This Super Page contains a growing list of our favorite classic children’s picture books!
We have thousands of kids books in our house. This page is a collection of children’s picture books—classic stories, award-winning books and Economides kids’ favorites . . . you know, those books that kids want you to read over and over again.
Amelia Bedelia – Peggy Parish and Herman Parish
Peggy Parish was a third-grade teacher and wrote her first Amelia Bedelia book in 1966. It was so well received that she wrote 11 additional titles. After she died in 1988, the letters from children kept coming, asking when the next Amelia book would be published. Many authors wanted to pick up the series, but her nephew, Herman Parish, decided to keep Amelia Bedelia in the family. Before writing his first book, he re-read all the previous books to discover what made them so charming. His first installment was Good Driving, Amelia Bedelia, which carries on the bumbling, but
Before writing his first book, he re-read all the previous books to discover what made them so charming. His first installment was Good Driving, Amelia Bedelia, which carries on the bumbling, but good-natured tradition that his aunt started almost 40 years ago. He has since written 5 additions to the series. See all of the Amelia Bedelia Books here
Frog & Toad Series – Arnold Lobel
Frog and Toad books are long time classics that our kids loved.
As a young boy, author Arnold Lobel was not very healthy. He missed many days of school from kindergarten through second grade. Upon returning to school in third grade he started drawing pictures for his classmates while telling them stories. It was a good way to make friends.
Friendship through all kinds of trials is the theme of the Frog and Toad series. These wonderful stories about undying friendship are so delightfully written and illustrated that we’ve laughed out loud at some of the predicaments the friends find themselves in. Their adventures include sharing an ice cream cone, raking leaves in each other’s front yard and searching for a lost button.
Lobel authored four books in the Frog and Toad series and at least eight other children’s books.
Harold and the Purple Crayon
A Picture for Harold’s Room – Crockett Johnson
Harold and the Purple Crayon and A Picture for Harold’s Room are fun and classic kids books. Harold and the Purple Crayon is hilarious . . . All Harold needs for fun is his purple crayon and his imagination. He draws a tree he can climb, then a dragon, ocean, boat, hot air balloon, apartment and finally his own bed where he drops off to sleep.
A Picture for Harold’s Room starts with Harold drawing a miniature countryside where he is a giant. As he continues, the things he draws get larger and larger and he gets smaller and smaller. Finally, he once again draws his own room and draws up his covers. These were fun and often requested stories when our kids were younger.
Katy and the Big Snow is the story of a town rescued from a terrible snow storm by Katy the Snow Plow. This story shows how the highway department prioritizes road clearing duties to allow the townspeople to do their jobs. The story is based on the Gloucester Highway Department where Virginia Lee Burton lived.
This is one of our all-time favorite books and is full of terrific illustrations. We love it and our kids love it!
Mike and his trusty steam shovel, Mary Anne have important work to do. They dig canals, cellars for city skyscrapers and cut passes through mountains. It is the history of steam shovels, industrial growth and how trusty equipment eventually becomes obsolete. Their final challenge is to prove that together they can dig as much in one day as one hundred men can dig in a week. They prove that hard work, ingenuity and friendship really do pay off.
The Little House was awarded the Caldecott Medal 1942. It is a charming story about a country house that is slowly encroached upon by a growing city. City life is definitely portrayed as less desirable, at least from the Little House’s perspective. This story is based on Mrs. Burton’s own little house which she moved from a city into “a field of daises with apple trees growing around.” We love reading this book to our kids over and over. Heck, if no one is looking, we love picking it up and reading it to ourselves they are truely classic kids books.
Make Way for the Ducklings
Blueberries for Sal
One Morning in Maine – Robert McCloskey
Two-time Caldecott Medal recipient Robert McCloskey wrote and illustrated some of the most endearing classic children’s books we have ever read.
