Books are essential in growing up. Children are given books at the earliest page possible. It is through these that kids learn the basics of counting and the alphabet. As they grow up, the topics of the book slowly mature from basic family and animal stories to one that involves relationships and responsibilities.
Some books have become classics, with timeless stories that can appeal to any era. The following are the most popular books written for children, from toddlers to young adults. Excluded are the ones that do not have reliable figures, like most of the Harry Potter books, and sequels that took on storylines beyond the grasp of children, like “The Lord of the Rings.” Here is a list of the top 10 best selling children’s books of all time.
1. The Hobbit (1937), J.R.R. Tolkien – 100 million
Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” actually started out as a children’s book and fantasy novel. Its roots can be traced from “The Hobbit, or There and Back Again,” or more popularly known as simply “The Hobbit.” The story follows the quest of a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins in his quest for a share of the treasure that is being guarded by a dragon. It won the prize of “Best Juvenile Fiction” from the New York Herald Tribune after it was published. It has since become a classic in children’s literature.
2. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950), C.S. Lewis – 85 million
This is a high fantasy children’s novel written by Lewis in 1950. It was the first of seven books written and published from “The Chronicles of Narnia” series. Upon completion of the series, however, it was considered as the second part of the series. The story evolves around four English kids who get to visit a mystical land ruled by the White Witch. The land is inhabited by mystical beings and talking animals.
3. Charlotte’s Web (1952), E.B. White/Garth Williams – 45 million
The book was written by White and featured illustrations by Williams. It is about the friendship of a pig named Wilbur and a spider named Charlotte and the latter’s attempt to save her friend from being slaughtered by the farm owner. She succeeded but died in the end after she reached the limit of her natural life span. Wilbur repaid her by bringing home the eggs she had lain before dying. Three of Charlotte’s offspring then became Wilbur’s friends.
4. The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902), Beatrix Potter – 45 million
The book was written and illustrated by Beatrix Potter. It was intended for Noel Moore, the son of her governess named Annie Carter Moore. It tells the story of the mischievous Peter Rabbit whom Mr. McGregor chases around the garden. He would later return to his mother who serves him tea to put him to sleep.
5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007), J.K. Rowling – 44 million
This is the final book in the seven-part Harry Potter series. It holds the record for the fastest-selling book ever after it sold 15 million copies in its first day of release. The American Library Association awarded the “Best Book for Young Adults” prize to it. It followed the events that transpired after “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” and the final confrontation between the lead character and his nemesis Lord Voldemort.
6. The Adventures of Pinocchio (1881), Carlo Collodi – 35 million
This is a classic in children’s literature written by the Italian author Carlo Collodi. It follows the adventure of an animated marionette called Pinocchio and how his mischief got him into trouble. It is from this book that the idea of a person’s nose getting longer each time he makes a lie originated.
7. The Very Hungry Caterpillar (1969), Eric Carle – 30 million
This is a picture book for kids that was written and illustrated by Eric Carle. It follows the story of a caterpillar that consumed different kinds of food. Eventually, the caterpillar pupated and blossomed into a butterfly. Generally considered as one of the greatest children’s classics of all time, the book has won several children’s literature and graphic design awards. Its description of the metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly has even the Royal Entomological Society endorsing it.
8. The Wind in the Willows (1908), Kenneth Grahame – 25 million
This is a classic in children’s literature that featured the nature of Thames Valley. It features four animal characters in a rural version of England. While it moves at an uneven pace, it is adjusted based on the appropriateness of the topic. It noticeably slows down to allow the reader to reflect about morality and camaraderie. It speeds up a bit when it discusses mysticism. It becomes fast-paced as the characters encounter their adventures. Its lead character, Mr. Toad, was voted as one of the best fictional characters ever by Book Magazine.
9. The Hunger Games (2008), Suzanne Collins – 23 million
This is a young adult novel that follows the story of Katniss Everdeen. She lives in a place where North America used to stand before the apocalypse. Every year, a young boy and a young girl are selected to compete in a battle to the death. Though the plot is roughly similar to the 1999 book “Battle Royale” by Koushun Takami and “The Long Walk” by Stephen King, the book still got great reviews from even King himself. Collins was commended for the proper development of the characters and the book’s gripping plot and storyline. It was recognized by Publisher’s Weekly as one of the best books for 2008.
10. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾ (1982), Sue Townsend – 20 million
This is a fictional book about a teenager who considers himself an intellectual. Written in diary form, the book features a lot of laughs as it expounds on the worries and regrets of the lead character. World events at the time were used as backgrounds for the story, including the royal wedding of Charles and Diana, the Falklands War and the birth of Prince William.