Top 23+ Modern Children’s Books (2022) – A Timeless Selection
There are many great children's books out there, but which are the best of all time? This is a difficult question to answer even for a parent, as different people have different opinions.
In the last years we found several engaging and great children's books that entertain us about the world beyond the walls of our home:
- Calm sleep stories
- Children's adventure stories
- Children's fantasy stories (like dragon books for kids)
- Children's books with moral
- Children's books about school
- Children's growing up books
- Teaching compassion, values or kindness books for early readers
- Children's books on diversity
- Children's books for occasions (like books about Tooth Fairy)
- Potty training books for small children
- Holiday stories (like children's Halloween books)
- Children's scary or ghost stories
- Activity books (like dance books)
- Children's books for multilingual families (like French children's books)
Finding a book for children can be challenging because there are so many categories. When it comes to kids under nine years old, make sure the book has lots of pictures. When it comes to those aged nine to twelve, you might want more story and adventure.
We've compiled a list of some of the most beloved children's books ever written, and they're sure to be enjoyed by readers of all ages!
What are the best children's books of all time?
Charlotte’s Web, by E. B White (1952)
Charlotte’s Web is written in a tender way to talk about the issues of friendships that have no boundaries, life, love, and death. These are things we go through at some point in life, and they have been well illustrated for kids to understand.
Charlotte, the spider in the book, has a web in Zuckerman’s barn where she has words that describe Wilbur, her pig friend. She says Wilbur is humble and radiant.
The web not only tells Charlotte’s feelings for Wilbur, who needs a friend, but the words also talk about Fern. After being born, Fern saved Wilbur as the most miniature pig in his litter.
A Tiger Like Me, by Michael Engler (2019)
A storytelling of a small cute “tiger”. He tells about his day, what he likes or don't and the most important person's in his life tiger-dad and tiger-mom.
This is a story of kindness and shows how adventurous our life could be with a “tiger”.
Children's enjoy doing role playing animals, I'm almost sure every parent could get a tiger costume from H&M to start their home savannah adventure.
The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1943)
The Little Prince talks about a young boy- the Little Prince, as he travels in space.
A pilot encounters him after crashing into the Sahara Desert. The Little Prince has come from his home on a distant and lonely asteroid with one rose.
He asks the pilot to draw him a sheep and then tells him about his life. The Little Prince will also have experiences with a fox who will teach him to see more with his heart than eyes.
The book shows readers the importance of finding meaning in different things, looking deeper to establish fundamental truths, and meditating on human nature.
Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren (1945)
This book is about a little girl who has adventures that illustrate how one can be strong physically and character-wise regardless of who they are. Pippi is an excellent role model for children. She can be mischievous at times but is kind and loyal to her friends.
Pippi Longstocking is the new neighbor to Tommy and Annika. She has no parents to control her or tell her what she needs to do, has crazy red pigtails, and a pet monkey Mr. Nilsson.
Her flair for unrestrained things always seems to steer her into various adventures, whether cleaning the floors, in a tea party, or doing arithmetic.
The Somerset Tsunami, by Emma Carroll (2019)
The Somerset Tsunami is a piece of historical fiction that Emma Carroll's fans are already used to. Basically, you have a book based on the real events that smashed Somerset in the 1600s.
Whether it comes to floods or witch trials, the action jumps from one story to another so fast that your kid will barely be able to put the book down.
The adventure is female lead and also works as a motivational tool for less confident girls.
The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats (1962)
The Snowy Day depicts a child’s wonder and point of view at a new world and his hope of capturing the wonder. He hopes he can keep the wonder forever. The book’s message is that kids need to learn some things when young- we have some shared feelings, we are equally human, and we also have shared disappointments and joys.
A small boy named Peter puts on his snowsuit and goes out of the house. He finds this new world very inviting and enjoys being outside for the rest of his day. To Peter, this discovery is mysterious and one he doesn’t understand, but he loves the experience.
Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson (1955)
Harold decides to walk in the moonlight one evening. He has an oversized purple crayon which he uses to draw an exciting and wonderful landscape. The images Harold draws express his life experiences.
He will use the crayon to create different places. He will travel through the woods, across seas, and go past dragons. After the walk, he safely goes back to bed.
Harold and the Purple Crayon is a story that shows children how powerful imagination is and how far it can take someone. It is also full of funny twists and surprises that your young one will immensely enjoy.
