All Ages The 15 most popular children's books that weren't written by J.K. Rowling.

Published on October 3rd, 2014 | by Bright Kids Books


15 most popular children’s books (not written by J.K. Rowling)

The top echelons of the most popular children’s books are dominated by one J. K. Rowling. So we thought it would be far more interesting to list the ‘other’ best-selling children’s books.

Don’t get us wrong, the Harry Potter series was a one of a kind phenomenon and any books that get hundreds of millions of kids  reading have our utmost respect. However, we were curious about the other books on the list. Interestingly, if you excluded Little Golden Books and Dr. Seuss, this list of the 15 most popular children’s books that weren’t written by J.K. Rowling, Dr Seuss or Little Golden Books would be whittled down to just nine! In any case, you might be surprised by some of the books that made this list.

The 15 most popular children’s books
* not written by J.K. Rowling


15. Island of the Blue Dolphins
by Scott O’Dell

With 6.6 million copies sold, Island of the Blue Dolphins comes in at #15 on the list of most popular children’s books (that weren’t written by J.K. Rowling). The Newbery Medal-winning story of a 12-year old girl who lives alone on a Pacific island after she leaps from a rescue ship is great reading for 9-12 year olds. Isolated on the island for eighteen years, Karana forages for food, builds weapons to fight predators, clothes herself in a cormorant-feather skirt, and finds strength and peace in her seclusion.


14. Where the red fern grows
by Wilson Rawls

This tale of a boy and his two dogs is sure to tug on the old heartstrings. In Where the Red Fern Grows, Billy and his precious coonhound pups romp relentlessly through the Ozarks, trying to “tree” the elusive raccoon. In time, the inseparable trio wins the coveted gold cup in the annual coon-hunt contest, captures the wily ghost coon, and bravely fights with a mountain lion. When the victory over the mountain lion turns to tragedy, Billy grieves, but learns the beautiful old Native American legend of the sacred red fern that grows over the graves of his dogs. With 6.7 million copies sold, Where the Red Fern Grows is the 14th most popular children’s book of all time (that wasn’t written by J.K. Rowling) and perfect for 9-12 year old readers. Or reminiscing adults!


13. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
by Judy Blume

Peter thinks he has the world’s biggest problem – his little brother, Fudge. Fudge causes trouble wherever he goes and it’s usually up to Peter to sort out the mess. When Peter wins a tiny green turtle called Dribble, he’s determined to keep it away from his brother. But when Fudge does get his hands on Dribble – disaster strikes! Since it was first published in 1972, Judy Blume’s classic has sold more than 7.1 million copies. Great reading for 7 year olds and up and the 13th most popular children’s book of all time (that wasn’t written by J.K. Rowling).


12. The Cat in the Hat
by Dr Seuss

Dr Seuss wrote The Cat in the Hat because he thought the famous Dick and Jane primers were insanely boring. Kids weren’t interested in the material, so it simply didn’t help them learn to read. The Cat in the Hat was born. “I have great pride in taking Dick and Jane out of most school libraries,” he said. “That is my greatest satisfaction.” For this fact alone, The Cat in the Hat deserves its place as one of the most popular children’s books of all time (with 7.2 million books sold).


11. Scuffy the Tugboat
by Gertrude Crampton

Meant for “bigger things,” Scuffy the Tugboat sets off to explore the world. But on his daring adventure Scuffy realizes that home is where he’d rather be, sailing in his bathtub. For over 50 years, parents and toddlers have cherished this classic Little Golden Book. Scuffy the Tugboat has sold over 7.3 million copies, making it one of the popular children’s books of all time.


10. The Saggy Baggy Elephant
by Bryon Jackson

Another classic Golden Book, The Saggy Baggy Elephant has sold over 7.4 million copies. After a parrot makes fun of Sooki’s big ears, long nose, and wrinkled skin, the “saggy baggy” elephant isn’t too sure of himself. But once he meets some beautiful creatures who look just like him, Sooki celebrates with a joyful “one-two-three-kick.” For over 50 years, parents and children have treasured this tale, with gorgeous art by Gustaf Tenggren, the illustrator of The Poky Little Puppy. One of the most popular children’s books of all time (that wasn’t written by J. K. Rowling).


