Sixteen all-time favourite picture books

An old friend with a new baby was asking for recommendations of kiddy books. Instead of listing a bunch of authors and titles, I thought I’d comb through our own little library and pick out our favourites, and compile them into a post. 🙂

These are tried and tested favourites of our kids, and some are my especial favourites – I’ll explain why too. Initially I thought I’d do a Top Ten, but I couldn’t decide on a limit of 10, so I’ll do 16 instead!

So… you’re in for a treat / do hang in there till the end! (Depending on your inclination towards kiddy book reviews.)

For reading aloud to 0-2 year olds

K&B LOVED Where is the Green Sheep?. Mem Fox is Australian and has authored many other popular books too. Simple lines on each page that were so intuitive and fun that the girls memorised them. It was the first book they’d pretend to “read”, and it was so cute to see them at it. I got it, and many of our books, from Books Depository.

They also loved all titles of Maisy books – simple premises, lovely simple poster-colour like illustrations. I could give Lucy Cousins a great big hug for producing this series. Our NLB carries lots of titles and in board book form too. “Bye bye butterfly” as a train enters a tunnel is one of my favourite lines (don’t ask why!).

Kate Toms’ books have collage-type illustrations that are very appealing. I especially love “10 little penguins” because it’s so nonsensical and bizzare.

Herve Tullet is very popular and hip (cos he’s French?) these days, and his books certainly aren’t in the traditional vein of children’s books. A friend bought us quite a few of these (the girls are very blessed), and the one pictured here is especially fun since one gets to trace a suede line all throughout the book – you’re supposed to do it with your eyes closed!

For reading together with 1-3 year olds

Anna Walker is an author I chanced upon whilst in Australia, and got one of her books at the fantastic Groovy Giraffe remainder bookstore (LBB code for 5% more off the already rock-bottom priced books). The water colour illustrations are so soothing. I want to frame each page up.

Sandra Boynton is quirky and fun. I have only read a few of her titles but I think they are especially suitable for 0-2 year olds. Heck, I enjoy them very much myself! Light, whimsical reading.

My Picture Prayers is one of my favourite biblical books. I think it’s so wonderful I wrote a whole blog post just on it alone.

Eric Carle is very popular (Hungry Caterpillar is EVERYWHERE) but my favourite is the one pictured here. My kids loved “From Head to Toe” when they were younger (from about 12 months they can mimic the actions in the book) but I wasn’t too hot about those illustrations. Mister Seahorse is simply gorgeous and has pages with coloured painting on transparencies. Love. (It also has a fantastic theme of daddy being just as important a parent as mummy.)

For reading to 2-5 year olds

The first Julia Donaldson book gifted to me by a friend from the UK was ‘Sharing a Shell’ and we have not looked back since. It remains my favourite Donaldson book, and I can memorise practically the entire book. It’s that good. Lydia Monks’ illustrations are lovely too.

Tiddler is the other Donaldson title I bought in board book form, and its rhyme is similarly addictive.

Someday is a book I bought recently at a steal from Scholastic, and it makes me very, very emo. It’s super sweet and touching. Read it only after you have braced yourself.

The Big Picture Bible is hands-down / by a mile the BEST children’s bible ever published. It has its own dedicated review on the blog too. Every believer’s home library needs one.

For reading to, and along with, 2-6 year olds

As the kids grow older, these books are some of the better children’s literature out there. I am totally not of the Peter and Jane persuasion (thin/non-existent plot, joylessly repetitive). Oliver Jeffers’ books are worth their weight in gold. My favourite is by far Lost and Found (penguin!!!), given its charming storyline and gorgeous illustrations. One of my friends bought everything he ever wrote.

I bought the first James Mayhew in the National Gallery just cos the title had K’s name and she was with us then. Subsequently I bought as many as I could bring myself to, because it had such a great theme of making great paintings accessible to children. We also did a craft based on one of his books.

The Little House was purchased at a Library Book Sale for *gasp* TWO BUCKS and there’s good reason why it won a Caldecott Medal. Most of the books with that award are more than worth a read, if not a purchase.

Last but not least, Dr Seuss. Popular sells them at a steal when they have their annual sales (I think I bought 5 or 6 at 20% off the original price of $6.90). Think prices might have climbed since, but no harm comparing before you commit. K loved the title pictured here, and it was one of the first books she learnt to truly read, once she grasped phonics from school at around age 3.5.

I hope you found this useful, D!


Growing with the Tans

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  4 comments for “Sixteen all-time favourite picture books

  1. March 29, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Nice list! Quite a few of our favourites are on it too! I have quite a few books from James Mayhew’s Katie series too, and after reading a few, Noey asked me “why is grandma always falling asleep at the museum?” Oops!

    • March 31, 2014 at 2:24 am

      Haha, I think it was a convenient premise that might have become over-used. Or perhaps some grandmas really take museums as great places to use as babysitting centres!

  2. April 18, 2015 at 9:07 am

    Great list! We have quite a few of the books on this list, and read some of the others too. So many books, so little time! We love Sandra Boynton and Oliver Jeffers, and have many of their books. I’m really addicted to buying books!
    Adeline recently posted…Friday Flips #10: The Wolf (Review and Giveaway!)My Profile

    • April 18, 2015 at 12:06 pm

      So am I! I just blew another $45 on a Magic School Bus box set. 😛

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