March 20, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

NYPL Unveils 100 Top Children’s Books of the Last 100 Years

The New York Public Library (NYPL) today unveiled its first-ever list of the top 100 kids books of the last 100 years, curated by librarians, called “100 Great Children’s Books.” Marking the occasion, acclaimed children’s book creators Judy Blume and Eric Carle (who both appear on the list) participated in a panel discussion at the library’s Trustees Room and read from their popular works.

In alphabetical order by title, this list is as follows:
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Judith Viorst. Illus. by Ray Cruz. (1972)
All-of-a-Kind Family. Sydney Taylor, illustrated by Helen John. (1951)
Amelia Bedelia. Peggy Parish, illustrated by Fritz Siebel. (1963)
The Arrival. Shaun Tan. (2007)
Bark, George. Jules Feiffer. (1999)
Because of Winn-Dixie. Kate DiCamillo. (2000)
Ben’s Trumpet. Rachel Isadora. (1979)
Big Red Lollipop. Rukhsana Khan. Illus. by Sophie Blackall. (2010)
The Birchbark House. Louise Erdrich. (1999)
The Book of Three. Lloyd Alexander. (1964)
The Borrowers. Mary Norton. Illus. by Beth Krush and Joe Krush. (1953)
El Gallo De Bodas: A Traditional Cuban Folktale. Lucía M. González. Illus. by Lulu Delacre. (1994)
Bread and Jam for Frances.
Russell Hoban. illustrated by Lillian Hoban. (1964)
Bridge to Terabithia. Katherine Paterson. (1977)
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Bill Martin, Jr. Illus. by Eric Carle. (1967)
Caps for Sale. Esphyr Slobodkina. (1938)
The Cat in the Hat. Dr. Seuss. (1957)
Chains. Laurie Halse Anderson. (2008)
A Chair For My Mother. Vera B. Williams. (1982)
Charlotte’s Web. E.B. White. Illus. by Garth Williams. (1952)
Chato’s Kitchen. Gary Soto. Illus. by Susan Guevara. (1995)
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault. Illus. by Lois Ehlert. (1989)
Corduroy. Don Freeman. (1976)
Curious George. H.A. Rey. (1941)
D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths. Ingri D’Aulaire and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire. (1962)
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! Mo Willems. (2003)
Esperanza Rising. Pam Muñoz Ryan. (2000)
Freight Train. Donald Crews. (1978)
Frog and Toad Are Friends. Arnold Lobel. (1970)
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. E.L. Konigsburg. (1967)
George and Martha. James Marshall. (1972)
The Giver. Lois Lowry. (1993)
Go, Dog. Go! P.D. Eastman. (1961)
Goodnight Moon. Margaret Wise Brown. Illus. by Clement Hurd. (1947)
Grandfather’s Journey. Allen Say. (1993)
The Graveyard Book. Neil Gaiman. Illus. by Dave McKean. (2008)
Green Eggs and Ham. Dr. Seuss. (1960)
Harold and the Purple Crayon. Crockett Johnson. (1955)
Harriet the Spy. Louise Fitzhugh. (1964)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. J.K. Rowling. (1998)
Hatchet. Gary Paulsen. (1989)
The Hobbit. J.R.R. Tolkien. (1937)
Holes. Louis Sachar. (1998)
The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Brian Selznick. (2007)
Joseph Had a Little Overcoat. Simms Taback. (1999)
Chris Van Allsburg. (1981)
Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book. Yuyi Morales. (2003)
Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse. Kevin Henkes. (1996)
The Lion and the Mouse.
Jerry Pinkney. (2009)
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. C.S. Lewis. (1950)
The Little House. Virginia Lee Burton. (1942)
The Little Prince. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. (1943)
Locomotion. Jacqueline Woodson. (2003)
Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story From China. Ed Young. (1989)
Madeline. Ludwig Bemelmans. (1939)
Make Way for Ducklings. Robert McCloskey. (1941)
Matilda. Roald Dahl. Illus. by Quentin Blake. (1988)
Meet Danitra Brown. Nikki Grimes. Illus. by Floyd Cooper. (1994)
Millions of Cats. Wanda Gág. (1928)
Miss Nelson is Missing!
Harry Allard. Illus. by James Marshall. (1977)
Mr. Popper’s Penguins.
Richard and Florence Atwater. Illus. by Robert Lawson. (1938)
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.
Robert C. O’Brien. (1971)
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale.
John Steptoe. (1987)
My Father’s Dragon.
Ruth Stiles Gannett. Illus. by Ruth Chrisman Gannett (1948)
My Name is Yoon.
Helen Recorvits. Illus. by Gabi Swiatkowska. (2003)
Ian Falconer. (2000)
One Crazy Summer
. Rita Williams-Garcia. (2010)
The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales.
Virginia Hamilton. Illus. by Leo/Diane Dillon. (1985)
The Phantom Tollbooth. Norton Juster. Illus. by Jules Feiffer. (1961)
Pierre: A Cautionary Tale in Five Chapters and a Prologue. Maurice Sendak. (1962)
Pink and Say. Patricia Polacco.  (1994)
Pippi Longstocking. Astrid Lindgren. (1950)
Ramona the Pest. Beverly Cleary. (1968)
Rickshaw Girl. Mitali Perkins. Illus. by Jamie Hogan. (2007)
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Mildred D. Taylor. (1976)
Rumpelstiltskin. Paul O. Zelinsky. (1986)
A Sick Day for Amos MCGee. Philip Stead. Illus. by Erin E. Stead. (2010)
The Snowy Day. Ezra Jack Keats. (1962)
Starry River of the Sky. Grace Lin. (2012)
The Stories Julian Tells. Ann Cameron. Illus. by Ann Strugnell. (1981)
The Story of Ferdinand. Munro Leaf. Illus. by Robert Lawson. (1936)
Strega Nona. Tomie dePaola. (1975)
Swimmy. Leo Lionni. (1963)
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble.
William Steig. (1969)
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Judy Blume. (1972)
The Tales of Uncle Remus: The Adventures of Brer Rabbit. Julius Lester. Illus. by Jerry Pinkney. (1987)
Tar Beach. Faith Ringgold. (1991)
Ten, Nine, Eight. Molly Bang. (1983)
Tomie dePaola’s Mother Goose. Tomie dePaola. (1985)
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. Jon Scieszka. Illus. by Lane Smith. (1989)
Tuesday. David Wiesner. (1991)
The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Eric Carle. (1969)
The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963. Christopher Paul Curtis. (1995)
The Westing Game. Ellen Raskin. (1978)
When You Reach Me. Rebecca Stead. (2009)
Where Is the Green Sheep? Mem Fox. Illus. by Judy Horacek. (2004)
Where the Wild Things Are. Maurice Sendak. (1963)
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears. Verna Aardema. Illus. by Leo/Diane Dillon. (1975)
Winnie-the-Pooh. A.A. Milne. Illus. by Ernest H. Shepard. (1926)
A Wrinkle in Time. Madeleine L’Engle. (1962)

