Saturday, January 14, 2012

Our Favorite Children's Books

This is going to be a long post.  I love books.  I just started formulating a list of favorite children's books, authors and illustrators last night and I can't stop adding books.  I hope this list is useful to someone.  I remember being overwhelmed when I realized that my oldest and I could venture past the board books into real picture books.  I wasn't sure where to start, and I honestly wasn't thrilled with the selection of books I'd take home every week.  However, I kept searching, and now I have more than enough to go on each time I go to the library.  There are so many wonderful children's books out there!  Here are some of my favorites.  Please share your favorites in the comments!
These pictures all come from Amazon.

I guess I'll start with best books for babies.  These all keep the attention of my babies and toddlers quite well, mainly because they allow for animated readings.
PD Eastman also wrote "Are You My Mother" and other good stories
Eric Carle is an extremely prolific author/illustrator if you like his style
Author of "Good Night Moon" and "The Runaway Bunny." Both of my boys have adored this book around age 1.

This next section are my "stand alone" books.  I don't know the authors/illustrators well but I can certainly recommend these books.
This one is called "The Lion and the Mouse."  It's great for little kids because there are no words, so you just look at the picture to get the story.  Beautifully illustrated as you can see.

This provided hours of fun for my three-year-old on an airplane.   It's like an I Spy for younger kids.
Peter Brown is a young guy, and worth keeping tabs on.  He has a few books that are quite good, but this is his best. A family favorite.
Favorite Authors and Illustrators.  If you take a few of these names to the library with you, I think you won't be disappointed by what you find.

William Steig--A hilarious author who never fails to make Andrew and me laugh--though his offbeat humor may not be for everyone.  "Doctor De Soto" is a classic, but to find Steig in his element check out "The Amazing Bone."  If you like that one you'll probably like everything else he did.

If you're into this kind of humor, Peter Neumeyer and Edward Gorey came together for these two delightful and funny books.

Don and Audrey Wood are a fabulous duo.  They have written some really fun books ("The Very Hungry Bear" above is one of them).
One of Andrew and Baby Ben's very favorites.
Steven Kellog is Andrew's favorite illustrator.  You'll probably recognize some of his stuff.  Half the story is told in the pictures, which are always very entertaining--and much better than his writing.

 Jan Brett is another you'll recognize.  She has put out quite a few books too.
 Graeme Base--You can't lose with his beautiful, detailed drawings! You'll find something new every time you read, and his writing (often in poetic form) matches his illustrations!

Walter Wick did all those wonderful I Spy books.  Abe was really into them for a while.  These are more books that you can spend all day looking at the pictures.
Maurice Sendak--Best known for "Where the Wild Things Are," he has a lot more to offer.  His old fashioned and formal depictions of very sweet people and animals are very charming.
Robert McCloskey--Best known in the Marshall Family for Homer Price, he wrote lots of wonderful books about a Norman Rockwell era America.  The books are fun and witty and the pictures and characters are engaging.  He's a can't-miss author/illustrator.

 Mercer Mayer--Known best for the "Little Critter" books, he wrote and illustrated some really fun books that for some reason are not as well known.

Peter Spier--Another author/illustrator who never disappoints. 
This one has no words, and the pictures tell the story better than words could!
Dr. Seuss--I can't very well do a post about children's literature without mentioning Dr. Seuss, a man who revolutionized early reading literature.  Before him, children were basically limited to "Dick and Jane." 
Beatrix Potter--So I guess there was more to read than "Dick and Jane."  Children had Peter Rabbit.  The language is quite advanced because it is old fashioned, but it's so sweet.  And it's so nice to expose children to that kind of beautiful language.  
 Tomie De Paula--I'd recommend any of his books.   I love the simple but beautiful illustrations.
Virginia Lee Burton is the way to go, especially if you have a little boy who is into large machines on wheels.  There are a lot of really terrible kids books about trucks, cars and trains.
David Weisner--Illustrator of some very fantastic (in the traditional sense) children's books without words.  He doesn't miss as far as I've seen.

Characters to know--It is fun to go to the library wanting to read more about the same characters.  There are lots of books in each of these series.  You're probably familiar with all of these books already.

Check out other books by Arnold Lobel too. 
Other James Marshall books are fun too, but George and Martha take the cake.
 Last but not least, I'm including "Charlotte's Web" and "Winnie the Pooh" because at one or two years old you can start reading chapter books as a family. We finished all of the A.A. Milne books last year and are one chapter away from finishing "Charlotte's Web."  We painted a poster this week to keep track of all of the books we've read as a family. When we finish a long book, we throw a party!
There's a reason these have endured the test of time. They are full of wit and fun, while delving beautifully into the mind and life of a child.
Charlotte provides a wonderful example to children of sacrifice and friendship.
Well,  that took me all day long, but it was really fun! What are your favorite books to read with your kids?


  1. Thomas and I loved pouring over this list of wonderful books. We were glad to see Frog and Toad on it. Thomas is a friend like just like Frog; I can count on him no matter what. We love Liza Lou, and another Mercer Mayer favorite of the ten Marshalls was The Queen Always Wanted to Dance. Perfectly appropriate Sassiness and Adorability. Hand Hand Fingers Thumb was a great one to whisper in their ears during church to engage their minds when the speaker could not.

    Thomas wanted to open Animalia right here on the blog. We are looking for chapter books that Thomas will enjoy in all his childlike teenagerness. We almost made it through Charlotte's Web. You inspire us to want to pick it up again.

    Grandma Nonie wrote a cute little children's musical about Homer Price and the donut shop, and performed it with her grandchildren a few years ago. We encouraged her to write one on Liza Lou next.

    I also loved all manner of nursery rhymes; from the Childcraft Bk One, to Mother Goose, and many others. We spent many happy hours reading them over and over. And the Fairy Tale book illustrated by Scott Gustavson has well written text to read along with his beautiful pictures.

    Thanks Ariel. I'm glad I have not run out of children to read to. And I hope I never will. Bring those little ones over any time, my darlins'.

  2. Awesome post! I love children's books and unlike toys - I feel that we can never have too many in the house. We are also really into Dr. Seuss over here and one of my favorites of his is called My Many Colored Days.

    Ellie is also really loving the book "Bears in the Night". It's super simple (boring to me) and she makes me read it to her over and over. It was Joe's favorite as a child, so that's nice.

    Other Favorites (of mine) include:
    Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?
    To Market To Market
    You are Special
    The Little Engine that Could

  3. Fantastic post Ariel! I can't wait to start a collection.

  4. This is just great, Ariel! I love love love love love books! Love them! Books that I have loved, above and beyond what you've posted: Goodnight Goon, and The Human Race.

  5. What a gold mine, Ariel. Beautifully researched and collected! You hit many of our favorites as well. Since trains have been our everything for the last year and a half, we have discovered many wonderful books all about trains. I think I'll do a post on it so I don't have to list them all here.

    We will go find many of these. Thanks!

  6. Oh, these are so many of our favorites too! The Piggy and Elephant books by Mo Willems are a lot of fun too. Some of Jackson's favorite board books are Goodnight Gorilla, Freight Train, Dear Zoo, From Head to Toe, There's a Wocket in my Pocket, It Looked Like Spilt Milk, and We're Going on a Bear Hunt (the version by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury).