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17 of the Best Books to Read as Children (and Adults)

Twilight and The Lorax aren't the only books meant for younger readers that adults can enjoy too. Our staff selected incredible kids' stories that also appeal to grown minds.

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

My boys are older now, but when they were little we would read this classic story a lot. It was wonderful for boys, especially since it was all about adventure and travel; and the characters that the main character meets along the way were so vivid.

Another favorite: In the Night Kitchen, a kooky, wonderfully illustrated book by Maurice Sendak, the same author of the more well-known Where The Wild Things Are. It was my older son's favorite and he could recite the whole book verbatim! —Dean Abatemarco, Art Director

Buy James and the Giant Peach
Buy In the Night Kitchen

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gertstein

A fairytale-like presentation of Philippe Petit's historic tightrope walk between the Twin Towers, this book was a total tear-jerker for me, since I lived seven blocks from the World Trade Center and watched the towers fall from my apartment window in 2001. But while I cried reading the story to my kids, they loved it so much we read it over and over. Even with the ending: “Now the towers are gone.” —Marti Golon, Art Director. Find out the most popular book the year you were born.

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The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton

This classic, beautifully illustrated book tells the story of a delightful country home that becomes engulfed in urban sprawl—until someone recognizes its value. I loved it as a child, loved reading it to my children, and still appreciate its message of reclaiming nature's pleasures. —Dawn Raffel, Features Editor, Books

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I'll Teach My Dog 100 Words by Michael Frith

I was obsessed with this book when I was a kid and actually spent most of my days as a five-year-old memorizing the pages (I can still recite a few lines from memory). As an adult, I realize that the story talks about the importance of vocabulary, and the desire to constantly learn more and push your thinking to the next level. As a child, however, I just loved it because everything rhymed. —Alison Caporimo, Associate Editor. Don't miss the best books for grandparents to read to their grandkids.

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The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes

This is about a little girl who goes to school everyday wearing the same dress, and the other girls make fun of her. She always tells them that at home she has 100 dresses. When she stops showing up at school, her schoolmates go to her house and see that she really wasn't lying—a very good lesson in how to treat others.

I also adore Half Magic by Edward Eager: Several children find a magic coin that grants a wish—except only half of it! In wishing you were already home, the coin would bring you halfway there. Delightful. —Tara Zades, Magazine Rights Manager. These secrets from Sesame Street employees will surprise you!

Buy The Hundred Dresses
Buy Half Magic

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Every day I have a Wilbur moment, Lurvy moment, a Templeton moment and a Charlotte moment. It's universal. And I still cry. —Liz Vaccariello, VP, Editor-in-Chief, Chief Content Officer. These are the high school English class books you should read again as an adult.

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Matilda by Roald Dahl

I love rereading children’s books. My favorite? Matilda. Miss Agatha Trunchbull, the wicked headmistress who terrorizes Matilda, is one of the most colorful villains in children's literature, capable of inspiring both fear and delight. —Caitlin O’Connell, Assistant Editor

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Richard Scarry's Best Books Ever by Richard Scarry

It's a pretty big brag, but this collection of original tales and classic Mother Goose rhymes makes good on its title and then some. A favorite of mine as a child—and now a winner with my own kids—Scarry's signature busy, colorful illustrations and smart, humorous text offers something for all ages to love, from the lulling rhythms of "I Am a Bunny" and "Chipmunk's Birthday Party" to the faster-paced travel-themed pieces like "Pip Pip Goes to London" and "Pierre, the Paris Policeman." —Diane Dragan, RD.com Executive Editor

My daughter LOVED Richard Scarry’s Funniest Storybook Ever, and it was one of the few children's books I actually enjoyed. And now she reads Scarry's Best Storybook Ever to my 7-year-old grandson. —Janice K. Bryant, Copy Editor

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Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

I loved this true story of an American pioneer family, and first read it when I was the same age as the author had been in her story. I was fascinated by all of the challenges the Ingalls' encountered on their way to a new life and a new home. My most vivid memory is of the children making candy by pouring maple syrup on fresh snow. Recently, I reread this book and the entire series, and have passed them along to my nine-year old niece. —Kirsten Rohrs Schmitt, Assistant Research Editor

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Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

His nonsensical poems are actually quite sensical (if that is even a word, and if not, Shel would probably have used it) and appeal to both my nine-year-old daughter and the nine-year-old boy in me. —Andy Simmons, Humor Features Editor. Check out the 10 surprising books every teen should read.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest