This is a popular post from the archives that has been brushed up to share some of our favorite picture books! These are some tried and true titles that have passed an important test: we’ve read them hundreds of times to our kids and don’t hate them yet (miraculous, no!?). The stories and illustrations of these books are enchanting and they have become classics in our household. Enjoy our list and may your bookshelves always overflow!
Update: In the original post I shared The Giving Tree as making the list. But over the past two years I’ve realized that I don’t actually like The Giving Tree and dread reading it aloud. Am I the only parent who has experienced this? Anybody else beginning to loathe reading that one?
1. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
2. Tomie dePaola’s Book of Bible Stories
3. Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys, and Their Monkey Business by Esphyr Slobodkina
4. Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges (Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman)
5. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
6. Wee Gillis By Munro Leaf (Illustrated by Robert Lawson)
7. Moon Plane by Peter McCarty
8. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
9. Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall (Illustrated by Barbara Cooney)
10. Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Jan Brett
11. A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Steed (Illustrated by Erin E. Steed)
12. Corduroy by Don Freeman
13. Giant Treasury of Peter Rabbit: Tales by Beatrix Potter
14. The Moustachapillar by Johnny Lees
15. A Color of His Own by Leo Lionno
16. Grandfather Twilight by Barbara Berger
17. Your Favorite Seuss: 13 Stories by Dr. Seuss
18. A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston (Illustrated by Sylvia Long)
19. Jamberry by Bruce Degen
20. The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
What picture books have you enjoyed even after a hundred readings? What would you add to the list?
If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy 10 Books You Must Read to Your Daughter (Or How to Keep Your Daughter from Ending Up Like That Horrid Girl in Twilight) and 10 Books You Must Read to Your Son.
(This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. Thank you for supporting our family’s love for reading.)
I always loved the story and pictures in Something from Nothing by Phoebe Gilman and The King’s Equal by Katherine Paterson. I also loved Noble-Hearted Kate: A Celtic Tale by Marianne Mayer, but that one might be low on pictures. Some children’s books are so wonderful! I should start collecting…
Adding those titles to my ever-growing “I want” list, Jane. And you should start collecting…ya know, for when you and Ruben have the world’s most adorable baby 😉
Molly Makes Do says
I didn’t know anyone else knew about “Something from Nothing”! Loved that book as a kid – it’s on my list of kids books that inspired my simple living as an adult!
This is a great list Haley! I’m excited theres some we haven’t read yet!
My daughter is in a serious Beatrix Potter stage and I love it! She’s been pretending to be Mrs. Tittlemouse for a couple days now.
Is it weird to suggest the original Curious George books? They’re tragically/wonderfully un-politically correct, but theres something about their wondering, non-plot lines that toddlers can really relate to I think. Or at least my boys do!
Not weird, Christy! Benjamin got a collection of the Curious George books as a gift when Lucy was born and he loves them!
Amy @ You Shall Go Out with Joy says
Oh, I remember A Color of his Own from when I was a child!
This is a great list, as my son is just starting to really appreciate books that are a bit longer, so I am looking to expand our collection.
Thanks, Amy! I love that one, too. I remember another book by the same author called Swimmy that also I loved as a child. It is so fun when kids are ready for longer books. My son is just now getting ready for chapter books (not quite there yet) and I can’t wait to watch him enjoy them 🙂
Melissa@Julia's Bookbag says
I’m just going to assume that we are already BFF’s. I share your book love in the extreme. You must come visit me. We can talk books. It will be rad and fab and SUPER FUN. Your blog has the coolest title ever. I’ve just pinned three of your posts in rapid-fire succession.
Aloha and Cheerio! ~Melissa
Hey, Melissa! I stopped by Julia’s Bookbag to say hello:) Thank for the pins!
I like the books by Audrey Wood, Elmer,
there are soooo many!
I love this list! As the daughter of an early childhood educator and myself an elementary school teacher, I am uber picky about the literature we read in our house! Going to the children’s section of the book store usually leaves me feeling sick to my stomach over some of the junk being presented as ‘literature’ for our children! This list of classics is fantastic. 🙂 Be sure to check out “Choo-Choo” also by Virginia Lee Burton. When my 2 year old plays with his trains, he reenacts parts of the story. We had it as a library book for a few weeks…it amazes me how he still talks about it!
I love everything we have by Virginia Lee Burton so now I must check out “Choo-Choo.” Thanks!
