30 Inspiring Book Characters Every Child Should Know
One of the greatest gifts books give us is the opportunity to connect with characters that resonate with us. We form a deep attachment to characters that make us laugh and make us think, and most importantly, teach us valuable life lessons. When it comes to children’s literature, there are just so many amazing children’s book characters to choose from! Narrowing down the list is almost impossible, but we managed to pull together this list of 30 of the most-loved children’s book characters, old and new.
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1. Ada Twist from Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty
Ada’s mind is like a popcorn maker bouncing questions around 24/7. Her story is a celebration of insatiable curiosity, girl power, and the rewards of perseverance.
Buy it: Ada Twist, Scientist at Amazon
2. Alexander from Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
Ever have one of those days? Well, from the minute he wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, Alexander is having a bummer of a day. This story gives readers a hilarious glimpse into the thought process of a young boy with a serious case of the grumps.
Buy it: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day at Amazon
3. August Pullman from Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Auggie, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face, tugs at our heart strings and teaches us the power of a good heart and a strong mind.
Buy it: Wonder at Amazon
4. Brian from The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
We’ve all seen this boy—the shy, sweet one who has so much to offer but can’t quite connect with his classmates. Brian’s story teaches us about the power of kindness and inclusion and encourages us to keep our eyes open for the invisible ones in our own circle.
Buy it: The Invisible Boy at Amazon
5. Charlie Bucket from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
When Charlie Bucket finds one of the golden tickets to the opening of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, he has no idea what an adventure he’s in for. Honest and kind, brave and true, Charlie is a hero among spoiled, greedy brats who in the end triumphs.
Buy it: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at Amazon
6. Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
A children’s literature icon, Charlotte is a paragon of patience and wisdom as she guides Wilbur the pig through his trials and tribulations. In the end she makes the ultimate sacrifice, leaving us brokenhearted but grateful to have known her.
Buy it: Charlotte’s Web at Amazon
7. CJ from Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena
CJ lives in the poor part of the city and wonders why his life looks different than his friends’. Luckily, he has his grandmother to help him see the beauty, and fun, in the world around them. His spirit encourages us to look for the good in life.
Buy it: Last Stop on Market Street at Amazon
8. David from No, David by David Shannon
David is a young boy bubbling over with enthusiasm and curiosity. And more often than not, it lands him in hot water. With a mischievous smile and an unswerving sense of humor, David embodies the joie de vivre that we are all born with.
Buy it: No, David at Amazon
9. Delphine from One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
When Delphine and her two sisters spend the summer with their mother in Oakland, they find themselves in a different world. Set on the cusp of the civil rights movement, Delphine’s worldview expands exponentially as she grows up before our very eyes.
Buy it: One Crazy Summer at Amazon
10. Dory from Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon
Ignored by her older brother and sister, charming, energetic Dory is left to her own (sizable) imagination as she goes on adventures with her imaginary friend Mary. Hilarious and heartwarming, you can’t help but fall in love with Dory.
Buy it: Dory Fantasmagory at Amazon
11. Edward from The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
Edward is a fine china rabbit who lives many lives. As we follow him along on his journey through the hands of different boys and girls, we experience the joys and heartbreak of a life well-lived.
Buy it: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane at Amazon
12. Emmanuel from Emmanuel’s Dream by Laurie Ann Thompson
When Emmanuel was born in Ghana, West Africa, with a deformed leg, his prospects were dim. But with the love and encouragement of his beloved mother, he not only survived but thrived. Based on the life of inspirational athlete and disability rights activist Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, this story delivers a powerful message about overcoming differences by believing in yourself.
Buy it: Emmanuel’s Dream at Amazon
13. Esperanza from Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
When a tragedy upends Esperanza’s life of privilege and wealth into one of poverty and uncertainty, she has to find the strength to rise above her difficult circumstances and bring hope to her ailing mother.
Buy it: Esperanza Rising at Amazon
14. Mrs. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus series by Joanna Cole
If only every child could have a magical teacher like Valerie Frizzle, the world would be a better place. With her trademark wackiness and boundless energy, she leads her students (and our readers) on unforgettable journeys.
Buy it: The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks at Amazon
15. Frog and Toad from the Frog and Toad Series by Arnold Lobel
Among the most beloved children’s book characters are Frog and Toad. Sweet and simple, their stories of friendship and loyalty bring us back to a more innocent time in a way that is so very satisfying in today’s complicated world.
