6 Lists of Great Picture Books For Kids
My sister Jen is back to share with us her favorite picture books! She writes:
I love picture books and am so excited to share my family’s favorites with you. I began collecting picture books when I worked at the local library during college. As the library discarded old books, I would add them to my personal collection. When I became a teacher, I would order books from the monthly book orders and gather books from garage sales. It was such a blessing to have so many books on my shelves when my children were born! Reading to your children should begin as soon as they are born or even before!!
Here is a video that I made for my fifth grade class in 1999 to show what a day with my new baby was like. As you can see, Johnathan seemed to enjoy being read to even as an infant!
I have so many favorite picture books that I have read to my children over the years. Below, I organized them into categories and included some helpful tips about ways that you could use these with your own children.
- Infant/ Toddler Books – When choosing books for your young children, try to find books that involve the stimulation of several senses.
Like in the video, a book that squeaks or makes other noises will hold your child’s attention at this age (The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle). Also, look for books that have flaps that can be lifted (Spot books by Eric Hill) or patches that can be felt (Fuzzy Yellow Ducklings by Matthew Van Fleet). Other books involve pointing at pictures to develop visual discrimination skills (I Spy Little Wheels by Jean Marzollo). Some books encourage activities that develop fine motor skills (The Cheerios Play Book by Lee Wade). Making reading fun at a young age will help children to continue enjoying reading as they grow!
2. Bedtime Books – As I gathered my books, these are the ones that brought back the sweetest memories of rocking my babies at bedtime. The soothing, lullaby like rhymes in these books are wonderful ways to calm your baby before they sleep. I also had several of these memorized so that I could recite them to my fussing baby in the car or at the grocery store. It was amazing how they would stop crying to focus on a familiar rhythm and rhyme! (My Favorites: Time For Bed by Mem Fox, The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown)
3. Christian Books – Many of these books were gifts from my parents to my children. They have been so useful in instructing my children in Biblical teachings and are sometimes used as our Bible story for the day. (My Favorites: I Believe in Jesus by John MacArthur, All the Way to God by Katie and Michael Giuliano, The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Hunt, Just in Case You Ever Wonder by Max Lucado, God’s Wisdom for Little Girls, Virtues and Fun from Proverbs 31 by Elizabeth George, and The Wemmicks Collection by Max Lucado)
4. Holiday Books – One of my favorite things to do at the holidays is to get out the picture books that have been put away all year and display them on my children’s book shelves in their rooms. The books are special because they are only out for a few weeks every year. Thanksgiving Favorites: The Story of the Mayflower Compact by Norman Richards, Off to Plymouth Rock! By Dandi Daley Mackall, The Turkey Saves the Day by Shelagh Canning, Out and About on the Mayflower by Judy Veramendi Easter Favorites: My Easter Basket by Mary Manz Simon, The Parable of the Lily by Liz Curtis Higgs, and What is Easter? By Lillie James Christmas Favorites: The Very First Christmas by Paul L. Maier, The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg, The Small One by Alex Walsh, Little Shepherd by Dandi Daley Mackall, Gigi, The Perfect Christmas Gift by Sheila Walsh, Christy: Christmastime at Cutter Gap by Nancy LeSourd
5. School-subject Related Books – When I was a classroom teacher, I liked to begin new units of study by reading a picture book to my students. (My Favorites: Science/ Weather: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett, Social Studies/ Immigration: Molly’s Pilgrim by Barbara Cohen, Handwriting/ Cursive: Muggie Maggie by Beverly Cleary, Math/ Large Numbers: How Much is a Million? By David M. Schwartz (includes a list of math activities), Math/ Division: The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins, One Hundred Hungry Ants by Elinor J. Pinczes, Math/ Measurement: Counting on Frank by Rod Clement (includes a list of math activities) Math/ Calendar/ Days of the Week: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle)
6. Other Childhood Favorites – There are certain book characters that have been family favorites. Curious George and Clifford books have led to good discussions and life lessons. My children also loved the Corduroy books and Amelia Bedelia books although the Amelia Bedelia books do involve a little higher vocabulary in order to enjoy the humor. A few other titles that we have loved reading over and over are The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney, The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown, The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper, Harry by the Sea and Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton.
