Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Peter Rabbit was published in 1902 to immediate success. Peter Rabbit was Potter's first of many The Tale of..., including The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, The Tale of Tom Kitten, and The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck, to name but a few which were published in the years leading up to 1910. Swedish author Elsa Beskow wrote and illustrated some 40 children's stories and picture books between 1897–1952. Andrew Lang's twelve Fairy Books published between 1889 and 1910 were illustrated by among others Henry J. Ford and Lancelot Speed.
From picture books to graphic novels, fantasy to family fun, these must-read books have the power to hook both boys and girls. Some are cultural touchstones that belong in every kid's library. Others open kids' minds to cultures beyond their own. And some are modern releases that have the timeless quality of classics -- the kinds that get handed down to siblings and passed around classrooms. Whether you have a reluctant reader or budding bookworm, check out these surefire, kid-tested titles. (We've included a few rated best for 12 and up for the precocious readers out there!)
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.
Every child loves to hear stories of another child, even if that other child happens to be a little pig named Olivia. Precocious and energetic, Olivia has a way of wearing her mother out. Each night as her mother puts Olivia to bed, she tells her that she loves her- even though she wears her out. With a message of parental love and devotion, as well as a child who is being their naturally curious and active self, this story will touch your heart, and may become one of your family’s favorite children’s books ever. Ian Falconer has brought together reality and fantasy in a way that will touch your heart and give you a laugh.
Rescue thought he’d grow up to be a Seeing Eye dog — it’s the family business, after all. When he gets the news that he’s better suited to being a service dog, he’s worried that he’s not up to the task. Then he meets Jessica, a girl whose life is turning out differently than the way she’d imagined it, too. Now Jessica needs Rescue by her side to help her accomplish everyday tasks. And it turns out that Rescue can help Jessica see after all: a way forward, together, one step at a time. An endnote from the authors tells more about the training and extraordinary abilities of service dogs, particularly their real-life best friend and black lab, Rescue.
As many parents and children know, bedtime is not usually a child’s favorite time of day. In this delightful tale of a dinosaur at bedtime, there is every excuse not to go to bed, every reaction that most parents have been given by their children at one time or another when bedtime rolls around, and it’s all done in a humorous and silly way. Human moms and dads, trying to put their huge dinosaur children to bed make this story one that will give you and your children lots of laughs, and bring home the point of making bedtime easier and more loving. Hugs and kisses, and saying a happy ‘goodnight’ wins out, even with dinosaurs.
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Classic Picture Books: Often, when you see lists of recommended picture books, you'll see a separate category of books titled "Classic Children's Picture Books." What's a classic? Typically, a classic is a book that has remained popular and accessible for more than one generation. A few of the best-known and best-loved English language picture books include Harold and the Purple Crayon, written and illustrated by Crockett Johnson, The Little House and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, both written and illustrated by Virginia Lee Burton and by Margaret Wise Brown, with illustrations by Clement Hurd.
The wumps live in a world that is much smaller than ours. As a matter of fact, their world is also more peaceful than ours. The wumps just wander wherever they please, because they have no enemies, and nobody will try to harm them. But one thing they don’t know is that they are being watched by someone. This charming story by Bill Peet will entertain you and your children, and give you some more tools for your own imagination to think about. Reading together has never been more fun, than it is when you are reading about wumps and their special world.
One way to know your day is going to be bad is waking up with gum in your hair. Alexander finds himself seeing more and more problems as the day goes on. From the gum in his hair to dropping his sweater in the sink to tripping on his skateboard, he finds himself in the midst of one of the worst days ever. Judith Viorst and Ray Cruz tell this tale of a little boy and all the things that go wrong for him both in story and in pictures in a way that will make you sympathetic for this little boy and how his day is going and appreciate life as it goes well. Children and adults alike will love this tale of a boy, his bad day, and the hilarity that comes with the story. Bad days happen to everyone. Sharing a funny story about a bad day will help learn to see the humor in life even when things don’t go right.
Amos McGee is a kind, friendly older gentleman who works at the zoo. Each day he finds time to spend with his five special animal friends: the elephant, penguin, rhino, owl, and tortoise. Until one day, when Mr. McGee is too sick to make it to work. After waiting patiently, his friends decide to hop on the bus and visit him. Each animal finds their own unique way to help make Amos feel better, whether it’s playing chess with him or keeping his feet warm. This is one of the best children’s books for teaching kids the importance of compassion and taking care of one another.

Between 1957 and 1960 Harper & Brothers published a series of sixteen "I Can Read" books. Little Bear was the first of the series. Written by Else Holmelund Minarik and illustrated by a then relatively unknown Maurice Sendak, the two collaborated on three other "I Can Read" books over the next three years. From 1958 to 1960, Syd Hoff wrote and illustrated four "I Can Read" books: Danny and the Dinosaur, Sammy The Seal, Julius, and Oliver.
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.
Dr. Seuss has brought many winning books to the world of reading, and this is another to add to the list. Not only is it a simple story that is fun to read, as all Seuss books are, but it is also very helpful in teaching kids to read. The words are simple and the phrases have a lot of word play, such as rhyming. The wild illustrations are fitting with traditional Seuss style, and will keep you looking with wonder as you turn each page. Sharing this story with children of any age will be something to treasure as they grow up.

Every year on the night before my sons’ birthdays, I read them the same picture book. My older son’s is “Someday” by Alison McGhee and my younger son’s is “Love” by Matt de la Pena. I read “Dear Girl” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal earlier this year and plan to have that as the birthday eve book for my niece, who will be three in July. It’s such an amazing book.
Isn't it just important to get books into the hands of children?  Any old book will do? Definitely not!  While fantastic children's books can spark a love of reading and learning, average or boring books can, sadly, have the opposite effect. Children who are repeatedly exposed to uninspired children's books eventually find reading, well, uninspiring. Quality matters! Picking the best children's books matters!  Few things can generate more excitement about a subject than a clever, thought-provoking, beautifully illustrated children's book. Let us help you find books to create that spark.
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