The Top 100 Children’s Books Redux

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how a-list blogger Betsy Bird was conducting a massive poll to determine the top 100 children’s novels of all time.

My husband, the statistics fanatic, noticed how books published in the last ten years were getting a disproportionate amount of attention.  So he created an algorithm that would weight the books’ poll scores according to age.

The older a book was, the more value its votes would have.

In addition to fiddling with the winners of the official poll, Brian went so far as to recalculate the scores of every book that anybody voted for. That’s dedication, baby.  Ergo, books like Swiss Family Robinson — even though it only got nine votes — ends up in the top 30 because it was published in 1812.

Below is the list of the top books — expanded to include 120.  If you want to see the explanation of the math, read the previous post.

It’s interesting that the #1 choice didn’t change.  Note, too, the big jump in scores between the top four books, and the following four.  It’s also fun to see which books had the biggest increases in scores (like Heidi or Call of the Wild) and which had the biggest drops (Inkheart, The Bad Beginning).  And some books from the official list disappeared altogether (such as The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane).  I was personally happy to see one of my kinda-obscure childhood favorites, What Katy Did, make the list this way.

Just interesting stuff, if you’re a fan of the math.  And as a certified children’s librarian, I can say with confidence that if you were to read all of these books, you’d get a very strong foundation in becoming a children’s literature expert.  (*sound of official Seal of Approval ramming down on computer monitor*)