A few more tips: Develop a set time in your day for reading to your young children to develop reading as a habit. As you read, point to the words to help your child develop sound/ symbol relationships and tracking skills from left to right and top to bottom of a page. Also, make sure to read books like Green Eggs and Ham, Hop on Pop, and other Dr. Seuss books to reinforce rhyming skills as this is a foundational reading skill. Enjoy the list of books, make a trip to the library, and snuggle with your little ones as you read together! ~ Jennifer
So those are my sister’s favorites! Right now my absolute favorites for my 7 and 9 year old are Max Lucado’s Wemmick’s Collection, Elizabeth George’s “God’s Wisdom For Little Girls” (based on the Proverbs 31 passage – LOVE it!) and anything by Dr. Seuss!
So tell us – what picture books are you reading or are your favorites?
The Giving Tree is one of my favorites too! The Very Hungry Caterpillar was a favorite when I taught in the schools and Time for Bed is one I love to still read to my own children. Great list 🙂
LOVE this post Courtney!
Any opportunity to “talk books”…. 🙂
Some of our favorite picture books (I’m going to copy-and-paste…forgive me…the dinner dishes are waiting 🙂 …
Miss Suzy — Miriam Young
Ask Mr. Bear — Marjorie Flack
Blueberries for Sal — Robert McCloskey
Goodnight Moon — Margaret Wise Brown
Caps For Sale — Esphyr Slobodkina
Angus Lost — Marjorie Flack
Follow the Drinking Gourd — Jeanette Winter
When I Was Young in the Mountains — Cynthia Rylant
Roxaboxen — Alice McLerran
The Story About Ping — Flack and Wiese
Madeline — Ludwig Bemelmans
Cranberry Christmas, Cranberry Thanksgiving — Wende and Harry Devlin
The Clown of God — Tomie De Paola
A New Coat for Anna — Harriet Ziefert
Mirette on the High Wire — Emily McCully
The Story of Ferdinand — Munro Leaf
Make Way for the Ducklings — Robert McCloskey
Fox Eyes — Margaret Wise Brown
Stellaluna — Janell Cannon
The Treasure — Uri Shulevitz
Barn Dance — Bill Martin Jr.
Hi Cat — Ezra Jack Keats
Amazing Grace — Hoffman
Harry the Dirty Dog — Zion
A Chair for My Mother — Vera Williams
Dr. DeSoto — William Steig
Miss Nelson is Missing — Harry Allard
The Ox-Cart Man — Donald Hall
The Napping House — Aundrey Wood
Amelia Bedelia — Peggy Parish
Oh my! My two of my favorite things in one post: Children’s books and babies!!! :o) That video is precious!!! and so heart warming! LOVE!
I read to my oldest from the moment she was born, and I’m pretty sure that is why she loves reading SO much today! One of her favorite one’s to read to her little sister is A Little Girl After God’s Own Heart by Elizabeth George ~ she loves it herself and reads it all the time!
We LOVE books and have hundreds of them. Reading to a child is the most important thing a parent can do. When my older child started school her language skill were over a year ahead of her age and the teacher said she could tell we read lots of books and sang tons of songs.
Our Favorite Authors (since there are too many books to list) include
Tomie De Paola
Margaret Wise Brown
Ezra Jack Keats
We love books! Daddy has a PhD in Theology and Literature so half of our home is filled with books! Here’s our top five for our kids (ages 2 and almost 1) at the moment.
1. Good Night, Gorilla
2. Rainbow Fish
3. Llama Llama, Red Pajama
4. I Love you Through and Through
5. Moo, Baa, La la la
Coming from a family of readers and one who was beguiled and transported by books since early childhood, I knew I would be reading to my own children. And as a teacher, I too would use the monthly Scholastic orders to build not only my classroom library but my own. You’ve listed so many wonderful books! Some I do not have but have put on my list. Here are some favorites that I haven’t seen listed:
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, a rocking alphabet book that practically sings by Bill Martin Jr.
Wild Wild Sunflower Child Anna by Nancy White Carlstrom, a beautiful picture book exploding with the exuberance of nature and childhood.
The Mitten by Jan Brett is a wonderful tale within a tale as are most her books. The side panels tell a related story as you read the main one.
The Twelve Days of Christmas by Jan Brett, for the reasons above and for the multicultural illustrations.
There are Cats in this Book by Vivane Schwarz is a charming interactive story of 3 cats with flip pages. A personal favorite of both my granddaughters.
I’ll check back later to see what others have listed. A grandmother can never have too many books!