9. Pat the Bunny (Touch and Feel Book)
by Dorothy Kunhardt

Pat the Bunny is the original interactive, multimedia experience for kids! And with over 7.5 million copies sold, that’s a lot of bunny pats. Virtually unchanged since its introduction in 1940, the kind tone and sweet illustrations in this classic recall a bygone era, while the simple language and large print invite kids to get interested in the written word as an invitation to thought and action. As one of the bestselling children’s books of all time, Pat the Bunny has become a tradition passed from one generation to the next to help instill a love of books and reading. One of the most popular children’s books (not written by J.K. Rowling).


8. Love You Forever
by Robert Munsch

The mother sings to her sleeping baby: “I’ll love you forever / I’ll love you for always / As long as I’m living / My baby you’ll be.” She still sings the same song when her baby has turned into a fractious 2-year-old, a slovenly 9-year-old, a raucous teen, and so on. Then, inevitably, the day comes when she’s too old and sick to hold him, and the roles are at last reversed. Each stage is illustrated by one of Sheila McGraw’s comic and yet poignant pastels. A touching and thoughtful insight into how we change as we grow older and what we as parents (hopefully) have to look forward to. Not only will Love You Forever leave you a blubbering mess, but it’s also one of the most popular children’s books with 7.9 million sold.


7. Green Eggs and Ham
by Dr Seuss

When Bennett Cerf, Dr Seuss’ editor, bet him that he couldn’t write a book using 50 words or less, who could have predicted a book that would sell in excess of 8.1 million copies and become one of the most popular children’s books of all time! Not one to back down from a challenge, Mr. Geisel started writing and came up with Green Eggs and Ham —which uses exactly 50 words. This timeless Dr Seuss classic was first published in 1960, and has been delighting readers ever since.

* The 50 words, by the way, are: a, am, and, anywhere, are, be, boat, box, car, could, dark, do, eat, eggs, fox, goat, good, green, ham, here, house, I, if, in, let, like, may, me, mouse, not, on, or, rain, Sam, say, see, so, thank, that, the, them, there, they, train, tree, try, will, with, would, you.


6. Tootle
by Gertrude Crampton

Young ones can listen in as Tootle and the other little engines attend school to learn whistle blowing, puffing loudly, screeching to a halt, hugging the rails, and all the other skills it takes to be a big locomotive. And with 8.5 million copies sold, Tootle is also one of the most popular children’s books.


5. The Tale of Peter Rabbit
by Beatrix Potter

The oldest children’s book on this list, 2012 marked 110 years since The Tale of Peter Rabbit was first published. In that time the story of a mischievous rabbit and his nerve-wracking encounter with Mr. McGregor has sold more than 9.3 million copies to become one of the most popular children’s books not written by J. K. Rowling.


4. The Outsiders
by S. E. Hinton

Written forty-five years ago – when she was 16 years old – S. E. Hinton’s classic story has sold over 9.6 million copies and is one of the most popular children’s books and Young Adult novels ever written. The story of a boy who finds himself on the outskirts of regular society remains as powerful today as it was the day it was written.


3. Charlotte’s Web
by E.B. White

E. B. White’s Newbery Honor Book is a tender novel of friendship, love, life, and death that you and your kids will simply adore. This is the story of a little girl named Fern who loved a little pig named Wilbur – and of Wilbur’s dear friend Charlotte A. Cavatica, a beautiful large grey spider who lived with Wilbur in the barn. With the help of Templeton, the rat who never did anything for anybody unless there was something in it for him, and by a wonderfully clever plan of their own, Charlotte saved the life of Wilbur, who by this time had grown up to be quite a pig. But be forewarned, you may need a box of tissues within close reach. A genuine classic, and with over 11.3 million copies sold, one of the most popular children’s books of all time!


2. The Poky Little Puppy
by Janette Sebring Lowrey

One of the original 12 Little Golden Books, The Poky Little Puppy has sold nearly 15 million copies since 1942, making it one of the most popular children’s books ever. In fact, if you discount the mega-selling J. K. Rowling Harry Potter books, it’s the second highest selling children’s book of all time.


1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
by Eric Carle

A much-loved classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar has won over millions of readers with its vivid and colourful collage illustrations and its deceptively simply, hopeful story. With its die-cut pages and finger-sized holes to explore, this is a richly satisfying classic children’s book that has delighted generations of toddlers. One of the most popular children’s books of all time with 35 million sales –  and also one of the true classics.

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