How To Find The Best Children's Books...And Avoid The Rest

(Or "So Many Children's Books, So Little Time")

tantrum boy cartoon

The best children's books can make your child want to read or want to learn to read. Books that leave your child uninterested can have the opposite effect.

So let's agree the stakes are high!

The best way to judge a children's book is to read it before your child does. Of course, that isn't always possible.

In fact, it isn't even foolproof. Sometimes I discover what I think is a great children's book, and my daughter wants nothing to do with it!

And then there are the books our children love that we can't stand!

So how do you find that "just right" book? The one you feel will enrich your child and that your child will love as well?

Objective criteria are hard to come by

Naturally. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But when it comes to tracking down the best children's books, there are some resources we can use to reduce the chances of coming up with a dud.

The Books You Loved As A Child

Here's something I find fascinating. Daniel Siegel is a child psychiatrist, a brain researcher, and probably the foremost thinker today on attachment theory, the study of the quality of bonds between child and parent. He's published a number of books on the subject.

(Bear with me. I'm going somewhere with this.)

Siegel says the most powerful predictor of a strong bond between child and parent is the parent's ability to speak coherently to the child about the parent's own childhood!

Isn't that wild? I'm fascinated by it, and there's a lot of research to back it up. Since I learned it, you can bet I've put more of a focus on talking to my daughter about my own growing up.

So a case can be made that the best children's books to share with your child are those that you read growing up! What better catalyst to sharing pieces of your own childhood than a book that meant something to you when you were your child's age?

After all, your child has trouble imagining that you were ever a child yourself!

A book you happened to read when you were your daughter's or son's age - and that you now share - can be an avenue to enriching your parent-child relationship.

Enough said. Of course, I don't know what you read as a child, but I know which books a lot of former children read. On this page:

Best Children's Books by Popularity

I list the 300 best-selling children's books of the last century. Books that have survived the test of time. Take a look! Are your old favorites there?


Favorite Books Of Trusted Friends And Family

While it's hard for me to know what the best children's books of your childhood are, I'm even more in the dark as to your best friends and family.

But here's an idea. You could post a little web page listing

  1. your child's favorite books, and
  2. which of those books your child has grown out of

(In case you don't know, most internet providers let you post a number of free web pages, and text only pages are a snap to set up.)

Ask friends and family for their own lists, then post. You, your family and friends can get book ideas from from the resulting web page, and even start swapping books.

Remember, children can bond over great books they've shared, just like adults do. Imagine your child getting a best children's book endorsement from an idolized older cousin. What greater reading encouragement could there be?


Award-Winning Books

You wouldn't believe how many book awards and prizes there are out there! You have no idea how sore my fingers are from cutting and pasting the best of them onto my hard drive!!!

Award-Winning Children's Books

Of course there are no guarantees, but these prestigious awards comprise a rather ringing endorsement.

In other words, lots of experts think these are the best children's books. There's a good chance you and your child will agree.


Classic Children's Literature

I just found the best list in the world. It's a list of the classics, the books that have set themselves apart over time. These aren't just children's books, they're children's literature. And not because I say so, but because schools, teachers and librarians do!

I've also created a place on the site for regular grown-ups to talk about children's literature - the books that made the most impact on them. Take a look!


Well-Reviewed Books

Well, let's start with the great book reviews on this site. Our reviewers have great taste and really know how to scout out those special books you don't often hear about (or haven't heard about in a long time!).

How nice it would be if someone had the exact same taste in children's books as you and your child. How nice if you could tell the best children's book reviews from the dismal.

How nice if I could find the reviews I want in one place instead of one million.

That's a lot to ask, but I think I can deliver some of it. Check out my

Where to find the best reviews of children's books page.

I'll show you where multiple professional reviews are compiled in one place, and how to find a reviewer with tastes similar to your own.

More on Children's Book Reviews.


Current Best-Selling Children's Books

Let's be honest. When you look at current children's best-sellers, you don't know which are the new best children's books and which top the list simply on account of hype.

(Unless of course there's a current movie tie-in. Then you know it's hype.)

Then again, even if it's hype that gets your child interested in reading a book, it's still interest. And that's the thing you're trying to grow and maintain.

So here's a nice resource on which picture books are hot right now:

New York Times Best Sellers

You'll also see lists for chapters books, paperbacks and series.


Children's Book Lists

It's appealing to think that someone must publish a list of the best children's books - someone whose taste you totally agree with!

Well, there probably is someone like that. The problem is that the internet is loaded with people publishing children's book lists. Amazon alone has over 10,000 such lists!

The question becomes, "How do I find the right list?"

The answer is right here.

(Actually, that's just one answer. Another is to go to the people who blog specifically about children's books.)


There You Have It!

Of course, if these lists aren't doing it for you, return to the

Home Page.

There you can start a browsing by subject search that may lead you to the best children's books you're looking for!

New! Comments

Have your say!

Best Children's Books - Find, Read or Write home page.

Do you know enough Seuss to excel?

Great info!