Ten 21st Century Classics

Eliza Clark
March 20, 2018

Having a child does curious things to a person's sense of time.  The past rushes in.  All of a sudden, we are put back in touch with our childhood memories in a shockingly tangible way.  As much as the world has changed since we were small, babies and young children have not.  They still love blankets and stuffed bears, balls and building toys, and, of course, books.  So we reach for the books we knew: the classics like Goodnight Moon and Madeline, Corduroy and Where the Wild Things Are.  These books connect us to the children we once were, and to the kids we are now raising in a vastly altered world.

These 21st century kids of ours also vault us into the future.  Picturing their adulthood fast-forwards us to the middle-late decades of century we hardly know.  What will the world be like when they are grown-ups?  What sort of a world will our grandchildren be born into?  We can't know that, but we can at least hazard a pretty good guess about what sorts of books our kids will read to their children.  The new books of today are sure to be the classics of tomorrow, and in that we take some comfort.

But which books?  Which of the children's picture books that have appeared in the first decade (plus one) of the 21st Century will still be read at bedtime thirty, forty or fifty years hence?

Here you'll find our nominations.  But what we really want to know is, what do you think?

1. The Olivia series by Ian Falconer

She's a character worth remembering.

2. The Knuffle Bunny series by Mo Willems

It captures a timeless toddler drama and particular cultural moment.  Also, it's very funny.

3. First the Egg by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

It distills a philosophical question into terms and images the smallest child can grasp.

4. Flotsam by David Wiesner

A gorgeous underwater fantasy about memory and history.

5. A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead

A truly lovely, tender-hearted story of friendship and reciprocity.

6. The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordecai Gerstein

A brilliant, moving and spirited way to remember the twin towers.

7. The Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke

Because we need all sorts of princesses.

8. Zen Shorts by John J. Muth

So thought-provoking and beautiful that parents and kids want to read it again and again.

9. Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes

Kids, like kittens, dream big but love home.

10. The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

A necessary eco-fable for the 21st century.


The Savvy Source is an Amazon affiliate. 

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