100 Best Children’s Chapter Books of All-Time

Chapter books-that final leap into the world of literature where pictures matter less and less. Young readers are now able to be spirited away to strange and far off places, without the limitations of what is drawn on a page. It’s a beautiful thing, to see that door open up for them. Below you will find a list of some of the best children’s chapter books, suitable for a wide range of ages. They are the ones that continue to be loved for ages upon ages because they are, simply put, quite wonderful.

Looking for picture books? See our list of the 100 Best Picture Books of All-Time.

100 best children's chapter books

Top 10 Children’s Chapter Books

charlottes web
Charlotte’s Web: This is truly a gem of a children’s book. Beautifully woven, it touches on some major themes (dealing with grief/loss, the wonders of friendship) and does so gracefully. It begins with a little runt of a pig who is destined to be killed because he is so small. When the farmer’s daughter (Fern) finds out, she pleads with her dad to let him live. He agrees, and the pig is named Wilbur. When he is sold to a barn a ways away Fern is sad, but still visits him. In the wake of this major life change, Wilbur befriends a spider named Charlotte. The story that follows is a touching one about the incredible friendship between Charlotte and Wilbur, and the impact one very small being can make.

harry potter and the sorcerer's stone
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: Although they weren’t written terribly long ago, the Harry Potter books have quickly become classics. The Sorcerer’s Stone is the one that started it all. Although they weren’t written terribly long ago, the Harry Potter books have quickly become classics. The Sorcerer’s Stone is the one that started it all, and is possibly one of the best in the series (a matter of opinion of course.) In it, a young boy (Harry Potter) is forced to live with his dreadful Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia and their bully of a son, Dudley. One day, around the time of his eleventh birthday, a letter comes, addressed to Harry, to inform him that he is a wizard, and has been accepted to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. What unfolds next is the story of all of Harrry’s adventures in his first year at school, and the start of a classic battle between good versus evil.

a wrinkle in time
A Wrinkle In Time: This is a simply fascinating chapter book for children to dig into. It is about the Murray family, namely Meg Murray and young Charles Wallace, who go on adventure through time and space (traveling through something called a tesseract) to find their father. He had vanished mysteriously whilst working on a project that dealt with none other than what they are using to get around-tesseracts. Joined by the strange Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which, and their friend Calvin O’Keefe, they set out to bring back Mr. Murray back home, and vanquish the evil Black Thing, which is threatening earth, along the way.

the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: I think that the Chronicles of Narnia is one of the best series of chapter books for both young readers and adults. I grew up reading them, and I still don’t hesitate to grab one off the shelf and plop down with it and a nice cup of tea.

In the first book in the series, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, we are introduced to three youngsters, Peter (the eldest) then Susan, Edmund, and young Lucy, who are being sent to stay with a professor to safely wait out the war. In the big house, Lucy finds a wardrobe which takes her into the wonderful world of Narnia. When she convinces her siblings to come with her, they find themselves in the midst of another war against a cruel ruler called The White Witch. With the help of Aslan, they work together to save Narnia from a terrible fate.

the phantom tollbooth
The Phantom Tollbooth: One day, a bored young boy named Milo unexpectedly receives a magic tollbooth, which he decides to drive through in his toy car. The tollbooth then takes him to the Kingdom of Wisdom, where he embarks upon many adventures, including a quest to save the princesses, Princess Rhyme and Princess Reason. This book is full of puns, and an incredible amount of hilarious idioms (i.e. Milo literally jumps to the Island of Conclusions) that will entertain just about anyone who reads it.

charlie and the chocolate factory
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: A very poor young boy named Charlie lives with his mother and two sets of Grandparents in ramshackle house in a town where Willy Wonka’s mysterious Chocolate Factory towers above everything. No one ever comes out of the factory, and nobody ever goes in, and yet it is still churning out tons of incredible delicious treats. One day it is announced that in five chocolate bars there will be a golden ticket-which will gain the lucky holder entry into Wonka’s factory. Filled with a cast of eccentric characters and magnificent inventions to marvel at, it is a read that won’t fail to delight.

Holes: Stanley Yelnats is a boy with terrible luck, due to a curse that was placed on his great-great-Grandfather. He is sent to Camp Green Lake, a correctional facility, when he is accused of a crime he did not commit. At Camp Green Lake, under the watch of the vicious warden, the boys are forced to dig holes in the dirt under the hot burning sun all day. It soon becomes apparent that the warden is looking for something, and as the book progresses three different stories intertwine to figure out what the warden wants, and why she wants it so badly.

the giver
The Giver: 11 year old Jonas lives in a strict futuristic society. The society has eliminated all pain, fear, war and hatred, and as a result has also lost passion, the ability to love deeply, and connections within families. Nobody makes any choices-otherwise they will be “released” aka killed-and there are strict rules as to how everything runs. At the age of 12, everyone is assigned a job based on their abilities. Jonas is assigned the highly honored position of Receiver of Memories. A wise old man called The Giver passes memories of the society onto Jonas-including those before the Sameness. Once Jonas sees how devoid his world is compared to what it used to be, Jonas becomes determined to make things right.

from the mixed-up files of mrs. basil e. frankweiler
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler: Claudia Kincaid lives a comfortable life in suburbia, but she hates it. She feels that her parents do not appreciate her enough. She wants to run away-to somewhere beautiful and elegant. She chooses the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and invites along her younger brother Jamie. Living in the museum they get wrapped up in a mystery surrounding a statue that was possibly made by Michelangelo. On their quest to find out more about the statue, Claudia meets the extraordinary Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler –the woman who sold the statue to the museum- and discovers more about not just the statue, but about herself as well.

the secret garden
The Secret Garden: Mary Lennox is a rude, self-centered, affectionate little girl. She is all these things because she was unwanted by her parents, and raised mostly by servants that just tried to spoil her to keep her out of the way. When cholera kills her parents and the servants in the manor, she is sent to live with her Uncle on a lonely moor. There she discovers a secret garden, and within it, a young crippled boy who has been confined there for years. Through Mary’s intense characterization we are pulled into a charming children’s chapter book that is at once simple and full of depth.


