Our Favorite Children's Stories

Thursday, April 24, 2014

children's books library reading Almost everyone has a favorite children's book (Copyright: Tyler Olson/Shutterstock)

For kids and their parents, bedtime often starts with a few books. Elizabeth Bird, a Youth Materials Specialist from the New York Public Library, talks about some of our favorite classic story books and some of the popular newcomers. 

Tell us: what was your favorite book as a child? What books were you excited to share with your own kids? Which books do your kids want to read over and over again?

A lot of books that are favorites today, like Goodnight Moon, were not hits when they were first published. 

Callers shared some of their favorites:

  • Dandelion by Don Freeman
  • Thank You Bear by Greg Foley
  • The Robot and the Bluebird by David Lucas

Helen called us to share that her son insisted every night that she read the Fire Department's diversity enrollment brochure, including the pages about the pension and health benefits.

Our librarian also shared three book recommendations of her own:

  • Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle
  • Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales
  • Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown


Elizabeth Bird

Comments [28]

Amy from San Dimas

The Little Girl Story, published by Hallmark in 1970, resonated with both me as a child AND my daughter. It's out of print and collectible now, which is a shame, because the least expensive copy I can find is $35. Good thing I still have mine!

Apr. 25 2014 11:57 AM

"When We Were Very Young" and "Now We Are Six," poems by A.A.Milne. I can still (I'm 55) hear my father's voice (he's 91) reading to me when I read them on my own! My father did more of the books-at-bed reading aloud than my mother did, though we are all voracious readers.

Apr. 25 2014 08:58 AM
once a NYer, always a NYer from St. John's, Newfoundland these days

This is New York
This is London
This is Paris

and much more recently (just came across it, and it is beautiful!), This is Hong Kong

large format books of paintings by Czech artist Miroslav Sasek, originally published in the 1960s. They are wonderful depictions of life in cities around the world. Of course having grown up on the upper west side, This is New York has my loyalty. But having repeatedly read and looked at the London and Paris ones contributed, I am sure, to my lifelong interest in travel.

Apr. 25 2014 07:03 AM
VLE from manhattan

Being the 7th of 8 kids I don't remember having many bedtime readings by my parents! I do remember vividly reading and loving an encyclopedia series we had called Childcraft which had poems and stories that, I think, created a lifelong love of reading in me. When I had my son, I wanted to instill that same love and read to him every night. We read all the usual classics but one that I had never heard of before and I thought was great was Sylvia Plath's "Bed Book". It described a list of fanciful beds that one could have - and was so wonderfully imaginative and fun. I definitely recommend it. Oh - and my son, now 20 - went through a "no reading' period in his teen-age years, now says he loves reading.

Apr. 24 2014 07:59 PM
laura miller from North Bergen

Palmer Brown's The Silver Nutmeg was a childhood favorite, and has just come back in print. I brought a copy with me on a trip to India to visit my husband's family, and it was a godsend when my then eight-year-old niece and I found ourselves with lots of idle time while everyone else was busy gossiping, planning, etc. We took turns reading it aloud to one another, and she liked it so much, I gave her my copy. She later told me she read it all over again once she got home. A wonderful adventure story with a delightful heroine. (The Silver Nutmeg is also good.)

Apr. 24 2014 06:11 PM
Jennifer from Manhattan

"Oddhopper Opera: A Bug's Garden of Verses," by Kurt Cyrus. A year in the life of a garden, told by poetic bugs, with delightful illustrations.

Apr. 24 2014 03:07 PM

Alan, I think you mean William Steig, not Steiger. And I agree, he's a wonderful children's author and illustrator! "Dr. DeSoto," "Amos & Boris," and so many other great books.

Apr. 24 2014 02:15 PM

I just love all the books by David Wiesner. Wonderful, fantastical illustrations and very few words. So much fun for parents and children to imagine what's happening and make personal comments along the way. His stories can be enjoyed on so many levels and he is a master illustrator - each page a work of art.

Apr. 24 2014 01:34 PM
Skip from NJ

Did anyone catch the title and author of the book recommended by the second Jessica who called in, from Montclair? It sounded wonderful but I didn't catch the name or the title. I'd love to know.

