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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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Enter an Archive of 7,000 His­tor­i­cal Children’s Books, All Dig­i­tized & Free to Read Online

Clas­sic Children’s Books Now Dig­i­tized and Put Online: Revis­it Vin­tage Works from the 19th & 20th Cen­turies

Clas­sic Children’s Books Now Dig­i­tized and Put Online: Revis­it Vin­tage Works from the 19th & 20th Cen­turies

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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