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101 Picture Books To Read Before You Grow Up


101 Best Picture Books to Read or Hear Before You Grow Up - This is an amazing list of the best children's books of all time! There are fun books, happy books, sad books, and all the other emotions for kids. Lots for boys and for girls. These ideas will keep kids reading and learning for years.


We read a lot, a half hour or more pretty much every day.

Our living room, family room, and bedrooms are all lined with shelves brimming with books. It boarders on hoarding. We’re book people.

I have read just about every imaginable book to Grace – board books, picture books, biographies, chapter books, encyclopedias. There is nothing that Grace won’t sit and listen to. (Allie isn’t yet appreciating the art of cuddling and reading a book.)

If you’re looking for something to read to your kids (or to have an older kid read to a younger one), choose something from this list. I think every child should hear every single one of these books before she grows up.

I’ve listed them in alphabetical order because I’m a little uptight like that.

I have girls. My list leans more toward dolls and princesses and other stereotypical girl stuff. I’ve got a girlie girl who’s not the least bit interested in trucks and fireman and things that creep and crawl.

Will you leave your boy-themed additions in the comments?

  1. 10 Little Rubber Ducks by Eric Carle – I really adore Eric Carle’s books, but this one is a special gem. It’s about a crate of rubber duckies that fell off the ship on the way across the ocean (and it’s a true story). It’s adorable.
  2. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst – I saw this book on Reading Rainbow when I was a kid, and I’ve never forgotten it. Alexander is having a bad day. It goes well with The Good Day, below.
  3. Annie and the Wild Animals by Jan Brett – Looking for a new pet, Annie runs into all sorts of wild creatures. I adore Jan Brett’s illustrations; there is so much to discover on every single page!
  4. The Apple-Pip Princess by Jane Ray – I love this story; it’s about three princesses who compete to take over their father’s kingdom. The winner, of course, is the one who works diligently.
  5. Baby’s Best Friend by Rachel Hale – This is a board book, appropriate for babies and toddlers. Its pages contain very large photos of babies and baby animals – kittens, puppies, birds, and bunnies – with short text. Allie is not a book buff, but she will let me read this one from cover to cover two or three times in succession. I love it, too.
  6. A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond – This sweet story is about a hapless bear who gets into all sorts of messes.
  7. Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson – One of my favorites! This is the first of a whole series of books about Bear and his friends. They’re all written in rhymes that roll off the tongue. We have every single book in the series; I think Bear Stays Up for Christmas is my second favorite.
  8. Before You Were Mine by Meribeth Boelts – Anyone who’s ever adopted a pet from a shelter will appreciate this story. It’s about a little boy who asks his new adopted puppy lots of questions about his past.
  9. Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown – I read this book to Grace every day of her life until she was 2 or 3. It rhymes, and it has the most wonderful language. This is my favorite picture book ever.
  10. Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell and Lilian Hoban – This one has a great lesson about being a picky eater.
  11. But Not the Hippopotamus by Sandra Boynton – Like all Boynton books, this one is silly. It rhymes and uses very short sentences.
  12. Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina – This traditional story about a traveling salesman and a troop of mischievous monkeys is a good lesson in problem solving.
  13. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. – I have to admit that this isn’t one of my favorites. I always had a hard time finding the rhythm of the text. That aside, Grace really loved it, and we read it often.
  14. Christian, the Hugging Lion by Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell, and Amy June Bates – The first time Grace and I borrowed this book from the library, we ended up spending almost an hour on YouTube. It’s the true story of two men who bought a lion cub at Harrod’s department store in London in the 1960’s. They raised the lion in their apartment, and they eventually took him to live on a preserve in Africa. I won’t tell you the rest, except to say I wept profusely after seeing the YouTube video. The ending of the story (in real life, too) is heartwarming and wonderful.
  15. Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes – Is there one among us who wasn’t teased about something as a kid? This story is about a mouse who loves her unique name until she goes to school and gets teased about it.
