This Caldecott Medal winner is a tale about a man named Joseph, who absolutely loves his overcoat. He loves it so much, that when it wears out, he makes it into a jacket. When the jacket wears out, well, you will have to read the book to find out, but Joseph is quite creative in saving at least a part of the overcoat to make other things that he can use and enjoy. The story is taken from a Yiddish song and contains many rhythms throughout it. Fun to share and humorous in ways you may not expect, this is one worth reading more than once.
Cassie Louise Lightfoot wishes to freely go wherever she wants in life, and one night, on the tar roof of her Harlem apartment building, her dream comes true. She flies over Manhattan and claims the buildings as her own, imagining a different future for her and her family. A story of courage and hope, Tar Beach melds African American history with young literature.
This bright, bold, biology book of sorts has entertained and educated kids and parents for decades. Maybe it’s the array of images of animals and people going about their business (pun intended) that delights. Or maybe it’s the unapologetic honesty of the text that readers find refreshing and fun. Whatever the case, this classic that brings new meaning to the term “potty humor” belongs in every young library!

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We have a wide range of ages in our family, from toddler to grade-schooler – and a healthy variety of reading tastes, too. And so I can’t guarantee that every kid will love every book on these lists of the best picture books, but I can tell you that every one of these books wowed my test audience of three very different kids, plus me and my husband. I’m also pretty annoying about telling friends and family to give these books as birthday and holiday and “just because” presents, and every single time they report back: Everyone loved the book! The kid and the parents.
This beautifully conceived book tells the story of a little brown rabbit who desperately wants to become the Easter Bunny, but is repeatedly scorned by the elite, city rabbits who live in fine houses. Eventually, after raising twenty-one bunnies of her own, the brown rabbit achieves her greatest dream. A story of doggedness and grace, with an underlying message of feminism and anti-racism.

The poor bear can’t find his hat – and he wants it back! He sets off on a journey to ask every animal he finds if they’ve seen his precious hat. The animals all say no, they have not seen his hat – in increasingly elaborate ways. Just when the bear is ready to give up, a friendly deer bounds along and asks an intriguing question that gets the bear on the right track. This is a book that’s told entirely in dialogue, and is a new twist on the classic repetitive tale. Visual humor and clever illustrations abound.

This classic tale of one of the most traditionally beloved toys every child has, a teddy bear, is heartwarming. Corduroy is a little bear who wears green overalls. As he sits and waits for someone to buy him off the store shelf, there is also a little girl who is searching for a special toy to be more than just an ordinary toy; she wants a toy that will also be her friend. When you read the story of Corduroy and his new owner, not only will you be sharing a touching story with your children, but you will also be taken back to yesterday, simpler times, and loving a toy of your own.


Creating stories for the youngest book-lover is not child's play. The best books have similar traits. Life-affirming messages pitched appropriately for this audience, in a way that engages, while bringing out the best in an older reader. When it all comes together the result is a book that transcends age. We feel these are the best of the best. (Many of these are available as "board books.")
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