I would also like to suggest Timothy Basil Ering’s “Frog Belly Rat Bone.”. Stunning artwork, and it’s about urban gardening.
The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord was a childhood favorite and one that I’ve made sure is in my niece/nephews’ collections.
Maybe Harold and the Purple Crayon
The Bear books by Frank Asch.
I love The very hungry caterpillar by Eric Carle and any Julia Donaldson books starting with The Gruffalo, and The smartest Giant in town. Enjoyed your list and will defo be checking a few out.
Bekkah Riecke says
Wonderful collection of books here. A few of these were staples of my own childhood that I continue to use with the kiddos I care for in my job. I would Add The Tiny Seed by Eric Carl (I did an entire 2 week reading and science unit on this book in my kindergarten practicum last semester) and There’s a Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone. However, that second one has to be read with dramatic flair or not at all. 🙂
We don’t have either in our library! Thanks for the suggestions 🙂
The monster at the end of the Book is a favorite for all ages, and you are correct, it must be read in a way to accent the mystery and suspense.
Joann Follmer says
On the Night You Were Born by nancy Tillman — love, love, love this book (and all her others too!)
The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, by Neil Gaiman. My mom read this to me all the time growing up and I love it.
Anything in the Skippyjon Jones series by Judith Byron Schachner. Also we love the If You Give series by Laura Numeroff and Felica Bond.
Even my junior high students love Skippy John Jones and his wonderful imagination!
I adore What Do You Do With A Kangaroo? and the Frog series by Mercer Meyer. Simple sentences propel the story but leave so much room for the child to imagine what is going on. And the pictures! Surprises in the background encourage the child to seek out how the background changes from one page to the next to find a funny bonus. The kids are independent and resourceful but always must obey their parents.
I second the book “There’s a Monster at the End of this Book” and also suggest The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munsch
You forgot The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier, a Canadian favourite. Otherwise this list is pretty well-rounded. 🙂
Vilate Thacker says
I don’t know if you will see this as it is very late in being posted, but we LOVE Piggie Pie in our house. With 6 kids we have TONS of books. Piggie Pie, The Song and Dance Man, No Moon No Milk, Two Cool Cows, and of course Harold and the Purple Crayon. 🙂
Eloise! My daughter loved Eloise. In First Grade they dressed up for Halloween as their favorite literary character, my daughter went as Eloise. Brought her own Skipperdee.
In addition to great books, I hope you’re exposing your kids to great tv/videos – Marx Brothers, Abbott and Costello, Anything Lucille Ball or Carol Burnett. Singin’ in the Rain! Judy Garland! Harvey! Arsenic and Old Lace! My daughter loved these in grammer school.
The Pete the Cat Series by Eric Litwin is awesome! Kids and adults love it. And it’s hard to get tired of it too. They have a great message about just rolling with the flow and not getting bent about the little things. Amazing, fun group of books!
Fantastic list!! But what about Robert Munsch or Shel Silverstein?
I enjoy “The Paper Bag Princess” by Robert Munsch. Great list!
Our newest favorite is Press Here. Super fun and silly and interactive. 🙂
Thank you so very much everyone. I love reading to my granddaughter. This list will bring wonderful fun for many hours.
My favourite children’s book of all time is “Edwina, the Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct” by Mo Willems. I’ve read it to some little
friends of mine probably a good fifty+ times and I still get excited when they pick it 🙂
Wendy Peckham says
Yes! I have been a (Catholic) read-aloud mother and grandmother and I detested the didactic visit-to-the-doctor books, books based on Disney cartoons (although we may have enjoyed the cartoons themselves) as well as various others. I may make more trips back to add to this list later, because it is very late now and I need to get to sleep. However, here are a few titles that are fun to read: “A House is a House For Me” and “The Cozy Book” by Maryann Hoberman; “The Piggy in the Puddle” by Charlotte Pomerantz (I think); “Millions of Cats” by Wanda Gag; “A Treeful of Pigs” by Anita Lobel; “Mama Buy Me a China Doll” Harve Zemach; Some of Edward Lear’s poems such as “The Pelican Chorus” and “The Owl and the Pussycat:” I enjoyed the Fred Marcellino edition. I enjoyed Wallace Tripp’s illustrated versions of rhymes in “Granfa Grigg Had a Pig” and “Marguerite Go Wash Your Feet” as well as “A Great Big Ugly Man Came Up and Tied His Horse to Me.” “Many Moons” by James Thurber is a delight.
