Start a young life off on the path to greatness from day one – read to your baby! To this day when the whole family gets together we we often reminisce about the hours spent cuddled together sharing some of children’s literature’ s classic children’s picture books. I think some of the young adult “kids” can still recite Goodnight Moon and We’re Going On a Bear Hunt from memory.
The Top 25 Must Have Children’s Picture Books
Where the Wild Things Are:Author Maurice Sendak offers a tale of suspense, action, and fun, with this story about a young boy named Max who wears a wolf suit to bed. Max has been naughty and is sent to bed without any dinner. The real adventure begins with the forest growing and creatures appearing as wild and free. Being wild with the wild things can be tiring, as Max discovers on his adventure. As things begin to happen in his room, creatures appear that are a cross between scary and funny. Winner of the Caldecott Medal, Sendak’s illustrations are as good if not better than the story itself. Definitely one of our all time favorite children’s picture books!
The Giving Tree:It has been said that the true example of love is being willing to give of one’s self for the benefit of another. Shel Silverstein tells the story of love between a boy and a tree that is an example of this sacrificial love. From the time the boy is young and needs shade as he plays to growing up and being allowed to climb in her branches to the time when he is older and wants something that may mean the end of the tree, the tree keeps on giving to him- out of love. Though there are many ways to interpret this story, the true message of love shines through. Even when the boy is an old man and long after the tree has been cut down, what is left of the tree is still giving. The old man, once the little boy who played under the tree, now uses the stump of the tree to rest on.
Goodnight Moon:Bedtime stories are a favorite among children and parents alike, and this is one of the most beloved bedtime stories of all time. Written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd, saying goodnight has never been more fun than with this tale of comfort, loving goodnights, and a room full of entertaining objects to say ‘goodnight’ to. Written in rhyming verse that makes it easy for even the youngest children to memorize, they will soon be able to ‘read’ it along with you. This is one story that will soon become a family all time favorite children’s picture book.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar:What better combination story for children than one that weaves a delightful tale with a lesson? Teaching the days of the week and counting, Eric Carle’s imaginative illustrations and dramatic storytelling in this book unfold the life of a caterpillar from the moment it is in an egg to the transformation it makes into a beautiful butterfly. With such wonderful text, magnificent illustrations, and attention grabbing detail, it’s no wonder that this story has won numerous awards and has been recognized in many countries as being among the best in children’s literature.
Pat the Bunny:Even the youngest children love to know that they can do the things that other kids can do. This story shows young children how two kids, named Paul and Judy, can do many things. It is an encouragement to young children to do the same things. Smelling flowers, interacting with the world around them, and seeing the delightful illustrations will have your youngsters moving and discovering in no time. Dorothy Kunhardt brings to life a story that will help open your children’s eyes to the beauty in the world around them. Sharing it will be something to treasure.
Love You Forever:A classic story full of sentiment and humor, this is one that you will want to share over and over again. Whether you are a mom or a dad, this story of a mother and her son will strike a chord with you, and you may find yourself saying to your own children, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.” In this story, a mother sings those words to her own son each night even after he’s an adult. In the end, when roles switch, it’s the son declaring his love to his mother, and then to his own baby girl. An endearing story that touches the heart each time it’s read, this is one tale that will remain at the top of the list for a long time to come. Sharing it with your children or even with a parent will be something special that you will treasure forever. Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw bring home the sentiment that the love between a parent and child really is endless.
Best Children’s Books
The Lorax:Dr. Seuss has done it once again, with a classic tale of rhythm and rhyme along with a story that will make anyone who reads it think about their role in nature. The narrator, named Once-ler, has lived a life of carelessness, disregard for nature, and selfishness. Now, with the natural beauty of the truffula trees taken away, the Lorax has moved up and away. How can it be restored? The key to restoring the natural beauty of the area lies in the hands of a small child- who happens to have a seed, a single hopeful seed to a truffula tree.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See?:Fun with reading takes on a new face, with this children’s book by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle. There is nothing like having a story to share with your little one that is easy for them to memorize and repeat along with you. This book, full of humor and silliness, is one of those books. The easy rhyming phrases and the poetic verse make it simple to remember. Your children will think they are reading which will encourage them to read more. The brown bear sees a red bird who in turn sees a yellow duck and on and on. Not only is it fun, but there are also different textures for exploring the sense of touch along with the story.