the hobbit
The Hobbit: A fairly dense book geared towards somewhat ‘older’ readers, The Hobbit is more than deserving of its place on this list. In it, a Hobbit named Bilbo Baggins is grudgingly forced out of The Shire and into an adventure, set in place by the wizard Gandolf. This is dreadful for Bilbo, because Hobbits are known for staying at home and enjoying peace and quiet. But there’s a little spark in Bilbo, and it turns out he has spunk that sets him apart from other Hobbits, which make him perfect for the adventure. This prequel to The Lord of The Rings trilogy will forever be marked as one of the most cherished chapter books in history.

the adventures of huckleberry finn
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Huck is a poor illiterate boy who suffers at the hands of his brutal father. When he decides to flee he is joined a runaway slave named Jim, who is trying to escape even worse brutalities than an abusive father. Together they travel down the Mississippi and face some of the most difficult trials in the human condition-prejudice of age, race and class set against morals, hope, and courage. Their journey is what makes up one of the greatest American novels of all time-and although surrounded by controversy-it is still greatly celebrated today.

anne of green gables
Anne of Green Gables: Anne Shirley is a young orphan girl who is being sent to middle-aged unmarried siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. Although they wanted a boy to help them out around the farm, Anne is bright, imaginative, and energetic. The book tells the story of how she makes her way with the Cuthbert’s, and goes on to follow her as she sails through school and onto a scholarship, with plenty of hardship and friendship found along the way.

the mysterious benedict society
The Mysterious Benedict Society: When a strange ad calling for gifted children appears in the paper, dozens apply. They are made to go through a series of physically and mentally challenging tasks that only the brightest and most resourceful children will be able to get through. As our heroes face ever increasingly more difficult tasks they must turn to each other for support, but with their new found friendship at stake will they be able to pass the most important test of all?

the tale of despereaux
The Tale of Despereaux: Despereaux Tillings is a small mouse with a large task-to rescue a beautiful human princess. This book is divided into four different sections (called books) that tell the story from different viewpoints. Book I covers Despereaux’s background and origins, while Book II is told from the point of Roscuro-an evil rat with a shadowed past. Book III is told by Miggery Sow, a servant girl who is sold by her father for a handful of cigarettes, a red tablecloth, and a hen. All of the books are set years apart, building to conclude Book IV.

the velveteen rabbit
The Velveteen Rabbit: I have exceptionally fond memories of getting this book read to me as a child. It is a lovely tale, albeit somewhat sad, about a young boy and his Velveteen Rabbit whom he gets when his china dog is replaced. The other more expensive toys scorn the Velveteen Rabbit, fancying themselves to be real while he is not. The Rabbit finds out that a toy can only become real if its owner truly loves it. The boy takes the Velveteen Rabbit with him everywhere, until he becomes deathly ill with scarlet fever. When he is well enough to travel he is sent to the seaside on doctors’ orders until he is all better, and all his toys are to be burned to disinfect the nursery. He is given a new rabbit, and forgets all about his old one that now sits near a bonfire. But even in the most dire of situations, as the Velveteen Rabbit finds out, there are still happy endings to be had.

Hatchet: Brian Robeson is 13 years old when his plane crashes in the Canadian wilderness-the pilot dead after a heart attack. He has nothing to survive off of as the plane landed in the lake-nothing but a hatchet. A series of unfortunate events unfold one after the other as Brian does his best to survive with his meager supplies and somewhat poor survival skills.

the little prince
The Little Prince: Narrated by an airplane pilot whose plane has just crashed in the Sahara Desert, The Little Prince is a unique story that opens our eyes to the wonders of the world around us. While stranded, a young boy (the little prince) approaches the pilot and asks him to draw a sheep. The pilot obliges, and the two become fast friends. The little prince is from a far off planet that he took great care of, until he fell in love with a rose. When she broke his heart, he left to explore the other planets. He encounters the narrow-minded world of adults, and is disturbed and amused at how preoccupied with work they seem. Together, the pilot and the little prince learn much about what makes life important and fulfilling.

because of winn-dixie
Because of Winn-Dixie: A young girl, India Opal Buloni, moves to a trailer park in Florida with her preacher father. Lonely, she explores the Winn-Dixie supermarket, where she meets a scruffy, scrappy dog getting into all kinds of mischief. She claims it as her own to save it from the pound, and names it Winn-Dixie. Because of Winn-Dixie, India meets all sorts of characters, and figures out quite a bit about herself, and her life, in the process.

alice in wonderland
Alice in Wonderland: A beloved children’s chapter book well before it became a movie; Alice in Wonderland is just as captivating on paper as it is on a screen. The book begins with Alice sitting on riverbank one warm, lazy, day, when she see’s something strange-a white rabbit in a waistcoat who dashes by, pauses to look at his pocket watch, and then dashes off down a rabbit hole. Insatiably curious, Alice follows him. She comes upon a great hallway filled with doors, and once she figures out how to get through, she embarks upon a series of wacky, absurd adventures that are both humorous, and slightly frightening.


harry potter and the goblet of fire
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: It is Harry’s fourth year at Hogwarts, and it is time for the tri-wizard tournament. It is a competition in which three students from different schools (Bobaton, Durmstrang, and Hogwarts) that are of age undertake three incredibly difficult tasks. It seems like for once, things are going smoothly for Harry-until his name comes out of the goblet of fire as the fourth champion.

the invention of hugo cabret
The Invention of Hugo Cabret: In this intense, captivating children’s book, an orphan boy named Hugo Cabret secretly maintains a clock at a Paris railroad station. His father had been killed in a fire while repairing an automaton- a complex robot designed to look and write like a human. Hugo salvages the parts and steals machinery in attempt to finish it. He is convinced that, when it is done, it will write him a message from his father. When he crosses paths with another orphan, Isabelle, whose god father Hugo has been stealing parts from, things become even more complex. It is a beautiful story of redemption and reconciling with painful pasts.

