Looking to broaden your child’s horizon? Books are a vital part of every childhood. Not only does reading provide endless entertainment for the imagination, but we also remember our favorite books from childhood with lifelong nostalgia. With so many amazing children’s books out there, where do you begin to find the best? To narrow down your search, we’ve compiled 10 experts’ consensus top picks for the best children’s books of all time.
Bedtime stories may feel like a chore, especially at the end of a long day with the little monsters, but this calming activity can actually help speed up a visit from the Sandman. What’s better than a soothing story (or three! or four!) to set the tone for a restful night’s sleep? With a little investment of time, you’ll instill a love of reading in your child … and help them learn to read, too.
Overwhelmingly, studies show that reading to your child is the number one way to prepare them for reading on their own. And reading good old-fashioned print books, rather than digital versions, is equally important. That’s because the building blocks of literacy include more than just the ABCs. Kids also learn by talking about the book, looking at pictures, and even turning pages! Plus, if sleep is what you’re striving for in a bedtime story, research shows that those books-on-screen can negatively impact a child’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. This is definitely the time to stick to the real thing!
Ready to get reading? The exciting world of children’s literature awaits. You may just find yourself enjoying it so much that you keep reading to your child into the teenage years. Harry Potter, here you come! Below are the top five expert-recommended children’s books to get you started. Don’t see your favorite story listed? Let us know in the comments!
The List: Best Children’s Books, According to Experts
1. “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown
Appearing again and again among the top five children’s books of all time is this simple story, perfect for bedtime snuggles.
Famous Authors shares, “Listed by School Library Journal as the ‘Top 100 Picture Books’ of all time in 2012 and one of teachers’ top 100 books for children by National Education Association, Goodnight Moon is a simple but lovable children’s picture book that has been well-appreciated by children as a bed time story.”
“This perennial favorite, complete with its primary colors and rhyming text, is a constant on baby shower gift lists. It’s a perfect book to read at the end of a busy day, and the book is cemented into the canon of classic children’s literature, for better or worse,” writes Book Riot.
Scottsdale Library mentions, “saying goodnight has never been more fun than with this tale of comfort, loving goodnights, and a room full of entertaining objects to say ‘goodnight’ to. Written in rhyming verse that makes it easy for even the youngest children to memorize, they will soon be able to ‘read’ it along with you.”
2. “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak
Time describes this classic tale as, “The adventure that has inspired generations of children to let out their inner monsters, showing how imagination allows for an escape from life’s doldrums. It’s also a moving testament to family love: when young Max returns from his reverie, his mother has saved him a hot dinner.”
Famous Authors speaks on the imagination behind the boy in the story. “The story revolves around a boy named John Max who, dressed in his wolf outfit goes to his bedroom and sails away into an unknown island where he encounters ‘wild things’ or creatures.”
Scottsdale Library adds, “Winner of the Caldecott Medal and listed in the ‘Best Illustrated Children’s Books’ for many years, this is a winner worth a look. Illustrations that will grab your eye and a written tale that will draw you and your children back again and again are what this story has to offer. Adventure, artwork, and fun are all wrapped up in one small package here.”
3. “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle
This well-known favorite tops the list for Reader’s Digest, who writes, “With colorful artwork made with tissue paper and paint, plus fun holes to stick tiny fingers through, the book goes a long way toward instilling a love of reading in kids. The story touches on everything from counting to the days of the week to the life cycle of living things. Continually selected as one of the best baby books ever written, it has sold 41 million copies worldwide since it was published in 1969.”
PureWow agrees, “Acclaimed picture book author and illustrator Eric Carle is behind this enduring favorite about a caterpillar’s transformation into a beautiful butterfly. As the title suggests, the caterpillar in question gets himself from point A to point B by doing a whole lot of eating, but it’s the interactive pages and gorgeous artwork that set this simple story apart.”
“Educating children about days of the week, types of foods, and the lifecycle of a butterfly, Carle’s book has also been endorsed by the Royal Etymological Society,” adds Famous Authors.
4. “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats
Kids love snow, and they are sure to love this delightful tale of a wintry day.
“One morning, a little boy in Brooklyn wakes up to a changed world — sparkling with fresh snowfall. And though it’s never directly mentioned in the text, young Peter is Black, one of the first non-caricatured Black people to star in a major children’s book. Author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats was white, but his sensitive depiction of a child’s first experience with snow won the Caldecott Medal and was embraced by parents and children of all colors,” writes NPR.
And Brightly says, “Through the appreciative eyes of a curious little boy, the everyday wonders of snow and sticks and wandering play become extraordinary. Brilliant simplicity.”
This tale can be enjoyed by families with older children as well. “As Peter plays in the snow, makes snowballs and snow angels, even the older reader will be taken back to childhood and the wonder experienced when that first snowfall happens,” mentions Scottsdale Library.
5. “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White
Charlotte’s wisdom, Wilbur’s innocence, and even Templeton’s grudging kindness have captured the hearts of children for seven decades. Milwaukee with Kids describes this children’s favorite, “Charlotte’s Web is a charming book for kids and adults alike, with lessons about friendship and death that are timeless in their themes.”
“Charlotte’s Web topped our critics’ poll,” says the BBC. “‘If I were asked to put one book in a space capsule to send to some far-off galaxy to evoke life in all its complexity, I would send White’s masterpiece about friendship, loss, resignation and mortality.’”
It’s definitely hard to choose just five! Which of these are your kiddo’s favorite reads, and which top titles would you recommend to others? Let us know in the comments below!
- Famous Authors
- Book Riot
- Scottsdale Library
- Reader’s Digest
- Milwaukee with Kids
You might also be interested in:
- Best Dr. Seuss Books Of All-Time: These Are The Top 5 Iconic Tales, According To Experts
- Read and thrive: Here’s why parents agree books are the key to raising a more creative child
- Thirst For Knowledge: Children Prefer Books That Explain Ways Of The World
- Study: Children learn social skills best with human storybook characters
- Bedtime stories really do make sick children feel better
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