Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Some Great Little Books

I've spent a lot of time reading, thinking about and making books for children.  My love and enjoyment of picture books has expanded in the past six years, as I've had the pleasure of field-testing some old and new favorites with my three little book-lovers.  I put a lot of thought into choosing books for this list, with the aim of selecting those that could be enjoyed by boys and girls (and their adults) with a broad range of interests and backgrounds.  Now, go read someone a story!


Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack & Kurt Wiese
Ferdinand by Munro Leaf / Robert Lawson, illus.
The Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel
Blueberries For Sal by Robert McCloskey
Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne / Ernest Shepard, illus.
When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne / Ernest Shepard, illus.
The Little Bear books by Else Holmelund Minarik / Maurice Sendak, illus.
Beatrix Potter books, especially: The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Tale of Two Bad Mice, The Tale of Jeremy Fisher, The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck and The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin
The Complete Adventures of Curious George by Margaret & H.A. Rey
Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go
Richard Scarry's Best Storybook Ever
Where the Wild Things Are
by Maurice Sendak
The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
The Sneeches and Other Tales by Dr. Seuss
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion / Margaret Bloy Graham, illus.

Okay, so those are what I consider to be the CLASSICS.  My taste in kids' books may seem a little old fashioned, but those are all beautifully written and illustrated.  They have a wide appeal, and introduce readers to a great variety of words, ideas and lifestyles.  Here are some more that I am also crazy about:


In the Town All Year 'Round by Rotraut Susanne Berner
Up, Up, Up! It's Apple-Picking Time by Jody Fickes Shapiro / Kitty Harvill, illus.
Traction Man is Here! by Mini Grey
Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes
The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman / Marla Frazee, illus.
Martha Speaks by Susan Meddaugh
The Day the Babies Crawled Away by Peggy Rathmann
Wild About Books by Judy Sierra / Marc Brown, illus.
Doctor De Soto by William Steig
Shrek! by William Steig
Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen / John Schoenherr illus.

What, there are more?!  And...

Hug by Jez Alborough
Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang
Little Fur Family by Margaret Wise Brown / Garth Williams, illus.
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown / Clement Hurd, illus.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Go, Dog, Go! by P.D. Eastman 
The Everything Book by Denise Fleming
Barnyard Banter by Denise Fleming
Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb by Al Perkins / Eric Gurney, illus.
Goodnight, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
The Nutshell Library by Maurice Sendak
"More, More, More" Said the Baby by Vera B. Williams

Some notes on finding more: Many of these authors have more great books out there, especially Steig, Sendak, Taback, Henkes, Rathmann, Potter, Scarry and Seuss.  Look for the originals, as there are many not-so-good derivations of some of these classics, especially of Curious George, Winnie-the-Pooh and Richard Scarry.  
There are lots of places to find these books.  If you can shop at an independent children's bookstore, lucky you!  (There is a great one in LA called Children's Book World.)  I hope you can also find them all for free at your local library.

Detail of illustration by Ernest H. Shepard from Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne, 2006 Dutton Children's Books ed.


  1. Add Tikki Tikki Tembo to these lists, please! You won't regret it!

  2. Yes to all of the above, and also please check out books by my beloved high school classmate Alexander Stadler. I am particularly fond of Duncan Rumplemeyer's Bad Birthday.

  3. A great list.Gotta start hunting the books down for my little guy :) Will be linking to my own post on the subject.

  4. We share so many of the same favorite books! Reading Winnie the Pooh was the first comforting activity Rainer would let me do for him when he was hospitalized a few weeks ago. It came with the iPhone (although we have a copy at home too), and it was so nice to have it at the ready.

    I too love the Frog and Toad series and the William Steig books (and many more that you posted).

    I adore the Francis books (Russel and Lilian Hoban). Highly recommended if you haven't read them!

  5. You have almost all of my favorites on your list--down to obscure ones like The Seven Silly Eaters. A couple of others:

    I Ain't Gonna Paint No More, by Karen Beaumont

    What Baby Wants, by Phyllis Root

  6. Wonderful list. And don't forget Cynthia Rylant--Henry and Mudge, Mr. Putter and Tabby, The Relatives Came, When I Was Young in the Mountains......


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