The books have a timeless quality as they deal with simple themes such as picking berries, loosing a tooth or baby ducklings being hatched. His illustrations are beautifully rendered and capture wonderful expressions of surprise and joy. He uses wonderful rhythmic patterns in his writing that young children enjoy again and again.
To hear an audio interview with Robert McCloskey visit: http://www.hbook.com/1986/07/vhe/listen-in-v/robert-mccloskey-interviewed-by-anita-silvey/
One Morning in Maine is a story about Sal, a young island girl, who goes on a special trip with her dad to Buck’s Harbor. Sal is also the subject of an earlier book by Robert McCloskey; “Blueberries for Sal.”
In one morning in Maine, Sal is a few years older than in the previous book. This particular morning as Sal is brushing her teeth with her younger sister Jane, she discovers that one of her front teeth is loose—it’s her first loose tooth. The story follows her day as she digs clams with her dad in the morning for mom to make clam chowder for lunch, then they take their boat across the harbor to buy milk and groceries, but must row the boat as the outboard motor won’t start. In town, they chat with the mechanic and listen to old fisherman’s jokes and enjoy a tasty ice cream cone. Throughout the day, Sal expresses her concerns about her loose tooth, until unexpectedly it falls out and she swallows it. It is a delightful story about growing a little older and dealing with a new life experience.
We have a young great-nephew who at the age of 5 was moving from Northern California to Maine and he love listening to this story and Blueberries for Sal.
The story is brought to life with McCloskey’s beautiful pencil drawings. This is a book that your kids will love and so will you. It’s an easy read and is a great bedtime story.
Both “Blueberries for Sal” and “One Morning in Maine” are Caldecott Honor Books! Robert McCloskey’s Other Books
These are hilarious children’s picture books with almost no words at all. The Christmas book shows every step of Christmas from baking, wrapping presents, trimming the tree, decorating with lights, stores with shoppers and then the kitchen at the end of Christmas day and the Christmas tree lot at the end of the season. Each time you “read” the book you’ll make new discoveries as you scan the illustrations.
Peter Spier was born in The Netherlands in 1927. His drawing ability was greatly influenced by his father who was a journalist and illustrator. At age eighteen he decided to attend an art school in Amsterdam in hopes of making a career for himself in art. Later he moved to New York where he began illustrating children’s books. In 1953 he illustrated his first book, Cocoa by Margaret Otto. He has illustrated over 150 books for other authors. In 1961 he wrote and illustrated The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night. Since that time, he has written and illustrated more than fourteen children’s books of his own.
Other titles include:
- The Book of Jonah;
- Erie Canal;
- Big Trucks,
- Little Trucks;
- Fast Cars, Slow Cars;
- Here come the Fire Trucks;
- Trucks that Dig and Dump;
- Island City – Adventures in Old New York;
- Star-Spangled Banner;
- Bill’s Service Station;
- Food Market;
- My School;
- The Pet Store;
- The Toy Shop; and
- We the People – The Constitution of the United States.
Peter Spier and his wife live on Long Island where he continues to write.
Stan and Jan Berenstain, and now son Leo have authored more than 50 best-selling books that teach kids everything from counting your blessings to dealing with bullies and many other childhood issues.
“The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room” is a book about Brother and Sister Bear sharing a room, while arguing about who should clean it up. Mama Bear is distressed by the mess but comes up with a clever solution to teach the cubs about organization and cooperation. A great lesson for young children to grasp.
The other Berenstain Bear books teach great lessons too (there are just a couple of lines in some books that don’t fit with our family’s views). But overall they are a solid choice for teaching values to kids. While these books may not be “classics” in the sense of being multi-generational favorite, they are great kids books.
The Giving Tree – Shel Silverstein
The Giving Tree is a true classic of children’s literature. It portrays the life of an apple tree who chooses to give herself completely to a young boy.
Starting first with apples and branches to climb, the tree sacrifices more of itself as the boy’s needs increase. Ultimately the tree gives itself completely, to be cut down to build a home for the boy. In the end, the boy has grown to an old man and the tree, which is now only a stump, feels as if it has nothing left to give his friend. The old man is weary and only needs a place to rest. Thrilled to be of service to his friend, the tree offers itself as a stump to sit on . . . and the boy is happy.