the miraculous journey of edward tulane
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane: Edward Tulane is a china rabbit, who lives a vain life with a little girl who loves him dearly. An unfortunate twist of fate takes this away from Edward when he tumbles over the side of an ocean liner. After 297 days in the oceans depths, he is pulled out by a fisherman. He is then forced to undergo a series of life changes as he passes from one person to the next, bringing him farther from home, and more importantly, farther from the selfish rabbit he once was.

tuck everlasting
Tuck Everlasting: The Tuck family has either a terrible curse upon them, or they are blessed, for they have eternal life. They will never age and they will never die because they drank from the fountain of youth. When a young girl, Winnie Foster, finds out their secret, the Tucks try to explain to her why living forever is not as good as it may seem. While they try and keep their secret hidden, a stranger soon begins following Winnie about, wanting to market and sell the waters from the fountain of youth.

bridge to terabithia
Bridge to Terabithia: Jess Aaron’s is a young boy plagued by insecurity-until he meets Leslie, his new neighbor and fast friend. Together they invent the world of Teribithia, where they go to escape the outside world. Jess slowly becomes more secure in his identity as he continues to travel to Teribithia with Leslie. Their friendship is not limited there though-they see each other at school, and spend holidays together. When tragedy hits, Jess’s whole world is turned upside down. He feels like sinking back into the old Jess-the one he thought he’d outgrown. A lovely tale of friendship, and the trials of growing up, this is a book that many young readers will be able to take something away from.

where the red fern grows
Where The Red Fern Grows: Billy Colman wants, more than anything, a coonhound pup. When he is lucky enough to get two, he couldn’t be happier. He roams the Ozarks with his dogs, trying to ‘tree’ an elusive raccoon. They quickly become one of the finest hunting teams around, and win the gold cup in the coon-hunt contest. Where there is happiness though, there is also sadness. This book does a wonderful job of balancing these two emotions that come together to make this an unforgettable read.

winnie the pooh
Winnie the Pooh: Christopher Robin loves his stuffed bear-Pooh. The two of them, plus a cast of colorful characters, go on all sorts of adventures in the 100 Acre Woods. There are two chapter books about Pooh, and both were written by the author for his son. They capture the essence of a playful child and the incredible powers of their imaginations.

james and the giant peach
James and the Giant Peach: James Henry Trotter is a four year old boy who lives a peaceful life with his mother and father in a cozy home. Unfortunately, their idealistic lifestyle does not last terribly long. On a shopping trip to London, Jame’s mother and father are both swallowed by an escaped Rhinoceros. He is then sent to live in a ramshackle house with his wicked aunts-Spiker and Sponge-who abuse him for the next 3 years. When an old man finds James crying, he hands him a sack of green crocodile tongues that James accidentally spills on a tree. Consequently, it is a peach tree, upon which a massive peach grows. Befriending a random group of insects that were also transformed by the tongues, James sets out on the adventure of a life time to rescue his parents.

artemis fowl
Artemis Fowl: Artemis Fowl II is a criminal mastermind-who also happens to be a 12 year old boy. After years of research, he believes he has confirmed the existence of fairies. He sets out on a journey to Vietnam to track down the Fairy Holy Book-and takes a fairy for ransom along the way. When he demands an enormous ransom for her, the repercussions are much more intense then imagined.

island of the blue dolphins
Island of the Blue Dolphins: Karana is young when the Aleuts attack her village and tribe, killing her father and many others. When the new chief of the tribe heads out for a new land, he sends a ship back for his people. When it is about to set sail and Karana’s brother is still not on the ship, she jumps off and swims to the island. When her brother is killed, Karana is left to survive on her own-which she did, for 18 years. The book is based off of a true story that took place in the 1800s.

31 to 40

the golden compass
The Golden Compass: The Golden Compass is the first book in Phillip Pullmans His Dark Materials trilogy. It takes place in a universe parallel to our own and follows the story of a girl named Lyra as she sets out from her home in Oxford and journeys north with her daemon (an external form of a person’s soul) to find her missing friend and her imprisoned father, who was experimenting with a mysterious substance called ‘Dust.’

the bad beginning: or, orphans!
The Bad Beginning: The first book in Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events is truly a terrible beginning. The three Baudelaire orphans, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, are sent to live with their wicked uncle (Count Olaf) after their parents are killed in a fire. Things only go from bad to worse then, with Olaf after the family fortune, and don’t get better. It’s only thanks to their wit and perseverance that they are able to escape the cunning and evil Olaf-or so they think.

number the stars
Number The Stars: A rather intense children’s chapter book, Number The Stars takes place in Denmark in 1943, in the third year of the Nazi occupation in Denmark. It is told from the point of view of a 10 year old girl, Annemarie Johansen, as she struggles to deal with the cruelty that is taking place all around her. While she herself is not Jewish, her best friend Ellen is, and Annemaries family does their best to protect her. When they are forced to flee, everyone’s world is turned upside down.

harriet the spy
Harriet the Spy: Harriet is a young girl who has a habit of spying and eavesdropping. She regularly takes walks along her “spy route” and writes down everything she hears and thinks about people in a notebook. Consequently, she writes some nasty things, and when her classmates find the notebook and read it, they decide to take revenge.

maniac magee
Maniac Magee: Jeffery Magee’s parents are killed in a trolley when a drunk driver hits them. When is only 3 years old he is sent to live with his strict Christian Aunt Dot and Uncle Dan, who are always fighting, even over him. When Jeffery is old enough, he runs away and finds himself 200 miles away in a town that is divided based off of race and color. He earns the nickname Maniac and quickly becomes a legend thanks to his incredible physical feats, and his apparent ignorance of racial boundaries.

