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our favorite children’s picture books

For as long as I can remember, I have adored children’s picture books. The sweet stories, likeable characters, clever plots and rhythmic cadence are all appealing, for sure. But my very favorite are the illustrations.

favorite-childrens-books

Our collection of picture books continually grows … I just can’t resist. And the kids enjoy us reading to them, so it’s a win-win. Over time, we’ve found that some books are worth reading over and over again. Their stories are great, the pictures are even better and reading them aloud is both fun to do and fun for the little ones to hear. Sometimes even the older two boys join in on story time.

So here are our (at-the-moment) favorite children’s picture books:

jolly-postman

Let’s begin with this long-time beloved book, The Jolly Postman by Janet & Allan Ahlberg. I loved it as a child, and all of my kids (ages 10,8,6,4) love it as well. The story follows a british postman as he rides his bicycle to different fairy tale characters delivering letters. The best is the envelope-shaped pages with actual letters inside to read. Such sweet fun.

i-had-a-favorite-dress

I Had A Favorite Dress by Boni Ashburn is Audrey’s pick most nights. I never protest because I just adore the pictures. It is the story of a girl who grows out of her favorite dress but her mother helps to ‘snip, snip, sew, sew’ it into a shirt, then tank top, then scarf, etc. It’s very cute.

birdie

The Birdie books by Sujean Rim are also Audrey’s most frequent choices and, again, the artwork is just beyond charming. Birdie is a sweet and independent little girl who makes style choices all on her own.

audrey-bunny

This one was a natural choice because of the name, but also because it was written by the first blogger I ever read, Angie Smith, and I kinda think she’s amazing. Audrey Bunny is the story of a bunny who worries that because she is not perfect, she will not be chosen. It tells a sweet story about how God has made us wonderfully and wants us to just be ourselves.

big-hungry-bear

The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear by Don & Audrey Wood is my third son’s absolute favorite. He can recite the whole thing and his voice inflections are the cutest.

bears-loose-tooth

Bear’s Loose Tooth by Karma Wilson is part of another series we all enjoy so much. The animal friends are darling and the rhythm of the words makes it feel sing-songy to read. If you’re just starting out with these books, begin with Bear Snores On or Bear’s New Friend or actually the whole set.

circus-ship

The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen is one of my favorites. Again, the words are poetic, yet clever and the pictures are detailed, bright and silly. When the circus ship sinks, the animals swim to a New England shore and find a home with the townspeople, who cleverly camouflage the animals when the grumpy circus trainer comes searching for them. Love this one.

king-hugo

Also written and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen (which I didn’t realize until taking these pictures!), King Hugo’s Huge Ego is super clever and the artwork is wonderful. A pompous king learns a lesson about humility and kindness in this happy story.

princess-and-pig

The Princess and the Pig by Jonathan Emmett feels similar to King Hugo in it’s smart storyline and cheerful illustrations, but this time a pig and princess get mixed up and what happens is pretty cute.  A fun read especially for the grown-ups.

going-on-a-bear-hunt

This oldie-but-goodie remains high on my list because it is just so simple and fun to read. We pat our legs and make swishing noises with our hands as the family goes on an adventure through tall grass, sticky mud, a swirling, whirling snowstorm, to find a bear. We’re Going on A Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen is delightfully illustrated by Helen Oxenbury.

mr-tiger-goes-wild

The newest addition to our book collection is Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown.  I’ll be honest … I haven’t read it yet. I saw it at the kids’ book fair and the cover caught my attention because, just look at that cover! It is the story of a prim and proper Mr. Tiger who decides that maybe going wild would be more fun. Can’t wait to read this one with the kids.

So there you go. All of our current favorites. Do you have a cherished picture book in your family? Please share!

36 thoughts on “our favorite children’s picture books”

  1. Thank you for the book titles! Great variety. Some we are familiar with – postman, bear hunt, bears loose tooth, and more. Some of our favorite titles are: Knuffle Bunny, Three Little Dinosaurs, Paddington Bear stories, Corduroy, Yoko (about a kitty named Yoko). So many titles to choose.

