A life-long love of reading starts as a small child for many book lovers. Stories read by parents and caregivers make an impact on young imaginations. Reading and story time with small children is a vital bonding experience. Reading with little ones creates core memories and can be the start of a great fondness for reading in many kids. Our list of the top seven best children’s books of all time are popular with both children and parents.
Does your kid read a lot? A new study suggests they’re likely happier, more physically active, have a more active imagination, and even problem-solve better than kids who rarely or never read. The poll of 1,500 American parents and 500 K–6 teachers revealed that 91 percent of children between five and 12 years-old who are avid readers are also happier than those who don’t. Likewise, 92 percent who read frequently are more physically active than those who don’t.
Children who are avid readers and will pick up a book just for fun tend to develop into happier and smarter teenagers, a new study reveals. Researchers at the University of Cambridge discovered that reading for 12 hours a week is optimal for youngsters to foster bigger and better brains. The team identified strong links between recreational reading between the ages of two and nine, and performance in memory, speech, verbal learning, and general academic tests.
With the many benefits of reading during childhood, our sources helped us consider some of the best children’s books of all time. These beloved stories help kids learn to read, connect with their storyteller, and learn how to articulate their thoughts. Wonderful books like these timeless classics help grow a child’s imagination and sense of curiosity about the world around them. Let us know your favorite children’s fiction books in the comments below!
The List: Best Books For Kids, According to Readers
“Charlotte’s Web” is one of the greatest works of children’s literature. It deals with deeply emotional topics like family, loss, and love: packaged in a way that is easy for kids to understand and contextualize. Milwaukee with Kids claims, “‘Charlotte’s Web’ is a charming book for kids and adults alike, with lessons about friendship and death that are timeless in their themes. This classic children’s book follows a curious little girl named Fern who lives on a farm with her parents and siblings.”
Pure Wow says, “Excellent writing and a moving message are among the many reasons that E.B. White’s classic story of friendship, love and loss has held up so well over the more than 60 years since its debut… this poignant book about a pig and his unlikely bond with a spider (i.e., Charlotte) will make a big impression.”
Penguin reviews, “If the cast of cute pigs and friendly spiders is perfect for kids, White’s wry narration makes ‘Charlotte’s Web’ a treat for adults too… I always wanted to grow up on a farm and was envious of Fern and Wilbur’s relationship.”
This perennial classic of children’s literature helps foster growing imaginations. With numerous adaptations across many types of media, Alice is one of the most iconic characters of fiction. Milwaukee with Kids evaluates, “Classic children’s books are a great starting point to develop a deep affection for reading… [‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ is] An 1865 English children’s novel about a young girl named Alice who falls through a rabbit hole and into a whimsical fantasy world.”
“From the White Rabbit to the Mad Hatter to everyone’s favorite wide-grinned cat, the cast of Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece has left an indelible mark on popular culture – fitting, really, for one of the great imaginative feats of literature,” according to Penguin.
Reader’s Digest asserts, “Although its exact meaning continues to puzzle scholars, Alice’s experiences question the nature of reality, and for kids, navigating the adult world can seem just as baffling. Before you hand your old copy of the book to your kids, know this: First editions of ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ are rare and worth a fortune — $2 to $3 million, to be exact.”
“The Lorax” is a simple story about protecting nature. It is catchy, bright, and delightfully subversive all at once. “But there’s something else here that elevates it beyond his other works, and that’s this book’s environmentalist theme. For the Once-ler’s message about the Truffula trees that were cruelly chopped down in Dr. Seuss’s world is tantamount to the swathes of nature in our world — and this book deserves to be read by every child, if just to hear one of the wisest children’s authors out,” compliments discovery.