  16. Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin – This is another of my favorite stories. It is one of a series of books about a bunch of mischief-making farm animals (They go on strike!) and the exasperated Farmer Brown. The other one I really love is Giggle, Giggle, Quack.
  17. Corduroy by Don Freeman – This is a sweet story about a teddy bear nobody wants and the little girl who takes him home.
  18. Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too? by Eric Carle – I love Eric Carle, and I love books with a smooth rhyming rhythm. This one is about a bunch of different kinds of animals. It’s best for babies and toddlers.
  19. The Dog Who Belonged to No One by Amy Hest – This is a sweet story about a lonely dog and a lonely little girl. They eventually find each other and then neither one is lonely. The illustrations are really great, too.
  20. Dougal, the Garbage Dump Bear by Matt Dray – Second chances, everyone has value, being a hero, plowing through scary situations, it’s the inside that counts – there are so many lessons in the pages of this book. For a long time, Grace wanted to read it every night before she went to bed.
  21. Edwina, The Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct by Mo Willems – We’ve borrowed this one from the library so many times that we should buy it. It’s got a great lesson, that kindness matters and always wins. Plus, it has a character called Reginald von Hoobie-Doobie.
  22. Enemy Pie by Derek Munson – This book contains the recipe to make your worst enemy into your best friend. It’s a really cute story.
  23. An Extraordinary Egg by Leo Lionni – This is a classic story about mistaken identity and friendship. It’s really, really cute, and preschoolers especially will like the silliness of chicken and an alligator being friends.
  24. Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor – Another of my favorites! I’ll never forget the first time I heard Fancy Nancy. Joe, Grace, and I were sitting on the floor of Barnes & Nobles, and he read it to us. This book will expand your kids’ vocabularies, teach them perseverance, and help them see the importance of making every day special.
  25. Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel – This was one of the first books I ever read on my own. I think it was the first book Joe ever read, too. Frog is friendly and outgoing; Toad is curmudgeonly. It’s like the Odd Couple of children’s books.
  26. A Good Day by Kevin Henkes – Life is about perspective. This book starts out explaining why it was a bad day for everyone, but in the end, the day is great. I love the lesson!
  27. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown – Is there a human being in the United States who hasn’t read Goodnight Moon? It’s a very simple book with lots of repetition. Every child should hear it over and over and over again.
  28. The Great Pig Escape by Eileen Christelow – Grace and I discovered this one at the library. It’s fantastic, has a bit of a mystery, and the ending is laugh out loud funny.
  29. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss – This story is stilted and nonsensical, and it’s another of my childhood favorites. There is power in persistence and trying new things.
  30. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney – Each trying to outdo the other, Big Nutbrown Hare and Little Nutbrown Hare compare how much they love each other. Most nights, Grace tells me I love you to Jupiter, Momma! There are a bunch of other books about this pair of rabbits, too.
  31. The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School by Laurie Halse Anderson – This silly story is about crazy hair that is out of control. And then it is not out of control. It’s got a great lesson about not jumping to conclusions.
  32. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson – This is a cute story about being resourceful. Harold wants to go for a walk under the moon, so he draws the moon. His drawings get progressively more detailed as the story progresses.
  33. Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud – We read this over and over. Be a bucket filler by giving compliments and being kind. Bucket dippers only hurt themselves. It’s a little preachy, but a great way to put feelings into terms kids can understand.
  34. Have You Seen My Cat? by Eric Carle – Joe hates this book, but I’ve always liked it. A little boy goes looking for his cat and finds a bunch of others instead. The cats in the story are wild cats from many different countries.
  35. Horns to Toes and in Between by Sandra Boynton – This silly story celebrates our amazing bodies with rhymes and short sentences. I’ve been reading it to Grace for years and years.
  36. I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont – This one is about accepting and loving yourself no matter what you look like and what other people think of you.
  37. I Love You Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt – Grace used to be afraid of this book, but now she laughs and laughs about the little boy and his mother. He asks if she would love him if he was horrible and mean, and each time, she assures him that she would take care of him and love him anyway.
