While we legally consider a “child” to be anyone under the age of 18, we all know that every kid is different, and within those 18 years, adolescents tend to go through at least several phases, where their interests can change at the drop of a hat—so it’s not exactly easy to write a book with broad appeal to children!
Luckily for us, there are some highly talented writers who have managed to write timeless favorites that delight young readers, many of whom grow up to read those books with their own children!
The Best Children’s Authors
Below are 16 of the most beloved children’s authors, featuring some of their best works, arranged by recommended age group.
1. Eric Carle
Eric Carle is the award-winning author and illustrator of over 70 children’s books, including best-selling titles such as Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and The Grouchy Ladybug. Carle has said he tries to use many of his books to “bridge the gap between the home and school,” to make the new and unfamiliar less scary.
Must-read: The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Age Group: 0–3 years
According to Amazon, a copy of this classic children’s picture book is sold somewhere in the world every 30 seconds. Featuring beautiful illustrations, this book follows the very hungry caterpillar as he eats his way through an apple, two pears, three plums, a cherry pie, and sausage—before ending up with a stomachache. But soon he’ll transform into a beautiful butterfly!
This delightful book is also a fun way to teach kids the basics of counting, as well as the days of the week.
2. Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri
Author Adam Rubin and illustrator Daniel Salmieri are known for their contemporary picture books, many of which combine animals and food (and what kid doesn’t love both of these things?). Some of their best-selling titles include Secret Pizza Party (featuring raccoons) and Those Darn Squirrels.
Must-read: Dragons Love Tacos
Age Group: 3–7 years
It’s a well-known fact that dragons love tacos. But where there are tacos, there is often salsa—spicy salsa. And you do not want to be around when a dragon eats spicy salsa.
This beautifully-designed, hilarious book tells a story of yummy snacks, dangerous salsa, and new friendships.
3. Julia Donaldson
Julia Donaldson has sold over 65 million books worldwide. She writes fiction, poems, plays, and songs, as well as picture books. The TV-film adaptations for two of her books, The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom, have been nominated for Oscars.
Must-read: Room on the Broom
Age Group: 3–7 years
The witch and her cat are enjoying a smooth flight on her broom, until the wind picks up and blows away her hat, bow, and wand! Fortunately, some kind animals help her find the lost items, and all they want in exchange is a ride on her broom. But is there enough room on the broom? And how will they fare when a hungry dragon comes after them?
4. Yangsook Choi
Yangsook Choi grew up in South Korea and started drawing at age four. After moving to New York to pursue her art, she now splits her time between that city and Seoul. Her books have been hailed as the “Best of the Best” by the Chicago Public Library, and she’s also received the International Reading Association’s Children’s Book Award.
Must-read: The Name Jar
Age Range: 3–7 years
Unhei just moved to America from Korea. And as if the first day of school weren’t scary enough, she’s also worried that no one will be able to pronounce her name, so instead of introducing herself, she tells her classmates she will choose a new name by the end of the week. The other kids try to be helpful by putting names in a jar for her to choose from. But when another child visits her neighborhood and discovers the special meaning of Unhei’s real name, her classmates encourage her to choose her own name—and she teaches them all how to pronounce it (Yoon-Hey).
5. Maurice Sendak
Maurice Sendak has said that he “refuses to lie to children.” Having experienced a troubling childhood, with much of his extended family being murdered during the Holocaust, many of his books feature dark undertones, but his twisty tales always end up providing much-needed comfort.
Must-read: Where the Wild Things Are
Age Group: 4–8 years
After putting on his wolf suit and unleashing havoc in his house, Max’s mother sends him off to bed. But from there, he sails to an island that’s home to the Wild Things, who make him their king and share in wild adventures with him.
6. Beverly Cleary
Beverly Cleary wrote over 30 children’s books, but she’s best known for creating the beloved Ramona Geraldine Quimby. Cleary’s characters are funny, often awkward, and always relatable. She won the Newbery Medal for her book Dear Mr. Henshaw.
Must-read: Beezus and Ramona
Age Group: 8–13 years
Four-year-old Ramona can be a lot to handle, especially for her older sister Beezus. In this hilarious but relatable account of sisterhood, Ramona’s wild imagination and disregard for order will test Beezus’s patience and threaten to ruin her birthday party!
7. Kate DiCamillo
Known for bestsellers like Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux, Kate DiCamillo crafts immersive worlds that touch the heart and can sometimes break it, yet remain soft enough to speak to children. DiCamillo has won two Newbery Medals and been named National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.
Must-read: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
Age Group: 7–11 years
Edward Tulane is a privileged china rabbit. He is owned and adored by a young girl named Abilene, and he loves her right back. But one day, Edward gets lost. This book takes us on a journey as Edward travels from the deep ocean to the net of a fisherman, from the bedside of a sick child to the busy streets of Memphis. Along the way, he experiences the miracle of learning to love again, despite his heartbreak.
8. Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman is the author of over 20 best-selling books, including Norse Mythology, Neverwhere, and Coraline. Not all of his books are for children, but even the ones that are prove to be thrilling, a little scary, and impossible to put down.
Age Group: 8–12 years
After moving into a new home with her family, Coraline discovers a hidden door that leads to a house that looks pretty much like hers—except better. At first, everything seems wonderful. But there’s another mother and another father in the house who want Coraline to stay and be theirs. Coraline will have to use all her wit and courage to fight her way back to her real family, and ordinary life.