Harold and the Purple Crayon:Harold is one little boy who has an imagination that can help get him out of many jams, especially with the help of his purple crayon. Author Crockett Johnson has brought one of the most adventurous and endearing stories to life with a tale that will not fail to amaze and amuse you and your children as you share this wonderful story. Harold receives help from his crayon by drawing a boat to get him out of water, to creating landmarks to help him find his way home. His imagination and sense of adventure is contagious to all who will allow their own imaginations to soar. Another favorite yet often forgotten children’s picture book.
Corduroy:This classic tale of one of the most traditionally beloved toys every child has, a teddy bear, is heartwarming. Corduroy is a little bear who wears green overalls. As he sits and waits for someone to buy him off the store shelf, there is also a little girl who is searching for a special toy to be more than just an ordinary toy; she wants a toy that will also be her friend. When you read the story of Corduroy and his new owner, not only will you be sharing a touching story with your children, but you will also be taken back to yesterday, simpler times, and loving a toy of your own.
Curious George:This little monkey has become one of the most beloved of all pets, and with all the trouble he can get into, stories about him are winners in almost every household. George knows how to have fun, but getting into trouble because of his curiosity is what usually happens. Sharing these tales will give you and your children lots of laughs and offer entertainment for years. One good thing about the trouble George manages to find is that is almost always followed by something good or funny, and the man with the yellow hat is always understanding with the little monkey.
We’re Going On a Bear Hunt:Written by Michael and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, this is one little book that will offer more fun and adventure as you reenact the bear hunt adventure with your own children. A father and his four children set out on a fine day to go on a bear hunt through the grass, through a stream, and into the wild. As they reach the end of the hunt, they come upon a bear who chases them all the way home. Was the bear real or did they pretend it into existence? Sharing this story with your children will offer you many explanations as to whether it really was a bear or not.
Best Children’s Books
The Little Engine That Could:Watty Piper and Loren Long brought us this inspiring story of a little train engine many years ago and it is still inspiring and encouraging millions of people, children and adults alike. When the little train gets stuck at the bottom of a hill, the little engine keeps his focus, and keeps telling himself “I think I can, I think I can” until eventually he makes it to the top of the hill. The message this leaves the reader with is one of how important it is to be determined, persevere, and never stop trying. One of the most inspirational children’s picture books ever, this one is a classic.
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie:Sharing a cookie may be fun, but when you share it with a mouse, be prepared to be put to work. In this charming tale of a boy and his mouse, Laura Joffe Numeroff and Felicia Bond have created a story that will give good attention to cause and effect, consequences to actions, and offer enough fun and entertainment to keep you coming back again and again. The illustrations will give you an even bigger picture about the hilarity behind the story, and make reading this tale even more fun.
Caps for Sale:What do you get when you put together a peddler, some monkeys, and the story telling gift of Esphyr Slobodkina? You get a classic story that has been around for decades and is still just as entertaining and fun as it was when first published in 1938. Generations of children have grown up with this and other classics that have made storytelling an art.
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs:This story told from the perspective of the wolf who is considered the bad guy in the original story, offers another side to the classic tale. Alexander T. Wolf has a different way of telling the story, with an explanation as to what he says really happened. You see, he wasn’t huffing and puffing, trying on purpose to blow those houses down. The truth, according to him, is that he had a bad cold. All he wanted was to borrow a cup of sugar so he could bake a cake for his granny. Fun, hilarious, and a riot to compare to the original, this is one that you will enjoy reading.
The Runaway Bunny: First published in 1942, this is one story that has become a classic. A little bunny thinks he might want to run away. Similar to the stage that many children go through, this little bunny thinks life will be better away from home. His mother, though, tells him that if he runs away she will run after him. A true tale of the love a mother has for her young, this story is one that will keep you and your children coming back. Each situation the bunny mentions he might be in, the mother has an answer for as to how she would rescue him.
