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The Very Best Story Books

Updated on January 2, 2011

A book is like a garden carried in the pocket. ~Chinese Proverb

Reading to children is a wonderful activity and past time that both parents and teachers enjoy. Seeing their rapt, excited faces when there's a mystery to be solved, a surprise twist, or a happy ending is all the reward one needs. Not only are story books a child's first experience with written words and an introduction to education, but they are also a way to stimulate imagination and dreams.

Kid Lit! aims to share some of the best titles in children's literature, and showcase authors that continue to charm our hearts and open our minds to new possibilities. With the right books, and a dedicated reader, children can be inspired to reach the highest heights. This is a selection of some of the best books for kids, from newborn to 8 years.

Story time is one of the most wonderful things about being a child. Whether it's fun and silly, with plenty of 'audience participation', or calm and relaxing, reading with someone you love is what makes books so precious.

When you read to a child, not only are you sharing something magical with them, but you are preparing them for all the learning they will do in their lives. Every time you sit down together with your favorite story, you encourage a love of reading - something that they will use forever.

Books are so much more than words and pictures. Each one has a message, as lesson that can help kids make good decisions and have high hopes. They are windows into other places, times and worlds, and can teach us many things.

The very next time you have the chance, read to someone close to you! They'll be glad you did.

Classic Storybooks

These stories have been around for generations, and are still best sellers and favorites in many families. These tried and true books will be around as long as parents pass on their love for great stories and enjoyable reading. Many of these classic books have lasted because kids have such a great time reading them. They're fun and exciting, and have beautiful and interesting illustrations. You're sure to find a cherished favorite on this list!

Mr. Bump

The quick, quirky tales of Roger Hargreaves make great collectible stories. There are so many wonderful characters and adventures to choose from, with funny lessons to learn!

Mr. Bump (Mr. Men and Little Miss)
Mr. Bump (Mr. Men and Little Miss)

The colorful world of Mr. Men and the Little Miss' has been delighting children and grown-ups since the 1970's. The lighthearted story telling of Roger Hargreaves has been a joy to many families, and has taught valuable lessons as well.

Like many children, Mr. Bump is a bit clumsy. He's so clumsy, in fact, that he has trouble finding a job where he doesn't break things and hurt himself. Our bandage clad hero feels bad for having so many accidents, but he just wants to find a place that's right for him. Kids can relate to poor Mr. Bump, and will get a few good laughs from the silly jobs he tries to do!

 

Horton Hears a Who

Horton Hears a Who!
Horton Hears a Who!

Dr. Seuss' works have been delighting children since the late 1930's. He had a special gift for appealing to young imaginations. In Horton Hears a Who, the theme of "small is powerful" and "every voice counts" is very clear. It also shows us that it's always worthwhile to stick up for your friends, and to believe in yourself.

The classic rhyming style and illustrations of Dr. Seuss are one of the most appealing things about Horton. Even young toddlers and babies respond happily to hearing the fun story about an honorable elephant! There are lots of opportunities to use silly voices when reading out loud to kids, and the characters are very imaginative.

 

Author Theodor Seuss Geisel

Theodor Seuss Geisel was born in 1904, in Springfield Massachusetts. He credits his mother with his gift for rhyme. Henrietta Suess Geisel had worked in a bakery before being married, and had a habit of chanting the daily pie specials to customers. When young Ted had trouble falling asleep, she would sing these pie chants to him. Little did she know that she would inspire some of the most treasured books of all time.

He first used the name Seuss when secretly contributing to Jack-O-Lantern magazine at Dartmouth College. Later he would add Dr. as a tribute to his father, who had hoped that he would earn a doctorate at Oxford.

His first children's book, And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was published in 1937.

Dr. Seuss wrote three more, then used his talents to help the war effort. He returned to children's literature after the war, and would eventually write the books that we all know and love.

Timeless Treasures

Where the Wild Things Are
Where the Wild Things Are

When Max the wild thing is sent to his room with no dinner, he goes on an adventure to the place where the Wild Things are, and becomes king. But is it the place for Max?