9. C.S. Lewis
C.S. Lewis was an Irish-born scholar and author of over 40 books. He is best-known for his series The Chronicles of Narnia, as well as The Space Trilogy, The Screwtape Letters, and several nonfiction Christian books, including Mere Christianity and Miracles.
Must-read: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Age Group: 8–12 years
This classic children’s adventure follows Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie through a wardrobe door that takes them to the land of Narnia, which is frozen in a never-ending winter and ruled by the White Witch. The return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals hope for a great change, but one that requires sacrifice.
10. R.L. Stine
R.L. Stine is a novelist, short story writer, television producer, screenwriter, and executive editor. He’s perhaps best known as the creator of the popular Goosebumps series, and has even been referred to as “the Stephen King of Children’s Literature.”
Age Group: 8–12 years
In this first installment in the series, siblings Josh and Amanda just moved into the oldest and strangest house in the neighborhood. Naturally, they think it’s haunted, but their parents don’t believe them. The two try to make new friends, but the creepy kids in the area are not like anyone they’ve met before.
11. J.K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling is best-known for creating the wildly successful Harry Potter series and franchise, which includes 7 books and blockbuster films (and now has its own theme parks!). Rowling’s “rags to riches” story saw her go from a struggling single mother to amassing a net worth of over £795 million.
Must-read: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Age Group: 8–13 years
11-year-old Harry Potter has been raised by his miserable aunt and uncle who do everything to keep Harry from learning that he’s really a wizard, like his parents were. But when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards, he uncovers clues to his noble destiny while discovering a mystical world he never knew existed.
12. Jeff Kinney
Jeff Kinney is an author and cartoonist best known for his Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, which contains 15 installments. He has been named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. Jeff and his wife own a bookstore in Massachusetts called “An Unlikely Story.”
Must-read: Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Age Group: 8–12 years
It’s the start of middle school for Greg Heffley, and he finds himself once again at the bottom of the food chain. And when his sidekick, Rowley, starts to rise in popularity, it kicks off a sequence of events that will test their friendship in often hilarious ways. Greg records his daily woes in his own words and pictures through his trusty diary.
13. Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl wrote 21 books for children, including beloved classics like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach, which were also turned into successful film adaptations. His children’s books are often narrated by their child protagonists, which allows young readers to feel like they’re right in the middle of the action.
Age Group: 8–12 years
Matilda is an exceptional girl, but her parents find her to be a nuisance. She thinks school will be different, but there she meets the menacing Miss Trumbull. Soon, Matilda finds she has a remarkable power—a superhuman genius—that will help her fight back.
14. Judy Blume
This list wouldn’t be complete without Judy Blume, the best-selling author who has written over 17 books for children, young adults, and adults. Tackling issues such as puberty and coming of age, Blume’s books continue to reach new generations of readers who are discovering her always-relatable stories.
Must-read: Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
Age Range: 8–12
Peter Hatcher’s life with his little brother, Fudge, sometimes makes him feel like a fourth grade nothing. Two-year-old Fudge is a walking disaster: he destroys Peter’s homework, throws public temper tantrums, and smears food on the walls of restaurants. When Fudge walks off with Peter’s pet turtle, Peter decides he’s had enough, and he must find a way to get his parents to pay attention to him for a change.
15. Pam Muñoz Ryan
Pam Muñoz Ryan has written over 40 books for young people and has won numerous awards, including the Kirkus Prize and the NEA’s Human and Civil Rights Award for authors. Many of her books focus on Latinx and multicultural experiences, reflecting her own heritage. Her protagonists often face hardships, but find their hard work and faith are rewarded.
Must-read: Esperanza Rising
Age Group: 12–14
Esperanza lives a privileged life on her family’s ranch in Mexico. She thought it would always be that way—that she would have nice dresses, servants, a beautiful home, and her family to care for her. But a tragedy forces Esperanza and her mother to flee to California, where they settle in a Mexican farm labor camp. She isn’t ready for the hard work, financial struggles caused by the Great Depression, or discrimination she now faces, but she knows she must find a way to rise above her difficult situation for her mother’s life and her own.
16. Jacqueline Woodson
Jacqueline Woodson writes beautiful, prolific poetry, memoirs, and novels about the Black experience in America. Her lyrical descriptions have earned her numerous awards, including the National Book Award and Newbery Honor.
Must-read: Brown Girl Dreaming
Age Group: 11–14
This series of vivid poems describes Woodson’s experience growing up as an African American in the 1960s and ’70s, between South Carolina and New York, never feeling completely at home in either place. Each line offers a unique perspective from a child’s soul, as she reflects on how she found her voice through writing.
Successful Children’s Authors
Want to try your hand at writing a children’s story of your own? Check out our post on how to write a children’s book and keep working on your writing.
You never know—it might be your name on this list someday!
Do you or your child have a favorite children’s author? Share your top pick in the comments below!
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As a blog writer for TCK Publishing, Kaelyn loves crafting fun and helpful content for writers, readers, and creative minds alike. She has a degree in International Affairs with a minor in Italian Studies, but her true passion has always been writing. Working from home allows her to do even more of the things she loves, like traveling, cooking, and spending time with her family.