Thursday, March 13, 2014

Recommended Reads: Picture Books

I have a confession:  I adore picture books!  I started collecting picture books when I was just a child myself, adding more to my collection in the years I worked in bookstores, even before I had children of my own.  Since having children of my own, my (our) picture book selection has increased exponentially.  

I first fell in love with the beautiful graphics that accompany a wonderful story, whether that story made me laugh or smile or even had one of those hidden messages on life.  Today, that love is still there, but it is now connected with snuggle story time with my children.  As my children have gotten older, I now find that I am back to being the listener as my own children read the stories to me.  Picture books warm my heart!

I now want to share a bit of that warmth with you my passing on a list of the favorite picture books in our household, in no particular order.  Enjoy!

1.  There Is a Bird on Your Head! by Mo Willems:  If you have never met Elephant & Piggie, then you need to fix that now!  I can read this book (or any Elephant & Piggie book for that matter) over and over and over again and giggle every single time.  Hilariously good!

2.  Curious George by H.A. Rey:  This classic featuring a very curious monkey is a classic for a reason.  Which child doesn't remind you a bit of George?!?

3.  Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.:  Martin brings us a book that you cannot read aloud; you must sing it!  We actually prefer the audio version of this one, complete with a rendition by Ray Charles.

4.  Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal:  Is it a duck or a rabbit?  We love to debate this controversy in our home, and it helps expand our imaginations beyond the book.

5.  Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman:  Eastman's classic was one of my favorite books from my own childhood.  I cannot tell you how many copies of this book that we have owned.  The best one to start with is the fabric version, complete with a baby bird to move from page to page.

6.  Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett:  Residents of Chewandswallow never have to worry about what to have for a meal because the weather decides it for them.  That is, until the weather goes a bit wonky.  Three words:  fun, imaginative, delicious!

7.  Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman:  Another classic from my childhood and a great early reader for the younger crowd.  Do you like my hat?

8. Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo! by Dr. Seuss:  One little bug sneezed and the domino effect kicks in.  My kids giggle every time and love to look at the pictures at all that is going on.

9.  There Was An Old Lady . . . by Lucille Colandro:  I think we own every single one of these books.  My children love to see what this old lady is going to swallow next.  It started with a fly, but then there was a bat, then some leaves, then a bell ... and I could go on.  

10:  Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola:  Yet another classic story, this one a favorite for reading aloud and on audio.  Personally, I prefer the picture book because the detailed illustrations I can look at for hours.  After you fall in love with Strega Nona, then be sure to also check out all the other accompanying adventures that she encounters.

11.  Little Skink's Tail by Janet Halfmann:  A little skink is attacked by a bird, and the natural defense mechanism sets in ... the tail wiggles away from the body!  Little skink tries on all sorts of other tails, but not one fits just right.  My kids are fascinated with the skink's abilities and trying to figure out what might come next.  I love the lesson about feeling comfortable in your own skin.

12:  The Pigeon Wants a Puppy! by Mo Willems:  Willems appears for a second time on this list and that is because he is just plain brilliant!  If you love Elephant & Piggie, then you will have to love Pigeon.  He makes you laugh, and may even remind you a little bit of your own little.  There are a handful of Pigeon books, but this is by far our favorite.

13.  Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak:  Another classic from my own childhood that I have passed on to my children.  We love to create our own wild rumpus every single time we read it.  Sometimes, we don't even need that excuse to rumpus about!

14.  See Inside Your Body by Katie Daynes:  See Inside Your Body really does not qualify as a picture book.  It is a lift-the-flap nonfiction book about the human body.  My kids are fascinated with this book and I love that they can relate what they read to their own bodies.

15.  The Umbrella by Jan Brett:  Brett has many amazing picture books out there, but this is our favorite.  We can learn about a place that is very different from everywhere we have ever lived and it is filled with illustrations of beautiful animals.

What are some of your favorite picture books, either as a child or a parent?  Do you find that my list is lacking a book that every child should read?


  1. You've already hit many of my favorites, including Mo Willems.

    One series I don't see yet is Nate the Great. There's also Amelia Bedelia.

    1. Mark Baker ... My son just picked up a couple of Nate the Great's for the first time today at the library! And, I used to love Amelia Bedelia, but my kids haven't fallen for her yet. I'm hoping it will be soon because she is just so funny!


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