 
The Velveteen Rabbit
The Velveteen Rabbit

This timeless tale of love and friendship is sure to touch children and parents alike. A boy's favorite toy learns that magic is real, if love is powerful enough, in this adaptation for younger readers.

 
A Fish Out of Water (Beginner Books)
A Fish Out of Water (Beginner Books)

This hilarious adaptation of Dr. Seuss' "Gustav the Goldfish" is a classic tale that teaches kids how important it is to follow directions - especially when caring for our pets!

 
Tikki Tikki Tembo
Tikki Tikki Tembo

Will Chang and the old man with the ladder be able to save Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo in time?

 
The Paper Bag Princess (Munsch for Kids)
The Paper Bag Princess (Munsch for Kids)

So many young girls felt empowered by this strong, savvy princess story, that it is now studied in feminist literature lectures across North America!

 

The Best House Ever

Richard Scarry's Best House Ever
Richard Scarry's Best House Ever

The works of Richard Scarry have been so popular over the years that his imaginative characters have made their way to the small screen in a popular children's program.

In this story, two mice try time and again to find a suitable house, after a cat steals their sock and turns it into a hat. They find the best house ever, but the pesky cat returns to bother them again! The tale of perseverance is full of beautiful illustrations unlike any other, that kids will remember for years to come.

There's just something magical about the detailed artwork in the Richard Scarry books. Not only are the stories memorable, but the educational aspects are priceless. These books are great for enriching young vocabularies.

 

Winne the Pooh

A.A. Milne's creations are more than 70 years old, yet parents and kids come back to them again and again. Although the characters of the 100 Acre Wood were adopted by Disney and given a fresh new look, the classic Pooh (aka Edward Bear) stories are still a timeless favorite.

Did you know that Winne the Pooh was inspired not only by A. A. Milne's son, Christopher Robin, but also by a black bear residing at the London Zoo? She was the pet of a soldier from Canada, and was adopted by the Zoo during World War One.

Travelling all the way from White River, Manitoba, the bear cub named Winnie would one day become everyone's favorite bear.

The Complete Tales of Winnie-The-Pooh
The Complete Tales of Winnie-The-Pooh

"Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head..."

 
Winnie the Pooh: Deluxe Edition
Winnie the Pooh: Deluxe Edition

"...and the only reason for making a buzzing-noise that I know of is because you're a bee."

 

Vintage Favorites

These story books from the 1980s and 1990s were cherished favorites for kids. Though they may not have the same staying power as some other classic books, they are certainly number one in the hearts of today's parents. With funny, quirky stories and fun illustrations, these books inspire nostalgia wherever they go.

The Balloon Tree

This author's inspired works are a joyful addition to any children's library. From Jillian Jiggs to original fairy tales, she delights young readers with her imagination and humor. Many of her stories are inspired by her own children and grandchildren.

The Balloon Tree
The Balloon Tree

Children love color, and this book delivers every color in the rainbow, in the form of magical balloons. This modern fairy tale is so unique that it deserves a place among the likes of Andersen and Grimm.

Princess Leora must defend her Father's kingdom from her ambitious and mean Uncle. With the help of her friend the wizard, and a generous boy, she plants a balloon that will alert the king and bring him home. It's a wonderful story, gorgeously illustrated, and truly memorable.

 

But Not the Hippopotamus

Sandra Boynton's board books are great for toddlers, but don't be surprised if bigger kids love them, too! They are fun to read over and over, and parents will appreciate the easy rhymes that never get old.

But Not the Hippopotamus (Boynton on Board)
But Not the Hippopotamus (Boynton on Board)

Sandra Boynton's silly rhymes and stories are delightful, quick reads that you can repeat again and again. Kids love these easy to memorize books, and can even learn a lesson or two along the way.

In a world where all the animals like to do things that rhyme with their names, the poor Hippopotamus feels left out. "A cat and two rats are buying new hats...But not the hippopotamus." In the end, the animals find a way to rhyme with their friend, and everyone is happy. But not the armadillo.