By the way, “Ella Enchanted,” which is for older readers, is a much better book than it is a movie. I get quite irritated by politically correct spins on stories. Elizabeth Marie Pope also wrote two good young adult novels, “The Perilous Gard” and “The Sherwood Circle.”
We’ll have to check these out at the library! Thank you, Wendy 🙂
Haley, I love this post and look forward to getting some of these to add to my nephew’s ever-growing book collection…I cannot believe he still does not have “Strega Nona”! I’m in complete agreement with Wendy about “Ella Enchanted,” I read that hundreds of times when I was younger- the movie certainly does not do it justice.
The reason why I replied to this post was to tell you about a book that has been in my family for ages…it was published in 1963 and my mom still has the copy she had when she was little. It’s called simply “Babies” and is not as advanced even as some of the books on this list but babies truly love it. I can’t explain it. They just do. It can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Babies-So-Tall-Board-Books/dp/0448030845
Oh my goodness! My mom has that book and my 15 month old is OBSESSED with it. I don’t know what it is about it but she wants to read about the “bay-bees” over and over. What IS it about this book? haha.
We don’t have that one, but “Baby Animals,” also by Gyo Fujikawa, is a sweet one with lovely illustrations!
A Screaming Kind of Day – girl and her brother fight all day, because being a kid is hard! She’s disobedient, self-righteous and not always so nice to him either. Life is unfair. But at the end of the day, she and her family go outside and listen to the stars. (Main character happens to be deaf.)
Llama Llama Mad At Mama – contemporary, very funny, baby llama gets MAD at his mama because grocery shopping is boring. The resolution is unbelievably sweet.
Nicole P. says
My daughter adores Harold and the Purple Crayon, and I still love reading it to her 🙂
Hello Haley!! I can’t BELIVE I’ve just now discovered your blog. It is AWESOME!! Can I just say, I wish we were neighbors (but, that might sound a little stalkish)….Anyhoo! This is such a fun book list. As a homeschooling mother of 5 boys, who is hopelessly in love with GREAT children’s books, I am happy to have your list. We have most of these books, but I’m excited to hit the library to find the Munro Leaf selection. Blessings to you and your adorable family!!
Thank you so much, Susan! There are 4 or 5 bloggers out there that I wish were my next door neighbor, so I don’t think it’s stalkerish at all 🙂 I hopped over to your blog and just love it, so much great stuff about raising boys! I subscribed. I hope you love Wee Gillis. A friend gave us a copy from decades ago so I hope it’s not hard to find in print!
Melanie B says
What a great list! We’ve got most of those. Busily adding the rest to my must-get list.
Here are some of our favs:
Dahlia by Barbara McClintock.
The Gingerbread Man, Goldilocks, and The Tale of Tricky Fox all by Jim Aylesworth and Barbara McClintock (really anything illustrated by Barbara McClintock)
A Child’s Calendar by John Updike, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman.
The Oliver Pig stories (several volumes) by Jean Van Leeuwen
Miss Rumphius and really anything illustrated by Barbara Cooney
I’m not familiar with all of these so I’ll have to check them out! I love Barbara Cooney, too 🙂 Thanks for the suggestions.
Just discovering your blog and enjoying it. As a mom of 7 from ages 21-3 we have a few long-standing books including:
Is Your Mama a Llama?
Clap Your Hands
The Napping House
Ten in the Bed
The Monster at the End of This Book (and I usually avoid licensed character books)
Blueberries for Sal (and anything McCloskey!)
Thanks, Val! And thanks for these great recommendations 🙂
The Gruffalo & Room on the Broom, both by Julia Donelson are fantastic! Fabulous poetry, fun to read, & good lessons hidden in there.
I just discovered you via pinterest…Love your site! May I suggest
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (Way better than the movie)
Llama llama Red Pajama
Aw, thanks, Nicole! Those are great suggestions!
I know this is an old post, but my favorite books as a kid (and I still read them with my mom and I’m 18) are the Max Lucado books that I have. I know he writes adult books too, but his children’s book are really good!
Hannah Elise says
Where the Wild Things Are has skeeved me out since -I- was a child. I’ve never liked it. Ox Cart Man, though… I definitely agree with you on that one! Thank you for this list.
Might I suggest G Is for Goat, by Patricia Polacco? Her illustrations are just beautiful, and I love the goat-related alphabet!
