The Cross Families Favorite Picture Books
This list was compiled for a friend who wanted to know more about “Picture Books” as he was contemplating going to the library and reading to children there.
Following is a list of my families favorite picture books. This is not an all inclusive list of “the best” picture books, it is a list of my families favorites. It is not up to date because I have been “out of the loop” since my youngest is now sixteen and my daughters have lots of degrees, but I have no grandchildren. So, though I know there are new books out there that are also great, I don’t know them well enough to add them to this list. Yet.
This is where my original training is, my Master’s is in Children’s Literature, it is something I love very much. I believe, along with C.S. Lewis, that a good children’s book is a good book, period.
While compiling this list, I had a big pile of books in my family room pulled off of dark shelves and covered with dust. The kids (25,24, 23, 16 years old) went through them, pulling them out of the pile, dusting them off and exclaiming, “OH! I loved this!” or “Oh, lord we read this to Taran two million times!” We have had a couple of ‘read aloud’ sessions already. It was a lovely trip back into the past. Thank you Nils!
I’ve listed them by author’s last name first so that I could alphabetize them, thus making the list easier to use, but then put stars by our very most favorites.
Without Further Ado . . .
The Cross Families Favorite Picture Books.
Ackerman, Karen Song and Dance Man. Knopf, 1988.
Ahlberg, Janet Each Peach Pear Plum. Viking, 1978.
Barrett, Judi Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing. Atheneum, 1970.
Barrett, Judi and Ron Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs Aladdin, 1982 *
Bemelmans, Ludwig Madeline. Simon and Schuster, 1939.
Berger, Barbara Helen Grandfather Twilight Philomel Books, 1988.**
Berger, Barbara Helen When the Sun Rose, Philomel Books, 1989
Berger, Barbara Helen A Lot of Otters, Puffin, 2000
Brown, Margaret Wise Goodnight Moon. Harper, 1947.
Cannon, Janell Stellaluna Harcourt, 1993
Carle, Eric The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Philomel, 1987.
Craig, Helen Angelina Ballerina. C. N. Potter, 1983.
Crews, Donald Freight Train. Greenwillow, 1978.
Degen, Bruce Jamberry Harper & Row 1983
De Rico, Ul The Rainbow Goblins Thames & Hudson; New edition, 1994 ****
DePaola, Tomie Strega Nona Putnam, 1975 *
Dillon, Leo and Diane Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears, Dial, 1976
Eastman, P. D Are You My Mother? Beginner Books, 1960.
Freeman, Don Corduroy, Puffin Books
Gag, Wanda Millions of Cats. Coward-McCann, 1928.
Goble, Paul The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses. Bradbury Press, 1978.**
Gwynne, Fred The King Who Rained, Aladdin, 1988 **
Heller, Ruth A Cache of Jewels and Other Collective Nouns Grosset and Dunlap, 1987
Hill, Eric Where's Spot? Putnam, 1980.
Hoban, Tana Is It Red? Is It Yellow? Is It Blue?: An Adventure in Color. Greenwillow, 1978.
Hoban, Russell Bread and Jam for Frances (All the Frances Books) Harper and Row, 1964.**
Hodges, Margaret Saint George and the Dragon Little Brown, 1990
Johnson, Crockett Harold and the Purple Crayon. Harper and Row,
Joosse, Barbara M. Mama Do You Love Me? Chronicle 1991
Keats, Ezra Jack The Snowy Day. Viking, 1962.
Kennedy, Jimmy The Teddy Bear's Picnic. Simon and Schuster, 1983.
Leaf, Munro The Story of Ferdinand. Viking, 1936.**
Lobel, Arnold and Anita On Market Street HarperTrophy; Reissue edition 1989**
Lobel, Arnold Frog and Toad are Friends. Harper and Row, 1970.**
Lowrey, Janette Sebring The Poky Little Puppy Gustaf Tenggren, illustrator Little Golden Books, 1942 **
Manson, Beverlie The Fairies Alphabet Book (There is a Whole Line of Beverlie Manson Fairie Books) Doubleday, 1982
Martin, Bill Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. Simon and Schuster, 1989. **
Mayer, Mercer There's a Nightmare in My Closet. Dial, 1968.
