The New York Public Library’s 100 greatest children’s books of the past 100 years

The New York Public Library’s 100 greatest children’s books of the past 100 years

I think I’ve read 68 of the books on the list. It might be more, but if I’ve read the ones I’ve crossed out, then I’ve since forgotten.

I bolded the books that would definitely be on my top 100. Some day I might write up my own list. There are a bunch that didn’t make it here. Though I find the mix of picture books and novels to rather confuse the issue.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Ray Cruz (1972)

All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor, illustrated by Helen John (1951)

Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish, illustrated by Fritz Siebel (1963)

The Arrival by Shaun Tan (2007)

Bark, George by Jules Feiffer (1999)

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo (2000)
(on my shelf)

Ben’s Trumpet by Rachel Isadora (1979)

Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan, illustrated by Sophie Blackall (2010)

The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich (1999)

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander (1964)

The Borrowers by Mary Norton, illustrated by Beth Krush and Joe Krush (1953)

The Bossy Gallito/El Gallo De Bodas: A Traditional Cuban Folktale by Lucía M. González, illustrated by Lulu Delacre (1994)

Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Lillian Hoban (1964)

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (1977)

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr., illustrated by Eric Carle (1967)

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina (1938)

The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss (1957)

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson (2008)

A Chair For My Mother by Vera B. Williams (1982)

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, illustrated by Garth Williams (1952)

Chato’s Kitchen by Gary Soto, illustrated by Susan Guevara (1995)

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr., and John Archambault; illustrated by Lois Ehlert (1989)

Corduroy by Don Freeman (1976)

Curious George by H.A. Rey (1941)

D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths by Ingri D’Aulaire and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire (1962)

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems (2003)

Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan (2000)

Freight Train by Donald Crews (1978)

Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel (1970)

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg (1967) (on my shelf)

George and Martha by James Marshall (1972)

The Giver by Lois Lowry (1993)

Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman (1961)

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd (1947)

Grandfather’s Journey
by Allen Say (1993)

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Dave McKean (2008) (on my shelf)

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss (1960)

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson (1955)

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh (1964)
(I don’t think I’ve read it.)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (1998)

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen (1989)

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (1937)

Holes by Louis Sachar (1998)

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (2007)

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback (1999)

Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg (1981)

Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book by Yuyi Morales (2003)

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes (1996)

The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney (2009)

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (1950)

The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton (1942)

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1943)

Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson (2003)

Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story From China by Ed Young (1989)

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans (1939)

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey (1941)

Matilda by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake (1988)

Meet Danitra Brown by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Floyd Cooper (1994)

Millions of Cats by Wanda Gág (1928)

Miss Nelson is Missing! by Harry Allard, illustrated by James Marshall (1977)

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater; illustrated by Robert Lawson (1938)

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien (1971)

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale by John Steptoe (1987)

My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett, illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett (1948)

My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits, illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska (2003)

Olivia by Ian Falconer (2000)

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia (2010)

The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales by Virginia Hamilton, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon (1985)

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, illustrated by Jules Feiffer (1961)

Pierre: A Cautionary Tale in Five Chapters and a Prologue by Maurice Sendak (1962)

Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco (1994)

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren (1950)

Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary (1968)

Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins, illustrated by Jamie Hogan (2007)

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (1976)

Rumpelstiltskin by Paul O. Zelinsky (1986)

A Sick Day for Amos MCGee by Philip Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead (2010)

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (1962)

Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin (2012)

The Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron, illustrated by Ann Strugnell (1981)

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson (1936)

Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola (1975)

Swimmy by Leo Lionni (1963)

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig (1969)

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume (1972)

The Tales of Uncle Remus: The Adventures of Brer Rabbit by Julius Lester, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney (1987)

Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold (1991)

Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang (1983)

Tomie dePaola’s Mother Goose by Tomie dePaola (1985)

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith (1989)

Tuesday by David Wiesner (1991)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (1969)

The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis (1995)

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (1978)

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (2009)

Where Is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox, illustrated by Judy Horacek (2004)

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (1963)

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears by Verna Aardema, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon (1975)

Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne, illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard (1926)

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (1962)

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  • So many of my top picture book choices were not in the NY Public Library’s list! For a start, I can’t imagine having a baby without (ideally, a complete set of) Beatrix Potter to hand…! The books are the perfect size for little hands and the language is so lovely eg the sparrows implored Peter to exert himself. Here’s my list of beloved books (though I’ll probably wake up tonight thinking how could I have forgotten…)
    Peter Rabbit -Beatrix Potter
    Winnie the Pooh- A A Milne
    Wind in the Willows -Kenneth Greene
    Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s dairy – Lynley Dodd
    Slinki Malinki                   ”        ”
    Ping- Majorie Flack
    Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel- Virginia Lee Burton
    Harry the dirty dog- Gene Zion
    The red balloon- Albert Lamorisse
    Charley, Charlotte and the golden canary- Charles Keeping
    Dogger -Shirley Hughes
    Alfie and Annie Rose, also Lucy and Tom series’ “ “
    Each peach, pear, plum- Janet and Alan Ahlberg
    Peepo! ” ”
    The lighthouse keeper’s lunch- Rhonda and David Armitage
    The little yellow digger- Betty and Alan Gilderdale
    The tiger who came to tea- Judith Kerr
    Mommy, buy me a china doll- Harve Zemah
    The fierce little woman and the wicked pirate- Joy Cowley
    The duck in the gun  ”   ”
    A summery, Saturday morning- Margaret Mahy
    Dashing dog ”     ”
    The quiltmaker’s gift- Jeff Brumbeau
    The clown of God- Tomie De Paola
    The Mousehole cat- Antonia Barber
    Katie Morag series- Mairi Hedderwick
    Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge- Mem Fox
    Sunshine -Jan Ormerod
    The runaway bunny- Margaret Wise Brown
    The snowman- Raymond Briggs
    Dear zoo- Rod Campbell
    Madeline (series) -Lugwig Bemelmans
    Millions of Cats -Wanda Gag
    The story of Ferdinand- Munro Leaf
    Where the wild things are- Maurice Sendak
    The very hungry caterpillar- Eric Carle
    Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see? -Bill Martin
    The cat in the hat-Dr Suess

    And before picture books, nursery rhymes.

    • Stephanie,

      I think Beatrix Potter and The Wind in the Willows and Winnie the Pooh miss the 100 years cut off mark. They’re too old.

      But I agree that they’d be on my list of must-have books.

  • The mix of ages is confusing, and limits the number of picture books.

    But. No “Oz”? They are not all over 100 years old.

    No “Little House”?


    A few too many politically correct. And “The Giver” is a dark and depressing YA novel.

    “Hugo Cabret” is LONG – much too long for children.

    At least they left “Harry Potter” off the list.