 

Reading is Wonderful

A good book can be enjoyed by even the youngest of readers.

Especially if it's easy to chew on.

Remember These?

But No Elephants (Once Upon a Time)
But No Elephants (Once Upon a Time)

On a cold and snowy night, there's room in Grandma Tildy's house for every kind of pet imaginable - but NO elephants! Or is there?

 
Popcorn
Popcorn

A holiday favorite! Sam the bear has a Hallowe'en party, and everyone brings their own popcorn. What happens when they decide to pop it all at once?

 
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

This weird and wacky tale is about an island where breakfast, lunch and dinner fall from the sky! Kids love the silly story and illustrations.

 
The Monster at the End of this Book (Sesame Street) (Big Little Golden Book)
The Monster at the End of this Book (Sesame Street) (Big Little Golden Book)

In this inventive story, Grover does everything he can to stop you from turning the pages. It's so silly and fun that kids can't get enough!

 
Bony-Legs
Bony-Legs

This story teaches kids that being kind even when others aren't can help you when you need it most. Sasha's kindness helps her escape from the "house on chicken feet"!

 

Never Talk to Strangers

Never Talk to Strangers
Never Talk to Strangers

This memorable tale by Irma Joyce has some of the most unique illustrations ever seen. Created by George Bucket, kids will love to gaze at the silly animals and point out all of the tiny details, like frogs under lily pads and bugs in the flowers.

This short poem has a clear message that is fun to learn - "Never talk to strangers!" It's all about knowing when to keep your distance, and when to meet new people the right way.

 

Parents' Picks

Although kids benefit from a great story, and love being read to, parents often find that some books are made just for them. Sentimental stories and poems that they can share with kids and grandchildren are a special treat. These books make wonderful gifts for new parents, and are a perfect first book for newborns, and even those yet to be born.

Guess How Much I Love You
Guess How Much I Love You

A conversation between a bunny and his baby - who loves who the most? This lovely story is always a hit with dads, and moms, too.

 
Love You Forever
Love You Forever

This story was written as part of the healing process after losing a child. Since then it has tugged the heart strings of many, many parents.

 
Oh, Baby, the Places You'll Go! [Mini Edition]
Oh, Baby, the Places You'll Go! [Mini Edition]

A wonderful, inspirational poem from the imagination of Dr. Seuss. This book is aimed at babies still in the belly, and is a great start to a lifetime of reading.

 
I Already Know I Love You
I Already Know I Love You

Another book for expectant parents and grandparents, this poem was inspired by Billy Crystal's first grandchild.

 

Support Your Library

Visiting the library is a wonderful outing for kids, and for parents and caregivers, too. By borrowing books from your local branch, you're not only saving money, but helping to make sure that every child has a chance to enjoy a world of books.

Most library cards are free, and even kids can get their own. This is a great way to teach them about responsibility in a way that you remain involved in. They'll enjoy knowing that the books they borrow are theirs for so many days, and that the librarians are counting on them to bring them back safe.

The library can also be a great place to shop for used and rare books, as many branches sell remainders and donations that they can no longer use. You never know what you might find in the discard section for just a few cents!

To help keep the library open, attend events and fundraisers whenever you can. Many libraries offer programs for kids, like song and story clubs for a small donation.

With your help, libraries can continue to support literacy for everyone, and spread the joy of reading!

Somewhere between Bath Time and Bedtime comes Story Time. It's a magical time where little ones get comfy, wind down, and get ready for sweet dreams.

While exciting and stupendous stories are great to get the imagination going, some stories were made just for bedtime. They encourage peaceful, restful nights and good mornings. These stories are sure to be bedtime favorites.

The Very Busy Spider

The Very Busy Spider
The Very Busy Spider

The works of Eric Carle stand out in a crowd, thanks to his unique artwork. The pictures appeal to kids as much as the poems, which are easy to follow and always end with a smile.