Great post and we LOVED the video of Jen and Johnathan!
Love this post!! I have been reading to my son since we brought him home from the hospital. He is now almost 3 and LOVES books. I find him in his room trying to read all the time. He loves the book The Little Engine That Could and I found a website where you can read it and some others for free. Here is the website http://www.wegivebooks.org/
Thank you so much for the list. We will be going to our library tomorrow.
Oh my husband and I began reading to my oldest when he was in my tummy! Almost 9 years later, he’s winning prizes left and right for being top reader in his grade! This past year he was 2nd top from the entire school district for his grade level! So of course my 4 year old who looks up to his big bro, gets excited about books. In fact, he doesn’t let me get out of reading for naptime or bedtime! I love it! Books used to be my escape as a child. As a teacher, it amazes me the number of children who struggle at an early age. I always encourage parents to take the time to read with their children.
I was so excited to see a number of the books Jennifer listed are among my boys ever growing personal library! I plan to make a list of the others so I can “suggest” them at our now 3x a week trip to the library. I’ve always loved Arthur, Froggy, Curious George, and Franklin books just to name a few. My youngest sons favorite as a baby was Good Night Moon. And while I don’t have a video of this precious moment, I do have a picture!!
Happy reading, all!
Jen, you’re a gal after my own heart! 🙂 I love children’s literature, but have a special fondness for elementary age chapter books. I read my son his first chapter book when he was 3 and a half! I wondered how he would do without pictures to look at, but was surprised at how intensely he listened to the story. It was “Danny the Champion of the World” by Roald Dahl.
Since then we’ve read many others by Roald Dahl, Beverly Cleary, Lois Lowry, John Bellairs (some parents might be against these because they include ghosts and things, but I find them delicious), Scott O’Dell, Gary Paulsen, I could go on and on. My son is 9 now, and we just finished reading “Number the Stars” by Lois Lowry ~ a wonderful story about a family in Cophenhagen who risks their lives to save their good friends who are Jewish from the Nazi regime. Sounds very adult, but the story is written simply and beautifully and doesn’t delve into the violence of that place in history, just the escape out of Denmark. Thank you for this post! 🙂
I have a 3 year old boy and 1 year old girl and they both LOVE books! I was a K teacher for 12 years so I have quite a few books that I like to read to my kids, but I have found several new ones that I like since becoming a mom. I think Sandra Boynton is brilliant!! We love The Belly Button Book (Bee-bo)! I also love this old favorite called Mrs. Wishy Washy by Joy Cowley. And another cute one with few words is Goodnight Gorilla.
PS. What a cute video, Jennifer! It makes me miss my babies at that age!
My favorite to read to my kids was “Are You My Mother” My daughters knew the book front to back before they even really learned to read. My son wasn’t that into books, but would still listen to it. 😀 One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish was always a fun book too.
I agree that reading to our children is very important!
From your lists I only know “guess how much I love you” ‘(so sweet) and “the very hungry caterpillar” in German.
Here in Europe we love the books of Astrid Lindgren – do you know her?
Thanks for the lists. Several of my favorites are on your lists but I now have a list of books that I want to get.Mike Mulligan’s Steam Shovel was a favorite of my son’s. We would return it to the library and check it out again, over and over again. When I found out I was going to have a grandchild the first thing I bought was a book. (Good Night Moon because my daughter-in-law had mentioned that was a favorite of hers. My grandson loved My truck is Stuck by Kevin Lewis and Daniel Kirk and Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson is one of several in a series that is cute.
My sister and niece are both librarians!! We moved often as my dad was in the military and I learned to love to read. My fav was Ferdinand the bull. I love Goodnight Gorilla for my grandchildren (so many others too).
I have always loved reading and have a BA in English Literature. As a mom and home school mom–books have always been a part of our lives. I am familiar with most of the classic books you listed. My little 7 year old who has Down syndrome just loves Bears in the Night by Berenstien Bears. All of my boys loved this book and when the subject is exciting to them it helps them learn how to read! I need to find the Berenstein bears–Spooky Old Tree which is another favorite of his older brothers when they were little. Moms can find so many classic children’s books at Goodwill and thrift stores and library sales etc!
My girls 7 & 9 still love God Gave Us You by Laura Tawn Bergen
My 9 year old reads at an 8th grade level. Do you have any recommendations on Christian books at the junior high level?