20 Favourite Picture Books

Top 20 Picture Books

“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” ― C.S. Lewis

Isn’t it lovely to snuggle up with your children and a beautiful picture book? Most mornings, we start the day with a story as part of our Morning Time routine. My daughters munch on snacks and sip cups of cool milk or steaming tea as I read to them. We lose ourselves in imaginary worlds and have a beautiful time.

Over the last few years, we’ve discovered many wonderful picture books. We borrow our fair share of library books, of course, but there are some books that we absolutely must keep on our own shelves because we come back to them again and again. With the girls’ help, I’ve compiled a list of our favourites.

1. Miss Rumphius

Miss Rumphius  -     By: Barbara Cooney

This book by Barbara Cooney tells the story of Alice (Miss Rumphius). As a child, she dreams of going to faraway places and then settling down beside the sea. But there is another thing she must do. She must find a way to make the world a more beautiful place. As you read this story, you too will be inspired to make the world a more beautiful place.

2. Library Lion

Library Lion  -     By: Michelle Knudsen

We adore this book by Michelle Knudson! When a lion visits the library, Miss Merriweather, head librarian, lets hims stay—provided he follows all of the rules. But what happens one day when he breaks the rules? Is there ever a good time to break the rules? I promise that you will adore this sweet story about the library lion.

3. A New Coat for Anna

A New Coat for Anna   -     By: Harriet Ziefert

We came across this book when we were going through the Five in a Row curriculum a couple of years ago, and it quickly became a favourite. It is after World War II, and Anna needs a new coat. But how will they afford it? Anna’s mother trades treasured items with people who can help, and ever so slowly, a coat takes shape.

4. Green Eggs and Ham

Green Eggs and Ham   -
No picture book list would be complete without at least one of Dr. Seuss’s works. I’m pretty sure that I have this hilarious story memorised by now. No matter how many(!) times we read it, my children never grow tired of it. Green Eggs and Ham is an enduring favourite.

5. Grandfather’s Journey

Grandfather's Journey  -     By: Allen Say     Illustrated By: Allen Say

Grandfather’s Journey is the beautiful story of a Japanese immigrant who loves both Japan and the United States. This book captures the immigrant experience, and the nostalgia woven throughout the pages never fails to bring tears to my eyes.

6. Madeline

Madeline   -     By: Ludwig Bemelmans

“In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines…” And thus begins the story of Madeline. This sweetly illustrated picture book tells the story of a little girl in an orphanage in Paris who isn’t afraid of anything. She does, however, know how to frighten Miss Clavel, the nun who runs the orphanage. If you’ve never read this storybook, you are in for a treat.

7. One Morning in Maine

One Morning in Maine   -     By: Robert McCloskey

Robert McCloskey is one of my favourite children’s authors. Perhaps because I have fond childhood memories of a family trip to the East Coast, this book tugs at my heart and makes me want to cosy up with a bowl of seafood chowder. This story about a little girl who loses her first tooth is incredibly sweet, and sure to become one of your family’s favourite picture books.

8. Make Way for Ducklings

Make Way for Ducklings   -     By: Robert McCloskey

Another Robert McCloskey favourite, Make Way for Ducklings is the story of a little family of ducks that lives in the big city of Boston. This endearing book is a 1942 Caldecott Medal winner for good reason.

9. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

We’ve had more fun with this book than probably any other book. We can’t read it without acting out our bear hunt through swishy grass, squelchy mud, howling snowstorms and more. It’s an extremely engaging story.

10. Corduroy

Corduroy   -     By: Don Freeman

Don Freeman’s book Corduroy tells of the adventures of a little department store teddy bear who wants a forever home. It is a wonderful story that children and grownups alike will love.

11. The Salamander Room

I believe that we first read this story as part of Five in a Row. A fun little book about a boy who wants a pet salamander, this story is a great addition to a study on salamanders, habitats or what makes a good pet. It’s also a wonderful book to read out loud just because.

12. The Story of Ferdinand

The Story of Ferdinand  -     By: Munro Leaf, Robert Lawson

I’ve not seen the movie for this book yet, but if it’s true to the original story, it can’t help but be delightful. Ferdinand the bull doesn’t like doing the things that other bulls do. He’s content to sit in the corner and sniff flowers. Until one day, he sits on a bee and his life changes forever…

13. The Story About Ping

The Story about Ping, Paperback   -     By: Marjorie Flack, Kurt Wiese

Ping is a little duck who lives on the Yangtze River in China. One day, he is late returning to the boat where he lives, and he ends up sleeping outside for the night and having quite the adventure!

14. Ox-Cart Man

Ox-Cart Man  -     By: Donald Hall

Have you ever wondered what life on a farm was like in pioneer times? This book beautifully describes the cyclical nature of what it took to make a living once upon a time.

15. One-Dog Canoe

We are a canoeing and camping family, so this book is well-loved in our home. A girl sets out for a short paddle with her dog along as a companion. But all of the other animals in the lake want to join in too! This tale always makes my girls giggle.

16. When I Was Young in the Mountains

When I Was Young in the Mountains  -     By: Cynthia Rylant     Illustrated By: Diane Goode

This is a sweet, poignant story about the simplicity of mountain life. Splashing in the swimming hole and eating cornbread are just a few of the simple joys described in this lyrical story.

17. The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck

The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck  -     By: Beatrix Potter

Who doesn’t love Beatrix Potter? Jemima is a duck who wants to hatch her own eggs—so she sneaks off to find a place where she can do so. But poor Jemima is in for a surprise! I won’t spoil the story by telling you what happens—you’ll have to find out for yourself. My children adore this book.

18. Canoe Days

In this book, Gary Paulsen poetically evokes the kind of serenity that can only be felt in a canoe. This is a beautiful story for anyone, but it’s especially a treasure for families who love to paddle.

19. Very Last First Time

This book. It’s everything I love in a story. In fact, I’m not sure that I could love a book more. Inuit life comes alive in this fascinating tale about a girl who walks on the bottom of the sea. Based on a traditional oyster-hunting practice, this story is unique and, at times, will have you on the edge of your seat.

20. Roxaboxen

This book, based on a true story, describes what happens when children’s imaginations come to life. Boxes, rocks and sand become houses and shops. Roxaboxen has won a Caldecott Medal not once, but twice.

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