This is a great story of unselfish love, sacrifice, and charitable giving.
“The Monster at the End of this Book” and “Would You Like to Play Hide & Seek in This Book With Lovable, Furry Old Grover?” are hilarious (for adults and kids) — we mean laugh out loud — especially if someone in your house has mastered imitating Grover’s bouncy and “gurgley” voice. Our kids have absolutely loved these stories from ages 2 through 6 years-old. We’ve read them so many times that the pages are worn out. Basically, each book is a hide and seek game with Grover. He paints himself, hides behind other pages and does other silly things to make himself disappear. There are other Sesame Street characters who help him out too. Very kid friendly and not a bit scary. You can regularly find these at used book and thrift stores
The Tiny Seed
The Hungry Caterpillar
The Very Quiet Cricket
The Very Busy Spider – Eric Carle
The Tiny Seed is an adorable book about the life and transformation of a seed.
It follows the life cycle from a seed blowing in the wind, to falling into the ground during the winter, taking root in the spring and sprouting, emerging into a large sunflower and releasing its seeds to start the cycle once again. There are numerous, colorful illustrations and simple scientific facts about nature, life and the seasons.
All of his books are designed for young children and have vivid colors, simple illustrations, and cute story lines.
His most popular book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar — published in 1968 — has sold over 18 million copies and been translated into more than 30 languages.
In 1967, Eric had been working as a Graphic Designer for more than 15 years. It was then that author Bill Martin, Jr., came to him after seeing an illustration of a red lobster that Eric had created. Bill asked Eric to illustrate the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, a children’s favorite to this day. After that book was published, his career took off.
Here’s a complete listing of Other Books by Eric Carle
By Ray and Sally Cioni
Ray and Sally Cioni have written stories that capture a kids imagination (not to mention adults). The Droodles Storybook of Proverbs is a collection of twelve short, animated stories that focus on character building in kids.
You’ll love the story about Jenny Jingles — a girl who craves the attention of her friends and tries to get it by talking so loudly that no one else can be heard. She learns her lesson one day when she comes down with a sore throat and can’t speak in class. When a commotion arises, all the kids but Jenny are reprimanded by their teacher. Jenny finally gets the attention she craves when the teacher praises her for her good behavior. There are so many good stories in this book, but the one that we love the best is “The Sweetening of Theodore Fudgelug.” This story recounts a candy maker who is trying to make a little more money by cutting the amount of sugar in his recipes. By slowly changing the recipes, none of his customers notice . . . that is until Sugarlips Murphy comes by for his favorite chocolate bar. Sugarlips has been sick for a few weeks and missed all of the slow changes. You’ll have to get a copy of this book to see his reaction!
The illustrations are imaginative, colorful and very well done — almost as good as Dr. Seuss. The stories cover a wide range of issues including the danger of pride; the importance of listening to parents: the advantages of holding your tongue; how to diffuse an argument; how to be a real friend; the value of picking good friends; what happens when we’re kind to the poor; listening to the input of others; the danger of gossip; how greed can lead you astray; and where true beauty comes from. Each story has a related bible verse from the book of proverbs accompanying it. Even if the bible isn’t standard fare at your house, you’ll find this book to be a great resource for teaching your kids about character. The book is out of print but can be found on Half.com, Ebay, and Amazon.com. It is popular, so don’t be shocked by some of the prices. If you’re patient you can find a lower price but you won’t find a more enjoyable book to read aloud to your kids.
Mr. Yowder the Sign Painter Series
Written by Glen Rounds
The Mr. Yowder series of kids picture books is fun and fascinating. Our kids loved hearing these stories over and over again. And just recently we read the story to a 90-year-old great-grandmother who’s father was a sign painter. She smiled and laughed at her memories of traveling around the country with her father who painted murals on the sides of barns.
