March 1, 2012

50 Picture Books by our favorite authors and illustrators

To celebrate Read Across America day tomorrow, I thought I'd share 50 of our favorite picture books by several beloved children's authors and illustrators.  There are so many wonderful books for children that this list in no way encompasses all of our favorites or all of the great books out there.  However, so many of these books are those we come back to time after time and the authors and illustrators hold a special place in the hearts of both me and my kids!  

Many of the books are older (some published 10, 20 or more years ago) so you may see some favorites from your own childhoods or perhaps find some "new to you" titles that you can enjoy with your kids. 

(NOTE: The books are grouped by author, but aren't in any other particular order ~ we've liked them all!   I've given written a sentence or two about each book, but all the pictures and titles are links to Amazon where you can get age recommendations and more detailed summaries or reviews)

~ Sam McBratney ~

(1) Guess How Much I Love You 

One of our favorite bedtime stories about a little hare who keeps trying to think of bigger and bigger ways to express his love to his mother.  The last line "I love you to the moon and back" is a quote I've often said to my kids.

 (2) You're All My Favorites 

I came across this book when I was expecting my youngest daughter and found it suits our family perfectly.  It's a sweet story about a bear family with three cubs.  When the cubs start to worry that their parents love the other bears more, they are reassured that no matter what, each cub is the favorite of their mom and dad.

(3) Stephanie's Ponytail  

Not only is this book and its illustrations hysterical, but it also provides a great lesson in expressing individuality vs. going along with the crowd.  Each day, Stephanie goes to school with a new hairstyle and is met with teasing, only to have her hairdo copied the next day.  She's smarter than her classmates, though, and the ending is hilarious.

  (4) Andrew's Loose Tooth 

Every time one of my kids has a loose tooth, we pull out this book and laugh at the funny ways Andrew tries to solve his problem of a loose tooth that just won't come out.

(5) We Share Everything! 

So many times we tell our kids (or students) to share everything, but the two kindergartners in this book take that message to the extreme.

(6) Love You Forever 

If you haven't read this book yet, I have to warn you, I have a really tough time reading it out loud without tearing up at the end.  Nevertheless, it's a really sweet story about a mother's love for her son.

We've really loved all of Robert Munsch's books. Two more favorites... (7) Alligator Baby  is a funny take on welcoming a new child to the family and (8) Moira's Birthday shows how easily a kids' birthday party can get out of hand!

(Make sure you check out her amazing web page.  
There are TONS of great printables and extra activities to go along with her books.)

(9) Gingerbread Baby 

This book is a funny twist on the Gingerbread Man story with a Gingerbread baby who comes out of the oven before he should.  We love how Jan Brett creates a story within a story through the detailed illustrations in the "frames" of the pages.

(10) The Mitten  

Who would have thought a single white mitten could hold so many woodland animals?  The kids love how a tiny mouse is the one who ends up making it too crowded

(11) The Wild Christmas Reindeer 

The main character in this book learns that bossiness and harshness isn't nearly as effective as patience and kind words.  I love reading this book myself when things start getting crazy around the holidays as a reminder to stop barking orders and start working together!

(12) The Night Before Christmas  

Jan Brett's great, detailed illustrations make this book one of our favorite versions of The Night Before Christmas poem.

~ Steven Kellogg ~

(13) Is Your Mama a Llama  

We really like this simple rhyming story about a baby llama who meets and questions other animals.  Steven Kellogg's illustrations are beautiful without being too cutesy.

(14)  How Much Is a Million? 

A million is such a huge number, it's difficult to even imagine how big it is.  The kids love how this book gives clever examples to help illustrate the concept. (ex. how big a bowl would have to be to hold a million goldfish) 

Also our favorites...  (15)   If You Made a Million which very cleverly teaches about money and banking and (16) Millions to Measure which is all about measurement!

(16) The Mysterious Tadpole 

This book is about a unique gift from a Scottish uncle that grows up into a very unusual pet.  Once again, we love not only the story, but Steven Kellogg's really wonderful illustrations.  The colors are so pretty, the pictures almost seem to "glow".

(17) Johnny Appleseed 

Steven Kellogg also has several books in which he retells and illustrates some classic tall tales.  Johnny Appleseed is one of our favorites, but there's also (18) Paul Bunyan , (19) Pecos Bill and others.

