The 25 Best Children’s Books Ever Written
We asked teachers, librarians, and parents and examined bestseller lists to come up with the most beloved books that should be on every child’s shelves.
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Best children’s books for grades four to six: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Back on current bestseller lists, likely thanks to Disney’s recent movie adaptation, this groundbreaking 1962 novel features a heroine in a genre-bending science fiction–fantasy story about a girl tasked with traveling through space and time to save her scientist father—and the world. A forerunner of modern young-adult sci-fi and fantasy, including The Hunger Games and Harry Potter, and winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal, this story continues to thrill today. Check out more books you need to read before the movie version comes out.
Best children’s books for grades four to six: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
Speaking of the boy wizard, the Harry Potter series is the bestselling children’s series since, well, pretty much ever. But it’s not just hype: The quality of these popular children’s books lives up to their popularity in the richly drawn wizarding world, the complexity of the characters, and the weighty challenges Harry is faced with. Young readers are best off sticking to the first couple of books in the series, incorporating caregiver discussion of any difficult elements, like the death of Harry’s parents; later books can be read as kids approach the teen years. Find out the surprising books every teen should read before graduating from high school.
Best children’s books for grades four to six: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Another classic British fantasy, the 1865 story of Alice and her trip down the rabbit hole to an alternate world is equal parts mind-boggling and imagination-sparking. Although its exact meaning continues to puzzle scholars, Alice’s experiences question the nature of reality—and for kids, navigating the adult world can actually seem just as baffling. By the way, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland‘s first edition is one of those rare books whose owners are sitting on a gold mine.
Best children’s books for grades four to six: Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
In this Newbery Honor book, Opal takes in a stray dog she names Winn-Dixie, who helps her make friends in a new town and come to terms with her absent mother. Both heartwarming and realistic, it’s listed on the New York Public Library‘s list of the best children’s books. Author Kate DiCamillo has written other acclaimed books, including The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, Newbery Medal–winning The Tale of Despereaux, and Flora & Ulysses, which won yet another Newbery Medal (DiCamillo is only one of a handful of authors to win two). Because of Winn-Dixie is also one of the best-ever audiobooks for your next family road trip.
Best children’s books for grades four to six: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
Introduce young readers to this magical world with the first published book in the Chronicles of Narnia series. The four Pevensie children are sent to a house in the country to escape the Blitz in London, England, during World War II, but they soon find a wardrobe that leads them into a parallel universe of mythical beings and talking animals—which is also under threat. Kids may need post-reading discussion to work through difficult themes such as betrayal, forgiveness, death, and rebirth. A critical and commercial success, it’s one of the bestselling children’s books of all time.
Best children’s books for grades four to six: Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
One of the greatest female heroines of all time, independent, intelligent, and imaginative, Anne can’t help winning over the hearts of her adoptive parents in turn-of-the-century Prince Edward Island, Canada. Although she frequently gets into hilarious mishaps, she always means well! Her self-confidence, rich inner life, kind nature, and academic aspirations make her as great a role model for today’s children as she was a century ago. Young readers may need a little help to get through some of the many flowery descriptions of the Canadian countryside, but it’s worth it, as the 50 million copies sold worldwide attest to. Looking for more to read? Get your kids into the Halloween spirit with these 15 spooky, silly children’s books.
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