McCloskey, Robert Blueberries for Sal. McCloskey Viking, 1948
McCloskey, Robert One Morning in Maine, Puffin, 1967
McCloskey, Robert Time of Wonder, Puffin, 1957
McCloskey, Robert Make Way for Ducklings. Viking, 1941.
Munsch, Robert The Paper Bag Princess Annick Press, 1980 ****
Numeroff, Laura If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Illus. by Felicia Bond. HarperCollins, 1985
Parrish, Peggy Amelia Bedelia. HarperCollins, 1992.*
Sendak, Maurice In the Night Kitchen HarperCollins, 1970 **
Sendak, Maurice Where the Wild Things Are. Harper and Row, 1963.**
Seuss, Dr. How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Random House, 1957 *
Seuss, Dr. The Five Hundred Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. Random House, 1948. **
Seuss, Dr. Bartholomew and the Oobleck. Random House, 1949.*
Seuss, Dr. Green Eggs and Ham. Random House, 1960.
Seuss, Dr. The Cat in the Hat. Random House, 1957.
Seuss, Dr. Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! Random House, 1972 **
Sharmat, Marjorie Weinman Nate the Great. Illus. by Marc Simont. Coward, 1972
Silverstein, Shel The Giving Tree, HarperCollins, 1964 ***
Slobodkina, Esphyr Caps for Sale. Harper and Row, 1947.
Small, David Imogene's Antlers. Crown, 1985.
Spier, Peter Rain Doubleday 1982
Steig, William Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. Windmill Books, 1969.
Steptoc, John Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale. Lothrop, 1987
Stevenson, James "Could Be Worse!" HarperTrophy, 1987
Thompson, Kay Eloise. Illus. by Hilary Knight. Simon & Schuster, 1995 (orig. pub. 1955). ********
Van Allsburg, Jumanji Houghton, 1982 **
Van Allsburg, Chris The Polar Express Houghton, 1986 ****
Viorst, Judith Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Atheneum, 1972.*
Waber, Bernard Lyle, Lyle Crocodile. Houghton Mifflin, 1965.
Wells, Rosemary Noisy Nora. Dial, 1997. *
Westcott, Nadine The Lady With the Alligator Purse. Joy Street Books, 1988.
Wick, Walter I Spy: a Book of Picture Riddles. Scholastic, 1992.
Williams, Margery The Velveteen Rabbit Doubleday *
Wood, Audrey The Napping House. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984.
Yolen, Jane Owl Moon illustrated by John Schoenherr; Philomel, 1988
Zelinsky, Paul Rumplestiltskin E.P. Dutton, 1986
Zolotow, Charlotte Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present Pictures by Maurice Sendak, Harper and Row 1962 **
And now a short write up:
My personal favorites:
* Eloise - The loquaciously lovely Eloise, who is six and lives in the Plaza Hotel, whose moto is “getting bored is not allowed”, is a study in self confidence and creative living. She is my hero.
* The Rainbow Goblins - Ul De Rico is a painter of magnificence and this book is one of the most beautiful things you have ever held in your hands. It also sets kids imaginations on fire. I have used it again and again with dance with poetry, with creative writing and art. It is fantastic.
* Bread and Jam for Frances - Asked in a literature class once to list the character in literature we felt we were most like . . . not who we would LIKE to be like, but who we really WERE, I listed Frances. I nearly got thrown out of class. Frances is a Badger, so what? So I’m not Anna Karenina? Frances is intelligent, creative, bratty and obnoxious at times and sings songs in quite good rhyme to herself under the kitchen table.
