50 Years of Children’s Literature (Picture Book to Middle-Grade)

Every year, March 2 is set aside to celebrate the impact reading has on children. We call it Read Across America Day. Since Half Price Books will be celebrating our 50th birthday this year, I was looking over all the fun, impactful children’s books, from picture to middle-grade, that have been written in the last 50 years. Here are 50 of my favorites:

  1. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst (early reader)
  2. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, by Judy Blume (middle-grade)
  3. Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein (early reader)
  4. Danny, the Champion of the World, by Roald Dahl (middle-grade)
  5. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor (middle-grade)
  6. Ordinary Jack, by Helen Cresswell (middle-grade)
  7. The Hoboken Chicken Emergency, by Daniel Pinkwater (middle-grade)
  8. Bunnicula, by Deborah and James Howe (middle-grade)
  9. Where’s Spot?, by Eric Hill (picture book; 2-7)
  10. The Girl with the Silver Eyes, by Willo Davis Roberts (middle-grade)
  11. Hunches in Bunches, by Dr. Seuss (picture book)
  12. Dear Mr. Henshaw, by Beverly Cleary (middle-grade)
  13. The Very Busy Spider, by Eric Carle (picture book)
  14. The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg (early reader)
  15. Howl’s Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones (middle grade)
  16. The Whipping Boy, by Sid Fleishman (middle grade)
  17. Redwall, by Brian Jacques (middle-grade)
  18. Wayside School is Falling Down, by Louis Sachar (middle-grade)
  19. Something Big Has Been Here, by Jack Prelutsky (early reader)
  20. Welcome to Dead House, by R.L. Stine (middle-grade)
  21. The Paper Bag Princess, by Robert Munsch (picture book)
  22. Happy Birthday, Addy!, by Connie Porter (middle-grade)
  23. Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech (middle-grade)
  24. The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963, by Christopher Paul Curtis (middle-grade)
  25. Frindle, by Andrew Clements (middle-grade)
  26. A Mouse Called Wolf, by Dick King-Smith (chapter book)
  27. A Bad Case of Stripes, by David Shannon (early reader)
  28. The Brichbark House, by Louis Erdrich (middle-grade)
  29. Because of Winn-Dixie, by Kate DiCamillo (middle-grade)
  30. Skippyjon Jones, by Judith Byron Schachner (picture book)
  31. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, by Mo Willems (picture book)
  32. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by J.K. Rowling (middle-grade)
  33. The Curious Incident of the Don in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon (middle-grade)
  34. Llama Llama Red Pajama, by Anna Dewdney (picture book)
  35. The Arrival, by Shaun Tan (middle-grade)
  36. Henry’s Freedom Box, by Ellen Levine (early reader)
  37. Lola at the Library, by Anna McQuinn (picture book)
  38. The Evolution of Calpernia Tate, by Jacqueline Kelly (middle-grade)
  39. Pete the Cat: I Love my White Shoes, by Eric Litwin (picture book)
  40. I Want My Hat Back, by Jon Klassen (picture book)
  41. A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness (middle-grade)
  42. The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt (picture book)
  43. The Book With No Pictures, by B.J. Novak (early reader)
  44. The Jumbies, by Tracey Baptiste (middle-grade)
  45. Ghosts, by Raina Telgemeier (middle-grade)
  46. The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors, by Drew Daywalt (early reader)
  47. Julian is a Mermaid, by Jessica Love (picture book)
  48. The New Kid, by Jerry Craft (middle-grade)
  49. The Box Turtle, by Vanessa Roeder (picture book)
  50. The Legend of Auntie Po, by Shing Yin Khor (middle-grade)

There’s something for every kid in this list, scary, silly, serious, but if you need more books to read, check out last year’s Read Across America Day blog. So, what books are you going to read this Read Across America Day?

This post has 1 Comment.

  • I think you have done a fairly good job of covering great kids books over 50 years. I am familiar with alot of them and have some new books to read. there is a neat picture book my 4 year old has been having me read to him lately 3xs in one day that did not make list but lot out there. this book is I believe Spooky House by Donna Washington. It is a common ghost story someone is coming to this scary house but you don’t necesarally see the person kind of story but this telling has a BIG STRONG man who knows it going off to join the army and gets stranded in this scary house. but he is a BIG man and he is a STRONG man so he isnt scared its creepy but funny and repetitive and my 4 year old cant get enough of it. just wanted to share