Have you ever just wanted to go back to the days of being a kid? The children’s books we loved growing up helped make us who we are today, and still hold a special place in our hearts. So dust off your nostalgia goggles and join us as we reminisce about our favorite picture books, kid lit, and novels for young readers — and better yet, share a few of these great books with the kids in your life!
I remember going to my local library branch when I was a kid, and just about every time I was there, I would pick out a book by Shel Silverstein to check out. My favorite was (and still is) Where the Sidewalk Ends. There was even a point when I could flip to any page and recite the poems by heart!
Remember school book fairs? I’m pretty sure that’s how I discovered “The Boxcar Children” series, which follows the adventures of four orphaned kids who solve mysteries. This is the first series I remember picking up on my own outside of required reading at school, and I was OBSESSED.
The Tickleoctopus by Audrey Wood and Don Wood
This is such a goofy, funny book that still makes me giggle today when I read it to my daughter. I remember my parents always suggesting this one when it came time to pick a book at bedtime. A family in prehistoric times encounters a mysterious creature that results in guffaws all around!
In this book, a little mouse named Frederick daydreams as his family builds up stores for the long winter ahead, and I vividly remember being confused when I read this book as a child as to why the other mice didn’t get mad at Frederick for not pulling his weight. But now that I’m older, I understand the value that art and thinkers add to society, and hope that I can balance both of these in my life!
I’m still low-key obsessed with these and kind of want to reread them as an adult. The books tell the stories of small animals living in an Abbey and fighting battles against evil threatening to overtake them. The worlds expand as the books continue, adding even more characters and settings to love with every new installment. Plus the detailed descriptions of the feasts were enough to make anyone want to join in.
These books were a perfect fit for me as a kid — a truly weird little series for the truly weird child that I was. A little redheaded girl with crazy pigtails lives in a wonky house with her horse and monkey and makes friends with the kids next door. She has a wild imagination and no respect for boring adults or clothing. Every kid’s dream, right?
I was (and still am) a huge animal lover, so any books with animals in them and I was hooked. The series is literally about a talking dog and his sidekick solving mysteries around a West Texas ranch — I mean, can it get any better than that?
When I was young, I loved these short, funny poems with their quirky illustrations and catchy rhyme schemes. I still enjoy picking this one up, and now that I’m older, I find new meanings and nuance in so many of his poems that I didn’t catch as a child.
This book holds a special place in my heart, and I believe it’s the origin of the now-ubiquitous phrase “I love you to the moon and back”! It’s the affectionate story of the Nutbrown Hares as they attempt to communicate their immeasurable love through metaphors. I always remember the story as being about a mama bunny and a baby bunny, because my mom read this story to me when I was a child. But recently, I realized that the hares are actually only referred to as “Big Nutbrown Hare” and “Little Nutbrown Hare,” making this a perfect book for any kind of guardian to share with their little one.
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
It’s my philosophy that the best children’s books have bunnies in them — Peter Rabbit, anyone? — and here’s another great pick! An adorable and heartfelt story of a toy rabbit who wants to become “real” through the love of its owner. A classic tale that remains a touching read no matter how old the reader.
I remember one of my elementary school teachers reading this book aloud to our class, and it was my absolute favorite time in the school day. Babbitt’s story explores the concept of immortality and all of the good and bad effects of living forever. Fair warning that this book will probably make you cry, but it will be worth it.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
This little novella is as charming as it is open to interpretation. Despite being dressed up like a picture book, it comes with some advanced concepts that may be more suitable for older readers. Of course I love the famous “snake that swallowed an elephant” drawing and it’s not-so-subtle diss at grownups, and to this day, I’m still trying to figure out what to think of that one unique rose.
Rachel Hutching, Digital Marketing Strategist
My dad used to read this to me when I was little and I loved how with each page, the scene on the street got more and more ridiculous. The illustrations really made the book. Every time I pass a street with that name I think of my dad and this book.
The “Nancy Drew” Series by Carolyn Keene
I read pretty much every book in this series while I was in elementary school and I still go back and read some of them when I’m feeling nostalgic. I loved that there was a strong female protagonist I could look up to. She was smart, brave, and quick-witted. I also just love a good mystery and these books had really diverse and interesting plots. This series is probably where my love of reading for fun began.
Chelsea Apple, Content Creator
I remember being obsessed with the idea that a farm could grow balloons (something I sincerely hoped could happen when I was a kid)! The fun story, bright clean lines and stylized illustrations, and an eccentric dancing farmer make this one a winner.
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe
I loved fairytale retellings as a kid (still do!) and this retelling of Cinderella was one of my favorites. I’m still in love with the beautiful, detailed illustrations; John Steptoe’s gorgeous textures and lighting help bring this story vividly to life.
The Iron Ring by Lloyd Alexander
Were you even a 90s nerd if you didn’t read Lloyd Alexander? This tightly woven, mythical tale about an arrogant prince on a journey to repay a debt was a perennial re-read when I was growing up. Pretty sure I still have a copy somewhere.
A former award-winning journalist with national exposure, Marissa now oversees the day-to-day operation of the Books Forward author branding and book marketing firm, along with our indie publishing support sister company Books Fluent.
Born and bred in Louisiana, currently living in New Orleans, she has lived and developed a strong base for our company and authors in Chicago and Nashville. Her journalism work has appeared in USA Today, National Geographic and other major publications. She is now interviewed by media on best practices for book marketing.