His name is Mr. Xenon Zebulon Yowder and he is a sign painter who travels around the country trading his craft for room and board.He’s a crusty old fellow who gets himself involved in some pretty hilarious predicaments. There are four books in the Mr. Yowder series. Glen Rounds has a wonderful backwoods way of writing, weaving each story with his dry sense of humor and some really unexpected twists. The first time Annette read one of these books aloud to the kids she was laughing so hard, she had tears streaming down her cheeks. Titles in the series include:
- Mr. Yowder and the Train Robbers;
- Mr. Yowder and the Steamboat (which he ends up piloting through Manhattan);
- Mr. Yowder and the Giant Bull Snake; and our favorite,
- Mr. Yowder and the Lion Roar Capsules.
Glen Rounds was born in a sod house and grew up in the Badlands of South Dakota. Later his family moved to a horse ranch in Montana. He has written or illustrated over 150 books including tall tales, narratives of life in the old west and nature books. He studied painting and drawing at the Art Institute in Kansas City.
Gallop Off and Go
Gallop Off and Go is a cute classic kids story about Charlotte, a spoiled girl who always gets what she wants. That is until she goes to Miss Gallopoff’s riding school. at Miss Gallopoff’s school Charlotte discovers a horse with a will to match her own and finds out that she can’t always have life her own way. This was one of Becky’s (our oldest daughter) favorite books when she was a youngster. Anyone who likes horses will love reading this book over and over! This book is out of print, so if you can’t find it on Amazon, try Half.com.
Be Nice to Spiders
Our kids loved the book Be Nice to Spiders (and so did we). Two-time Caldecott Honor winner Margaret Bloy Graham writes and illustrates these delightful stories for young children.
Be Nice to Spiders describes the environmental benefit that spiders provide while weaving a cute story about a zookeeper who wants a nice neat zoo without spider webs. In the end, the zookeeper realizes that spiders are beneficial to the zoo animals.
Benjy and Fifi is a story about the friendship between two dogs, a dog show and how Benjy saves Fifi’s life. It’s a fun and often requested story for younger listeners.
In addition to writing the previous books, Margaret Graham illustrated the Harry the Dog series (written by Gene Zion). The Harry books talk about various days in the life of a white dog with black spots. Harry hates taking a bath, despises wearing a rose-designed doggie sweater, can’t stand the operatic singing of the lady next door and gets lost at the beach.
Something Queer on Vacation
Something Queer on Vacation is a fun book to read especially if you’re planning a vacation to the beach. Gwen and Jill are best friends and love to hang out together. They take a trip to the beach with Gwen’s dog, Fletcher and her sister Nan. The story centers around a sand castle building contest that the girls enter. Unfortunately every time they build a sand castle, someone sabotages their efforts. Frustrated, they spy to catch the “creep” and work to solve the mystery.
The illustrations are wonderful and full of new details to discover with each reading. There are nine titles in this series and each one involves a mystery that the girls have to solve. Our kids loved to have these stories read to them over and over again.
Other titles include: Something Queer at the Birthday Party; Something Queer at the Lemonade Stand; Something Queer at the Haunted School; Something Queer in Outer Space; Something Queer in Rock and Roll; Something Queer in the Cafeteria; Something Queer in the Wild West; and Something Queer is Going On.
Buford the Little Bighorn; Smokey; Zella, Zack and Zodiac
Bill Peet is a phenomenal story teller. Annette randomly picked up a couple of his books at the library when the kids were younger. The first time she read them out loud, she was convulsed with laughter! And of course, the kids laughed twice as hard because they were amused with the book and even more amused to see tears streaming down mom’s cheeks. The illustrations are excellent. If you choose these books for younger children just be sure to preview each one as there are a couple that have some cartoonish monsters, witches or other odd creatures. Most of his books are safe and fine to read to all ages and are very enjoyable.