Coraline: When Coraline moves into a new flat with her parent’s, she quickly finds it’s not the most thrilling place-until she discovers a locked door to the drawing room. When it’s opened, she finds nothing but bricks. Despite the warning of her somewhat crazy neighbors, she tries the door again. This time, she is able to pass through and enter another world-the same as her own, except with a terrifying “Other Mother” who kidnaps Coralines real parent’s and tries to force Coraline to stay with her. With the help of a mysterious cat who she saw back in the ‘real’ world, Coraline must free herself from the clutches of the evil “Other Mother” and rescue her parents.

the lightning thief
The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson is 12 years old when he finds out that he is a Half-Blood. That is, half god, half human. He is sent to Camp Half-Blood, and learns that his father is Poseidon, brother to Zeus. When Zeus’s master bolt (the thing that allows him to create lightning) is stolen, he accuses Poseidon and says if he does not return it he will declare war. Percy, aided by two trusty companions, set off to travel from coast to coast in an attempt to get the master bolt back and facing all manner of adventures along the way.

mrs. frisby and the rats of nimh
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH: Mrs. Frisby is a widowed field mouse, whose youngest son Timothy has fallen very ill. The farmer is about to plow the field, but Mrs. Frisbee is afraid that Timothy will not survive the move to their summer home. A wise owl tells her to seek out the rats that live in the rosebush near her. She discovers that they have human-level intelligence, after being experimented on in a lab called NIHM. Together they come up with a way to try and move Timothy before the plow reaches them.

black beauty
Black Beauty: A totally classic chapter book, it is told from the first person point of view of a stunningly beautiful horse named Black Beauty. His life begins carefree and happy, until he falls and scars his knees. The wealthy people who owned him get rid of him, as he is no longer presentable in their eyes. The rest of the book tells about the many owners that he is passed to, some cruel and some kind. It has a strong emphasis on kindness to both man and beast.

julie of the wolves
Julie of the Wolves: Miyax is a 13 year old Alaskan Native girl. She is living with her aunt when her father goes missing on a hunting trip. Being bound to marry a man she despises, she heads off in search of her father, and while looking for him becomes lost in the Alaskan wilderness. She befriends a pack of wolves, which help her to survive. But with worse weather coming on, Miyax knows she must try to find true shelter-with people-soon, even though she has yet to find her father.


ella enchanted
Ella Enchanted: Ella is cursed from the time she is born, when a fairy named Lucinda gives her the “gift” of being obedient. From then on, she must always do what she is told. This is, of course, horrible, and it only gets worse when her mother dies. Her father, who is rarely home, remarries a dreadful woman with two despicable daughters. When they find out about Ella’s secret, she is tormented constantly. Toss in a prince who falls in love with her, a boarding school full of strict teachers, and a band of trolls that want to eat her, and you have the makings of a very interesting children’s book.

Shiloh: A young boy, Marty, discovers a dog wandering the hills near his home in West Virginia. He names him Shiloh, and becomes quite attached to him. When it is discovered that his real owner is a man named Judd Travers, Marty begs his father to let him keep Shiloh, as Travers is known for being abusive to his dogs. He is forced to return Shiloh to his original owner. When Shiloh finds his way back to Marty, the boy hides him and attempt to keep him safe from his awful owner.

the graveyard book
The Graveyard Book: It begins with a man named Jack, just as he is done murdering all the members of a family, except for the toddler upstairs. Unbeknownst to him, the toddler has climbed out of his crib to explore, and finds himself a way out of the house, and into a nearby graveyard, where he is given the name Nobody and raised by ghosts. Jack continues to hunt him, and eventually Nobody must stand up to the murderer of his family.

the adventures of tom sawyer
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Tom is a clever and mischievous boy with a knack for getting into trouble. One night he and his friend, Huck, sneak off to the graveyard to find a “cure” for warts. While they are there, they accidentally become witnesses to a murder committed by a man named Injun Joe. Joe, not knowing the boys saw him, accuses another man of the murder. Tom must then face his guilt, or else see an innocent man be convicted of a crime he did not commit.

Matilda: Matilda is an undeniably sweet and bright little girl who is, unfortunately, adopted by rather grouchy parents, who also happen to have a bratty son that is to become her brother. Eventually, her parents send her to a school with a cruel principal, deemed “The Trunchbull.” Thankfully, there is a kind teacher there who takes Matilda under her wing. Matilda randomly starts to develop telekinetic powers, and slowly begins to master them in an effort to drive The Trunchbull away from the school. The whole story makes for a totally well-loved children’s story.

little house on the prairie
Little House on the Prairie: Taking place from 1869-1870, Little House on the Prairie focus’s on the life of the Ingall’s family as they go through the trials and tribulations of moving from their old home in the Big Woods to a new home on-you guessed it- the prairie. There they must face illness and dangers such as they hadn’t encountered before, and are eventually forced to leave the land.

harry potter and the deathly hollows
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: This is the final installment in the Harry Potter series. It brings together Harry, and pretty much every other character that we have met over the years at Hogwarts, in a final battle against Lord Voldemort. Before he can destroy his enemy though, Harry must first track down the rest of the Horcruxes that contain a part of Voldemorts soul.

little women
Little Women: Following the lives of the four March girls, Little Women begins as the two youngest, Meg and Jo, are entering adolescence. It follows them over the 15 years of their lives where they must face the fact that they are no longer rich after their father’s fortune was lost- indeed they live in near poverty. Each of them dreams of a ‘castle’ that they will have in the end, but wind up with very different futures then what they expected.

Wonderstruck: There are two different stories in this book-making it longer even then The Invention of Hugo Cabret. First, there is the story of Ben, a deaf boy who goes on a mission to find his father after his mother is killed. Ben’s story is told entirely in text. The other story is of a girl named Rose, who is also deaf, whose story is told entirely in pictures. Eventually, the two stories beautifully wind together for a lovely ending.

the lost hero
The Lost Hero: Preceded by Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Lost Hero is the first book in the series The Heroes of Olympus. Whereas Percy Jackson focused solely on Greek mythology, The heroes of Olympus series incorporates Roman mythology as well. The Lost Hero opens with a boy name Jason who wakes up on a school bus with a girl named Piper, who claims to be his girlfriend, and a boy named Leo who claims to be his best friend. Jason has hardly any memory, and does not recognize either of them. The book goes on to reveal that each one of them is really a demi-god, and are taken to Camp Half-Blood where they delve into their pasts in attempts to control their present.

