23 of Our Favorite Children’s Books

Puffin Books/Little Simon/Amazon
Puffin Books/Little Simon/Amazon

Did you have that one book as a kid that you were absolutely obsessed with? One that you read over and over again, or maybe had your parents read to you every night before bed? Maybe it was a simple picture book or the first part in a long-running series of children’s adventures. Whatever it was, the memories of those childhood favorites tend to stay with us well into adulthood, so it’s only natural that you’d want to share them with others—which is exactly what happened when the Mental Floss staff came together to gush about some of our favorites growing up. Chances are, there’s something here for everyone, regardless of age, reading level, or sense of humor.

1. Magic Tree House Series // Mary Pope Osborne; $11 for the First Four Books

The Magic Treehouse books.
Random House Books for Young Readers/Amazon

Every time Jack and Annie set foot in their tree house, it whisks them off to another place and time. There’s a little magic, a little mystery, and many opportunities for kids to learn a lot without feeling like they’re “learning.” The series has 34 books—and counting—and there are also a bunch of corresponding “Fact Tracker” books that delve into the history and science behind the novels. —Ellen Gutoskey, Staff Writer

Buy it: Amazon

2. Strega Nona // Tomie dePaola; $7

The book called Strega Nona.
Little Simon/Amazon

Strega Nona is a village witch doctor with a “magic pasta pot” and a special place in my heart as a carb-loving icon. In this story, Big Anthony disobeys Strega Nona’s orders to keep away from her pasta pot and ends up almost flooding the town in a sea of spaghetti. Parents could definitely use it as a cautionary tale about following directions and practicing moderation, or they could just let their kids fantasize about boogie-boarding along a wave of angel hair, like mine did. —E.G.

Buy it: Amazon

3. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler // E.L. Konigsburg; $9

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. book.
Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Amazon

Many an adult will fondly remember this classic, in which a sister and brother run away from home to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art—and determine the provenance of a mysterious statue along the way. Author E.L. Konigsburg was partially inspired by a trip to the Met, where she saw a single piece of popcorn on a roped-off chair. “How had that lonely piece of popcorn arrived on the seat of that blue silk chair?” she later wrote. “Had someone sneaked in one night—it could not have happened during the day—slipped behind the barrier, sat in that chair, and snacked on popcorn? For a long time after leaving the museum that day, I thought about that piece of popcorn on the blue silk chair and how it got there.” (A New York Times article and a picnic with her children also provided inspiration). The book won the Newbury Award in 1967 and was made into a movie—and it’s still a topic of conversation at the Met to this day. —Erin McCarthy, Editor-in-Chief

Buy it: Amazon

4. Anne of Green Gables // L.M. Montgomery; $26

The complete set of Anne of Green Gables
Starfire/Amazon

Read the original (mis)adventures of spirited, red-haired orphan Anne (with an E, thank you very much), which launched a beloved ‘80s miniseries and gritty a Netflix reboot. This eight-book set, written by Lucy Maud Montgomery, follows Anne as she grows from a child at Green Gables into adulthood, meaning there’s something for kids and adults to enjoy. —E.M.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Gregory, the Terrible Eater // Mitchell Sharmat; $7

The children's book Gregory, the Terrible Eater.
Scholastic/Amazon

Gregory is a young goat who prefers fresh fruits and veggies to what goats normally eat—things like shoeboxes and tin cans. But when his parents finally convince him to chow down on regular goat food, he can’t stop eating everything in sight. Mitchell Sharmat’s story, charmingly illustrated by Jose Aruego and Ariane Dewey, is all about teaching kids to find a healthy balance—a good lesson for all of us. —E.M.

Buy it: Amazon

6. The Monster at the End of This Book // Jon Stone; $5

The Monster at the End of this Book children's story.
Golden Books/Amazon

A simple and effective suspense tale featuring Grover from Sesame Street, who guides readers through a tumultuous journey toward the reveal of a ferocious creature. Excellent twist ending. —Jake Rossen, Senior Staff Writer

Buy it: Amazon

7. Guinness World Records 2020; $21

The 2020 Guinness Book of World Records
Guinness World Records/Amazon

While not ostensibly a kid's book, the Guinness people have compiled a huge and photo-rich resource for some spectacular human feats that should spark conversation and alleviate boredom. —J.R.

