The idea for a 100 greatest list had been on our minds for some time. When we learned that 2012 marks the 15th anniversary of the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day (March 2), we got rolling (and counting). The fact that Read Across America Day also commemorates the birthday of Dr. Seuss, and that March is National Reading Month, made everything fall into place. The planets aligned!
Creating a list of 100 greatest anything is a feat in itself. Selecting the top 100 greatest books for kids? Whoa! Whether they’re thinking of a title from their own childhoods, or one they love reading with, and to, their own children — everyone has an opinion!
To create our list, we asked several highly respected literacy experts, educators, and parents for suggestions. (See "Contributors" on our bookshelf.) They came through in a big way — nearly 500 books were in the running. We used a variety of criteria to narrow down to 100 and then rank our titles, including diversity of genre, topic, format, ages and stages, authorship, and cultural representation. Factors such as literary and/or illustration excellence, popularity, and longevity or innovative freshness were all qualities of books in the final round.
Along the way, a few familiar and well-loved titles made way for fresh, unique books that children today know and love. Some authors’ secondary works stepped aside to allow for a greater variety of names and faces who may be new to you. We also included nonfiction, a rarity among these kinds of lists, but a must, given the high demand for it in schools today and the great quality of these works. In the end, we came up with a diverse range of timeless titles, classic and new, that children of all ages will learn from, grow through, and enjoy.
We know that mixing together books from four different age groups and categories is sort of an apples and oranges, and, well, peaches and pears kind of thing. But that made creating the list even more fun and surely will get you and your friends, not to mention your children and their teachers, talking and discussing. We also know that each person’s personal list is different — everyone has an opinion! To share your thoughts about our choices, go to our 100 Greatest Books for Kids Facebook album. We look forward to hearing from you!
Shout outs: We’d like to thank all those who worked tirelessly to assemble the accompanying media for this project, especially Parent & Child Digital Manager Tom Booth and Digital Editor Megan Hess. We skywrite a huge note of gratitude to Senior Editor Anna Bardaus of the Scholastic Classroom and Community Group, who was the driving force in reaching out to our contributors and in generating the final list.