Answering the question of what children’s books are the best-selling children’s books of all time is more complicated than it seems. Theoretically speaking, figuring out how many copies of a particular book have been sold is very straightforward. Unfortunately, it is also laborious and time-consuming, which is presumably why there isn’t a lot of information that is accurate, up-to-date, and available to the general public free of charge. On top of this, there is the issue of what people would consider to be children’s books. For instance, the inclusion of picture books makes for very different results from the exclusion of picture books. Something similar can be said about the inclusion and exclusion of books that are text for the most part as well.
10. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – J.K. Rowling – More Than 60 Million Copies
The Harry Potter series is the best-selling book series ever released by a considerable margin. Moreover, it is different from the runner-up Goosebumps in that it consisted of just seven books. For comparison, there are more than 200 Goosebumps books, which isn’t even mentioning the fact that the series is still ongoing. As such, it should come as no surprise to learn that every single one of the Harry Potter books are on the list of best-selling children’s books, with Half-Blood Prince being no exception to this rule.
9. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – J.K. Rowling – More Than 60 Million Copies
Speaking of which, the Harry Potter series is one of those series that grew up with its intended audience. There is a considerable difference between the earlier books and the later books. As such, Order of the Phoenix and the two books that followed it are on the mature end of things for children’s books. In any case, it still sold very well.
8. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J.K. Rowling – More Than 60 Million Copies
Goblet of Fire can be considered something of a transition point for the Harry Potter series. Before it, the main characters were children, which reflected those books’ targeted audience. Goblet of Fire saw those characters as teenagers, which in turn, meant some dramatic changes in the overall story. For proof, look no further than the fact that this was the book in which the series’s main antagonist made his return to the living.
7. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling – More Than 60 Million Copies
Prisoner of Azkaban is the last of the Harry Potter books listed as having sold more than 60 million copies. Still, it seems that subsequent books in the series sold fewer and fewer copies, presumably because not everyone were willing to follow the series to the very end.
6. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J.K. Rowling – 77 Million Copies
Chamber of Secrets is said to have sold 77 million copies. That is quite a step down when compared with its immediate predecessor. Still, that means very little when Chamber of Secrets is still one of the best-selling children’s books ever released in its own right.
5. The Adventures of Pinocchio – Carlo Collodi – 80 Million
Most people will be most familiar with the Disney version. However, it is important note that the movie Pinocchio was based on preexisting source material, which could be quite different in some respects. For instance, The Adventures of Pinocchio played a significant role in making Italy a single country. Something that makes more sense when one realizes that it was written about a decade after the successful unification of Italy. Besides that, the book had some memorable life lessons as well. To name an example, the donkey transformation was a metaphor because donkey referred to both a child who refused to study hard and an adult who had to work hard. As such, someone who played the “donkey” in school risked becoming the “donkey” in their work life.
4. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis – 85 Million
The Chronicles of Narnia are also a series of seven books. However, most people don’t have approximately the same level of investment in all of them, which is unsurprising when different books focus on different characters. Regardless, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe tends to be up there for most people, which makes sense because it combines a relatively likable cast of characters for the most part with big, dramatic events that end in a relatively positive way.
3. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll – 100 Million
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a work of the Victorian era. Even so, the fact that it has never gone out of print says much about its popularity. Said book retains its power to entertain even though some of its references are so out-of-date that most people wouldn’t know they are referring to without a bit of research. To name an example, the Mock Turtle is a reference to mock turtle soup, which used calf’s head as well as other bits to make a dish that imitated green turtle soup. The latter was expensive, so mock turtle soup became a popular substitute for those who were less well-off than the Victorian elite. For that matter, green turtle numbers tumbled in the period because of human predation as well as other issues, so that was an issue as well.
2. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling – 120 Million
The first Harry Potter book was the best-selling one in the series by a considerable margin. After all, if we go by these numbers, it sold more than 1.5 times the number of copies that its immediate successor did. In turn, Chamber of Secrets sold better than its successors. In any case, the American version was called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Supposedly, this happened because the publisher was afraid that 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, seeing as how the philosopher’s stone was the end goal of medieval alchemy that could extend someone’s life as well as 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 homeland in 1945, which was possible because of the fall of the Vichy regime that had banned it. In any case, this is the book that stands at the very top of the list with 140 million copies sold. Moreover, it remains quite popular in the present day.