Buy it: Amazon

8. The Complete Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck // Don Rosa; $39

The Scrooge McDuck book.
Fantagraphics Books/Amazon

This isn’t just a comic—Don Rosa’s The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck is the all-ages comic if you’re looking to introduce a child to the art form. Here, Rosa writes and illustrates the complete story of Scrooge, from a wide-eyed, impressionable immigrant from Glasgow looking to make it on his own, to his eventual status as a miserly mallard worth "five multiplujillion, nine impossibidillion, seven fantasticatrillion dollars and sixteen cents." Throughout the journey, Rosa crafts an infinitely charming story of romance, adventure, and comedy that earned him an Eisner Award in 1995 for Best Serialized Story (basically the Academy Awards for comics).

The best way to enjoy this story is by getting the hardcover reprints of both volumes from Fantagraphics—the vivid colors of Rosa’s gorgeous artwork are perfectly preserved here, and the two books come in a fancy slipcase that gives the title the dignity it deserves. —Jay Serafino, Special Projects Editor

Buy it: Amazon

9. The True Story of the Three Little Pigs // Jon Scieszka; $10

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs Book
Viking Kestrel Picture Books/Amazon

There’s something so delightfully subversive about The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. In it, we get the classic tale of "The Tree Little Pigs" told from the perspective of the Big, Bad Wolf, who, according to his own testimony, didn’t set out to murder his curly-tailed little neighbors on purpose—it was all just a big misunderstanding involving a cup of sugar and the wolf’s sneezy nose. (He even explains that it was his moral obligation to dine on two of the pigs after their houses collapse on them.)

For a book designed for ages 5 to 8, this is one edgy read from author Jon Scieszka that’s only heightened with the darkly humorous illustrations of Lane Smith. (The duo is also behind the beloved book The Stinky Cheese Man.) Aimed at any kid whose humor skews crass, this twisted little story is a welcome reprieve from all the other children’s books that treat kids like, well, kids. —J.S.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Batman Adventures Volume One // various; $14

Batman Adventures books.
DC Comics/Amazon

Unless you dangled a Personal Pan Pizza from Pizza Hut in front of my face, you couldn’t get me to read anything resembling a book as a kid. But comics? I’d blow through them cover to cover so many times that the staples would fall out (and then I’d re-staple the book back together until those fell out, too.) And some of my favorites as a kid were the Batman Adventures comics, based on Batman: The Animated Series. These all-ages comics go back to basics, with colorful art and snappy plots that are set up and solved within 22 pages.

We’ve all seen Batman square off against his rogue’s gallery countless times—but here, it’s done with such energy, humor, and character that it all feels brand new. This collection features the first 10 issues of the series, and if you’re not buying for a Batman fan, you can find similar all-ages titles featuring Superman, Spider-Man, and the X-Men. Any of these could easily become a young superhero fan’s next obsession. —J.S.

Buy it: Amazon

11. Bridge to Terabithia // Katherine Paterson; $10

The Bridge of Terabithia book.
HarperCollins/Amazon

Jesse Aarons is the fastest runner in the fifth grade … until tomboy Leslie Burke, the new kid at school, beats him in a race. But rather than be annoyed at losing his status, Jesse is impressed by Leslie, who is the bravest person he has ever met. They form a fast and very deep friendship that, as long as they’re together, allows them to escape the challenges of their home lives. One day, while playing in the woods, they decide to create their very own sanctuary in an isolated area over which they will rule and name it “Terabithia.” But eventually, the horrors of the real world find their way into the peacefulness of Terabithia in ways that Jesse is incapable of processing. The book, which is based partially on a real-life event that happened to author Katherine Paterson’s son, won the Newbery Medal in 1978—but has regularly been banned because of its morbid subject matter. Still, for older kids (say, 10 and up) who are curious about the world in all its facets, it’s a wonderful lesson in how to find strength, even in tragedy. —Jennifer Wood, Managing Editor

Buy it: Amazon

12. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory // Roald Dahl; $12

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book.
Puffin Books/Amazon

Even if you've seen either (or both) versions of the movie, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory still makes for a delicious read—for kids and adults alike. Like any other book-turned-movie, there are plenty of plot points and characters you don't get to see in either big-screen version of the book (or at least not enough of). But more than that, skipping the book in favor of a film deprives you of reading Roald Dahl's splendiferous descriptions of the wild world of Willy Wonka, Charlie Bucket, the Oompa-Loompas, and all the other kids who were "lucky" enough to score a Golden Ticket tour of Wonka's chocolate factory. Plus, you could probably eat up a couple of hours discussing the many logistical challenges that having four immobile grandparents confined to one large bed might cause. —J.W.

