Top 10 Best Children's Books from the 1960s

Lots of wonderful children's books were published in the 1960s, from colourful picture books to gripping fantasy adventures. Check out the list below for the best children's books from the 1960s, ordered by publication date.

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1. The Weirdstone of Brisingamen

Alan Garner | 9+ | 1960

This haunting and powerful fantasy adventure follows two children, Colin and Susan, who find themselves hunted by sinister creatures and a dark spirit, determined to possess the magical Weirdstone. They are rescued by the Wizard, who whisks them away into the caves of Fundindelve. But the core of the magic so vital to the world - Firefrost, otherwise known as the Weirdstone of Brisingamen - is lost. Can two children defeat the evil forces closing in? And who will find the Weirdstone of Brisingamen?

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2. Green Eggs and Ham

Dr. Seuss | 5+ | 1960

Dr. Seuss's most popular children's book follows a grouchy narrator as he tries to convince the impishly pestering Sam-I-am that he really doesn't like green eggs and ham - not here, not there, not anywhere! But will he change his mind when he actually tries some? Dr. Seuss's zany illustrations and bouncy, rhyming verse have enthralled children for generations. This book conveys the important message that we can't know what we like until we've tried it!

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3. James and the Giant Peach

Roald Dahl | 9+ | 1961

James Henry Trotter lives with two ghastly old hags, and he's very lonely. But one day, something extraordinary happens. At the end of the garden, a peach starts to grow and grow and grow. Inside that peach are some very unusual and very large insects, all waiting to take James on an enthralling adventure. Where will they go - and what will happen to the horrible aunts who block their way? Discover this exciting classic tale from the wonderful storyteller, Roald Dahl.

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4. A Wrinkle in Time

Madeleine L'Engle | 11+ | 1962

This much-loved science fiction novel follows the misfit siblings Meg and Charles. Worried about her missing father and doing badly at school, Meg struggles with everything that seems wrong with her life, when events start to take a mysterious turn. Together with Charles and her friend Calvin, she comes across a gap in time through which the children embark on a riveting and perilous adventure.

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5. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

Joan Aiken | 9+ | 1962

Long ago, in an alternative history, England was teeming with wolves. However, Bonnie and her cousin Sylvia quickly realise that danger often lies closer to home. Their new governess, Miss Slighcarp, is horrible. She shuts Bonnie in a cupboard, fires the faithful servants, and sends the cousins far away, to a place they'll never be found. Can they outsmart the spiteful Miss Slighcarp and her network of dodgy dealers? This heart-pounding adventure will captivate young readers.

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6. Where the Wild Things Are

Maurice Sendak | 3+ | 1963

It's bedtime, but Max doesn't want to go to bed! As night falls, his bedroom turns into a wondrous forest, and an ocean washes in with a boat to whisk him away. He ends up travelling to a magical, faraway land, filled with monsters who roar and stomp and generally cause a ruckus! But Max isn't scared, and he soon becomes their leader. Can he control these wild creatures, and if so, for how long? This spellbinding story will delight little ones.

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7. Stig of the Dump

Clive King | 7+ | 1963

This classic children's novel features a truly enchanting adventure. No-one believes Barney when he claims he's met a new friend. Stig is indeed real, but curiously lives in a dump. Together, the two boys embark on many enthralling journeys. With unforgettable characters and a thrilling plot, this timeless tale of friendship is a captivating read.

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8. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Roald Dahl | 7+ | 1964

This wondrous classic tale follows Charlie Bucket, a poor and malnourished young boy who is lucky enough to win a Golden Ticket: a once-in-a-lifetime tour around the sweet-smelling but secretive chocolate factory. When Charlie gets there, however, he finds the other young winners are nasty and spoilt. As they proceed to the tour - led by none other than the wonderfully weird Willy Wonka - these horrible children soon get their comeuppance. Can Charlie Bucket make it to the end? This bestselling book is a funny and engrossing read.

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9. The Iron Man

Ted Hughes | 9+ | 1968

The enormous Iron Man causes destruction wherever he goes, forced to eat farm equipment in order to survive. Humans are determined to put a stop to it, but young Hogarth manages to lure the Iron Man away by leading him to a scrapyard where he can eat metal to his heart's content. However, when a huge, dragon-like monster crashes to Earth and demands that humans bring him food, only the Iron Man can save mankind. This thrilling and poignant story will grip young readers.

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10. The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Eric Carle | Toddlers | 1969

A hungry green caterpillar has a very big appetite and eats more and more food every day. But he eats so much, he becomes ill, and resolves to eat more healthily in future. One day, he spins a cocoon around himself, and, two weeks later, he emerges as a beautiful butterfly with gorgeous wings. This classic picture book has enchanted generations of little ones with colourful collage pictures and a simple, sweet story.

