best books for kids by teachers

Top 100: Best Books for Kids by Teachers (for ages 2-18)

Teachers Pick Best Books for Kids

This list, created in 1999 by The National Education Association, is the “All Time Greatest Hits” of children’s literature created by teachers.  There is also a Top 100  list created by children and strangely, many of the books are the same!  The original list is 1-100 with all the books in numerical order by votes but I have broken out the list by category types:  Picture Books, All Ages, Chapter Books (grades 3-6) and Young Adult. 

Use this list for summer reading or year around reading.  I like to use lists beyond what my school or local library passes out at the end of the year because the books tend to be on the shelves during the summer library rush. I updated the post by adding an image of the book that also links to Amazon but you can find these books at your library. I loved going through the list again; so many of my and my kids’ favorite books are here. And there are still a few that we’ve haven’t read! This is the summer to polish off the list!! (here’s hoping!). What books from this list are your favorites?

Top 100:  Teacher Pick, Picture Book

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg (4–8 years)

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss (4–8 years)

The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss (4–8 years)

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (4–8 years)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (Baby–Preschool)

Love You Forever by Robert N. Munsch (4–8 years)

The Mitten by Jan Brett (4–8 years)

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (Baby–Preschool)

Stellaluna by Janell Cannon (4–8 years)

Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss (4–8 years)

Strega Nona by Tomie De Paola (4–8 years)

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst (4–8 years)

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? by Bill Martin, Jr. (Baby–Preschool)

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams (4–8 years)

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss (4–8 years)

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka (4–8 years)

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault (4–8 years)

The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne (4–8 years)

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff (4–8 years)

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss (4–8 years)

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister (Baby–Preschool)

Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman (4–8 years)

Corduroy by Don Freeman (Baby–Preschool)

Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg (4–8 years)

Math Curse by Jon Scieszka (4–8 years)

Are You My Mother? by Philip D. Eastman (4–8 years)

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey (4–8 years)

One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss (4–8 years)

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (Baby–Preschool)

The Napping House by Audrey Wood (4–8 years)

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig (4–8 years)

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (4–8 years)

Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss (4–8 years)

Basil of Baker Street by Eve Titus (4–8 years)

The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper (4–8 years)

Curious George by Hans Augusto Rey (4–8 years)

Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox (4–8 years)

Arthur series by Marc Tolon Brown (4–8 years)

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes (4–8 years)

The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton (4–8 years)

The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown (Baby–Preschool)

Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish (4–8 years)

The Art Lesson by Tomie De Paola (4–8 years)

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina (4–8 years)

Clifford, the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell (4–8 years)

Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss (4–8 years)

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney (Baby–Preschool)

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert N. Munsch (4–8 years)

Top 100:  Teacher Pick, All Ages

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (All ages)

Where the Sidewalk Ends: the Poems and Drawings of Shel Silverstein byShel Silverstein (All ages)

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (All ages)

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (All ages)

Heidi by Johanna Spyri (All ages)

Top 100:  Teacher Pick, Chapter Books(Grades 3-6)

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (ages 9-12)

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen (9–12 years)

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis (9–12 years)

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (9–12 years)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (9–12 years)

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (9–15 years)

Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (9–12 years)

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (9–12 years)

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (9–12 years)

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner (9–12 years)

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan (9–12 years)

Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks (9–12 years)

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell (9–12 years)

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli (9–12 years)

The BFG by Roald Dahl (9–12 years)

The Giver by Lois Lowry (9–12 years)

James and the Giant Peach: A Children’s Story by Roald Dahl (9–12 years)

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (9–12 years)

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (9–12 years)

Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner (9–12 years)

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (9–12 years)

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O’Brien (9–12 years)

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson (9–12 years)

Matilda by Roald Dahl (9–12 years)

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume (9–12 years)

Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary (9–12 years)

The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White (9–12 years)

The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (9–12 years)

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (9–12 years)

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt (9–12 years)

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery (9–12 years)

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson (9–12 years)

Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder (9–12 years)

Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar (9–12 years)

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh (9–12 years)

A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein (9–12 years)

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater (9–12 years)

My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett (9–12 years)

Stuart Little by E. B. White (9–12 years)

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (9–12 years)

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (9–12 years)

The Watsons Go to Birmingham–1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis (9–12 years)

Top 100:  Teacher Pick, YA (Young Adult)

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls (Young Adult)

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien (Young Adult)

Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls (Young Adult)

The Cay by Theodore Taylor (Young Adult)

The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare (Young Adult)


Source: National Education Association (NEA). Web:

To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. JP

    Someone left off “The Book That Eats People” again.

    What’s with you guys?

  2. Thanks for posting this… I need all the suggestions I can get considering I have 5 of my own to keep busy this summer along with my daycare kids!!

  3. Read Aloud Dad

    Lovely list as always! Thanks!

    Read Aloud Dad

    • To Read Aloud Dad,
      Thank you but I can’t take credit for this list. A bunch of teachers voted and this was their list. I found it online and just added links. I like to see the book covers as it’s easier to recognize the book at the library.

  4. Great list! I always wonder how they decide which Dr. Seuss book to pick first. It’s easier with Shel Silverstein because The Giving Tree Rocks!

    • To Easy IEP Help,
      I think the results are based on number of votes per book. I would have trouble ranking the Dr. Sues books too; there are so many good ones. I’m glad you like the list but I can’t take credit for it.

  5. Kim

    The picture for Horton Hatches and Egg looks like it’s for Horton Hears a Who!

    I’m pleased to see I know about 90% of them.


    • To Kim,
      Oops. Sorry about that. I will fix that. I think the only image I could find on Amazon was a compendium of Dr. Suess books. Horton Hatches an Egg is in this book but not on the cover. I promise to update as soon as the book is available on Amazon. Thank you for catching that!

  6. Laurie

    wonderful books but yikes, I read most of them when I was young and I’m now56 years old. How about some Mo Willems or Kate DiCamillo? There are wonderful new books out there, I would love to see some on the list.

  7. They went with the “older” books because this is an older list! It was written in 1999, 12 years ago, so the kids’ books you’re mentioning hadn’t been written yet. 🙂

    These are almost all winners in my book, but I agree. There are oodles of equally good and more current stories too.

    Quality children’s books, like good adult literature, never really goes out of style. They just scoot over and leave more room on the shelf! 🙂

    • To Paula,
      Ahhhh…. That makes sense. Someone should survey teachers again and get a newer Top 100 list. Hmmm…. If I can figure out the technicalities of how to do online, I will try.

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