~ Audrey and Don Wood ~

(20) The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear 

This book doesn't have a whole lot of words, but the great pictures really help to tell the story of a little mouse who wants to protect his strawberry from a hungry bear (who may or may not actually exist).  It's such a cute story and it was my oldest daughter's favorite when she was a toddler.

(21) The Napping House 

My kids loved the repetitive text in this cute story about a child and a napping granny.  We also liked watching how the colors in the illustrations changed as the day went along and everyone started waking up.

(22) King Bidgood's in the Bathtub 

So many of the books on this list are my favorites, but this one is definitely up near the very top.  The story itself is a funny one about a king who won't get out of the bathtub, but the illustrations showing all the members of the royalty trying to coax him out are hysterical.

(23) Quick as a Cricket 

Sometimes kids can be both happy and sad, fast and slow, depending on the situation.  This book shows how all of those characteristics come together to make a boy uniquely himself.

(24) Silly Sally 

Kids always seem to like rhyming and repetitive text and this silly story was always one of our favorites.

(25) Strega Nona 

Strega Nona is a classic (it's almost as old as I am).  It's a funny tale about an old woman and her magic pasta pot and a young man who gets himself into some trouble with it.  A neat little lesson on what can happen if you sneak and do something you're not supposed to do.  There are several sequels and spinoffs about Strega Nona and the young man, Big Anthony.

(26) The Cloud Book 

 I love books that incorporate actual facts into the story and this book on clouds does just that.  It's a fun addition to a discussion about weather or great to have on hand when you're outside looking for shapes in the clouds.

(27) Tomie DePaola's Book of Bible Stories 

I've included this collection of Bible Stories because I couldn't choose just one of Tomie dePaola's many books on religious topics.  He has books about saints, traditions, legends and more  ~ all with his beautiful illustrations.

~ Eric Carle ~

(28) The Very Hungry Caterpillar  

This book is a classic and for good reason.  My kids always loved reading about all the foods the hungry caterpillar ate and they got a kick out of the holes going through the pages too.

(29) Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? 

My kids LOVED this book and they always liked announcing the next animal before we turned the page.  Also a favorite was (30) Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?

(30) The Very Quiet Cricket 

This might be my favorite Eric Carle book.  A little cricket introduces himself to other insects, but can't make a sound until he meets a female cricket.  A sound chip on the last page will make a chirping sound as he finally makes a sound.

(31) If You Give a Mouse a Cookie  

The kids and I love the clever chain of events set into action when a mouse asks for a cookie.  There are many "sequels" to this cute story ~  (32) If You Give a Moose a Muffin, (33) If You Give a Pig a Pancake and more ~ and we've liked all of them too.

(34) Dogs Don't Wear Sneakers 

My kids always liked reading books about silly situations and this book is full of them.  All sorts of animals do "human" things and look really funny as they do.

(35) at Mommies Do Best/ What Daddies Do Best 

I love books with a clever twist.  This book tells what mommies do best and what daddies do best (flip the book over to read the opposite story).  The clever twist is that both parents do the same things, each in their own way.

                ~ James Marshall ~

(36) Miss Nelson Is Missing! 

This book was one of my favorites when I was teaching and my own kids have liked it here at home too.  It tells about an unruly class and a teacher's clever way to get them behaving again.

(37) Goldilocks and the Three Bears 

James Marshall has a few books putting his own twist on some classic fairy tales.  In this one about Goldilocks, we see that she's actually a bit of a brat who reeks havoc on the poor bears' home.  Also funny are (38) The Three Little Pigs and (39) Red Riding Hood  

(40) Waiting for Wings 

My kids love butterflies and we love how this book gives so much information on the life cycle of various butterflies and other facts about them ~ all accompanied by great illustrations.

(41) Feathers for Lunch 

As I said before, I love books that are informative while still cute and entertaining.  This book is like a mini bird guide tucked into a cute story about a house cat trying to catch a bird for lunch.

(42) Planting a Rainbow 

Here's another really informative book by Lois Ehlert, this time about planting a garden.  If I had more of a green thumb, I'd use this book as we planted our own gardens.  However, my kids realize my limitations and were content just reading about it.

(43) Leaf Man  

My kids love going on Nature Walks to collect leaves in the fall, so this book about a leaf man was a fun read.  We love the illustrations made from actual leaves and all the facts given about what kind of trees they've come from.

~ Byron Barton ~

(44) Bones, Bones, Dinosaur Bones 

So many kids go through a dinosaur-loving phase.  This book with its simple illustrations was one of my son's favorites during his preschool years.