Buy it: Amazon

13. The Giving Tree // Shel Silverstein; $14

The Giving Tree book.
HarperCollins/Amazon

Originally published in 1964, The Giving Tree has gone on to become one of Shel Silverstein's best-known titles—but getting it published was no easy task. Depending on who you ask, the book is either a beautiful parable about the natural cycle of give-and-take we experience in so many of our relationships throughout life, or a cautionary tale about the dangers of materialism. Which probably explains why Silverstein had trouble finding a publisher for the book, as many of them felt the themes were either too dark or mature for young children. While the themes are complex, it's exactly for that reason that The Giving Tree—which follows the lifelong relationship between a "boy" and the tree he loves—is just the kind of book you should be sure to read and discuss with your kids. —J.W.

Buy it: Amazon

14. I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark // Debbie Levy; $12

A children book about Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
Simon & Schuster/Amazon

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark isn't the only kid's book about the life of the beloved Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States—and that's a wonderful thing. While older generations often had to settle for fictional heroines at the center of the books they read, Ginsburg—a.k.a. The Notorious RBG—has become a real-life superhero for kids and adults, and young women in particular. What's fascinating about this book, which is the first picture book dedicated to Ginsburg, is that its main lesson is to teach kids that "that disagreeing does not make you disagreeable." The book tells of Ginsburg's lifelong fight for equality through her very public dissents. It's the kind of book that can easily open a child's eyes to the power of their own voices. —J.W.

Buy it: Amazon

15. Dragons Love Tacos // Adam Rubin; $10

Dragons Love Tacos book.
Dial Books/Amazon

If you're hosting a taco party and invite all of your dragon friends, you should offer a wide selection of tacos. But do not, and I mean do not, offer salsa. You do not want to know what happens when a dragon eats salsa—or do you? This funny tale with whimsical illustrations was a New York Times bestseller among the kindergarten set, and even adults will enjoy its silliness. —Kat Long, Science Editor

Buy it: Amazon

16. The Story of Ferdinand // Munro Leaf; $5

The Story of Ferdinand book.
Grosset & Dunlap/Amazon

Ferdinand is a gentle bull who would rather sit quietly under his favorite tree and smell the flowers than take part in bullfights like his friends. But when Ferdinand is seen stomping and snorting after being stung by a bee, men call him "Ferdinand the Fierce" and take him to the bullring—which doesn't work out the way they plan. Some critics have said the book promotes pacifism, while other believe the message is to be true to oneself. Whatever the real subtext, Ferdinand's endearing story has been delighting readers for more than 80 years. —K.L.

Buy it: Amazon

17. Little House in the Big Woods // Laura Ingalls Wilder; $4

A Little House in the Big Woods book.
HarperCollins/Amazon

Young readers will relate to our 4-year-old narrator Laura, who tells the story of her pioneer family's efforts to build a homestead in the dense forests of western Wisconsin in the 1870s. The book, based on the author's real-life experiences (though not entirely truthful), describes the challenges and joys of living in a log cabin with her Ma and Pa, older sister Mary, and baby sister Carrie—from harvesting crops in autumn to dancing to Pa's fiddle. Little House in the Big Woods is the first of Wilder's nine semi-autobiographical books for kids. —K.L.

Buy it: Amazon

18. Dazzle the Dinosaur // Marcus Pfister; Various Prices

Dazzle the Dinosaur book.
Amazon

This book from the author of The Rainbow Fish has both a captivating story and eye-catching illustrations. In this adventurous tale, a brave, sparkly dinosaur and his friend set off on a mission—both hampered and aided by Dazzle’s unique spines—to defeat the dangerous Dragonsaurus.Kerry Wolfe, Staff Editor

Buy it: Barnes & Noble or Amazon

19. Mr. Putter and Tabby Collection // Cynthia Rylant; $118

Mr. Putter and Tabby series collection.
HMH Books for Young Readers/Amazon

When Mr. Putter starts to feel a bit lonely, he decides he wants a cat. But rather than adopting a kitten, he comes home with Tabby who, like him, is a bit old and creaky. This charming series tells the story of their friendship and the gentle, at times delightfully humorous, experiences they share. —K.W.

Buy it: Amazon

20. Stellaluna // Janell Cannon; $14

Stellaluna book sold on Amazon.
HMH Books for Young Readers/Amazon

No matter your kid's feelings about bats, Stellaluna is hard not to love. The picture book from Janell Cannon tells the story of a young fruit bat who gets separated from her mother and finds herself adopted into a family of birds. Fun, informative, and filled with beautiful illustrations, Stellaluna is the perfect book for young nature lovers and their parents to read together. —Michele Debczak, Senior Staff Writer

Buy it: Amazon

21. My Father's Dragon Series // Ruth Stiles Gannett; $15

My Father's Dragon book.
Random House Children's Books/Amazon

This was one of the first chapter book series I read as a kid. The first book in this series follows the character Elmer Elevator, who goes to rescue a baby dragon held captive on Wild Island. He packs the essentials: gum, lollipops, a hairbrush, and a few other items that all seem to somehow help him on his journey to find the dragon. —Kristen Richard, Associate Editor

