A while ago I posted our favorite board books, and today I’m finally getting around to sharing our favorite picture books. This list is by no means exhaustive, and we’re constantly discovering new books and cycling through favorites, but these are a few that have stuck.
Here are two things you should know about my taste in picture books. I judge a book by its illustrations. I believe that the pictures are as integral as words to a child understanding the story as we read, and also that good illustrations are important because they can help cultivate an appreciation for art in children from an early age. If I don’t like the illustrations, it ruins the book for me. Second, I look for just the right word-to-picture ratio. If there are too many words per page I find my kids get bored and I get bored. A great author can tell a great story with a few well chosen words.
Bug in a Vacuum by Melanie Watt
This book is delightful, both for an adult reader, and for a child. Its about a bug who get sucked up into a vacuum and goes through the 5 stages of grief in dealing with his new life circumstances. Clever with fun illustrations, I haven’t gotten sick of reading this one yet.
How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers
Or any book by Oliver Jeffers, he’s one of my favorite children’s authors. Our favorite have to be the 4 books he’s done with this little boy: Lost and Found, The Way Back Home, and Up and Down. I chose to feature this one because it was our first Jeffers, and perhaps the one that holds the dearest spot in our hearts.
Star Wars ABC
This book was a gift from a friend at Porter’s baby shower, and it is one of the most loved books on our shelf. Both boys love this one, and Porter has it practically memorized. I’ve gotten a little sick of it, but my boys never tire.
Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson
This is a fun interactive book. On each page the child is asked to do something like shake the book to make the leaves fall, blow on them to make the wind blow them away, etc. My kids love it and its a great way to talk about the changing seasons as we watch the tree in the book change.
Lovabye Dragon by Barbara Joose
This is such a fun one to read aloud because of the rhythm and rhyme of the words. Its a sweet story of the friendship that develops between a girl and a dragon.
Mary Engelbreit’s Mother Goose
I love this collection of classic nursery rhymes because I love the illustrations of Mary Engelbreit so much, but my children have also loved this one so much we read and look at it over and over again.
The Journey Trilogy by Aaron Becker (inclues Journey, Quest, and Return)
If you take nothing away from this post, take this book. Go check it out at your library, go buy it, and thank me later. These are just magical. They are my favorite picture books of all time. The illustrations are gorgeous, and the story itself is fantastic. Its a wordless picture book that follows a girl as she discovers a magic marker, draws a door in her bedroom, and walks through to a whole new word where she makes new friends and goes on adventures. I love them so much, I want to live in this world. Seriously, even if you don’t have kids you need this book in your life.
Wyatt in particular is a fan of any of the pea books- he’s also written one about colors and numbers which are equally fun. The illustrations of all the little peas doing all the things are what make these books fun, they are just so enjoyable to look at.
Have You Seen My Dragon by Steve Light (also Have You Seen My Monster)
This book is so much fun. We follow a little boy as he looks all through NYC for his lost dragon. My kids have fun pointing out the dragon on each page, and I appreciate the unique black and white (plus the green dragon) illustrations.
Bow Wow’s Nightmare Neighbors
This is Porter’s very favorite book. Its a Halloween story but can be enjoyed year round, another wordless picture book. Its about some ghost kitties who have the gall to steal Bow Wow’s bed, and what happens when Bow Wow goes after them.
Usborne Look Inside series
I mentioned in my board book favorites post that we love the Usborne lift-the-flap book for toddlers. This series is very similar, but geared for older kids. They are jam packed with fun and colorful illustrations, lots of information without being boring, and flaps within flaps. I’d love to collect more of these, because they are great to read together to learn new things, but also remain engaging as the kids look at them alone.
Your Favorite Suess by Dr. Suess
This collection of 13 Suess books has captured Porter’s imagination. He loves to pour over the illustrations, and they are so much fun to read aloud. This book has been is so popular with Porter that several pages have been taped back together and the spine is falling apart- always a sign of a book well loved.
If you’re interested, I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to children’s books and reading to kids. What are your favorite picture books? Do you have any that you think I’d like?