75 Authors/Illustrators Everyone Should Know

This list is meant to introduce children, and the adults who care for them, to newer books in the field of children's literature. This list is organized by age range and then by the author's last name.

Well-known classics – such as Beatrix Potter's The Adventures of Peter Rabbit, Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh, Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon, and E.B. White's Charlotte's Web, for example — have not been included, as they are reasonably well-known, enduring masterpieces that every child should know. If you've not yet introduced your child to them, start today!

[Note: The authors and illustrators highlighted below are those who have been interviewed by Reading Rockets. Click on the link to go to the interview on our website.]

Preschool and kindergarten

ERIC CARLE – Large creepy crawlers cut from paper of vivid colors always create a happy surprise.

DONALD CREWS – Realistic objects familiar to young children appear in bold graphic images artfully designed.

LOIS EHLERT – Stunning shapes and strong colors capture exciting views in a child's mind.

ERIC HILL – Lift the flaps to play hide and seek games with Spot the dog who disappears under rugs or behind closet doors.

TANA HOBAN – A photographer captures fresh visions of the world through the lens of her camera.

BILL MARTIN JR – Simple sentences and natural rhythmic language patterns (melodies) ring out in the stories that help beginning readers learn how to read.

HELEN OXENBURY – Scraggly children bounce playfully and then clamber onto the comfortable laps of well-padded adults.

ROSEMARY WELLS – Max, an impish rabbit child, has a mind of his own when big sister Ruby tries to boss him around.

Grades 1-3

STAN AND JAN BERENSTAIN – A prolific team captures the rhythms of children's language in engaging stories.

JAN BRETT – A meticulous artist weaves subplots and intricate details into creative borders to extend the meaning carried in the central pictures.

MARC BROWN – Marc Brown presents a warm, witty and sometimes poignant look at facing a bully, losing a tooth, or accepting a new baby sister.

MARCIA BROWN – Marcia Brown adapts the art style (woodcuts, intricate cut paper, flamboyant cartoon, delicate watercolor) to enrich the special meaning of each story.

ANTHONY BROWNE – His startling images and subtle messages in art and story make us see the world in a new way.

JOANNA COLE – Superb informational books present straight facts in photo essays or combine facts with riotous humor in the Magic School Bus books.

BARBARA COONEY – Gentle stories and beautiful art touch the heart and leave deep thoughts to ponder. New England scenes are especially provocative.

TOMIE DEPAOLA – Tomie tells wonderful Irish and Italian family stories using strong black line and folk-art style.

LEO AND DIANE DILLON – Both artists work on the same piece of art often characterized by an opulent, iridescent quality.

ELOISE GREENFIELD – Poet and storyteller captures the language and melodies and strong African-American family images in her poetry and prose.

TRINA SCHART HYMAN – Meticulous art and extensive research enable Hyman to portray Arthurian England authentically or childhood memories vividly.

WILLIAM JOYCE – Broad humor in comically expressive animals and playful language make Joyce's books fun to read aloud or alone.

STEVEN KELLOGG – A heap of comic-strip detail spills from Kellogg's splashy, riotous, color-filled pages and causes children to pore over them.

LEO LIONNI – Deeper meanings permeate Lionni's stories more than the elegant, sophisticated collage and design art might suggest.

ARNOLD LOBEL – Delicate and decorative art on attractively designed pages invites thoughtful probing.

JAMES MARSHALL – Cartoon-like drawings of unique characters present unexpected humor and spoofs. A pair of hippos, a substitute teacher, and a lovable prankster guarantee laugh-out-loud joy.

ROBERT MCCLOSKEY – Superb, classic works that convey the importance of small but significant moments in a child's life.

EMILY MCCULLY – She creates wordless books in cartoon style and elaborate stories with Impressionist-style art.

JERRY PINKNEY – He paints from live models, often African-Americans, in a realistic style using full-color art and well-crafted scenes.

JAMES E. RANSOME – Talented young African-American artist portrays characters realistically in historical or contemporary scenes.

MAURICE SENDAK – A superb artist whose books invite rereading and whose illustrations beg for repeated viewing.

DR. SEUSS (THEODORE S. GEISEL) – Creative genius whose spontaneous art and lilting lines sing children into reading on their own.

CHRIS VAN ALLSBURG – Van Allsburg gets you to think. He presents something that seems predictable but catches you by surprise when he turns it on end.

VERA B. WILLIAMS – She conveys the simple strength of multicultural families who share love and unity.

JANE YOLEN – Enchanting storyteller and poet holds a moment in time to capture past, present, or future in word songs.

ED YOUNG – Sophisticated simplicity describes the art he uses to retell Asian-American folklore.

CHARLOTTE ZOLOTOW – Gentle stories play on the heartstrings and cause children to think about their world and relationships in a new way.