  38. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff – This is a silly story about not taking advantage of others’ kindness. Or of being kind yourself. Actually, I’m not sure what it’s about, but it’s really cute and funny. There are at least six other books just like it, including If You Give a Pig a Pancake and If You Give a Moose a Muffin.
  39. I’ll Always Be Your Friend by Sam McBratney – What kid hasn’t struggled with the choice between independence and the safety of her mom? Grace struggles with it all the time. This book is about a baby fox and his mother, but it’s a great message for all kids.
  40. I’ll Love You Forever by David Munsch – Before I was a mom, I thought this book was creepy. Now, it makes me weepy, if I can read it at all. All kids need to hear that we’re going to be their parents forever and that we’re going to love them forever.
  41. Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? by NW Carlstrom – This classic book celebrates the normalcy of every day. Younger children especially will love it.
  42. Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback – The moral of this story is “you can always make something out of nothing.” The whole book is a great lesson on making do and being content. It’s a treasure.
  43. Julius, the Baby of the World by Kevin Henkes – When Allie was first born, I scoffed at this book. I didn’t want to bring a book home in which the main character was mean to the new baby (and she is). Once real life set in, and Grace was mean to her baby sister, I realized that she needed this book. She needed to feel normal in her jealousy and disdain for the interloper. Plus, this book is laugh out loud hilarious.
  44. The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn – Be still my heart. This book is about a raccoon cub with separation anxiety and how his Mama calms his fears. Besides being a wonderful story, this book has magnificent illustrations. They are so vivid that I expected the pages to feel like watercolor paper.
  45. The Knight and the Dragon by Tomie dePaola – This book has just a couple of words. You use your imagination to tell the story.
  46. Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems – You know what happens when Daddy is in charge, right? Everything falls apart. (Not really, of course.) This is a great book about communicating, understanding, and frustration. There are a couple more Knuffle Bunny books; we love them all.
  47. Leonardo, the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems – Have you ever wanted to be something so badly but then when you become it, it’s not what you expected? Yes, that. (And it’s funny, too.)
  48. Let Me Hold You Longer by Karen Kingsbury – This one is more poignant than most, and may be more for the parents than for the kids. It’s a little like I’ll Love You Forever but without the creepy breaking into the son’s house. Grace really likes it.
  49. The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pickney – This is another book without words, but the illustrations are stunning. If you know the traditional tale (or even if you don’t), you’ll have no trouble retelling the story. Better yet, let your kid retell it from the pictures. That’s good pre-reading practice.
  50. The Little Critter Collection by Mercer Mayer – I read Little Critter when I was little, and Grace loves Little Critter, too. They’re simple and help kids to understand their feelings.
  51. Little Raccoon’s Big Question by Miriam Schlein – Little Raccoon’s big question is “When do you love me most?” He tries to guess the whole way through the book, til his momma doesn’t answer til the end. It’s really sweet, and the illustrations are rich and detailed.
  52. Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Deborah Guarino – What kid can’t identify with being mad at Mama? I like all of the Llama Llama books, but this is my favorite.
  53. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans – Sweet Madeline is a tiny and very brave girl who comes down with appendicitis. Written over 60 years ago, the sing-songy text rhymes and is delightful to read. It’s a wonderful book, the first of many Madeline books.
  54. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey – It feels like this story could have really happened. A pair of ducks makes their nest in an unlikely place, and a kind police officer looks out for them.
  55. Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara Joosse – Like Stinkyface above, the girl in this story asks her mother if she’d still love her if she does all kinds of naughty things.
  56. Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle – Mr. Seahorse carries his babies in his pouch (really, they do), and he swims past all kind of other daddies carry for their babies.
  57. The Mitten by Jan Brett – Nicki wants a snow white mitten. His grandmother tells him that he’ll lose them, but he wants them anyway. He loses one, and a whole herd of wild animals climb inside.
