The 10 best-selling children’s books of all time
Answering the question of which children’s books are the best-selling children’s books of all time is more complicated than it seems. Theoretically speaking, determining how many copies of a particular book have been sold is very simple. Unfortunately, it’s also laborious and time-consuming, which is probably why there isn’t a lot of accurate, up-to-date information available for free to the general public. On top of that, there’s the question of what people would consider children’s books. For example, including picture books gives very different results than excluding picture books. Something similar can be said about including and excluding books that are mostly text as well.
10. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – JK Rowling – Over 60 million copies
The Harry Potter series is the best-selling book series ever published by a considerable margin. Additionally, it is different from the second Goosebumps in that it only consisted of seven books. For comparison, there are over 200 Goosebumps books, which doesn’t even mention the fact that the series is still ongoing. As such, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that every one of the Harry Potter books made the list of best-selling children’s books, with Half-Blood Prince being no exception.
9. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – JK Rowling – Over 60 million copies
Speaking of which, the Harry Potter series is one of those series that grew with its target audience. There is a considerable difference between the previous books and the following books. As such, Order of the Phoenix and the two books that followed it are about the end of things for children’s books. In any case, it still sold very well.
8. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – JK Rowling – Over 60 million copies
Goblet of Fire can be seen as a transition point for the Harry Potter series. Before that, the main characters were children, which reflected the target audience for these books. Goblet of Fire saw these characters as teenagers, which resulted in dramatic changes to the overall story. For proof, look no further than the fact that this is the book in which the series’ main antagonist made his return to the living.
7. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – JK Rowling – Over 60 million copies
The Prisoner of Azkaban is the last of the Harry Potter books listed as having sold over 60 million copies. Still, it seems that subsequent books in the series sold fewer and fewer copies, probably because not everyone was willing to follow the series to the end.
6. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – JK Rowling – 77 million copies
Chamber of Secrets reportedly sold 77 million copies. It’s a step up from its immediate predecessor. Yet that means very little while Chamber of Secrets is still one of the best-selling children’s books ever published in its own right.
5. The Adventures of Pinocchio – Carlo Collodi – 80 Million
Most people are more familiar with the Disney version. However, it’s important to note that the Pinocchio movie was based on pre-existing source material, which could be quite different in some ways. For example, The Adventures of Pinocchio played an important role in make Italy one country. Something that makes more sense when you know that it was written about a decade after the successful unification of Italy. Besides that, the book also contained some memorable life lessons. To cite just one example, the transformation of the donkey was a metaphor as the donkey referred to both a child who refused to study hard and an adult who had to work hard. Thus, someone who played “donkey” at school risked becoming “donkey” in his professional life.
4. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis – 85 million
The Chronicles of Narnia is also a series of seven books. However, most people don’t have nearly the same level of investment in each of them, which isn’t surprising when different books focus on different characters. Either way, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe tends to be up there for most people, which makes sense since it mostly combines a relatively likable cast of characters with big events. dramas that end relatively positively.
3. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll – 100 million
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a work from the Victorian era. Even so, the fact that it never sold out says a lot about its popularity. Said book retains its entertaining power even though some of its references are so outdated that most people wouldn’t know they’re referring to without a little research. To cite just one example, mock turtle is a reference to mock turtle soup, which used calf’s head along with other bits to make a dish that mimicked green turtle soup. The latter being expensive, fake turtle soup became a popular substitute for those less well-off than the Victorian elite. By the way, the number of green sea turtles dropped over the period due to human predation as well as other issues, so that was also an issue.
2. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – JK Rowling – 120 million
The first Harry Potter book was the best-selling of the series by a considerable margin. After all, if those numbers are any indication, it sold more than 1.5 times as many copies as its immediate successor. In turn, Chamber of Secrets outsold its successors. Anyway, the American version was called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Supposedly, this happened because the publisher was afraid American children wouldn’t want to read a book with “philosopher” in the title. They may or may not have been right, but they definitely ruined the reference, because the Philosopher’s Stone was the end goal of medieval alchemy that could extend someone’s life and turn base metals into gold.
1. The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – 140 Million
The Little Prince was written by a Frenchman. It was published in the United States in 1943, which was possible because Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and his wife had managed to escape from occupied France. He didn’t live long enough to see it. However, The Little Prince was published in his native country in 1945, which was possible due to the fall of the Vichy regime which had banned it. It is in any case the book that is at the top of the list with 140 million copies sold. Moreover, it remains very popular nowadays.