No child’s room is complete without a budding bookshelf, and we’re here to help you build your little one’s library. From classic to contemporary reads, we’ve brought together 50 of the most unforgettable picture books of all time. Knowing that most children (or babies, even!) receive The Cat in the Hat, Goodnight Moon The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Where the Wild Things Are as shower or birthday gifts, we bypassed those four to make room for a few other delights. (For example: have you ever heard of Fortunately? Well, fortunately, now you have!) Happy shelf-stocking!
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.
Most of the Moomin books by Finnish author Tove Jansson were novels, but several Moomin picture books were also published between 1952 and 1980, like Who Will Comfort Toffle? (1960) and The Dangerous Journey (1977). The Barbapapa series of books by Annette Tison and Talus Taylor was published in France in the 1970s. They feature the shapeshifting pink blob Barbapapa and his numerous colorful children. The Mr. Men series of 40-some books by English author and illustrated Roger Hargreaves started in 1971. The Snowman by Raymond Briggs was published in Britain in 1978 and was entirely wordless. It was made into an Oscar nominated animated cartoon that has been shown every year since on British television.
Ferdinand has been one of the most beloved characters of many children over the last fifty years. He is different than other young bulls. They all love to run, jump, play, and be as rowdy as they can be, but Ferdinand likes the peace and quiet that he finds under his cork tree. Sitting in the shade while the others are out in the hot sun playing and laughing, Ferdinand is quite content. That is until he has a bad experience with a bee. Unfortunately for Ferdinand, the bee sting happens when the rodeo men have come to choose the best young bull to have in a bullfight. Ferdinand, with all of his jumping and snorting from that horrible bee sting, is just what they want. Joining him as he experiences the bullfighting arena and seeing how he handles it will be something to treasure with this fun story.
Audrey Penn is the author of this truly one of a kind story. When little Chester, a young raccoon, is scared to leave his mother and go to school, she gives him something that makes everything alright. She kisses his palm and tells him that the kiss will help make school as warm and nice of a place to be as home is. When Chester begins to feel lonely or scared, he presses his hand to his chest and feels the warmth of his mother’s kiss in his heart. This is one sentimental and heartwarming story that will help even the youngest child deal with changes they have to go through.
This is a marvelous children's book. I have always loved children's literature, so have read a lot of it, from many ages. Rarely have I come across one done in such a thoughtful manner as this one. When I finished it the first time, I really stopped to ponder what else in my world am I missing out on, just because I haven't taken the time to stop and think about one idea in different contexts.
Janell Cannon tells the story of a little fruit bat named Stellaluna. This little one gets separated from her mother and is found and taken care of by a mama bird. The mama bird insists that Stellaluna do everything the way ordinary birds do, which is totally different than the way bats do things. When Stellaluna can finally fly, and actually ends up finding her mother, she is told that what she feels is the right way to do things are her natural instincts, and that she should follow them. She is very relieved to be able to do all the things bats naturally do once again. Sharing this story will teach you and your children about how bats look, live, and are different from birds.
There is nothing like reading and sharing a story that is educational, interactive, and funny, all at the same time. Robin Page and Steve Jenkins have created such a story with this factual and entertaining book. Learning together about the different body parts of animals and what they do will even teach the most educated adults some things they didn’t know. For instance, a cricket’s ears are located on his knees. Learning fun facts makes for a fun time for all. Eyes, ears, tails, legs, mouths, and noses, will all be something that you and your children may be surprised at when you learn some of the functions different animals have for them.
100 Great Children’s Books has been published on the occasion of The New York Public Library’s acclaimed exhibition The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter, on view at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. The list was selected by The New York Public Library’s Jeanne Lamb, Coordinator, Youth Collections, and Elizabeth Bird, Supervising Librarian.