  58. The Money Tree by Sarah Stewart – A strange tree grows up in Miss McGillicuddy’s backyard. Teaching about generosity and contentment, the story and the illustrations are interesting and unexpected.
  59. Moo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton – Sandra Boynton is known for silliness and repetition. That’s what this book is about. It was one of Grace’s favorites.
  60. Ollie & Moon by Diane Kredensor – This one is about two friends; one likes to surprise the other. They live in Paris, and readers get a nice tour of the city while the story progresses. Readers have to wait and guess along with the characters, which is a nice lesson in patience and making educated guesses.
  61. No, David! by David Shannon – In a prevailing theme, momma loves you no matter how naughty you are. I love this book.
  62. No Matter What by Debi Gliori – Another book about the unconditional love of your parents. I really like the illustrations in this one.
  63. Not All Princesses Dress in Pink by Jane Yolen – A snappy book about princesses who wear sparkly crowns and soccer shoes. This one is about being yourself, no matter who you are.
  64. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss – You know this one already, right? It’s about perseverance, dreaming big, and succeeding.
  65. Officer Buckle & Gloriaby Peggy Rathmann – Grace and I laughed together over this book. It’s about safety and teamwork and being interesting.
  66. Olivia by Ian Falconer – I thought I wouldn’t like this one because I’m not especially fond of the tv show, but I was wrong. I love it. Olivia is an active little girl very much like my own 4-year-old. She wears her parents out but without doing anything horrible.
  67. One Duck Stuck by Phyllis Root – Grace didn’t like this one, but I sure did. It’s full of noises, splishing and clomping and peeping, and repetitive rhymes.
  68. One Green Apple by Eve Bunting – Anyone who’s ever felt out of place will identify with this book in which a Muslim girl (who knows no English) struggles to fit in.
  69. One Hand, Two Hands by Max Lucado – Primarily about our amazing hands, this book ends with a call to use your hands to help others. It’s simple and very good.
  70. Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship by Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, and Paula Kahumbu – We found this at Barnes & Nobles long, long ago. It’s about a baby hippo who was separated from its herd during the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 and his unlikely friendship with a lonely old tortoise.
  71. The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown – Some people think this one is creepy, but I like it a lot. The little bunny says he’s going to run away, and his mother tells him that she’s going to follow him. It’s another about my favorite topic, which is apparently the unconditional love of a parent.
  72. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch – This is among my most favorites. A dragon comes and burns up the kingdom, and all that’s left to wear is a paper bag. Princess Elizabeth has to go save her Charming Prince from the dragon. She’s smart and sassy and lives happily ever after without the bum, Prince Ronald.
  73. Periwinkle Smith and the Twirly, Whirly Tutu by John & Wendy – This story is about a little girl who gets a big paint splotch on her favorite tutu. At first she’s upset, she tries really hard to get it out, and then she accepts it and makes it work. It’s got a great message.
  74. Petunia by Roger Duvoisin – Petunia is a silly goose (something I call my own children about thirty-eight times each day) who finds a book and thinks it will make her smart.
  75. The Pine Tree Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs – This book made me cry. It’s a touching lesson on generosity and kindness and helping those in need.
  76. Pinkalicious by Elizabeth Kann – Grace frequently says, You get what you get and you don’t get upset. There’s also a good lesson about taking care of your body and eating healthy foods.
  77. Pirates Don’t Change Diapers by Melinda Long and David Shannon – This is just plain fun. The big brother loves his baby sister. Even though she is a pain in the neck at first, she proves to be an asset in the end. Plus, there are pirates.
  78. Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole – The princess in this book rejects all of the suitors and lives with her pets forever. I like it because it’s nontraditional.
  79. Priscilla and the Pink Planet by Nathaniel Hobbie – The lesson in this one is that too much of a good thing is not good at all.
  80. Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young compiled by Jack Prelutsky – Think Mother Goose. The rhymes are broken up into groups for little babies (very short), older babies (slightly longer), and toddlers (with finger plays and the like).
  81. The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant – The real gems in this book are the complex illustrations (even parents will chuckle at the events in the periphery), but the story is good, too. The house is full of relatives; days are exciting and fun.