  2. I love your book recommendations! Can you do a post on your older boy’s favorite books or chapter books? I have a 7 year old boy who loves to read! we need some recommendations!

  3. Thanks for all the great recommendations! We only have one of the books you have listed and I’m always looking for good picture/story books for the kids. I created a wish list in amazon for all of these precious books! Thanks again:)

  4. I am a preschool teacher and a book called Press Here is the book my preschoolers call “the magic book.” As in, “Can we read the magic book this morning?” It is such fun to read with children that age! The Pete the Cat series is also very popular here and the kids all sing the songs in big, loud voices.

  5. A new favorite is Sophie’s Squash. Soooo cute! And I think you’re going to love Mr Tiger a Goes Wild. It’s my baby nephew’s favorite book and because of it, he learned to ROAR before he learned to talk. :) Thanks for the great round up – we’re always on the hunt for new treasures to check out from the library.

  6. Thanks for these wonderful suggestions! Just reserved a bunch of these from our local library! :) My girls (ages 4 and 2) LOVE Bear Hunt and practically have it memorized. I am always looking for great children’s literature (not twaddle!) to share with them!

  7. If you love illustrations, Jan Brett is phenomenal. She is a favorite in our house — Honey Honey Lion and The Umbrella are in current circulation. But we have many of her books! Love some of these new selections. Heading to amazon now. :)

  8. We love the Mr Pusskins series by Sam Lloyd – about a mischievous but loveable kitty, as well as Mr Prickles – A Quill-Fated Love Story by Kara LeReau.

  9. Oh, we have so many favourites. The ones that come to mind right now are The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson (only around $4 for the paperback on Amazon right now!). Also, The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson. Where is The Green Sheep by Mem Fox was a huge favourite of my kids when they were younger too. Josephine Wants to Dance by Jackie French is wonderful also. These last two authors are Australian so it might be fun to check out some overseas talent. Julia Donaldson is from Great Britain now that I think about it. Ah, we have so many more that I can’t even think of. Mine are getting up a bit in age now and a lot of these books are being packed away (can’t bear to part with them…).

  10. Thanks for sharing, Emily!

    Anything by Jon J. Muth has amazing pictures. My favorite is a collection of poetry for children selected by Caroline Kennedy. We also love many of your favorites, along with the Stella series by Marie-Louise Gay and anything by Emily Gravett. My 4-year old daughter especially likes the quirky illustrations in the Charlie & Lola series by Lauren Child.

  11. I taught junior high English and used The Jolly Postman with 8th graders and beyond. Not just for the younger crowd. Other wonderful books are The Runaway Bunny, Madeline, The Velveteen Rabbit, and Guess How Much I Love You. I agree with Sarah O about Skippyjon Jones!

  12. I have always loved children’s picture books and look out for new ones. I found one great one- Agate, What good is a moose? by Joy Morgan Dey and illustrated by Nikki Johnson. The story is one about self esteem, The water color painted illustrations are beautiful.

  13. Thank you so much for this. I have a serious passion for reading with my kids, so I will check out all that you have suggested (that we haven’t already fallen in love with). ;) Do you know about the Mr. Putter books by Cynthia Rylant? They melt me to a puddle – precious and sweet!

  14. Thanks for all the book suggestions! I just reserved a few at our library. Our kids love Skippyjon Jones lately! Love that many of those Skippyjon books come with a audio cd for the car :)

  15. Thanks for the recommendations! I’m always looking for fun new books! We LOVE Oliver Jeffers’ books- his illustrations are so fun and cute! How to Catch a Star is one of our favorites- has a super fun, unexpected ending. :)

  16. I had three boys, all close in age and they LOVED LOVED LOVED The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear. Oh, my goodness, that was so much fun to read to them and THEN for them to read it to me using the voices, of course. What a great book!!

  17. My children (now 24 and 28) LOVED all of the “Jolly Postman” books. I have given so many out for baby gifts, along with the “Big Hungry Bear”. Also, the heavy duty cardboard “Where’s Spot” books (Lift the flap books) and Bugs in a Box series are great for toddlers.

  18. One I bought long before I had children – just because I loved the illustrations – was Animalia by Graeme Base. Some others I like for the illustrations are the classics Blueberries for Sal, One Morning in Maine, and Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey.

