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Lists of best-selling children’s books are great tools for writers.


They show us what publishers and consumers are buying,  and we learn about our craft from reading other authors.

In this post, I reveal a list of the 30 best-selling picture books in the US.



This list is of hardcover titles that have sold more than 750,000 copies and paperback books with sales over one million copies.


The first one on the list, The Poky Little Puppy, was one of my favorites as a child and also a story our daughter wanted read over and over. The rhyming word play is delightful, but not overdone. We understand why the curious puppy wants to explore, but we don’t want him to miss out again. So we keep reading. It’s a classic full of heart.

When you read some of the titles, analyze why you think each book is successful. What makes the story come alive? What makes you care? Notice the imagery and details and how the author uses word play— patterns, rhyme or repetition. What gives the story universal appeal? What makes it charming to a wide range of ages? Do you want to turn the page? Why?


Top 30 Best-Selling Picture Books in the U.S.


1. The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey (Golden, 1942) 14,898,341
2. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (Frederick Warne, 1902) 9,380,274
3. Tootle by Gertrude Crampton (Golden, 1945) 8,560,277
4. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss (Random House, 1960) 8,143,088
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (Scholastic/Levine, 2000) 7,913,765
6. Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt (Golden, 1940) 7,562,710
7. Saggy Baggy Elephant by Kathryn and Byron Jackson (Golden, 1947) 7,476,395
8. Scuffy the Tugboat by Gertrude Crampton (Golden, 1955) 7,366,073
9. The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss (Random House, 1957) 7,220,982
10. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (Scholastic/Levine, 1999) 6,335,585
11. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (Scholastic/ Levine, 1999) 6,314,391
12. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein (HarperCollins, 1974) 6,228,042
13. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss (Random House, 1960) 6,164,454
14. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (HarperCollins, 1964) 5,603,187
15. The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell (Children’s Press/Ideals, 1946) 5,471,709
16. Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss (Random House, 1963) 5,420,890
17. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss (Random House, 1990) 5,353,426
18. Dr. Seuss’s ABC by Dr. Seuss (Random House, 1960) 5,187,656
19. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (Scholastic/Levine, 1998) 5,087,304
20. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (Philomel, 1969) 4,849,704
21. The Children’s Bible (Golden, 1965) 4,281,314
22. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein (HarperCollins, 1981) 4,269,048
23. The Tale of Benjamin Bunny by Beatrix Potter (Frederick Warne, 1904) 4,163,244
24. Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman (Random House, 1960) 4,135,762
25. The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister (North-South, 1992) 4,082,500
26. The Cat in the Hat Comes Back by Dr. Seuss (Random House, 1958) 4,043,578
27. Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book by Richard Scarry (Golden, 1963) 3,981,291
28. Disney’s the Lion King adapted by Justine Korman (Golden, 1994) 3,900,150
29. The Tale of Jemina Puddle-Duck by Beatrix Potter (Frederick Warne, 1908) 3,839,474
30. The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper (Platt & Munk, 1930) 3,757,178

Want to write for kids? Whether you want to write fiction or nonfiction, check out my workbook, Write a Marketable Children’s Book, Not Your Typical How-to Write Guide. 

Co-written with Shirley Raye Redmond, it reveals the step-by-step approach that Shirley Raye and I used to break into children’s publishing and to keep selling. 

You must write a marketable book in order to sell it, and this workbook teaches:

how research the market.
how to craft your story to target the market.
how to establish editor contacts.