Most of the information on this site is free for you to read, watch or listen to, but The Creative Penn is also a business and my livelihood. So please expect hyperlinks to be affiliate links in many cases, when I receive a small percentage of sales if you wish to purchase. I only recommend tools, books and services that I either use or people I know personally. Integrity and authenticity continue to be of the highest importance to me. Read the privacy policy here. Read the Cookie policy here. I hope you find the site useful! Thanks - Joanna
Thank you for the wonderful list! I’ve been teaching elementary learning support for 16+ years, and there are 2-3 books in particular I find myself reading over and over and over . . . The kids can’t get enough of them – Taxi Dog” and “The Baby Beebee Bird!” Thankfully, I adore these books too! Oh – and can’t forget “Room on the Broom;” it’s a favorite all year long! 🙂
For my needs I recently created - Best Popular Picture Books on Goodreads with pretty limited criteria - that is 5000 ratings and shelved at least 500 times as "picture book". Sure it won't be as long as this list - and if people ever start voting on it, I'll probably end up doing a lot of deletion. But it will always be a good starting place for picture books.
Watty Piper and Loren Long brought us this inspiring story of a little train engine many years ago and it is still inspiring and encouraging millions of people, children and adults alike. When the little train gets stuck at the bottom of a hill, the little engine keeps his focus, and keeps telling himself “I think I can, I think I can” until eventually he makes it to the top of the hill. The message this leaves the reader with is one of how important it is to be determined, persevere, and never stop trying. One of the most inspirational children’s books ever, this one is a classic.

Bianca Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review. She is a reader, reviewer, mother and children’s book lover. She also has a decade’s worth of experience working with children in the great outdoors. Combined with her love of books and experience as a children’s specialist bookseller, the goal is to share her passion for children’s literature to grow readers. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, she now lives with her husband and three children near Boulder, Colorado.
This is the delightful tale of a young boy and his struggle with believing in Santa Claus. When he goes to bed on Christmas Eve, he is sure there is no such thing as Santa. Much to his surprise, a train pulls up in front of his house to take him to the North Pole. Along with other children, he experiences the reality of Santa and Christmas, and is brought to the obvious conclusion that he was wrong. Adventurous, heartwarming, and fun to read alone or to share, this is one of those childrens books that is sure to be treasured for many years.
Watty Piper and Loren Long brought us this inspiring story of a little train engine many years ago and it is still inspiring and encouraging millions of people, children and adults alike. When the little train gets stuck at the bottom of a hill, the little engine keeps his focus, and keeps telling himself “I think I can, I think I can” until eventually he makes it to the top of the hill. The message this leaves the reader with is one of how important it is to be determined, persevere, and never stop trying. One of the most inspirational children’s books ever, this one is a classic.
Two bored children sitting in the window with nothing to do, and mother has gone out for the day. Oh, no, here comes the cat in the hat, and he is full of mischief and unwelcome surprises. It’s a good thing Dr. Seuss knows just how to make him clean up his messes in this fun story that will keep you and your children coming back for more. In classic Seuss style, with all the humor anyone could want, you will see the tricks that the cat has up his sleeve, and the results that follow. When mother is coming home, the clean up must be extremely fast, and thing one and thing two are just the ones to handle it. Cat, hat, and things, all make this story one to treasure.
Japanese author and illustrator Mitsumasa Anno has published a number of picture books beginning in 1968 with Mysterious Pictures. In his "Journey" books a tiny character travels through depictions of the culture of various countries. Everyone Poops was first published in Japan in 1977, written and illustrated by the prolific children's author Tarō Gomi. It has been translated into several languages. Australian author Margaret Wild has written more than 40 books since 1984 and won several awards. In 1987 the first book was published in the Where's Wally? (known as Where's Waldo? in the United States and Canada) series by the British illustrator Martin Handford. The books were translated into many languages and the franchise also spawned a TV series, a comic strip and a series of video games. Since 1989 over 20 books have been created in the Elmer the Patchwork Elephant series by the British author David McKee. They have been translated in 40 languages and adapted into a children's TV series.
Erica Silverman is the author of several books including "BiErica Silverman is the author of several books including "Big Pumpkin;""When the Chickens Went on Strike", which was a Sg Pumpkin;""When the Chickens Went on Strike", which was a Sydney Taylor Honor book; and "Sholom's Treasure", which won ydney Taylor Honor book; and "Sholom's Treasure", which won the Sydney Taylor Award and was a runner-up for the Nationalthe Sydney Taylor Award and was a runner-up for the National Jewish Book Award.