Grades 3-6

ARNOLD ADOFF – Poet and anthologist who celebrates the multicultural nature of our world.

MITSUMASA ANNO – Japanese illustrator of international renown who plays with mathematics in exquisite paintings.

NATALIE BABBITT – A superb fantasy writer who grapples with universal concerns in poetic prose.

JUDY BLUME – Popular writer for pre-teens who captures in realistic language concerns about growing up.

ASHLEY BRYAN – Artist, poet, and storyteller who lets the melodies of spirituals ring through his retellings of folk stories.

BETSY BYARS – Her novels capture both the humor and pathos of children facing problems as they grow up.

BEVERLY CLEARY – Children's natural language and basic concerns ring true and with humor in her early chapter books.

PAM CONRAD – Engaging writer who captures strong images and vivid themes in historical and contemporary scenes.

RUSSELL FREEDMAN – Impeccable research and intriguing writing draws interest to topics he treats in biographies and informational books.

JEAN FRITZ – This superb writer of historical fiction and biography became fascinated with American heroes when she was a child growing up in China with missionary parents.

JEAN CRAIGHEAD GEORGE – The author grew up in a family of naturalists and her ecological concerns permeate both the novels and informational books she writes.

LEE BENNETT HOPKINS – Poet and anthologist whose generous spirit and enthusiasm for poetry inspires children and adults.

JOHANNA HURWITZ – Well-meaning but naive characters make simple mistakes and display child-like humor in short novels children read on their own.

MYRA COHN LIVINGSTON – A first-rate poet and anthologist who established high standards of excellence in word and image.

LOIS LOWRY – Subtle humor or tender pathos permeate Lowry's stories of adolescents who grow up in suburbia or a war-torn city.

DAVID MACAULAY – A spirited artist helps us to see stories, time, and the way things work in new ways.

PATRICIA MCKISSACK – Wonderful African-American storyteller who spins a yarn with drama and pizzazz. She also writes excellent informational books with husband Fredrick McKissack.

PATRICIA MAC LACHLAN – Captures strong human emotions as she weaves historical or contemporary stories.

ANN MARTIN – Popular series writer who conveys the real feelings and tribulations of 10-12 year-old girls.

JACK PRELUTSKY – Popular and prolific versifier and anthologist who writes and compiles humorous collections.

CYNTHIA RYLANT – Everything she writes sounds like poetry because the melody of her sentences ring in the ear.

SEYMOUR SIMON – An excellent informational science writer states what we know, what is theory, and how information changes.

LANE SMITH/JON SCIESZKA – Children get a kick out of the way this team spoofs fairy tales and the art of book-making.

WILLIAM STEIG – His sophisticated stories have several layers of meaning that delight adults who read to children.

Grades 6-8

LLOYD ALEXANDER – A skilled fantasy writer who touches our deepest sense of characters and moral order.

AVI – His characters face issues of personal integrity as they grow up in historical or contemporary settings.

SUSAN COOPER – Fantasy writer whose characters face the eternal struggle between darkness and light, between good and evil.

ROBERT CORMIER – Teenage characters face realities and choices – not always happy or hopeful ones.

PAULA FOX – She captures strong emotions and vivid images in superb understated and taut writing.

VIRGINIA HAMILTON – Graphic writer who weaves superb plots and vivid characters into realistic, fanciful, folkloric, and historical settings.

MADELEINE L'ENGLE – She probes the theme that everything in our universe is connected and that all things, even the tiniest microbes, matter.

WALTER DEAN MYERS – He portrays an authentic view of African-Americans in gripping novels and sound informational books.

KATHERINE PATERSON – A perceptive writer whose characters and dramatic themes live on in our memories.

RICHARD PECK – Time spent in schools talking with teenagers helps capture the tone, language, and concerns reflected in the gripping, authentic dialogue that permeates Peck's work.

GARY SOTO – He draws upon his Mexican-American heritage to create vignettes in poetry and prose.

MILDRED TAYLOR – One of the first African-American authors to win major awards writes about the experience of rural Mississippi in the 1930s.

CYNTHIA VOIGT – An impressive novelist who addresses thoughtful topics through realistic, fantasy, and historical stories.

LAURENCE YEP – He probes his heritage for universal themes of growing up in an Asian-American family.

Note: When different from the illustrator, the author's name appears in parentheses following the book title.

Excerpted from: Cullinan, B. (1994). 75 Authors/Illustrators Everyone Should Know. Children’s Book Council.


You are welcome to print copies for non-commercial use, or a limited number for educational purposes, as long as credit is given to Reading Rockets and the author(s). For commercial use, please contact the author or publisher listed.


Everyone has to read the Hunger games- the third isn't as good as the first two, but read it anyway. It's worthit! :)

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"You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend." — Paul Sweeney