Prairie Lotus, by Linda Sue Park (2022)
This is a touching and powerful story about a firmly resolved girl to realize her dreams and fit in. She is focused on getting an education in a one-room schoolhouse, working as a dressmaker in her dad’s shop, and wants a friend.
Hanna has to adjust to her new environment in 1880 America. To adjust, she must get involved in town negotiations about Asian prejudice. Through it all, Hanna will remain composed and remind herself of what her mother taught her.
Prairie Lotus offers readers an essential lesson that trials are part of life and breeds hope and the encouragement to strive and triumph.
Wish, by Barbra O’Connor (2017)
Since fourth grade, Charlie Reese has had a secret wish. She has also come up with a list of how to make the wish. But Charlie has to go to North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. She is to start living with a new family.
It appears as if her wish will never come true, but then she meets Howard, her boy neighbor, and Wishbone, a stray dog she likes.
Charlie gets into sudden danger and discovers that what she needs is probably not what she initially wanted. With the help of her uncle and aunt, Howard, and Wishbone, Charlie will learn a new meaning of family in unexpected places.
The Secret Lake, by Karen Inglis (2011)
Stella and Tom move to a new home in London, but they become mystified after Harry, their neighbor’s dog, disappears. Where does he go, and why does he keep coming back wet?
Over the summer, the two siblings will be on a quest to solve this riddle. The quest will eventually lead to a boat buried in a grassy mound then a tunnel will take them to a hidden lake.
Stella and Tom will time travel back to their home almost ten decades earlier. They will make friends and enemies and discover astonishing connections between the present and the past.
Room on the Broom, by Julia Donaldson (2001)
This is a story of friendship, inclusivity, and quick wits, and it illustrates kindness.
The book features a witch and her cat friend who are flying happily on a broomstick. But then the wind blows and takes away the witch’s items. First, it is her hat, then her bow and wand follow.
Three animals will find the witch’s missing items, but they want something in return- to be offered a ride on the witch’s broom. But does it have enough room for all of them? And when they face a hungry dragon, can they help protect the generous witch from the disaster?
Reach for the Stars, by Emily Calandrelli (2022)
Reach for the Stars is a children’s book that provides valuable lessons about celebrating love and shared discoveries. It will encourage kids to do better and work toward reaching more significant goals. They will see how positivity can breed success.
After birth, humans are always reaching out. We reach out to loved ones for experiences, knowledge, and dreams and need others to feel inspired and uplifted.
The book follows a young child’s soaring story with a narrative that shows the role a parent plays in their journey into adulthood and after the child eventually leaves. It is not specific about the caregiver, making it applicable to all family types.
Anxious Ninja, by Mary Nhin (2020)
This book talks about anxiety in children using a comedic approach. Life is challenging, and it is even more difficult for children. Most of the time, they try to figure things out by themselves, and that’s when they become anxious. But Anxious Ninja helps by explaining to them what this feeling is.
Difficult emotions paralyze Anxious Ninja. He wins almost all races, but he starts to worry about failure when the big day comes, losing confidence. Then a friend comes to his rescue.
The book cultivates self-confidence, promotes a problem-solving mindset, and helps them handle difficult emotions. They will be prepared for even more significant challenges.
Mindful Monster, by Elisa Anderson (2021)
Kindness is a human virtue we must teach our children. Often, we get caught up in ourselves and are not mindful of how we treat other people. But sadly enough, that can still apply to kids.
Being compassionate to fellow humans should be a natural virtue, but we mainly focus on ourselves. We become “Big Red Monsters”, scaring people away because of our vile attitudes.
It is primarily a result of issues we haven’t dealt with yet that we block the pathways that enable compassion flow. But we can practice mindful techniques to “unblock” the pathway and treat others kindly.
Are You My Mother?, by P.D. Eastman (1960)
The book sends out a message about a mother and their child’s bond. It talks about a baby bird searching for its mother.
When a mother bird’s egg starts jumping, she is in a hurry to ensure that her little one has something to eat. The moment she goes, the baby bird pops out, and that’s when he starts his search, but he doesn’t know what she looks like.
He is determined to find her despite him being unable to fly. He will meet a hen, dog, kitten, and snort along his journey. Every time, he must keep asking everyone if they are his mother.
Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry (1989)
Number the Stars is more of today’s illustration of historical fiction. Readers read the story of ten-year-old Annemarie’s experience, and they will come to make out the true meaning of bravery.
German troops start a campaign about “relocating” the Denmark Jews. Annemarie’s family takes in Ellen Rosen and hides her as a family member. Readers get to see how the Danish Resistance snuggles thousands of the Jewish population to Sweden.