Vetted assures, “Like many people of my generation, I have the phrase ‘I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees’ ingrained into my brain. This book is a classic for a good reason; it teaches kids how important it is to protect the environment, and it paints a picture of what the world could look like if we don’t protect the Earth.”
tinybeans articulates “It’s hard to pick just one book to start them on their Dr. Seuss journey, but ‘The Lorax’ is a timeless cautionary tale against greed that offers an engaging storyline, a relatable message, and beautiful illustrations. Speak for the trees!”
This title is meant for pre-k and is an early-reading book that will entice little ones with colorful illustrations. This book also offers plenty of chances for adults to chime in with educational participation, like counting. tinybeans raves, “The Eric Carle classic has it all: an engaging plot line, counting, science, die-cut pages, and one slice of cherry pie. The little caterpillar is one they’ll see out in the real world, too, along with beautiful butterflies, so while it’s a fictional story… it’s grounded in the natural world.”
Pure Wow praises, “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.”
Penguin exclaims, “A beautifully, simple story that’s shown generations that following your instincts, as well as trying new and different things can be transformative. The unique finger holes in this board book put Eric Carle firmly on the map as one of the most evocative and forward-thinking storytellers for children.”
This is another title for toddlers and pre-k children. “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” is fun to read and can offer an opportunity for readers to ham it up for their audience. Vetted says, “The story includes rhymes and predictable text, which… promotes the pre-literacy technique called cloze. When you read this book aloud to your little one, omit words at the end of passages and encourage them to fill them in. This technique encourages kids to use higher-order thinking skills as they read.”
NPR describes, “‘A told B and B told C, I’ll meet you at the top of the coconut tree.’ A read-aloud classic, this rollicking alphabet rhyme has all the letters racing one another up a coconut tree. ‘Chicka Chicka boom boom! Will there be enough room?’ We defy you to read this to a kid and not end up dancing.”
Reader’s Digest elaborates, “Published in 2012, this storybook for kids introduces children to the alphabet as letters try to climb up a coconut tree—then fall down! The New York Public Library named it one of the best children’s books, calling it a ‘rollicking introduction to the ABCs.’ The rhythmic repetition is fun for kids, as are the bright and simple illustrations by Lois Ehlert.”
“The Snowy Day” seems innocuous enough for today’s readers, but it is an important milestone publication for representation. It was unique at the time of its publication and is a classic today. Book Riot comments, “This was the first color picture book to have a Black main character, and Keats did come under fire for doing so, since he is a white Jewish man… First published in 1962, this book still makes countless children’s winter reading lists.”
“Amazon describes this book as a trailblazer, not least for the first full-color picture book to feature a small hero of color! But that’s not the only reason that ‘The Snowy Day’ should have a spot on all family bookshelves. The story follows young Peter, who heads out into the city to enjoy freshly fallen snow and all the wonder a white wonderland brings,” adds discovery.
Pure Wow details, “This quiet and charming board book won the Caldecott Honor back in 1962 for its unprecedented portrayal of multicultural urban life, and it’s every bit as rewarding a read today. Little kids will enjoy the simple and wholly relatable storyline about a little boy experiencing joy and wonder on a snowy day.”
This title was a major staple for school children of the 1980s. It is no wonder that this generation would want to share Alexander’s story with their own kids. Good Housekeeping explains, “Judith Viorst’s 1972 classic about a seriously daunting day is the ultimate comfort read. Alexander wakes up with gum in his hair, and the day goes downhill from there.”
NPR offers, “When Alexander wakes up with gum in his hair, he knows nothing good is coming. And he’s right — there’s no toy in his cereal, his teacher doesn’t like his drawing and there’s kissing on TV. A great read for anyone who’s ever been down in the dumps. Even grown-ups can take solace in Alexander’s troubles…”
Reader’s Digest states, “Everyone’s had one of those days when everything seems to go wrong, and Alexander is no exception. Kids relate to his humorous difficulties, and the book lets young readers acknowledge their own frustrations even as they work to overcome them.”
You might also be interested in:
- Pure Wow
- Reader’s Digest
- Book Riot
- Good Housekeeping
- Milwaukee with Kids
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.