In honor of Children’s Book Week, it seems like an appropriate time to talk about favorite children’s books! I write about juvenile, middle grade and young adult pretty regularly, but I cover picture books much less frequently…and it seems like a fun direction to go. Like books for any other age group, I love finding ones that appeal across ages—so here are a few that I loved when I was younger, and still enjoy.
The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree by Stan and Jan Berenstain – This is, kind of, the first book I ever read. I memorized the words before I could actually read—or so my parents tell me. This is written for a younger audience than most of the Berenstain Bears books, with few words and much repetition. It tells the story of three little bears who dare to explore a spooky old tree—and with every danger one more bear drops his/her equipment and develops the SHIVERS! I was an adult before I reread the book (for real) and realized that there’s actually no indicator in the book that SHIVERS should be emphasized—evidently my parents were just good readers!
We Hate Rain! by James Stevenson – This is my favorite installment in what I always call The Grandpa and Uncle Wainey series, but many are great fun. In each book, Grandpa tells his two grandchildren a story about how much harder life was when he was a boy, having adventures with his little brother Wainey. Classic tall tales, their veracity seems much more suspect and their message much more obvious to me as an adult…but the ridiculous events, and the calm acceptance of them by the characters, are still just as funny. In this book, it rains for so long that the entire house floods, and the family goes about their lives with everything floating…
Tumbler by Liz Filleul – My memories of this one were much vaguer than the others, and I’d forgotten important things like the title and the author’s name. But I set out to find “that book about the acrobat who decides he isn’t really meant to be a monk” a few years ago, and for a rarity found it surprisingly easy to find! Set in the Middle Ages, it’s a sweet book about an acrobat who thinks he should become a monk, but eventually realizes that the best way to serve God and others is by using his own unique talent.
The Art Lesson by Tomie de Paola – There are many wonderful stories from Tomie de Paola, but the message of this one always resonated with me when I was young, and still does now, maybe even more so. The little (autobiographical) boy of the story is frustrated by an art teacher trying to make him draw just like everyone else, and must find a way to pursue his own unique vision. Come to think of it, this may have something in common with Tumbler…
The Three Pigs by David Weisner – I didn’t actually read this one as a child, because it wasn’t written yet. Still, I’m confident my younger self would have loved it—though I wouldn’t have described it as “so delightfully meta” the way I do today! It starts out as a standard retelling of “The Three Little Pigs”…until the wolf huffs and puffs and blows the pigs right out of the story. Soon they’re off on a romp through other stories, meeting new friends along the way. The concept is such fun, and the artwork is excellent besides.
That’s five of my favorites! Have you read any of these? What are your favorite picture books, whether you liked them long ago or still enjoy them today?
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3 thoughts on “Favorites Friday: Picture Books”
The Madeline books by Ludwig Bemelmans are fun. I love how the rhyming works, and the lovely artwork of the little girls in Paris. I also like the Winnie the Pooh books, but they are for kids who are a little beyond picture book age.
As a child I loved the interactive picture book The Jolly Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg.
I love that one too! I just ordered it recently from Amazon, after another blogger was writing about it. I had it years and years ago, but I don’t know what happened to my old copy!