Ever since I embarked on my new careers as publisher and author, family members and friends have been asking me to jot down lists of quality picture books I would recommend for their children to read or hear. I have repeatedly found myself in an awkward position because I feel I have an obligation to list all the Caldecott winners (the award given each year by the American Library Association for the best picture book). And most (if not all) of these books are deserving of the children in my life. However, in my own private experience as a parent of three children, I have often forced my children to listen, more than once, to some of the Caldecott winners when they really would rather be listening to their favorite books. Often it becomes a compromise–one Caldecott winner and then one book of “lesser quality” that is shopworn from being read 47 times. I point out the beauty of the book that is best according to the adults, and my children are not convinced. They show me why an unknown, un-awarded book, such as The Feet in the Gym, is really where it’s at, and I am drawn in by their enthusiasm.
So, is a good picture book in the life of a child the same as good behavior or good sleep habits? Do the adults know better than the children what is good for their brains? Must we expose them to classic picture books that have withstood the test of time because adults continue to buy them for children based on other adults’ recommendations? Or should we let the children pick what they like simply because they like it? I propose the latter. There is absolutely nothing wrong with knowing who those Caldecott winners are, reading those books to our kids, and then letting the kids decide whether they ever want us to read those books again. Sure we can keep those books on our children’s shelves, but I think our children should pick their own books for story time. Furthermore, we should want them to be excited about their choices. They shouldn’t have to tolerate ours. There will be a time when they will have to choose from lists compiled exclusively by adults. Now is not that time. Period.
So, here is the short list of books my children love–books we have read together at least ten times. Some of the books are award winners. Many are not. But my children and I recommend them all anyway.
Where have all the good picture books gone? 25 great books to read to your kids!
|Little Billy and Baseball Bob||Mitchell Axelrod
|Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing||Judi Barrett|
|The Feet in the Gym||Teri Daniels|
|Merry Christmas, Strega Nona||Tomie dePaola|
|Natasha and the Bear - Stories from Around the World||Paula Franklin|
|Frank Was a Monster Who Wanted To Dance||Keith Graves|
|Perfect the Pig||Susan Jeschke|
|The Mysterious Tadpole||Stephen Kellogg|
|The Story of Ferdinand
|The Three Javelinas
|Who’s Got Game? The Ant or the Grasshopper?
|Alligator Baby||Robert Munsch|
|Buford the Little Bighorn||Bill Peet|
|The Caboose Who Got Loose
|Dog Breath: The Horrible Trouble With Hally Tosis
|The Hello, Goodbye Window
|Officer Buckle and Gloria
|Alvah and Arvilla
||Mary Lyn Ray|
|Six by Seuss (includes six of his best, less popular stories)
|Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten
|The Boy Who Stuck Out His Tongue: A Yiddish Folk Tale||Edith Tarbescu|
|How Do Dinosaurs say Goodnight?||Jane Yolen|
|How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon?||Jane Yolen|