This story is about a spider who blows into the barnyard one day, and begins to build a web. She sticks to her work until the job is done, even though all of the farm animals want her to join in their fun and games. At the end, she falls fast asleep - as will your little ones!

 

Goodnight Moon

Goodnight Moon
Goodnight Moon

This is the essential bedtime book for kids of all ages. It is often the first book that parents and families look for when a new baby arrives, and is a treasured keepsake when kids have grown.

By saying goodnight to everything in the room, a little rabbit keeps bedtime away, but gets sleepier and sleepier. Little readers will find it relaxing, too. This book is reminiscient of traditional bedtime prayers, but is suitable for every kind of family - it's all about the love.

 

Mortimer

Every children's library needs a healthy dose of Robert Munsch tales. Since 1979 his books have been delighting families and even changing lives. Thanks to his many years working in daycare, many of his stories have the power to help kids change their minds about things like bedtime, bath time and seeing the good in everyone.

Mortimer (Munsch for Kids)
Mortimer (Munsch for Kids)

With years of experience as a parent and daycare operator, Robert Munsch knows what kids like. His stories appeal to children, and to parents, with a delicate balance of silly and subtle humor.

This is a story that parents can relate to! Little Mortimer will not go to sleep, no matter what anyone says or does. He just wants to make noise all night long. And every time someone tells him to go to sleep, he just makes more noise! But what happens when everyone starts making noise of their own?

 

Author Robert Munsch

Robert Munsch was one of nine kids, born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He moved with his wife to Guelph, Ontario, and that is where he began to pen the stories he had created when working as a caregiver. He currently has 42 published works to his name.

His journey to a career as a children's author is one that can encourage everyone to find their own path. Although he didn't do well academically, he is now one of the best selling authors in Canada. His tribute to parents and lost children - Love You Forever - had sold over 18,000,000 copies by 1999.

Robert Munsch is known for his generosity and love of children. He's a favorite guest speaker, or just plain old guest. Many of his books are based on his experiences staying with families while on book tours. And just has he teaches children with his stories, they teach him valuable lessons as well!

"Where you are depends on how you get there. Which is the story of my life and yours too..."

Though many titles get passed on from generation to generation, and thousands of new books are printed every year, once in a while something comes along that skyrockets to instant success.


These books are the classics of the future, written by authors who grew up reading the same favorites, and are now sharing their own imagination with today's kids.

Walter the Farting Dog

Walter the Farting Dog
Walter the Farting Dog

Most kids think farts are funny, and if they don't, this book will change their minds. Not only is it a great way to teach kids not to be embarrassed about their bodies, but there's a great lesson about sticking by the ones you love, no matter what.

When Walter wanders into their lives, an unsuspecting family loves him at first sight. But they're surprised and dismayed to discover that he has the worst farts in the world. No matter what they try, he can't be cured. Just as they are about to give up on the stinky Walter, something happens that reminds them what love is all about!

 

Future Classics and Bestsellers

The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash
The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash

A class field trip to the farm gets zany when Jimmy's pet boa escapes from the bus and runs amok!

 
Alice the Fairy
Alice the Fairy

Little Alice shows us what imagination is all about when she becomes a magical fairy that can do all kinds of magic.

 
Zoom!
Zoom!

This story is exciting and fun for kids, and also teaches the importance of knowing that even though we're all different on the outside, we all have abilities that make us special.

 
Fancy Nancy
Fancy Nancy

Nobody is fancier than Nancy. She has fancy clothes, fancy words, and fancy foods. She loves to dress up and show her family how, too!

 

Olivia

Olivia . . . and the Missing Toy
Olivia . . . and the Missing Toy

Everyone's favorite pig shows us what life is all about with her adventures in smallness. In this story, she discovers that her favorite play thing has disappeared! Whatever will she do?

With big, bold illustrations, Olivia books are a pleasure to look at, and fun to read. Kids will enjoy laughing at some of the silly situations that Olivia gets into. The stories are a great way to teach kids about making good decisions and thinking of others.