Ox Cart Man was my husband very favorite book as a little boy. It is absolutely wonderful. And we love G Is for Goat! Just discovered it this year. Polacco’s illustrations are fantastic. 🙂
Robert Sabuda’s Arthur and the Sword is splendid in its text and its illustrations.
We have LOVED “10 Red Apples” by Pa Hutchins and a more recent wonderful find is ” Dogger” by Shirly Hughes. Read it by yourself with a tissue first before attempting to read to children. 🙂
Great list!! Some of our favorites include, blueberries for Sal (Robert mccloskey), the little house picture books (winter on the farm, going to town etc. There are a lot of them!), jennifer’s walk (Anne carriers), Mr gumpys outing, little bear (Maurice sendak), big red barn (Margaret wise brown), and napping house.
My daughter’s (age 4) favorite book is Heckedy Peg by Don and Audrey Wood. It’s the perfect amount of scary for little kids and, unlike Mike Mulligan (which we also love) it’s the right length for just before nap time
My son’s (6) favorite has been The Day Louis Got Eaten by John Fardell. It looks like the kind of book that would annoy me but it’s actually pretty great. There’s suspense and ingenuity and it features a pretty great brother/sister duo.
I don’t like The Giving Tree either. I liked it as a kid but no more.
I love your posts on kids books — that’s how we found Bear Snores On and lots from Jim Arnosky! I have a few titles from this list from my own collection as a kid. 🙂
We love so many of these books! My kids have always loved “Going on a Bear Hunt” and we’ve read that over and over! All of Virginia Lee Burton’s books are good too, like “Katy and the Big Snow.”
My little is only 14 months, so our current favorite board book is “Bear Snores On” by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman. The story is lyrical and the illustrations beautiful. Lala loves to listen to the rhymes and I have it memorized now and can tell it to her in a pinch if we are out and she needs comforting. She quickly calms and gives me a big smile. It will be one of my go-to’s for new baby gifts. Great list, Haley! Thank you for sharing it. I will be checking those books out for sure <3
Yes to Robert Munsch. No to Giving Tree.
My older kids had a book called “Sky Full of Babies”. That we read about 400 times until.it fell apart. I always liked reading it.
Our little fellow is starting to grow away from picture books, but I am going to look up some of these anyway!
We’re quite partial to the Pigeon books by Mo Willems (Elephant and Piggy too) as well as And I Mean It, Stanley! by Crosby Bonsall. My kids love the pictures and to chime in to “talk” to the Pigeon and to yell along, “And I mean it, Stanley!”
For amazing Catholic picture books, my two aboslute favorites would have to be “The Weight of a Mass” and “Take It to the Queen” by Josephine Nobisso. They’re so, so beautifully illustrated and have wonderful stories that, while set in a fairy-tale kingdom, really teach some deep concepts of the faith. The first one, as you’d figure, is about how valuable attending just one Mass is, but the lesson is taught through a story about a poor widow in a bakery whose offer of a Mass on a little slip of paper is much, much, heavier than everything else in the whole bakery–even the king’s wedding cake. The second one is about the intercession of the Blessed Mother, but still told in the same kind of fairy-tale setting. They’re beautiful and make for such great conversation!
Kelle Smith says
A Visitor for Bear
Amy @ You Shall Go Out with Joy says
I just saw this article on Brain Child mag debating the merits (or lack thereof) of the Giving Tree and thought of you! I do not like reading it to Gus, probably because, like it says in the article, the boy just keeps taking and taking in order to be “happy” and it really annoys me. But, the pro side points out that it is a book about (a mother’s) unconditional love, which is very comforting to a child. I like that and am going to try and remember that next time Gus (finds it hidden at the bottom of the stack and) asks to read it. http://www.brainchildmag.com/2014/06/reading-the-giving-tree-to-our-kids-two-perspectives/
For my list I would remove Winnie the Pooh and add The Little Engine that Could. It has been a favorite for two years now and we all still love it. There are several on your list we haven’t read yet, I’m excited to add them to our Library reserve list!
Great list! I positively love Corduroy and Make Way for Ducklings. We own both and I never tire of them. One of my favorite picture books is “May I Bring a Friend”.
And Frog and Toad. I LOVE Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel. I bought the entire collection at Sams a couple months ago for my daughter who has recently learned to read.
I LOVE the illustrations in “Grandfather Twilight”, I always have (since I was little). I also love “The Girl, The Fish, and the Crown”‘s illustrations.
We love Julia’s House for Lost Creatures, by Ben Hatke. Beautiful Illustrations, enjoyable story.