51 to 60

sideways stories from wayside school
Sideways Stories From Wayside School: There’s something a little odd about Wayside School…it was supposed to be 1 story tall with 30 classrooms, but the builder got confused and made it 30 stories tall with only a single classroom on each floor. The book has 30 chapters, and each one tells a new, totally wacky adventure about the kids in Mrs. Jewels class on the 30th floor.

the neverending story
The Neverending Story: Bastian Balthazar Bux is a lonely boy, neglected by his father and bullied by his classmates. One day when running from some of them, he ducks into an antique bookstore. There he takes a book and disappears into the attic with it to read. Without knowing it, he effectively becomes a part of the story, which takes place in the land of Fantastica. While there, he meets the boy warrior Atreyu who is on a quest to stop the Nothing, and the two of them embark upon a trying journey together.

the wind in the willows
The Wind in the Willows: Mole, who is usually quite a homebody, gets fed up with spring cleaning one day, and travels to the surface to enjoy the nice weather. By the banks of the river he meets Ratty (a water rat) who offers him a ride in his boat. Mole travels around with Rat more and more often, and together they embark upon a series of adventures that involve saving their friend-the obsessive and self-destructive Toad-battling weasels and ferrets, and exploring the Wild Woods to find the elusive Badger.

Fablehaven: Brother and sister Seth and Kendra are sent away to stay with their Grandfather whilst their parents are on vacation. Both of them are strongly warned to stay out of the woods, but the headstrong Seth goes out exploring anyways. In the woods, he learns that his Grandfathers land is home to many mythical creatures, good and bad. Despite being also warned to not mess around with the creatures in the woods, Seth captures a fairy, which destroys the alliance the fairy’s had with his Grandfather. This then results in the kidnapping of his Grandfather and the release of a terrifying and evil monster that must somehow be defeated.

stone fox
Stone Fox: Willy lives with his Grandfather on a potato farm near Jackson, Wyoming. His Grandfather is very poor though, and falls into depression when he cannot pay the taxes on the land. Determined to do something to help, young Willy enters his dog Searchlight in the National Dogsled Contest, for which the first place prize is 500 dollars. This means that he will have to go up against the Native American, Stone Fox, who races his team of malamutes every year and invariably wins.

Inkheart: Meggie loves books. Her father is a book binder, and as such introduced her to the joys of reading at a very early age. It is unbeknownst to her that her father can read characters out of books-until one night he accidentally reads forth an evil villain by the name of Capricorn, who transgresses the boundaries of fictions and enters our world. Together, Meggie and her father Mo must learn how to harness the powerful magic that brought this evil upon them.

Stargirl: Leo is an 11th grader at Mica High, and he has never met anyone like Stargirl before. Nobody has met anybody like Stargirl before, for that matter. She is always completely and totally herself, dancing around the cafeteria and playing the ukulele and singing happy birthday whenever she gets the chance. She quickly skyrockets to popularity, and Leo is in love. In the fickle ways of highschool, however, Stargirlis shunned as quickly as she became popular. Leo, who is now her boyfriend, must decide between her, and the acceptance of everybody else. The choice he makes will travel with him for the rest of his life.

the witch of blackbird pond
The Witch of Blackbird Pond: When orphaned Kit Tyler is forced to leave her warm, sunny Caribbean home and head for a colony in Connecticut, she is devastated. She feels alone and caged there, stuck with her strict puritan relatives. The only place she feels free is in the meadows, where she befriends an old Quaker woman known as the Witch of Blackbird Pond. When her friendship with the woman is revealed, she is faced with fear and suspicion and even accused of witchcraft.

the watsons go to birmingham, 1963
The Watsons Go To Birmingham, 1963: Alternately hilarious and moving, this book takes a look at the Watson family-namely Byron Watson, who is constantly getting into trouble for one thing or another. In 1963, the family heads to Birmingham to visit the one person who can shape Byron up-Grandma. While they are there, they experience a dark moment in history when Grandmas church is burned down, with 4 people still inside.

the westing game
The Westing Game: Six heirs who are chosen to live in Sunset Towers apartments are brought together to hear the will of self-made millionaire Samuel W. Westing. In his will, Westing challenges each heir to solve the mystery of his murder. They have $10,000 each to play the ‘game’ and whoever figures it out will inherit Westings $200,000,000 fortune and his company.

61 to 70

are you there god? it's me, margaret
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret: Margaret Simon is a young girl caught up the confusing throes of adolescence. In addition to figuring out the more awkward details of becoming a teenager, she is trying to figure out her own religious beliefs. She comes from a mixed faith background, and is unsure of who or what she believes in. The chapters follow her as she grows through the many ups and downs of growing up.

harry potter and the prisoner of azkaban
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: An alleged supporter of you-know-who has escaped from Azkaban Prison. Now in his third year at Hogwarts, Harry must deal with the looming threat of the escaped Sirius Black. Mysteries abound as Harry tries to figure out what connection he could have to Sirius, and why everyone thinks he is out to get him.

roll of thunder, hear my cry
Roll Of Thunder, Hear My Cry: Set in Mississippi at the height of the great depression, this chapter book centers around a young girl named Cassie (our narrator) and her large family that still owes money on the family farm. When push comes to shove, drastic measures have to be taken to keep everyone safe.

when you reach me
When You Reach Me: Miranda and her best friend Sal can navigate their New York City home by the sixth grade. They know where it’s safe to go and who to avoid, and they enjoy each other’s company. Then things start to go downhill…Sal stops talking to Miranda, and she receives a mysterious letter with a strange request that may end up making the difference between someone living or dying.

