Children’s picture books promise to deliver the memorable joy of great shared experiences. With the stories having enough power to reshape a child’s worldview, and captivating illustrations to tickle their imaginations, these books are honest, direct, and enjoyable. Here are our top picks for all-time classic children’s picture books.
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey (1948)
While foraging for blueberries to store in winter, Sal and a bear cub get distracted and unwittingly swap their mothers. They get reunited after a short while, restoring peaceful symmetry. The two-toned palette of the simple yet expressive illustrations brilliantly shifts from bright sunlight-yellow to shadowy midnight blue.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Ray Cruz (1972)
In this 1972 classic of Judith Viorst, we find Alexander mid-rant of a seemingly terrible day, with never-ending calamities. The boy suffers all sorts of petty troubles at home and in school. Ray Cruz’s striking illustrations come in precise black-and-white with interesting color accents. Finally, the day ends with a sheer lack of redemption! Luckily, some books about terrible days make for delightful reads!
The Adventures of Taxi Dog by Debra and Sal Barracca, illustrated by Mark Buehner (1990)
This 1990 book tells the story of a stray dog Maxi, who finds his way into a city taxi and befriends the driver, Jim. A brilliant ode to NYC cabs and cabbies, this unique book is filled with an addicting cadence of limericks. Mark Buehner’s colorful and precise illustrations come with many intra-textual callbacks and Easter eggs, making the book worthy of multiple rewarding reads.
10-Button Book by William Accorsi (1999)
This best-selling board book by talented artist William Accorsi features colorful buttons attached with matching strings. There are brightly cut felt illustrations in the book, accompanied by short rhymes. The attractive play-therapy book is both a motor skills activity book and a simple counting story.
13 Words by Lemony Snicket and Maira Kalman (2010)
Calling this book brilliant would be an understatement! The book truly teaches children the meanings of some basic and not-so-basic words. It’s surprising when a preschooler suddenly knows the meanings of words like despondent or haberdashery! The amazingly colorful illustrations by Maira Kalman will make you want to sing about the words!
A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin (2018)
Grace Lin’s story beautifully and movingly offers a sweet fable on the moon’s phases. The story starts with Little Star’s mother hanging a freshly-baked round mooncake in the night sky. Despite her mother’s instructions, Little Star can’t resist and zooms up to the velvety black sky each night, nibbling the luminous mooncake.