February 22, 2012

The best children’s book of all time?


In their newly-released March issue, Scholastic‘s Parents magazine announces a list of the top one hundred books for kids. Culled from over 500 titles suggested by  literacy experts, educators, and parents, the list is part of their literacy and reading issue.

Scholastic hopes there are some surprises among the choices. The rankings are aimed at “generating controversy and conversation,” Nick Friedman, the magazine’s editor in chief, told USA Today. The list includes a variety of genres for different ages — from infants to middle schoolers, and attempts to be culturally diverse.

The toughest choice though was which book got the number one spot. It was a dead heat between E.B. White‘s Charlotte’s Web and Goodnight Moon, the 1947 picture book by Margaret Wise Brown.

Friedman and four other editors at the magazine made the final decision…and the winner is…. Charlotte’s Web.

Madeleine L’Engle‘s A Wrinkle in Time came in third, and A Snowy Day, Ezra Jack Keats‘ 1962 portrayal of an African-American child, came in fourth.

Scholastic, which is also a book publisher as well as a magazine publisher, had 14 titles on the list, including J.K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, in the No. 6 slot. Though Friedman assured USA Today “the judges looked at the books, not their publishers.”

The list is a useful collection of recommended books for kids of all ages. And a curiosity for adults who grew up reading voraciously. (Have you read most of these titles?)

As a bonus, Scholastic named  ”superlative award” winners, including (overall rankings in the top 100 in parentheses):

• Best Read-Aloud: Mo Willems’ Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (28)

• Most Beautifully Illustrated: Jerry Pinkney‘s The Lion and the Mouse (61)

• Most Relatable Character: Jeff Kinney‘s Diary of a Wimpy Kid (38)

• Most Side-Splitting Hilarious: Dav Pilkey‘s The Adventures of Captain Underpants (97)

My #1 vote is for A Wrinkle in Time. What other children’s book taught the reader an alternate definition of the word “sport”?


Valerie Merians is the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.