Apr. 24 2014 01:28 PM
Sam from Manhattan

Love, love, love the hilarious, fabulously-rhymed "Mary Had a Little Lamp," by Jack Lechner, with terrific illustrations by the prolific and ingenious Bob Staake. Came out a few years ago. My daughter wanted it read over and over and over again and it's such a fun and funny book that I didn't mind doing so one bit. (An added bonus is the hysterical back cover, with "blurbs" from other nursery rhyme characters.) We're hoping this author comes out with another picture book soon.

Apr. 24 2014 01:25 PM
Micky from NYC

With feeling and drama, I read my children greek myths and the Highwayman a long poem by Noyes.

Apr. 24 2014 01:23 PM
Hazel from Manhattan

Loved "The Little Engine That Could."

Apr. 24 2014 01:21 PM
Jennifer from NYC

"This Little Piggy" by Tim Harrington best new book! great illustrations and so funny.

Apr. 24 2014 01:20 PM
SamBrown from Michoacan, Mexico

I know some of the books talked about so far, who hasn't read "Goodnight Moon" to their children, but I feel so bad about having "Green Eggs and Ham" as a favorite! Is that the 'Nancy Drew' of children's books? Oh well, it worked out alright, both of my kids are literate book lovers.

Apr. 24 2014 01:20 PM
Lara from Brooklyn, NY

Ferdinand the Bull!

Apr. 24 2014 01:20 PM
Alan from Manhattan

William Steiger is one of the most profound children's' authors. He poses serious moral problems for children

Apr. 24 2014 01:20 PM
adrienne from Bloomfield, NJ

When i was younger, I loved "The Monster at the End of The Book." It is a Little Golden book featuring Grover from Sesame Street. The best part was my father reading in the voice of Grover.

As i got a little older, my father read me Rudyard Kipling's "Just So Stories." I was enthralled by these off-beat tales of creation and consequence like "How the Elephant Got His Trunk" and "The Cat That Walked By Himself."

Apr. 24 2014 01:19 PM
Andrea from Philadelphia

Oh, and Babar!

Apr. 24 2014 01:19 PM
Andrea from Philadelphia

My favorites as a kid were anything by Dr. Seuss, The Five Chinese Brothers, Ferdinand the Bull, Stone Soup and, yes, Caps for Sale.

Apr. 24 2014 01:17 PM
Elaine from Baltimore

Another Maira Kalman - Max in Love Ooh-La-La... read in a french accent.

Apr. 24 2014 01:16 PM
Marie from NJ

The Little Engine Who Could is my least favorite, it's tedious and the illustrations jarring. I hide it if possible.

One of my favorites is The Best Pet of All by LaRochelle. Little boy wants a dog but gets a dragon, who is a lot more work.

Apr. 24 2014 01:12 PM
Amy from West Orange

I failed miserably with Little Women and Anne of Green Gables, but my daughter loved The Phantom Tollbooth.

Apr. 24 2014 01:01 PM
Tate from Alabama from Birmingham, AL

My mother always read to us at bedtime. A favorite was a book from her own childhood, "No Children.. No Pets". The story of a widow and her children who inherit an apartment building in Florida. They encounter zany characters and have adventures including a hurricane. It was a gem of a book that most people have never heard of.

Apr. 24 2014 12:45 PM

My favorite was "Is Your Mama a Llama?" It rhymed and had lots of animals. Many great memories reading that book and having it read to me.

Apr. 24 2014 12:43 PM
Penelope from Astoria

Please ask about the use of rhymes in children's stories and poems :)

Apr. 24 2014 12:33 PM

Best story! Anne of Green Gables

Apr. 24 2014 12:19 PM
Amy from Prospect Heights

My Grandfather read "Ferdinand the Bull" to my mother, she read it to me, and when I have kids I'll read it to them.
We read "Little Women" as a family, but had to stop when (SPOILER ALERT!) my sister Beth realized that the character Beth was going to die.

Apr. 24 2014 12:09 PM
Penelope from Astoria

"Little Bear"
"Five Monkeys Jumping on the Bed"
"The Lorax"
"Caps for Sale"
"Princess Penelope"
"The Story of Ferdinand"
"Where the Wild Things Are"
"Are You My Mother?"
and many more :)

I like books with rhythm and poetry that mom enjoys reading over and over (like singing a great song). I enjoy books with illustrations made by the human hand (rather than the computer).

Apr. 24 2014 11:28 AM

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