The Rainbow Fish:A story with a moral to learn is something to treasure, and this is one such story. The rainbow fish happens to be the most beautiful fish in the ocean, and he knows it. His beauty has gone to his head and has even made him become proud and rude to his friends. When his friends all abandon him, he knows that there is something wrong, but can’t imagine what it is. He finds the wise old octopus and asks for some advice. The octopus tells him to share some of his beauty with others, and to begin looking at the beauty that comes from the inside as being what really makes someone beautiful. Though it is shiny and colorful, this is one story that offers more than outer beauty.
The Cat in The Hat:Two bored children sitting in the window with nothing to do, and mother has gone out for the day. Oh, no, here comes the cat in the hat, and he is full of mischief and unwelcome surprises. It’s a good thing Dr. Seuss knows just how to make him clean up his messes in this fun story that will keep you and your children coming back for more. In classic Seuss style, with all the humor anyone could want, you will see the tricks that the cat has up his sleeve, and the results that follow. When mother is coming home, the clean up must be extremely fast, and thing one and thing two are just the ones to handle it.
The Story of Ferdinand:Ferdinand has been one of the most beloved characters of many children over the last fifty years. He is different than other young bulls. They all love to run, jump, play, and be as rowdy as they can be, but Ferdinand likes the peace and quiet that he finds under his cork tree. Sitting in the shade while the others are out in the hot sun playing and laughing, Ferdinand is quite content. That is until he has a bad experience with a bee. Unfortunately for Ferdinand, the bee sting happens when the rodeo men have come to choose the best young bull to have in a bullfight. Ferdinand, with all of his jumping and snorting from that horrible bee sting, is just what they want. Joining him as he experiences the bullfighting arena and seeing how he handles it will be something to treasure with this fun story.
Swimmy: Swimmy, a little fish who was just swimming along with all his little fish friends, finds himself suddenly alone after a bigger fish comes along and swallows all the other fish in his school. When he makes new friends, Swimmy comes up with a plan about how they can all survive by disguising themselves. The adventures that follow this story are sure to keep you and your children wanting to continue to learn more about what happens next. Not just a fish tale, but a story with a purpose. Learning how to work together and make the best out of a bad situation are some of the things this story will teach.
The Story of Babar: Babar has been one of the most loved characters in children’s books for almost 80 years. Written in 1931, it has since been translated into more than 12 languages. For a fictional elephant, that is quite an accomplishment. Babar has lost his mother, and afterwards moves to the city. When he returns to his home in the country, he has grown up, gotten married, and is now considered a king. With so much popularity, he has a lot to learn and a lot to teach the other elephants.
The Night I Followed the Dog:“I have a dog. Nothing exotic or special, just an ordinary dog. In fact, I always thought he was a boring dog. What I mean is, he can fetch, roll over, and shake hands, but mostly he sleeps and eats.” Or so the little boy in this story thinks, until one morning when he opens the door a little early and sees his dog jump out of a limousine. That night he decides to follow his dog, and that’s when the fun starts.Before he knows it, he has entered the little known world of doggy glamour. His dog, distinctly reminiscent of Humphrey Bogart, treats him to a nighttime adventure where he learns where dogs go to relax and sees what they do while their masters are fast asleep. A terrific read aloud, Nina Laden’s story will have everyone captivated by the coolest dog around.
Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti: Anansi the Spider is one of the great folk heroes of the world. He is a rogue, a mischief maker, and a wise, lovable creature who triumphs over larger foes. In this traditional Ashanti tale, Anansi sets out on a long, difficult journey. Threatened by Fish and Falcon, he is saved from terrible fates by his sons. But which of his sons should Anansi reward? Calling upon Nyame, the God of All Things, Anansi solves his predicament in a touching and highly resourceful fashion. In adapting this popular folktale, Gerald McDermott merges the old with the new, combining bold, rich color with traditional African design motifs and authentic Ashanti language rhythms.
A Chair for My Mother :After a fire destroys their home and possessions, Rosa, her mother, and grandmother save and save until they can afford to buy one big, comfortable chair that all three of them can enjoy. – A superbly conceived picture book expressing the joyful spirit of a loving family.