The unveiling of the list coincides with NYPL’s well-received kid lit exhibition,The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter,” on view at the library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.

The list was selected by The New York Public Library’s Jeanne Lamb, coordinator of youth Collections, and Elizabeth Bird, supervising librarian.

Karyn M. Peterson About Karyn M. Peterson

Karyn M. Peterson ( is a former News Editor ofSLJ.



  1. Alan Lancgstraat says:

    I would have included The Secret Garden and Where the Red Fern Grows. They were life changing to me.

    • Walter Betts says:

      Several of the titles that I thought of (Peter Rabbit, for example) were published before 1913; indeed, the two earliest books are 1926 (Winnie-the-Pooh) and 1928 (Millions of Cats). The Secret Garden, published in 1911, falls in this category. In addition to “Where the Red Fern Grows, ” I woudl have included “Old Yeller” on the list.

      • The official name of the list is “100 Great Children’s Books, 100 Years”. It only covers books published in the last 100 years and is just a list of great ones. It is by no means a list of the “best”. Just wonderful titles that folks should be aware of. Obviously if it were more than 100 years The Secret Garden, Alice in Wonderland, and The Wizard of Oz (as well as Little Women) would have been included.

  2. It would be nice to have seen The Lorax and The Giving Tree on this list. In my i opinion, they have had far reaching effects on mankind.

