life-story of a little prince from space (asteroid B 612) told to the author (a stranded philosophical pilot) as he struggles to escape from the desert – by writer, poet, journalist and aviator, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
Published 1943 // 93 pages // Rated 4.3 over 1,232,400 reviews on Goodreads
Best Children's Books: The Complete Fairy Tales
2. The Complete Fairy Tales – Hans Christian Andersen
Published 1835 // 803 pages // Rated 4.3 over 118,800 reviews on Goodreads
Best Children's Books: A Little Princess
3. A Little Princess – Frances Hodgson Burnett
Published 1905 // 242 pages // Rated 4.2 over 283,500 reviews on Goodreads
Best Children's Books: The Secret Garden
4. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
Published 1911 // 331 pages // Rated 4.1 over 839,600 reviews on Goodreads
Best Children's Books: Matilda
5. Matilda – Roald Dahl
Published 1988 // 240 pages // Rated 4.3 over 729,700 reviews on Goodreads
Best Children's Books: Charlotte's Web
6. Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White
Published 1952 // 184 pages // Rated 4.2 over 1,337,500 reviews on Goodreads
Best Children's Books: Little House in the Big Woods
7. Little House in the Big Woods – Laura Ingalls Wilder
Published 1932 // 198 pages // Rated 4.2 over 245,200 reviews on Goodreads
Best Children's Books: Peter Pan
8. Peter Pan – J.M. Barrie
Published 1904 // 176 pages // Rated 4.1 over 252,900 reviews on Goodreads
Best Children's Books: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Alice's Adventures, #1)
9. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Alice’s Adventures, #1) – Lewis Carroll
Published 1865 // 96 pages // Rated 4.0 over 232,200 reviews on Goodreads
Best Children's Books: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Oz, #1)
10. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Oz, #1) – L. Frank Baum
Published 1900 // 154 pages // Rated 4.0 over 403,300 reviews on Goodreads

Enjoyed this list of the best children’s books of all time?

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Arthur Worsley
I founded TAoL to discover and share the best wisdom on how to live long and prosper. Before that I studied Psychology, Philosophy & Physiology at Oxford and consulted at McKinsey. Still curious? Learn more or take my FREE productivity quiz.

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