16 Famous Children's Books Fun Facts and Cool Finds

Dec. 23, 2015

Whether you're reading with your kids or just getting nostalgic at the library, there's always something new to discover about these book classics.

"The Cat in the Hat," "Goodnight Moon" and "The Very Hungry Caterpillar": you grew up reading these famous children's books and now there are copies on your children's bookshelves. You might think that there's nothing new to discover about these kiddie classics, but there's more to these books than what you see on the page (see The 12 Weirdest Children's Books You Loved as a Child for more information).

Here are 16 fun facts about your favorite children's books:
 

  1. On Market Street
    Frog and Toad, Arnold Lobel's most famous characters, make a surprise appearance in another of his books, "On Market Street." Look for them on the "T" page, hiding in plain sight as hand puppets.
     
  2. The Cat in the Hat
    It was born out of Dr. Seuss's desire to find a more compelling way to teach kids basic reading skills, according to the Dr. Seuss National Memorial.
     
  3. Goodnight Moon
    Look for the mouse that appears on each page, and notice that the clock slowly changes from 7:10 to 8:10 as the book progresses. Another Margaret Wise Brown book, "The Runaway Bunny," appears as an open book on the bookshelf in the background. Speaking of Margaret Wise Brown, she didn't have any children when she died at the age of 42, so she left the rights to "Goodnight Moon" to her young neighbor, according to Mental Floss.
     
  4. Clifford the Big Red Dog
    The titular character of this classic children's book series was almost named Tiny. Author Norman Bridwell changed the name after a suggestion from his wife, according to Scholastic.
     
  5. Where the Wild Things Are
    When Maurice Sendak was illustrating a book about horses, he realized he wasn't very good at drawing them. Instead, he turned them into strange beasts. The book became "Where the Wild Things Are," the Caldecott Medal award-winning children's book.
     
  6. The Tale of Peter Rabbit
    Beatrix Potter's manuscript was rejected by publishers six times. Potter was determined to see her book in print and self-published 250 copies. Since then, it has sold more than 45 million copies.
     
  7. Henry Huggins
    After she realized that all of her characters in "Henry Huggins" were only children, Beverly Cleary, according to her website, added in Ramona as Beezus' little sister. Ramona ended up as one of Cleary's most famous and beloved characters.
     
  8. Nancy Drew
    The famous girl detective Nancy Drew might have been known by a different name. In the early stages of the series, the publisher considered naming her Stella Strong, Nan Nelson or Diana Dare, says January magazine.
     
  9. Green Eggs and Ham
    Dr. Seuss bet his publisher $50 that he could write a book using 50 words or less. He won, according to CNN, after creating "Green Eggs and Ham," which contains exactly 50 words.
     
  10. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
    Since it was first published in 1969, Eric Carle's "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" has sold a copy a minute, according to Mental Floss.
     
  11. The Outsiders
    When she was just 17, S.E. Hinton saw her book "The Outsiders" go to print.
     
  12. The Polar Express
    Keep your eyes open to find a white bull terrier in Chris Van Allsburg's books, including "The Polar Express" and "Jumanji." The dog is based on Winston, his brother-in-law's white dog, says his website.
     
  13. The Night Before Christmas
    According to St. Nicholas Center, Clement Clarke Moore's "The Night Before Christmas" gave the world a modern description of Santa Claus: plump, bearded and the owner of eight reindeer.
     
  14. The Phantom Tollbooth
    None of the illustrations actually show the main character Milo in a tollbooth.
     
  15. Alice in Wonderland
    Lewis Carroll's classic introduced new words into the English language, including mimsy, chortle and jabberwocky, according to the Oxford Dictionaries.
     
  16. Curious George
    The authors of Curious George were forced to flee Paris during World War II's German occupation, according to the New York Times. They weren't able to carry much, but one thing made it into their suitcase: the original Curious George manuscript.


If you need book recommendations for your kids, you'll find some of your old favorites on the list Books for Kids Age 0 to Tween. Which of these famous children's books are your favorites? Share in the comments!

Natalie Vereen-Davis is a freelance writer and travel blogger. A class on children's literature was one of her favorite seminars in college.

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