McBroom Family Series
The McBroom series of books is full of tall tales and is a lot of fun to read. WillJillHesterChesterPeterPollyTimTomMaryLarry and Little Clorinda! – try saying that three times fast. If you read these books to your younger kids, you’ll become quite proficient at this phrase. So much so, that it will enter unexpectedly into daily conversation and you’ll wonder about your sanity.
This series of books is a laughable delight as the extremely large McBroom family—with eleven kids—comes to live on their fantastic one-acre farm. Now, Josh McBroom, the father, is as trustworthy as . . . well, to put it in his words, “I’d just as soon live in a tree as tamper with the truth.” He narrates the stories about their family and farm with the incredibly rich top soil – so rich that crops could be planted and harvested in the same day. Just about anything would grow in that soil, “why just yesterday our oldest boy dropped a five-cent piece and before he could find it that nickel had grown to a quarter.”
You’ll giggle and marvel as the family fights off a jealous neighbor, deals with an invasion of grasshoppers and chases down a twister that runs off with their valuable topsoil. Young children will request these stories over and over again.
There are 10 stories in the series which includes:
- McBroom tells the truth;
- McBroom Tells a Lie;
- McBroom and the Beanstalk;
- McBroom’s Ear;
- McBroom and the big wind;
- McBroom’s Zoo.
Sid Fleischman has authored over 35 books and was awarded the Newberry Medal for The Whipping Boy in 1987.
For more information on Sid, visit www.sidfleischman.com.
Mr. And Mrs. Button’s Wonderful Watchdogs
Mr. And Mrs. Button’s Wonderful Watchdogsis a hilarious story about a couple who purchase dog after dog in an attempt to find the perfect watchdog to protect their home. Even though each dog they purchase is larger than the previous one, not one of them live up to their fierce reputation of being a vigilant watchdog. In the end, the dogs’ fierceness doesn’t really matter. When a robber does enter the house, the dogs spring to action and save the day—but not in the way you would think. This is a laugh out loud, hilarious book. Our kids have begged us to read and re-read it for them all through their younger years.
Monkey’s Marching Band
Monkey’s Marching Band is a fun little book that our kids loved reading over and over. It is the story of Monkey and how he wanted to play in a marching band. One day he walks out into his neighborhood and starts beating his big bass drum and marching to its beat. One by one other animal friends bring out their instruments and play along until they have a full marching band. There is an interactive aspect to this book that makes it especially fun. On each page, the child is instructed to find a playing card (provided with the book) with a picture of the specific instrument described on the page. Each card is laid on a paper grid. Once all of the cards are put in the right order on the sheet, the child flips them over to reveal a secret picture. Our copy of the book is quite worn — yours will be too!
This book is out of print, so it may be hard to find. If Amazon doesn’t have it, try Ebay.
This book series introduces young readers to a girl named Cam (short for Camera).
Cam Jansen has a photographic memory, “click” and she’s got the image permanently etched in her memory. She solves mysteries of all kinds using deductive reasoning and or course her photographic memory. The intriguing mysteries include stolen diamonds, missing gold coins, lost baseballs, disappearing dinosaur bones and a booby-trapped movie theater. With the help of her friends, Cam always comes out on top.
Check out all of the Cam Jansen books here.
A Time to Keep – The Tasha Tudor Book of Holidays
A Time to Keep is a delightful book for young children with elaborate pictures on every page. Each month is profiled with family traditions ranging from celebrating Valentine’s Day, Washington’s birthday, a maple gathering and sugaring off party, Mayday and a maypole, garden planting, the Fourth of July, the state fair, Thanksgiving, St. Nicholas’ birthday and finally, Christmas. It is truly amazing how much time was invested in traditions a century ago. One of the most remarkable celebrations shared is when a child’s birthday cake comes floating down the river.
This book will help children grasp the calendar year and will encourage adults to look for new ways to celebrate each month and season.
If you know of any classic kids books that should be included on this page, please leave a comment below and we’ll review it.