Buy it: Frog and Toad Are Friends at Amazon
16. Greg Heffley from Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Author Jeff Kinney admits he based Greg on his own worst qualities in middle school and high school. Sometimes a hero, sometimes a zero, but always entertaining—he’s a guy that kids can relate to.
Buy it: Diary of a Wimpy Kid at Amazon
17. Irene Bobbin from Brave Irene by William Steig
Brave Irene, the dressmaker’s daughter, has to deliver a gown to the palace. Despite the challenge of a fierce snowstorm, Irene pushes through with cleverness and determination. Told by master storyteller William Steig, you can’t help but cheer for Irene to make it to the finish line on time.
Buy it: Brave Irene at Amazon
18. Jacob from Jacob’s New Dress by Sarah Hoffman
One of the earliest books that tackled the unique challenges faced by children who don’t identify with traditional gender roles, Jacob’s story opens your heart and mind to children who are questioning.
Buy it: Jacob’s New Dress at Amazon
19. Jabari from Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
Jabari is sure he’s ready for the high dive. But as his turn nears, he employs some hilarious stall tactics. Encouraged by his patient dad, he keeps us on the edge of our seat until he takes his triumphant plunge.
Buy it: Jabari Jumps at Amazon
20. Junie B. Jones from the series by Barbara Park
Junie B. Jones is endlessly entertaining as she makes her way from home to school. Filled with curiosity and wonder, her adventures provide us the unique privilege of experiencing the world through the eyes of a kindergartner.
Buy it: Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus at Amazon
21. Lilly from Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes
Sometimes despite our best intentions, our enthusiasm gets the best of us. Free-spirited Lilly tries to contain her excitement about her new purse, but her impetuousness wins out. We can all relate as we witness her pint-sized thought process and root for redemption from her beloved teacher Mr. Slinger.
Buy it: Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse at Amazon
22. The Lorax from the story by Dr. Seuss
One of the most influential children’s book characters, the Lorax captivates us with his message of environmental awareness, bringing a critical issue to the forefront in a clear, kid-friendly way. Sowing the seeds for future activists, he assures us that no action taken is too small.
Buy it: The Lorax at Amazon
23. Max from Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
A romping ode to bad behavior, Max is wildly relatable as he transforms from a defiant, naughty boy into a little one who is cured by a good night’s sleep and his mother’s love.
Buy it: Where the Wild Things Are at Amazon
24. Molly Lou Melon from Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell
Molly Lou is so endearing because she lets her freak flag fly. And in the process, she opens the eyes of her classmates and inspires them to be the best, true version of themselves.
Buy it: Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon at Amazon
25. Nate from the Nate the Great series by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
Like his predecessors before him (Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, and others) Nate the Great has a knack for solving mysteries. With 29 books and counting, the character has inspired young detectives everywhere with his Sam Spade persona and clever sidekick Sludge the dog.
Buy it: Nate the Great: Favorites at Amazon
26. Olivia from the series by Ian Falconer
Olivia is a fashionable pig who is a whirling dervish of creative energy and delightful shenanigans. Kids of all ages can be inspired by her unshakeable sense of self as she unapologetically makes her way through life.
Buy it: Olivia at Amazon
27. Percy Jackson from The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Greek mythology and the modern world collide when 12-year-old Percy Jackson is accused of stealing Zeus’ master lightning bolt. Despite his struggles with ADHD and dyslexia, he uses his wits and indomitable spirit to clear his name and claim his birthright.
Buy it: The Lightning Thief at Amazon
28. Stanley Yelnats from Holes by Louis Sachar
What do you do when the cards just seem to be stacked against you? Stanley blames the family curse when he is sent to a juvenile detention camp but soon finds himself on a wild adventure searching for buried treasure.
Buy it: Holes at Amazon
29. Unhei from The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
New girl Unhei is tempted to adopt an American name in order to fit in at her new school. But in the end, she finds the courage to be herself. A touching tale about embracing your differences and celebrating your unique heritage.
Buy it: The Name Jar at Amazon
30. Viola Swamp from Miss Nelson Is Missing! by Harry Allard
Sweet teacher Miss Nelson reaches the end of her rope with her unruly, misbehaving students. So, she decides to teach them a lesson with the help of her horrible alter-ego Viola Swamp.
Buy it: Miss Nelson Is Missing at Amazon
Who are your all-time favorite children’s book characters? Come share on our WeAreTeachers Helpline group on Facebook.
Find these children’s book characters and more in our amazing roundup of the best books for kids of all ages.
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