Happy Birthday to These Classic Children’s Books
Including a timeless classic that continues to delight readers at 100 years old.
Every once in a while, a children’s book comes along that captures readers’ hearts and imaginations more than the rest. Whether children love the characters or parents identify with the message, or both, these books stay in print, allowing new generations to love them, too. Here are a few of these books celebrating milestone anniversaries in 2022. Add them to your child’s library.
Celebrating 10 Years…
Dragons Love Tacos
by Adam Rubin; illustrated by Daniel Salmieri (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2012)
In the decade since its publication, this New York Times best-selling tale of dragons, tacos, and spicy salsa has been loved by children everywhere. The book has spawned a stage show, a sequel, plush dragons, and many themed children’s birthday parties. Celebrities including George Clooney and America Ferrera—and their kids—are fans of the book, too. With 4.4 million copies in print, one thing is for sure: Kids still love dragons and tacos.
Celebrating 25 Years…
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
by J.K. Rowling (Bloomsbury, 1997)
Following the original U.K. version, Scholastic published Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 1998, and the adventures of certain wizards and witches in training became known all over the world. “Twenty-five years ago was one of the pivotal moments for young readers,” says Paula Bisgard, bookseller at Tattered Cover Book Store. Bisgard remembers when new books in the series (seven in all) were released in stores at midnight. “It was an incredible book lovers’ moment to know how many young readers across the world were all reading the same book very late into the night,” Bisgard says. “Many of them [told their] bookseller at the checkout counter, ‘Don’t put it in a bag. I want to start reading it now!’ Now, the next generations are at the checkout counter. And they are eager to explore book series by other authors.”
Celebrating 60 Years…
The Snowy Day
by Ezra Jack Keats (Viking Press, 1962)
At a time when racial diversity was rarely depicted in picture books, Keats featured a Black child as his main character; the book went on to win the Caldecott Medal in 1963. Keats received thousands of fan letters from kids, who, for the first time, saw themselves in a children’s book. It remains well loved for this reason, but for other reasons, too. “As an editor, I have come to use The Snowy Day in workshops, for the way Keats tells the story without telling us how Peter feels (with one crucial exception), and yet making the reader feel something with every turn of a page,” says Harold Underdown, executive editor at Kane Press.
Celebrating 70 Years…
by E.B. White (Harper & Brothers, 1952)
When a pig named Wilbur is in danger of being slaughtered by a farmer, Charlotte the spider weaves positive messages about Wilbur in her web to help save his life. “Charlotte’s Web is so enduring and endearing because it deals with big topics—death and loss and change and the unrelenting passage of time—in small ways,” says Brooke Jorden, editorial director for the children’s book publisher, Familius. “The big questions in Charlotte’s Web remain relevant today, even 70 years later, because the world around us will always be living and changing and dying, but people who leave a legacy of selflessness and love will live on in our memories.”
Celebrating 75 Years…
by Margaret Wise Brown; illustrated by Clement Hurd (Harper and Brothers, 1947)
Generations of parents have quietly repeated the words, “goodnight stars, goodnight air, goodnight noises everywhere,” from this popular bedtime story, as their young children prepare to sleep. “Goodnight Moon epitomizes the nighttime ritual of reading before bed. Its pattern of identifying everyone and everything in the room and then saying good night to the people and things is repetitive and soothing,” says Kate Brasch, children’s buyer for Tattered Cover Book Store. “Many of us have read this gem over and over…Artistically and narrative-wise, there are so many reasons that this book has endured for 75 years, and it certainly looks like that trend will continue.”
Celebrating 100 Years…
The Velveteen Rabbit
by Margery Williams Bianco; illustrated by William Nicholson (George H. Doran and Company, 1922)
“What is real?” the Velveteen Rabbit asks the Skin Horse. “Real isn’t how you are made,” says the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become real.” It’s a message that still resonates today, says Pam Martin, book specialist at Grandrabbit’s Toy Shoppe in Boulder. “In this age when kids feel pressure from influencers and social media to ‘measure up’ to false narratives of the perfect social life and body type, the message of authenticity that’s championed in The Velveteen Rabbit feels more relevant than ever,” she says.