  82. Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go by Richard Scarry – Grace and I pored over this book for two hours one afternoon. We searched each page for Goldbug and Dingo Dog and Officer Flossy on each page. The illustrations are silly and interesting. I don’t remember the story at all (it’s a little thin), but I remember clearly the giggles we had over the pictures.
  83. Scaredy Squirrel at Night by Melanie Watts – Scaredy Squirrel (a neurotic and hilarious rodent) is afraid of the dark, but he has a plan. He’s never going to go to sleep again. Parents will like this book as much as kids will.
  84. Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost – The text of this lovely children’s book (that I bought even before my daughter could speak) is the Robert Frost poem. Susan Jeffers’ illustrations bring the poem to life as an older man (who looks like Santa Claus) travels through the woods and eventually finds his family.
  85. Stranger in the Woods by Carl R. Sams II & Jean Stoick – This is a photo essay about a stranger who brings food to the woodland creatures. I got it when Grace was an infant, and we read it often. We love it. While I was writing this post, I learned that there are more books in the series.
  86. Strega Nona by Tomie de Paola – You have to follow the directions or it all falls apart! I met Tomie de Paola when I was in the forth grade; I just thought I’d share.
  87. Sunflower House by Eve Bunting – This book is about a little boy who plants sunflower seeds and watches them grow. After they’re all grown, he plays underneath, and then he collects the seeds in the fall. It’s a great story.
  88. That’s Mine! by Jennifer Northway – This is a lot like Julius, Baby of the World. It’s about an older brother who doesn’t want his baby sister to touch his favorite stuffed animal.
  89. Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco – When the little girl is afraid of the thunder and lightning, her grandmother helps her to make a thunder cake.
  90. Time for Bed by Mem Fox – I’m not a huge fan of Mem Fox’s books, but this one is a real treasure. It’s made of rhyming couplets and beautiful illustrations of baby animals and their mamas.
  91. Toot & Puddle by Holly Hobbie – I didn’t realize that this series on tv is based on a book. The premise is really cute; one fella loves to be at home, while his best friend loves to travel the whole word. They are as different as can be, but they really love each other.
  92. The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! as told to Jon Scieszka – This is exactly what you think: the Big Bad Wolf’s side of the story. The story is good, and I think it’s worth kids hearing that there’s more that one side of every story.
  93. Tuesday by David Wiesner – Mischievous frogs take flight in this wordless story. The watercolor pictures are magnificent; you won’t miss the words.
  94. Unique Monique by Maria Rousaka – This is one of Grace’s most favorites. Monique wants to be different. She tries everything, but her teacher thwarts her efforts.
  95. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle – This is the probably the most well-known children’s book ever. It’s about a little caterpillar who eats and grows and turns into a butterfly.
  96. Walter the Farting Dog by William Kotzwinkle and Glenn Murray – Everyone is important and valuable, even a dog that farts all the time. Yes, this book is a little crass, but it also has a wonderful message. Grace has been obsessed with poop and farts for most of a year, so she loves this book. I think most kids would love it, too.
  97. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen – I’m not a huge fan of this one, but it’s repetitive and has lots of actions and sounds and kids love it. I’ve read it to Grace and her little friends many times, and I made it into a game we play when we’re sitting around and waiting.
  98. When You Were Inside Mommy by Joanna Cole – We call this the uterus book at my house. It’s about where kids come from. It’s really good for anytime, but especially if a momma is growing a new baby.
  99. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendek – Another of my short list of favorites, this one is about a little boy who gets in trouble and goes away (in his imagination, of course) to a faraway land where he is the leader of the monsters.
  100. Who is Coming to Our House? by Joseph Slate – This one is about baby Jesus coming to visit. All of the animals guess about who’s coming to visit.
  101. Will You Be My Friend? A Bunny and Bird Story by Nancy Tafuri – This book has great messages: when you’re too shy to put yourself out there, you miss out on great opportunities; a great friend is priceless; helping each other is always the right thing to do. I love the illustrations, too.
  102. Willow by Denise Brennan-Nelson – When I was in first grade, my teacher made fun of me in front of the class because I colored the bow on my Christmas wreath blue instead of red. Willow has a teacher just like that. There are coloring pages and an activity guide for this book on

