Age-by-Age Guide to Classic Books Every Kid Should Read
Has your child read the classics? Check out a sampling of beloved, must-read books for babies, toddlers, children, and teens, by the likes of Louisa May Alcott, Beatrix Potter, J.R.R. Tolkien, and E.B. White. They're sure to enchant and entertain your child and live on in our libraries for generations to come. Looking for more? Use our Book Finder tool to search for new books for kids of all ages!
Ages 0-3: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin
This 40-year-old classic introduces tots to a variety of colorful animals and takes them on an adventure full of rhyming words. It will quickly become one of your child's favorite books.
Ages 0-3: Goodnight Moon by Margaret Brown
In a great green room, tucked away in bed, a little bunny says goodnight to all the familiar things that surround him. Children love this soothing rhythmic book at bedtime and beyond.
Ages 0-4: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
This is one filling read! A young caterpillar eats his way through all kinds of food before *spoiler alert* becoming a butterfly at the end of the book. This ever-popular book has been translated into more than 50 languages. Check out other great books by Eric Carle.
Ages 2-4: The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
This classic cautionary tale reminds naughty little rabbits to stay out of the neighbor's lettuce patch. Published in 1902, it was Beatrix Potter's first of 23 animal tales for children.
Ages 2-6: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
This 1964 Caldecott Medal Winner is a wild romp for both kids and adults alike. Join Max — who's wearing a wolf suit, of course — as he dreams of sailing away to a colorful world of Wild Things.
Ages 3-8: The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
Dick and Sally have the rainy day blues — until the Cat in the Hat shows up and leads them through a magical and messy adventure. On your next rainy day, check out any of Dr. Seuss's 46 zany children's books.
Ages 5-8: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Think of this heartwarming book as Philosophy 101 for kids. It's about the gift of giving and the capacity to love, told throughout the life of a boy who grows to manhood, and a tree that selflessly gives him her bounty through the years.
Ages 9-12: Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
After reading Charlotte's Web, every kid will hold a place in her heart for Wilbur the pig. Wilbur's future seems bleak when he discovers that he is destined to be the farmer's Christmas dinner — until his wise spider friend, Charlotte, decides to help him.
Ages 9-12: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
This classic page-turner introduces children to the exciting genres of mystery and fantasy. Meg Murry and her friends become involved with unearthly strangers and a search for Meg's father, who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government.
Ages 9-12: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
First published in 1868, this is one of the most beloved novels in American literature. It's a story of family ties, youthful dreams, and coming of age as four devoted sisters search for romance and find maturity in Civil War-era New England.
Ages 12-18: The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
Get drawn into Tolkien's fantastical world with this 1937 classic. Bilbo Baggins, a respectable, well-to-do hobbit, lives comfortably in his hobbit-hole until the day the wandering wizard Gandalf chooses him to share in an adventure from which he may never return.
Ages 13-18: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
When your child is ready for more mature themes like feminism, morality, and romance, pick up this 1847 novel. In early 19th-century England, an orphaned young woman accepts a job as a governess at Thornfield Hall, a country estate owned by the mysterious Mr. Rochester, and her life forever changes.
Ages 13-18: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Dive into the glitz and drama of the Jazz Age. This timeless story of Jay Gatsby and his love, Daisy Buchanan, is widely acknowledged to be the closest thing to the "Great American Novel."