I’ve begun compiling my lists of books again, as I mentioned in my last post. This post is one of my favorite categories, simply because there are just so many fun picture books. Michael has declared that I need to be more specific in my categorization this time. And because he’s the more organized and detail oriented of our pair, I have quite a few more categories of book lists coming, including but not limited to:
- our kids’ favorite books
- our favorite nonfiction picture books
- short story compilation picture books
- favorite young reader chapter books
- favorite chapter books for pre-adolescent girls
- favorite family read-alouds
- favorite audiobooks
- favorite poetry books
- favorite nature books.
I’ve already done a post on our favorite art book resources, but it was ages ago, and I don’t have proper links or names for some of those books, so I’ll probably update that post and re-post it here as well. I’ve also done posts on our favorite character-training resources, and some of our favorite Christmas books.
Now, “On with the show!” you’re crying! Okay. I’ll move on to bigger and better things.
As with any list, this is not a definitive or exhaustive list of EVERY best book in the world. These are simply some that our family enjoys. If I missed one of your favorite fiction picture books, comment below, and let me know what it is! I’m always looking for more books! Also, because I couldn’t rate by importance, they’re generally speaking in alphabetical order.
Disclosure: Some of the links I provide below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Our Family’s Favorite Fiction Picture Books
Anatole by Eve Titus (illus. Paul Galdone), Anatole and the Cat by the same
Anatole is a mouse in France who becomes discouraged when he overhears a human speaking poorly of mice as thieves, so he becomes determined to work for his living. But how? This delightful tale will enchant youngsters with a mouse’s ingenuity and the happy ending.
In Anatole and the Cat, we again meet with Anatole as he is working for his living. He is one of the most respected workers in his line of business, but he nearly meets with disaster when a cat is loose in his place of employment. He faces his fears and “bells the cat,” in reference to the famous Aesop’s fable.
There are other books in this delightful series, but we have these two and love them dearly.
Andy and the Lion by James Daugherty
A retelling of Androcles and the Lion, this little picture book has captured the heart of my child most obsessed with mythology. Also, James Daugherty’s illustrations are absolutely delightful. As this is a Caldecott Honor book, many libraries have a copy.
Angus Lost by Marjorie Flack (and others in the Angus series)
Angus is a little dog that gets bored of the same house and the same cat and the same surroundings. Through his adventures, he realizes that home really is the best place to be.
Beatrix Potter… (Need I say more?)
Our kids’ favorites of this beloved author are The Tale of The Flopsy Bunnies, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck. We do have a set of the individual titles and a compilation of the entire works of Beatrix Potter. Unfortunately, we’ll likely have to declutter one as we move. And this makes my heart sad because they’ve been so beloved.
Billy and Blaze by C.W. Anderson (most of the series)
Our boys absolutely love this series about a boy and his horse and the adventures they have together. The hand-drawn illustrations are phenomenal. I have heard that there are some less than gracious elements in the ones I HAVEN’T linked below, so that’s why I haven’t included links to some of the other out-of-print books. The ones that I have linked here we have and love.
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey & Make Way for Ducklings
This is one of our perennial springtime favorites. I love to buy blueberries when they’re in season and have a bit of a feast when we’re reading this charming story of a little bear and a little girl who get separated from their mothers and the mix-up that occurs. Our kids love the onomatopoeia of the sound of blueberries hitting a bucket.
Another family favorite is Make Way for Ducklings. Really, anything by Robert McCloskey has been gold for our family, but these two rank at the top. Make Way for Ducklings is a well-known story of a duck family that has to cross a busy street in Boston and the public’s response.
Corduroy by Don Freeman
A true classic. Notably, the family in this family is African American, something rare in older books. This one was published six years after The Snowy Day which was a groundbreaking children’s book in terms of racial depiction. Diversity in literature matters to our family, because representation does indeed matter.
Choo Choo by Virginia Lee Burton and Smokey by Bill Peet
We recently bought another copy of Choo Choo, since our old copy was more tape than book. For little boys and girls who love a good train story, this is a delightful read of a runaway engine. I suppose it’s pretty similar to Bill Peet’s Smokey, in that an engine runs away because they are tired of monotony. I personally prefer Peet’s end to his book, but I like the illustrations of Choo Choo better. My kids like Choo Choo better. It’s a toss-up.
Corgiville Fair by Tasha Tudor
Our family is a bonafide group of Tasha Tudor fans. My first time I read this book aloud to my kids, I genuinely guffawed at several pages. Her dry wit and detailed illustrations bring this imaginary town to life.
