20 Picture Books That Will Delight Your Children (And That Won’t Annoy You)

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If you share our family’s addiction to books, you might face the same perpetual dilemma of never having enough bookshelves to house the titles that become beloved friends. This list won’t help you with that problem at all. These are some tried and true titles that have passed an important test: we’ve read them hundreds of times to our 3-year-old 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!

1. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

2. Tomie dePaola’s Book of Bible Stories (I can’t get enough of dePaola! Strega Nona is another beloved title at our house.)

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 (We also love The Little House by the same author)

6. Wee Gillis By Munro Leaf (Illustrated by Robert Lawson)

7. Moon Plane by Peter McCarty

8. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey (We also adore Blueberries for Sal.)

9. Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall (Illustrated by Barbara Cooney)

10. Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Jan Brett (Haven’t found a Jan Brett book that I don’t like. The illustrations are always so intricate and stunning. Trouble with Trolls is another classic.)

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 Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

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.)

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Comments

  1. Jane says

    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…

    • Haley says

      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 ;)

    • 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!

  2. says

    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!

    • Haley says

      Not weird, Christy! Benjamin got a collection of the Curious George books as a gift when Lucy was born and he loves them!

    • Haley says

      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 :)

  3. says

    HALEY!!! GIRLFRIEND!!!

    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

  4. Jennifer says

    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!

  5. Callie says

    I would also like to suggest Timothy Basil Ering’s “Frog Belly Rat Bone.”. Stunning artwork, and it’s about urban gardening.

  6. Jody says

    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.

  7. mollymod1 says

    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.

  8. 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. :)

  9. Sara says

    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.

  10. Lisa says

    Anything in the Skippyjon Jones series by Judith Byron Schachner. Also we love the If You Give series by Laura Numeroff and Felica Bond.

  11. Laura says

    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

  12. 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. :)

  13. Pam says

    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.

  14. Sarah says

    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!

  15. Sis says

    Thank you so very much everyone. I love reading to my granddaughter. This list will bring wonderful fun for many hours.

  16. Ashley says

    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 :)

  17. 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.”

  18. Amy says

    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

    • Haley says

      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.

  19. says

    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.

  20. says

    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!!

    • Haley says

      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!

  21. 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

    • Haley says

      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.

  22. Val says

    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
    Silly Sally
    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!)

  23. Sara says

    The Gruffalo & Room on the Broom, both by Julia Donelson are fantastic! Fabulous poetry, fun to read, & good lessons hidden in there.

  24. Nicole says

    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

  25. Sarah says

    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!

  26. 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!

    • Haley says

      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. :)

  27. Jessica says

    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. :-)

  28. Leah says

    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.

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