The Greatest Books for Kids

Dr. James Emery White | Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary | Monday, February 20, 2012

The Greatest Books for Kids

I love Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White’s 60-year-old novel about a determined farm girl and her partnership with a vocabulary-building spider to save a rather naïve runt of a pig.

As a result, I have no problem with Scholastic Parent & Child magazine naming it to their new list of the “100 Greatest Books for Kids.”

Even naming it No. 1.

But according to Nick Friedman, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, the rankings were clearly aimed at “generating controversy and conversation.”

Mission accomplished.

Designed to be “culturally representative” – which should be fair warning in itself – the omissions border on the scandalous.

They get kudos for including Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, as well as C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  And I can understand leaving off Stephanie Meyer’s best-selling Twilight series (apologies to both team Jacob and Edward).

But leaving off Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit


Instead, you have Zen Shorts where a panda introduces three children to the Taoist tradition.  But then again, it’s published by Scholastic, the maker of the list.  In all, (surprise!) 14 titles from Scholastic made the cut.

Where is Mrs. Piggle Wiggle when you need her.

James Emery White



“'Charlotte's Web' and 99 more 'great' kids books” by Bob Minzesheimer, USA Today, February 14, 2012. Read online.

The full list of “The 100 'Greatest Books for Kids' on Scholastic.

Editor’s Note

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president.  His latest book is What They Didn’t Teach You in Seminary (Baker).  To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, log-on to, where you can post your comments on this blog, view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world.  Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.

The Greatest Books for Kids