Hayao Miyazaki’s 50 Favorite Children’s Books

Hayao Miyazaki's 50 Favorite Children's Books

Hayao Miyazaki, the renowned animator and film director, has made the world a more creative and imaginative place. Hayao Miyazaki’s work has entertained and captivated audiences for decades with its beautiful visuals, intricate stories, and complex philosophy. He is well-studied and respected among adults, and his films have produced a generation of children entranced by his magical worlds.

Miyazaki is an avid follower of the world of children’s literature, and he has a stunning depth of knowledge about the titles that every child should familiarize themselves with. It’s no wonder why these works are held up in such high regard – Hayao Miyazaki created something truly extraordinary that travels far beyond words or images to touch lives all over the world.

Why should you look at Hayao Miyazaki’s favorite children’s books?

In 2010, in tribute to the legendary Japanese publishing house Iwanami Shoten, Hayao Miyazaki selected his fifty favorite children’s books. Hayao Miyazaki’s favorite children’s books list contains stories of solitary or orphaned children and animals that can speak – reminiscent of his animated films – sure to delight children and adults alike.

What’s more, this collection is a reminder that people of all ages can enjoy some of the most delightful works of literature. It also provides a way to peek into children’s minds with its purest stories full of admiration for the world around them.

I know I am not a Hayao Miyazaki, but as a father, I have also listed my 100 favorite children’s books for you.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” written by Lewis Carroll, is not only a masterpiece of children’s literature but a brilliant concoction of imagination and mathematics. This novel, celebrating its 150th anniversary, reveals itself as much more than just a story of a girl in a fantastical world; it’s a math novel cleverly disguised within the whimsical narrative.

Carroll, with a background in mathematics, weaves abstract thinking and complex ideas into the very fabric of Wonderland. From the enigmatic Cheshire Cat discussing infinity, to the Queen’s croquet game reflecting the randomness of numbers, the reader—whether young or old—is subtly introduced to mathematical concepts throughout Alice’s odyssey.

This special edition is particularly remarkable as it includes Salvador Dalí’s rare and thought-provoking illustrations. His surrealistic touches are in perfect harmony with the narrative, enhancing the reader’s experience by providing a visual feast that echoes the dream-like quality of the text. The result is an extraordinary version of Alice’s tale that bridges art, literature, and science, ensuring that each page turned is a step further down the rabbit hole of curiosity.

Amid its logical conundrums and coded references to mathematics, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” speaks to timeless themes such as the celebration of curiosity, the measure of bravery, and the importance of being resilient and kind. Carroll’s cleverly crafted characters—each embodying different facets of human virtue and vice—serve as guides not only in a young girl’s fantastical escapade but as moral compasses for the readers.

The narrative itself is an adventure in every sense of the word. Alice encounters bizarre and outlandish scenarios, yet they are constructed with such meticulous detail that they seem curiously logical. The world Carroll has created is one that consistently defies expectation and understanding, leading readers to question everything they thought they knew about reality.

Beneath the surface of this supposed children’s book lies a rich layer of complexity that open-minded readers can explore. The use of puns, puzzles, and paradoxes pulls readers of all ages into an exploration of logic, making “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” an educational read that stimulates the brain in more ways than one.

In conclusion, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: 150th Anniversary Edition” offers more than just nostalgia—it offers an educational and mesmerizing trip that binds math, morality, art, and storytelling into a single volume. It is an essential addition to any child’s library and a delightful reread for adults who may find new insight within its pages. This novel, and particularly this edition with its extraordinary Dalí illustrations, is a testament to the enduring power of imagination and intellect combined.

This definitive English-language edition of The Little Prince will win the hearts of readers of all ages thanks to Richard Howard’s translation and the original full-color art that has been restored.

The Little Prince is one of the few stories that both kids and adults love and read all the time. When a plane crashes in the Sahara Desert, a little boy asks the pilot to draw a sheep for him. The Little Prince slowly tells us more about himself: He is from a small asteroid, where he lived alone until a rose grew.

But the rose became more demanding, and he didn’t know how he felt about her. As the story continues, it moves from one planet to the next. It is a deep philosophical look at love and the fleeting.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a book by Arthur Conan Doyle with twelve short stories about his made-up detective, Sherlock Holmes. It came out for the first time on October 14, 1892. Between June 1891 and July 1892, each story was published in The Strand Magazine. The stories are not in order of time, and Holmes and Dr. Watson are the only characters who appear in all twelve.

From Watson’s point of view, the stories are told in the first person. Most of the time, the stories in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes point out societal wrongs and try to fix them. Holmes is portrayed as a new kind of justice that is fairer. The stories were liked, and the number of people subscribed to The Strand Magazine increased. This meant that Doyle could ask for more money for his next set of stories.