  19. One of our favorite books is called “Chopsticks” (Jon Berkeley). The illustrations are gorgeous and the story is captivating. It’s about a mouse, named “Chopsticks”, who lives on a floating restaurant in China. He becomes friends with a carved wooden dragon who wants to be brought to life so he can fly. They have quite the adventure together! Here’s a link (if I’m able to post a link) to it on the goodreads website: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/349463.Chopsticks.

    Enjoy!

  20. We discovered books by Julia Donaldson when my boys were younger (they’re still young and still love picture books). She’s wonderful!! The Snail and The Whale is my favorite, followed closely by Are You My Mom and The Gruffalo. Thanks so much for your recommendations!

  21. Thanks for some new recommendations! We collect picture books in our house as well. My boys all enjoy the Otis series by Loren Long. He also illustrates the books–love his style and colors. After Loren visited my child’s first grade class, he has been inspired to write and illustrate books for fun. The stories are sweet too!

  22. we mostly live in board-book land right now and LOVE boynton books for their humor, but a favorite all this looooooong winter was Hibernation Station – cute and snuggly and one of the most beautifully illustrated books i’ve ever read.

  23. Oh, I looove picture books! I especially love hearing about new ones, so thanks fpr sharing. I am a preschool teacher & a mommy of a preschooler, so I am very familiar with Bear Hunt. It’s a huge hit every year :) I just put Bears Loose Tooth in my daughter’s Easter basket-The Bear series is a favorite in our home, too. My daughter is also a fan of the Peter Rabbit cartoon, so I also added the original Peter Rabbit by B.Potter. One of my favorites growing up was Amelia Bedilia. Both my husband and daughter get great belly laughs when we read those books :) Have you read Giraffes Can’t Dance? Beautiful, all around.

  24. Nancy Tillman’s books are my absolutely favorites! It’s the first thing I bought for our daughter even before we announced our adoption plans to the world. I love that the stories work for biological OR adopted kids (which isn’t always the case with children’s books.) It’s always great to see some diversity in the children that are illustrated. The illustrations are all absolutely beautiful, the writing has a wonderful rhythm, and each book has such a sweet message! We have “On The Night You Were Born”, “The Crown On Your Head”, and “Wherever you are, my love will find you.” (I know she has several more though!)

  25. My niece loves We’re going on a Bear Hunt, and it’s a joy to read. When I was a girl my dad used to read The Bear Nobody Wanted by the Ahlberg’s to me, he passed away when I was young so they are precious memories. It’s not a novel though not a short story!

  26. Our kiddos love the Jolly Postman. Another great series are the Hairy McClary (dog) books. I think that is how it is spelled? Super cute. We still say lines from those.

  27. I loved the Jolly Postman when I was growing up and can’t wait to read it with my daughter when she’s a little older (there’s a Christmas edition too!) Thank you for a great list!

  28. Thanks or the great recommendations! I have a slight obsession with adorable children’s books. We just added Princess and the Pig to our collection.. its one of our favorites :)

  29. I love them all. I am a preschool teacher by day so I get such a kick when the kids really respond to a good book. The classics are great (going on a bear hunt, etc…). But I always love to bring in fresh new books. I can’t wait to check out Mr. Tiger goes wild. Great book ❤️!

  30. I grew up reading the Jolly Postman and just bought Audrey Bunny for my daughter. :)

    Have you heard of the Brambly Hedge series? It’s a bit old. The illustrations are amazing and the stories are just precious (woodland mice in England, can’t beat that, right? :))

    We also love Beatrix Potter and James Herriot.

  31. Going on a Bear Hunt is one of our faves too! We also love all the books by Shirley Hughes. My daughter loves Fancy Nancy books and Ella Bella books too. I personally love everything ever illustrated by Tasha Tudor. And my favorite children’s book of all time is probably “Miss Rumphius” illustrated by Barbara Cooney (also a favorite illustrator).

  32. We have Birdie’s Big Girl Shoes. The illustrations are so sute. I love Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. I also love Jennifer Adams books. She redoes the classics and the graphic designs are great.

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