However, the entire nation’s heroism is a reminder that there is still human decency even in the midst of war and terror. The book is an excellent way to appropriately introduce its readers to war terrors and how they can be of help.
Big Shark, Little Shark, by Anna Membrino (2021)
Big Shark, Little Shark, is a book for young kids who are beginning to read and ideal for those who are struggling. The book is about two sharks who are complete opposites.
Big Shark has enormous teeth, while Little Shark has tiny teeth. Big Shark also swims faster, but Little Shark is relatively slow.
They are both hungry but can both of them find a tasty snack? Little Shark hopes that he won’t turn out to be Big Shark’s fast food.
The pages have few repetitive words, and children will find it easier to learn because of their constant recognition. They will learn simple words and progress to more complex ones.
Kindergarten, Here I Come, by D.J. Steinberg (2012)
Once you enroll your child in kindergarten, that is a mark for them. But there are many milestones and moments that many kindergarteners get to share.
Experiences like first-day jitters, recess, fostering relationships, and celebration parties have been analyzed in a way children can easily understand. This book describes each of the discussed aspects with freestanding and fun poems and charming illustrations.
This is not a book about the first day only. It is about what they will encounter as they progress through the year. It will help you as a parent prepare your child for the transition as you guide them further on what kindergarten is about.
Trying, by Kobi Yamada (2020)
How can a child know about life’s possibilities if they don’t even try?
This story will be relatable to any child who has ever had doubts when starting something or those who have felt they are not good enough. Those who have gone through the pain of getting into new trials and failing will also relate to it.
Trying illustrates to young ones that failure is simply the beginning of most life experiences, and it is not necessarily a bad thing. Failure has a lot to offer, and it fosters valuable lessons that will help them discover what they are capable of and help them grow.
It is through failure that they can become better and do amazing things.
The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn (2020)
The Kissing Hand is an excellent book to help teach children about times of separation, especially when starting school. It can be a challenging moment, but it shows them that their parents will always be there to help them through the journey.
School is beginning in the forest, and a mother raccoon and her baby are getting separated for the first time. Chester Raccoon is reluctant to go, but Mrs. Racoon eases Chester’s fears by sharing the Kissing Hand's family secret.
She intends to reassure Chester that she will always love him even when his world seems scary.
A Most Peculiar Toy Factory, by Alex Bell (2019)
Suitable for kids older than nine, Alex Bell's book tells an amazing story. Readers are introduced to a local toy factory that had to be closed. Some of the toys came to life and became aggressive, attacking children.
Five years later, the factory is ready to face another adventure.
All in all, this story is not just full of suspense, but it also brings in a bit of macabre humor and adventure.
Deeplight, by Frances Hardinge (2019)
Deeplight is one of the best children's books 2019 according to reviews and critics. It tells the story of Jelt and Hark – two best friends trying to find magic in any form on a small island.
While it looks like a classic adventure for kids, there are a few twists that can even hook adults in.
The book is suitable for kids older than ten – especially those who love a bit of suspense and adventure.
White Fox, by Chen Jiatong (2019)
This is the first book of Chinese White Fox series.
Chen Jiatong's White Fox is a story of everything. It is excellent for kids who love animals, as well as those who need some education on nature and conservation. All in all, the book follows Dilah – a white fox cub that faces a tragedy and decides to become human.
The reader will follow the cub's adventure in a story full of friendship ideas and conservation issues.
We Are the Beaker Girls, by Jacqueline Wilson (2019)
Your kid will love this book, which tends to become even better if your little one will read My Mum Tracy Beaker by the same author first.
The book is a sequel to the original release. While reading the first one is not a must, it will help. It is covered in all kinds of everyday issues dealt with in a funny and sarcastic way. It is not the actual story that makes the difference, but the way Jacqueline Wilson tells it, making this title one of the best children's books suitable for kids aged eight or older.
Final thoughts on The Most Engaging Children's Books
Bottom line, kids are not too picky when it comes to books, but they love great stories. If you can stimulate their imagination or help them learn something, you have done well. These are the best children's books and can seriously hook your little one in.
If you are looking books for young adult readers, check out our favorite selection of YA book series.
My profession is online marketing and development (10+ years experience), check my latest mobile app called Upcoming. But my real passion is reading books both fiction and non-fiction. I have several favorite authors like James Redfield or Daniel Keyes. If I read a book I always want to find the best part of it, every book has it's unique value.