6 Best Norman Bridwell Books That Adults and Children Will Love

Check out our guide and step back into your childhood with your favorite character, Clifford, with the best Norman Bridwell books. 

Most adults today can remember reading about Clifford, the Big Red Dog, when they were children. Whether they watched him make it through his first big storm or participate in the big parade on an important holiday, the loveable but clumsy pooch makes plenty of mistakes but always gets forgiven at the end of the day.

Clifford was the creation of one of the best children’s books authors of all time, Norman Bridwell. Norman Bridwell was born in Kokomo, Indiana, in 1928. He graduated from Cooper Union in New York City.

As a young man, he put together a portfolio of his art and tried to get a job working for publishing houses as a book illustrator, but he was rejected 15 times. Finally, one of the publishers told him he should turn a drawing into a story, which he eventually turned into Clifford, The Big Red Dog. The book was highly successful, and eventually, his dog became the official mascot of Scholastic Corporation.

When asked why he made Clifford red, Bridwell said, “It was red because I happened to have red paint on the drawing table that night.” Though the color choice was an accident, it may be part of why Clifford has been so famous. Young children are naturally drawn to color early in their development. Regardless of the reason, Bridwell struck something kids loved when he created Clifford. Even though Bridwell passed away in 2014 at 86, his books remain classics of children’s literature, and Scholastic continues to create new stories from them. 

1. Clifford the Big Red Dog

Best Norman Bridwell Books
Norman Bridwell via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Clifford the Big Red Dog is the book that started it all, so it deserves the top spot in this list. It introduces the giant dog, and his girl, Emily Elizabeth, with the colorful illustrations the storybooks have been well-known for.

The original Clifford book was published in 1963. The fantastical world of a giant dog the size of a house could put Bridwell among the best fantasy authors, but in reality, it simply shows that he loved writing books for kids. So, if you are introducing a child to Clifford, this is the book to start with. Consider adding Clifford’s Puppy Days next, as it shows what the big red dog was like when he was a tiny puppy. Want to read more children’s books? Discover our list of best books for Kindergarten.

“Other kids I know have dogs, too. Some are big dogs. And some are red dogs. But I have the biggest, reddest dog on our street. This is my dog – Clifford.”

Norman Bridwell
Clifford the Big Red Dog (Classic Storybook)
  • Author Norman Bridwell
  • 32 pages paperback
  • Language: English
  • Bridwell, Norman (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

2. Clifford’s Kitten

What happens when Emily Elizabeth gets a new pet, a tiny kitten? Clifford gets a little jealous. Clifford’s Kitten explores what happens when a new person, or animal, comes into someone’s life. It can help young children know there’s always enough love. This picture book is so fun because Clifford tries to do many things the kitten does. But because he’s so big, he can’t get into trouble. This book was originally published in 1984.

“He was so small that Mom said he could sleep in my room. He slept in the basket Clifford had used for a bed when he was a puppy. I think Clifford was a little jealous.”

Norman Bridwell
Clifford's Kitten (Clifford 8x8)
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Bridwell, Norman (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 01/01/1992 (Publication Date) - Cartwheel (Publisher)

3. Clifford Goes to Kindergarten

When Emily Elizabeth’s teacher says each student can bring something from home on the first day of Kindergarten, readers can quickly guess what the little girl brings – her best friend, Clifford. The amount of mischief the big red dog gets into on the first day of kindergarten is quite fun to read about. Clifford Goes to Kindergarten, which was published in 2015 after Bridwell’s death by Scholastic, helps many young kids feel safer about the first day of school. You might be interested in exploring metaphor examples for kids. Check out our guide.

“Hello! My name is Emily Elizabeth, and this is my dog, Clifford. I started kindergarten yesterday. At first, I was scared, but now I love school.”

Norman Bridwell
Clifford Goes to Kindergarten (Classic Storybook)
  • Bridwell, Norman (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 04/28/2015 (Publication Date) - Scholastic Inc. (Publisher)

4. Clifford Gets a Job

What can a big red dog do to help contribute to the family and pay for his dog’s food? Clifford Gets a Job and attempts to find out. Along the way, in typical Clifford fashion, he gets into trouble but eventually finds the perfect job. This book is popular in the Clifford series because it is both humorous and shows the importance of pulling one’s weight and bearing responsibility around the home. In addition, it’s a fun bedtime story that will leave kids smiling. The book was first published in 1965.

“Suddenly a car came speeding past us. And right behind it came a police car. They were chasing robbers.”

Norman Bridwell
Clifford Gets A Job (Clifford 8x8)
  • Bridwell, Norman (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 01/01/1992 (Publication Date) - Cartwheel Books (Publisher)

5. Clifford’s Family

Clifford fans are pleased to learn that Clifford has a family – including a brother and sisters who live all over the big city and not out in the country like them. This is the main story of Clifford’s Family. Kids get a kick out of seeing their favorite big red dog trying to fit in the city. Readers were introduced to Clifford’s family for the first time in 1982. Then, in 2005, the book got reformatted for Scholastic.

“Clifford hadn’t seen his mother since he was a tiny puppy. She hardly knew home.”

Norman Bridwell
Clifford's Family (Classic Storybook)
  • New
  • Mint Condition
  • Dispatch same day for order received before 12 noon
  • Guaranteed packaging
  • No quibbles returns

6. The Witch Next Door

While Norman Bridwell is best known for his Clifford books, he also wrote The Witch Next Door series. The first book was published in 1969 and told of two children who become friends with a new neighbor, who happens to be a witch. However, this isn’t a scary tale, as she is a kindhearted, considerate, helpful neighbor. This book is a great companion to Clifford’s First Halloween. It is a perfect read-aloud for the holiday season. As a young man, he created a portfolio of his drawings. Looking for more? Check out our round-up of the best fantasy authors!

“I was sure of it when she painted her house. Black isn’t my favorite color, but after all, it’s her house.”

Norman Bridwell
The Witch Next Door
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Bridwell, Norman (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 06/25/2013 (Publication Date) - Scholastic Inc. (Publisher)

FAQs About Best Norman Bridwell Books

What was the first book Norman Bridwell wrote?

Norman Bridwell’s first book was Clifford the Big Red Dog, published in 1963. Most of his success came from the Clifford series. He also wrote The Witch Next Door, How to Care for Your Monster, and A Tiny Family, but it is Clifford he is best known for.

How many Clifford books are there?

There are over 75 Clifford titles in publication. Some of these are books and board books for very young readers that use Bridwell’s characters but were not written by Bridwell directly. Some are based on the Clifford cartoon series on PBS Kids.