 

The Best Children's Author Ever

Everyone has a favorite author - a name they trust to provide wonderul, inspiring literature for their family. Who is your 'go-to' writer? What name is on the cover of your favorite books?

Who is the best children's author?

See results

Reader Favorites

Add your favorite story book to the list and share your love of reading!

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    • blackbeltreader profile image

      blackbeltreader 4 years ago

      Nice choices.

    • Stephanie36 profile image

      Stephanie 4 years ago from Canada

      Feeling so nostalgic now!

    • Coffeebreak9am profile image

      Coffeebreak9am 6 years ago

      Great lens...

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Reading is a wonderful activity and past time for children.Thanks for sharing. strategic planning software

    • profile image

      slotowngal 6 years ago

      Great lens with some really fun children's books and authors! Angel blessed...

    • IntuitiveHealer profile image

      IntuitiveHealer 6 years ago

      @IntuitiveHealer: Also wanted to let you know I have "liked" it, favorited it and lensrolled it to my homeschooling and other "kid" lenses.

    • IntuitiveHealer profile image

      IntuitiveHealer 6 years ago

      LOVE this lens! I tweeted my poll vote. I think my fave book mentioned is Love You Forever, although I can't read through it without crying. There's a book I think is called Moonlight that is children's meditations that are basically stories that we also liked when my son was younger.

    • cinstress profile image

      cinstress 6 years ago

      the kids love Goodnight Moon

    • RuntFarmSeries profile image

      RuntFarmSeries 7 years ago

      This is a very helpful lens. You've shared some great information. I'd love for you to visit my lens when you have the chance.

    • SaraMu LM profile image

      SaraMu LM 8 years ago

      It's nice to see all (at least many of them) the classics listed in one place. Thanks for the lens.

    • profile image

      Child_Health 8 years ago

      You have put together a wonderful collection of children's books and resources here. This is a great lens! I have a lens on children's books related to health issues, and would love it if you'd stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

    • only1bub profile image

      Debbie Hawkins 8 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Great content - lensrolling you to my page: Favorite Childrens Books!

    • jp1978 profile image

      jp1978 8 years ago

      I love the Winnie the Pooh stories. It's sad to see the way Disney has treated them.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Just have to like someone who is into children's literacy. I'm Tipi's sister and just saw she is featuring you on one of her lenses as you were her 200th fan. She's become a children's lit fanatic and enjoys reviewing the books she reads to her granddaughter. I was a reading tutor for K-3 and all I can say is read, Read, READ! Start at birth (even before if so inclined) and read as often as possible with and to children. I'm not a member, so all I can give you is an enthusiastic, WAY TO GO!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 8 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I loved the days when my child or grandchild climbed into my lap for me to read. Richard Scarry's Cars and Trunks and Things That Go must have been read by us 500 times and hours were spent enjoying finding Goldbug. You have a wonderful list put together. Lensrolling to my "A Christmas Tree in the White House". Thank you.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 8 years ago from Canada

      Great gathering of books. When my boys were younger we were always at the library and we always had a basket of books, favorites and new ones, some of which you have depicted here on your lens.

      (We still have a ton of books out of the library these days but now they are all over the house and they also include DVDs, CDs and magazines!

      Brenda

    • RedPanda25 profile image

      RedPanda25 8 years ago

      Great lens! Welcome to my Children's Books Group. Good job and good luck with future lenses!

    • LisaDH profile image

      LisaDH 8 years ago

      Great lens! I've discovered one of the joys of parenting is the excuse to reread the classic kids books and discover new ones! :-) 5* and lensrolled to my page for children's book author Karma Wilson. 5*

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 8 years ago from Royalton

      Two of my favorite authors are Jean Craighead George who wrote Julie of the Wolves and Thornton Burgess who wrote about Mother Westwind and the creatures of the Green Meadow and Forest.

      Thank you for featuring my Fancy Nancy lens.