Book year.
score
rank Adjusted score Adjusted Rank Change in rank
Charlotte’s Web 1952 751 1 67.320 1 0
Anne of Green Gables 1908 365 9 65.861 2 7
The Secret Garden 1911 371 8 63.826 3 5
Little Women 1868 136 25 46.354 4 21
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland 1865 129 27 46.116 5 22
A Wrinkle in Time 1962 593 2 45.343 6 -4
Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe 1950 456 4 42.197 7 -3
Mixed Up Files of Mrs. BEF 1967 409 5 28.883 8 -3
A Little Princess 1905 124 28 23.468 9 19
Harrry Potter: Sorcerer’s Stone 1997 533 3 23.361 10 -7
The Hobbit 1938 207 12 23.182 11 1
The Phantom Tollbooth 1961 291 10 22.607 12 -2
The wonderful wizard of OZ 1900 107 40 21.926 13 27
The Giver 1993 373 7 17.422 14 -7
Holes 1998 392 6 16.910 15 -9
Little House in the Big Woods 1932 137 23 16.878 16 7
Winnie-the-Pooh 1926 121 30 16.399 17 13
The Westing game 1978 248 11 14.703 18 -7
Wind in the Willows 1908 77 53 13.894 19 34
Harriet the Spy 1964 177 16 13.110 20 -4
Bridge to Terabithia 1977 201 13 12.108 21 -8
Little House on the Prarie 1935 96 42 11.276 22 20
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 1964 152 19 11.259 23 -4
Half Magic 1954 121 31 10.507 24 7
Treasure Island 1883 38 103 10.204 25 78
Swiss Family Robinson 1812 11 121 9.134 26 95+
James and the Giant Peach 1961 115 33 8.934 27 6
Tuck Everlasting 1975 143 20 8.892 28 -8
The Saturdays 1941 82 51 8.755 29 22
The Witch of Blackbird Pond 1958 103 41 8.393 30 11
Harry Potter: Prisoner of Azkaban 1999 197 14 8.364 31 -17
The Dark is Rising 1973 123 29 7.896 32 -3
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH 1971 119 32 7.886 33 -1
Matilda 1988 154 18 7.788 34 -16
Maniac Magee 1990 158 17 7.740 35 -18
Because of Winn-Dixie 2000 185 15 7.731 36 -21
Are you there God? It’s Me Margaret 1970 111 36 7.474 37 -1
Where the Red Fern Grows 1961 90 46 6.992 38 8
Five Children and It 1902 34 112 6.749 39 73
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry 1976 109 37 6.671 40 -3
Ballet Shoes 1936 57 65 6.590 41 24
Island of the Blue Dolphins 1960 83 50 6.552 42 8
Ramona the Pest 1968 94 43 6.534 43 0
Hatchet 1989 129 26 6.421 44 -18
Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing 1972 92 44 6.001 45 -1
Heidi 1880 21 121 5.914 46 75+
Betsy-Tacy 1940 54 70 5.858 47 23
The tale of Despereaux 2003 141 22 5.618 48 -26
Percy Jackson and the Olympians 2005 142 21 5.480 49 -28
Swallows and Amazons 1930 43 94 5.469 50 44
On the Banks of Plum Creek 1937 47 85 5.348 51 34
The Watsons Go to Birmingham 1995 115 34 5.203 52 -18
Henry Huggins 1950 56 66 5.182 53 13
Johnny Tremain 1943 50 78 5.172 54 24
Caddie Woodlawn 1935 44 93 5.168 55 38
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2007 137 24 5.122 56 -32
My Father’s Dragon 1948 53 72 5.063 57 15
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase 1962 65 58 4.970 58 0
Gone-Away Lake 1957 59 63 4.885 59 4
The Secret of the Old Clock 1959 60 62 4.812 60 2
Call of the Wild 1903 24 121 4.689 61 60+
Harry potter and the Goblet of Fire 2000 112 35 4.680 62 -27
The Little White Horse 1946 47 84 4.635 63 21
The Borrowers 1953 52 74 4.588 64 10
All-of-a-Kind Family 1951 49 79 4.463 65 14
Understood Betsy 1916 28 121 4.449 66 55+
The Great Gilly Hopkins 1978 74 55 4.387 67 -12
Harry Potter: Order of the Phoenix 2003 109 38 4.343 68 -30
The Boxcar Children 1924 31 117 4.337 69 48
My Side of the Mountain 1959 53 73 4.251 70 3
The BFG 1982 75 54 4.173 71 -17
The Golden Compass 1995 92 45 4.163 72 -27
Pippi Longstocking 1950 42 95 3.887 73 22
When you Reach Me 2009 107 39 3.875 74 -35
Frindle 1996 84 49 3.741 75 -26
Bud, Not Buddy 1999 87 47 3.694 76 -29
Ramona Quimby, Age 8 1981 65 57 3.674 77 -20
The Book of Three 1964 47 82 3.481 78 4
Children of Green Knowe 1954 40 98 3.473 79 19
The Moffats 1941 31 120 3.310 80 40
The Penderwicks: A summer tale 2005 85 48 3.281 82 -34
The Magician’s Nephew 1955 38 102 3.248 83 19
Number the Stars 1989 65 56 3.235 84 -28
Tom’s Midnight Garden 1958 39 101 3.178 85 16
The High King 1968 45 88 3.128 86 2
Harry Potter: 1/2 bood prince 2005 81 52 3.126 87 -35
Mrs. Piggle Wiggle 1947 32 113 3.106 88 25
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle 1990 61 60 2.988 89 -29
The Invention of Hugo Cabret 2007 77 52 2.879 90 -38
What Katy Did 1872 9 121 2.879 91 30+
The Thirteen  Clocks 1950 31 119 2.869 92 27
Voyage of the Dawn Treader 1952 31 121 2.779 93 28+
A Cricket in Times Square 1960 35 108 2.763 94 14
The Egypt Game 1967 39 100 2.754 95 5+
Peter Pan 1911 16 121 2.753 96 25+
Ramona and her Father 1977 45 89 2.711 97 -8
Betsy, Tacy and Tib 1941 25 121 2.669 98 23+
Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher 1991 55 67 2.652 99 -32
Sideways Stories from Wayside School 1978 44 91 2.609 100 -9
Stargirl 2000 61 61 2.54907 101 -40
Knight’s Castle 1956 30 121 2.523513 102 19+
Twenty-One Balloons 1947 26 121 2.523511 103 18+
A Long Way from Chicago 1998 58 64 2.502018 104 -40
The Long Winter 1940 23 121 2.49515 105 16+
Walk Two Moons 1994 54 68 2.482432 106 -38
Inkheart 2003 62 59 2.470175 107 -48
Farmer Boy 1933 20 121 2.425135 108 13+
Sarah, Plain and Tall 1985 44 90 2.333909 109 -19
The Witches 1983 42 96 2.299805 110 -14
The Indian in the Cupboard 1980 40 99 2.297299 111 -12
The Frog Princess 2002 56 66 2.266885 112 -46
Jennifer Hecate… 1967 32 116 2.259832 113 3
A Series of Unfortunate Events: #1 1999 53 71 2.250262 114 -43
House with a Clock in its Walls 1973 35 111 2.246791 115 -4
Homer Price 1942 21 121 2.206874 116 5+
Out of the Dust 1997 50 76 2.191481 117 -41
Danny Champion of the World 1975 35 110 2.176467 118 -8
Betsy and Tacy go Downtown 1943 21 121 2.172063 119 2+
Wizard of Earthsea 1968 31 118 2.154679 120 -2
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10 thoughts on “The Top 100 Children’s Books Redux

  1. This is the top 120? Shhhh, don’t tell our friend Matt that LeGuinn came in dead last, it is his favorite book.

    I don’t know it means that my Ramona stayed right where she should be?

    • Actually, the reason why Brian extended the list to 120 was entirely because he wanted A Wizard of Earthsea to make the list. And I heartily concur.

  2. My daughter nominated What Katy Did and Understood Betsy very high on her list. She would be gratified by this new listing. And wow- look at Heidi!

  3. Smart guy! This list does seem better to me. I love Harry Potter as much as the next librarian, but I don’t think ALL (or almost all) of the books deserve to be on there.

  4. Just came over from Betsy’s site …

    I really like this list (and my nerd husband approves too)! It puts The Wizard of Oz in a much more acceptable position. I was shocked when it came in at 40. And as for the other newer books, I would love to see people revisit their own selections in twenty years and see if they all hold up over time. I’m wondering if all of mine will …

  5. I love this revised list, too. Especially since ANNE moved up to her rightful spot! But now it reads like a list of classics, the ones that have truly proven to be great by the test of time. Of course, it may just be because I’m 45 years old that I like this list better!

    I still want to go through and rank the authors by the points their books received. So far, I haven’t taken the time, though, so it may never happen.

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