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The 25 Best Children’s Picture Books!

March 2, 2011

If you’re just joining us (welcome!), we’re celebrating National Read Across America Day (which is TODAY!).

Happy Birthday, dear Dr. Seuss – you completely changed children’s literature and we’re forever grateful. If it weren’t for you, we’d be reading Dick and Jane Readers until our eyes turned blue from boredom.

(Last year we celebrated this sacred day with a Brilliant Author Series dedicated to Dr. Seuss, and listed every book he ever wrote -and there were tons – so be sure to check it out!)

Contributing Writer Sarah Farthing and I collaborated on this list and boy, was it tough!

Please note, the symbols, (+++) after an author’s name denotes that there are many more titles by this same author that you should discover. In many cases, we just closed our eyes and picked one. With names like Robert McCloskey, Mo Willems, Virginia Lee Burton, Chris Van Dusen, David Shannon, Dr. Seuss – their titles alone could make up the whole list.

So off we go…


Make Way for Ducklings

by Robert McCloskey (+++)
Purely, innocently, Brilliant.


Where the Wild Things Are

By Maurice Sendak
Our wonderful world doesn’t value make-believe enough. We need to let our kids pretend. Seriously.


What a Wonderful World

By Ashley Bryan
Beautiful illustrations of the Louis Armstrong standard; what can be better?


Just Enough and Not Too Much

By Kaethe Zemach
A simple story about finding happiness in moderation.


Life Story

By Virginia Lee Burton (+++)
A masterpiece of the history of our Earth.


Stone Soup

By John J. Muth
If we all pitch in and give, this world would taste amazing.


The Empty Pot

By Demi
Truth, truth, truth. It’s the most important thing.


The Quiltmaker’s Gift

By Jeff Brumbeau
Beautifully illustrated and a great tale about giving.


The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs

By Jon Scieszka
Funny, clever, and great for teaching perspective.


Sally Jean, the Bicycle Queen

By Carl Best
A bright girl’s love of bike riding fuels her ingenuity.


The Story Of Ruby Bridges

By Robert Coles
The perseverance of this little girl is utterly remarkable.


So You Want To Be President?

By Judith St. George
Packed with little funny tidbits about our Presidents.


The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!

By Mo Willems (+++)
Hilarious! Willems must be part of your library.


The Gardener

By Sarah Stewart (+++)
Heartwarming and humble.


Duck on a Bike

By David Shannon (+++)
A Winner on any night.


The Relatives Came

By Cynthia Rylant (+++)
A heartwarming tale of a good old-fashioned road trip!


If I Built a Car

By Chris Van Dusen (+++)
So imaginative! What would your car include?


The Giving Tree

By Shel Silverstein
Something to ponder: what is Silverstein teaching us?


Click Clack Moo

By Doreen Cronin
A brilliant comedy about life on the farm.


The Seven Silly Eaters

By Mary Ann Hoberman
When 7 kids get picky, watch how things get sticky.


Yertle the Turtle

By Dr. Seuss (+++)
Dr. Seuss, I am utterly grateful to you.


The Legend of Ninja Cowboy Bear

By David Bruins
A must- read, memorable legend about friendship.


Little by Little

By Amber Stewart
A tall tale about starting small and finishing big.


Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy

By Jacky Davis
When two friends are at play, a compromise can save the day!


The Pout Pout Fish

By Deborah Diesen
A bright new twist on turning a frown upside down.

And the honorable mentions go to:

The Story of Ferdinand

The Seven Chinese Brothers

Ready for Anything!

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

Go, Dog. Go!

Fancy Nancy


The Little House

Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go

Katy and the Big Snow Book & CD

Too Many Toys

What are your favorites? What titles did we miss? Do you have memories of some of these titles from your own childhood?

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  1. Yaya Kelley

      on March 2, 2011 8:39 am

    My husband has an entire room decorated with Chris Van Dusen’s If I Built a Car. Wonderful images – too fun.


  2. Debbie Diesen

      on March 2, 2011 9:06 am

    What a great list! And it sure put a smile on my face to see The Pout-Pout Fish included. Thanks!!

    Best Fishes,
    Debbie Diesen


  3. Mama Nolte

      on March 2, 2011 10:02 am

    There are several books on the list that I am not familiar. I will look for them at my library.

    Check out this blog for more ideas :


  4. Elisa

      on March 2, 2011 2:14 pm

    So many books to love!


  5. Kimberly

      on March 8, 2011 1:26 pm

    What a marvelous list! I’m eager to find the ones I’ve not yet read to me kids. You’ve already mentioned quite a few of our favorite authors and books. However, I’ll share the titles of some others that are favorites in our home: The Eleventh Hour; When Dinosaurs Came with Everything; Snowmen at Night; The Escape of Marvin the Ape; Mabel O’Leary Put Peas in Her Eary; Miss Twiggley’s Tree; Sir Kevin of Devon; How I Became a Pirate; Pirate’s Don’t Change Diapers; Eli; Officer Buckle and Gloria; Pssst!; Unique Monique; Mean Jean the Recess Queen; Never Tease a Weasel (1964 version); Anatole; Miss Suzy; Dino-Hockey; Turkey Trouble (Silvano & Harper); The Scrambled States of America; Chicka Chicka Boom Boom; Pancakes for Findus; The Gruffalo; and Double Trouble in Walla Walla.


  6. Heidi Farmer

      on March 8, 2011 2:50 pm

    Thanks so much for this excellent list!! We love Sir Kevin of Devon and Dino-Hockey!


  7. Liza

      on March 13, 2011 11:53 pm

    Great list — a few of our favorites, and a few new to me.

    I would add anything by Todd Parr, probably starting with The Family Book. It’s a beautiful, funny, absolutely-non-preachy book about the many ways families are different and the same. Our favorite page is “some families look like their pets!”


  8. Pamela

      on March 13, 2011 11:54 pm

    Those are great books(and “The Giving Tree” is my absolute favorite book for any age group), but how about throwing a little love the way of iPad book apps? There are some amazing, noteworthy picture books out there and they don’t get any coverage from book sites, only app sites. Apps/eBooks are the future of publishing-check us out :)


  9. Heidi Farmer

      on March 14, 2011 7:42 am

    Thanks for the tip – we’ll have to check it out!


  10. Sara

      on March 14, 2011 10:28 pm

    Great list! It has several of my favorites on it. My son loves ANYTHING Dr. Seuss, and my favorite as a kid was Blueberries for Sal (Another Robert McCloskey). My son loves “The Cow Loves Cookies” by Karma Wilson, and any of the Duck books by Jackie Urbanovich. Doreen Cronin has another good one called “Thump Quack Moo” that my son was obsessed with when we checked it out from the library :-)


  11. Rhonda

      on June 22, 2011 11:28 am

    I was led to this list from Chris Van Dusen’s site. I love everything about his books…the rhyme and rhythm and the artwork! Love your list! I too adore Dr. Seuss and loved Robert McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings (read it to Preschoolers every year as well as Blueberries for Sal) and so many more. My own sons loved Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go so much they wore it out! A couple more authors with some terrific titles my Preschoolers adore would be Jez Alborough, Karma Wilson and Nancy White Carlstrom. Holly Keller’s Geraldine’s Big Snow is also a favorite of mine.


  12. Heidi Farmer

      on June 22, 2011 11:58 am

    Hi Rhonda! Thanks for your favorites too. What great additions. We are HUGE Chris Van Dusen fans!!


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