the wonderful wizard of oz
The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz: Dorothy and her dog Toto are swept away during a tornado and transported to the wonderful land of Oz. While trying to find her way home, Dorothy becomes friends with a scarecrow, a tin man, and a cowardly lion. Following the Yellow Brick Road, and trying to avoid the Wicked Witch of the West, the friends go on a journey to find the ‘Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ and help Dorothy get back home to Kansas.

bud not buddy
Bud Not Buddy: Scrappy 10 year old Bud-not Buddy- is growing up in Michigan during the Depression era. After his mother dies, he goes off to search for his father, who he has never met. Along the way he gets into all sorts of unlikely trouble-such as stealing a vampires car, and escaping monsters.

ramona the pest
Ramona The Pest: Brimming with laughs, this book tells the story of Ramona as she eagerly awaits the first day of kindergarten. But starting school is a big deal, and while she thought she was more than ready for it, Ramona becomes more and more unsure whether or not she can face the trials and tribulations that come with the beginning of kindergarten.

the penderwicks
The Penderwicks: The Pnderwick sisters have a delicious summer surprise. They get to stay at the gorgeous grounds of the Adrundel Estate. Some people are not as pleased to have them, however, and trouble and adventures are soon to abound.

diary of a wimpy kid
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg Heffley does not think that Middle School should exist. When his mom gets him a journal (‘it’s a journal, not a diary’)he records all sorts of middle school mischief, not to mention a fair share of embarrassing moments. From bad moments in gym class to dealing with bullies, this diary covers pretty much everything that a kid in Middle school could go through, dream up, invent, or get into mischief with.

Frindle: 10 year old Nick Allen has a knack for coming with ideas to waste time. Not only can he come up with them, but he executes them in such manner that he can distract even the most determined teacher. All of his genius backfires though,when language arts teach Mrs. Granger decides to assign him a large research project as punishment. It turns out to be to Nicks advantage, when through his research he comes to invent the word “Frindle.” An all-out language war soon rages as Mrs. Granger fights the use of the word “Frindle.” But what she can do when even the dictionary includes it?

71 to 80

the bfg
The BFG: Sophie is a young orphan in the city of London. One night she happens to be awake at midnight-the witching hour-a time known for strange and magical things to happen. And happen they do, when a tall cloaked giant comes striding down the street, silently, and carrying a long trumpet. Sophie watches in awe as he blows his trumpets into peoples bedroom-strangely, the trumpet is also silent. The giant spots Sophie then, and snatches her up to keep her from telling anyone what she saw. Thus begins the story of the BFG-in which Sophie goes from being kidnapped to a foreign land of terrifying and loathsome giants to a national hero.

stuart little
Stuart Little: Stuart Little is an orphan mouse who is lucky enough to belong to a human family. Being a mouse among humans does have its quirks though. Stuart gets to have all manner of adventures that most human kids don’t get to have. He is bullied by the family cat, for one, and has a bird for a best friend that he must then consequently save from the cat. All in all, life with Stuart is far from normal.

sarah, plain and tall
Sarah, Plain and Tall: Jacob Whitting is a widower who goes into depression when his wife dies unexpectedly during childbirth. As time goes on, Jacob finds the task of caring for his family and his farm too much to bear alone. He puts an ad in the newspaper for a mail-order bride, which is responded to by a woman named Sarah. The book takes place in 1910.

the boxcar children
The Boxcar Children: The Boxcar Children tells the story of 4 orphans-Jessie, Violet, Benny and Henry. One night they stay over at the bakery after buying some food with what money they had left. In exchange for staying, they work around the bakery the next day. When they overhear the baker saying he is going to take Benny away because he is too young to live alone, the children flee. They take shelter in an abandoned boxcar and begin a new life. Henry ends up doing odd jobs for a man named Dr. Moore and making the best out of life in a boxcar.

the secret of the old clock
The Secret of the Old Clock: The first book in the beloved Nancy Drew series, this mystery chapter book introduces us to 16 year old Nancy, who wishes to help the destitute Horners family, who are struggling after the passing of Josiah Crowley. Crowley had left a will that the Horners desperately need, but they have no clue as to where it is. Nancy finds out that the will is hidden inside an old clock-the problem is, it’s been stolen, and Nancy must take many risks as she attempt to solve the mystery.

a long way from chicago
A Long Way From Chicago: Joey Dowdel and his sister Mary Alice are two city kids from Chicago. When they are sent to spend a summer with their Grandmother in a sleepy town they are none too pleased. They quickly learn, however, to always expect the unexpected. Grandma Dowdel isn’t any ordinary grandparent-she will shoot a shotgun in her house, and take care of bullies. She’ll even make a banker give back something that wasn’t his-and toss in a few extra bucks for the Grandkids. Now, every summer, Joey and Mary Alice look forward to another crazy adventure ‘a long way from Chicago.’

the book of three
The Book of Three: Taren is an assistant pig keeper, and is not overly thrilled with his title. His duty is to take care of the magical white pig Hen Wen, when all he wants to do is become a noble knight. When Hen Wen flees, terrified, for no apparent reason one day, Taren has no choice but to chase her into the forbidden forest. There he learns of a mystery surrounding Hen Wen that he never could have imagined. With the help of the very knight he admires most, and a furry creature named Gurgi, he tries to track down Hen Wen before the evil Horned King gets to her.

walk two moons
Walk Two Moons: Salamanca Tree Hiddle’s mother has disappeared, and she’s determined to find her. Heading out on a road trip with her Grandparents, they attempt to trace her mother’s steps. While on the drive, Salmanca tells the story of a friend named Phoebe Winter whose mother also disappeared. After her mother disappeared, Phoebe began getting strange messages, one of which was “Don’t judge a man until you walk two moons in his moccasins.” Drawing strength from her Native American ancestry, Salamanca must face the truth about her mother.

