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The Best-Selling Children’s Books of All Time

There are many beloved children's books that have stood the test of time. Even books that were written hundreds of years ago are still enjoyed by children today. Some of the best children's books have sold millions of copies over the years. Do you know which are the best-selling books for children throughout history?

The research team at AAAStateOfPlay.com looked at data of the most sold books of all time to create a visualization of the most popular children's and young adult books throughout history. Keep reading to see which books are the most popular!

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What Are the Most Popular Children's Books?

The best-selling children's book of all time is The Little Prince, which was written by French author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The book has sold approximately 200,000,000 copies since it was published in 1943. The story is about a prince who visits various planets and explores themes of friendship, love, and loss. While considered a children's book, its subject matter resonates with readers of all ages.

The second book on the list is Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (also known as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in some locations) by J.K. Rowling. The beloved book about a wizard and his adventures at his magical school, which was published in 1997, has sold approximately 120,000,000 copies around the world. It's considered to be on of the most famous children's books of all time. The book series is so popular that the other six novels also rank highly on the list.

The third best-selling children's book is The Hobbit written by J. R. R. Tolkien. It was published in 1937 and about 100,000,000 copies have been sold since then. The book tells the story of a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins who joins a wizard named Gandalf and thirteen dwarves to help recover the dwarves' ancestral home as well as treasure from a dragon called Smaug. The book is considered to be one of the best children's books ever written. It is also a prequel to the popular Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy were made into movies which earned significant acclaim.

Tied in fifth place for best-selling children's books are the rest of the books in the Harry Potter series: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005), and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007). All of these books have sold approximately 65,000,000 copies each around the world. The series is also the best-selling children's book series in history.

There are a number of books at the number 10 spot, selling about 50,000,000 copies each. They include:

  • Heidi by Johanna Spyri (1880): A story about a young girl being raised by her grandfather in the Swiss Alps
  • Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery (1908): This story is about an 11-year-old orphan named Anne Shirley sent to live on a farm on Prince Edward Island in Canada
  • Black Beauty by Anna Sewell (1877): Black Beauty was a horse that grew up on a farm and recounts the joys and hardships in his life
  • Watership Down by Richard Adams (1972): This novel is an adventure story about small group of rabbits living in Southern England and the trials they face attempting to find a new home after their warren is destroyed
  • Charlotte's Web by E. B. White (1952): This tells the story about a pig named Wilbur and his friend spider, Charlotte

There are many other childhood classics that are included on the list. Some of these include The Tale of Peter Rabbit written by Beatrix Potter (45,000,000 copies), Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach (44,000,000 copies), and The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (43,000,000 copies). 

The Important Role of Reading and Play in Education

While traditional education is a cornerstone of development of children, there are many other ways their needs can be fostered at home. Incorporating regular reading, including at bedtime, into a child's schedule can help improve their literacy. Consistent play on playground structures like swing sets, slides, and climbing walls help develop motors skills.

From children's classics to new young adult literature, there are many books featured on the list that have touched the hearts of readers around the world. Which of the popular kid's books on the list of best sellers have you read?

The Best-Selling Children's Books



    • Rank

      Book

      Author

      Year

      Approximate Sales

      1

      The Little Prince

      Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

      1943

      200,000,000

      2

      Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

      J. K. Rowling

      1997

      120,000,000

      3

      The Hobbit

      J. R. R. Tolkien

      1937

      100,000,000

      4

      Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

      J. K. Rowling

      1998

      77,000,000

      5

      Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

      J. K. Rowling

      1999

      65,000,000

      5

      Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

      J. K. Rowling

      2000

      65,000,000

      5

      Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

      J. K. Rowling

      2003

      65,000,000

      5

      Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

      J. K. Rowling

      2005

      65,000,000

      5

      Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

      J. K. Rowling

      2007

      65,000,000

      10

      Heidi

      Johanna Spyri

      1880

      50,000,000

      10

      Anne of Green Gables

      Lucy Maud Montgomery

      1908

      50,000,000

      10

      Black Beauty

      Anna Sewell

      1877

      50,000,000

      10

      Watership Down

      Richard Adams

      1972

      50,000,000

      10

      Charlotte's Web

      E. B. White

      1952

      50,000,000

      15

      The Tale of Peter Rabbit

      Beatrix Potter

      1902

      45,000,000

      16

      Jonathan Livingston Seagull

      Richard Bach

      1970

      44,000,000

      17

      The Very Hungry Caterpillar

      Eric Carle

      1969

      43,000,000

      18

      To Kill a Mockingbird

      Harper Lee

      1960

      40,000,000

      18

      Sophie's World

      Jostein Gaarder

      1991

      40,000,000

      20

      The Adventures of Pinocchio

      Carlo Collodi

      1881

      35,000,000

      21

      The Hunger Games

      Suzanne Collins

      2008

      29,000,000

      22

      James and the Giant Peach

      Roald Dahl

      1961

      28,000,000

      23

      The Wind in the Willows

      Kenneth Grahame

      1908

      25,000,000

      24

      The Fault in Our Stars

      John Green

      2012

      23,000,000

      25

      Uncle Styopa

      Sergey Mikhalkov

      1936

      21,000,000

      25

      Catching Fire

      Suzanne Collins

      2009

      21,000,000

      27

      Mockingjay

      Suzanne Collins

      2010

      20,000,000

      27

      Love You Forever

      Robert Munsch

      1986

      20,000,000

      27

      Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

      Mark Twain

      1885

      20,000,000

      27

      The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾

      Sue Townsend

      1982

      20,000,000

      27

      Where the Wild Things Are

      Maurice Sendak

      1963

      20,000,000

      27

      Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

      Roald Dahl

      1964

      20,000,000

      33

      Matilda

      Roald Dahl

      1988

      17,000,000

      34

      The Book Thief

      Markus Zusak

      2005

      16,000,000

      35

      Goodnight Moon

      Margaret Wise Brown

      1947

      16,000,000

      35

      The Neverending Story

      Michael Ende

      1979

      16,000,000

      37

      The Outsiders

      S. E. Hinton

      1967

      15,000,000

      37

      Guess How Much I Love You

      Sam McBratney

      1994

      15,000,000

      37

      The Poky Little Puppy

      Janette Sebring Lowrey

      1942

      15,000,000

      40

      A Wrinkle in Time

      Madeleine L'Engle

      1962

      14,000,000

      41

      Momo

      Michael Ende

      1973

      13,000,000

      42

      The Giver

      Lois Lowry

      1993

      12,000,000

      43

      The Gruffalo

      Julia Donaldson

      1999

      10,500,000

      43

      The Cat in the Hat

      Dr. Seuss

      1957

      10,500,000

      45

      Ronia, the Robber's Daughter

      Astrid Lindgren

      1981

      10,000,000


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