Erica Silverman is the author of several books including "BiErica Silverman is the author of several books including "Big Pumpkin;""When the Chickens Went on Strike", which was a Sg Pumpkin;""When the Chickens Went on Strike", which was a Sydney Taylor Honor book; and "Sholom's Treasure", which won ydney Taylor Honor book; and "Sholom's Treasure", which won the Sydney Taylor Award and was a runner-up for the Nationalthe Sydney Taylor Award and was a runner-up for the National Jewish Book Award.
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.
Oh, Harry! He hates baths so much that he’s willing to run away from his beloved family for a romp through construction sites and coal chutes until he’s no longer a white dog with black spots, but a black dog with white spots. When Harry finds himself unrecognizable to his loved ones, he learns that being clean might not be so bad after all. A book that will make anyone sit up and beg for another reading.
In this magnificent visual and literary masterpiece, a young Native Canadian boy, who longs to see the Atlantic Ocean, carves a tiny boat and figurine from wood and sets them on a journey both dangerous and delightful through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. Full of adventure, geography, and natural wonders, Paddle to the Sea belongs in every home.
This charming tale by Audrey Wood and Don Wood will make a wonderful bedtime or anytime story to share. Everyone in the house is napping. Everyone, that is, except one little flea. What happens when the flea decides to bite a mouse? Well, that’s when the real fun begins. Written in a flowing rhythm and rhyme, this story will be fun to read aloud and share with your children. Fun, silly, and imaginative, this is a story that will become a family favorite to share time and time again. Join Granny, the young child, the dog, the cat, and the very wakeful flea, for an afternoon of napping- or not.
Each year a committee of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) identifies the best of the best in children's books. According to the Notables Criteria, "notable" is defined as: Worthy of note or notice, important, distinguished, outstanding. As applied to children's books, notable should be thought to include books of especially commendable quality, books that exhibit venturesome creativity, and books of fiction, information, poetry and pictures for all age levels (birth through age 14) that reflect and encourage children's interests in exemplary ways.
What better way to teach babies and toddlers where each body part is than with a game and a book? Karen Katz has created one of the most interactive and teachable peek-a-boo type of stories that will help you as you and baby have fun learning. It is one of the best children’s books. Finding the belly button, the eyes, and other parts of baby’s anatomy will be exciting and fun as you make a story into a game. Interacting with the baby and the story will be one of the easiest ways to teach simple concepts. Play time, nap time, any time, this story will keep you and baby having fun for a long time
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.
The German children's books Struwwelpeter (literally "Shaggy-Peter") from 1845 by Heinrich Hoffmann, and Max and Moritz from 1865 by Wilhelm Busch, were among the earliest examples of modern picturebook design. Collections of Fairy tales from early nineteenth century, like those by the Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen were sparsely illustrated, but beginning in the middle of the century, collections were published with images by illustrators like Gustave Doré, Fedor Flinzer, George Cruikshank,[6] Vilhelm Pedersen, Ivan Bilibin and John Bauer. Andrew Lang's twelve Fairy Books published between 1889 and 1910 were illustrated by among others Henry J. Ford and Lancelot Speed. Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, illustrated by John Tenniel in 1866 was one of the first highly successful entertainment books for children.
In 1937, Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel), at the time a successful graphic artist and humorist, published his first book for children, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. It was immediately successful, and Seuss followed up with The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins in 1938, followed by The King's Stilts in 1939, and Horton Hatches the Egg in 1940, all published by Random House. From 1947 to 1956 Seuss had twelve children's picture books published. Dr. Seuss created The Cat in the Hat in reaction to a Life magazine article by John Hersey in lamenting the unrealistic children in school primers books. Seuss rigidly limited himself to a small set of words from an elementary school vocabulary list, then crafted a story based upon two randomly selected words—cat and hat. Up until the mid-1950s, there was a degree of separation between illustrated educational books and illustrated picture books. That changed with The Cat in the Hat in 1957.
Dr. Seuss is as silly as ever with this classic that will have you and your children enjoying reading and rhyming more than ever. From flying a kite in bed, to walking around with ten cats on your head to counting and seeing new kinds of fish and creatures, you will not be disappointed. One of the most exciting things about reading a Dr. Seuss book is the never ending temptation to read it as fast as you can. With this story, you will have the rhythm and rhyme rolling off your tongue as you share it with your children. Before long they will be reading it with you. This is an easy to read book with words that are simple, and it will lead the way to reading aloud.
We literally have hundreds of topical book lists -- some on educational topics, others just fun lists. Just click the link to see the master list. And if you don't see the list you need, let us know. We love kids books so we're always happy to research new lists. :)  And, in addition to listing the best children's books by topic (above), we also sell quality used children's book, both individually and in sets (by reading level or grade level, or subject.)  Each set was put together by teachers. All of our used books are in good condition, showing light use. Occasionally there's a small amount of writing on the inside cover (previous owner's name/inscription). These books are a great deal--often 50% off retail!
×