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  • JGH2 7 years +
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    Phizz-whizzing new branding for the world's No.1 storyteller, Roald Dahl! Exciting, bold and instantly recognisable with Quentin Blake's inimitable artwork. James Henry Trotter lives with two ghastly hags. Aunt Sponge is enormously fat with a face that looks boiled and Aunt Spiker is bony and screeching. He's very lonely until one day something peculiar happens. At the end of the garden a peach starts to grow and Grow and Grow. Inside that peach are seven very unusual insects - all waiting to take James on a magical adventure. But where will they go in their Giant Peach and what will happen to the horrible aunts if they stand in their way? There's only one way to find out. "A true genius...Roald Dahl is my hero". (David Walliams). Now you can listen to James and the Giant Peach and other Roald Dahl Audiobooks read by some very famous voices, including Kate Winslet, David Walliams and Steven Fry - plus there are added squelchy sound effects from Pinewood Studios! Also look out for new Roald Dahl apps in the App store and Google Play- including the disgusting Twit or Miss! and House of Twits inspired by the revolting Twits.
  • WBN2 9 years +
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    The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, by award-winning author Alan Garner, will appeal to Harry Potter fans, Narnia enthusiasts and confident readers aged nine and above who love fantasy novels.

    Winner of the Carnegie Medal for The Owl Service, Alan Garner has inspired many modern fantasy writers with his beautifully written and gripping novels.

    The Weirdstone of Brisingamen is his first novel and follows two children, Colin and Susan, who find themselves hunted by a dark spirit seeking to possess the weirdstone of the title. A powerful and haunting book.
  • AWI2 11 years +
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    With her book A Wrinkle in Time, gifted children's author Madeleine L'Engle has created an absorbing science fiction novel that revolves around the likeable, misfit characters of Meg and her brother, Charles.

    Criticised by her teachers for doing badly at school and worried about her missing father, Meg is struggling with how wrong her life is when events take a mysterious turn. Together with Charles and her friend Calvin, she stumbles upon a gap in time through which the children embark on an amazing and dangerous adventure.

    A gripping read for any young adult fiction fan aged 11+ who have ever felt like the odd one out!
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    One of the classic children's books, Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are is pretty much the perfect bedtime read.

    Max doesn't want to go to bed and finds himself travelling to a faraway, mystical land full of monsters who roar and gnash their terrible teeth. It's a little frightening but so much fun!

    Bold and stylish, funny and ultimately heart-warming, the book is full of toddler appeal and was memorably adapted into a hit film by Spike Jonze.

    This paperback edition of the Caldecott Medal-winning story will be returned to time and time again by toddlers who love mystery and adventure.
  • CRX2 7 years +
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    With its refreshed look to celebrate the Roald Dahl 100 celebrations, this special edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is perfect for introducing children to the wonderful and weird world of Roald Dahl.

    With Quentin Blake's illustrations, this is the story of a boy from a poor family who wins a golden ticket to visit the elusive Willy Wonka's secretive chocolate factory.

    When Charlie Bucket arrives at the tour - hosted by none other than Willy Wonka, the owner of the factory - he finds himself surrounded by nasty, spoilt brats. There's the greedy Augustus Gloop; arrogant Veruca Salt; repulsive Violet Beaurgarde; and TV-obsessed Mike Teavee.

    But when the tour starts, what mysterious secrets will the group discover? Everything from oompa-loompas to a glass elevator await... this is a classic children's story from the world's No. 1 storyteller.
  • IRO2 7 years +
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    Written by Ted Hughes and heralded as a classic of children's literature (and also the inspiration behind a brilliant animated film), The Iron Man is a book that will make children laugh, cry and think about the world around them.

    Mankind must put a stop to the dreadful destruction caused by the Iron Man so decides to set a trap for him - but whatever the population does, he can't be kept down.

    When a terrible monster from outer space threatens the entire planet, it's the Iron Man who is determined to find a way to solve the world.
  • GEH2 5 years +
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    The simple language, small vocabulary and irresistible rhymes of Green Eggs and Ham were created specifically to encourage beginner readers.

    The success of the book has spread far beyond the original brief, however, and not only is this great for inspiring young readers, it has accumulated a cult following bridging several generations, too. Buy this book and join in the fun.
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    Stig of the Dump is a true classic. Nobody believes Barney when he says he's met a new friend. Stig is a real boy living wild in a dump, and together the two boys embark on many journeys of discovery.

    This wonderfully appealing and classic adventure story is one that children of all ages will enjoy reading. With its timeless appeal, unforgettable characters and an endearing tale of friendship at its heart, Stig of the Dump is simply enchanting.

    Still as fresh and exciting after over 50 years, this is a classic story to be shared and enjoyed time and time again.
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    Eric Carle's classic book has enchanted generations of children with its colourful collage illustrations and simple story.

    With die-cut pages and finger-sized holes for little ones to explore, the story of the hungry green caterpillar with a very big appetite is simply one of the best children's books of all time.

    The Very Hungry Caterpillar is perfect for children from 1+ and good for talking with older toddlers about how caterpillars turn into beautiful butterflies.
  • OUG2 9 years +
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    In The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, award-winning author Joan Aiken has created a wild, imaginative adventure that follows the fortunes of cousins Bonnie and Sylvia who have been turned out of their home by a sinister governess.

    The novel is set in 1832 and England is plagued by droves of ravaging wolves. The cousins must get help, but their future looks grim...This is a nail-biting, suspense-filled adventure with witty and likeable heroines. Readers from 9+ will be gripped!