The best-selling children's books in the world are varied beyond simple classification, but they all have the common factor of appealing to millions of people across a myriad of cultures, languages, ages, and experiences. Some are picture books, some are novels and some are part of a series, but they are all important creative works that have demonstrated the power of captivating so many people's imaginations.
Best-Selling Children's Books
Below is only a partial, very limited list of some of the most popular children's books of all time. If you're interested in further investigating the popularity and sales numbers of kids' books, you can check weekly bestseller lists from The New York Times or long-term sales data from Publishers Weekly.
The following are some of the world's top-selling children's books.
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is the best-selling children's book series in the world with more than 400 million copies sold. In its heyday, it seemed as if everyone was reading Harry Potter--adults, children, parents, and others of all ages and interests. The seven-volume series about a young boy who turns out to be a wizard has been translated into dozens of languages and still boasts strong sales numbers all over the world.
The Twilight Saga
This four-part series about a high school girl, Bella Swan, who meets a handsome vampire in her biology class, has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide and proved most popular among young adults and teens. Stephenie Meyer, who wrote the Twilight books, maintains that the main character came to her in a dream. In addition to spawning a successful film series, Meyer's books launched a wave of Twilight imitators and vampire books directed at teens that saturated the publishing industry for a time.
Series books tend to garner the most popularity among kids and teens, and R.L. Stine's Goosebumps series is no exception. The horror books, which primarily appeal to elementary-school-aged boys who may be reluctant readers, were published during the 1990s and caught on rapidly. They featured gruesome monsters, page-turning chapters, and twist endings, all of which helped propel them to massive popularity. Stine wrote more than 60 Goosebumps volumes, which together sold more than 100 million copies and inspired a TV series, collection of video games, and film contract.
The Poky Little Puppy
Written by Janette Sebring Lowrey, The Poky Little Puppy was first published in 1942 and was one of the original Little Golden Books from Simon and Schuster. The book is short, sweet, and simple, meant for very young children. Because it features a puppy and a story without any markers of time or place, it's successfully able to appeal to children all around the world. The Poky Little Puppy is one of the best-selling children's books of all time with about 15 million copies sold.
Although Charlotte's Web may seem tame by modern conventions of edgy novels and trend-setting characters, E.B. White's masterpiece is a timeless classic that seems to captivate contemporary children just as fully as it did when it was originally published. The book succeeds by appealing to sympathy and emotions that everyone shares, making it easy to identify with a cast of animal characters and become completely engrossed in their world.
Perhaps the most important uniting factor of all top-selling children's books is that they are able to unite kids of all ages and reading levels despite their very different stories and backgrounds. For voracious young readers who tend to tear through modern bestsellers, taking a short trip back in time and loading up on some older bestselling classics at the library has the potential to open up a whole new world of valuable reading material.