* The Story of Ferdinand - Done in black and white illustrations, one of my favorite stories from childhood. The story of a bull with a delicate ego, who would rather sniff flowers than fight. Reminds me of a Warrior I know.
* The Paper Bag Princess - This is a must have for every female child on earth. Elizabeth, a beautiful princess, lives in a castle and wears fancy clothes. Just when she is about to marry Prince Ronald, a dragon smashes her castle, burns her clothes with his fiery breath, and prince-naps her dear Ronald. Undaunted and unclad, she dons a large paper bag and sets off to find the dragon and her cherished prince. Once she's tracked down the rascally reptile, she uses her wiles to flatters him allowing her to rescue Prince Ronald. But what does Prince Not-So-Charming say when he sees her? “You smell like ashes, your hair is all tangled and you are wearing a dirty old paper bag. Come back when you are dressed like a real princess.” No spoilers here. Get the book.
* Where the Wild Things Are - Sendak’s book has almost become a cliche. The thing is - it is as good as it is cracked up to be. Maurice Sendak never grew up, he understands childhood from the inside out. This book is MADE for children, by a child. An incredibly talented artist and fabulously creative child, but a child none the less.
* The Five Hundred Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins - It shall be said: Theodor Seuss Geisel was a linguistic genius of the proportions not seen on the earth since William Shakespeare, he was a creative genius completely unrivaled in his field. I wish I owned everything he ever wrote. This happens to be my favorite. I love the characters, love the story, love the hats. I also love the books where he makes up animals - On Beyond Zebra, If I Ran the Circus, If I Ran the Zoo, To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. EVERYTHING he did is fantastic.
* The Polar Express - I didn’t see the movie, I couldn’t stand it. The book is sacred to me. I read it aloud every Christmas Eve. It is the ultimate expression of belief. The bell still rings for me.
* Owl Moon - "It was late one winter night, long past my bedtime, when Pa and I went owling." The absolute magic of simplicity of nature. I have never read this without getting goose bumps.
* Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present - Simple, real, authentic childhood. Charlotte Zolotow and Maurice Sendak are a dynamite combination.
* Grandfather Twilight - Barbara Helen Berger’s lushly colorful paintings are a marvel of light. This simple, symbolic, beautiful little story tells about Grandfather Twilight on his journey to place the moon in the sky.
* The Giving Tree - Will break your heart with beauty. Besides The Giving Tree, I most heartily recommend: Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, Falling Up, which are all books of poetry with drawings. Shel Silverstein is irreverent, naughty, blazingly brilliant, THE children’s poet. The librarian at our school in Virginia was proud to say she didn’t have a single one of his books in the library. I bought the library the entire set. She put them behind the counter and wouldn’t let the children check them out. Oh, so short-sighted, so non-understanding of the fact that he speaks to a child’s soul in words of language and poetry that they then take to be their own.
If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer,
A wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er,
A magic bean buyer …
Come in …
Rest in Peace Shel Silverstein, Poet Laureate of the child-mind, the child-heart, the child-soul.
My children offer their favorites:
* The Pokey Little Puppy. Read out loud, by me, at least six million times, every night for three entire years and at frequent intervals thereafter.
* Saint George and The Dragon
* Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (tremendous rhythm)
* Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! - read out loud, by April, over and over when she had no ‘r’s, with great drama, the beginnings of her acting career.
* On Market Street - Fantastically Funky ABC Book
* Frog and Toad are Friends
* The Rainbow Goblins
* In the Night Kitchen - this book was banned, because the darling child swimming in the milk is nude. What do they want? You swim in the milk in your clothes? Honestly! Lezlie adored this book. I bought it in hardback for her when I could hardly afford bread.
* The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses - beautiful illustrations (the girl still loves horses)
* The Rainbow Goblins
* The King Who Rained - the most wonderful and wacky book of homophones you ever saw.
* Blueberries for Sal