Redwall: Nestled in the heart of the Mossflower Woods, Redwall Abbey is a place of refuge for many creatures. In it works a young mouse named Matthias. While he does not enjoy his quiet life all that much, his elders teach him that he must learn how to be patient. Matthias gets more adventure than he asked for when an evil rat leads a scourge of vermin against Redwall. Matthias goes on a search to find the sword of Martin the Warrior to help save Redwall from the attack.

the borrowers
The Borrowers: Arrietty is not your average fourteen year old. For one, she lives with her mom and dad (Pod and Homily) under the floor boards of a house, and she’s only a few inches tall. The family “borrows” things from the big people, and do their best to not be seen. One day Arrietty befriends one of the big people in the house-a young boy who has been sent from India to recover from an illness with his aunt and uncle. When this happens, the secret of the Borrowers existence threatens to be revealed and their whole world turned upside down.

81 to 90

the witches
The Witches: Luke is a young boy living with his Grandmother after the death of his parents. One night, his Grandma tells him how to recognize a witch by listing off their main traits. They have long fingernails, which they hide in gloves, and they’re bald, so they all itch their scalps under their wigs. They also want to destroy all children. While Luke and his Grandmother are vacationing in England (the place with the nastiest witches) Luke stumbles upon a meeting of witches, and must figure out how to deal with them, before it’ too late for children everywhere.

the thief lord
The Thief Lord: 12 year old Prosper and his little brother Boniface (Bo) decided to run away to Venice, Italy after their mothers death. She had always talked of Venice, and Prosper desperately wants to be a part of the grand city. While there, they are taken in by a group of orphans who live in an abandoned movie theater. The leader of their motley crew is a boy name Scipio, who calls himself “the thief lord” as he manages to steal things that the kids then trade for money. Meanwhile their aunt has sent a detective to search for Prosper and Bo, and they must try toavoid him at all costs, lest they be taken from Venice to live with their dreadful relatives.

the maze of bones
The Maze of Bones: When Amy and Dan’s grandmother dies, they are called together with the rest of their family to figure out her will. It is then that they find out they are part of an extraordinarily powerful family. In a video that was taped shortly before her death, she challenges each relative to take his/her one million dollar inheritance and walk away, or use it to follow 39 clues that will lead them to something that will make them the most powerful person in the world.

my side of the mountain
My Side of the Mountain: Sam Gribley despises living in his parents’ cramped New York City apartment-along with 8 other brothers and sisters. Deciding to do something about it, Sam runs away to his great-grandfathers abandoned farm in the Catskill Mountains. There he befriends a weasel, tames a peregrine falcon, and faces life in the wilderness with a courage not often possessed by 12 year olds.

city of ember
City of Ember: Lina and Doon are two young teenagers just out of school. They live in an underground city called Ember, which was constructed 250 years ago as a sort of shelter from the above ground world. The problem is, the generator that provides electricity to everything (including the greenhouses) was built to only be sustainable for 200 years. There was then a lock box that would automatically open to reveal an escape plan. The keeper of the box dies before they can share the significance of it though, and when Lina finds the box randomly she and Doon set out to solve the mysteries of its contents and save the people of Ember.

judy moody
Judy Moody: Every kid dreads the end of summer vacation, and Judy Moody is no different. But, despite her reservation, her and her best friend ‘Rocky’ manage to keep themselves entertained (like founding a club around Judys toad.) They also work on their collage projects, which represent the ever changing moods and ups and downs of kids in the third grade.

mary poppins
Mary Poppins: One day an east wind blows Mary Poppins, the most unusual nanny ever, onto the doorstep of the Banks house at Number Seventeen Cherry Tree Lane. From then on, life for Jane, Michael, and the twins will never be the same. Mary Poppins brings enchantment with her everywhere-sliding UP banisters, and making medicine taste yummy. One things for certain-in all the kids chapter books there have been or ever will be, there will never be a nanny quite like Mary Poppins.

love that dog
Love That Dog: On the first day of his poetry unit, Jack tells us that he does not want to learn about poetry. Why? Because girls learn/write about poetry, not boys. Or so he thinks. Slowly but surely the rhythm and foreign flow of poetry begin to take him over as the year wears on. With the help of his teacher, Mrs. Stretchberry, he begins to develop his own voice. Finally, the poem that has been inside him all along becomes clear and he is able to truly express himself.

out of the dust
Out of the Dust: Billie Jo lives with her family in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl years. Dust storms are frequent, and all Billie Jo wants to do is get away from them. Despite this, she has a satisfactory life, with her pregnant mother and her father that loves her dearly, despite the fact that she is not a boy. When tragedy strikes, Billi Jo must learn how to pick up the pieces of her life and put them together again.

johnny tremain
Johnny Tremain: Johnny is a young apprentice at a silversmith in Boston Massachusetts with a load of potential. One day during work somebody gives him a cracked crucible. The result is Johnny getting severely burned, his hand crippled beyond use. With this injury, he can no longer be a silversmith and is forced to find work elsewhere. He undergoes a series of unfortunate events before settling with a newspaper company run by Whigs. He finds himself becoming a loyal Whig as well, and as tension with the Tories rises, his life becomes more and more complex.