I intentionally left off some classics because I dislike them. Others I probably forgot, even though I combed through our shelves and the shelves of my local library.

What are your must-read children’s books?

© 2012 – 2019, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

56 thoughts on “101 Picture Books To Read Before You Grow Up”

  1. We also love Llama Llama Red Pajamas. The others are ok, but Red PJs and Mad at Mama are our favorites. And our boys really enjoy all the Sheep books by Nancy Shaw. Sheep in a Jeep, Sheep in a Shop, etc. My daughter wasn’t as crazy about them, but she enjoyed that they were simple enough that she could read them TO her brothers as a beginning reader.

    Another all-time favorite for me is Ruby in Her Own Time by Jonathan Emmett. We got it because our daughter’s name is Ruby, but this book is a gem!! It’s about how Ruby duckling is always the last one to do something out of all her siblings, but her momma always says, “don’t worry, she will–in her own time.” It’s a precious story about letting kids be themselves.

  2. My first thought is what a wonderful baby shower gift this list would make, for any parent, esp. new parents! I received a wonderful gift of a book from a friend who has three sons when I had my only son. “Boys Will Be Boys,” by Jim Daly. The illustrations are wonderful! Another I love, “Yes Day!” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld. Finally, I like Jamie Lee Curtis’ children’s books. One I have near by is called “Today I Feel Silly.” Thanks, I found many more books to check out at our library and maybe a few more to buy.

  3. Great list! I would add (I have three boys and one girl):
    “Library Lion” by Michelle Knudsen
    “The Gruffalo” by Julia Donaldson
    “How I Became a Pirate” by Melinda Long
    “One” by Kathryn Otoshi
    “My Chincoteague Pony” by Susan Jeffers
    “The Dollhouse Fairy” by Jane Ray
    “Hedgies Surprise” by Jan Brett
    “The Day the Babies Crawled Away” by Peggy Rathmann
    …and the beloved classics from my childhood that my kids adore:
    “The Little Engine That Could” by Watty Piper, new illustrations by Loren Long)
    “The Gingerbread Man” Retold by Jim Aytesworth, illustrated by Barbara McClintock
    “Harold and the Purple Crayon” by Crockett Johnson
    “Tikki Tikki Tembo” by Arlene Mosel
    “Blueberries for Sal” by Robert McCloskey

  4. Great list! I’m really pleased with myself that our family owns, or has read, many of them. lol. I absolutely LOVE that you put “I Love You Stinkyface” on that list. That is probably my favorite book to read to my kids, and I was pretty convinced I was the only person ever to have heard of it because I’ve never heard it mentioned by anyone else.

  5. Ruby the Copycat
    Hello, Red Fox!
    Hi Fly Guy! books
    Something for Nothing
    Weekend with Wendell
    If You Give a Mouse a Muffin…etc.
    Christina Katerina and the Box
    Comet’s Nine Lives

  6. Fabulous list! And great taste. I love I Love You, Stinky Face! In addition to the books already mentioned in the comments, some of our favs include:

    The Gardener
    Miss Rumphius
    Something from Nothing
    Fox Makes Friends
    Dream Big Little Pig

    And … The Gratitude List, a children’s book I co-authored. I’ll send it to you once we find a publisher!!

  7. I love this list! Thank you so much for sharing. I’ll be looking for some of these to add to my sister’s baby shower gift.

  8. As a preschool teacher for twenty years, I certainly have opinions about children’s books! I love Alexander and the terrible horrible day. I still feel like moving to Australia some days! I Love You Forever still creeps me out. But The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munsch is a favorite, same author of the above mentioned creepy book.

  9. No Peter Spier? Best water color illustrations and wit of all time. “rain,” “noah’s Ark”, “jonah and the Whale”, “boy were they happy” (kids paint their house while parents away), “Christmas”
    Sadly too many of these are out of print but worth a library visit.

  10. I have two boys and we have read most of these books. I’m excited to read the ones we have not. Some of our favorite books that weren’t listed are “The Story of Little Black Sambo” by Helen Bannerman, and “Alice the Fairy” and “Stripes” by David Shanon.

