Best Kids Books Of All Time: 12 Stories To Make Your Year Bright

Posted on Jan 10, 2024

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Written by Sarah Rexford

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Learning from the best kids’ books of all time can set your writing apart, no matter your audience. Whether you write for kids, young adults, or adults, it’s crucial to learn what makes timeless stories. 

One way to do this is by studying, and reading, these classics. In this article, I share twelve kid books, one for every month of the year. 

Best Kids Books Of All Time: What’s Covered

What Books Should Every Child Read?

Whether you start reading the best kids’ books of all time at the first of the year or at any point throughout the year, these titles will enlighten you in many ways. While I’ve covered best books in inspirational nonfiction and Christian fiction books for women, today is all about kids.

Childhood is an extremely formative time for kids. Equipping them with books that don’t just entertain but also instill important life lessons can make all the difference.

If you are a parent or have young kids in your life, these titles are great resources. If you want to write kids’ books, this list is also for you.

As you read through these titles, do your best to answer the below questions: 

  • What universal themes did the author include? 
  • What characteristics does the protagonist exhibit most?
  • Which subplots helped carry the main storyline?

Let’s jump straight into it!

1. Little Women 

Best Kids Books Of All Time - Little Women

Published in 1868, readers have loved Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women for decades.

With multiple film adaptations and favorite lines passed down through the years, this book teaches timeless truths such as:

  • The importance of family
  • The unique paths each individual takes 
  • The role sisterhood plays in growing up

Louisa May Alcott may have penned her story over a century ago, but the fact remains that her books are as alive and well as ever. This classic belongs in the best kids’ books of all time.

2. Black Beauty 

Best Kids Books Of All Time - Black Beauty

Anna Sewell published Black Beauty in 1877. Her story stars a horse, Black Beauty, as her protagonist. Black Beauty does its best to live the best life possible, despite constantly changing circumstances. 

3. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz 

Best Kids Books Of All Time - The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz

Transition into the 1900s, L. Frank Baum published this classic in 1900. The well-known story follows Dorothy on a grand adventure as she meets new friends. Ultimately, she discovered what she wanted all along was exactly what she had.

4. The Secret Garden 

Best Kids Books Of All Time - The Secret Garden

This 1911 story by Frances Hodgson Burnett is set in England’s Yorkshire moors. Mary Lennox, the spoiled heroine with a bad temper, begins her character arc as a lonely, sad orphan. However, with good people surrounding her and hard work paying off, she finds joy not just for herself but for a boy who truly needs it.  

5. The Hobbit 

Best Kids Books Of All Time - The Hobbit

Known as one of the bestselling books of all time, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit entered the world in 1937. Starring a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins, his many friends, and a villainous dragon, their hunt for treasure teaches many life-lessons. Plus, this novel is a great read if you want to learn more about fichtean curve story structure!

6. The Little Prince 

Best Kids Books Of All Time - The Little Prince

First published in 1943, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s main theme follows the following line of dialogue: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly: what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

7. The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe

Best Kids Books Of All Time - The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe

A contemporary of Tolkien, C.S. Lewis is known for his nonfiction but also as a classic children’s book writer. This 1950 book teaches readers how to analyze a character, in particular, Edmund Pevensie. 

8. Charlotte’s Web

Best Kids Books Of All Time - Charlotte'S Web

E.B. White wrote the beloved, Stuart Little in 1945, then followed it up with this 1952 story about a little girl, a spider, and a pig. Re-reading this story with kids is sure to bring up nostalgia, as well as memories of the important character lessons the little girl, Fern, learns in the story. 

9. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry 

Best Kids Books Of All Time - Roll Of Thunder Hear My Cry

Set in 1930s Mississippi (and published in 1977), Mildred D. Taylor’s novel won the Newbery Medal. One of several books in this series, this novel follows Cassie Logan as she chooses courage in the face of racism. The ending will stay with readers long after they finish the last page.

10. Matilda 

Best Kids Books Of All Time - Matilda

Matilda was written by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake, and published in 1988. Geared for younger readers, this book comes from an accomplished writer: author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a spy, ace fighter-pilot, chocolate historian, and medical inventor. 

However, little Matilda “has two of the most idiotic, self-centered parents who ever lived.” This story teaches self-regulation and patience for children of many ages.

11. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone 

Best Kids Books Of All Time - Harry Potter And The Philosopher'S Stone

If you are looking to build tension in writing, look no further than J.K. Rowling’s very first Harry Potter book. Finally published in 1997, Rowling is credited as helping kids fall in love with reading. 

While we don’t always see kids lining up to purchase a new book release or spend just a few days reading hundreds of pages today, this was the norm during the years Harry Potter was being released. 

The series teaches timely lessons as its three main characters come of age. The series is beloved by fans worldwide. 

12. Brown Girl Dreaming 

Best Kids Books Of All Time - Brown Girl Dreaming

This 2014 book is not only a National Book Award but a Newbery Honor winner as well. Author Jacqueline Woodson’s New York Times bestseller shares her own story through touching poetry. Written for kids ages nine to twelve, this title is quickly becoming one of the best kids’ books of all time.

What Is Considered A Successful Children’s Book?

One of the key aspects running throughout these twelve books is the timeless themes threaded throughout each story. 

These titles earned the status of best kids’ books of all time due to their ability to reach generations of readers and/or honorable medals. 

While you can never guarantee that your next children’s book will land among the ranks of best kids’ books of all time, here are a few tips to focus on while writing:

  • Incorporate universal themes 
  • Write to the needs of your day
  • Layer in timeless truths 
  • Create relatable characters 

Balancing point one and two is crucial: universal truths are timeless, while the needs of your day are crucial for your current audience. 

Join The Best Kids Books Of All Time

Which book would you rank as the two or three best kids’ books of all time? Are there any titles that should have made the list? Feel free to let us know on social media!

Now that you have a feel for what types of books become timeless, it’s time to get to work. As you saw, one of the main driving factors of kids’ books are well-developed characters that are relatable and teach important lessons.

If you’re preparing to write your own kids’ book, sign up for the free training below. Happy writing!

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