91 to 100

where the mountains meet the moon
Where the Mountains Meet the Moon: Young Minli lives with her parents in a ramshackle hut in the valley of the Fruitless Mountain. Her dad tells her stories-stories about the Jade Dragon, and the Old Man on the Moon who knows all the answers to life questions. Her curiosity sparked by these tales, Minli sets off to find the Old Man on the Moon, and figure out the answer to what she deems the ultimate question.

peter pan
Peter Pan: This classic story takes place in London, and centers around the Darling family. The three Darling children, Wendy, John, and little Michael, speak often of a Peter Pan. For Mr. Darling, Peter Pan is poppycock, for Mrs. Darling, the name brings back fond but cloudy memories from her childhood. One night, Peter visits the Darling household, and accidently leaves his shadow behind when he leaves in a hurry. When he comes back, Wendy sews it on for him. Peter then asks if the Darling children wish to go to Neverland, a place where children never grow up. They go with Peter, and in Neverland encounter the treacherous Captain Hook, a hungry crocodile, the fetching Tiger Lilly, and many more colorful characters.

the view from saturday
The View From Saturday: Mrs. Olinski has finally returned to teaching at Epiphany Middle School after an accident that left her a paraplegic. A group of her sixth grade students then form a group they call “The Souls.” They compete in the Academic Bowl, and beat out the other sixth grade teams. They then go on to beat out the seventh graders, eighth graders, and so on and so forth. Between the chapters that show the progress of the competition, one of the four students narrates the development of “The Souls” and discus’s one of the questions they had to answer.

beezus and ramona
Beezus and Ramona: Beatrice Quimby (also known as Beezus) has a younger sister named Ramona who is sometimes the bane of her existence. She is constantly embarrassing Beezus (like when she hops to school wearing bunny ears in September) and she’s always causing one inconvenience or another (like locking Henry Huggins dog in the bathroom when he comes over the play checkers.) Ramona also has a more vivid imagination then Beezus-a fact which greatly bothers her older sister. After going through many trials and tribulations, Beezus learns how to roll with the ups and downs of having a little sister.

caddie woodlawn
Caddie Woodlawn: When you’re busy growing up with six siblings in rural Wisconsian, it’s hard to pay much heed to the distant gossip of events such as The Civil War. The year is 1864, and Caddie Woodlawn is eleven years old. She spends much of her time romping around with her brothers-when really she should be learning to be a lady. As she grows up, Caddie must dresses clean.

the indian in the cupboard
The Indian in the Cupboard: When Omri is given a cupboard by his brother Gillon, he has no idea the adventures it has in store. Using a magic key that once belonged to his Grandmother, Omriuses the cupboard to a small plastic Native American figure he has to life. When his friend finds out and introduces a small cowboy, problems quickly ensue.

harry potter and the chamber of secrets
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: If Harry though his second year at Hogwarts was going to be less eventful then his first, he’s dead wrong. After being saved from his wicked relatives by the Weasley boys (in a flying car) Harry goes back to stay with Ron until school starts. When the boys are left behind, with the entrance to the school train platform closed, they have no choice but to fly the enchanted car to school. When strange and mysterious things begin to happen, and students are being found ‘petrified’ on the school grounds, Harry must use a mysterious diary to figure out the evasive Chamber of Secrets.

the little white horse
The Little White Horse: Maria Merryweather is a quick thinking 13 year old who lives, as an orphan, in the year 1842. She is on her way to the mysterious Moonacre Mansion in the West of England, accompanied by her mistress and her dog. She has no idea that the ancient history behind the old estate is to have an enormous impact on her future, until she meets her cousin, Benjamin, and a whole cast of colorful critters that will aid her on the journey of a lifetime.

Pippi Longstocking: Pippi lives the life that many children dream of-alone, and free of any sort of authoritative figure (as she doesn’t go to school either.) Sadly, she has wound up this way because her mother died and her father disappeared at sea. But does this get Pippi down? Not really. She spends times playing with her pet monkey, horse and the well behaved children next door , making each day exciting and filled with hilarity.

fantastic mr. fox
Fantastic Mr. Fox: Each night, the clever (or fantastic) Mr. Fox steals food from three vile, wealthy farmers by the name of Bogus, Bunce, and Bean. One night, the farmers get fed up with Mr. Fox, and try to kill him, but only succeed in blowing off his tail. When he escapes them, they become determined to catch him, no matter what. Then ensues a riotous chain of events, each one more ridiculous then before, as Mr. Fox comes up with a plan to outsmart the farmers and save his family.

*NEW* 30 Best Children’s Books of 2012

Question: We want to know, what are your (or your kids) favorite chapter books?

340 Responses to “100 Best Children’s Chapter Books of All-Time”

  1. Wynelle Welsh says:

    Should include some Daniel Pinkwater books! But I love many of these books and used to read many of them to my fourth graders!

  2. JOHN says:

    No Michael Morpurgo Book?
    Butterfly Lion…
    Kensuke’s Kingdom…
    Born to Run…
    Many more. Have read them to school kids for years. All ages love the books.

  3. Brian says:

    Arthur Ransome’s “Swallows and Amazons” series!

  4. Brenda says:

    Loved Harris and Me by Gary Paulson

  5. Willow says:

    Did I miss The Secret Garden on this list?!

  6. Melinda says:

    Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing, by Judy Blume

  7. amy says:

    I love the westing games, best book ever!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. s gilbert says:

    This is a great book list! Would it be possible to get this list arranged by reading (or lexile) level? It would be a great guide!

    The velveteen rabbit and Hatchet are a *little* far apart as far as comprehension and reading skill level, for example, and yet they are listed beside each otehr.

  9. Amanda says:

    The Outsiders and anything by Judy Bloom!

  10. donna says:

    All the Harry Potters, really? What about C.S. Lewis, Arthur Ransome, Enid Nesbit?

  11. Siggi says:

    The Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey

  12. Melanee says:

    Love your list! I would add The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare, and The Forgotten Door by Alexander Key

  13. Jeff says:

    Uhh…Treasure Island.

  14. Jenny & Becky says:

    Wonderful list! If you’re looking for ways to help kids really get into these books, try bringing them to “real life” — our LitWits enrichment e-guides suggest 3-D props, activities, and projects, and provide academic printables too, all integrated to create a unique, hands-on experience of a book. We’ve workshopped dozens of the books on your list — great selection!

    Jenny & Becky
    LitWits Workshops

  15. m says:

    Where are Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince?! I can’t believe that two _Rick Riordan_ books made your list and they didn’t.

  16. Emily says:

    Bud, not Buddy does NOT have vampires and monsters in it!! IT’s historical fiction, not fantasy fiction!
    Please correct your annotation, thanks. It’s a wonderful book!!

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