Top 20 All-Time Best Selling Children’s Books

We all have memories of certain children’s stories that we read or were read to us as children. As you can imagine, stories by Dr. Seuss and J. K. Rowling pop up more than once. According to research conducted by Publishers Weekly in 2001, to date, the top gross selling children’s books of all-time are as follows:

20. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (1969)

Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar had sold 4,849,704 copes. (2001) Today, this is still one of the highest selling children’s books of all time and it also generates a wealth of revenue from various merchandise, simplified stories for younger audiences and games.


Source: Amazon

19. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (1998)

Later re-released as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s StoneHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone had sold 5,087,304 individual copies in just three years following its initial publication.


Source: Amazon

18. Dr. Seuss’s ABC by Dr. Seuss (1960)

As a lesser known Dr. Seuss book, Dr. Seuss’ ABC still managed to reach a huge number of individual sales with 5,187,656 copies sold by 2001.


Source: Amazon

17. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss (1990)

The last published Dr. Seuss book before his death in 1991, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! had sold an amazing 5,353,426 units in eleven years.


Source: Amazon

16. Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss (1963)

An incredibly entertaining read, Hop on Pop had sold an incredible 5,420,890 individual copies by 2001.


Source: Amazon

15. The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell (1946)

This beautiful post-war children’s story had sold 5,471,709 copies by 2001.


Source: Amazon

14. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (1964)

A beautiful story about the gift of giving and love, The Giving Tree had sold 5,603,187 units by 2001.


Source: Amazon

13. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss (1960)

A catchy, rhythmic and tongue twisting story having sold 6,164,454 individual copies by 2001.


Source: Amazon

12. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein (1974)

Another by Shel, Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends is a collection of children poems that achieved sales of 6,228,042 copies by 2001.


Source: Amazon

11. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (1999)

As the third novel in the renowned Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban achieved amazing sales of 6,314,391 units by 2001.


Source: Amazon

10. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (1999)

After the great success of the first published Harry Potter novel, it was expected that sales for the second installment would be significantly higher than the first at 6,335,585 individual sales, a whopping 1.25 million more sales!


Source: Amazon

9. The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss (1957)

From the beloved Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat is the second highest selling Dr. Seuss novel with 7,220,982 individual sales by 2001 and a successful film adaptation starring Mike Myers released in 2003.


Source: Amazon

8. Scuffy the Tugboat by Gertrude Crampton (1955)

As a member of the Little Golden Books classics, Scuffy the Tugboat is one of the highest selling Golden Books of all time, reaching 7,366,073 copies sold by 2001.


Source: Amazon

7. The Saggy Baggy Elephant by Kathryn and Byron Jackson (1947)

Another Little Golden Book, The Saggy Baggy Elephant is one to remember from your childhood with a massive selling of 7,476,395 copies by 2001.


Source: Amazon

6. Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt (1940)

A book targeted at very young children, Pat the Bunny is the highest selling touch and feel book of all time reaching individual sales of 7,562,710 units by 2001.


Source: Amazon

5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (2000)

By 2000, the Harry Potter phenomenon had really taken off, increasing the sales of the fourth installment to 7,913,765 individual sales in a single year!


Source: Amazon

4. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss (1960)

As the highest selling Dr. Seuss book in history, Green Eggs and Ham is a favorite for all ages. With sales that reached 8,143,088 copies by 2001. Dr. Seuss’ works are still selling strong and it won’t be long until this one reaches 10 million individual sales.


Source: Amazon

3. Tootle by Gertrude Crampton (1945)

Yet another Little Golden Book, Tootle is a classic story about a train’s exciting adventures that children seem to endlessly enjoy with sales, by 2001, reaching 8,560,277 units.


Source: Amazon

2. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (1902)

A timeless classic and the oldest on this list, The Tale of Peter Rabbit is an ever loved story that will never die. This classic has streams of revenue from both individual book sales as well as merchandise, clothing and a television series. By 2001, The Tale of Peter Rabbit had sold 9,380,274 individual copies and continues to exceed original expectations.


Source: Amazon

1. The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey (1942)

Coming in at number one is the highest selling Little Golden Book and highest selling children’s story of all time with sales exceeding 14,898,341 individual sales as of 2001: The Poky Little Puppy.


Source: Amazon

This research was conducted in 2001, therefore it is safe to assume that these figures will be much higher by now, 15 years later. I’m sure many of us have read and delighted in these books, or at least a majority of them. I know I sure have. What are some of your favorite children’s stories?

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Featured image via PlayBuzz

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