The first story, “A Scandal in Bohemia,” features a character named Irene Adler. Doyle only wrote about her in this one story, but she is a major character in modern adaptations of Sherlock Holmes, usually as Holmes’s love interest. Doyle chose “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” as his favorite of the twelve stories in this collection. He also chose “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” as his favorite Sherlock Holmes story.

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is an exciting adventure story! Three men travel with the mysterious Captain Nemo on his submarine, the Nautilus, on an epic journey under the sea. During their crazy trip, they meet the lost city of Atlantis, the South Pole, and the corals of the Red Sea. Along the way, they have to fight against many people and monsters. This great work of fiction shows how science can be used to do anything and how dark the human mind can be.

The award-winning “The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle” by Hugh Lofting is one of his best-known works, entertaining young readers for almost a century. The idea of being able to speak to animals mesmerizes kids even today. This edition contains the original illustrations that Lofting drew himself. While some editions have been ‘updated’ to reflect modern sensibilities, this one contains the exact text originally published in 1922.

The four classic tales in this volume illuminate Leo Tolstoy’s radical orientation toward war and commerce, revealing his vision for a sustainable, peaceable world. The feature story, Ivan the Fool, presents an archetypal fool who works hard, cooperates with everyone, and manages to foil every attempt to cause his downfall.

In the end, peasant life comes out on top, while the pillars of imperial Russian society topple down. Esarhaddon, King of Assyria, explores a king’s empathy-based revelation to end all violence; and A Grain as Big as a Hen’s Egg playfully looks at the relationship between health, soil, labor, and food economies.

The year was 1917. As a war raged across the world, young American women flocked to work, painting watches, clocks, and military dials with a special luminous substance made from radium. It was a fun, lucrative, glamorous job – the girls themselves shone brightly in the dark, covered head to toe in the dust from the paint. They were the radium girls.

As the years passed, the women began to suffer from mysterious and crippling illnesses. The very thing that had made them feel alive – their work – was, in fact, slowly killing them: They had been poisoned by the radium paint. Yet their employers denied all responsibility. And so, in the face of unimaginable suffering – in the face of death – these courageous women refused to accept their fate quietly and instead became determined to fight for justice.

Drawing on previously unpublished sources – including diaries, letters, court transcripts, and original interviews with the women’s relatives – The Radium Girls is an intimate narrative account of an unforgettable true story. It is the powerful tale of a group of ordinary women from the Roaring 20s who themselves learned how to roar.

The Rose and The Ring is a satirical work of fantasy fiction by William Makepeace Thackeray, originally published in 1854. It is the tale of a fairy, a king of two kingdoms, their offspring, and an older woman. Set in the fictional countries of Paflagonia and Crim Tartary, it criticizes the attitudes of the British upper class and challenges their ideals of beauty and marriage.

The story revolves around the lives and fortunes of four royal cousins, Princesses Angelica and Rosalba and Princes Bulbo and Giglio. The narrative is filled with humor.

In 1842, thirteen-year-old orphan Maria Merryweather arrives at Moonacre Manor, her family’s ancestral home in an charmed village in England’s West Country, and she feels as if she’s entered Paradise. Her new guardian, her uncle Sir Benjamin, is kind and funny; the Manor itself feels like home right away; and every person and animal she meets is like an old friend. But there is something incredibly sad beneath all of this beauty and comfort, that shadowing Moonacre Manor and the town around it. Maria is determined to learn about it, change it, and give her own life story a happy ending.

The enchanted valley of Moonacre is shadowed by a tragedy that happened years ago, and the memory of the Moon Princess and the mysterious little white horse. Determined to restore peace and happiness to the whole of Moonacre Valley, Maria finds herself involved with an ancient feud, and she discovers it is her destiny to end it and right the wrongs of her ancestors. Maria usually gets her own way. But what can one solitary girl do?

A new-fashioned fantasy story that is as wonderful as the best classic fairy tales.

The Little Humpbacked Horse is a beloved Russian classic, written in the 1830s. It is the tale of a resourceful Russian peasant, Vanya, and his miracle-working horse, who together undergo various trials, exploits and adventures at the whim of a laughable tsar (indeed, this portrayal of the tsar got the book banned for 20 years in the nineteenth century). It is a tale of love and bravery, fantasy and humor, and it is all told in beautiful, rich, narrative poetry. Presented in our popular bilingual format (accented Russian on the left page, matching English on the right), with a stellar literary translation by Lydia Stone, this is a volume to cherish and share.

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Ali Kaya


Ali Kaya

This is Ali. Bespectacled and mustachioed father, math blogger, and soccer player. I also do consult for global math and science startups.