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Children’s books are extremely important. They impart wisdom and knowledge and promote a love for stories and reading. Reading to your kids is just as important, and some of these books are best read allowed. Many of them make excellent bedtime stories. Most of the children’s books below are classics, although some are nearly forgotten. Each of these books is a must buy, in my opinion, for every child, though some are difficult to come by.
The great introductory book for all children is Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes. They notoriously make no sense and sometimes don’t even make a proper rhyme. This collection contains especially beautiful artwork featuring creative reimaginings of the original context or subject of each poem. It also makes for a storytime session that you can lengthen or shorten to suit your interests.
This is one compact bit of learning material for a child and it’s beautifully told. Metamorphosis, counting, says of the week, and nutrition is all covered in one very simple narrative. The Very Hungry Caterpillar and other books by Eric Carle are imagination fueled and full of fun for the youngest book lovers.
Oh, what a fun way to learn the alphabet. Not just the letters, but their shapes, too. This book works brilliantly to entertain little ones when read aloud with plenty of excitement. Especially when it comes to reciting the title.
No nursery should be without this book. It’s a wonderful way to lull your little ones to sleep. Not only is the story very calming, but it teaches kids a good way to soothe themselves by naming and saying good night to all the things around them.
This classic crack up of a story is so relatable and a lot of fun for kids to see what this mouse gets into next. It’s a really good introduction to association, logic, and chains of reasoning, besides being absolutely hilarious.
This wholesome story about a pair of new friends has a lot of good in it. It teaches much about play and morality. What’s fun for Gus is not what’s good for others and becomes downright dangerous. Sam tries to stop Gus from doing bad things, but he’s unsuccessful. Gus has to learn the error of his ways, and Sam rescues him in time to become a hero. It’s a simple story, but good, and in the meantime, it teaches a bit about spelling and opposites.
This is an enjoyable book creatively authored by the actor John Lithgow. It’s all about a boy who gets bored at a concert which just so happens to be right next to the city zoo. A dream sequence unfolds of animals escaping and taking over the orchestra.
Every child has the capacity to be king of all wild things. The journey of Max is so wonderful because it’s all about kids learning to gain control of themselves. When they are wild, they become isolated, and they must work through what they are feeling, but then when they come back home, they’ll find (like Max) that their supper is waiting for them (and it will still be hot).
This lovely book of illustrations has some poems to it. They are nicely matched together, and the whole book makes a lovely bedtime story. Each poem and illustration features a particularly unique teddy bear come to life the way they are in a child’s mind.
This is another wonderful tale about a small boy who must deal with emotions. In this case, the child has great potential as a builder with blocks, but his grand vision is destroyed. In the aftermath of the tumbled down blocks, the boy is met by several animals who tell him how he ought to feel. When their advice fails, they give up on him. All except one rabbit, who is willing to listen while the boy deals with his feelings in his own time.
This one will make you kid laugh, and again, it’s got such wonderful illustrations. In this story a page must get King Bidgood out of the bathtub, but he is having no luck. The king tries to do everything from the tub from battling ships to a masquerade ball.
This surreal picture book tells of a young man who has an evening out at a party and then falls asleep under a Pooka tower. The Pooka visits on him a strange adventure with details tied to the events of the night. Is Daniel dreaming?
Another strange adventure. This book features a mysterious board game with mystical powers. Whoever plays the game, gets sucked into its reality and its reality spills out of the box in the form of dangerous vines, stampeding rhinos, and a mad hunter. The players must complete the game for everything to return to normal—life before pause buttons.
This book says it all. It’s maybe not the best for children with a lot of anxiety, although maybe they can relate. It’s all about everything that can go wrong and does. It also explores the idea that maybe people have it better somewhere else, which of course, they don’t.
A collection of Aesop’s Fables. These short, interesting narratives make excellent digestible pellets of wisdom that kids can understand. Like Mother Goose Rhymes, it is a sort of introduction, but to broader concepts rather than just silly nonsensical rhymes (really, some of the rhymes are even just the same word).
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is an excellent return to nonsense, once a child can understand what nonsense is. It’s a great children’s book, but it’s one that kids of all ages, even adults, can study to their heart’s content.
The story of Saint George and the Dragon is very popular in Western Europe. It’s an archetypal story full of themes and characters used throughout the ages. This version of the story is ornate and very classically illustrated, which lends a nice touch to the 13th-century tale of the dragon-slaying knight.
This classic children’s book may slip below your radar, but it’s a remarkable adventure that bears some similarities to Alice in Wonderland. Allusions to both stories appear in very early cartoons by Walt Disney. Gulliver’s Travels maintained popularity over the decades until the box office flop starring Jack Black. However, the original story, rife with satire, still sparks the imagination.
This childhood favorite is a must. The story is such a great way to explore themes of friendship and sacrifice. Fun fact, Charlotte’s Web was banned in Kansas as recently as 2006.
This children’s story offers a more robust narrative with themes of renewal and redemption. The lives of a group of children begin to grow and flourish in the presence of the garden, leading to healing and reconciliation, particularly between father and son.
This classic tale is yet another must-own for children. The novel is perfect for bedtime stories, which is precisely how the adventures within it were originally intended to be read. This book features the notorious Mr. Toad as well as his friends Mole, Rat, and Badger.
The story of King Arthur should be timeless, and it should be read aloud to every child. This version of the stories of King Arthur is for just that. The book goes beyond the Sword and the Stone to give the full reach of the legend.
This swashbuckling Adventure brilliantly tells of the adventures and dangers of pirate life through the eyes of Jim Hawkins. The coming of age tale is single-handedly responsible for how we have come to view pirates in the present day. Originally published as a serial in a children’s magazine, this 19th-century classic still has everything for young readers.
Another 19th century coming of age story, the Jungle Book tells the extravagant tale of a boy raised by wolves and taught the law of the jungle by a bear and a panther. There is a lot of insight to be found in this valuable piece of children’s literature.
Children’s books frequently become a series of excellent stories. If they are not all compiled in one volume, they tend to make up a collection of full-fledged books. The Peter Rabbit books are one such collection, and you can get them all right here.
Mary Poppins also came as a set of books, which you can own as a collection. There are four books in all, including Mary Poppins Comes Back, Mary Poppins Opens the Door, and Mary Poppins in the Park.
There are so many children’s stories by Hans Christian Anderson. The Little Mermaid, The Ice Queen, Thumbelina, and The Emperor’s New Clothes are just a small sampling. Why not own them all in one complete volume?
This set is more than the sum of its parts. You can’t buy just one of these books. They all go together. However, each story does stand alone. Many of the stories feature different children, though they are connected to each other in the big picture.
Another excellent fantasy series. The Black Cauldron is the best known of the set, but the whole grouping of Prydain stories is gripping and imaginative. The last book in the series “The High King” earned a Newbery Award.
Every Harry Potter book could have been on this list separately, but it makes more sense to count them all together here. Especially since you can buy them all together, here.