  11. With so many other “Best Children’s Books” lists out there, I would think it would be hard to come up with a truly unique and personal list, but I think you did it! Very impressive. There are many books on your list that I haven’t read or that I think I better give a second chance.

    I have three boys, and we absolutely love “Chalk” by Bill Thomson. Have you read it? It’s a great springboard for the imagination.

    I also have some “classics” that I don’t love, and I’d love to see your list of those (if you’re okay with rocking a few boats :-)).

  12. Great list! I too tend to border on hoarding when it comes to books! I have three boys and saw many of our favorites on your list. Here are some more of our favorites Katy and the big Snow by Virgina Lee Burton, Kiss Good Night and You Can Do It, Sam by Amy Hest, The Five Little Monkey Books by Eileen Christelow, The How Do Dinosaurs books by Jane Yolen, Any thing by Dr. Suess especially How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Lorax, and The Berenstein Bears.

  13. Pingback: Just Keep Readin’…Just Keep Readin’… | Vera Christian | Mom University
  14. Great list, I’ll be adding to our collection soon. I would add my name is not Isabella, it’s about a little girl who goes through her day pretending to be famous women in history (rosa parks, Annie oakly,etc) and in the end identifies all of their best qualities as being her best qualities as well. There’s even a boy version: my name is not Alexander.

  15. Boynton and Seuss are favorites no matter the gender, but my little boy loves Jon Scieszka’s Truck Town books! Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book ever is another classic that small children love to read again and again. I’d also recommend any picture books by Peter H. Reynolds (for slightly older picture book readers) and Amy Krouse Rosenthal.

  16. Please add the book One by Kathryn Otoshi. It’s gender neutral and the most touching and inspiring children’s book I’ve ever read. I gave this book to the girl I care for for Christmas. She asks me to read it to her all the time. It has a brilliant message aboit bullying and standying up for yourself and others.

  17. I’m a Grandmom and would like to suggest some oldies but goodies. All the classic Shel Silverstein books( Light in the Attic, The Missing Piece,Where the Sidewalk Ends,The Giving Tree). Children love poetry and cadence. Drummer Hoff is wonderful! Among the listed I love Chica chica boom boom and the suggested Llama Lamas.

    • Liz,
      Thanks for mentioning Drummer Hoff! It was a favorite of my nephew, who now has two little boys of his own.
      Here are some others to check out. The Wild Baby by Barbro Lindgren and adapted by Jack Prelutsky tells the antics in rhyme of Ben, the wild baby. Any book by Keiko Kasza; she makes visits to schools, wonderful speaker. Her books include: The Wolf’s Chicken Stew, My Lucky Day, The Mightiest, The Pigs’ Picnic, A Mother for Choco, The Rat and the Tiger, and Don’t Laugh, Joe!
      Another on my must-have list is The George and Martha series by James Marshall. Funny stories about friendship including George and Martha One Fine Day.
      Happy reading,

  18. Great list; thanks for sharing! You’ve listed many of our favorites, but here are a few more:

    The Curious Garden (Peter Brown)
    My Name is Not Isabella (and the sequels!)
    Extra Yarn (Mac Barnett)
    The Gardener (Sarah Stewart)
    And Then It’s Spring (Julie Fogliano)
    The Cloud Spinner (Michael Catchpool)
    Me… Jane (Patrick McDonnell)
    Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile
    Wild About Books and Zoozical(great rhyming!)
    How Rocket Learned to Read and Rocket Writes a Story
    Zen Shorts

    A Little longer, but great “girl power” stories:
    Miss Moore Thought Otherwise
    Who Says Women Can’t be Doctors?

  19. My daughter has special needs and one of our favorites is Lemon the Duck by Laura Backman, it’s based on a true story about a classroom of children who hatch 4 duck eggs. One of the ducklings has neurological problems and can’t stand up so the children take special care of her.