The Dangerous Journey by Oliver Hunkin and The Evergreen Wood by Alan & Linda Perry
In our homeschool, we read aloud John Bunyan’s unabridged Pilgrim’s Progress to our oldest. But sometimes our younger kids want to get the “big picture” of the story that their brother is hearing. Our 5-year-old loves The Dangerous Journey as a more literal pictorial version of Pilgrim’s Progress. Our younger kids like The Evergreen Wood, which features mice as the characters and isn’t as “scary.” Both are lengthier picture books and should not be attempted to be read in a single sitting… or you will go hoarse after hearing “just one more page!” so many times. Ask Michael how we learned this lesson. 🙂
Give Us This Day: The Lord’s Prayer and The Lord is My Shepherd: The Twenty-Third Psalm (illus. Tasha Tudor)
In our family, we memorize scripture together. I’ve used these two books to help our littlest learners memorize these two well-loved passages from the Bible. I find that when I flip the pages, even our non-readers can hinge the memory of the verses to the sight of a picture. These books are beautifully illustrated. Of note: the KJV is used.
Goodnight Moon/Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown (illus. Clement Hurd)
Oh, Margaret Wise Brown & Clement Hurd. You’ve stolen our hearts more times than we can count. If you have both books at the same time, have your children find the commonalities between these books. Also, have your children look at the clock progression in Goodnight Moon and find the mouse on every illustration of the whole room. The Runaway Bunny is a poignant illustration of unending love.
I fell in love with Gyo Fujikawa books when I first saw the illustration for Wynken Blinken and Nod.
We promptly bought all of the ones below and some of Gyo Fujikawa’s books, although I wouldn’t recommend the board books, as the “stories” are not very well written. These books below are excellent compilations of poetry, fables, and stories and are illustrated beautifully.
How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman
I was introduced to this little book through a curriculum that we have used with a couple of our kids. It’s a fun geography lesson tied up in a story of a little child who wants to make an apple pie but needs to go to the source of all of the ingredients in order to be able to do so. We’ll be “studying” this one again soon with our youngest two, and I can’t wait!
Least of All by Carol Purdy
A special story, especially for those younger siblings who feel like they never get to do anything or that they’re too young to be a help.
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
This story has a very VERY special place in my heart. I was teaching through this book to Million when he was preschool aged, when we first began to think about moving to France to work. It’s the story of a little girl who lives in a girls’ school in France who has a bit of an emergency but faces it with bravery.
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (and many others by Virginia Lee Burton)
This book is a perpetual favorite with our kids, whether it’s because of a grouchy old man, a steam shovel, or repetitive language. One of my kids loved that a little boy was the one to come up with brilliant idea at the close of the book. It’s a fun story about how technology changes, but that we can adapt with it and learn to change a little ourselves. It’s also a story about believing in yourself, even when nobody else does.
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
There are some books that I won’t re-read a third or fourth time in a day. I think there has been only one or two days when I have said “no” to repeated requests for this book. This is a book for both adults and children (as many good picture books are). It encourages us all to do something to make the world a little more beautiful, even if we don’t know yet what that can be. It’s one of my all-time favorites, and it’s Jubilee’s absolute favorite.
Obadiah the Bold and others by Brinton Turkle
A series of tales about a Quaker family in the time of clipper ships and pirates, a little boy learns a lesson about what bravery really means.
Special note: I’ve included the Amazon link for this one, but you can most probably find them cheaper at Beautiful Feet Books.
Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm and others by Alice and Martin Provensen
These books are wholesome, beautifully illustrated, and good introductions to farming and seasonal changes. Our Animal Friends is a lengthier picture book, but the vocabulary used is rich, and even some mathematical concepts are introduced. Our children love Max, the naughty kitten quite a bit.
Over Under In the Garden by Pat Schories
I would consider very few alphabet books to be among our family favorites, but this one definitely made the cut. Follow a chipmunk and his journey with an acorn (and near disaster!) as you journey through the alphabet and learn plant and insect names on each page.
Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall (illus. Barbara Cooney)
A journey through a year on a farm, told in near poetry with beautiful illustrations.
Petunia by Roger Duvoisin
A very silly goose finds a book and thinks she is automatically wise by holding the book. She gives out all sorts of “wise” advise, with disastrous events following. Eventually, Petunia is humbled and realizes how much she has to learn.
The Biggest Bear by Lynd Ward
The beautiful tale of a boy who intends to shoot a bear, but instead makes friends with a bear cub. The bear causes trouble, and the boy may have a difficult decision to make. Lovely illustrations, and the story touches the hearts of my testosterone-laden individuals.
The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Grey Bridge by Hildegarde Swift (illus. Lynd Ward)
A little red lighthouse feels very important until a great grey bridge is built. A story about how each of us has our own tasks we can and need to accomplish, and each part of the whole is valuable.
The Red Carpet by Rex Parkin
This book is sadly out of print. If you can find a copy, do! Sometimes you just need a ridiculous children’s picture book that makes your kids laugh. This one does that for our kids. It’s the story of a hotel carpet that was supposed to be rolled out the door to meet a foreign dignitary. But….. the carpet kept rolling all over the city and causing quite a commotion.
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
Our boys love this story because of the bullfighting. I love this story because it’s a way that I can teach my kids that it’s not necessary to fight just for the sake of fighting. Classic illustrations by Munro Leaf.
Well, that concludes our list for today. I’m sure as soon as I hit publish on this post, I’ll think of some more of our favorites. Have I missed one of yours? Comment below with your all-time favorite picture books.
Remember that we have more book lists to come!