Buy it: Barnes and Noble

22. The Phantom Tollbooth // Norton Juster; $15

The Phantom Tollbooth book on Amazon.
Random House/Amazon

Despite this being a book intended for children, I made a point to read it every year into my teens and have even gifted it to some adults because I believe everyone can learn something from it. The story follows a boy named Milo, “who didn't know what to do with himself—not just sometimes, but always." One day, Milo comes home to find a magical tollbooth in his room that transports him to another world where he meets a ticking watchdog named Tok, and they set off to save two princesses, named Rhyme and Reason, locked in a tower. —K.R.

Buy it: Amazon

23. Wednesday is Spaghetti Day // Maryann Cocca-Leffler; Price Varies

Wednesday Is Spaghetti Day book on Amazon.
Troll Communications/Amazon

Ever wonder what your cat does when you aren’t home? They throw a spaghetti party, of course—but only on Wednesdays. This book, which I used to insist my parents read to me over and over, follows house cats coming together and bringing different ingredients to throw the ultimate spaghetti party. While the story itself is entertaining, the brightly colored illustrations are also incredible. —K.R.

Buy it: Amazon

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

Make Your Own Ship in a Bottle With This LEGO Set

This particular design was based off an idea from a long-time LEGO fan.
This particular design was based off an idea from a long-time LEGO fan.
LEGO/Amazon

Building a ship in a bottle doesn’t need to be a stodgy affair—especially when you’re doing it with LEGO bricks.

The 962-piece set ($70 on Amazon) is based on a design from Jake Sadovich, a longtime LEGO fan from Idaho. Sadovich spent three weeks designing his own version of a ship in a bottle using 1400 LEGO bricks before uploading images of the finished result to the LEGO Ideas site in November 2016. His project received the 10,000 supporters it needed to garner a review from the LEGO team in less than two months, and in August 2017, the company green-lit plans to build and sell an official set based on his design.

A LEGO ship in the bottle with the box.
Despite the ship's small size it has a lot of features.
LEGO/Amazon

Placed inside a bottle made of transparent bricks, the miniature ship boasts plenty of detailed features for its 5-inch-long size, including sails, six cannons, a crow’s nest, a compass (sorry, it isn’t a working one), and a flag. There's even a wax-sealed cork built out of LEGO bricks, too, as well as small LEGO pieces designed to serve as the water beneath the ship.

Some of the other fan-submitted LEGO Ideas projects the company has brought to life include the NASA Apollo Saturn V ($200) and a replica of the Central Perk set from Friends ($60).

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

Sling TV’s 14-Day Free Trial Gives You Access to Countless Movies and Shows, No Credit Card Required

Sling's 14-day free trial doesn't require a credit card, so you won't accidentally be charged once it's up.
Sling's 14-day free trial doesn't require a credit card, so you won't accidentally be charged once it's up.
Prostock-Studio/iStock via Getty Images Plus

You’ve probably encountered more than one so-called free trial that required you to input a credit card to access it. And if you’re like many of us, you have probably forgotten to cancel the trial before the free period ended—more than once. But Sling TV is looking to offer users a free trial that’s, well, actually free. From now until April 5, new subscribers can access over 50,000 on-demand movies, 45 channels, and more during their free 14-day trial, no credit card required.

Fittingly dubbed the “Quarantine Special,” the free trial gives viewers access to a Sling Blue subscription, which offers channels like CNN, MSNBC, Bravo, A&E, Cartoon Network, Nick Jr., and more. The Blue subscription also allows you to stream on up to three devices simultaneously and record live shows on their cloud DVR.

Rather than having to sign up for a long-term contract like with traditional cable, Sling is a month-to-month service that allows you to stream content to your TV or computer/smartphone through web browsers, Roku, Amazon, iOS, and Android devices.

After the free trial, you have the option of signing up for the Sling Blue or Orange subscription, both of which are $20 for the first month and then $30 after that. There are a few key differences between the two. According to Tom’s Guide, with Orange, you won’t have access to NBC networks. And with Blue, you won’t be able to watch ESPN or the Disney Channel. Orange only lets you stream on one device at a time, whereas with Blue, you can stream on up to three simultaneously. However, you can swap between the two for no extra cost, or you could combine the subscriptions for $45 a month.

Much like Sling, Disney Plus also allows subscribers to enjoy seven days (with a credit card) for no cost, and you can get more details by heading here. And if you're looking for more ways to save money as a cord-cutter, check out our guide on the cheapest ways to do so.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

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