(45) I Want to Be an Astronaut 

Another great Byron Barton book is this one looking into the life of an astronaut aboard the space shuttle.

                       ~ Leo Lionni ~

(46) A Color of His Own 

Every animal has a color of his own except for the always-changing chameleon.  We liked reading about how the chameleon's feelings of jealousy eventually changed to acceptance of his uniqueness.

(47) Little Blue and Little Yellow 

Cute book about blue and yellow friends who one day hug and become green.  Neat introduction to color theory and friendships combined.

(48) Fish is Fish 

When a tadpole turns into a frog and leaves the water, he reports back to his friend the fish about the bigger world.  This cute book shows how the fish uses those descriptions to imagine all the different animals.

~ Allan and Janet Ahlberg ~

(49) The Jolly Postman 

This is such a cute and interactive book.  A postman delivers mail in a  fairy tale town.  Throughout the book, envelopes and pockets open up to reveal what each character receives ~ everything from letters to advertisements.  Just as fun is the seasonal version with The Jolly Christmas Postman 

So what did you think of my 50 choices?  Are any of your favorites on here?  Did you find any "new" ones that sound like something your family would enjoy?  Do you have a favorite that you think should be included?  Comment and share your thoughts!

Sharing our list at: 


  1. Love this post! We will definitely be checking some of these out. Miss Nelson is Missing is my childhood favorite. I shared via FB and twitter, too.

  2. You have a great list here! Definitely missing the Mo Willems books - Knuffle Bunny and the Elephant and Piggie books. Also Denise Fleming!! - all her illustrations are made with handmade paper. I have 3 boys and they love these books.

  3. Ooh, I don't know how I forgot about those. My oldest daughter loved In A Small, Small Pond and my youngest was just reading a Mo Willems book yesterday.

  4. Great list! Of all these, my 2 year old especially loves The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear. He also likes Margaret Wise Brown books. Both of my boys also love books by Robert McCloskey--Blueberries for Sal is a favorite!

  5. We love Leo Leonni too! One our our favorite Author/Illustrators is Maurice Sendak, In the Night Kitchen and Where the Wild Things Are. Great list.

  6. We love Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and Pickles to Pittsburg by Judi and Ron Barret. A Princess, A Pirate, and One Wild Brother by Cornelia Funke, and Michael Garland's Miss Smith's Incredible Storybook series. She brings in her magical storybook and when she starts reading the stories come to life. Cannot go wrong with any of these.

  7. Great list! We also love anything by Julia Donaldson: The Gruffalo, The Snail & the Whale, Charlie Cook's Favorite Book and Tiddler.

  8. Thanks for this great list. I'll be looking for some of these titles at our local library. Some of course are very familiar. Love you Forever is one of the more poignant kids' books I've come across.

    I'm starting to compile a list of kid's books that feature playgrounds in the illustrations. If you and your readers come across any such titles, please drop me a line at

    Thanks again

  9. I also wanted to add that Mermaid Theatre, based in Windsor, Nova Scotia does a wonderful a stage version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar with puppets. They tour internationally so check and see if they are coming to a theatre near you. I highly recommend all of their productions. We are regular attendees when the troupe is performing at home in Nova Scotia.

  10. Thanks for all the additional suggestions! I think I'll have to write up another list soon!

  11. Stopping by from the Weekend Wrap UP Party!!!

  12. Great list! We love "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" and all the other "If You Give a..." books.

  13. This is quite the list! Thanks for sharing at Fabulous Friday!

  14. Those look like great books. We've read several of them and they are all big on creativity.

  15. Great list - we know quite a few & added a bunch to the library list for my almost 5yo. A great one for girls (and boys) by Robert Munsch is The Paperbag Princess - the princess defeats the dragon and saves the prince. Another favorite author is Karma Wilson - my older daughter borrowed Princess Me from the library so often we finally bought it for her! Other fun reads are Frog In A Bog, Sakes Alive It's a Cattle Drive, and the Bear books (Bear Snores On).
    Thank you for the additions to our library list!

  16. Fantastic list. My 2 also enjoy the Dr Suess books- Green eggs and ham being a favourite. Also Lynley Dodd books are fab- Hairy McLary series esp. And goes without saying, Julia Donaldson- The Gruffalo!!

  17. Phoebe Gilman books are awesome!
    Jillian Jiggs (Jillian, Jillian, Jillian Jiggs, it looks like your room has been lived in by pigs!)

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