Hayao Miyazaki Selects His 50 Favorite Children’s Books

Once upon a time, books served as the de facto refuge of the “physically weak” child. For animation legend, Hayao Miyazaki, above, they offered an escape from the grimmer realities of post-World War II Japan.

Many of the 50 favorites he selected for a 2010 exhibition honoring publisher Iwanami Shoten‘s “Boy’s Books” series are time-tested Western classics.

Loners and orphans–The Little Prince, The Secret Gardenfigure prominently, as do talking animals (The Wind in the Willows, Winnie-the-Pooh, The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle).

And while it may be a commonly-held publishing belief that boys won’t read stories about girls, the young Miyazaki seemed to have no such bias, ranking Heidi and Laura Ingalls Wilder right alongside Tom Sawyer and Treasure Island’s pirates.

Several of the titles that made the cut were ones he could only have encountered as a grown up, including 1967’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and When Marnie Was There, the latter eventually serving as source material for a Studio Ghibli movie, as did Miyazaki’s top pick, Mary Norton’s The Borrowers.

We invite you to take a nostalgic stroll through Miyazaki’s best-loved children’s books. Readers, how many have you read?

Hayao Miyazaki’s Top 50 Children’s Books

  1. The Borrowers — Mary Norton
  2. The Little Prince — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  3. Children of Noisy Village — Astrid Lindgren
  4. When Marnie Was There — Joan G. Robinson
  5. Swallows and Amazons — Arthur Ransome
  6. The Flying Classroom — Erich Kästner
  7. There Were Five of Us — Karel Poláček
  8. What the Neighbours Did, and Other Stories — Ann Philippa Pearce
  9. Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates — Mary Mapes Dodge
  10. The Secret Garden — Frances Hodgson Burnett
  11. Eagle of The Ninth — Rosemary Sutcliff
  12. The Treasure of the Nibelungs — Gustav Schalk
  13. The Three Musketeers — Alexandre Dumas, père
  14. A Wizard of Earthsea — Ursula K. Le Guin
  15. Les Princes du Vent — Michel-Aime Baudouy
  16. The Flambards Series — K. M. Peyton
  17. Souvenirs entomologiques — Jean Henri Fabre
  18. The Long Winter — Laura Ingalls Wilder
  19. A Norwegian Farm — Marie Hamsun
  20. Heidi — Johanna Spyri
  21. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer — Mark Twain
  22. Little Lord Fauntleroy — Frances Hodgson Burnett
  23. Tistou of the Green Thumbs — Maurice Druon
  24. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes — Arthur Conan Doyle
  25. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler — E. L. Konigsburg
  26. The Otterbury Incident — Cecil Day-Lewis
  27. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland — Lewis Carroll
  28. The Little Bookroom — Eleanor Farjeon
  29. The Forest is Alive or Twelve Months — Samuil Yakovlevich Marshak
  30. The Restaurant of Many Orders — Kenji Miyazawa
  31. Winnie-the-Pooh — A. A. Milne
  32. Nihon Ryōiki — Kyokai
  33. Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio — Pu Songling
  34. Nine Fairy Tales: And One More Thrown in For Good Measure — Karel Čapek
  35. The Man Who Has Planted Welsh Onions — Kim So-un
  36. Robinson Crusoe — Daniel Defoe
  37. The Hobbit — J. R. R. Tolkien
  38. Journey to the West — Wu Cheng’en
  39. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea — Jules Verne
  40. The Adventures of the Little Onion — Gianni Rodari
  41. Treasure Island — Robert Louis Stevenson
  42. The Ship that Flew — Hilda Winifred Lewis
  43. The Wind in the Willows — Kenneth Grahame
  44. The Little Humpbacked Horse — Pyotr Pavlovich Yershov (Ershoff)
  45. The Little White Horse — Elizabeth Goudge
  46. The Rose and the Ring — William Makepeace Thackeray
  47. The Radium Woman — Eleanor Doorly
  48. City Neighbor, The Story of Jane Addams — Clara Ingram Judson
  49. Ivan the Fool — Leo Tolstoy
  50. The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle — Hugh Lofting

Note: An earlier version of this post appeared on our site in 2017.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  She’ll be appearing onstage in New York City this June as one of the clowns in Paul David Young’s Faust 3. Follow her @AyunHalliday.


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  • یه ایرانی says:

    آقای میازاکی یکی از اسطوره های خلق فانتزی در دنیاست. دوست دارم آقای میازاکی.
    Dont translat it. I said i love you mr miasaki for your great fantasyes.

    Muchas gracius sinior miasaki.

  • Fumie says:

    I’m 39years old Japanese female.

    I still remember his cartoon series of “ the little women “ I have watched when I was very young.

    And then, as I became the age of reading original novel, I surprised that “ Hannah” the maid was not a big black lady. I was kind of shocked that the maid did not even take big role in the story of the original novel like she was in the cartoon series.
    I still wonder why this guy made the “Hannah” black, but I see it in Disney Movies nowadays doing same thing.
    So this director probably was living 2020 when it was in 1980s.

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