  20. Great list! I would suggest adding Good night, Good Night Construction Site. Its really well done and a family favorite (my son is almost 5 and daughter 2.5). It has good rhythm and illustrations.

    Richard Scarry’s My First Ever book is also a favorite.

  21. Should add The Legend of the Bluebonnets by Tomie de Paola; I cried every single time I read it to my kids. But they still loved the story!

  22. I know this is an old post, and possibly you’ve already been told this, but it’s Robert Munsch who wrote Love You Forever, not David, maybe you were thinking of David Shannon at the time? Great list!

  23. Some notable absences from this list –
    The Hairy Maclary books
    Any thing by the Albergs
    The Lion in the Night and others by the same author
    Ten Little Fingers 10 little toes
    Each Peach Pear Plum

    just read I’ll Always Love You and agree its creepy

  24. And an interesting side note on Robert Munsch’s Love You Forever book- I watched a documentary a while back where he explained it was written for his stillborn child. I’ve always loved this book, but feel it is more meaningful for parents rather then children. All of his books are excellent. David’s Father, Good Families Don’t, We Share Everything are among our favorites.

  25. Great list! But what of skippy jon jones? A series about a siamese cat who thinks he is a dog, by judy schachner. My kids love Hug, by Jez Alborough, only three words in it but an emotional journey, and Everywhere Babies by susan meyers has entranced by kids since birth.

  26. Great list! Can’t wait to finish our crate-full from the library and start putting these on hold too. Some of our favorites (off the top of my head) are

    Just Being Audrey (a perfect children’s story based on Audrey Hepburn that teaches kindness and confidence and persistence even when you’re a bit different)

    Red Kite, Blue Kite (an amazing yet not depressing or overly serious story about the Chinese Revolution. Beautiful Illustrations and very very much a kid’s book that mom can love)

    Bears Don’t Read
    Caterina and the Best Beach Day
    Jamberry (a great book that my daughter has read and loved since she was born and we still love reading it, especially when we go berry picking)

    Most of our other favorites (so far) were on your list…. at least that I can think of. Our first chapter book that we’re completing (I’ve started others that were too much to take on at the time I started and never finished them) is Who Was Queen Victoria.

    I am bookmarking this page immediately

  27. I know this is an old post but I’m going to comment anyway. I have a 17 year old son and twin 4 year old girls. I LOVE Frog and Toad. It was one of my favorites from my childhood. My girls love it too. Harold and the Purple Crayon is a perpetual fav. I used to read I love you forever to my son while rocking him. Creepy stalker mom and all my son still tears up when I read it. I can’t stand Goodnight Moon, The Little Engine that Could or We’re going on a bear hunt. Ugh. Other favorites of ours; How do Dinosaurs…., How I became a Pirate (“No Tucking!”), Gossie and Gertie, Goodnight Gorilla, and Dear Zoo. I am looking forward to checking out some new favorites.

  28. What a great list! I was happy to see many of my favorites here. I crack up every single time I read the story Lily tells to Julius in “Julius, the Baby of the World” And “Leonardo the Terrible Monster” is my FAVORITE book to read aloud and not very well known! Mo Willems is just a genius. Have you seen his book “Welcome”? I think every baby should hear that one! Personally, since I used to be a volunteer firefighter, I consider “Firefighters A-Z” to be the book that EVERY baby needs… but I’m biased! It’s just the only firefighter book I’ve found that’s really accurate, and it’s an alphabet book that rhymes!

  29. What a great list! Even though my own baby is in high school and I have 2 in college, I can not part with our picture books- too many great messages. Luckily I have a home daycare so I have a good excuse to keep them.
    I would add anything by Audrey and Don Wood (Napping Ouse, Silly Sally, Heckedy Peg, etc). One of my all-time favorites is Pickle-Chiffon Pie by Jolly Roger Bradfield. I tear up every time I read it. It was out of print for a while but, I believe it is being printed again. Steven Kellogg books are amazing not only for the stories but the incredible illustrations. And for some silly rhyming problem solving I like The Two Sillies by MaryAnn Hoberman and Sixteen Cows by Lisa Wheeler.

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