Even if the 1990s don’t seem that far behind us, kids who came of age in that decade now often have children of their own. Fortunately for that younger generation, their parents and teachers can hand down some enduring reads that every kid of the ’90s remembers. Here are 21 of our favorite ’90s children’s books for kids.
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Picture and Young Reader ’90s Children’s Books
1. Magic School Bus Series by Joanna Cole
No list of ’90s children’s books would be complete without mentioning the Magic School Bus series. Journeys to space, to the ocean floor, and even to the inside of the human body—Ms. Frizzle and her class took plenty of outlandish field trips and invited kids along for the ride!
Buy it: The Magic School Bus series on Amazon
2. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond
This perennial kids’ favorite launched a number of sequels and a recent animated series. Originally published in 1985, it kept ’90s picture book readers charmed with its series of funny events.
Buy it: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie on Amazon
3. The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith
This Caldecott Honor book had no qualms about reimagining fairy tales in a most irreverent way, and it still holds up.
Buy it: The Stinky Cheese Man on Amazon
4. Miss Nelson Is Missing! by Harry Allard
Miss Nelson is a bit of a pushover, but her class’s substitute teacher, Viola Swamp, is not. Clever kids love this twist in this hilarious picture book.
Buy it: Miss Nelson Is Missing! on Amazon
5. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney, illustrated by Anita Jeram
This book feels like a baby’s nursery essential and was originally published in 1994. Kids born that year may now be buying it for their babies!
Buy it: Guess How Much I Love You on Amazon
6. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
Silverstein’s wacky and wild poetry collections predate the 1990s, but they were a familiar favorite in classrooms throughout the decade (and now).
Buy it: Where the Sidewalk Ends on Amazon
7. Little Critter books, by Mercer Mayer
While Mercer Mayer started his author-illustrator career in 1966, his Little Critter books were a ubiquitous find on every ’90s kid’s bookshelf—and they’re still read today!
Buy it: Little Critter books on Amazon
School-Age and Middle Grade ’90s Children’s Books
8. Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine
The first book in Stine’s just-scary-enough series debuted in 1992, setting the stage for a kid-horror juggernaut that still thrills young readers.
Buy it: Goosebumps set on Amazon
9. The Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M. Martin
Martin’s series kicked off with Kristy’s Great Idea in 1986, but the 100+ books in the series kept coming all through the 1990s (with book #131 published in 1999). Modern readers can now find graphic novel adaptations of the originals too.
Buy it: The Baby-Sitters Club series on Amazon
10. Animorphs series by KA Applegate
The 54-book Animorphs series—about kids who gain the power to shapeshift into animals—kept kids enthralled throughout the 1990s. Recent reprint editions are finding new fans.
Buy it: Animorphs series on Amazon
11. The Giver by Lois Lowry
Lowry’s Newbery Medal-winning novel about the dark secrets lurking beneath the surface of a seemingly perfect community came out in 1993 and set a high bar for the many dystopic novels that followed it.
Buy it: The Giver on Amazon
12. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz, illustrated by Stephen Gammell
Schwartz’s compilations of scary tales from American folklore have circulated among school-age kids for decades, proving that a good thrill never goes out of style.
Buy it: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series on Amazon
13. Choose Your Own Adventure series by RA Montgomery
Kids always like to see themselves in books, and ’90s kids fondly remember seeing themselves in these action-packed reads, where different choices lead to different pages and totally fresh outcomes.
Buy it: Choose Your Own Adventure series on Amazon
14. Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
Spinelli’s Newbery Medal-winning 1990 novel about an orphaned boy humorously navigating life in a racially divided town has remained timely.
Buy it: Maniac Magee on Amazon
15. The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963, by Christopher Paul Curtis
This Newbery and Coretta Scott King honor book, published in 1997, is considered a modern classic, and is a great way to introduce young readers to the possibilities of historical fiction.
Buy it: The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963 on Amazon
16. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
There’s a fair chance that today’s middle-aged parent once wrote a book report on Paulsen’s award-winning—and page-turning—survival story.
Buy it: Hatchet on Amazon
’90s Young Adult Books
17. Sweet Valley High by Francine Pascal
Before there was Gossip Girl, there was Sweet Valley High. The Wakefield twins and their classmates will be familiar companions for any ’90s kid.
Buy it: Sweet Valley High series on Amazon
18. Remember Me by Christopher Pike
Remember Me It is among the most popular of Pike’s work, and anyone who was a teen in the ’90s probably remembers staying up late to see his thrillers until the end.
Buy it: Remember Me on Amazon
19. Forever… by Judy Blume
Controversial for its portrayal of teen sexuality, Blume’s book is a seminal coming-of-age tale that has never stopped resonating.
Buy it: Forever…on Amazon
20. Fear Street by R.L. Stine
Kids of the ’90s who outgrew Goosebumps no doubt picked up Fear Street novels. Stine proved a master at teen horror, and the nail-biting books recently were re-released with new covers.
Buy it: Fear Street on Amazon
21. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney
Though milk cartons no longer bear the faces of missing children, ’90s kids both remember the fear those photos inspired and Cooney’s gripping novel about a kidnapping.
Buy it: The Face on the Milk Carton on Amazon