    • Here we go again with the Giving Tree that takes and doesn’t give….

      • I thoroughly agree, Alice! I always feel that I’m in the minority when it comes to the message of this book. It made me squirm on my first read of it many years ago. What about reciprocity, respect for others, the Golden Rule…I could go on but I won’t!

        • Laura Harrison says:

          I would love to rewrite The Giving Tree. In my version the tree chucks apples at the selfish boy every time he comes near it.

    • Peggy Dean says:

      Even if there is disagreement about The Giving Tree, I would have added Where the Sidewalk Ends.

  3. There are a lot of great books on this list – ones that I loved as a child and ones’ that I never read until adulthood. That said I’m surprised by how the books are predominantly from 1950 till now with especial reference on books since the 1980s and only a few from the 1913 to the 40s. I have some other favorites, but since those were from just around the turn of the century or before, I’m not surprised that they weren’t here.

    I also wonder how this list would be different if it was created by either Canadian or British librarians, since I know that many of the books that I grew up with were Canadian and aren’t represented at all here. It’s possible that they were never published in the US, which is unfortunate. I know that American kids would’ve loved them, too.

  4. FERDINAND, CAPS FOR SALE, MILLIONS OF CATS were my favorites as a kid and are classics today, but we must honor all those writers writing great books today, right now.

  5. Damian Sagastume says:

    Almost all of these are from 1950 or later. That seems a little fishy, like the people who chose these books didn’t bother to research beyond the books that were popular when they were children. Think about it. E. Nesbit didn’t even make the list. What about Edgar Rice Burroughs’ books? I can only assume that the reason Peter Pan didn’t make the list is because the book came out a few years more than a hundred years ago. Otherwise, this list needs some revision.

  6. Yes – it would have been different if Brittish, Irish, Canadian, New Zealanders, Australians, South Africans etc were consulted – but that’s okay.

    Australians would have added Possum Magic, Seven Little Australians

    • Well, perhaps not *all* Australians. Bit of a generalisation there. Personally, I think Possum Magic has very little to recommend it and its place on such a list would only be ‘earned’ only by its nod to obvious Australianisms, which isn’t something I would value highly in choosing from our rich history of children’s literature. Just my opinion, but there are many and varied opinions of course, and it seems foolish to make pronouncements about what ‘Australians’ would do, as if we were some kind of hive-mind.

  7. Obviously such lists can never include everyone’s favorites — and this list is a good one. But I was shocked not to see Little House on the Prairie (1935, right?). This was a bedrock in my coming to love chapter books, and was for many other kids I knew. Still, I’m glad to come across this today, just as I was trying to think of what other classic children’s books to read with my son. I know we’ve missed a few of these!

  8. Nothing by Laura Ingalls Wilder or did I miss it?
    And something by Mauguerite Henry. I’m partial to “Justin Morgan Had a Horse” because it is such fine Americana.
    Then there’s “Ben and Me.”
    Did I miss “Black Beauty?”

    It is hard to come up with a top one hundred for sure. I think they focused on books the librarians like to share rather than looking at what are the most read and most loved; both kinds of lists have value, of course. Still, I’d enjoy seeing a list that showed what has been checked out the most.

  9. Connie P. says:

    Wish suggested age levels were included.

  10. What? No Harry the Dirty Dog? Maybe the list authors just didn’t recognize him.

  11. Christina says:

    What about The Boxcar Children? That was the book that turned me into a book-lover. And it taught me inventiveness, personal responsibility, confidence, team work, politeness, and to make do with what you have and be grateful for it. I’ve never heard of half of these books… but The Boxcar Children series was instrumental in making me the successful person I am today.

  12. marc aronson says:

    Come on folks, how can you list 100 Greatest and pretend that nonfiction does not and did not exist? Was not and has not been exceptional? Either limit your brief to fiction (forget Dewey, folklore is fiction) or notice the entire vast universe around you as captured in books — if you include non-US book Eyewitness was as revolutionary as any picture book or novel; Russell; Milton; Nic Bishop’s photos; Tanya Hoban’s concept books; today’s explosion of authors and styles — be even just a bit fair, or admit that you are not really aiming at the 100 best.